I mean nothing against the author and like-minded individuals and I have the utmost respect for people with such a "tinkerer" mindset, but often reading things like this on Hacker News makes me feel like a bit of a fraud, because my internal answer to the question above is basically "No, not really". I'm wondering if others feel the same way. Does it make me less of a "hacker"? I enjoy programming, sometimes I wonder how things work, but oftentimes I don't mind that it is abstracted from me and "just works", and I rarely if ever have the urge to integrate two seemingly unrelated things to create a unique hack.
My own feeling is that there is no better or worse, and feeling bad questioning if we're good enough is ridiculous. If one wants to hack on light bulbs that's great! If they'd rather go for a bike ride, that's great too! There's a quote from Winnie the Pooh that speaks to this equivalency.
“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"
"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"
"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. "It's the same thing," he said.”
There's a pattern in your comment that is a little more troubling though. Did you mean to imply that you feel like you should be a "hacker"? If so, I'd question the intrinsic value of being a "hacker" as opposed to a generally curious person who has his own interests and disinterests.
If you don't play MC already or have no friends/family interested in the game, then a project like this would seem quite boring.
It had all known web services along each edge, so people without any original ideas or will to write their own code could check if "It's like X for Y" had been taken yet, in order to impress their investors that their unique snowflake of an gimmick to effortlessly combine two other company's hard work together was a viable unicorn seed.
Eventually there were so many web services that it became like checking the Million Dollar Home Page  to see if one particular pixel was already taken.
<s>But we've moved far beyond that, fortunately.</s> Why stop at two dimensional matrices? Are there actually any practical mashups left that limit themselves to using only two other web services, these days?
Web 2.0 is to "It's like X for Y!" as Web 3.0 is to "It's like X for Y with Z!"
oh my god how can you not find this the coolest thing ever
> Does it make me less of a "hacker"?
I love hacking tech even on the weekends and after hours. If you don't then you might want to consider a new career.
I think a big part of why 30 years into my career I'm still learning is because to me this is my "fun". I don't want to watch 30 hours of reality TV. I'd rather build a cat feeder that uses OpenCV to identify which cat is eating and when the cat's feeding bowl is empty.
Recently my job shifted yet again to more management and my wife suggested I "take vacation and work on that iPhone app you were playing with a couple months ago". She knows I'm a much more enjoyable guy to be around when I have had a couple really nice zoned out hours pounding a keyboard to beg a computer to do something stupid I've come up with.
PS: When my wife saw this first thing she asked was if I could interface something like that to the cat feeder. :-)
> I have a couple of WiFi-enabled bulbs near me, wouldn't it be an interesting experiment to be able to control them using Minecraft?
When I pursue a project, I work on it in terms of 10s of thousands of lines of code over a 2-4+ year span of time. When I take up small projects, I make sure they're useful for production purposes.
I often think about the portfolios of people like this, a large number of repositories to show for, and nothing ever particularly useful. Everything is a gimmick, and nothing ever took serious architectural decision making on a grand scale.
Code quality is for the most part subjective. Sure there are standards or general conventions, but these differ largely between codebases and languages. Some people take this to extremes, especially if they're not used to coding with other programmers.
> When I take up small projects, I make sure they're useful for production purposes.
> I often think about the portfolios of people like this, a large number of repositories to show for, and nothing ever particularly useful.
That's fine, but some of us tinker and hack for a different reason: knowledge and curiosity's sake. For me (Although I know it also applies to a few other people I know), the sole goal is learning and experimenting -- a working project is just a bonus. Occasionally I'll code a tool to make life easier, but it's not the be-all-and-end-all.
> When I pursue a project, I work on it in terms of 10s of thousands of lines of code over a 2-4+ year span of time.
It's great that you have the energy to do that, but I (and I can't speak for anyone else here) simply don't have the energy to devote my time to a single project over a long period of time. I find it wears me out, and after a while programming turns into drudge-work. Not to mention there are always fun cool little projects popping into my head.
From Henk Tennekes' _The Simple Science of Flight_
I have a raspberry pi controlled cat feeder I built and have been playing around with the last couple of weeks as a side project. I showed this to my wife and she said "Oh so can you make it so I can feed that cats while playing minecraft?" LOL
Wait... is this what VR is going to evolve to?
That said, I'm not entirely sure the risk is that much greater with off-brand Chinese products than "American" (designed, programmed and made in China) ones.
>My WiFi bulbs are some unknown, eBay sourced devices that use a crappy mobile app for control.
Somewhat unfortunately, it hasn't been updated since 2012 and lacks a lot of features of the Pocket or PC version.
In all seriousness. As networking structures become more modular, it might not be a bad idea to have systems where the architecture can be modeled and monitored visually.
I have come across presentations of some custom/proprietary systems that provide interesting visualizations of networking interactions. It would be awesome to see a generalized platform implementation.
The famous (is it?) minebot already implements about 99% of the required functionality and requires no server side mods. There are of course competitors to minebot some of which may be closer or further away from this goal.
... sort of.