Address

Author Topic: Introduction  (Read 1182 times)

nanolith

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 15
    • View Profile
Introduction
« on: February 05, 2014, 09:28:33 AM »

Hello.  My name is Justin.  I attended your open house last night, and I am interested in becoming a member of your hackerspace.


I am a self-taught software / firmware engineer, with over fifteen years of experience in this field.  When I'm not working, I make beer, pickles, and cheese.  I have two 3D printers, an Eigenharp Tau, and about a dozen Raspberry Pis.  My real passion, however, is compiler development and inventing new domain-specific software development languages.


I am interested in improving my skills in other areas: welding, mechanical engineering, carpentry, forging, and machining.  In exchange for these skills, I'm willing to trade what I've learned over my career.  Want to learn how to build reliable embedded systems in C++?  Want to learn server-side development using Functional Programming languages like Scala or Haskell?  Have a desire to improve your software development skills with SOLID design principles, or Test-Driven Development?  I can teach these things and more.


More important than the trade of skills, I am interested in the cross-pollination of ideas that occurs when people with different interests collaborate to build things.  I think this is one of the main benefits of a hackerspace, and I believe that helping to build a community of builders here in Orlando will reap benefits beyond Familab itself.  It's this long view that I find the most appealing.

darkmoonsinger

  • Treasurer
  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 740
  • I am no one but all that I am.
    • View Profile
Re: Introduction
« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2014, 09:31:48 AM »
Welcome! Always good to see more programming language people here. :)

digitalman2112

  • Lab Dad (ex-treasurer)
  • FamiLAB Member
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 1096
  • Work Hard, Play Hard!
    • View Profile
    • Raising Geeks
Re: Introduction
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2014, 09:56:50 AM »
Welcome! That's an impressive list of skills & toys :)

It's this long view that I find the most appealing.

Me too :)


nanolith

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 15
    • View Profile
Re: Introduction
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2014, 09:00:36 PM »
Welcome! Always good to see more programming language people here. :)

I do enjoy languages, both using them and building them. :-)

I'm slowly working towards open-sourcing a state machine language I've been using for embedded systems development.  The current incarnation is specific to a commercial project, but my employer has graciously agreed to allow me to build a better and more general implementation for a wider variety of use cases on my own time.  State machines are common in firmware, and this language makes their development simpler, even for people with limited embedded experience.  Unfortunately, most decent state machine compilers on the market are expensive, and most OSS implementations aren't designed for small memory and code space footprints.  Mine is free-as-in-beer and libre -- I'm releasing it under an MIT license -- and it is designed to be efficient on 8-bit MCUs, which means that it will scale nicely for most applications.  The original compiler was written in Ruby.  This OSS implementation of the compiler is being written in C++11, mainly so it will run efficiently on small Linux / ARM computers such as the Raspberry Pi.

That's my current language project, and it has been consuming a lot of my personal time as of late.  When the OSS implementation is far enough along for a push to Github, I'd be happy to demo its use.

nanolith

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 15
    • View Profile
Re: Introduction
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2014, 09:45:49 PM »
Welcome! That's an impressive list of skills & toys :)

Well, thank you.  :-)

It's this long view that I find the most appealing.

Me too :)

I was happy to see such a diverse group of people at Familab.  I was also amazed to run into a few bright young adults who could probably school some of my colleagues in Arduino and Minecraft.  :-)

I did not get the opportunity to stay for long, but I had a chance to interact with enough people to appreciate the potential.  Without waxing philosophical, I'll just say that I was impressed.  I've been to hackerspaces on the West Coast.  I never expected to run into something with the same buzz here in Florida.  To do so while keeping a kid-friendly atmosphere is no easy feat.

I'll be happy to expand on my ideas about this long view, but I think that would quickly take me off-topic of this introduction.

digitalman2112

  • Lab Dad (ex-treasurer)
  • FamiLAB Member
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 1096
  • Work Hard, Play Hard!
    • View Profile
    • Raising Geeks
Re: Introduction
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2014, 09:48:10 PM »
I'll be happy to expand on my ideas about this long view, but I think that would quickly take me off-topic of this introduction.

