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1
Serious Business / DARPA Humanoid Robot Challenge is live today
« on: June 05, 2015, 12:14:12 PM »
DARPA Humanoid Robot Challenge Finals are on today. Live streaming video.

Humanoid robots aren't just in anime any more. They're real.

2
General Convention Discussion / Fanime 2015 weather forecast
« on: May 17, 2015, 10:13:56 PM »
National Weather Service forecast for Fanime
As of 10 PM Sun May 17th.

Thursday: Partly sunny, with a high near 67.
Thursday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 52.
Friday: Partly sunny, with a high near 69.
Friday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 52.
Saturday: Partly sunny, with a high near 71.
Saturday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 52.
Sunday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 72.

This Fanime will be chillier than usual. Be prepared for cold nights.

3

Small steam engine About 4" x 7".

Each year, I do some new props for Clockwork Alchemy. Here's one for 2015.

Steampunk conventions need more steam engines. So I put this together. It's a toy engine from the 1930s, made by Wilesco. They're still made. Originally it came with a boiler and smokestack, and ran on little fuel pellets. I got this one cheap, with the boiler broken. It was mostly flimsy sheet metal, but the engine parts were well made. So I re-mounted the machinery on a heavy brass plate, then put that on a piece of walnut.

The engine will run on steam, but live steam is too much for CA. So I use a small aquarium air pump, which provides just enough air pressure to make the engine run, slowly.

4
There is a new "Cool Japan" venture capital fund, with a capital of over ¥40,000,000,000, to promote Japan's pop culture.  This is a heavily funded effort by the government of Japan and some major companies. The government of Korea has been funding K-Pop, and Japan has decided they need to spend heavily to keep up.

They just bought 100% of SDI Media, the world's largest commercial dubbing/subbing operation, and a satellite TV channel for broadcasting J-Pop and fashion. They are also funding an online anime distribution operation called "Anime Consortium Japan Inc."

5
The Aetheric Message Machine Company will have a steampunk Telegraph Office at Clockwork Alchemy again in 2015. We have most of our staff, but we could use a few extra people to fill in for an hour or two, especially on Saturday and Sunday afternoon. Steampunk cosplayers especially! All our people were in costume and in character in 2014, and that worked so well we're going to do it that way again.


The Telegraph Office in 2014.

Anyone at the convention can send a telegram for free by texting from a cell phone. The messages are printed on antique printing telegraph equipment, stamped, sorted, put in envelopes, and delivered around the con by messengers.  We did this at all three Clockwork Alchemy events.



Operator: Works in the Telegraph Office and handles incoming messages from our brass and glass Aetheric Message Machine. Requires some typing and office skills.  You'll be in a highly visible location, a glass-fronted office facing the main corridor to the ballrooms at the Doubletree. Expect to be photographed and interviewed. About half an hour of training is required.

Messenger: Runs around the con delivering messages. Requires energy and a good voice. "Telegram for ..." You'll be on your feet a lot.

This is a fun job to do in steampunk costume.  You're handling real messages, using real antique machines, and do it in character. It gets busy, with the machines typing out messages and messengers running in and out.  We'll be operating for the same hours that the vendor room is open, Friday through Sunday.

See our web site: http://www.aetherltd.com
Here's a video of the Telegraph Office in full operation. Now in glorious black and white!
Our training manual for operators.
Contact us at info@aetherltd.com or leave a message here.
Each job comes with a hat - choice of the cap shown above or a green eyeshade. And a brass badge.
The volunteer refund deal is the same as for other Fanime volunteers, and will be coordinated through the volunteer office.

The Aetheric Message Machine Company, Ltd. - bringing text messaging to the 19th century.

6
Incredible Stuff I can Make / A quick sign project
« on: May 14, 2014, 12:18:35 PM »
Here's a quick project I just completed for Clockwork Alchemy - a simple sign post. This was just a quick job. Fanime rules - nothing can be attached to the walls. So any sign needs a signpost.


The parts

Two pieces of scrap lumber, and a wooden dowel from Home Despot.


Assembled, but  unfinished.   At TechShop Menlo Park

Simple job. Cut, sand, screw base parts together for gluing.

Only unusual thing here is that the hole for the pole was drilled in a drill press with a Forstner bit, which scrapes out a flat-bottomed hole. Then a little glue, bang the pole into place with a rubber mallet, and the pole is straight. About 3 hours of work.

Still looks like cheap wood. That's the next step.


Project complete!

The Clockwork Alchemy sign artwork is from Dave Horner, who does the official CA graphics. The sign itself was printed on an inkjet printer, and framed in a cheap frame from Target.

