Andrew Ervin Reads Excerpts of Burning Down George Orwell’s House

Andrew Ervin Reads Excerpts of Burning Down George Orwell’s House

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Chris Dima

Founder and CEO

May 19, 2015

We like to thank Andrew Ervin for sharing passages of his new book, BURNING DOWN GEORGE ORWELL’S HOUSE with us, and once more for putting up with our choice to simultaneously host a prototyping competition! You can pick up Andrew’s debut book at either a hip indie book store, such as Powell’s City of Books and IndieBound, or via Amazon  and Barnes & Noble.

Thanks to Christopher Merkner for his facilitation, as well as his general enthusiasm for herding a bunch of college students anywhere specifically:

“Burning Down George Orwell’s House is really most enjoyable, a witty, original turn on the life and memory of the Sage of Jura, taking place on the island where he wrote Nineteen Eighty-Four. Eric Blair serves as the McGuffin in this story, which is one part black comedy and one part a meditation on modern life. It is well-written and truly original.”
— Robert Stone

“[A]n evocative novel of place that makes pointed commentaries about the ‘wired world’ of the 21st century that 1984 intuited.  As all good comedies do, Ervin’s novel contains a sober question at its core.” Maureen Corrigan, NPR’s “Fresh Air”

“Big Brother might not be watching [Ray Welter] but the island’s eccentric locals sure are and also, possibly, a werewolf. High comedy ensues as Welter tries to find himself, Orwell and the savage beast.”
— Billy Heller, New York Post

“Ervin’s debut novel follows in the tradition of classic comedies where a supposedly cosmopolitan outsider tests his welcome in an insular old-world village. Both come in for some good-natured satire.”
— Newsday

“Wry and engaging… Nineteen Eighty-Four casts a long shadow over countless books—but not this one… Ervin has achieved something uniquely refreshing: a book that shows the taste and restraint to pay knowing, affectionate and humorous tribute to George Orwell without trying to prove him right—or to create some redundant simulacrum of his work.”
— Steve Nathans-Kelly, Paste Magazine

“Burning Down will appeal to those who have wondered what ditching our smart phones and laptops would do to make our lives less complicated. What geographically remote island could we retreat to for some peace of mind and, obviously, some world-class scotch?”
— Melanie J. Cordova, The Santa Fe Writer’s Project Quarterly

“Captures the stark and chill atmosphere of the small island, on which strangers are unwelcome and apparently very good whiskey is consumed in copious quantities.”
—Booklist

Pick up BURNING DOWN GEORGE ORWELL’S HOUSE at Powell’s City of BooksIndieBoundAmazon or Barnes&Noble.

iNov8 Internships Draw to a Close

iNov8 Internships Draw to a Close

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Chris Dima

Founder and CEO

May 15, 2015

“Since working at Walnut Street Labs, I’ve learned how to use WordPress, become more versed in CSS and HTML and seen how PHP runs on the backend. I’ve also gained much more experience working together with a group to complete tasks which is a nice change of pace from the classroom environment which is largely independent work. This semester I’ve been taking a class in PHP so it was nice to see what I learnt in the classroom directly apply to what I was learning at the lab and gave me a chance to improve in school and at work. Overall I’ve greatly enjoyed my time at the lab and I feel that I am more prepared to work in the Tech Industry because of it.”
Bruce Langlois, WSL Dev Intern

“The opportunity I was given to begin an internship with Walnut St. Labs has changed the way I think and work. Before I began working at WSL I had an interest in technology and innovation in general but I never took the time to learn and do something about it. Working at the Labs has taught me about web creation and design as well as film and photography, few things I had a previous interest in. As I am continuously pushed into working with these I am learning more than I believe I would learn in the classroom or on my own. The main thing I have gained from working at Walnut St. Labs is feeling more comfortable stepping out of my comfort zone. The environment and people of WSL has given me the encouragement to do so. I have never had the pleasure to be surrounded by such positive and encouraging people in a work environment.”
Jordan Muir, WSL Marketing Intern

