Category Archives: Education

Invention, Innovation, Portland.

I’d thought about starting something like this, but now that TechShop is making its Portland debut I will happily use their tools and facilities to learn more about the process of making things. I’m very excited about this development and will be one of the first to support an East Side Annex!

From Molly Purnell @ Core77:

On the bus I get to know Dave, a self-proclaimed inventor and maker who’s excited about TechShop’s CNC router. Dave builds Fretted Dulcimers which are apparently coming back into fashion in the Japanese hand-made instrument market, and he needs access to the shop in order to build prototypes.

Dave seems to be the typical clientelle of TechShop; a maker with big dreams, little space, and no equipment. TechShop’s goal is to remedy this situation for the 300 or so potential members that came to the opening event. TechShop plans to have milling machines, lathes, welders, a laser cutter, an electronics shop, blacksmithing tools, a finishing room, workstations, a 3D printer, and of course the coveted CNC router. Along with all of this equipment there will be a tool and materials shop, a small library and a communal kitchen.

The greatest benefit of Techshop will be the probable development of community. The owner of TechShop, Jim Newton and the Portland shop manager, Denney Cole, claim that the community is one of the greatest drawing powers for continued membership. Most builders know that another’s experience and knowledge is the best tool available.

In addition to the tools and community, TechShop will offer offices for rent so that businesses may be based out of the shop. This will include access to the machines and tools as well. The monthly cost for a membership is $125 while a yearly membership is $1000. There may be a special rate if you get in now, which I would recommend since there are only 500 available memberships. The anticipated opening date for TechShop Portland is December 15, 2008 and the hours will be 10am-9pm, 7 days a week. Eventually Denney would like to have the shop open 24 hrs a day. Jim and Denney hope to open an annex on the East Side as soon as possible, sparing us more long bus rides.

More about TechShop @ GeekDad, LA Times, Forbes

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Filed under Design, DigiBoom, Education, Fun, Hack, Make, Portland, trends

In this season of cynicism and spin I would like to point those that aren’t already familiar to Thankfully I’m not subject to the droves of “context-free” political ads on TV, as I don’t get any channels at home, but I always check after political debates. It provides excellent coverage on both candidates and what was said, not said, and totally mischaracterized.

As with all things, DEMAND CONTEXT, check the facts, and make up your own mind. Above all, pay attention. This election requires more effort on your part than listening to the talking heads, sound bites, and believing that when someone says “you can check” that they’re telling the truth and not just hoping you won’t actually check.

Our Mission

We are a nonpartisan, nonprofit “consumer advocate” for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. We monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases. Our goal is to apply the best practices of both journalism and scholarship, and to increase public knowledge and understanding.

Go there now.

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Filed under Education, Politics, United States

Thinking about Design Thinking

I never took any art classes and I don’t know how to draw, paint, sculpt, etc… but I have been spending a large amount of time over the past several months getting more and more into my obsession with design. Trying to take apart what I consider “good design” into the process components that might have been involved in bringing those wonderful ideas, or reimaginations, to reality.

During my reading I came across some keywords that have opened my design education. Keywords are the keys to the kingdom when it comes to internet research. You find the right set and they will guide you to all the others. This time it was “Design Thinking”.

I came across the term when reading about Stanford’s d.School and how they were applying the Design Thinking process in a collaborative effort with their business school. One link led to another and I was hooked.

This is good stuff.

This is creative, analytical, visual problem solving.

From Wikipedia:

Design thinking is a process for practical, creative resolution of problems or issues that looks for an improved future result.[1] Unlike analytical thinking, design thinking is a creative process based around the “building up” of ideas. There are no judgments in design thinking. This eliminates the fear of failure and encourages maximum input and participation. Outside the box thinking is encouraged in this process since this can often lead to creative solutions.

Everywhere I’ve looked I have found applications for this type of problem solving. I like “what if” scenarios (to a point) and I like applying them in open problem solving arenas. I always try to see hurdles as opportunities. More often to run around than jump over.

