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MAKE-ing things

While most of the world is moving from print to web, a very techie publisher is moving in the opposite direction.

O'Reilly is known throughout the techie-programmer-geek world as the main source for great manuals on software programming, server tools, and website development. Last month the publisher launched a new magazine called MAKE ($14.99,, dedicated to people who like tinkering in the real world.

The first issue (it's quarterly, and more like a book or manual than a magazine) includes how-to articles on aerial kite photography (, a video camera stabilizer, a magnetic card-strip reader, and many more projects, each with detailed instructions and diagrams or photographs.

Along with the print issue, MAKE runs a continuously updated blog on its website. In fact, the magazine is essentially a print version of a blog --- a collection of postings from inventors, tinkerers, and enthusiasts compiled in a handy format for easy referral. (And if you don't know what a blog is, it's basically an easy way to post thoughts, or really anything, to a website quickly, without having any knowledge of html, etc. More on blogs in a future Fiz.)

One of the reasons I dig MAKE is for the reuse-recycle nature of most of its projects (I'm a pack rat). For instance, a recent blog entry found a use for old laptops by turning them into digital picture frames. These frames can sit on a desk or on your wall, and can cycle through your library of digital photos.

I also like the fact that MAKE doesn't assume everyone knows how to do everything. So, in the first issue, there's an introduction on soldering, which is vital in any projects involving electronics.

Related homework: MAKE something; find an alternative use for those plastic "cake boxes" that blank CD-Rs come packaged in. I've heard of people making small lamps out of them. What can you come up with?

--- Joe Tunis

Message control

So you've got a message you'd like to spread around the globe, but you just opened a beer and that killer parking spot right in front of the house is finally yours. In days of yore you'd have to stifle those megalomaniacal tendencies and simply be happy with absolute autonomy over the remote control. But with, world domination is merely a few mouse clicks away.

Founded in 1999, is the internet's leading site for people who want to design and sell their own merchandise. You can choose from more than 70 ways to foist your views upon others, including the ever-popular T-shirts, mugs, and bumper stickers. Once you provide with your words and/or images, they take care of the rest (production, payment, shipping) via your own little online shop.

Shockingly, this service is totally free. keeps a portion of the amount for each item sold to you or your customers, and anything you decide to charge over their base price is sent to you as your profit.

Let's say I decided Bug Jar bartender Herman Gatto should be the next President of the United States (note to self: continue to jot down nightmares). All I would have to do is create my "Herman in 2008" logo, upload it to, and watch as the orders come pouring in and the monthly checks go flying out.

Realistically, however, I'd be the only person sporting a "Herman in 2008" T-shirt (except for possibly Herman, though I'm pretty sure he's shooting for 2012). But there's always some smug comfort in wearing a unique piece of clothing, even if the idea conveyed by said garment calls your judgment into question.

--- Dayna Papaleo