Computing stuff tied to the physical world

Watchdog kicking in …

In News, Musings on Feb 2, 2012 at 00:01

History is about to repeat itself… With this 954’th post, I have an important announcement to make: I’m slamming on the brakes and taking a one month break away from this weblog.

It’s a bit radical and unexpected, but there is no way around it. This weblog is “driven by passion”, as you will probably know, and the crazy bit is that there’s just too much going on here to keep things going smoothly. I’ve been running behind on shop fulfillment again, and I’ve been running behind even more on answering emails and with helping out on the forum. First thing I hope this will do, is to let me catch up and regain my footing.


In sharp contrast to last year’s emergency stop, this time it’s not so much lack of ideas or lack of energy, but lack of clear focus and direction. The stories I would love to tell need more time – diving into various aspects of physical computing in considerably more depth and detail than what’s been happening on the weblog lately. And it’s not happening because the daily bite-sized cycle is chopping up my attention (even at times when I have enough weblog posts queued up for many days on end – go figure!). And maybe it’s also a hill climbing issue.

For an interesting insight about attention, see Paul Graham’s essay titled Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule.

I’ve updated the alphabetical and chronological indexes to all the posts on this weblog, to give you something to go through for the coming weeks. It’s a stopgap measure, but it’ll just have to do – and there should be enough to keep you interested and hopefully also pique your interest and keep you excited in the month ahead.

The difference with last year, is that I’m putting a precise cap on the duration of this “outage”: 30 days from now. That’s when this weblog will resume, probably with some announcements and adjustments to its style and format.

Talk to you one month from now!

PS. If you want to learn about electricity, then there are numerous resources on the web. Let me single out one: a 50-minute video by Walter Lewin at MIT about batteries and power (lecture 10 on this page). You can get a deep understanding of what a battery is, why its internal resistance matters, what power is, how heat comes out, what shorting a battery does, and even sparks. It’s a fantastic presentation, and the video was just picked at random!

  1. Have you ever thought about the concept of guest writers? There might be people who’d like to write some pieces to go onto the weblog as well and it might just work! That is unless you want to keep it strictly JCW branded….

  2. Have a productive regrouping of the cranial troops and I look forward to your return.

    Oh, is there any relevance to the 10% 270 Ohms resistor?

  3. If we take the 3rd band on the graphic as a smudgy green, it’s a 2.7Mega.

    In the order of the number of hits at the Weblog/Forum/Shop (~1.5M via Alexa)

    Chapeau !

    • lol, looks brown to me… but hey, isn’t that always the way with resistors!

  4. +1 on taking time off but also accepting guest writers. You are a maker and designer, and blogging everything by yourself can take away from that energy.

  5. It’s funny, I was just thinking about suggesting guest writers when I was reading your blog, but Vliegendehuiskat got ahead of me. And was also thinking of TankSlappa as one of them….;-)

    Would be a good idea in my opinion, can give you some more relief in the future and make sure you keep your balance!!

    Enjoy your well deserved break anyway JCW, although it might not be as much of a break anyway but just a means of catching up on your other activities.

    Regards, Michel.

    • Moi? I’m flattered, but I just speak many words backed up with very little knowledge!

      I could write a week long series about why European plug sockets are inferior to UK ones though ;-)

      (Except when they’re dropped on the floor in the dark, when you have bare feet).

  6. Thanks for the guest writers suggestion. I’ll give some serious thought in the month ahead on whether/how this could be done effectively.

    • Probably through the use of the Author and Contributor roles, since this is WordPress anyway. Besides, you will be responsible for what goes on here so you can still moderate them all you like!

  7. Great links in your statement. Look after yourself!

  8. Hi JCW,

    I just finished reading ALL your blog posts, should have taking some more time :) Enjoy your time off. If you want to discuss some new ideas you can always email me.

  9. Well, I posted yesterday a comment in favour about the electricity series. But now I see it is not necessary to make them deep, as you can always link to resources on the web. Anyway, I find the daily bits of information and experiments you make very inspiring (i discovered your weblog searching for a way to get the free memory available on an atmega, wich you wrote a post about it). About the guest writers, i don’t know, perhaps is a good idea. Thanks & keep going!

  10. Jcw, besides possibly hosting guest writers, also consider if you need/want to offer bounties on certain projects, articles or tutorials.

    With the guest writing, people write based upon their personal interest and submit that for your approval. He guest writer generally chooses he topic.

    With the bounties, you basically direct the topic, and someone does it. Now the topic could be something you always wanted to explore, but had no time. It could lso be an elaboration on a repeat Support question, one that maybe is documented but people arent grokking in the current answer form. Or it could be a marketing wish (ie, comprehensive integration with Crestron etc home automation) stealthily presented in a blog tutorial.

    One thing is for sure, you are writing at the speed and quality normally ound in 2 to 3 quality blogs, exceeding the levels of Sparkfun or Adafruit. It’s not sustainable by only 1 person running a business.

  11. Everyone needs some time off, even from a job you love. I think the guest writer is a good idea, but would require some time from JCW, or someone else, for coordination as well.

  12. I think it is important to refocus – you do seem to push everything to the limit. I wouldnt expect a daily post, I would rather see more occasional interesting, thought provoking posts than see the quality drop.. Besides, I want you to get back to processing the orders – I just ordered some kit last night!!!!

  13. Thanks for doing what you do Jean-Claude!

  14. Darn, I’m missing it already :-)

    (not that I don’t understand though)

  15. Terrible echo in here – sooo empty….

    Waiting for next month? Could I invite you to track a couple of my recent forum responses? I’m trying to respond to topics in a general, bloggy style. No nice pics and a poor substitute for JCW’s style, but maybe keep some topics rolling while we wait for the Master to return.

    Comments, additions, critique gratefully received.

  16. The break seems to be working – just got an email that my order is on its way…. A few minutes later I got an email from an old friend working in TI that he was sending me a bunch of MSP430’s. I know nothing about them, but the price is right (FREE!)

  17. Take care JC! Although I really miss my daily inspiraton!

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