I’d like to say I’ve been using this type of problem solving for a long time but there is a lot I can learn here. Maybe you can too, in your business, in your personal/social life, wherever.

Tim Brown of IDEO (one of the most successful design firms in the world) is largely credited with coining the term and is it’s lead evangelist. Check out his blog at for some thoughtful musings on the process. Also check out for some really hot designs.

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Filed under Design, Education, Random, trends


I like information and I’m a very visual person. One of my favorite sections of any Wired magazine is the couple pages dubbed “infoporn” which display some sort of statistical information in a creative and potentially impactful way.

Bar and Pie charts just don’t cut it anymore.

I recently stumbled across a site that will give me my pretty data fix whenever I need it. Enter, a blog dedicated to data visualization and visual design, that scours the nets for interesting infographics.

See links to things represented like:

Gas price by county

An average american’s spending habits

Or videos visualizing Greenhouse Gas production

Or the romantic aspirations of thousands of online daters.

See things in different ways.

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Filed under Design, Education, trends, Video

Maker Faire: Photos

I’m not sure when I’ll find the time to title, tag, and describe each of the photos from Maker Faire. I’ve got them up on my Flickr page now so those of you that don’t want to wait, or want to interpret for yourself what it is you’re looking at, please feel free to browse, comment, critique, etc… That way, when I do get around to describing them you’ll be able to see if you were right! (this is my way of encouraging you to look while rationalizing my laziness)

Anyway, in brief summary, Maker Faire was awesome and inspiring. There are so many people out there with excellent ideas that are doing something about them and with 65,000+ attendees, there are a lot of people interested in those ideas.

I love ideas, more on that later.

for now, the pictures.


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Filed under Design, Education, Fun, Photography, Random

WAC – 2008 International Speaker Series

The 2008 World Affairs Council of Oregon Speaker Series has been announced!!!

This is always an enlightening series. If you’re in the Portland area I highly recommend it.

The 2008 International Speaker Series returns with a diverse roster of influential presenters, each addressing important current topics.

Each of the 2008 ISS events begins at 7 p.m. at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in Portland.

Tickets for the series are available through, or by calling 503-552-9888.

Vicente Fox · March 19
“Border Crossings: Immigration, Free Trade, and Security”

The election of Vicente Fox to the Mexican presidency ended 70 years of one-party rule. A charismatic reformer, President Fox played a critical role in Mexico’s democratization and economic revival. A successful businessman before entering politics, President Fox sees immigration as a development issue and the mercurial U.S.-Mexican relationship as central to the stability of the Western Hemisphere.

Kim Dae-jung · April 18
“Challenges on the Korean Peninsula”

Often called “the Nelson Mandela of Asia,” Kim Dae-jung survived five attempts on his life, kidnapping, exile, and imprisonment before he was elected President of South Korea in 1998. Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2000 for his “Sunshine Policy” of engagement with North Korea, President Kim today condemns the North’s nuclear development program, while also questioning the West’s policy toward the two Koreas.

Dr. Sergei Khrushchev · June 4
“Russia after Putin”

Son of Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, Sergei Khrushchev has been an eyewitness to the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the establishment of the Russian state. Originally a missile engineer in the USSR, Dr. Khrushchev is now a U.S. citizen and frequent NPR commentator. Dr. Khrushchev provides a unique perspective on Russia’s future and its changing role in global politics.

Sandra Day O’Connor · Sept. 17
“An International Rule of Law: Balancing Security, Democracy and Human Rights in an Age of Terrorism”

Should the laws of other nations or international bodies have any bearing on American jurisprudence? Do the Geneva Conventions apply to us? Always an independent voice on the Supreme Court, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor is also its most insightful thinker on international issues. The first woman appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice O’Connor has often been the swing vote on controversial issues, both domestic and international.


Filed under Education, Round The World