How to Design and Adapt Custom Game Interfaces

Alternative Computing Club, Meeting 2 is January 31st from 6pm to 8pm. Synopsis:

Chicago game developers and hackers! Come on out to our second meeting at the DePaul University Idea Realization Lab. We’ll have a few short presentations from local developers on the platforms and controllers they’ve developed, followed by an open show-and-tell and gathering for people to talk about current, past, and future projects.

Short Presentations for our second meeting:
* Rob Rehr – Designing and Building the Wii Controller Badge Adapter
* Josh Delson – Building the game OVERTIME for GDC alt.ctrl

As with the first one, it’s at the Idea Realization Lab at DePaul University. Look forward to seeing everyone there!

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

Makerspace / Maker Resources

I often get asked: What are some resources where I can learn about makerspaces in higher education, in my K-12 institution, or just in general? So! Here’s a short list of things I’ve collected, written about, and read over the years that I’ve found particularly influential:

  • How Tinkering and “Problem Making” Are Shaking Up Higher Education – I wrote this article for Make a few years back, but think it still holds up as a good reference for the educational/curricular side of making in higher ed.
  • Chicago Makers – I originally built this resource solely to give people in Chicago a stronger idea of how to get involved in making in our fair city, but it has since also grown into a compendium of books and resources that I find useful in the maker community. Of particular note, and influence for me, is Tim Ingold’s Making: Anthropology, Archaeology, Art and Architecture.
  • Stanford’s put out a book called Make Space, which is a really good crash course/index on different things you can build to facilitate creative collaboration in spaces like makerspaces.
  • I went to the very first International Symposium on Academic Makerspaces a few years back, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Since then, I’ve kept an eye on the whitepapers that come out of the conference, and have collected them all into Google Drive. You can find them here.
  • MakerEd put out a “how to build a makerspace” playbook several years ago that’s still a pretty good reference. The only caveat I would put in there is that every makerspace is different, and you should primarily listen to your community when it comes to what kind of things you should buy to support them.
  • I cannot stress enough how influential Object Oriented Ontology and Speculative Realism has been on my philosophy about making. Particularly, the ideas around objects, their qualities, perception, and the nature of things (including people). Some good literature in that regard: Graham Harman’s Object Oriented Ontology and Speculative Realism, Ian Bogost’s Play Anything and Alien Phenomenology, Ingold’s Making (referenced earlier), Ian Hodder’s Entangled, and the (surprisingly good) fictional book Ventus.

You can also, of course, always reach out to me for a quick chat or to come speak about these things. To do that, contact me here.

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

Fun Mural Idea

I was inspired by this collaborative mural at ASTC 2018 that invites people to chart their unique career paths using colored yarn to connect various milestones. So much so, that we decided to put one together for the Idea Realization Lab this year. Updates to come after we build ours.

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

New Years Resolution 1: The Grand Circle Road Trip

It’s important to our family that our kids grow up exposed to nature in all its forms, and this coming season is no different. Since we recently received a National Parks pass for the year, we decided to hit the road and check out some of the places we haven’t visited yet.

As it turns out, there’s plenty of parks out there along designated cross-country driving trails that we can partake in. The best, and most recommended, one that we’ve found is the Grand Circle Road Trip that travels through Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks, Arches and Canyonlands National Parks, Grand Canyon National Park, and Capitol Reef National Park.

Giving kids the opportunity to see different natural places, and the communities that surround them, helps grow a sense of community that’s greater than the place they live. It’s also important to give them an appreciation from the natural world, which we’re increasingly becoming detached from.

As we put together our travel plans, particularly renting and/or buying an RV and taking our family on the road, I’ll keep everyone updated.

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

Chindogu – Creating Useless Objects

I caught wind of this from a great 99 PI episode that you can find here. Chindogu is the art of creating things that are not entirely unuseless. From the website:

Chindogu are man-made objects that have broken free from the
chains of usefulness.

