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19 May 2012

Andrew Pollock: [life] Maker Faire 2012 trip report

The Maker Faire is one of those awesome Bay Area things that always fills me with excitement and gets my imagination going. Zoe and I went again this year to check it out, as best we could within the time constraints we had to work within (opening time and her nap time, minus travel time). She definitely enjoyed herself. We took the Caltrain, because historically driving and parking has been a bit of a nightmare. The optimal train to get to get there before it opened (at 10am) was the 9:19 train from Mountain View, which was scheduled to get in at Hayward Park a little before 10am. It just so happened that there was a Giants game on in San Francisco today as well, and the train was absolutely packed. We only got a seat because one kind gentleman was getting off and explicitly gave his seat to us. One lesson learned: don't try and take the BOB stroller on the train. Even when collapsed, it's way too bulky. For future Caltrain outings, I'll take our City Mini stroller instead, as it folds much flatter. I also took our macpac Possum child carrier backpack, and Zoe was pretty happy to just sit in it for the bulk of the time. I think it had novelty value for her, as we haven't used it for a while. I probably could have gotten away without taking a stroller at all. I was very glad I took the backpack, as it gave her a much better vantage point for everything that was going on than she would have gotten from sitting in the stroller. There was supposed to be a free shuttle from the Hayward Park station to the Maker Faire, but there was a huge crowd waiting for it, so I decided to just walk. It didn't take too long. For the return trip, I think I exited from the wrong side of the fairgrounds, and couldn't figure out the shuttles, so I just walked to Hillsdale station. At least the return train wasn't crowded. Overall, using Caltrain to get in and out was successful. Zoe was very well behaved for the ~30 minute train ride each way. The Faire was quite a bit bigger this year, and has spilled out into the parking lot on one side. I'd heard stories that O'Reilly had quadrupled booth prices as well. Trying to abide by the program was too difficult, so we mostly just wandered through the main Expo hall and looked at various booths. I just did a full read through the website of all the exhibitors to see what I missed out on. Here's some of the stuff I saw in person, or discovered via the website: Kickstarter is really becoming huge in the maker community. There were heaps of exhibitors there with (mostly robotics) projects that were past the initial prototyping phase and were seeking funding on Kickstarter to go into mass production. Some of the talks I'd have liked to have seen: Zoe was really well behaved for the entire expedition. I don't think she really gave me any grief at all. There was a brief period where she wanted me to carry her, but I managed to negotiate her back into the stroller after not long. I think her favourite was ArcBotics, which had a robot insect that would dance and wave at her. She kept asking for it to do more dancing.