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'Make' Premier Issue 198

prostoalex writes "The premier issue of Make magazine arrived in a thick envelope in my mailbox a few days ago. The magazine has been previousl publicized on Slashdot. Edited (in chief) by Mark Frauenfelder from BoingBoing and published by John Battelle and O'Reilly, this is an attempt for a quarterly publication for hackers, tinkerers, do-it-yourself type of guys and people interested in technology (not necessarily computers)." Read on for Alex's review; this sounds like the best parts of 1970s-era Popular Mechanics.
author Published by John Battelle and O'Reilly Media
pages 192
publisher www.makezine.com
rating 10
reviewer Alex Moskalyuk
ISBN 0596009224
summary A quarterly magazine on DIY technology

But enough with the links. On the front page the magazine features 181 pages for DIY technology, promising stories on aerial photography, backyard monorails, XM radio hacks, iPod tricks, DIY magnetic card reader and blogging made simple. Make is roughly half the size of a normal full-page magazine (like PC Mag or InfoWorld) and generally feels like a paperback book more than a magazine. The paper is also not the glossy print you'd see in normal magazines, it says on page 8 that they used New Leaf Paper, made 100% from post-consumer waste. Make generally uses normal-type font, which should be readable by anyone, except for some pages where they switch to really large fonts.

The magazine is broken down into several logical categories. It starts with editors' welcome letters and short features of some DIY projects people have done on their own (this guy's backyard monorail stands out). The Maker pages in this premiere issue contain an interview with Neil Gershenfeld from MIT, an article on heirloom technology, possibility of building an open-source car and an expose of Bay Area Dorkbot group.

The Projects category (starting at p. 49) is where the real fun starts. The projects take up majority of the pages, and it makes sense - looks like the authors put their best into providing excruciating details, pieces of advice and general information, so that anyone can follow their work. The projects are well-illustrated, some contain necessary diagrams and cartoon-like explanations of what needs to be done to assemble the proper devices, the step-by-step pages contain both pictures and text. Each project is sub-divided into several parts - Set up (list of everything needed before you start), Make it (the actual step-by-step instructions and discussion of the projects), Use it (reasons for tinkering with the project in the first place). The setup list is also provided on Make Web site, like here's the list of components for magnetic stripe reader.

The projects for the issue include adding a disposable camera to the kite for aerial photography, a $14 video camera stabilizer, 5-in-1 network cable (the combination of RJ45 and DB9 inputs) and the magnetic stripe reader.

The major projects are followed by the projects consuming less time and efforts. This is mainly for people who would rather spend more money at the spot, buy some cool accessory to complement their electronic device, and do minimal engineering on their own, as far as I understand. The categories include Home Entertainment, Mobile, Cars, Online, Computers and some additional projects that did not fit anywhere above. The table of contents contains the complete list of projects.

It looks like the magazine that is needed in the market. At some point playing with technology became synonymous with running to the nearest mall and getting the latest electronic gadget, and even RadioShack nowadays mostly looks like a flashy storefront for selling cell service plans and new PDAs. Make is the magazine for people who like to look under the hood, who like to work on do-it-yourself projects and who feel great accomplishment when a project is over, even though its practical usability might be questioned. Of course, the amount of projects in the magazine is a bit overwhelming, but my guess is they figure you'll find some extremely interesting and some are just not interesting at all.

Since I grew up in the Soviet Union, Make magazine reminds me of Young Technician (when technician meant someone involved with technology), a Russian must-subscribe boy magazine that would pull the latest science and technology news together, and also dedicate large portion of its pages to readers' projects. Of course, nowadays, in the age of Hack A Day, Lifehacker and numerous HOW-TOs such magazine might not exactly have the exclusive coverage of the DIY projects. Google might turn out more results, but for some of the projects it also looks like the authors were either pioneers or authorities in their field since googling for DIY aerial photography provides just Make article and a bunch of links to it.

