Monthly Archives: June 2014

Homemade makeup, shoes, guns, hearts, hands, and casts? It’s all possible with a 3D printer!

You’ve probably heard of 3D printing, but you’ve probably never heard of Chuck Hall. Hall is the inventor of 3D printing. He’s even known as the father of 3D printing. Hall patented the process of stereolithography—otherwise known as 3D printing—in 1986. The technology allows you to produce prototypes and parts one layer at a time using resin that hardens when exposed to UV light. My first real exposure to this from a practical sense occurred last year when a friend designed and then created a part using his 3D printer to replace a broken door latch on the family’s clothes dryer. Although the reproduced part wouldn’t hold up for long, it would serve its purpose until the manufacturer’s replacement part arrived later that week. When you have four children, a properly functioning dryer comes in handy.

Years ago a 3D printer would have cost you tens of thousands of dollars. A couple of years ago, the 3D printer Tom used to create the part for his dryer set him back a relatively small amount of money: $2,500. Today, a quick search on amazon.com reveals 3D printers for considerably less than that. These printers use resin, rubber, plastic, plant-based plastic, powdered metal, etc. to print in 3D. It won’t be long when most households will include a 3D printer that will be used to make replacement parts for everyday items or create items that today are purchased from department stores, sporting goods stores, hardware stores, or even hospitals.

What are people using 3D printers for today? Women are going to love this one: printing your own makeup at home. Inventor Grace Choi, founder of New York-based Mink, has created a desktop 3D printer that prints makeup she calls the Mink. This Mink can take any image and transform it into a cosmetic, and you choose the color—any color in the world! So, what kind of makeup can you create? Eye shadow, blush, and lip gloss. The possibilities are endless. (I will not be sharing this info with my wife and two daughters.) The Mink can take any image and instantly turn it into a wearable color cosmetic. Although still in development, Choi, a Harvard School Business graduate, says that when her 3D makeup printers become available they will retail for about $300 and then decrease in price once popularity increases. Choi says that her makeup printer will be about the size of a Mac mini. With what little I know about makeup but with what I know about how much the women in my life spend on makeup, the price should decrease very quickly.

3D printers are also being used to create the perfect cast to speed up the healing of broken bones. According to Deniz Karahasin, founder of Osteoid, the company that’s created a concept design for the custom cast, these casts could reduce the time required for a broken bone to heal by up to 38 percent and increase the healing rate by up to 80 percent in fractures. If you think this is more than a cast, you’re right. The cast uses low intensity pulsed ultrasound to stimulate bone healing. By using a 3D body scanner, the area with the broken bone is scanned and then the data is transferred to the software that creates the cast. The web-like design can make anyone look like a superhero. And no more itchy, stinky, and heavy casts made from plaster. (I still remember when my daughter broke her arm and two months later the doctor cut away the cast. What a smell! And what was that pen and part of a coat hanger doing in there?) Kids are going to love this. No more whining about broken bones. Hopefully, no one will be breaking bones on purpose for the bragging rights of wearing one of these cool-looking casts.

Other items that have been made with a 3D printer include a kayak, which an engineer made using 58 pounds of resin; shoes and shoe inserts for a custom-fitted feel; and even parts for semiautomatic weapons. Yes, you read that right: the 3D printer has been used to print lower receivers for the AR-15. (If you’re not familiar with the AR-15, it is a highly modular, semiautomatic rifle that’s similar to the M16 used by the U.S. military. The lower receiver is the part into which the barrel, stock, and other parts are added to complete the weapon.) As controversial as making gun parts might be for some people, there is no controversy surrounding the surgeons who used a 3D-printed model of a heart to study the problems with a 14-month old baby’s defective heart. The surgeons used the printer to create a larger-than-life model prior to surgery, which made it much easier for them to “see” the actual defects and then figure out how to solve the problem before opening up the tiny patient. Some items printed with the 3D printer are not just models. For example, a father used a 3D printer to print a prosthetic hand for his son using $10 in material.

If you aren’t quite ready to purchase a 3D printer, you can still enjoy the benefits of one. Shapeways will print models you send them, or you can choose from thousands of 3D print shapes designed by professional designers.

What does the 3D printer mean to the masses? That someday in the not-too-distant future, the printer is going to be churning out a lot more than just words and images on paper. Things like saving life, perhaps protecting and taking life, making life prettier, and making it more enjoyable and comfortable. The possibilities are as endless as words on a page.

