New project – dancing mic stand for Justin Timberlake

I left Apple last year to start my own prototyping business. I knew I’d find interesting work, but I didn’t know how interesting.

As Vice Chief, I designed and built the dancing mic stand that Justin Timberlake used in his Superbowl performance . The whole thing was a collaboration with choreographer Marty Kudelka, who came up with the original idea.  The public reception has been great — I even got a shoutout in my home town news.


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And after that, I engineered and built a 2.0 version of the dancing mic stand for his Man Of The Woods worldwide tour. It debuted this evening in Toronto – and how!

Of course, the mic stand is only part of the show – I have to give props to JT’s crew, Fireplay, All Access, and TAIT for all they did to make this possible. And of course, all respect to JT for absolutely owning the performance.


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Exit Criteria

I spent two years at a big tech company, and in that time I learned a lot about leadership – both how to inspire people to do their very best (and only that), and how to squander their efforts and spoil their enthusiasm. I will quote the late Steve Jobs. Know I am not endorsing him, just presenting some of his ideas.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

I think if you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long. Just figure out what’s next.

My favorite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.

For a while at least, I have my time back. Hello, World.


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Two Thousand Sixteen

We spent 2016 in Silicon Valley. What a fever dream.

Such a bait-and-switch.

What to do but organize. 

Bring all capabilities online,

And get everything on wheels.

It’s a good time to be bright,


and sharp:

It’s a good time to listen,

to purge,

to grow.

This year, I learned that free time is freedom.  My DIY ethos is stronger than ever.

Thank you, friends and family for all the sharp thoughts

and bright ideas.

See you in the future.



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Internet Dan Seems To Be Dead

It does seem that way, though I’m not.

Biche would know; she was in the shop with me when Internet Dan became my identity, calling, and full-time occupation.

Dead is the wrong word. I retired this year – and in the process, I published more than I ever have before. In fact, I said damn near everything I had to say. Twenty two thousand words. Do me a favor and read through it:


Then I gave the DIY Book Scanner project to Jonathon and Scann. It was hard to let go of so much identity. You don’t simply walk away from six years of sweat, blood, and plywood. Or 1700 square feet of productive, self-sufficient space. But here I am with my brother, tearing it

It’s not easy to hand over a business that is making money. Or to risk compromising friendships with die-hard supporters like Scann, Jonathon, jck57, or Johannes. I now know I did the right thing, and I know it because I can see the work taking new forms, making new headway and progress in directions I could never seem to take it. Sometimes you just have to get out of the way.


These 50-odd weeks were heavy learning. And my mind changed a lot. I wanted to post about these things. In no order –

1: I no longer believe in Open Hardware licensing as endorsed by OSHWA. It’s bogus; legally toothless; dangerous to people with good intentions. It’s borderline fraud; copyright cannot protect hardware. Pretending like it does is a pretty big mistake, pushing it on others is inexcusable. I decided to make the book scanner design public domain – I wasn’t about to screw it up like other people who harvest Open Source for profit. I recommend you do the same.

2: Some of the most interesting work is secret; I used to hate secrets, but I now understand they can provide something valuable – a safe space to explore new ideas without a constant chattering peanut gallery. I still believe in radical openness, but not for everything. Secrecy has value. Interestingly, secrecy is also the reason that certain communities (like the intelligence community) can never publicly defend themselves. Sucks to be them, but it’s something to keep in mind when you criticize an organization with no outgoing interface. Or when you join one. Finally, I also learned that secrecy gives people a lot of latitude to lie about what they’ve done. No one can know if you really did it, after all.

3. I can’t do it alone. Radical self-sufficiency is still powerful in me; I still think it is best to Do It Yourself. I want to live in a world of my own making, and I want to make everything in it. And I do this, perhaps more than others.  Years ago, Golan Levin and I were having a conversation about writing image processing software for the DIY Book Scanner. When I said how badly I wanted to write the software, he challenged – “Haven’t you learned anything from your own project?” – meaning that I should rely on others to do what they are good at. To crowdsource something more than enthusiasm. But beyond projects and hardware, I have also learned that life is better with a partner. Whole essays hide behind that sentence.

3. My generation faces two major challenges – the struggle for human rights (these are the rights to gay marriage, to equal pay for women, to equality for all races, to equal access to all that life has to offer) — and the struggle for control of our data and privacy. Right now, we are losing both of these struggles. I honestly and naively thought we were doing better than we were, but that is an absurd position in light of this year’s revelatory authority tantrums (cops continuously killing blacks, the slow-burn of Snowden revelations). I have nothing good to say about this. My generation is way more concerned with where their food notionally comes from than where their data is going. And while there’s a lot of lip service to feminism, racial equality, and gay rights, there’s a lot more actual work going on to legalize marijuana. Actions are the acid test of platitudes. And the approach generally sucks. I like the way Alexis Madrigal framed it:

“Individuals unplugging is not actually an answer to the biggest technological problems of our time just as any individual’s local, organic dietary habits don’t solve global agriculture’s issues”

While our generation may be the most technologically ensconced yet on earth, we’re mostly incompetent in programming and controlling that technology. The most powerful and democratizing lever ever in human hands is barely able to pry us off the couch in the middle of the walled garden. I’m ashamed.