I'd counter that getting to know you and your ideas is perfectly on-topic, but can also be done IRL :)

nanolith

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 15
    • View Profile
Re: Introduction
« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2014, 11:02:32 PM »
I'll be happy to expand on my ideas about this long view, but I think that would quickly take me off-topic of this introduction.

I'd counter that getting to know you and your ideas is perfectly on-topic, but can also be done IRL :)

I'll attempt to summarize, but I'll warn you, I can talk for hours on this subject.

There are many forks in this view so I'll take the most pragmatic one first.  I have a professional motivation in seeing projects like Familab succeed: they attract more engineering talent to the Orlando area.  While there may be some skeptical of the idea that a hackerspace could act as an anchor point for a technical community, I've seen enough commercial ventures born out of hackerspaces to recognize their potential.  There are many ways that we network.  Most of us form connections along social or professional lines.  Being able to form connections based on what we do out of passion, and across such a broad spectrum of skills, opens new avenues that traditional networking can't.  It's one thing to know that your neighbor is a welder.  It's quite another to work with a welder to build something incorporating your own skills.  This is why Paul Graham's Y-Combinator has led to so many interesting and successful companies.  He mixes people of many different backgrounds together, and then lets them mingle.  Companies break apart and reform.  Ideas flow freely.  Even if the intent is largely non-commercial in a hackerspace, this free flow of ideas and the openness of tapping experts in a particular area multiply what one can build or do on one's own.

As another fork, I consider my own past.  I am largely self-taught.  When I was young, perhaps as young or younger than some of the kids I encountered last night, my main means of gathering information was the public library.  I taught myself to write software by pouring through outdated reference books, and hacking at pitifully underpowered computers.  While the BBS scene was hopping, my parents did not let me dial out.  Instead, I built up a sneaker-net of 3.5" floppies among my friends who had access to data.  I would have given my eye teeth for access to a hackerspace, as I'm sure many of you would have.  The potential here for not just kids starting out, but for the rest of us with a few more years under our belts, is great.  College offers many of the same opportunities, for a price, but without the open-ended ability to just experiment.  Combining knowledge from books with the experience of people who have worked in a particular field is a powerful thing.  It can lead in directions one can't anticipate ahead of time.

To take a slightly different tack, there is a lot that Familab can do for the community at large.  If a fraction of the time spent helping each other on hobby projects were spent coming up with novel solutions to the sorts of problems that Engineers Without Borders tackle, a lot could be accomplished.  EWB spends a lot of time thinking up novel ways to give people access to clean water, something we take for granted here.  Their solutions are, by no means, beyond what Familab could do.  To frame things in a more first-world light, the potential for improving the local community is great.  We all like to tinker and experiment, and many of us would enjoy the opportunity to learn new things while helping others.  This need not be so direct as volunteer work; even something cool like putting together some quadrocopter drones to temporarily extend WiFi across a public space could not only make events more bearable, but provide people with a valuable way to communicate after an infrastructure-disrupting event such as a hurricane.

While I talked about networking, more from a practical standpoint, there is something to be said about social interaction.  I like surrounding myself with smart people from a wide variety of different backgrounds.  The only way to grow is to have one's assumptions challenged, and this is best done among a group of like-minded people who are also looking to grow.  At Familab, as with many hackerspaces, I see a group of people gathered together in the common interest of building.  But, more than that, I see people who wish to better themselves by learning new skills.  I talked with people passionate about what they do, and keenly interested in learning more about what others do.  This is a positive thing, and it has the potential to shape people.

Finally, I like being in an environment where people are open to learning new things, and open to teaching others what they know.  I like the idea of holding classes to pass my knowledge and experience onto other.  I enjoy taking classes to learn new things.  I spent a lot of money taking college courses for a similar experience before MOOCs existed.  Neither college nor a textbook is as hands-on as some of the potential projects that can be done at Familab.  :-)

digitalman2112

  • Lab Dad (ex-treasurer)
  • FamiLAB Member
  • Hero Member
  • *
  • Posts: 1096
  • Work Hard, Play Hard!
    • View Profile
    • Raising Geeks
Re: Introduction
« Reply #7 on: February 06, 2014, 08:24:58 AM »
it has the potential to shape people.

Completely agree. This profound effect on the individual is often overlooked - and sometimes it takes several years to really understand how that shaping pays off for an individual - but it does.