In 2005, I wrote one of my first custom mapping projects using the recently released Google Maps API. It was a fairly crude map that used the Census Tiger ZCTA's (Zip Code Tabulation Area) to display a representation of a Zip Code area. Matt Cutts, at the time, a major player at Google in search, wrote a blog post called "Fun with Zip Codes" that caused my site to get an average of 70,000 unique visitors a day for about a week.
The traffic that Matt's blog post caused made me consider that there could be a market for this type of site so I looked deeper into the issue and learned a number of interesting things.
The most important thing I learned was that Zip Codes are not areas. They are delivery routes. The USPS draws these delivery routes based on the efficient delivery of mail and nothing else. They can cross city, county and even state lines if it means the mail gets delivered efficiently.
Not every address in the US has a Zip Code. This is not obvious for people…
This week I set out to run my first 3D indexer job on my ShopBot machine. The indexer (a lathe like tool) along with the CNC spindle is quite a capable tool. Up to now, I've only used it to create symmetrical carvings, much like would be produced by a standard lathe.
I needed a model that didn't have a lot of undercuts. An undercut is a place on the model where the bit won't be able to reach. Since the bit always goes straight down towards the center of rotation of the model, anything that is hidden from above can't be cut. For models of animals, a naturally bent leg or the back of an ear would create an undercut. The model I chose, a porcelain cat, had undercuts between the ears but that's all. I figured that would be easy enough to chisel out by hand.
The digitizing process is fairly easy using my NextEngine 3D scanner. This device is painfully slow but for doing once in a while 3D scanning, works quite well. The resolution is excellent and it's mostly an aut…