Make is a quarterly publication, so $35 subscription fee covers only 4 issues per year. A bit expensive, but if you plan to enrich yourself and spend free time more productively, I think Make has lots of content to entice the reader and keep him busy for 3 months. First impression might not mean a whole lot, but Make was one of few magazines that I enjoyed reading from page 1 to page 192.

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'Make' Premier Issue

Comments Filter:
  • I'll wait (Score:5, Funny)

    by Rei ( 128717 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @04:48PM (#11704277) Homepage
    I think I'll wait for its successor, CMake magazine. I've heard that it's a lot easier to understand.
  • by Nom du Keyboard ( 633989 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @04:50PM (#11704299)
    a quarterly publication for hackers, tinkerers, do-it-yourself type of guys and people interested in technology (not necessarily computers)

    Yeah but, will it ever replace Slashdot?

  • $35 for 4 issues (Score:2, Interesting)

    lets see some of the reports from issue #1:

    192: My First Computer
    Remembering how my dad built an Apple II from scratch.

    170: MakeShift
    Imagine this: Your car battery is dead, and you're stuck in the woods. Your mission: Get home before you freeze to death.

    84: $14 Video Camera Stabilizer
    You don't have $10,000 to spend on a Steadicam? Make this ultra-low-cost video camera stabilizer and see how much better your video shots turn out.

    I think I'll pass on this one. Maybe when they get to 12 issues for $12

    • Not very fair... (Score:5, Informative)

      by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) * on Thursday February 17, 2005 @06:41PM (#11705627)
      Actually #2 is an assignment - they don't give you the answer, just ask for people to submit solutions.

      What's arong with a cheap stabilizer? Let's you run along with video cameras just about as well as pro stabilizers, and is dead-simmple to build.

      But they have lots, and lots of other stuff as well. Other more interesting projetcs like a home-made mag-stripe reader to see what is on your cards. Or tips on proper soldiering/desoldiering (to prepare you for future projects no doubt). Or even the kite thing which was interesting.

      They also do a very good job with project descriptions, to the point where probably almost anyone could do any of the projects.

      It is 195 pages after all, and has a wide range of material. At only $8.75 and issue I think it's a pretty good deal.
  • by Robotron23 ( 832528 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @04:51PM (#11704323)
    We have to go...outside to do these projects?
  • Go Make Go! (Score:4, Funny)

    by alamut ( 122156 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @04:51PM (#11704326)
    I heard about this on the previous /. article, It sounded like a cool mag, but you can never be too sure. now that a real human has read it and told me about it, i am much more comfortable about shelling out my hard earned bux.

    of course, now i'll have to suffer with h4x0r inferiority complex, but thats the price i'll pay....
  • 192 Pages? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by John Fulmer ( 5840 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @04:51PM (#11704329)

    In the day of paper thin magizines (anyone read 'Time' lately?), that's pretty hefty. Even if it is 1/2 size.

    What I didn't see was any mention of how much advertising there was (or will be).
    • Re:192 Pages? (Score:4, Informative)

      by cmorgan47 ( 720310 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @05:18PM (#11704652) Homepage
      What I didn't see was any mention of how much advertising there was (or will be).

      not much at all.
    • by Infonaut ( 96956 ) <infonaut@gmail.com> on Thursday February 17, 2005 @06:12PM (#11705308) Homepage Journal
      At one point the mag was so thick that police officers in major cities were subscribing, just so they could use 'em as hillbilly personal armor. I used to use my back issues to reinforce deterioriating sections of the basement walls in my house.

      But seriously, those things were huge. It was a giddy era. Negroponte was waxing philosophical about digital this and digital that. Articles about crazy new technology abounded. Everyone walked around wearing shades because the future was so damned bright.

      The future just ain't what it used to be, eh?

      • Yeah...I'm moving, and found some old magazines, including an old issue of Wired. A big smiley on the cover with a flower in its mouth. The header: "The economy is booming, the environment is getting better, we are living longer and happier lives. Ahead of us is an era of unparallelled prosperity and happiness. You got a problem with that?"
        (Or something to that effect.)