Well, this is my year-end post. Usually these posts are basically big picture-poems; here are some words and images to keep the tradition strong. Sorry that more of these weren’t shared at the time they were created. Time has been tight.

I didn’t think 2015 would be the year I left Los Angeles. I had planned to stay.

I miss you, Towne.

Inside –

and Out.

Miss you Max and Marisa,

Miss you Ali and Pehr. pehr

And Eric and America and Susan and Lanny and Quinn and Sebastian and Slators and Arnars and Schwerts and Imagineers all. And all those family members that died this year. We burned the Christmas tree for you.

Miss you Pho 87, whoa

Miss you Spring for Coffee, there is nothing like you here

Miss you fast, cheap help,

Miss you, morning walks and incoming airplane constellations.

Much of this year was getting my thoughts together – but I’m also learning to organize things-



(power tools)

(air tools)



(paint and tape)




A smaller and more efficient space makes more sense, anyway. Thanks, Rob, for all your Googly help with this:

It’s been good getting our house into order. I always said I never would.

but piece by piece

petal by petal

pin by pin



handDANDANUNITED_1000px_DSC03720-EditWe did it. Goddamn! I got the better deal. By far. Thank you for asking, Dana.

I love our life together. I love our family – the Reetz side:

And the Dana side:

And Stan:

Always maintained I wouldn’t marry. But I’d never met a Dana before. We share words like these:

And do things like this:

and this:coconut

and this:swing

also meals like these.

I hope it’s clear, I’m really not dead – just different. I can’t work from the position I used to; I have to do something new. Fortunately, I have help.

The next few years will be most interesting.

Miss you all. Have a great 2016.


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Anti-Intrusion/Anti-Graffiti Measures


Check out this standpipe. Above it, there is a fire escape which has obviously-painted-over graffiti. On it, there is a mess of thick, black grease, and next to it is a coil of razor and barbed wire.

Hadn’t seen this rather extreme approach to climbers before.

Near my building there are often streetwalkers. They tear the rearview mirrors from vehicles, presumably to check makeup/freshen up. After several losses, one of my neighbors applied axle grease to the back of his mirrors. The interesting thing, in my mind, is that it’s not the slipperiness, it’s about and cleanliness and appearance. For someone who lives on the street, a sink and special soap for heavy grease is hard to find. For a community that is visually oriented and fashion conscious like graf artists, something that spoils a new set of Converse may be a better defense than something that threatens life and limb.

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Struggling to pay rent. GoPro to the rescue.

Like any reasonable person, my landlord wants a check shoved under an unmarked door in the basement. Problem is, at night an on the weekends, the door leading to the basement is locked. I am so motivated to pay my landlord that I jammed a credit card into the door to try to open it. Anyone who has tried this “trick” knows that 9 times out of 10 you just break off the damned card and the door remains locked.

As it turns out, Dana was just sponsored by GoPro, so I have around 7 metric shit-tons of GoPro garbage in my workshop. The lexan-like material that they use in their packaging felt flexible enough to be a good shim.

2015-01-01 17.19.47

Dimensions unimportant. Big enough so you can grab on with two hands.
2015-01-01 17.08.42

2015-01-01 17.04.45

Start high above the latch and work down. Use force.
2015-01-01 17.05.16

2015-01-01 17.05.29

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2014 Ends and Pieces

2014 in three sentences:

  • Designing, manufacturing, promoting, and documenting new book scanners consumed every waking minute.
  • In spite of a great 4-year run, I lost my enthusiasm for my professional work as an Imagineer and Disney Researcher, so I moved on.
  • I pushed myself harder than ever before, and paid for it and got paid for it.

That’s what it was, this is what it felt and looked like.

Waking up in Los Angeles.

In Fargo.

On a beach somewhere, rocket propellant night-light.

At a fire with my brothers.shed

In a tent on the grass.

That’s how these things start.silence

Friends get involved – the best ones.

It always looks bad.

It always starts hard. If just one person knew better than you, you could ask.

Most of the time, you just have to build it. Answer with your prototypes.

You gotta do it again and again and again, I highly recommend robots.

Yeah, it always looks bad. Even with your fanciest math. StartsLike5

Before it starts to cohere. StartsLike6

Before first light. StartsLike11

If you do it right, you might get some other things out of it, too. StartsLike19

Bigger things. StartsLike12

Good ideas get better. StartsLike16r

If you can find them, the best friends have their own ideas. StartsLike7

Their own agendas and intelligence.js valerian pierre scanner sculpture

They embody good ideas getting better. StartsLike8

Challenged, invigorated, expanded — like they were yours to begin with.

When things feel strong, repeat.


Repeat. StartsLike15

Revise. Revise

Repeat. repeat

Revise. reviserepeat

Repeat. repeat2

Revise. reviserepeatreviserepeat

Repeat, I’m beat. There’s no end to this, but a year’s gone by.
Ending here – always gotta keep in mind that fast feedback is the most important result of working this way. The mistake is to confuse motion with progress. It’s time for me to fix on what I’ve learned, take it in, and correct course, again.

