I've recently graduated from the Eric Mack school of self-taught welding for beginners. I have completed my first major welding project welding the frame for the deck of my new computer desk.
Now, I need to learn how to properly finish the metal, including sanding and painting. I'm thinking of either finishing the bare metal with a clear sealer or perhaps painting. I have zero experience with metal finishing but YouTube is my friend and I'm willing to learn.

If anyone has links to share or experience to offer by phone that would be great!

Why I Love My 3D Printer

Tuesday, February 15th, 2011

The last time I blogged about 3D printing was in 2004 when I visited my friend Bill Griffin invited me to have a look at The Ultimate PC Accessory, a Stratasys Fused Deposition Machining (FDM) system.

Unfortunately, I can probably list 100,000 rea$on$ why I would not be getting one any time soon.

Six years later, a 10-year-old 3D printer hacker who goes by the name DocProfSky shows us how you can build your own 3D printer for about a thousand dollars.

Before you get caught up in how cool the technology is, watch the presentation skills of this young man at the Ignite Phoenix event.

MakerBot is an affordable, open source 3D printer. It makes almost anything up to 4"x4"x6". Build your own MakerBot and it makes things for you.

I haven't built one of these yet, but it's definitely on my Someday/Maybe list.

In the Digital Sandbox: Meet Paul Garth

Thursday, May 31st, 2007
Paul and Eric in the Digital SandboxIt's been a while since I've had any visitors. This week, Paul Garth is here with me in the Digital Sandbox. Paul was selected to assume my role and become the new Director of Technology at The David Allen Company, a role he will officially take on later this year. As part of the transition, I'll be working with Paul to transfer the knowledge and experience that I've gained in this role over the past decade so that he can continue to support the DAC staff around the world.

Playing, I mean, working, in the lab...We're spending the week, getting to know one another and geeking around with technology as I give him the high-level overview of the systems that I designed for David Allen and how they work. I'm introducing him to our GTD collaboration suite, including Notes, SameTime, ActiveWords, MindManager, and so on. We're also playing in the lab. And, we get paid for it. [David, Robert, if you're reading this, Paul thinks he's playing but this is all serious hard knowledge work, he just doesn't know it yet. I've not given him a single break; and we are very focused. ;-) ]

Continue Reading "In the Digital Sandbox: Meet Paul Garth" »

Barth and Sampson visit the Digital Sandbox

Monday, January 29th, 2007
Today, I received two special visitors to the Digital Sandbox - Steve Barth and Michael Sampson. Steve's a recognized authority on knowledge management and organizational learning, especially the dynamic relationships between individual knowledge workers and their peers, teams, organizations and communities.


I first met Steve at the KM World Conference in San Jose and we immediately hit it off. Once we discovered that we were both passionate about the concept of the KM approach to self organization and personal productivity we knew we wanted to explore our common interests further.
Continue Reading "Barth and Sampson visit the Digital Sandbox" »
I decided to pull the plug on ICA-CORP today. What is remarkable is that this server has been running almost 24x7 for 11 years!

Continue Reading "Notes (Domino) server retired, after 11 years" »
Looks like my twinkies will remain on display in the Digital Sandbox for another year.

No, I don't plan to open them anytime soon; I don't want to break the freshness seal.

Happy New Year!

Digital Sandbox Mystery Computer Identified

Thursday, September 15th, 2005
Congratulations, Chris, you guessed it! That's my Heathkit H8 microcomputer kit from the late 1970's. I used that computer for many years; it helped launch my career in computer consulting. It served me well.

The one Megahertz 8080 CPU was fast, but I wanted better performance for my number-crunching, so I built an after-market CPU upgrade kit to allow me to use a Z-80 processor, which I then clock-doubled to TWO megahertz. Man, was that fast! I still have all the accessories for this beauty. While my classmates were buying cars and tricking them out, I built computers and poured money into upgrades. (So what's new?) The only accessory I do not have, but always wanted, was the paper-tape reader/punch. Not that I needed it - cassette was cheaper and faster - but paper tape was cool.

Here's a photo of the H8 computer today, as it sits in my office.

Continue Reading "Digital Sandbox Mystery Computer Identified" »

Mystery in the Digital Sandbox

Wednesday, September 14th, 2005
Things have been quite busy for me, here in the Digital Sandbox; I'm getting ready to deploy a productivity enhancement system for a client's organization, complete with document imaging, distributed action management, and full wireless access using a Treo 650, SprintPCS, and Pylon Anywhere. Right now, I'm buried in wires, software, and product manuals.  (I know, a "Productivity Enhancement System" sounds like an offer for a vitamin pill or something you might expect to read in a spam email. It's not. If you knew what's going into this box, you'd want one. But that's a blog entry for another day.)

Since I don't have much time to invite guests over to the Digital Sandbox I thought I'd treat you to a mystery tour and see if you can identify the object in the photo.

