Category Archives: Technology

You’ve come a long way, baby!

Some ads from the 1950s and even earlier: (as seen on Pinterest)

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And who uses these appliances?

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That’s right! The lady of the house! Look at that beatific smile on her face as she irons, washes, hangs out the clothes, sews, scrubs and mops! Doesn’t she look like she’s enjoying every last second of it?

(Cue sound of DJ scratching record)

Luckily, you’ve come a long way, baby. Here are some household appliances, gadgets and innovations the modern house already has, should have, or will have in the very near future: (images also taken from Pinterest)

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All to make your life much easier…after you’ve just returned home from a long day at work and find that you’re still expected to cook, clean and tidy up after the kids and the husband.

Luckily, there are always willing slaves to help you out…The following images are from a witty little book called “Porn for Women” ;).

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Like I said, you’ve come a long way, baby!

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Artist Inspiration : Dušan Beňo

Dušan Beňo is an amazing Slovakian photographer specialising in Macros of insects. Enter his microcosmos here.

Dušan’s photographic skills are not limited to Macros; he is also a dab hand at human portraits, animals and flowers, as evidenced on his site.

Here is what I managed to glean about Dušan, from various searches online:

He is a student of Matej Bel University in Banska Bystrica, Slovakia.  He’s 27 years old and has been shooting and specializing in macro for over 7 years. Dušan loves the details of his insect subjects and finds their bright colours and characteristics charming. His favourite camera is the Canon MP-E, which he considers the best universal lens for macro shooting.

Here are some examples of Dušan’s magnificent insect Macros:
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Here’s a photo of Dušan, the photographer, himself. Keep up the wonderful work!

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I also found a YouTube video by Dušan himself which showcases his wonderful insect Macros:

 

Artist Inspiration : Alexander Semenov

Alexander Semenov is a marine biologist with a wonderful sideline in undersea photography. You may recall recently that I posted up some images of jellyfish in a previous post. Some of those images may well be by Alexander Semenov. This young man is no landlubber, preferring a life on the high seas!

In Alexander’s own words:

In 2007, I graduated from Lomonosov’s Moscow State University in the department of Zoology. I specialized in the study of invertebrate animals, with an emphasis on squid brains. Soon after, I began working at the White Sea Biological Station (WSBS) as a senior laborer. WSBS has a dive station, which is great for all sorts of underwater scientific needs, and after 4 years working there, I became chief of our diving team. I now organize all WSBS underwater projects and dive by myself with a great pleasure and always with a camera.

When I first began to experiment with sea life photography I tried shooting small invertebrates for fun with my own old dslr camera and without any professional lights or lenses. I collected the invertebrates under water and then I’ve shot them in the lab. After two or three months of failure after failure I ended up with a few good pictures, which I’ve showed to the crew. It has inspired us to buy a semi-professional camera complete with underwater housing and strobes. Thus I’ve spent the following field season trying to shoot the same creatures, but this time in their environment. It was much more difficult, and I spent another two months without any significant results. But when you’re working at something every day, you inevitably get a lot of experience. Eventually I began to get interesting photos — one or two from each dive. Now after four years of practice I get a few good shots almost every time I dive but I still have a lot of things that need to be mastered in underwater photography.

And the most important thing — I love Sea.

Some images of Alexander’s amazing sea creatures, courtesy of Google Images:

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And here are a couple of photos I found of Alexander Semenov himself, one as he is, and one with his underwater photography and diving gear:

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Alexander Semenov’s underwater photography can also be found on these sites:

https://m.flickr.com/#/photos/a_semenov/

We owe a debt to Alexander and other photographers of his mien, who constantly work tirelessly to bring us images of deep sea creatures that we would otherwise never encounter in our daily lives. Maybe “work” is not the right word for what Alexander does, it is clearly his passion and more a way of life than a hobby.  It is his calling.  He’s one of the lucky ones who actually does what he loves for a living. Thank you, Alexander Semenov!

Postscript: Alexander replied to my email enquiry and provided some further insight to his aspirations. His newest and most ambitious project is Aquatilis, a 3-year expedition on the high seas to capture images of deep sea creatures. This will be an epic, scientifically important project. Please show your support if you can!

Aquatilis TV

Aquatilis Indiegogo Crowdfunding

Aquatilis Flickr

Welcome to the Future

The future is here. The future is now.

http://m.1mpics.com/en/Article/Welcome-to-the-flying-car

The Terrafugia is real. http://www.terrafugia.com

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Watch the Terrafugia Transition in action:
http://youtu.be/KSpvw5PbMj8

Production is not due to start til at least 2015/2016. But remember those little space modules you saw on Star Wars, Star Trek, etc…

imagePhoto from Google images.