        Hehe.... I thought it was silly even when I bought it. Wish I could have the writers here so I could really rub their noses in it. :-)

      • At one point the mag was so thick that police officers in major cities were subscribing, just so they could use 'em as hillbilly personal armor. I used to use my back issues to reinforce deterioriating sections of the basement walls in my house.

        Wired was for pansies. Real men used the Computer Shopper. That was personal armor, and you coud have built your basement with back issues. Kids today...
    • Re:192 Pages? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by SquadBoy ( 167263 )
      /me looks at his copy.

      I count 8 ads. At least one of which is for a *very* cool company. There are also links for places to buy the stuff you need for the project in the articles themselves. But I consider that info rather than ads. It is worth every penny.
  • by mmaddox ( 155681 ) <oopfoo@nOspaM.gmail.com> on Thursday February 17, 2005 @04:52PM (#11704334)
    You got yours before I got mine. I think our mailman's on a bender, again.

    (Still waiting)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Here I thought this was a HOWTO on configure, make && make install.

    I figured even RPM installs are better. For easiest use, deal with apt, urpmi, or synaptic.

    Wonder if the magazine was proposed by a gentoo user. Wait, even THEY use emerge!!!
  • it's about time (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bindir ( 63128 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @04:53PM (#11704346) Homepage
    It's about time there is a magazine out there that's more than just pages of video game ads and reviews. If only tomshardware had a featured spot in this magazine....Hopefully the magazine won't end up too technical and not have enough subscribers
    • Re:it's about time (Score:4, Informative)

      by captaincucumber ( 450913 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @06:25PM (#11705470)
      I got mine in the mail yesterday...

      It's a nice mix of technical and not-technical. about 1/3rd of the stuff I saw looked like stuff I would have loved to have played with as a kid (i.e. if you're technical enough to handle model rocketry), and another 1/3rd is moderately technical. Another 1/3rd is product reviews and recommendations - like an explosive drain clog remover that uses CO2 cartriges.

      The actual projects have step-by-step instructions, so I assume you wouldn't need to be technical at all to do them. The list of items for some of them is pretty intense though, like the kite photography howto, makes me wish they offered kits.

      Overall I think it's an awesome magazine and I hope it lasts.
  • by L0stb0Y ( 108220 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @04:53PM (#11704347) Journal
    The first issue arrived yesterday, and I really enjoyed reading it. It is different in scope than the likes of Nuts and Volts or Servo; but the magazine (or Mook as they are calling it: magazine + book) was well put together. They have a discussion group off their main website also, where it appears people are already discussing the building of the projects (read: tech support ;) Not that you'd need it, the articles are pretty clear....

  • No Link? (Score:3, Informative)

    by OECD ( 639690 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @04:53PM (#11704350) Journal

    No link to Popular Mechanics [popularmechanics.com]? They've had a web presence since '96 or so. Give them some love, editors.

  • Geekazine! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Stanistani ( 808333 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @04:54PM (#11704362) Homepage Journal
    I must buy this... even if I don't have so much time to do projects, at least I can see how folks are doing it nowadays...

    Yes, you can Google stuff, but nothing compares to the portability of dead trees.

    I can wallow in the memories of the projects (some now illegal, alas, if done today) I did as a young nerd (1964-1984).
  • The lead time for publishing a paper magazine is atrocious when compared to webtime. Many web sites for regular print magazines will only run the articles after the print has gone out. What's the deal going to be with Make, do we know? By the time it shows up in my mailbox will I already have read the articles [engadget.com]?
    • Perhaps they're worried that, if they published on the web or some other means of electronic distribution, that it would be redistributed, or "pirated". Their revenue could be virtually castrated by the rampant copying of thier magazine

      But we all know that never happens on the Internet. Why do they insist on treating their customers like CRIMINALS!?!
      • Perhaps they're worried that, if they published on the web or some other means of electronic distribution, that it would be redistributed, or "pirated". Their revenue could be virtually castrated by the rampant copying of thier magazine

        Which seems rather odd, considering that much if not all of their material (at least this first issue) CAME FROM other web articles.

        eg 5-in-1 cable [ossmann.com] and I'm sure I read the kite-digicam mod somewhere...