I'll start by posting a close-up of something. Then, I'll ask for folks to see if they can identify what the item is and tell me what they know about it. The more "mature" readers of this blog may even remember using some of the items that I'll post here. If no one comes close, then I'll zoom out or add other hints.

Continue Reading "Mystery in the Digital Sandbox" »

Making Music in the Digital Sandbox

Monday, July 11th, 2005
What's a day in the sandbox without music? As part of our office tour, Michael Sampson spotted the contraption in the center of my office - a collection of pipes, wires, and cables. When he asked what it was, I decided to show him; rather, I decided to play it for him.

Listen along for a digital-to-analog treat, live from my Digital Sandbox

Making Music in the Digital Sandbox

Eric Mack On-line - June 16, (3 min 26 sec) MP3 1.7 MB

Surprises in the Digital Sandbox

Monday, July 11th, 2005
You never know what will turn up when you dig around in the digital sandbox. Sometimes, even I'm taken by surprise. In this second installment on Michael Sampson's recent visit to the Digital Sandbox, we briefly catch up and take a quick tour of some of the tools I use at work. Part way through the podcast, Michael opened his briefcase and shows me his new productivity tool. Needless to say, this will certainly change the tone of our visit and our trip across the country.  

Show highlights:

- Unified Messaging (Big Sky Technologies)
- The mother of all digital whiteboards - the Xerox LiveBoard
- The HP Digital Sender
- Michael's big surprise. (Hint: it's not a new Apple PowerBook)
- OneNote Shared Sessions
- Brief overview of the OneNote podcast by Amy & Wendy

For reasons which will become obvious in the podcast I will delay posting the photos related to this podcast.

Michael Sampson in the Digital Sandbox

Eric Mack On-line - June 16, (11 min 7 sec) MP3  5.5 MB

Michael’s in the Digital Sandbox

Monday, July 11th, 2005
Many interesting people come to visit and play in my digital sandbox.  Recently, Michael Sampson joined me, all the way from New Zealand. This is the first of several time-shifted podcasts, full of treats and surprises.


Michael Sampson in the Digital Sandbox

Eric Mack On-line - June 16, (3 min 9 sec) MP3  1.4 MB

It's a busy day here in the digital sandbox. David Allen just drove Buzz Bruggeman up in his Mini for a geek day in beautiful Pine Mountain Club. (David decided to drive up the back way, on Highway 33, on windy mountain roads. I'm happy to report that Buzz survived; breakfast intact.) I invited my friend, Paul Edwards to join us, too. We're now sitting in my conference room, having the most amazing conversations about tech, productivity, ActiveWords, Tablet PCs productivity, Notes, and getting things done.
Is there anyone Buzz does not know? David and I lost count of how many people Buzz knows but we decided that he's definitely one connected guy.  
Buzz has had a new a new Tablet PC for 40+ days and has yet to use it. I've had new Tablet PC for 14 days and I'm trying to use it. Together, we taught each other a few things - except how to get the external VGA port on Buzz' HP1100c to work. No matter, there's lots to show and tell.

Eric and Buzz demonstrate Tablet PC and ActiveWords technology to David and Paul

This afternoon, Buzz plans to give us a private demo of the new ActiveWords product for the Tablet PC. Then, we'll probably take turns sharing cool gear, tips, and tools that each of us use.

I'm not sure if we'll do a podcast today - too much happening, too fast. I'll try to post some highlights and photos later today. If I don't, I'm sure Buzz or David will ...

Step One - get ready

Thursday, May 19th, 2005
Throughout the morning, I've received several e-mails and Skype requests asking of today was the day. Yes!

I thought it might be fun to share my experience as a podcast. I'm not sure how practical this will be, as it takes time to post the podcasts. I suppose this will be a good exercise to me to test the podcast capability of Dominoblog, too.

If there's interest in my continuing, I'm willing to give it a try.

I've promised Mark and James the first interview once I have the M4 opened and set up. We'll probably do that later today. meanwhile, I'm happy to share the initial experience here.

Listen along as I prepare to open the boxes from Toshiba

Eric Mack On-line - May 19, 2005 (0 min 53 sec) MP3  .5 MB


00:00        Intro

David Allen joins me in the digital sandbox

Saturday, March 12th, 2005
After several attempts, David Allen and I finally got together to play in my digital sandbox and enjoy a good meal. We had a great time and we got to play with all kinds of cool technology, too.  David and I have been talking a lot about podcasting lately, so I invited him to help me test my new podcast rig. We recorded several segments, which I will share over on eProductivity.NET in the weeks to come.

Marc Orchant was the first to respond to my invitation to join us in the sandbox, so we decided to drop in on him via Skype, just to chat ...

from the digital sandbox

You're welcome to listen along, as David and I get our digital feet wet in this, our first of several podcasts together.