G-O-A-L: Good Old American Leisure

If you’re reading this, you’re probably not watching soccer now. Maybe you just took a break from watching the World Cup to get some work done, and reading the Mozy blog is as good as it’s gonnaget for the moment. Besides, the games have monopolized so much bandwidth that work seems to have slowed to a crawl.

But since we’re on the topic of the World Cup, the following soccer facts might be of interest to you. For example, did you know that the last World Cup (2010) drew upwards of 112 million viewers? That’s just viewers in the United States. As if that isn’t amazing, how about this: worldwide, the audience for the final match between Spain and the Netherlands at the 2010 World Cup was 1 billion. You read that right: 1 billion television viewers watched at least part of the final game. Who knows what the viewership will be for 2014, but viewership is already up 26 percent from the 2010 World Cup. Sometimes it’s hard for Super Bowl-watching, World Series-watching, and NBA Finals-watching (heck, might as well throw in March Madness-watching for good measure) Americans to believe, let alone understand, that the World Cup is the world’s most widely viewed sporting event. When you consider that 111 million viewers tuned in to the last Super Bowl, 19 million fans tuned in to watch the last game of the 2013

World Series, and 18 million viewers tuned in to watch the last game of the 2014 NBA Finals, World Cup soccer is clearly the winner in viewership. That’s right; when you consider worldwide viewership, soccer is bigger than U.S. football, baseball, and basketball—combined.

If you live outside the U.S., none of this will surprise you. And for good reason. Football (that is, soccer) has been around much longer than any American sport. Although the modern game has its origins in England in about the mid-1800s, the game can be traced back to the Middle Ages. Yes, those Middle Ages. If you’ve ever seen a modern-day football game in England, you know how passionate fans can get. Think about that in the 10th century with few if any rules. No wonder it was sometimes called “mob football.” Eventually, football caught on around most of the world. The need to organize play gave birth to FIFA, the International Federation of Association Football, which governs the sport worldwide and is now comprised of 209 national associations.

But things are changing in the U.S., and as the ethnicity of the U.S. population continues to change, so too does U.S. interest in soccer. Heck, more and more Americans are starting to call it football or fútbol. In fact, Major League Soccer, which represents the best of soccer in the U.S. and Canada, is currently comprised of 19 teams, including Real Salt Lake, winner of the 2009 MLS Cup, and contributor of two players (Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando) to the U.S. 2014 World Cup team. (Being from Utah, I felt I needed to say that.) MLS was founded in 1993. That’s relatively new when you consider that the National Football League, which is comprised of 32 teams, was founded in 1920; the beginnings of Major League Baseball, which is comprised of 30 teams, was founded in the late 1800s; and the National Basketball Association, which is also comprised of 30 teams, was founded in 1946.

If you didn’t have a chance to watch at least some of Monday’s game between the U.S. and Ghana, you missed a victory in a highly anticipated match (at least in the U.S.). Having lost to Ghana in the last World Cup, it was good to see Team USA win.

Waiting for a return flight to Salt Lake City, I watched the first part of the U.S.-Ghana game from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Watching a World Cup from an airport can be a bit unnerving. “Oh my gosh, what was that noise?!” Answer: thousands of U.S. fans in a relatively closed space watching or listening and cheering at the top of their lungs as the U.S. scored the first goal early in the game. The eruption was seismic in comparison to the usually quiet mood of an evening at the airport. Consider that 16 million ESPN and Univision viewers throughout the U.S. were watching the game and cheering for their team. That’s remarkable when you consider that interest in soccer in the U.S. is comparatively new, at least when compared to our history with football, baseball, and basketball. In fact, the U.S.-Ghana game was a TV ratings hit for ESPN, which had more than 11 million viewers (Univision, which broadcasts in Spanish, claimed nearly 5 million viewers). ESPN says that’s the most-watched soccer game in the U.S. ever.

What does all this mean? That U.S. soccer isn’t taking a back seat to any of the other great American pastimes and the U.S. is learning what the rest of the world has known for a very long time: football is the world’s most popular sport.

Enjoy watching  the World Cup, but make sure you get your work done. That should be your G-O-O-O-O-O-A-L!

I’m Heidi and I work for Mozy

It’s time to get to know another Mozy employee. The more you know us, the more you love us. Meet Heidi Liebl-Slabinski, who is a Technical Writer.

I define my workspace as…

Utilitarian with a touch of whimsy in the form of frogs and a William Shakespeare action figure.

A device I can’t live without….