“Working at Walnut St. Labs has been an interesting and transformative experience. The things I have learned from everyone here has been more valuable than I can possibly express. I don’t think I would have the skills I currently do in order to build and make things if I didn’t have the experience I got from here. Placing myself in a real work environment is also an enlightening experience. Meeting people and having a forward thinking mind in the tech industry is something completely new to me. Being able to keep up with the industry has also been an interesting experience. I’ve learned to be more self reliant and dependable to my peers and my friends. So far I have managed many websites for the lab and I have brought my own development skills. Some of my favorite projects have been Rentalist, Qio, and Office Hours. For the most part, much of the work has been adding customizations to WordPress websites, though I am at my best when I work with these three sites because I get to work with the raw code of the websites. With these, I have been able to excel my skills in PHP and Ruby on Rails. I’ve also become overall more experienced with general knowledge on web frameworks and the innovation process. This skills this gives me for a career are very direct. I have bettered myself as a programmer, and as an employee for a company. It has also allowed me to create my own projects. With the resources available and the guidance I’ve received, I am better equipped to take on a project and see it to completion.”
Wilhem Arthur, WSL Dev Intern

“Throughout the past few weeks here at Walnut Street Labs, I have gained a large amount of knowledge that I would not have without the help of all of you. First, I would like to say that all of you have done a terrific job at making me feel comfortable working in this company. All of you have welcomed me from day one with smiles and greetings as soon as I stepped in the door. This is something that I cannot express enough. This internship has been more than incredible, because I did not just show up and go to work everyday. I was given the opportunity to get to know most of you on a personal level that made me feel that you were not just my bosses, but also my friends who cared about my success in your company. Once again, I thank you for this and I know you all will continue to welcome every person who comes to Walnut Street Labs with open arms. As far as my learning experience here, I feel that there are two ways to summarize this. I look at my growth from both a technical standpoint and a non-technical one.”
— James Turner, WSL Marketing Intern

“My time spent Interning at Walnut St Labs has been incredible. I have learned so much and have enjoyed wholeheartedly being a part of the team there. In school, while I have exchanged information, techniques, and knowledge with my peers, designing in school is a competition. Those who I work with at school will be competing with me for jobs in the future. That is what makes being part of a collaborative team so different, and what I was so eager to take part in when applying for the internship.
I have always wanted to be a part of a team and I couldn’t have imagined one better than the one at Walnut St Labs. Everyone was very helpful with any questions I had, and each uniquely contributed to my growth as a designer, resulting in a wealth of knowledge after only a few months. I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to take part in this internship program and meet all of the people I met. The knowledge I’ve learned and the experience I gained will be helpful throughout my career as a designer.”
— Carly Sylvester, WSL Design Intern

“Working at Walnut St. Labs was an excellent experience as a prospective Web Developer. Every task at the lab was added value to the company. Developing in the WordPress framework taught me how to edit and create high quality websites. WordPress is a ubiquitous Web Development environment that about 25% websites run on. I knew HTML and CSS prior to my involvement at Walnut St. Labs, although this company sharpened my knowledge. One day I might be adding content, the next day I could be tweaking HTML5 animations on high-end sites. I also learned how to edit the backend of websites with PHP. Without out a doubt, my work at Walnut St. Labs will help launch my future as a Web Developer. I learned how to create and enhance websites that are used in the industry.”
— Dennis Pifer, WSL Dev Intern

“Over the course of my internship at Walnut St. Labs, I worked in new situations and environments that were totally foreign to me. After being assigned as one of the main content producers on one of the company’s blogs, WestChester.Guru, I began to expand my skillset and experience as a writer. I wrote about local news, events around town, and promotional blogs for nearby businesses. Occasionally, I had the opportunity to interview a few primary sources for information. Outside of the blog, I worked within a complex network of communication in the company. It was fascinating how often seemingly unrelated company operations would interact and crossover between one another.”
— Zane Zerman, WSL Marketing Intern

Wilhem Arthur Leads WSL’s MiniMaker Space

Wilhem Arthur Leads WSL’s MiniMaker Space

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Chris Dima

Founder and CEO

Apr 21, 2015

We’ve partnered with NextFab to create a “MiniMaker Space” here at Walnut St. Labs, and sent Wilhem, our lead developer, over to learn about 3D Printing. He jumped at the chance to sign on as our 3D printing technician. Wilhem’s always been interested in 3D printing and now gets the chance to run two bukitos. Here’s what he had to say about the experience:

What was your reason for going to NextFab, other than its super cool?

The partnership between NextFab and Walnut St. Labs has brought more tools for innovation to Walnut St. Labs. This also fosters our connection to the growing tech scene in Philadelphia proper and the suburban surrounding. Many people in the suburbs don’t get the chance to use 3D printer and we’re excited to provide more access to these technologies in our town.

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What did you learn?