…well, there may well be one coming to a store near you sooner than you think!

imageTerrafugia’s TF-XTM is the company’s next project, currently in prototype stage.

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Burning Man

(Excerpt taken from the website of the Burning Man):

What is Burning Man?
Once a year, tens of thousands of participants gather in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert to create Black Rock City, dedicated to community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance. They depart one week later, having left no trace whatsoever. Burning Man is also an ever-expanding year-round culture based on the Ten Principles.

What Isn’t Burning Man?
Burning Man isn’t your usual festival, with big acts booked to play on massive stages. In fact, it’s more of a city than a festival, wherein almost everything that happens is created entirely by its citizens, who are active participants in the event.

This year’s Burning Man is from August 25 – Sept 1, 2014

I came across this video which captures the spirit and principles of Burning Man accurately: it’s by
KQED and it won an Emmy award recently. Here it is:

<a href="http://youtu.be/DHW8zydRV4M“>http://youtu.be/DHW8zydRV4M

I want to be a Flaming Lotus Girl, and I want to go to the Burning Man so badly! But it would cost me thousands of dollars, which I don’t have. It will also be a trip halfway round the world, and I’ll have to get (child+pet+house)sitters in, more expenses I just cannot afford. SIGH. So, I’ll have to contend with living the festival vicariously through videos and photos shared by the lucky, lucky ones who get to go. If you DO go, feel free to post me some photos and I will add them here.

Watching videos of previous Burning Man festivals, out there in the desert with the strange lights, music and people in out-of-this-world costumes doing fantastically weird things, I’m reminded of the time I took my son to Disneyland Paris. One evening, at dusk, there was a musical troupe playing near the spaceship ride. They were dressed in layered burlap, and the instruments they played were modified saxophones or similar. On their heads they wore strange miner’s hardhats with attached (literally) overhead lights that moved as they played. The headgear was strangely reminiscent of angler fish. As it was dusk and the natural light was failing, I didn’t get any decent photos of them. But I remember that experience as if it was yesterday and not 6 years ago; the images are indelibly etched into my mind. It was, to put it simply, a magical experience.

It felt like a scene out of Star Wars, and I was transported to dusty Tatooine amongst its unwashed Jawas and Tusken Raiders. The musicians could have been a cross between the two races.

That is the sort of feeling I believe I would experience at the Burning Man festival.

Burning Man leans strongly on 10 Principles (excerpt taken from this link):

Burning Man Founder Larry Harvey wrote the Ten Principles in 2004 as guidelines for the newly-formed Regionals Network. They were crafted not as a dictate of how people should be and act, but as a reflection of the community’s ethos and culture as it had organically developed since the event’s inception.

Radical Inclusion
Anyone may be a part of Burning Man. We welcome and respect the stranger. No prerequisites exist for participation in our community.

Gifting
Burning Man is devoted to acts of gift giving. The value of a gift is unconditional. Gifting does not contemplate a return or an exchange for something of equal value.

Decommodification
In order to preserve the spirit of gifting, our community seeks to create social environments that are unmediated by commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising. We stand ready to protect our culture from such exploitation. We resist the substitution of consumption for participatory experience.

Radical Self-reliance
Burning Man encourages the individual to discover, exercise and rely on his or her inner resources.

Radical Self-expression
Radical self-expression arises from the unique gifts of the individual. No one other than the individual or a collaborating group can determine its content. It is offered as a gift to others. In this spirit, the giver should respect the rights and liberties of the recipient.

Communal Effort
Our community values creative cooperation and collaboration. We strive to produce, promote and protect social networks, public spaces, works of art, and methods of communication that support such interaction.

Civic Responsibility
We value civil society. Community members who organize events should assume responsibility for public welfare and endeavor to communicate civic responsibilities to participants. They must also assume responsibility for conducting events in accordance with local, state and federal laws.

Leaving No Trace
Our community respects the environment. We are committed to leaving no physical trace of our activities wherever we gather. We clean up after ourselves and endeavor, whenever possible, to leave such places in a better state than when we found them.

Participation
Our community is committed to a radically participatory ethic. We believe that transformative change, whether in the individual or in society, can occur only through the medium of deeply personal participation. We achieve being through doing. Everyone is invited to work. Everyone is invited to play. We make the world real through actions that open the heart.

Immediacy
Immediate experience is, in many ways, the most important touchstone of value in our culture. We seek to overcome barriers that stand between us and a recognition of our inner selves, the reality of those around us, participation in society, and contact with a natural world exceeding human powers. No idea can substitute for this experience.