    • Doubtful (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) * on Thursday February 17, 2005 @06:28PM (#11705508)
      Honestly, did you read how to take pictures from a kite before, or AFTER you read about Make reporting on the same thing?

      Sure you could probably get similar info on most of the projects anywhere. But will you? The answer is probably no. Doallars to donuts that by the time the next Make rolls around you will have read nothing of any of the projects they feature, even though you could look them up. I know because I am the same way!

      The purpose of the magazine is partly an aggregator of interesting projects, but also partly a motivator to try and be more than just a consumer again and start exploring the possibility of creation that so many of us enjoyed when we were kids. I mean, one of the projects is a home-built mag-stripe reader, how cool is that? Well I think it's cool.

      Also I would say that the general level of presentaiton is very good and possibly more clear than a lot of articles you are going to find online. They really did go to a lot of work to make sure than even someone with trepidations can do a lot of the projects, they are so clear.
      • Honestly, did you read how to take pictures from a kite before, or AFTER you read about Make reporting on the same thing?

        Actually yes, since I follow Engadget's RSS feed. That was how I knew where to go get that story, even though the reviewer said that googling for it did not turn it up.

        I don't deny the coolness factor. I love the idea. I'm just saying that if it's nothing more than a print version of stories that have already been circulating for 3 months, then there's no real reason for me to buy it

  • by GillBates0 ( 664202 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @04:59PM (#11704426) Homepage Journal
    ...this issue's center spread [nylug.org].

    Future editions are expected to feature many such real life pictures of geeks in action, potentially attracting thousands of subscribers.

  • LinuxWorld (Score:2, Informative)

    by Kancer ( 61362 )
    These guys were at linuxworld Boston yesterday. Pretty cool stuff, I was holding this in my hand yesterday. Kinda looked like an Ikea [ikea.com] catalogue.

    One more link from their company was http://www.makingthings.com/ [makingthings.com]

  • i'm stoked (Score:2, Funny)

    by ruxxell ( 819349 )
    i've been waiting for this badboy for a while now. not that i'm actually adept at tinkering, but that's the whole idea, i guess, right?

    for the meantime, i've been reading nuts and volts magazine while running the elliptical thing at the gym. its so funny, because everyone else is reading fitness magazines, and i'm lookin at inductor related schematics. wtf?

    yeah i went to RPI.
  • by Krieger ( 7750 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @05:02PM (#11704460) Homepage
    So the subscribe page has a section for promotional codes. Which makes me wonder if people have seen them. For $35, it's probably worth it, but if there are promotional codes... why not use them.
    • I haven't RTFMagazine but my rule of thumb is when it says "Save teh $50!!1!" and we don't see the price, the product costs 10 times more. Why not? you ask? Because, from what I've seen, promotional codes==magazine versions of spam and adware (with a bit more legality).
    • A quick google found "M5ZXML" for a free issue. I used it and was informed it worked. YMMV.
      • Thx for the promo code,

        I would just add that the promo code gives you a free edition above and beyond the 4 you get with a regular subscription. So it is a free issue, but it requires a full subscription, in which case you get five issues instead of four.

        but useful info nonetheless, thx.
  • by kfg ( 145172 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @05:03PM (#11704469)
    is a 1968 Popular Mechanics DIY encyclopedia. Me mum bought it for me when I were a wee lad. I got lucky on mums. When I started taking everything in the house apart to see how it worked; and if I could put it together again, better, she not only encouraged me, but went so far as convert the living room of our home into a workshop (American urban colonial neighborhood. No garage. I can, literally, shake hands with my neighbor without either one of us leaving our bedrooms).

    She didn't even blink when she came home one day to find I had built a formula car in the dining room because there wasn't room for it in the living room workshop. We all just lived in the kitchen for awhile, which is where we spent most of our family time anyway.

