Computing stuff tied to the physical world

Weblog post 1000 !

In News, Musings on Apr 17, 2012 at 00:01

Today is a huge milestone for JeeLabs. This is weblog post number:

Screen Shot 2012 04 16 at 17 15 32


It all started on October 25th in 2008, with a weblog post about – quite appropriately – the Arduino.

Then it took a few more months to evolve into a daily habit, and yet another few months to set up a shop, but apart from that it has all remained more or less the same ever since.

You might have been following this from the start, and you might even have been going through the long list of daily posts later, but there you have it – a personal account of my adventures in the world of Physical Computing. If anything, these years have been the source of immense inspiration and delight. I’ve been able to re-connect to my inner geek, or rather: my inner ever-curious and joyful child. And to so many like-minded souls – thank you.

“Standing on the shoulder of giants” is a bit over-used as a phrase, but it really does apply when it comes to technology and engineering. What we can do today is only possible because many generations of tinkerers, inventors, and researchers before us have created the foundations and the tools on which we can build today. It feels silly even to try and list them – such a list would be virtually endless.

I’m not a technocrat. I think our IT world has done its share to rob people of numerous meaningful and competence-building jobs, and to introduce new mind-numbing and RSI-inducing repetitive tasks. Our (Western) societies have become de-humanized as more and more screens take over in the most unexpected workplaces, and our car trips and train rides are turning us into very selectively-social beings, reserving our emotions but even our respect and courtesy for our families and the people we choose as our friends. Technology’s impact on daily life is a pretty horrible mess, if you ask me.

But what drives me, are the passion and the creativity and the excitement in the field of technology. Not for the sake of technology, but because that’s one of the major domains where cognition and rationality have free reign. You can learn (and reason) all about history, medicine, psychology, or you can invent (and reason about) things which do new things, be it electrical, mechanical, biological, informational, or otherwise. Technology as a source of boundless evolution and innovation is breath-taking, we “merely” have to tap it and put it to good use.

And what thrills me most is not what I can do in that direction, but what others have done in the past and are still doing every day. Learning about all that existing technology around us is like looking into the minds of the persons who came up with all that stuff, feeling their struggles, their puzzles, and ultimately the solutions they came up with. I’m in awe of all the cleverness that has emerged before us, and even more in awe of the thought that this will no doubt go on forever.

It’s really all about nurturing curiosity, asking questions, and solving the puzzles they bring to the surface:

I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious. — Albert Einstein

Here’s the good news: we all have that ability. We all came into the world the same way. We can all be explorers.

If you start doing this early on in life and hold onto it, you’ll never be hungry and you’ll never get bored. And if you didn’t have that opportunity back then: nothing of substance prevents you from starting today!

We live in amazing times. Ubiquitous internet and access to knowledge. Open source Physical Computing. Online communities with a common language. This weblog is simply my way of reciprocating all these incredible gifts.

  1. Congratulations JC, only 24 more to go to the big milestone ;-)

    We certainly live in very interesting times. Only the other day I was trying to remember what I did before mobile phones and the internet gave me access to boundless information and a world of anything I cared to think of.

    I then I remembered what I did – took far longer to complete a crossword! :o)

    Being serious for a minute (that’s as long as I can manage), many thanks for all your hard work, and rekindling my interest in electronics.

  2. Hello JC, also from me: congratulations for 1000 very interesting posts!

    I really learned a lot, following your different series of posts about electronics. Sadly, daily work and family often stops me doing the amount of physical computing i would like to, but reading your blog somehow compensates this. To be honest, sometimes I’m envious of how you have managed to combine hobby and profession ;-)

    So, keep on writing and inventing – for yourself and of course for all of us to follow you :-)

    Hartelijk dank!

  3. Congratulations JC and thanks for inspiring us with your ideas and enthusiasm.

    As I near retirement you have encouraged me to return to being the young excited Electronics Engineer I was in my youth.

  4. Félicitations JC ! quelle ténacité. Bravo et bonne continuation. A French assiduous reader ;-)

  5. Hi there, 1000 times congratulations from Italy :-) Keep on like this !!! Denis

  6. Ah – the gift and curse of technology. The new-found services are what we make of them, but feed a basic instinct of wishing to control the ultimately uncontrollable.
    A risk is isolation as we filter and reinforce the bubble around us.
    The potential is increased openness as we can interact and absorb in fascinating new ways.

    Ever the optimist, IMHO mankind is ingenious and inventive eventually using technology for what it is – merely a toolkit for better, positive interactions.

    You mention Western – a brief story from an Eastern perspective.
    In a field full of ripening watermelons, three hours from the nearest Market. The farmer pulls out a battered cellphone and links into an informal network of sellers.

    “No, cut tomorrow – the Market will be swamped with crop today”

    When you live on $5US a day, avoiding a glut at the Market (and the consequent rock bottom price) is the difference between making enough to eat and to plant again or not.

    Now that is what technology is for….

  7. Well done. It is really nice to see how quick the content of the posts has grown within this period. I think you should be real proud of achieving this number while keeping the quality of the post so high.

  8. JC, congratulations on your kilo-blog :) Although I only recently started following the feed, I have come across the posts regularly when looking for information on “physical computing”. A nice, interesting reflection on the impact of computers and other IT-related developments.

    I’m looking forward to be a more ardent reader of the next thousand posts. :-)

  9. Congratulations, JC! You have something special going on here. Thanks for a thousand inspiring and awesome blog posts, and thanks in advance for many more to come.

  10. You are making a difference with your thoroughbred blog. Inspirational, all-round educational, environmentally reasonable, and ever so interesting and fun.

    Thank You and congratulations.

  11. 1000 post, that is a lot of information sharing, and a lot of fun to read, I read them all, when I found this place. But another great thing is the giving away of hardware/software designs, that is a great gift to us all. As TS was in to, before this internet thingy we all sad alone inventing things like hot water and deep plates. Today there are communities like your, that share information, designs, software. All things we may or maybe not could done ourself, but not in a way that we can today. I will not congrat you of having invented the internet. But I will most certainly lift my hat to you for having made the JeeLabs and all it’s wonder.

  12. bedankt! JC

  13. You are an inspiration JC. Your hard work does not go unnoticed. :) Thanks for the Hopjes btw. My girlfriend’s Mom is Dutch, and wanted to know all about jeelabs!

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