The wood of the sign post was steampunked. Minwax wood stain (Red Oak color here) makes cheap pine look like old hardwood.  Lots of steps. Paint on pre-stain, wait 15 minutes. Paint on first coat of stain, wait 15 minutes. Wipe off excess stain. Wait 3-4 hours for drying. Paint on second coat of stain, wait 15 minutes. Wipe off excess stain. Wait 24 hours for hard dry. Finish with furniture polish.

This isn't quite like painting. The stain sinks into the wood. So after painting it on, it takes lots of dry brush strokes, following the grain of the wood, to put the stain in the right places. This takes a little practice, but isn't hard.

Disposable gloves for this, or you will get stain on your hands. Cheap disposable brushes. This is a messy operation, best done outside or on a dropcloth in a garage.

Staining is a nice project for a hot day, because the stain dries fast. I did a project like this once during a damp winter, and it took a month before the stain dried hard.

This was a quick job. You'll see much fancier signposts at CA this year. Gene Forrer and his crew have been busy.  CA adds new props each year and saves the old ones, so, each year, the hotel looks more and more like a steampunk world. There are a lot of volunteers behind CA, who have been working for months.

7
Registration / Did the registration "E-postcards" go out yet?
« on: May 12, 2014, 09:57:27 PM »
Registration FAQ, things to bring: "E-postcard that will be sent to you after you pay for your membership and e-mailed to you in early May, before FanimeCon."

Haven't received mine yet. Have they gone out?

8
The Aetheric Message Machine Company will have a steampunk Telegraph Office at Clockwork Alchemy again in 2014. We're looking for two to four reliable people per shift to work in the Telegraph Office at the event. Steampunk cosplayers especially!



Anyone at the convention can send a telegram for free by texting from a cell phone. The messages are printed on antique printing telegraph equipment, stamped, sorted, put in envelopes, and delivered around the con by messengers.  We did this at the last three Nova Albion events, Clockwork Alchemy 2012 and 2013, and once at Maker Faire.

We have two jobs:

Operator: Works in the Telegraph Office and handles incoming messages from our brass and glass Aetheric Message Machine. Requires some typing and office skills.  You'll be in a highly visible location, a glass-fronted office facing the main corridor to the ballrooms at the Doubletree. Expect to be photographed and interviewed. About half an hour of training is required.

Messenger: Runs around the con delivering messages. Requires energy and a good voice. "Telegram for ..." You'll be on your feet a lot.

This is a fun job to do in steampunk costume.  You're handling real messages, using real antique machines, and do it in character. It gets busy, with the machines typing out messages and messengers running in and out.  We'll be operating for the same hours that the vendor room is open, Friday through Sunday.


The Telegraph Office at Clockwork Alchemy 2012
(Do come in and visit. We make our office look like a real telegraph office. It looked so official at the first Clockwork Alchemy that some people thought they weren't supposed to come in. We made it more inviting last year. Come in and take a close look at the machines.)

See our web site: http://www.aetherltd.com
Here's a video of the Telegraph Office in full operation at Nova Albion.
Our training manual for operators.
Contact us at info@aetherltd.com or leave a message here.
Each job comes with a hat - choice of the cap shown above or a green eyeshade. And a brass badge.
The volunteer refund deal is the same as for other Fanime volunteers, and will be coordinated through the volunteer office.

The Aetheric Message Machine Company, Ltd. - bringing text messaging to the 19th century.

9
General Anime Chat / "The Wind Rises" opens today in theaters
« on: February 28, 2014, 02:37:26 PM »
The Wind Rises (Kaze Tachinu) is in theaters today. Hayao Miyazaki's final film.

10
Registration / NYC Comic-Con registration privacy flap
« on: October 12, 2013, 11:49:10 AM »
Here's a different way to botch reg:
Break into the attendees social networking accounts to send spam.

Comic-Con tried that. They got very bad press.
That's a potential mistake to avoid.

11
Last year, we built a street clock for Clockwork Alchemy, and set it up outside our Telegraph Office. On the way back from Clockwork Alchemy, its tall post, which was just plaster, was broken.  So this year, we have a bigger and stronger one.


Street clock in its natural habitat

We set this up outside the coffee shop where we have our local steampunk meetup. Nobody noticed it was a prop.

Close-up in our garage.

10.5 feet high. Big enough to look real. It comes apart for transport.

The column is corrugated aluminum. These come from a company that makes aluminum siding for repairing old houses.

Make your porch column look fancy with one of these.

The base and top are wood. There's a heavy wooden post in the base to give it stability. It's painted municipal green, like most real street clocks, with enough coats to give both wood and metal a solid look. The clocks (one on each side) are from Target.   

This will be at Clockwork Alchemy, which needed a big clock.

Working to make steampunk real since 2009.