    More recently she's actually the one who clued me in to the whole dorkbot thingy (I'm a fairly solitary tinkerer, although testing new vehicles does seem to draw something of a crowd at times).

    So what the hell happened to PM anyway?

    Sounds like I'll have to at least check out Make, but I fear I'll be disappointed in it. . .only coming out quarterly.

  • Brick and Mortar? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ArticleI ( 842868 )
    Does anyone know what brick and mortar retailers will be carrying Make? The local Barnes and Noble hasn't even heard of it.
    • Re:Brick and Mortar? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by SmokeHalo ( 783772 )
      There was a post on the magazine website [oreilly.com] that said:
      It will also be available in coming months through most of the same online and brick-and-mortar retailers that carry O'Reilly's other publications, plus select newsstand outlets. We'll be posting more about that as it becomes available at those places. But the subscribers will be getting it sooner.
    • Re:Brick and Mortar? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by rsklnkv ( 532866 )
      I work at Powells Books in Oregon and we will stock it. Both the Portland (the Powells Techinical Store) and Beaverton stores will carry it.
  • by niteice ( 793961 ) <icefragment@gmail.com> on Thursday February 17, 2005 @05:06PM (#11704502) Journal
    tar xzvf make-magazine-1.1.tar.gz
    cd make-magazine-1.1
    ./configure --pages=192
    make articles
    make magazine
  • I'll wait for the follow-up, Make Install.

  • Does anyone know if you get this first issue if you go ahead and get a subscription today? I've never heard about it until today and I'm interested in some of the stuff in this issue. I can call the number when I'm off work, but if anyone knows the answer before then that'd be great...
  • God I miss the days when being into technology meant actually building and designing your own gear. I still do it to an extent, but some of it has moved into the "virtual" arena. I wonder how many Slashdot readers actually ever made their own crystal radios as kids? Or how many of us "modded" our cheapo TVs and stereos back in the late 70s and early 80s to give us pseudo stereo and then eventually real stereo TV? Or... how many of us handwired and built our own SIMM memory expanders for our Amigas and A
    • You lost me after the "built own crystal radio" but I managed to catch up at "built own SIMM memory expanders".

      Actually my favorite mod that I did when I was younger was to remove the keyboard from an Atari ST (built into the main computer), slap a pizza-box around it for a backing, then use a joystick cord to connect the keyboard back to the PC. It held up for years like that and was a lot more convienient. It was not very complex but it had a lot of value.

      I subscribed to Make because I've been yearing
      • Cool. I remember dying to find a used Mega ST with the detachable KB. I considered doing the same as you, but I never got around to it. There is definitely something nice about having a separate KB from the rest of the computer. What I was always entertained by was the fact that the adults around me at the time thought I was "breaking" stuff. But when they saw what I managed to accomplish, they stopped complaining. :)
    • Re:Finally (Score:2, Funny)

      by jwcorder ( 776512 )
      Those are all things I did, but a lot of times I feel like I'm one of the only ones here who ever did this kind of thing.

      Sorry, I was busy getting laid....
    • Yeah, I built a crystal radio as a kid. Handbuilt amateur radio equipment. Wirewrapped my first CP/M computer on an S-100 board blank. I may have learned a lot, but by contrast to today, those days sucked the big one. I'd much rather be solving problems at the higher levels than spending a week's evenings wirewrapping a computer. Right now I'm combining a laser range finder with a computer and a GPS receiver to calculate the coordinates of what's being lased. Thank God I can just buy a microcontroller, a GP
      • It's a toss up. These days you can do things that you couldn't easily do in the past. But you have a lot less fun getting there. So if you miss the fun had in actualy doing things the "hard way", today's aproaches leave a lot to be desired. But there building your own laser in the past was not something that just anyone could do. So having today's laser LEDs available at a low cost is also a benefit.
  • Howtoons (Score:5, Informative)

    by t482 ( 193197 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @05:21PM (#11704682) Homepage
    Are these the same as http://www.howtoons.org/ [howtoons.org]?
    • Are these the same as http://www.howtoons.org/?

