Friday, April 18, 2014

A Maker's Equipment List

I've been building up a nice supply of tools and components so I decided it is high-time to build a small workspace in my tiny SF apartment. There were things I knew I still needed but wrestled with some tough choices (like which Oscilloscope to buy.) I wanted either a nice Wishlist on Amazon or at least a great list to start my journey. I found a few decent starting points in the form of video & blogs:
The first link is actually a transcription from +EEVblog /by +Dave Jones (EEVblog is an awesome blog and YouTube channel, you should subscribe.) The second blog /by +Kenneth Finnegan covers more of the components side.

What I couldn't find is a complete compiled list with links to purchase. So I made one! I put together a simple Amazon Affiliate store called Maker Workbench Equipment List. I merged what I thought made sense and added a bunch of items I think any good Maker workbench would need. 

Unfortunately, Amazon doesn't have the best brands or good low-cost imports. You can use it as a guide. But if you were starting from scratch and bought everything in the store, you would have a sweet Maker setup. The list is also great for kickstarting a hackerspace!

Did I miss something? Let me know in the comments.

Friday, April 11, 2014

The factory, not just R&D, can be on a desktop

3D printing is certainly a hot topic and it hasn't even hit its stride. The machines are getting smaller, more accurate & cheaper. We're seeing less toy/protoypes and more "real products" - even a life-size robot!

But to make a final product, you need more than just the frame. New Startups are entering the arena to enable a Maker to complete the entire product development lifecycle in their own workshop.

Circuit Board Prototyping



The folks at AgiC sourced special conductive tape that only conducts in the Z-axis so soldering a SMT is literally just placing it on paper.

Milling



The mill can cut out tons of materials from copperclad for more permanent circuit boards to metals.

Pick & Place


I saw an more updated version of the machine and I was surprised how impressive it was (and no idea how expensive a real P&P cost!)

Is it ready yet for my apartment?

Not quite. These startups are just getting off the ground. Furthermore, if you were to buy all of them it would set you back more than $10k. But I can see the future and it is awesome.

./+Jonathan Beri 

Monday, December 30, 2013

#want Web Platform Frontend Toolkit

The Div Soup problem

Turnkey Frontend frameworks like Bootstrap & Foundation are great - but are not for me. They don't feel like I'm building for the web. Frameworks by definition are opinionated but class="col-md-4" loses all semantic meaning. And in order to enable even the most simplest of layouts or style, one needs to wrap div on top of div, creating an illegible "div soup." Lastly, "mobile-first" is definitely a growing theme, but all of the above lack guidance on building amazing responsive layouts & designs.

Call for a toolkit

What I'd love to see is a "Web Platform frontend toolkit." As oppose to a framework, a toolkit doesn't hide away the features of the web and provide the tools needed to build apps rapidly.

What kind of tools? Tools like robust layouts built on Flexbox. Tools like REM calculators. And tools like polyfills for responsive videos that have yet made into specs.

Features could include:
  • Layouts that fits the screen & resize with Flexbox
  • Viewport-sized font using vw, vh, vmin & vmax
  • Elements that scale, like images, videos & tables
  • Themes with CSS variables & math
  • Native, semantic elements like header, progress & dialog
  • Tools to round out design, like ratio calculators & design validators
Notice how almost all the features touch responsive design in some way? Responsive design is in such a greenfield state and that's where we need to most help as a community.

Available Resources

One of the best resources on responsive design is This Is Responsive /by +Brad Frost. Besides having a list of great resources, I especially like the exhaustive list of patterns with sample code. I'm also excited about new projects like Myth and the +Yeoman mobile-first generator.

Between This Is Responsive and links I've found, here is a brain dump of ideas in case someone out there is thinking about solving the toolkit problem.

Layouts that fits

Viewport-sizing

Scalable elements

Themes


I haven't seen anyone try to make a CSS3-based theme off of var() & calc().

Native & semantic elements

Tools

Ideas for more links? Found a solution I missed? Leave a reply in the comments.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Managing Google APIs Console Teams with Groups (including Apps for Business!)

As a Developer Advocate @ Google, I've worked with tons of individuals & companies who have multiple projects with Google. A key piece to all of their integrations is our Google APIs Console (and soon to be the Cloud Console) - the one-stop shop to create and manage Google API projects. One question that comes up often is, "how do we manage team access?" This is especially important for companies where employees come and go over time, possibly taking the keys to their projects with them.

The tl;dr is use Google Groups to manage Team members.

The console has a built-in system to manage project members via email addresses. It can be found under Team:


As you can see, you can add multiple emails to this list. A common practice among companies is to create a shared `mycompany-google-api@gmail.com` address and pass around that email password. WAT?!? DON'T DO THIS. Sharing passwords is insecure and generally bad for the universe.

Everyone working on your Google projects should have their own account. Instead of adding each user to the team, add them to a Google Group. Then add that group as a member (probably owner) of the project and manage ownership through the built-in management controls of Groups.

Protip: Did you know that anyone can create a Google account, even with a non-Gmail or Google Apps email? A smart move would be to have your developers create a new Google Account with your company email and not use their personal Google accounts for work-related development.

If you're looking at Google Groups, I would recommend naming your group as `company-google-api-owners@googlegroups.com` and setting the group as invite-only.

Note for Google Apps for Business: Your domain won't let you add members to a project that isn't in your domain, so a standard Google Group won't work (see how it is @googlegroups.com above?) Fortunately, we have a solution! Google Groups for Business works in the same way as a standard group but is created by admins and ends with `@company-domain.com.`

Note for Cloud Console: Projects created through the Cloud Console require at least one real user owner, so you can't try and delete yourself as the owner of the project if you've added a Group. You can have a sole Group owner if the project was created in the Google APIs Console.

Hope this tip helps you and your teams prevent future headaches!

P.S. if your company manages a Google+ Page and/or YouTube page, check out my post on how to manage your accounts.