To everyone who showed up, everyone who supported, who delivered on time, who didn’t over-promise, who taught me new things: thank you.

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Affordable Affordances

I use a bicycle wrench to tighten the collet on my CNC router. It has 32mm and 30mm box-end openings – 30mm fits the nut on my collet. About half the time, I put the wrong side on the collet and feel a mild pang of annoyance. This is a failure of the tool markings (low contrast and low discriminability between end sizes) and a failure on my part because I should have fixed it the first time it happened.

An obvious solution would be to just cut the useless end off. Reducing the functionality of tools isn’t my first line of offense, so for years I’ve just suffered this minor frustration. Anyone who’s worked in a shop long enough knows that these tiny annoyances add up over time and make things less fun and mistakes more frequent. Today, it finally annoyed me enough to think of a proper lazy fix. By gaff-taping over the far end, I created a grippy surface and a visually obvious orientation for the wrench.



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DIYBookscanner on Exhibit in Paris

vanni foldout scanner sculpture on exhibit

Pierre Vanni dialed up the foldout scanner an order of magnitude. The gorgeous monster is part of Pierre’s exhibit Google Raconte at Les Arts Décoratifs in Paris.

Thanks to him (right) and his accomplices JS (left) and Valerian.

js valerian pierre scanner sculpture

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Two Thousand Thirteen Seconds B-Sides and Rarities

Consider this my 2013 photo essay; it started as an experiment in taking a one-second video every day and ended up a pretty and personal thing. I only removed work-related videos; there are pieces of around 460 videos in this compilation. Everything is shown roughly in order from January to December. The music is mine and it’s unfinished demo material.

Special thanks to Dana, Eric, Matti, Scann, Stan, Jillian, Greg, Testa, Dolce, Tox, Pehr, and all those unmentioned.

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The Making Of Skull Face 2013


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Every Year, I Draw A Skull On My Face With Eyeliner Pencil (2013)

2013: Reetz2013Skull









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Vote With Your Wallet

voteWhether you mean to or not.

Los Angeles, California, 2011.

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Inevitability and Proximity

I keep hearing “It will happen” or “It’s gonna happen”, referring to inevitability in a social context.  These predictions are likely to be correct, if only because things are set up badly – in a negligent way, even – and no corrective action is being taken.gasoline

Los Angeles, California, 2013.

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Recently Hauled A Bit Of Foam


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Sewing Kit

I made a sewing kit for Dana, who is on the road with JT. It’s a 3D printed, laser cut box with a wide assortment of garment repair and management stuff jammed inside.
2013-10-19 16.46.16

Here, it is pictured with the lid and topmost components removed. 2013-10-19 16.49.01

Here you can see the full contents, which I will come back and detail someday. I’m particularly proud of the thread spools. I printed tiny caps for them that converted them into storage containers for pins, bra-clips, seam rippers, buttons, etc.
2013-10-19 16.52.44

You may notice a lack of scissors. A scissors was unnecessary because Dana already has one in her Leatherman Wave.

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Egress Axe

2013-10-20 08.59.31

I was impressed to see the glow-in-the-dark grab handle, and doubly impressed to see a handy fire-axe available for chopping out of a locked freezer cabinet.

So impressed, in fact, that I was apparently unable to take a focused photograph.

Smart’N’Final, Los Angeles, CA.

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Weller D550PK, Badly Made in USA

I recently bought a Weller soldering gun, with the intention of using it to cut nylon webbing. Out of the box, the two small lamps on the front did not illuminate. Although I don’t need them, it chafed me to buy a pricey, well-respected, American-made tool and have it only partially function.

Weller DP550K Exterior

I opened up the gun to see what was going on. Weller DP550K guts

Turned out to be bad solder joints. Not just one, but all of them.
2013-10-18 22.47.11Apparently it was amateur hour at the Weller factory. Or perhaps the workers are unable to afford Weller irons themselves? In any case, all of these solder joints were all bad enough to be hazardous, not just embarrassing, so I reworked them.

Rotten soldering inside a soldering gun. I wouldn’t expect this from Weller, but then, Weller hasn’t been Weller since 1970 when it was acquired and then sold again. OK, many thanks, Apex Tool Group – or should I say thanks to Bain Capital, the conglomerate investment group that recently purchased Apex? Gross. Go to hell, “Weller”, and Bain Capital, too. I’ll buy Japanese precision tools or cheap Chinese clones before I buy another tool from you – at least then, the bargain will be plain.

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Not Robot Compatible


USPS, Glendale, CA.

With proliferation, the increasing confusion around this important property – robots becoming more human in their capabilities. Normals become more aware of robots. The point on the graph where those two curves meet, embodied in this homely sign.

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Bright Lights


Outdoor lumber yard, Eugene, OR.

The net was installed to inhibit pigeon infestation- but made a home for spiders and a beacon for insects. The unintended tendency of “free” power and services to enable and ensconce predators. The statistical distribution of danger around a power source.

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