Anything goes at Burning Man. I recall Episode 1, Season 7 of my favourite comedy series, Malcolm in the Middle, where the entire family go to the festival in an RV. Each member of the family has their own epiphany whilst there. Malcolm, for one, gets born again…literally passing through an obstacle course simulating the contractions of a womb, complete with pink jelly.

Some Google images of past Burning Man (Men??):

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Form Beyond Function

First, allow me to tease you.

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OK now wipe the drool off your chin.

YANKO DESIGN

What is Yanko Design? (Excerpt from their website):

Yanko Design is a web magazine dedicated to introducing the best modern international design, covering from industrial design, concepts, technology, interior design, architecture, exhibition and fashion. It’s about the cutting edge and the classic, the new and the rediscovered. It’s all about the best.
Yanko Design reaches a rapidly expanding audience of approximately 1.8 million unique users, serving 6 million page views each month with 41,000+ total daily newsletter subscribers making it the world’s most popular & influential online design magazine.
Yanko Design is on the list of Technorati.com’s top 100 most read blogs on the internet, currently ranked at 94 (out of 75,000,000+ blogs).
Media Coverage
Yanko Design has been featured in numerous high profile media outlets as the forefront publication in industrial design. In addition, we are esteemed media partners of red dot and iF International Forum Design.

Yanko Design likes to titillate the public by serving up non-existent objects of desire. Or things that exist only in the imagination or on computer. Oh, but the designs are all droolworthy, every geek’s wet dream come true, sleek and futuristic or just darn goodlooking and innovative…one can’t help wishing these inventions were real.

Well, the good news is, Some of the inventions Are real. Yes, Yanko Design has an online store where you can purchase gadgets that have made the leap from the drawing board CAD programme concept to real life. The store is called CKIE. Run, don’t walk!

And, if you need more motivation, look here:

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(All images courtesy of Google Images)

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My MOO cards

Yesterday, I posted about MOO’s Printfinity services here. Today, I’m simply showing off the cards I created on MOO, which arrived last week.

I had 100 standard, matte business cards made up. And also 100 mini cards. Here are the boxes they came in side by side; the business cards are in the black cardboard box, the mini cards in the white box.

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Here are the business cards:

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Close-up of front and back of business card:
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And here are the mini cards:
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Close-up:
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The card stock is of good quality. Colours are crisp and accurate. The presentation boxes are of high quality too. All in all, using MOO’s services was easy, fuss-free, efficient and great value for money.

I’m very pleased with my MOO cards! :)

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Mobile Juice Packs

By this I mean external battery packs for mobile phones. Nothing to do with health drinks LOL.

My old iPhone 4 used to guzzle its battery power. It still does, only now that’s my kid’s problem and not mine anymore. I’m sure you all have your horror stories to tell about your own mobile devices.

I switched from Apple iOS to Android in 2012, and I haven’t looked back since. I am perfectly happy and satisfied with my Samsung Galaxy S4. I have no intention of upgrading to the S5, as it just doesn’t offer enough advancement and new features to qualify in my mind as a real upgrade. I’ll wait instead for the S6 next year.

Besides, with the iPhone 3 I really felt the lag in technology when the iPhone 4 came out. But with Samsung my S4 was simply able to keep up with any new operating system updates.

The problem with smartphones is that the smarter they are, the more battery power they consume. My S4 is not as bad as my iPhone 4 was, but it’s slightly worrying that I can leave my house in the morning with a 100% charge and not use the mobile for anything other than checking some emails and surfing the internet whilst on the bus/train…and by 3pm the battery indicator is already on less than 50%.

Here’s where “juice packs” come in. I must’ve been one of the earliest users of these external battery packs. My first was an Energiser in 2011, which boasted a measly 1000mAh. (mAh stands for “miliAmpere hour” – basically, the higher the number, the faster your device gets charged up. I’ll spare you the science). The Energiser was okay for emergency charging, though not for much else.

My S4 has a removable Li-ion battery (hear me roar! :D), so it was a no brainer to buy a couple of spare batteries to keep in my bag, for occasions where there might be heavy or continuous use of my phone. This worked well, but for the slight hassle of having to later charge up 2 batteries.

So, last Xmas I bought a Plox external battery charger. It cost $90. It worked alright for a couple of months, then I noticed the dreaded “loose connection” problem. I used to have this problem with iPhone chargers, where they would work for a while, then start giving you “charging with this accessory may not be supported on this device” messages. My Plox itself wasn’t charging up like it should. Or maybe its 4 blue LED indicator lights weren’t working. Maybe it was both…whatever the case, the Plox gave up the ghost in April, just 4 months after I’d purchased it.