Eric Mack & David Allen in the digital sandbox

Eric Mack On-line - March 12, 2005 (23 min 29 sec) MP3  5.5 MB


00:00        Introduction & welcome to the digital sandbox
01:24        Eric & David make a drop in on Marc Orchant via Skype
03:57        Marc tells us about the Workforce Education Alliance
06:18        Articulated curriculum for a career in IT
08:02        David's vision for GTD in  education
11:02        GTD check-in
13:39        Embedding GTD into the corporate culture
19:04        The hallmark  of a GTD blackbelt - can you train yourself?
20:11        Wrap-up

Throughout the day, we received several e-mails and Skype requests to chat. Unfortunately, we were unable to connect with everyone who tried to reach us; perhaps we'll try again, soon. (You'll want to add my RSS feed to your RSS Reader and your podcast client.)

If you would like to be on a future podcast, drop me a line, using the "contact" link above.

ICA Think Station - Mobile Office #2

Monday, February 14th, 2005
I've received some fun feedback on my ICA Think Station and the gear that I use. It looks like there is considerable interest out there, so I guess I'll add this to my "potential topics to blog about" list.  I'll try to blog about this from time to time.

One reader wrote me this week to ask who made the desk. That's a long story in and of itself, but it's a good place for me to begin. The short answer is that I designed it and my brother-in-law built it.

The long answer is that this desk is the most recent iteration of 8 different personal think stations -- 2 mobile offices and 6 fixed -- that I have designed over the years. I'm not into the furniture design business, I just have this habit of thinking out loud "wouldn't it be cool if ..." and before long, I have a prototype -- usually out of refrigerator boxes and gaffer's tape -- which eventually leads to a new workspace.  My current think station is the result of over 20 years of experimentation, mostly to learn what does not work for me.

Each think station that I have designed has been unique in purpose and functionality. One of my most challenging designs was my second mobile office, which I built in 1990. I designed a complete mobile office that was hidden inside of a Ford Aerostar. I designed it to be easily concealed. I was consulting at the Air Force Fight Test Center at the time, and I was tired of being "randomly selected" to have my vehicle searched each time I drove on base. (I knew the real reason for my random selection was the MPs just wanted to see the latest gadgets. I did not mind having my vehicle searched and I loved the chance to show off but it made me late for work ...)

Image:ICA Think Station - Mobile Office #2

The mobile office featured a self-contained power system, Novell file server and workstation, cellular phones, ventilation, small copier and a fax machine. I used a WaveLan wireless link to sync data with my office whenever I was parked at the office and a 1200/2400 baud modem for "high-speed" cellular wireless on the road. I used cc:Mail and eventually migrated to Notes 2.0 to take advantage of the disconnected work mode. The neatest part of this mobile office was that the desk was designed to raise and lower electrically; in the stowed position no one could see any of the equipment in my van.

Image:ICA Think Station - Mobile Office #2

Several people assisted me with the implementation: A retired aerospace worker and dear friend, Pat Patriquin, Tig-welded the chassis for me. Another friend completed the oak cabinetry. I designed the electronics and put it all together. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of the custom stealth antenna array that was mounted on the roof of the van. Basically, with a push of a button, I could instantly stow the 6 antennas on the roof of my van inside the luggage rack. (It was very cool, or so I've been told.)

Image:ICA Think Station - Mobile Office #2

That mobile office served me well for many years as I commuted between Burbank and Edwards AFB. Sometimes I miss not having a complete office for long trips.

Of course, I now carry all of that functionality under my arm in my IBM ThinkPad.

My ICA "Think Station" revealed

Tuesday, February 8th, 2005
I can usually be creative and productive most anywhere, but I'm really creative and productive when I'm at the center of my own information cockpit -- a 10' x 10' corner of my office where,over the years, I have built my dream workspace. Here, I have assembled a collection of thinking gear, tools and technologies, to support me as I work on projects.

Image:My ICA "Think Station" revealed

For the past week, I've been on the road, working with clients, feeling a little constrained without some of my favorite gear. In the evenings at the hotel, I've been thinking about how I will continue to update and enhance my mobile office kit for maximum productivity on the road. As part of this effort, I've been writing about my workspace in order to get clear on what has worked well for me and why.

Inspired by the concept of the IBM ThinkPad in front of me, I thought it might be fun to share a little about my "ICA Think Station" - the gear, tools, and technologies that I've enjoyed using over the years.  

ICA is the name of my company, but it represents much more than that. ICA stands for Information, Communication, Action - three areas of focus that are part of the way that I approach my work. From the Grahl chair at the center of the cockpit, I can effortlessly swivel to access the various tools and technologies that support me in collecting, storing and accessing the information that I use daily to make decisions, communicate with clients and colleagues around the world, and track my projects and actions.

Sound interesting?

For a long time I've been planning to launch my eProductivity.Net blog to share this kind of information. However, each time I plan do so, new and exciting opportunities show up and I end up rescheduling the launch. I hope to finally get around to posting some of these mini-essays on the blog so I can throw the switch and go live. I'd love to know what you think.