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"Mama - I wanna be a
I'll get money and chicks and things!!! It's like the new
- right. A client recently told me he and his buds took up hang
gliding years ago for the same reason...
Dr Bob - a physics professor turned
coder that I've
been lucky to have met and worked with (you'd
recognize some of the well known products/programs he's
worked on over the years) PUT IT BEST:
"Maker? What the hell is that?" (I explained it to him)
"That's like putting a frozen dinner
in a microwave and calling yourself a 5-star chef..."
I heard that the founder of Make was in Fredricksburg, VA not too
ago, and talked with one of the clients I have in North VA.
I just wanted to stress that in all the rush to be a "maker" one has
realize that this is not a new phenomena - it's just that in the
there was no "instant gratification" as is now with things like 3D
EDA tools, 3D printing. I fear that:
“In the information society,
thinks. We expected to banish
paper, but we actually banished thought.”
~~ Michael Crichton, Jurassic
Tho I have to say - and did so in a rant in PC Design and Fab
that we should be looking towards "growing" monolithic products, due
to many issues (see the article).
I hope you're not offended by this, but I do have to stress that as
society in the progress towards a "hive" mentality ( this is the
time in history that a life form can transmit information/interact
around the globe at near light speeds) we
are suffering from what I
call the "dead dick syndrome"
- so bombarded and over-stimulated that
we fail to recognize:
No one really "solves" an
engineering problem -
one merely smears physics around until one can live with the
It's obvious that getting into "making" a lot of short cuts have
taken. Recently Google (and I got a letter from Khan Academy on
had the "Hour of Code"
Anyway - here's my take on all of
- and when you're in DC, feel
free to stop by my lab:
>>> RANT FOLLOWS<<<<
It seems a lot of people do things for the wrong reasons.
with ignoring what I'm about to say?
Ask Mr. Obama how
well that Affordable Healthcare thing went... I worked with a
at NETSEC that did a similar thing years ago.
Whomever told the
President that it could be done that quick (an "hour of code"
you will) had no clue...
Being a coder isn't just some cool "fad" thing that the Today Show's
Orange Room (more like
Romper Room - [note - bonus points if you recognize the
color code I used]), or Google (what a great way to start a
company, what a sad thing to see what it's turned into) turns into a
"sound byte" (pardon the pun).
I work with some of the best low-level coders out there. See my lab
That's Sanjay in
the "Example Military Application" section, holding the same box
at Area 51 (yea that Area 51 - Google Area 51 sensors ). Been doing
for years, just like Rif, Larry (listed on Atmel's site; we were
this a few decades before Arduino made it "cool"), and Joel, a
find out of the thousands of kids we looked at from places like VA
Tech, Mason, CMU, etc... that's actually a good coder.
For instance, that thing Sanjay is holding is something that a local
Beltway Bandit tried developing for 5 years, spent tons of money on
people "coding for the wrong
... and a zillion other reasons to
dad said it would be better to be a coder than an
shiny rocks and paper with presidents pic's on them!"
fancy wheels with a BMW logo if I can code"
says it's cool to write code"
This is similar to the Make thing.... so sad. Recall where Ian
Hammond in Jurassic Park?
Where he mentions that:
"...The lack of
humility before nature that's being displayed here staggers me..."
"Don't you see that danger ... inherent in what you're doing
you wield it like some kid that's found his dad's gun... I'll tell you the problem with
scientific power that you're using here... it didn't require any
discipline to attain it. You know, you'd read what others
done and you took the next step. You didn't earn the knowledge for
yourselves, so you don't take any responsibility... for it. You
on the shoulders of geniuses to accomplish something as fast as
could, and before you even knew what you had, you patented it,
packaged, slapped it on a plastic lunch box it, and now you're
same can be said with any discipline.
Here's what I
recently wrote to various maker groups in DC:
"Someone needs to do a talk on craftsmanship"
In this world of instant gratification within nanoseconds, 3D
etc, we forget the originators of the "Make" phenom - the old
"make" phenomena is not new; the ability of
people to get
little effort is.
