Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Maker's Checklist

This is from an informative handout I received from Maker Faire 2013.

The Maker's Checklist

  • K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Silly).  The ideal design has zero parts.
  • Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion (Parkinson's Law).  Don't give yourself too much time for a project or it will never get done.
  • Past experience is good for a reality check.  But too much reality can doom an otherwise worthwhile project.
  • Look at houw everyone else is tacking a problem-- what assumptions are so implicit that they're no longer being questions.  Question them.  Don't listen when people tell you that you can't.  Ignore your critics.
  • Document everything (writing, pics, video), especially on collaborative projects.  The group will forget who did what and it will make going back and chancing things that much harder.  Also, good docs will make it that much easier to port into makeprojects.com
  • you may pick two of the following three, but not more:
    • It can be built well
    • It can be built quickly
    • It can be built cheaply
  • Do what you can, where you are, with with what you have (Roosevelt's Law of Task Planning)
  • Everything is a spring (i.e., in mechanical systems, all parts will deform under load).
  • If it moves and it shouldn't, use duct tape (or zip ties).  If it doesn't move and it should, use WD-40.
  • Design for disassembly.  Don't expect it to work the first time you put it together.  And make sure that everywhere there's a screw, there's a place for a screwdriver.  And a hand to fit around that driver.
  • Neatness counts.  Keep everything organized and tidy.  Use quick connectors when you can, use cable ties to bundle related wires together, color-code, and label.
  • Know when to walk away.  When a design problem or a build turns ugly, take a break.  Sleep on it.  You'ss be amazed what distance will do -- aka The Kenny Rogers Rule: "You got to know when to held 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away."
  • Always use safety glasses, wear proper attire, keep first aid at hand, and use the right tools for the job.
Sources: The Mechanical Engineer's Checklist (makezine.com/go/mechlist), the Beginning Engineer's Checkles (makezine.com/go/eechecklist), Gareth Branwyn's Rules for Roboticists (makezine.com/go/robotrules) 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

So, you want to learn to code?

Here is a list of some of the different resources that you can use to learn how to code, robotics, or just about anything else online.  Keep expanding your knowledge base and there will be no stopping you!


codecademy.com- Learn to code interactively, for free.

khanacademy.org We're a not-for-profit with the goal of changing education for the better by providing a free world-class education for anyone anywhere.

coursera.orgAn education company that partners with the top universities and organizations in the world to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free. Our technology enables our partners to teach millions of students rather than hundreds.

code.org- A stockpile of resources to check out

iTunes U- Online Courses.

thehelloworldprogram.com- A bunch of movies created by hand puppets about programming:

skillshare.com- A place where you can take classes from real people.

Udemy- For a limitied time Groupon for $99.

CodeHS- Everything you need to teach CS in your high school or start learning at home.


techykids.com- Purchase a Thymio robot and then have fun going from the Visual Programming Language to writing your own real code.

virtualrobotgames.com- The capability to design your own robots in whatever configuration you want in a simulated environment.

www.cogmation.com- The STEM virtual robotic toolkit.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

These are the Guiding Principles that I Try and Live By

Life is an interesting thing and everyone comes to their own conclusions of the best way to live.  Here are the ones that I've come to conclude throughout the years from my own observations.

1.  Believe in SOMETHING.

  • Being skeptical all the time won't get me anywhere
  • In some cases it takes more power to believe
2.  Focus on what I want.
  • Don't focus on my fears
  • Its like riding a bike, if I am afraid of hitting a tree, and you keep concentrating on it, I will hit the tree
3. Do things for other people.
  • The world is an eco-system of give and take
  • I must give to receive, and receive to give
  • Helping other people can also increase my happiness
4. I am not alone.
  • There are people that care about me, just as I care about them
  • Many times its just a matter of asking for help
5.  Just because it might be obvious to me, it doesn't mean that it is obvious to others.
  • Some of the knowledge that I have is unique to me and I shouldn't take it for granted that other people share the same knowledge or conclusion from evidence
  • My knowledge and thought process can be unique to me and add value to the world
  • People think differently and remember to nto get so frustrated when people reach other conclusions
6.  Just because it is in front of me and easy to get now, it doesn't mean that this will always remain true.
  • Take that picture that amazes you while it's in front of me, it could just be that flash of a magical moment
  • That person might not always be there
  • Maybe it's only available in that region I am in
  • Maybe I won't be able to remember where it is
  • Things are always changing
7.  It is a common misconception that if I see it, and it is obvious, that it is easy to obtain and produce.
  • It takes time
  • It all matters how it is compiled, slight variation changes everything
8.  JFDI- (Just F-ing Do It).
  • Once you get started it is that much closer to getting done
  • The initial starting energy is 1/2 the work
  • Stop waiting, don't be complacent, start doing.
9.  Simplify my Life.  
  • It might save money to buy a cheaper product, but every item to bring into me life takes time and effort.  Be smart about what I bring into my life, is it worth the time and effort expense?
10.  I only have so much energy and time.
  • Energy in = Energy Out
  • Time is limited.  It is both the least expensive and the most valuable thing I have
  • How I spend my time is an indicator of how important I think something/someone is
11.  Work smarter and not harder.
  • Working only hard doesn't maximize output.  Take that time to think about what you are about to do before you do it so that you can take an efficient path.
  • Also, use your strengths and get paid for the most valuable things that you can contribute.  Know your value, and don't let people negotiate with you about it.
12.  No Goals.  Just the Journey.
  • My goal can't be to be happy.  I just need to be happy.  Everyday is my life, I need to live it and be happy and in the moment now.
13.  Be true to myself.  Be comfortable in my own skin.
  • I am who I am.  Own it.  No one every became truly happy or successful by trying to please their critics.  For every opinion, the opposite one also exists.  Make the rules you play by and play by them well.
14.  Put the big rocks in first.
  • Schedule the things that you want to do, and do them.  Plan all the more trivial stuff around the core.
This list will be an ever evolving list, and its my list of how I choose to live life.  What's yours?