12
The Aetheric Message Machine Company will have a steampunk Telegraph Office at Clockwork Alchemy again this year. We're looking for two to four reliable people per shift to work in the Telegraph Office at the event.



Anyone at the convention can send a telegram for free by texting from a cell phone. The messages are printed on antique printing telegraph equipment, stamped, sorted, put in envelopes, and delivered around the con by messengers.  We did this at the last two Nova Albion events, the first Clockwork Alchemy, once at Maker Faire, and we'll be at Nova Albion in April 2013.

We have two jobs:

Operator: Works in the Telegraph Office and handles incoming messages from our brass and glass Aetheric Message Machine. Requires some typing and office skills.  You'll be in a highly visible location, a glass-fronted office facing the main corridor to the ballrooms at the Doubletree. Expect to be photographed and interviewed. About half an hour of training is required.

Messenger: Runs around the con delivering messages. Requires energy and a good voice. "Telegram for ..."

This is a fun job to do in steampunk costume.  You're handling real messages, using real antique machines, and do it in character. It gets busy, with the machines typing out messages and messengers running in and out.  We'll be operating for the same hours that the vendor room is open, Friday through Sunday.


The Telegraph Office at Clockwork Alchemy 2012
(Do come in and visit. We make our office look like a real telegraph office. It looked so official last year that some people thought they weren't supposed to come in. We'll do some things this year to make it look more inviting.)

See our web site: http://www.aetherltd.com
Here's a video of the Telegraph Office in full operation.
Contact us at info@aetherltd.com or leave a message here.
Each job comes with a hat - choice of the cap shown above or a green eyeshade. And a brass badge.
The volunteer refund deal is the same as for other Fanime volunteers, and will be coordinated through the volunteer office.

13
http://www.j-pop.com/2012/

Japanese street fashion, music, etc.  Baby, the Stars Shine Bright fashion contest. See what mega-cute looks like if you have $1000 to spend.

14
Incredible Stuff I can Make / Meet me at the clock [Steampunk prop]
« on: May 05, 2012, 02:10:41 PM »


Just finished this today. It's a prop for the Aetheric Message Machine Company's Telegraph Office, which will be on the lobby level at Clockwork Alchemy.

Here's how it was made.

The column is from a rather ugly floor lamp found on Craigslist.


I was looking for a steampunk-looking floor lamp. This wasn't it, but since I'd driven the truck out to the seller's place, I decided to buy the thing.

It's plaster over a tube, not stone.  So it's not that heavy. The base and lamp socket were discarded, leaving a column badly in need of a paint job. 

The clock is a low-cost battery-powered clock with a retro face, 20 inches in diameter, from Target. Behind the clock is a 12-sided box, 3 inches deep, built from pine and fiberboard, so the clock looks solid from all directions. The box has a square base on top of a circular disk sized to fit the opening in the tube, so it doesn't slide around. 

For stability, there's a wide base under the column, a pine round from Home Depot.  Underneath the base are rubber feet, so it will stand level.  Holding it all together is a 1/4" steel rod from top to bottom, threaded at each end and held with wing nuts.  The whole thing can be disassembled for transport. Paint is Hunter Green spray paint.

Built at TechShop, Menlo Park, CA. About 12 hours of work. 

Another fine product of the Aetheric Message Machine Company, Ltd.

15
The Aetheric Message Machine Company will have a steampunk Telegraph Office at Clockwork Alchemy.
We're looking for two to four reliable people per shift to work in the Telegraph Office at the event.



Anyone at the convention can send a telegram for free by texting from a cell phone. The messages are printed on antique printing telegraph equipment, stamped, sorted, put in envelopes, and delivered around the con by messengers.  We did this at the last two Nova Albion events, and once at Maker Faire.

We have two jobs:

Operator: Works in the Telegraph Office and handles incoming messages from our brass and glass Aetheric Message Machine. Requires some typing and office skills.  You'll be in a highly visible location, a glass-fronted office facing the main corridor to the ballrooms at the Doubletree. Expect to be photographed and interviewed. About half an hour of training is required.

Messenger: Runs around the con delivering messages. Requires energy and a good voice. "Telegram for ..."

This is a fun job to do in steampunk costume.  You're handling real messages, using real antique machines, and do it in character. It gets busy, with the machines typing out messages and messengers running in and out. We've handled about 150 messages a day at previous events. We'll be operating for the same hours that the vendor room is open, Friday through Sunday.

See our web site: http://www.aetherltd.com
Here's a video of the Telegraph Office in full operation.
Contact us at info@aetherltd.com.
Each job comes with a hat - choice of the cap shown above or a green eyeshade.
The volunteer refund deal is the same as for other Fanime volunteers, and will be coordinated through the volunteer office.

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