I do feel naked without my smartphone nearby, even if I don’t touch it for hours. Love my over-the-ear noise-cancelling headphones.

When I arrive at work, I typically start my day off by…

Coffee and a quick scan of some news sites.

My work routine is…

Highly variable, often with less writing than you might imagine. Lots of reading and listening and research and discussion and meetings are required. Some days are random chaos. Other days are focused almost entirely on writing and editing.
I do/do not listen to music at work and it helps me work better because …

I started listening to music to block out distractions when I need to focus and write. It took me a while to find the right wall of sound, which is energizing and not distracting. I eventually settled on an instrumental/electronica Pandora station. Now, I’ve discovered that I can’t get into the writing zone without the headphones! But otherwise no music, because I get a lot from random cubicle conversations. The walls have ears (and they are mine)!

The best advice I can give a recent college graduate looking to do what I do is …

First and always, you need to be a solid writer. But don’t think this is a career for someone who sits at a desk and writes all day. You must be a perpetually curious, self-managed, extroverted introvert. You often have to pursue people to learn what you need to know, and disarmingly ask probing questions. Do your research first though, or you will only annoy people. Take pride in serving your audience well, and be willing to get hands-on familiar with your subject matter. Technical writers often have to manage their own projects, juggling multiple priorities and deadlines. You need to be very detail-oriented while also seeing the bigger picture.

Outside of work, I am passionate about …
Literacy. I cannot imagine how difficult life would be without the ability to read, and how sad and narrow it would be without the joy and knowledge that reading brings. I suspect the best writers are also voracious readers of good writing, in every genre. I also really enjoy alpine skiing, concerts and theatre (though I really don’t favor musicals), and time with my friends and family.

My eating habits are …
Everything in moderation. I am proud to say that I can make an order of Girl Scout cookies last a really long time.
P.S. Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo sauce. That stuff is awesome on just about everything.

If I could be someone for a day, I would be …
Living and working on board the Starship Enterprise. What’s not to love about an egalitarian meritocracy? Plus, they have tricorders and replicators and transporters!

The “secret sauce” that makes me who I am …

I’m a perfectionist who tries not to take myself too seriously. I love a good laugh.

Up In Cloud Cuckoo Land

Recently, I was listening to a story on the radio about the London real estate market and how prices are now 40 to 50 percent above the city’s 2007 highs. The real estate agency executive being interviewed was asked about efforts by some to put restrictions in place that are designed to prevent wealthy foreigners from buying too much of the prime central London real estate. Apparently, some 45 percent of the pricey London homes are being purchased by non-Brits. The realtor’s response was that people who think that restrictions are good are “up in cloud cuckoo land” because the foreign buyers are living in London and contributing to the local economy.

Double decker bus in fron of Big Ben

I just love that expression, “up in cloud cuckoo land.” I’d never heard it before, but after talking with a co-worker who lives in London, he assured me that it’s a legit quip by the Brits. “Up in cloud cuckoo land” got me thinking about other “cloud” expressions.

The following are some of my favorites.

“The clouds ye so much dread.” Hmm, I think I’ll talk to Mozy Marketing about this one. This could be the beginning of a clever ad campaign about why you want to stay away from our competitors.

How about these: “Dropping from the clouds,” “Thy cloud drops fatness,” and “O, clouds, unfold!” I’m pretty sure that some of the competition is guilty of those cloud faux pas. As for Mozy, our data centers have never been breached. No dropping data—or fatness—from our cloud. And rest assured that our cloud never unfolds.

“Cloud of unknowing.” You know Mozy; we’re the most trusted name in cloud data protection. That’s definitely worth knowing when looking for a cloud service provider.

“Get off of my cloud!” I remember watching Jagger strut around the Englewood Forum back in ’74 shouting, “Hey! You! Get off of my cloud!” So many years later, I can picture him encouraging everyone to join him on the Mozy cloud. Even rock stars know where their data is safe. Hey, Mick; I, too, am sick and tired, fed up with all of those other clouds. “Hey! You! Yeah, I’m talkin’ to you! Get on the Mozy cloud!”

“Every cloud has a silver lining.” Well not ours. The Mozy cloud is lined with the triple-protection of Tritanium. Yeah, that’s just our Marketing team having fun. Tritanium is a fictional compound, but it’s non-fictional strength. The Mozy Tritanium® Cloud is military-grade security, world-class data centers, and has the backing of storage leader EMC.