I was lucky enough to get the Plox replaced with an identical one, as I’d thankfully kept the receipt. Sadly, Plox No.2 only lasted til the beginning of June, then it too went kaput. I went back to the store I’d bought it from, with the intention of substituting it with a different brand juice pack. But they didn’t stock any other brand.

So, instead, I got a full refund. I haven’t linked any mentions of the Plox to the company’s website in this post, as I can’t recommend it to anyone. The design is poorly executed and it doesn’t help when the micro-USB cable has to be twisted awkwardly in order to charge my S4; this weakens the cable whenever the charger is used. To have had the unit fail me for the same reason, not once but twice in 6 months, is unforgiveable.

I did some research on mobile juice packs, looked at dozens of models on eBay, weighed up the pros and cons of each one, then made up my own list of prerequisites. In the end, it was an unbranded Chinese juice pack that won the contest.

My new juice pack can be charged up via a wall socket, but also via solar power (that was the deciding factor for me). The mAh rating is a very respectable high 10,000. Granted, the solar panels would only get charged at 1000 mAh, but hey, if I was ever caught out in a zombie apocalypse in the wilderness with no electrical supply for recharging devices, I’d have the last mobile phone standing, with this baby. The unit weighs in at over 300g so it’s not a lightweight, but most of the weight is due to the solar panels and the rechargeable battery within the casing. It has 2 USB ports and a handy LED torch on one end. There’s also a loop for a clip on the other, in case you need to hook the unit up somewhere.

I’m very happy with my Mandarin, as I call it. It’s Chinese and it has orange trimming…geddit? ;-)

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And if you’d like to know the eBay seller, it’s ly-solar. Items come from China, not Sydney, Australia. Postage worldwide is free, and this seller has impeccable after-sales customer care. I was kept up to date with package tracking, and the seller emailed me a number of times to reassure me that the item was in transit. Highly recommended.

http://pages.ebay.com/link/?nav=item.view&id=191137152191&alt=web

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ISSUU – First impressions

I’ve heard about ISSUU from reading other magazines and brochures published using their platform. My most recent encounter was in the form of UPPERCASE magazine (of which later). I got my grubby hands on a hard copy of Issue 21 of UPPERCASE just the other day, and the quality of the paper and layout are superb. Sure it’s rather pricey, but UPPERCASE is, like most ISSUU magazines, an independent production and has a small (but growing) subscription.

So impressed have I been by this that I’m now contemplating publishing my own magazine on mobile photography art. I haven’t figured out the technicalities of doing this yet, but that’s another story.

From ISSUU’s website http://www.issuu.com

Rediscover reading
With over 15 million publications, Issuu is the fastest growing digital publishing platform in the world. Millions of avid readers come here every day to read the free publications created by enthusiastic publishers from all over the globe with topics in fashion, lifestyle, art, sports and global affairs to mention a few. And that’s not all. We’ve also got a prominent range of independent publishers utilizing the Issuu network to reach new fans every day.

Created by a bunch of geeks with an undying love for the publishing industry, Issuu has grown to become one of the biggest publishing networks in the industry. It’s an archive, library and newsstand all gathered in one reading experience.

The statistics:
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Signing up was easy. I chose to do it via my email address, but you can also sign in using Google+, Facebook or LinkedIn.

The user interface is very similar to that of Pinterest and Flipboard. You start out by selecting a few publications to follow. Then you can save your favourites to “Stacks”. Magazines can be read online for FREE, but you can also buy hard copies from good newsagents worldwide.

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As you can tell from the photo above, I could start my own magazine online straightaway. But I won’t right now…instead I’ll check out some of the publications and assess them for quality of print and clarity of images.

My first magazine is the Maxwell & Williams “Joie de Vivre” 2014 catalogue. (I ♥ Maxwell & Williams teacups. My birthday is on 1st July. Just sayin’). With all ISSUU online publications, you can enlarge the pages to zoom in on text and images. Depending on how each publication was set up, the quality of enlargement may vary. (UPPERCASE wouldn’t zoom in enough for me to read the text clearly, which is why I had to resort to buying a hard copy).

Here are some screenshots from the Maxwell & Williams catalogue. (I have the red teacup and saucer already, ahem!)

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And here are some screenshots of UPPERCASE magazine issue no.21. You can see how the text is blurry and pixellated upon zooming in.

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That said, so far, the quality of ISSUU’s publications has been on the whole impressive. I can see myself getting lost in a world of fresh magazines. Have I said you can read them online for Free? I haven’t started any “Stacks” yet, but when I do, and when I start investigating how to publish my own magazine, I shall write and let you know, of course.

