Maker Faire + Alessandro Cortini at Gray Area

Before we headed out to the southeast and then the middle, we headed just south to San Mateo and the 10th anniversary edition of Maker Faire Bay Area.

We have had the opportunity to attend several Maker Faire events in the past and it is always awesome to see the new things people have come up with since the last time we were there. One year, the trend was 3D printers. The next was the make your own 3D printer using only this book. The next was quadcopters and other radio controlled “drones”. The one after that had those drones in all shapes and sizes and doing battle in one of the exhibit halls.

This year had all of that stuff, but way more fine tuned than it used to be. The filament some of the booths had for 3D printing was very heavy and strong and not the super breakable and flexible plastic I had seen printed in the past. The drones, well, they’re still about the same. But even the tiny ones are equipped with HD cameras now. I was impressed by the Aerofly and Freerunner RC simulator programs that were being demoed at one booth. I hope to one day find time to take my own quadcopters back into the air!

In the realm of 3D printing, my other favorite thing was the Imaginary Spaces booth. Imaginary Spaces lets you design things in their app, currently only on PC and MAC but beta testing on iOS and later Android soon. Once you have your design configured you can virtually walk through it or export it to Minecraft or 3D print it. They had tiny 3D printed castle rings they were giving away and demonstration models of elaborate dollhouses and one architectural model that looked very professionally done, all made through their software.

In the back corners of the Tesla dark room and the 3D village were the virtual reality folks. In the 3D village I got to see the cameras used to shoot a 3D OK Go video. In the Tesla dark room, I got to watch others marvel at the technology behind the Oculus Rift, the Google Cardboard, the Gear VR and plunge head first into VR with a flying carpet demo using a Thrustmaster HOTAS controller.

At the other end of the faire, I got to check out the Ricoh Theta 360 degree camera. If it didn’t have a 4GB limitation and no way to change batteries, I would have been sold. I spent around 20 minutes talking to the folks at the Ricoh booth and am excited about their now a couple of year old technology. I hope the next model has expandable memory and changeable batteries.

I also saw other cool things like the Makey Makey and Drum Pants 2.0.

The most impressive sights though were the things that schoolchildren had come up with. Whether it be an exoskeleton that can lift 700 pounds or a telepresence robot that lets you see what the robot sees through an Oculus Rift, kids were showing me a world of tomorrow.

I wasn’t expecting much out of the 10th Maker Faire. The lineup of guests were not people that interested me. We spent five hours exploring and it ended up being a great time. I’m glad to see people still making awesome things and I definitely felt inspired by them.

A photo posted by @michelevr5 on


After we got back from our cross country whirlwind tour following Mark Danielewski, we went back to work. Yeah, pretty boring stuff.

Tonight I went to see Alessandro Cortini at the Gray Area Festival. Gray Area is a arts and technology lab based in the Mission who recently renovated the long dead Grand Theater near 23rd and Mission and had a weekend festival to promote its grand opening. Today was Day 1.

I found out Alessandro was playing just yesterday and my wife was both not feeling well and not that interested in the show, so I braved it alone.

It was my first time going to a show flying a Schoeps hat, and while I didn’t think what I was doing was working, it turned out that I got a quiet but accurate document of the somewhat technical difficulty marred set.

Cortini played a 45 minute set of his latest works from his 2014 album Sonno backed by cool visuals on a giant movie screen. The theater was extremely dark during his performance and the crowd were all there seemingly to see the headliner, a guy named Lustmord who has been around for a long time but rarely plays shows.

I greatly enjoyed seeing Alessandro as he is one of my favorite artists. I was too tired to stick around for the big deal to everyone else headliner but am happy I made the trip out.

Now onward to a not busy holiday three day weekend.

Alessandro Cortini at Gray Area

A photo posted by @exej on


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