There's a great rant on here:
Some of his work here:
Note in his rant:
"When I was employed as a
modelmaker at Hughes Aircraft in the late
1960’s my “bench mate” was a craftsman of exceptional skill.
Slankard, then in his early 60’s, (I was 23) had apprenticed as
patternmaker at age 12, had worked on the “Spruce Goose”, carved
patterns for the DC-3 and hand carved the Presidential Seal for
President Roosevelt. We would joke that “Ellis works slower than
grows”. However, every project he worked on came in under-budget
well ahead of deadline. He was so well trained, with so much
experience, that he simply never wasted a motion. He would pick
tool, say a chisel, make a few precise strokes, put it down, and
up the next tool. No wasted effort, and seemingly without
it was obvious to me that he had planned his work hours in
was a very calming influence on a young, rather energetic,
craftsman. Ellis is another of my “heroes”."
And check this out:
Note where he
"When I started to build this
had no idea how I could cut such
small T-slots without buying expensive cutters. I thought this
give me a convenient point to lay the project to rest, as it was
started only as my first milling exercise and it didn't need to be
finished. I rifled through a drawer of ruined drill bits and
that flutes are quite sharp....... A 3/16" HSS bit went into the
chuck, I grabbed the Dremel flex shaft with a grinding disk
in four minutes I had made a T-slot cutter."
And this was his first time
his Taig mill.
I really think that some part of your introduction to new members
should include some sort of history lesson on craftsmanship.
And - as to all the whiz bang stuff in your facilities - this should
indicator for centering? - Naw, tap it a few times....
Naw, just use your toes...
It's the same with electronics/embedded stuff.
I recall having a client that had this coder, a PhD, working on a
project I designed... a prototype, not too terribly complex but it
required some thought, planning, research.. Had the thing for about
3 weeks; got no where.
After a while, their boss had them bring the stuff back to my lab to
with me and my coder, Joel, to get it going. It was obvious that
isn't something they were really into doing, and had little
After I mentioned, "I see you didn't use any of the hardware control
lines I put in..." I sent them both out for lunch while I hooked it
When they came back, they pull up the dev environment and JTAG to
Within minutes Joel's telling them, "OK, make sure this delay is
correct, now look at PA2, etc..."
In five minutes it's up and running.
The client's coder is floored. "How did you do that so quick?" Note
that this was a new
uC architecture, so both had the same 3-4 weeks to learn it.
I stated - "Here's the deal. You see, if there was some hot babe, or
dude [Joel interjects 'babe'] naked, sitting on a nice 40 channel
logic analyzer, Joel would be like, "Get your nasty ass off that
You really have to want to do this kind of thing. Not as a cursory
I'd have to refer to what was said a few thousand years
you SHOULD do something:
Years ago, a
mover turned me on to a great read - the writings of Tao and his
students. I recently found an article on this -
interview by Scott London with Stephen Mitchell:
"Mitchell: There's a wonderful
about that in The Second Book of the Tao.
It goes like this:
Ch'ing the master woodworker carved
bell stand so intricately graceful that all who saw it were
They thought that a god must have made it.
The Marquis of Lu asked, "How did
art achieve something of such unearthly beauty?"
"My Lord," Ch'ing said, "I'm just a
simple woodworker — I don’t know anything about art. But here’s
can tell you. Whenever I begin to carve a bell
stand, I concentrate my mind.
After three days of meditating, I
longer have any thoughts of praise or blame. After five days, I no
longer have any thoughts of success or failure.
After seven days, I'm not
with a body.
All my power is focused on my task;
there are no distractions. At that point, I enter the mountain
I examine the trees until exactly the right one
appears. If I can see a bell stand
inside it, the real work is done, and all I have to do is get
Thus I harmonize inner and outer. That's why people
think that my work must be
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