Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Laser Cutter

Tonight at Pumping Station: One there will be certification on the Laser Cutter.  I'm not sure if I'll go or not, but here is some documentation that could be useful, pulled from the Google Group: 

I do all my laser cutter designs in inkscape and then laser cutting and etching from adobe reader resulting a totally no cost software process flow.  We have done over several thousand designs this way in the Fab Lab at the Museum of Science and Industry.  Here is the process to get inkscape to work followed by a simple explanation of why I believe this process flow works and is good:

1. Design in inkscape
2. Using Object, Fill and Stroke set the following
3. Fill Tab: No paint (x) unless you want to etch the whole object solid
4. Stroke Paint Tab: Flat Color
5. Stroke Style Tab: width .001 in for cutting .015 or larger for etching
6. Make sure blur is set at 0% and opacity is set at 100%
7. Setting RGB values to other than 0,0,0,255 will either prevent cutting or lighten and or change the level of etching.
8. Save a COPY of you work as a PDF, DO NOT use the normal save as function, it may mess up your original native inkscape svg file possibly making it un-editable.
9. Open your PDF file with adobe reader send it to the laser cutter, go about setting up your powers and speed etc like normal.

That's pretty much it.

This process uses open source inkscape and free adobe reader or an alternative pdf reader, so we love it at the fab lab since it allows people to design at no software cost.  To spread digital fabrication to the all it's important to make sure software costs are zero.

Inkscape will work directly with the laser cutter, but it will etch (raster) everything and cut nothing.  I think this is because for some goofy reason the print function of inkscape rasterizes all vectors.  This makes sense because for most inkscape users a normal printer is the output device.  Saving a copy as a PDF allows the vector data to be transferred out of inkscape, which upon opening with a pdf reader can be passed on to the laser cutter.

Sunday training: Scanning Electron Microscope

On Sunday, Tony and I received great instruction, both classroom and hands-on in the use of the SEM, or Scanning Electron Microscope.  Wow, this is pretty impressive (and expensive!) technology. During his hands-on session, Tony looked at dirt on a computer microchip, and I looked at dirt and a crack on a computer "pin" of some sort.  It is unbelievable, the level of detail we saw! At this point, we are only certified to use the machine, and not to prepare samples ourselves, but there are currently 8 samples located in the chamber to view.  I had initially thought regular microscope slides samples could be used, but I don't think this is the case.  Ryan, our teacher and SEM guru, said he would be happy to prepare and load samples for us in the meantime.  There will also be a further class down the road to prepare samples, but neither the equipment / supplies or curriculum is available just yet.

For my future purposes, here is the link to the SEM page on the Pumping Station: 1 Wiki.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Where to find supplies and reading material

There is a great page on the Pumping Station: One wiki of both where to get stuff, and also where to find reading material on topics: the PS1 "sources" page. There is a great section about "Crafts" and that reading material section is non-existent.  Might be a place to start adding content?  

New uses for an old blog

This blog was initially used for the Social Media educational sessions at VAPL.  Now, I'm going to use it as a way to highlight my foray into the world of the "Maker".  I've made things for a while, primarily in crochet, but also in the world of felt.  Now, I've learned about Pumping Station: One, a wonderful place where people learn to use 3D printers, laser cutters, woodworking and metalworking tools, and so much more.  It is an exciting world, and I'm looking forward to becoming more a part of it.  This blog will be a record of my progress.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Final thoughts

So I've finished with the VAPLD Staff 2.0 Challenge. I learned about a few new tools which was nice. I appreciated re-learning tools that I wasn't as familiar with, such as NetLibrary. I already consider myself pretty tech-savvy, so this was kind of fun for me.

I'm not sure how other staff members did it, but I worked on this pretty much exlusively from home. I know that I was off for quite a few vacation days, but I found that I still had too much work to do to spend time during the day at work learning 2.0 stuff. It is certainly crucial that I do so, I just know I had too much other stuff to do.

I think the length of the program and the number of topics was quite doable. I think that these exercises helped staff become more comfortable with the tools, particularly if they don't use them on a day to day basis otherwise. Maybe it will get some people interested enough that they might want to contribute content to our various social media outlets.

