Not to slag building birdhouses or benches or any of the other do-it-yourself projects in the Handyman's Handbook, but we live in the digital age. While there will always be a need for hammers and drill presses, a lot of today's hobbyists are going high tech.
There are a lot of places you can go for do-it-yourself project ideas.
Wired Magazine (www.wired.com) showcases new DIY ideas every month, and recently put together a list of their top 21 ideas separated by skill level - beginner, advanced and expert. Some of the beginner projects include installing a tweeting moisture sensor for your house plant, building your own LED monome midi controller for digital music production and making your own high-powered LED bike light. Some of the expert projects involve building your own remote-controlled lawnmower, or a 3D light cube, or a mind-controlled helicopter.
If you don't see anything on the list that appeals to you (like your own Quiz-O-Tron 3000 quiz show buzzer system?) then go to the Wired homepage and look for the How To tab.
Make Magazine (www.makezine.com) is another great place to look for ideas, the spiritual home of the maker community. Some of the projects that are currently on the site include making your own electric bike, making an "8-bit" violin and a do-it-yourself hydroponic farm.
Instructables (www.instructables.com) and Lifehacker (www.lifehacker.com) are good blogs for a lot of reasons, but their DIY ideas are pretty great. Some recent topics include replacing your wireless mouse batteries with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery and making your own CNC mill.
Hack a Day (www.hackaday.com) is for more expert makers, as is www.arduino.cc - Arduino being the company that builds the circuit boards that are powering a lot of the high tech DIY projects like monomes and 3D light cubes.
Reddit.com also has a growing DIY community worth checking out. It links to other sites like Instructables at times but a lot of the projects are original. A quick look last week turned up a laser cutter and instructions for reupholstering a couch.
YouTube is a veritable goldmine, provided you have a general idea of what you're looking for. Typing in DIY will come up with a lot of interesting projects, as will search words like "hack" and "hacks."
One of the most elegant do-it-yourself blogs that I've uncovered is Ana White's blog at http://ana-white.com. It's not high-tech unless you count all the desks and media centre designs, but I really like the fact that she includes detailed drawings and plans to go with every project.
There are a million other projects you could do around your home in the high tech vein, no solder guns required, like setting up a home server, building a media PC, wiring your home for Ethernet and speakers, repurposing an old laptop as a kitchen PC, setting up your home so you can control the heat and lights remotely, and more. A Google/Bing search is usually enough to get you started.
PS3 owners can also accomplish something if they pick up a copy of Little Big Planet 2 - the Little Big Planet universe now has over four million user-created levels that anybody can download for free and enjoy. On a rainy day you can build your own sack boy/girl arena and add to the fun.
Give local tech a spin
There are a lot of high tech entrepreneurs in Whistler because, let's face it, if you can pick your own hours where are you going to want to live?
This week we received word about two new companies diving into the app market.
The first is Whistler 3D Solutions, which has developed an iPhone application that lets users explore 3D models of ski resorts. Right now the list of resorts includes Whistler Blackcomb and Cypress. The maps help you figure out where you were and where you're going, and to plan ahead so you get more out of your day on the mountains.
For more information, visit http://whistler3dsolutions.com.
Also available is MeMap, a new app that was launched in Whistler and that lets you track the location of participating Facebook friends with iPhones - a great way to figure out who's in the terrain park and who's in the lodge drinking beer.
Wii 2 coming in 2012
I know, it's a year away, but the announcement that Nintendo is preparing to release a sequel to the universally popular Wii is a big deal in the tech world. While Sony and Microsoft were engaged in a war to build the most powerful gaming machine, Nintendo slipped under the radar to release a cheap, low powered device that used a unique motion control system - winning the market by selling more units than Sony and Microsoft combined. You can bet that their competitors will be watching Nintendo closely.
Some of the rumours include controllers with touch screens, HD games, 3D games, Blu-ray, an update to Wiimote/Nunchuks, a video-motion sensor like the Microsoft Kinect and MMO online gaming.