Monthly Archives: July 2013

Arcade Machines and the Social Aspect of Hacking(Not to be Confused with Social Hacking) – Crosspost

Note: This post first appeared on the Hacker Lab Blog on May 25th, 2013. (Direct link)

SAMSUNGThis is a picture of an arcade joystick keyboard hack I’ve been working on. Yes, it looks terrible, but I’m proud of it on multiple levels. The way it works is, you take apart a keyboard, solder connections from the control circuit card to the joystick and button inputs…and voila! Arcade joystick. But the real story here is not the ins and outs of this poorly constructed hack, but more so what it represents.

Anyone who knows me knows I am a HUGE gamer. Nintendo, Sega, PlayStation, I’m into it all. People who know me a little better, know I’ve been wanting to build an arcade cabinet for a while. I had drawn up some plans, thought about it, but it never went anywhere, until I finally got the catalyst to kick it off.

A month or so ago, I’m sitting around Hacker Lab and the subject of joysticks and arcades comes up. Josh Smith comes up and suggests the idea of building arcade machines. I’ll take care of the hardware, he’ll handle the software. This was music to my ears as I now had a partner and didn’t have to shoulder the load on my own.

I think that a lot of tinkerers, hackers, hobbyists are in their own homes, their own little islands, looking at cool things on the internet, but immediately working on them in their own, usually limited, spaces. I know I was. I have notebooks full of cool ideas and projects I have yet to get to. One of the things I have enjoyed, and continue to enjoy about my time at Hacker Lab, is the community aspect of it, how just chatting people up about your interests, and projects you’re working on can lead to interesting and (potentially) profitable partnerships.

So get out there, talk to people, strike up some working relationships! No man is an island. And apparently, no hacker is either.

Intro to CAD for 3D Printing – The Postmortem

CAD Class 01So if you’re not aware, I taught a class recently. Overall, I thought it was a good experience, but of course there were/are areas for improvement. It goes without saying that I am incredibly grateful to everyone that attended that class, and also to everyone that thought enough to give me their feedback. I think I could have slowed my pacing a bit, having the benefit of hindsight I now see that my schedule was a bit ambitious. I think I was so worried about not being able to get through all the material, that my speed increased accordingly. Making sure that everyone was keeping up was a very high priority for me, but I think that in subsequent classes just asking “Is everyone still with me?” isn’t going to cut it.

I’ve worked as a tutor, both formally and informally, so I’d like to think that teaching people is a skill I posess. I always like to say whenever I teach someone that I take their learning personally. I feel that how well they perform whatever task or function I’ve helped them learn reflects directly on my skill as an instructor, and indirectly, my own skill at the task. I can’t have people out there screwing up and saying Alan M. Ware taught them. I’ve got a reputation to uphold here. I don’t know if that is a reasonable position to uphold or not, but that’s the way my head works.

One of my biggest takeaways from this class is how teaching scales. That is, there is a big difference between teaching 1,2, max 5 people, and teaching a class of 20 or more. The same methods don’t always scale as well. I mean I’ve presented to large groups before, but I think that this was the first time where I’ve given a class where so much information had to be taught and (hopefully) retained. I believe a lot of my natural abilities skew towards teaching smaller groups, and now I’m thinking about better ways to approach larger groups.

Regardless, it seems that everyone who attended the class got something out of it, which is important. Also, despite whatever I write here, I think I did okay. Still plenty of lessons to apply to the next one though.

Putting it through the paces.

If you’ve stumbled across this page, then you’ve found my blog. I’ve been wanting to start one for awhile now, and with the conclusion of my Intro to CAD for 3D printing class, I decided that I would just go ahead and jump in and get this sucker started. At the current moment, I view this more as a bit of a “soft launch” as I have not put in navigation back to the main portfolio site or from the main site to here. Normally when I do this type of stuff I always want to have every “t” crossed and every “i” dotted, but as I’m quickly learning you can’t always do things that way. If anything, that attitude is often counterproductive to getting things done. I decided to go with wordpress because of my familiarity with it, and this is the sort of thing it was made to do. I have actually done a bit of wordpress work, but this blog is my first ground up build of a site. I imagine I will tweak and try some different things as I feel my way around the software, eventually building toward a proper launch. Said launch will probably be sooner than later as I’m trying to fight this internal nature of mine to hold on to work for too long. For now I feel this launch is a good compromise.

Gotta ship!

Design Blog is up!

Welcome to the design blog! I had intended for a more spectacular rollout, but you work with what you can. Going to be learning as I go with this one…