      Yeah, the one about building a little motor is actually in the first issue of Make
  • i got mine last week, and no envelope.

  • by Randy Rathbun ( 18851 ) <slashdot.20.randyrathbun@spamgourmet.com> on Thursday February 17, 2005 @05:33PM (#11704816) Homepage
    Nothing really too complicated in there, and it looks like you can build most of the stuff they present with just a few hours of work. The DIY stuff is pretty darn simple, actually.

    When I was lookin' through my issue last night I kind of skimmed by the stuff they showed OS X doing - but when I went back and read it this morning, it actually looked like some cool stuff.

    I do hope that in the future they have some actual electronics projects in there of some sort. I am sure they will. This time around it looked to be mainly taking what is already out there and showing different ways of putting said gizmo to use, or fixing it.

    Overall though, I have to give Make a big thumbs up. It looks nice, is fun to read, and is gonna be really useful.

    BTW, as I was typing this, I kept trying to come up with what Make reminds me of. I think I got it.... a paper version of The Screen Savers when the show did not suck.
  • I'll get it (Score:2, Funny)

    by ein2many ( 850712 )
    For the pictures. Not like Playboy, for the articals
  • This magazine sounds really cool, but I'd like to actually read an issue before deciding whether or not I want to subscribe.

    Does anyone know if you can get it in any stories, or is it subscription only? From reading the site, it sounds like it is subscription only, but I'm hoping that's not the case.

    PS: Is it just me, or do most of the projects they covered sound awfully lot like slashdot stories we've had in the last 6 months?

  • Did anyone else find the credit card process/flow a little unusual for subscribing?

    It asks for your CC info, then gives you a "you've been invoiced" page where you can click on another link to "pay" with your credit card (again?!) but this time you really seem to submit it. Bizarre.


  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) * on Thursday February 17, 2005 @06:44PM (#11705671)
    Another project tucked away somewhere in there is a super-simple railgun involving just a handful of steel balls, a few magnets, and a wodden ruler.

    A cheap way to arm your home-built patrol Death-Bot.
    • My son just did one of these for a science project. SciToys [scitoys.com] has a good description for one, and source for the neodymium-iron-boron magnets.
      BEWARE! These magnets are exceedingly strong and fragile. They WILL jump out of your hand and smack together, often cracking one. Due to this fragility, there is an upper limit on number of magnets and speed. Too many, and the ball bearings will go too fast and crack the magnets.

      To placate the handwringers, we called it a 'Linear Accelerator' instead of a railgun or Ga

  • by StefanJ ( 88986 ) on Thursday February 17, 2005 @07:16PM (#11706000) Homepage Journal
    * Grass-trimming Hybrid from Hell: Hacking together your Roomba and a riding mower.

    * SpaceShip Two plans.

    * Wood: Where does it come from?

    * Trap Doors 101

    * The wacky world of George Foreman Grill hacking.

    * The first article of a five part series on DIY genetic engineering, describing how to modify your colonic bacteria so that your farts smell like orange potpourri. (The issue with part five, "Catgirls," is predicted to be best-seller.)
  • Tux Magazine gone (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ylikone ( 589264 )
    I had purchased a subscription to the new Tux Magazine (first issue was supposed to come out this month) and got a letter in the mail last week saying they had not gotten enough subscriptions to make it viable, so it would be pdf only. Anyway, they refunded my money. But really, I don't care about reading pdf versions of magazines... there is a reason I like the dead-tree kind, you can lie back in bed while you read them.
  • by hhawk ( 26580 )
    i've been a huge fan of BoingBoing since the late 80's and of John since he was an edtior at Wired and gave me my first break writing a cover story...

    Anyway, I wish them best of luck!
  • Reminds me a bit of the Whole Earth Catalog with a strong do-it-yourself slant. Interestingly they both come out of the same [Marin] county and the WEC was a and early promoter of bboards and PCs.

10.0 times 0.1 is hardly ever 1.0.