They represent freedom of thought and action:

The freedom to challenge the suffocating historical dominance of conservative

The freedom to be (almost) useless.

Highly encourage design interested folks to check this out.

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

Planning out 2019 with OmniPlan

I’ve had an on-and-off again relationship with OmniPlan, a tool that allows you to put together Gantt charts, allocate resources to tasks and projects, and in general get your things together. This year I decided I’d give it another try and use it to organize my various big endeavors (Industrial Design BFA, Idea Realization Lab, Spacelab, Maker Faire, consultancy, etc). The problem I’ve always had is that I couldn’t find a workflow that worked for me with the tool.

No more!

Omni Group put out some great, short videos on using their tools, and they are excellent. Check them out here. And here’s the first video of the series to give you an idea of what they’ve got going. Really well done.

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

The Evolution fo Wireless Game Controllers

Really enjoyed this post about wireless controllers over on Hackaday.

“There is perhaps no better way to relive the evolution of wireless controllers than through the marketing campaigns that grew up around them. To that end, we close today with some of the ads that trumpeted this march of technology.”

Check out the Game Mate 2 advertisement. Just a wonderful reminder that sometimes it’s about the technology, sometimes it’s about the marketing, sometimes it’s about both. Whether or not the technology has immediate practical application, extraneous business decisions might push forward a technology that isn’t quite ready.

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

Spotify Music from 2018

I have music going pretty much all the time at our house, when I’m on the road, and when I’m out running. Here’s the songs I played most in 2018 from Spotify.

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

Particle CLI Install Error

I’ve been tinkering with Particle’s Photon boards, and figured I’d give their CLI a try. Unfortunately, on running their install with npm install -g particle-cli, I started receiving the following error:

gyp ERR! build error
 gyp ERR! stack Error: make failed with exit code: 2
 gyp ERR! stack     at ChildProcess.onExit (/usr/local/lib/node_modules/npm/node_modules/node-gyp/lib/build.js:262:23)
 gyp ERR! stack     at ChildProcess.emit (events.js:188:13)
 gyp ERR! stack     at Process.ChildProcess._handle.onexit (internal/child_process.js:254:12)
 gyp ERR! System Darwin 18.2.0
 gyp ERR! command "/usr/local/Cellar/node/11.6.0/bin/node" "/usr/local/lib/node_modules/npm/node_modules/node-gyp/bin/node-gyp.js" "rebuild"
 gyp ERR! cwd /usr/local/lib/node_modules/particle-cli/node_modules/serialport
 gyp ERR! node -v v11.6.0
 gyp ERR! node-gyp -v v3.8.0
 gyp ERR! not ok
 npm ERR! errno 1
 npm ERR! [email protected] install: prebuild-install || node-gyp rebuild
 npm ERR! Exit status 1

After looking around online, uninstalling/reinstalling Homebrew, Node, etc, I still got nowhere. Figuring it had something to do with my recent swap to a new Mac, I started poking around forums for path issues and finally found this.

The solution in the link is simple. Go to your profile (vi ~/.bash_profile for most people) and enter the following:

if [ -d "$HOME/bin" ] ; then

Save the file and reload your profile using source ~/.profile

This took care of the problem for me!

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

5 Best Posts on the Blog for 2018

Brief thoughts on these posts:

  1. The makerspace budget worksheet, by far, has brought in a lot of traffic to the website. Looking forward, I plan on developing a more interactive model that helps people make purchasing options that fit their needs.
  2. My writing on alternative platforms, badges, and the philosophy behind the design of these things, collectively, form the most popular content on this website. This tells me a lot about the kind of writing that works best for my style, as well as audience interests.
  3. Productivity posts, how-to posts, etc. perform well when I write them, but I don’t particularly enjoy doing them. Still, it might be useful to share how I develop and curate systems that help me disseminate information, share knowledge, and organize my thoughts.

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus