DragonCon – Day 3

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Sunday began with a late start, which is something that just happens at DragonCons…  I’ve come to view Friday and Saturday as “Celebrity” days – when I’m more likely to go see TV/Movie panels, etc.  Sunday is for topics that pique my interest or that challenge me to see or learn something I wouldn’t otherwise encounter.

The first stop was at the microbot battle room.  Attendees had been building these, per rules over the previous two days, aIMG_5417nd I didn’t know what I expected to see, which is one reason I went.

Like any other panel, it was a conference room full of chairs with people sitting in them.  I had imagined something more open and in the round.  The bots were battling in a Plexiglas tank, with a camera observing so that all could see the battle on a (relatively poorly visible screen.  Still, the bots were fast, and the small angular one, with vertical spikes along its edges, finally upset/removed the larger big wheeled one from the arena.

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Right. On to the next thing.

The next thing was even further from the beaten path, interestingly titled “MakerBots and RepRaps and CNCs, Oh my!”  Despite the play on words, this wasn’t a prelude to a trip to an Oz, or even the wizard.  Neither was it subject matter that can be found on Main St.  The panel involved a group of hobbyists who put forth time, energy and expenses into the technology of 3D printing.  In short, using an inkjet type device that is properly calibrated and programmed, ink is emitted along with a binder, and solid objects are constructed a layer at a time.  The notion of an inkjet printer that prints on paper works, but then add a z-axis to allow it to travel upwards with additional “slices” provides a good visual approximation.  Or, you could look at the pictures below. 

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The gentleman at right is an intellectual property attorney, who also drew interesting comparisons to VHS and CD copyrighting laws, trademark infringements, etc. – things that will evolve into claims when people copy parts whose design/appearance etc. are legally protected.

This is a developing technology, well suited to engineering enthusiasts who enjoy assembling components, wiring, computer programing, and, by unanimous accounts, repairing their devices. Accordingly, those presenting were very technically minded and, to an uninformed attendee, very much enjoy their pursuits.   The below is a 3D printed keychain, Freeside being the name of the Atlanta hobbyist group that several of the presenters hang out.  Flat objects like this are interesting, but to hear how they can print unsupported structures, such as the crossbar in a “H” is where it gets really interesting.

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The final panel was a revisit of sorts, with artist Michael Whelan.  This being the third artist panel I attended, one might surmise that there was some compromise involved with my artistically minded spouse as to what to attend during the Con.  Very true, but it was all interesting, and this is one panel that I had selected before we compared interests.  Here’s the description:

Michael Whelan puts himself at the disposal of the audience, doing an impromptu visual presentation on whatever subject the audience desires.

To my reading, this sounded like Mr. Whelan might have an easel and demonstrate whatever subjects the audience had in mind.  Painters paint, right?

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Well, they do.  But not at this moment. Instead, Mr. Whelan had reflected upon other discussions at similar conventions in his past and used a slideshow of various illustrations to highlight his development as an artist, including techniques, barriers (a broken hand in karate), influences, personal influences that affected tone or symbolism, and the business of being an artist.  While the images speak for themselves, it was interesting to see how Mr. Whelan’s views, if not disappointment, regarding wars, suicide, Hendrix’ overdose, John Lennon’s murder, and other events impacted his work.

Regrettably, the IT support was late in arriving and ineffective, resulting in a flashing screen and an inaccurate screen prospective.  Nevertheless, Whelan remained in good humor, but ran short on time as a result.  Another hour would have been welcomed.

As Whelan ran late, I had intended to attend “Mobile Device Forensics,” a panel on what authorities can really determine from a person’s smart phone.  But to go from point K to point P… given the zillions of people…  and, hey, many of them wear costumes, and I had a camera.  So, I took pictures, and we eventually took our leave.  Other Con pix, including panels, junk for sale, costumes not seen in the parade, can be seen HERE.

DragonCon has a Day 4, but… it’s Labor Day, and a day of rest easily won out over the remaining sessions.

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