Retrotechtacular: Farming Implements in 1932

Few people would deny that farming is hard work. It always has been, and it probably always will be no matter how fancy the equipment gets. In 1932, farming was especially grueling. There was widespread drought throughout the United States, which gave rise to dust bowl conditions. As if those two things weren’t bad enough, the average income of the American farmer fell to its lowest point during the Depression, thanks to the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act.

Even so, crop farming was still a viable and somewhat popular career path in 1932. After all, knowing how to grow food is always going to get you elected into your local post-apocalyptic council pretty quickly. As such, the John Deere Equipment Company released the 19th edition of their classic book, The Operation, Care, and Repair of Farm Machinery. This book covers all of the various equipment a crop farmer needed to get from plough to bounty. The text gives equal consideration to horse-driven and tractor-driven farming implements, and there’s an entire chapter dedicated to tractor engine maintenance.

According to its preface, this book was used as an agricultural text in schools and work-study programs. It offers a full course in maintaining the all the (John Deere) equipment needed to work the soil, plant crops, cultivate, harvest, and manure in all parts of the country. The Operation, Care, and Repair of Farm Machinery was so well-received that John Deere kept the book in publication for over thirty years. The 28th edition and final edition came out in 1957. We wonder why they would have stopped putting it out after all that time. Maybe it wasn’t profitable enough, or the company decided to phase out the shade tree tractor mechanic.

So why should you delve into a sorely outdated textbook about farm equipment? Well, it’s straightforwardly written and easy to learn from, whether you’re trying or not. You should check it out if you’re even remotely curious about the basics of farming. If for no other reason, you should go for the beautiful hand-drawn illustrations and stay for the interesting tables and charts in the back. Did you know that a gallon of milk weighs 8.6 pounds?

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Chalkbot Vs GraffitiWriter

For those who watched the Tour de France, you may have been pleasantly surprised to see some cool tech. Nike was using a robot to paint pictures on the street in chalk dot matrix style. It was accepted by the general public as new and innovative, as well as generally cool. In the hacker community though, a bit of trouble began to brew. The Chalkbot bears more than a passing resemblance to a project called GraffitiWriter. GraffitiWriter was a bot initially designed to protest the militarization of robotics. As it turns out, one of the early developers of the GraffitiWriter is behind the Chalkbot in a legitimate contract. The trouble doesn’t seem to be one of intellectual property legalities. People are mad at the corporatization of public work. They want kids watching to know that this system was designed by regular people in their spare time at their homes, not by a team of researches in a secret underground Nike laboratory.

The article takes a bit of a turn and talks some about the possibility of projects being taken and used for corporate advertisement. The specific item they are talking about is the Image Fulgurator which secretly projects images on objects in your photographs. You’ll have to go check that one out to see how it works.