Online open courseware

If you are looking to learn something new on the techie side, here’s another site worth looking in to.

Open-Of-Course is a multilingual portal for free online courses and tutorials. By “free” we not only mean free as in “free beer” but also published as open content. Our focus is on educational information where you can benefit of in daily life.

You will find here lots of free courses and tutorials and you can join a community of over 5000 students. All the courses have their own forum for students to interact and help each other out. You can join the fora after registration. Our privacy policy can be viewed here .

People can also add their own courses or tutorials to our system for free. Open-Of-Course runs on the open source electronic learning environment “Moodle”. Read more about that here.

One of the new tools I’ve picked up lately is Scribus – a layout processing/desktop publishing tool (think PageMaker or InDesign). While looking for some tutorials on learning how to better use the tool, I found open-of-course, and felt that I should pass it on.

[tags]Desktop Publishing, DTP, Open-of-course, Open courseware, Scribus[/tags]

Make your own cotton candy machine

Every once in a while, I find the stuff that would make your kids vote for you in a “Coolest parent of the year” contest (for the record, *I* would vote for you every time, but sometimes the kinds need a reminder of how great you are). Follow this cotton candy machine build guide (or if you don’t want all the instructions on one page, start at the intro page)and you’ll get back high on their list for votes.

Here’s a bit to help you see if you are ready to start:


step 1:Materials / Necessities
Okay, so here’s what you’re going to need to make your own cotton candy machine!

  • 1- standard electric motor (preferably 1/4″ motor shaft)
  • 1- 3.25″ X 6+” Aluminum extruded round bar (3.25″ diameter)
  • 2 – 1/2″ bolts of any size diameter (smaller = better, but you need the tap for it)
  • 2 – 1″ bolts of any size diameter (need the tap for the right size)
  • 1 – average toaster heating element
  • ? – .25″ diameter copper pipe (or crimping connectors for wiring)
  • 1 – radio-controller “floppy” antenna
  • ? – lots of miscellaneous screws, nuts, and bolts
  • 1- 3″ (dia) X .125″ piece of wood
  • 1- Light Switch Dimmer or Adjustable power supply ( needs to be able to handle high voltage and amperage output)
  • Teflon Tape
  • Conductive Tape
  • A large, plastic or metal, circular object (if you don’t have one, make one)
  • Some wire mesh (usually used as gutter covering)
  • A Few Sheets of paper
  • Some tape
  • Some heavy gauge wire
  • A small bit of fast drying concrete


  • Lathe
  • Tap
  • Electrician’s pliers
  • Band/Hack saw (if using copper pipe)
  • Drill press (and the smallest drill bit you can find, at least 1/16″ or smaller)
  • metal working clamps
  • Tin Snips
  • Alibre Design Express (free at

The entire instruction set is a bit long, but we’re talking home-made cotton candy here, folks. You just can’t pass up awesomeness like that.

[tags]Instructables, MAKEzine, Cotton Candy, DIY, Do it yourself, Build your own cotton candy machine[/tags]

Steampunk lamp

The bb_spunklampde.jpgfine folks over at boingboing seem to have a steampunk infatuation lately. Now that’s all and good. I generally don’t have even a passing interest in the steampunk posts, and can quickly skip the articles when I see the header. Perhaps I pause if there are images, but generally these don’t even hold sway on my attention for more than the briefest of moments. Recently, however, they posted a link to Frank Buchwald’s German lamp design site along with a cool image snagged from Buchwald’s. This was the first steampunk post from boingboing that I thought looked good, so naturally:

No word on pricing (although I didn’t really look carefully – it’s probably there and easily found), but that does look worth a bit of cash. If the steampunk motif catches your fancy, then see what else boingboing has on steampunk and report back what you like. (via boingboing)

[tags]Steampunk, Steampunk lamp designs, Retro-future lighting[/tags]