While at NextFab, I was taught a lot about the history of 3D printers, and about the software that enables them to work properly. I enjoyed learning not only the things a 3D printer could do, but also what they couldn’t do and how someone would get around these limitations. I was personally excited to create anything and everything that was possible. Many of my friends were lining up to request different things to print such as dice, a mini Tardis, cats, and I was happy to create these. I love learning new things and 3D is a world world that has recently been opened up to me.

While at NextFab, I was mostly interested in the software it takes to put all of the pieces of a 3D printer together. The hardware is interesting enough, but the process of something being taken from a computer and made real was facinating. It continues feel to be like magic watching an object be created. It’s astounding to see an optical illusion on a screen becomes a real object.

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The two types of software involved in 3D printing are Computer Aided Design programs (CAD) and Slicing tools. A CAD program allows a designer to create 3D models by drawing shapes and then extruding or cutting pieces of it. CAD programs also allow designers to define certain features of their object with vectors. Designers create relations between other shapes in their objects, such as making the depth of a box equal to its width and length. If one were to make a perfectly cubic box, and if you were to change one element such as the depth, the other two dimensions would be smart enough to change with the edit.

The other piece of software is the slicing tool. Slicing tool (most notable for its popularity, Slic3r) will take a 3D model in the correct format and slice it into thin vertical layers. It will then generate code that will tell a printer how to create each layer.

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What’s NextFab about? What is the culture like?

NextFab is a makerspace that put the tools to build virtually anything in the hands of a skilled community. The environment was extremely open and welcoming to new learners. At one point in our tour, a member allowed us to ask various questions about his projects. He was also extremely open to showing us his project and was incredibly knowledgable of his trade. It was super fun to meet him and learn from his experiences!

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What have you gained from demoing the 3-D printer at WSL?

Demoing the printers at Walnut St. Labs has given me personal experience with the printer itself, as well as the software capabilities that power them. The more times I explain how it works and the more times I experiment with the software to show someone a print job, the better I get with the software, and the better I can make projects for the lab in the future. I love experiments and reiterating based on what I’ve learned.

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What do you hope to do with this in the future?

In the future, I hope to progress what can be printed. Pushing the boundaries on what we can print and the speed at which we can print them will advance ideas faster and ultimately be more fun. As a fun project, I want to take screenshots of a video game or an animated movie and print out the scene that was captured. Bringing in something from the vitural world and having this new perspective on it is something unique to 3D printing and is something to explore in depth. I’m really looking forward to exploring all the possibilities that are out there!

TREATMiNT Box Office Hours Testimonial

TREATMiNT Box Office Hours Testimonial

We’ve asked Founder of TREATMiNT Box, Kimberly Fink, to share her experiences after participating in an Office Hours session at Walnut St. Labs.

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“Going to office hours at Walnut Street Labs was an awesome experience. I needed some advice from someone who had been in my shoes. My questions were answered and I was able to meet other entrepreneurs in the area. If you are wondering if you should make an appointment… you should!”
— Kimberly Fink, Founder of TREATMiNT Box

Advance Your Idea. Faster. Book Office Hours, Now!

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TREATMiNT Box offers gifts for cancer patients and survivors. It is the first-ever subscription service dedicated to cancer patients, survivors and caregivers. Our mission is simple: provide a rock solid way for friends and family to show their support and stay connected when it’s hard to relate. TREATMINT Box’s curated boxes and products provide inspiration to fuel the fight of those battling and healing from cancer. You can expect gifts that comfort and inspire. Send love, send support, send TREATMiNT!

Advance Your Idea. Faster. Book Office Hours, Now!

Night Owls: We Joined Meetup.com

Night Owls: We Joined Meetup.com

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Chris Dima

Founder and CEO

Jan 28, 2015

Despite the fact that Walnut St. Labs has spent the last year growing our community base through organic means, including our own ambitious social media campaigns and by word of mouth, we’ve took a leap of faith and joined the premier meetup site, meetup.com.

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Night Owls is a weekly hangout, geared towards developer collaboration and open forum networking for entrepreneurs of all sorts. Its an opportunity to expand our community based by reaching out to people who’ve always been interest in visiting us, but haven’t yet attended a Startup Meetup.

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Needless to say, Meetup.com brought out a variety of people interested in the space, startups and a fun place to network and collaborate.

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We were also blessed with the attendance of some new developers who live locally, but don’t frequent our social media channels.

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It was a refreshing to introduce this influx of new Night Owls to the passionate people that champion our space and call this place home on Wednesday Nights.