TNT Newsletter for February 27, 2007
Eclipse your Saturday night plans, make your own book, revisit the golden days of Atari, watch the most fascinating video about dictionaries you'll ever see, and pick up very small things.
First off, I don't want to be your mom, but I highly recommend staying in this Saturday night. Or, if you never leave the house, getting out--at least to your front porch. There's an eclipse of the full moon, a rare and wonderful thing, and while those of us in North America aren't in the best position to see the full eclipse, we will get a fabulous moon rise. And if you're a TNT reader lucky enough to live in Europe or Africa, you really shouldn't miss it! Check out MAKE Managing Editor Shawn Connally's tip about the eclipse below. (If you subscribed to Sky Calendar after seeing the review in the last TNT Newsletter, then you already know all about it, so don't mind me.)
For the rest of the week, there are a bunch of things to occupy your time, including a wonderful hour-long video of Erin McKean, editor of the New American Oxford Dictionary, talking about dictionaries (it may not sound like the most exciting topic on the planet, but it's really worth checking out!), a great service for making your own books, encouragement to relive your old Atari days with a vintage AtariLab kit, and a review on the joys of picking up little parts with alligator forceps.
Now get busy! And clean your room!
Staff Editor, Make Magazine
Small enough to fit on your keychain, the MAKE Warranty Voider is the perfect companion for mobile fixing, hacking, and MacGyvering. This is a limited offering with custom "MAKE: Warranty Voider" lovingly laser-etched with care using a 35W laser. It's like a toolbox in your pocket. Squirt P4 (plier version) also available.
Reviewed by Shawn Connally
From NASA's website:
In the USA, the eclipse will already be underway when the moon rises on Saturday evening. Observing tip: Find a place with a clear view of the eastern horizon and station yourself there at sunset. As the sun goes down behind you, a red moon will rise before your eyes.
Observers in eastern North and South America will find the moon already partially or totally eclipsed at moonrise. From western North America, only the final penumbral phases are visible.
Moon's path through Earth's shadows as well as a map illustrating worldwide visibility are available on the NASA website.
Reviewed by Terrie Schweitzer
Lulu is a print-on-demand system that you can use to make, publish, and sell your own books. I used lulu.com to create a book for my nieces and nephew and was really happy with the results.
The process is pretty easy: download their templates, add your content, upload the templates, choose your book printing and cover options. Once you're finished, the books are available on demand, much like Cafe Press T-shirts. You get an optional store front to make the book available for anyone to purchase (or download for free, if you like). Lulu lets authors add a profit margin to books if they choose (my 26-page hardcover book is $20.99 at cost).
It takes a while for the books to print and ship -- I ordered on January 12 and received them on February 7. So if you need your books by a certain date, plan ahead!
Reviewed by Brian Jepson
When I'm explaining microcontrollers to someone who's around my age, I usually start out with a reference to 8-bit home computers: "Take something like an Atari 800, make it really small, and that's kind of what a microcontroller kit is." I always worried about whether that comparison was close to the mark, but now that I've gotten my hands on an AtariLab kit, I doubt no more.
In the mid-1980s, Atari and Dickinson College collaborated on AtariLab, which included a breakout board that connects to the joystick port, a cartridge, lab manual, and collection of sensors. I picked mine up on eBay, and when I connected the sensors, plugged in the cartridge, and turned on my Atari 130XE, it worked perfectly. I was up and measuring temperatures in seconds. (If only all my computers would boot up that quickly.)
The AtariLab kit invites hacking, too. Because it uses the joystick port, it's easy to write programs that read the sensor: LOGO and BASIC source is included in the lab manual!
Read more about the AtariLab at http://www.makezine.com/blog/archive/2007/01/8bit_science_at.html.
Reviewed by Arwen O'Reilly Griffith
MAKE Senior Editor Phil Torrone sent along this link to a talk about dictionaries by Erin McKean, editor of the New American Oxford Dictionary (which sounds a bit like an oxymoron, but I won't quibble). For anyone who loves words, this video is worth checking out. Not only is it sharp and funny, it's erudite and full of wonderful stories about both words and dictionaries.
Reviewed by digitaltripper
Yes it's the Alligator Forceps!! This is one of my most used tools. When you work the handles, just the tip opens up, making it the ideal tool for picking things up in small or tight spaces.
I currently own the 5.5 inch pair.
They come in 3.5, 5.5, 6, 8, 9.5, and 11 inch sizes.
I use these to reach into spaces, like in my model airplane, to place and retrieve parts, small spaces where screws get dropped, reaching into bundles of wires to grab a wire, for building a ship in a bottle, etc.
Simply an AWESOME tool--no maker or toolbox should be without one.