Thursday, May 30, 2013

Maker Faire 2013 == Inspiration

Twelve years ago I set forth in the world of software development for a couple of good reasons.
  • I was tired of being broke and wanted a good job
  • I'm a geek at heart and love learning about technology
OK...So twelve years go by and where am I now? A burnt out developer (now Sr. IT consultant) chewed up and spit out by the big machine who seldom has time to do nerdy things for fun, with job, family and personal sanity getting in the way. Don't get me wrong, I know how to have fun, but I've been giving my technical part of  the brain a rest for way too long.

I code and script a little bit here and there, but for the most part, I've just been an end user. Waste of talent, right?

What is the title of this post again? Oh yeah, right!

So one of my buddies (who I have known since I was a tyke) mentioned the Maker Faire was happening on the weekend he and I were trying to make plans to get together to hang out (I only see the guy once or twice a year if I am lucky!). I had been wanting to go for YEARS and usually find out after the fact, or some other lousy excuse. No excuse this time. So I agreed to drive us and my 6yo down to sunny San Mateo and check this thing out.

At first I was overwhelmed (overstimulated) with the crowds, heat, things everywhere, plus about 30 minutes in, I realized my back pocket was flat, causing me to run a mile back to my car to get my wallet, which I had left on the car seat after paying toll to get across the Bay Bridge. Once I got back to the fair I had no idea where to start, but by the end of the day we were all having a blast, and fully feeling inspired by meeting people who make robots, art, kickstart projects, 3D-printing just to name a few things going on.

Hydraulic powered robot arm at the Bay Area Maker Faire 2013

One thing that really caught my eye was that many projects where being powered by the tiny computer known as Raspberry Pi.

I had read about the Raspberry Pi when it first came out, and thought it sounded really cool, except for the fact that it lacked network connectivity. After its initial release I kind of forgot about it. Well apparently a second generation version came out with more RAM, and extra USB and an Ethernet port (this is all old news...I know). They were selling RP kits at the fair and my buddy jumped all over it and bought one, causing me to suddenly feel envious. "Dude you can afford one..just get it!". He was right, but I hesitated, went home and obsessively brooded over it. After about a day or so a thought occurred to me "why not get a RP kit, and use it to teach my kid programming and electronics?". Hey perfect excuse to shell out a couple bucks!

So as soon as my kit arrives from adafruit, he and I will be geeking out all summer long.

My initial idea for a project involving the RP is a wifi/web controlled rover. I'm sure a lot of project like this have gone unfinished by overly-ambitious dudes like me, so let's see if we can pull it off!