“His clouds removed.” I don’t even want to go there. You competition, keep your dang clouds on! Now that’s embarrassing.

After this light conversation about clouds, let’s drift back down to earth, shall we? Mozy by EMC (NYSE: EMC) is your cloud provider. There are a number of reasons why you’ve chosen Mozy to back up and protect your data. Maybe it’s because Mozy seamlessly protects your endpoints and remote offices. Maybe it’s because Mozy helps boost workforce productivity with real-time file sync and mobile access. Or maybe it’s our award-winning customer support. And unlike London real estate costs, Mozy offers data protection at seriously low prices. Whatever the reason you use Mozy, the cost of backing up with Mozy makes good sense and provides peace of mind. There is nothing more important to us than ensuring that your data is protected and accessible. Any other approach is just, well, up in cloud cuckoo land.

In the immortal words of writer A.A. Milne, “How sweet to be a cloud.” Yeah, the Mozy backup cloud.

Help! These Beetles Don’t Wanna Hold Your Hand


I woke up early this morning in a cold sweat after a bad dream. It’s those dang mosquitoes I read about last night. Actually, it’s not just any mosquito; it’s the new and improved mosquito.

I am not afraid of mosquitoes. I am not fond of them either, but I do respect the role they play in nature. Since I was young I’ve had an interest in entomology, so most of my life I’ve been around six-legged critters, including mosquitoes, of which there’s something like 3,500 described species. The larvae and adults provide a bounteous supply of food for a variety of animals, including birds, bats, and fish. However, it’s a fact that we humans don’t like any animal that sucks our blood. It doesn’t matter if it has six legs or two legs (I have daughters, so I know all about Edward and Bella from Twilight fame). But these mosquitoes from my dream are completely different from your everyday mosquitoes.

You’re probably wondering how a mosquito can be improved. Depends on who you ask. According to an article in Daily Tech, researchers at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency hope to grow insect nerves into silicon computer chip connections to allow real insects to be remote controlled like remote-controlled airplanes. But the more realistic approach is the fully robotic type. Of course, when it comes to the government, there are lots of “I can’t confirm or deny that we’re doing this,” which everyone knows always means, “Yes, we’re doing this.”

But the more important question you’re probably asking yourself is why anyone would want to improve one of those blood suckers. Apparently, the U.S. government is developing new types of flying machines for the purposes of national defense. These machines are basically mini-drones—six-legged, two-winged flying machines called micro aerial vehicles, or “MAVs” for short. One version looks like a mosquito. And believe it or not, just like the real mosquito, it sucks. But not to feed. Apparently, future models will be able to pierce the enemy’s skin and take a DNA sample. Or worse, these diminutive drones, these minute minions of the military may be able to—at least in theory—leave behind something more than a welt on an opponent’s skin: radio-frequency identification tracking nanotechnology that’s capable of keeping tabs on an unsuspecting victim’s movements. You can run, but you can’t hide! It’s not fool-proof, of course. Just like the real mosquito, the robotic version could be swatted, squished, and squelched (though “squelch” takes on new meaning for these radio-controlled suckers).

Apparently, another insect on the list of MAVs is the beetle. Big deal, you may be saying to yourself. But it is. We have a framed beetle specimen from Africa in our home that has an impressive set of jaws and a wingspan of eight inches. If the military could do to the robotic beetle what it does to members of Seal Team 6, you not only have a formidable opponent that fights on sea, air and land, but one with the added bonus of some very large mandibles capable of making mincemeat of hostile forces. Kind of scary when you think about a battalion of beetles advancing from the air with absolutely no fear of death—because they’re not alive to begin with. I can almost hear Wagner’s “Flight of the Valkyries.”

If you ever encounter these MAVs, you will want to shout “Help!” Make no mistake, these beetles do not want to hold your hand, nor do they love you, yeah, yeah, yeah. No, they’re out to wreak havoc.

Think about the benefits of these tiny flying machines in fighting the war on terrorism. According to one source cited in a recent National Geographic article, these MAVs, or “entomopters” as they are also called, could look for Al-Qaeda operatives inside caves or other hideouts. But who really knows all of the applications for these MAVs? So the next time you see a mosquito, beetle, or any suspicious-looking six-legged creature buzzing around you, before you squish it or reach for a can of Raid, carefully consider what you’re up against. Sure, you may successfully squish it or spray it out of commission, but remember this: there’s more—many more—where it came from.

Apps Maps and Satellite Gaps

Apps Maps and Satelite Gaps