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3D Printing

Welcome to the world of 3D Printing. It was only a matter of time before this became part and parcel of everyday life. A while ago, I blogged that one day in the not-so-distant future we would be able to create the clothes we wear at the touch of a button. Okay, maybe that day isn’t quite here yet, it might take a while for 3D printing to become as common as having a fridge in your home, but it is certainly on the horizon and definitely in our lifetime.

My 11-year-old came home from a school trip to Sci-Tech, all excited because he’d bought a 3D printed spaceship keyring. I didn’t understand why he was so excited about a tiny, plastic-looking object, until a couple of weeks ago when we went to Fremantle for the Street Arts Festival over the long Easter Weekend. While there, we stumbled across MANY 6160, and had the privilege to speak to Leo Rolph, owner of OWNED.

The Kid was enamoured of a little 3D printed fully-poseable mannequin, that was balancing a number of chairs on his arms and one leg. Leo explained that the chairs came in a box of 20 and were a game of dexterity, the aim being to stack them up as high as possible without any falling down. The mannequin came separately. We bought both. (Back home, the Kid promptly set to with the stacking, and managed to get his mannequin to carry all 23 chairs.  Yes, 23, because we weren’t sure if the box contained all 20 or if some had been misplaced, so Leo generously gave us 3 more chairs as spares). The 3rd photo shows a sculpture just by Leo’s OWNED stall, of stacked chairs funnily enough – this was what inspired Leo to create his stacked chair game set.

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Leo also kindly showed us his pride and joy, his 3D printer with which he creates his beautiful sculptural art pieces. This was my first time witnessing a 3D printer working in real life. WOW is all I can say.  Here are some of the 3D products you can find at OWNED.

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So, how easy is it to create something 3D printed? Now, if you’re thinking “piece of cake!” you’re halfway correct.  It’s a bit like icing a cake, as Leo explained. Only, instead of icing, the material is a polymer plastic that melts as it passes through the printer’s pen, and then solidifies again upon contact with the air. The pen builds up the object layer by layer. We watched Leo’s 3D printer print out the box and lid for the stacking chairs game, it took about 20 minutes. Pretty nifty!

I found Leo’s Facebook profile at https://www.facebook.com/leo.rolph

Excerpt taken from Leo’s FB page, where he’d shared a post about himself from the Facebook page of MANY 6160:

Meet the MANY 6160 people!

On this happy Friday we’d like to introduce Fremantle local, Leo from the dynamic retail space Owned . Open in MANY since February, Leo has a range of very cool handmade jewellery and acccesories, screen printed t-shirts and quirky gifts.

Leo originally studied fine arts then went on to become a fully fledged graphic designer, spending 5 years specializing in 3D and mulitimedia work, mostly in the mining industry.

Leo had a break from work to look after his gorgeous daughter Ruby, who suffers from cerebral palsy (you can see her story on her FB page Ruby Rocks the ‘beep out of Therapy). During this extra time at home he was inspired to learn something new, teaching himself how to make jewellery from YouTube tutorials. Mastering the basics of soldering and metalwork, Leo then purchased a 3D printer, which he began experimenting with different techniques, including printing, moulding and casting jewellery and objects. Leo said he was always inspired by the relationship between art and science, which can be seen in his sharp designs and methods. Soon his creative outlet led to selling his work on Etsy and the next natural step was to gain a retail space.

He heard about MANY from Facebook and decided to take a punt, as it was an affordable option for him to open his first store. Leo aimed to make and sell quality goods that were unusual and hard to find. With refreshing pieces, such as anatomical hearts, scarab beetles, complex shapes and various skulls he has done just that with his jewellery range alone.

Visit Leo in store at MANY to see his amazing range, and check out his 3D printer in action!

3D printing was in the news again recently, as an update on a very ambitious Kickstarter project, the Lix pen. http://lixpen.com

The Lix pen project generated so much interest that it reached its target for pledges only days after the Kickstarter project was launched. The Lix team are now well on their way to bringing a portable, handheld 3D printer to the masses, and making household 3D printing a reality. Watch the video link above, and be amazed. I showed the video to The Kid, and he wants one for his next birthday.  I can imagine the many applications this little powerhouse of a pen would have, from jewellery to toys to sculptures and wearable art, etc. Sure the refill cartridges may be expensive now, but I say give it time, and as technology improves prices will go down, and one day we shall all have a Lix pen in our greedy little hands homes.

Check out this website for affordable, and not so affordable 3D printers. http://3dprintersuperstore.com.au/collections/frontpage  There is a 3D pen available for just AU$139.  So, if you’re hands are itching and you can’t wait, head on there and have a look at it and at the larger, desktop models.

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