So, I think this was a very good experience, and hopefully even more people will participate the next time this program is offered! And, the incentive of the possible prizes doesn't hurt either. :)
Thanks Jill! Nice job. :)

VAPLD 's website

OveraLL, I think that our website is pretty good. We have a lot of information to offer people that they can access even when the library is closed. I do know that sometimes it is difficult to navigate to the information needed. When our staff asks me questions like "where on the webpage is..." that means that things need to be a bit more transparent. I like how the Schaumburg Library organizes their information. They have a "How do I?" section with dropdown menu. The description is : "Get Answers to frequently asked library questions. Makes sense to me! I do like our "television screen" that shows our different programs. I think that adds nice color and interest to our page. From a content creator point of view, I love that we use a content management system so that I can submit my own content. The tricky thing, is that not being familiar with the nuts and bolts of our CMS, I don't really know all that it can do, in terms of design.

One thing that drives me crazy on the VAPLD page, and I know it makes other folks nutsy too, are the drop down menus on the top level page that drop down right over the words on the top page. Mouse over Research and the whole menu pops up, even if you were just dragging your mouse over to the Kids page. I also wish there was more interactivity on our webpage. I realize it is not a blog, but I think that we are missing a great opportunity to get feedback from our patrons by not allowing them to comment directly on something, as they are used to on Amazon and blogs.

From the kids page standpoint, I know that there are changes that we want to make. I'm looking forward to spending some time looking at other library's kids pages, to see what they include or don't include, and how they get feedback from kids and their families.

One of VAPLD's greatest resources on our website are the subject guides. They used to be featured in an article on the web page, which has since scrolled off the screen. There needs to be some sort icon on the top page with a link to the guides. At the very least, it needs to be much more obvious
(is it there at all?) how to navigate to the subject guides from our menus.

In short, I think the website is good, but there are areas in which we can improve. That's the nice thing about the Internet though...things are always "under construction" and can often be updated on a moment's notice! :)

Write a blog post and share your thoughts on the library's website. What aspect of the website did you like the most? The least? Do you have any ideas for new services we can provide through the virtual branch? What other ways can the library improve its web presence?


Well, I have had some experience downloading audiobooks from My Media Mall, and I didn't really know much about Netlibrary, so I figured that would be the one to try. There are currently 345 Children's fiction books, which is nice. I'll have to see what My Media Mall has. As soon as I chose a book though, it asked for my account. Ummm, didn't I already give you my library card number? Oh, I see, I need to make *another* account. LOL. I don't have enough accounts on the Internet, so let me make another one. :) To be fair, perhaps I had to do this for My Media Mall, but I don't remember. Ok, goofy thing number 2. I downloaded the software for both Overdrive and Netlibrary yesterday, in preparation for actually choosing a book to download today. And now that I've chosen a book, it looks like it is asking me to download again. I don't get it.

Ok, for all of my complaining, I seem to have found a gem. It appears that all of the books on Netlibrary are available all of the time? Could that be? At least that is how it has appeared thus far. The jury is still out on the ease of downloading. I'm in the middle of that now. Ok, so the downloading process worked fine for a short book, but now I'm downloading Heidi, and that seems to be taking quite a while. It is very clear cut about how to download to your computer or a portable device, like my iPod. Interestingly, I'm now downloading a second book while working on my netbook, and I don't have iTunes on it, yet it still seems to be downloading the audiobook, directly to my iPod.

So, in comparing NetLibrary to My Media Mall, it seems like Netlibrary only has audiobooks, while MyMediaMall has ebooks too. It seems like the two of them together make a good pair. I do think I am much more comfortable using NetLibrary now, and could probably help a patron muddle through it. I think it is a matter of just continually downloading books to keep the skill up. Like anything, if we don't get questions about how to download the audiobooks for three months or so, it is almost like we have to relearn it every time. I think it would be helpful to have two bookmarks at the download stations in the library, one for NetLibrary and one for MyMedia Mall. On the bookmark there should be really easy directions for how to do it. I know that there is a sheet of instructions, but from what I remember it is pretty long and personally I zone out when there are too many directions for me to read. And yet I write long rambling blog posts? heehee, but those aren't directions, that is the difference. :)

So, I'm off to download an ebook to my computer for transfer to my Pandigital Novel ereader. I haven't downloaded that many books to it yet so I'm still rather new to the process, but I'm going to give it another go so I can bring an ebook with me on vacation! :)