Anyway, thanks for the comment, and let me know what kinds of posts of mine you've enjoyed, and what I can do to make all my posts more valuable to you.
EDIT: I should add that my recent post on finding a good IDE found little traction, despite being more in-depth and technical. Perhaps it was just a fluke though...
EDIT 2: I've updated the blog post with a more in-depth review of the Arduino and the Sparkfun kit.
 Dick Smith is a successful Aussie entrepreneur who created a chain of hobby electronics stores and sold the chain when it had (I think) 200 employees and he couldn't remember all their names, so it wasn't so much fun anymore.
When Redhead matches was bought by overseas interests, he created Dickhead matches in protest and sold them in Aussie supermarkets.
He jumped a double-decker bus over 15 motorbikes when I was a kid, parodying Evel Knievel. He was my hero.
He recently created the Wilberforce award - "$1 million to go to a young person under 30 who can impress me by becoming famous through his or her ability to show leadership in communicating an alternative to our population and consumption growth-obsessed economy."
"It has become obvious to me that my generation has over exploited our wonderful world – and it’s younger people who will pay the price."
Edit: He's also a founder and patron of the Australian Skeptics.
Edit 2: Picture of the bus jumping the motorcycles
Presents an interesting case against a lot of technical Utopian ideas about tech/ed, highlighted the resistance to change in a lot of entrenched interest groups e.g. parent pressure isn't stressed nearly enough by most. It is a well thought out articulation of an interesting POV.
I really wasn't trying to be content police, just concerned that a post that essentially says "I Bought Something" was the most interesting technical news of the day ;-)
I think his post is on topic and the tech level is actually nicely positioned to get programmers a bit more interested in 'what goes on under the hood'. The vast majority of the people here have never seen, let alone used a soldering iron. Hardware is a big step for software people, the joke goes programmers can't change lightbulbs because it is a hardware problem.
So any post that tries to lower the barrier gets my upvote.
It certainly beats the 'how do you stop sea captains from killing their passengers' that's currently #1 or your own 'analysis of 250 winning designs from threadless.com'.
Keep them coming Ryan, both the technical ones and the 'not so technical' ones.
The best way to offer criticism is to show you can do better.
Just like you're bummed out that this post got a lot of upvotes I'm bummed out that an off-topic comment like this should get more upvotes than anything that directly references the content of the article, you could have sent him an email instead.
I agree hardware is important, but yesterday on the front page there was a story about Arduino driven video game controllers. There are regular posts about cool stuff people make with the platform. The word is out. My point was that simply saying Arduino is addicting at this point is kind of like saying "Rails is empowering" its not really "news" anymore. To his credit, Ryan added some interesting content in his edits that make it a much more useful intro for anyone who hasn't yet heard about Arduino.
Re: my Threadless post, it was an original data driven analysis of the customer behavior of a prominent user-generated content startup. You may not care, but it least it was new information presented in a visually compelling way. Heck, Cromulent's comment on this post was more data filled than Ryan's PRE-EDIT post.
Yesterday, you felt the need to publicly encourage people to keep "Offering" things, Today, I'm publicly encouraging the submission of more content rich posts.
Ryan's post captures this emotion perfectly. I didn't vote for it, but I'm not surprised to see it at the top of Hacker News. There's some value in capturing widely-shared emotions succinctly.
To wit: I created (and bombed) an entire startup around a very tiny telephone PBX device and the thing I'm still most jazzed about is this little robot I built for marketing it that you could call up on the phone and drive with the keypad.
Video of robot:
It's an open source hardware project to create an easily deployed developing world "village telephony" system.
Some really good content.
I even had a fully working prototype that I ended up losing somewhere...
ADDED IN EDIT: I've now associatively filed your email address as well.
I'm not entirely certain what to think of this, either.
I haven't been writing for that long, and I'm sure I suck in many ways, so rather than just complain, tell me what I can do to improve.
I used to until your post :)
Now I wait a couple of hours just to make sure that that's not going to make the difference. I highly doubt people would submit those links anyway, but on the off chance that they would, I'd hate getting people banned or their votes discarded because they appeared like a voting ring.
> I actually read and voted up that submission,
> you have to understand that the set of people who
> care about / understand a post like that is small.
Which I guess is just a thing to know.
> This is an excellent argument for something like
> subreddits, because otherwise the community just
> gets more and more shallow.
I've got ideas and working on something in what's laughingly called my copious free time.
Happy to receive feedback on the guide as you work through it.
I was introduced to the Arduino nearly four years ago and actually earn income now from Physical Computing related teaching, writing and project development.
Creating tangible things and escaping the world of the purely virtual is really fun. (I write as I'm surrounded by a soldering iron and a bunch of XBee related components. :) )
(I was actually planning to submit the original of the following video but DEFCON's taken them down for some reason. But...if you're interested in a security-slanted introduction to the Arduino you might be interested in this session I co-presented at DEFCON18 this year about the Arduino: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XotF9FyiAZc )
If you get the chance to play with some of this stuff, do it!
[Oh, and, that whole flashing LED buzz is an interesting phenomenon and it continues as you gain experience--except instead of signifying you've got everything installed okay it might mean your signal has reached the satellite and returned back again. :D ]
Although, I would say, I don't think you can have too many Arduinos. :D
You can buy the individual components separately but sometimes the bundled price is less.
This kit still has the Arduino but might be another option with a smaller selection: http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/product_info.php?products_i...
Or if you want to go all out there's this megabundle of sensors with no Arduino: http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/product_info.php?products_i... :)
Hope that helps.
I've been an embedded software guy forever so it can be hard to remember how much fun it was to blink an LED, but the excitement on the faces of experienced (non-embedded) SW people when they blink that first LED, or move a servo motor or whatever is palpable. There's a reason I never moved onto the desktop or server world: this stuff is addictive :-)
*A normal breadboard and circuit components
*Matlab with DAQ Toolbox included (not all versions have this toolbox)
*An analog to digital converter, such as a National Instruments USB-6008
Warning: Shameless plug ahead
Was really interesting interfacing the arduino with an h-bridge for motor control, GPS module, and servo.
These are powerful little devices.
The small bit of documentation I attempted is here:
TI has some neat micro-controller kits in the same vein as the Arduino you should google for. Cheap too.
Processing (http://processing.org/) is different to the Arduino although the IDEs are based on the same code base. While the Arduino "language" is related to Wiring (http://wiring.org.co/) it's different too.
By lock-in do you mean lock-in in relation to the language/libraries (which is really a documented subset of C++) or the microcontroller (Atmel based)?
The thing is that the language/libraries are a very stripped sub-set of C++ and their IDE does a lot of parsing/mangling to turn "sketches" into C++ programs. It can mangle perfectly legal C++ code.
The arduino APIs like digitalWrite do table-lookups to match the pin, port, and bit. Pretty inefficient and slow.
It's still a great little system though. People have come up with alternative implementations that (for example) implement the SBI/CBI instructions as constants you can use when calling the Arduino APIs to make things much faster. And it's not like you'll care about "lock in" unless you start building large projects and get tired of the Arduino way of doing things and want to move to an alternate board. Arduino makes a nice cheap kit and starter package for people who want to get their feet wet in embedded systems.
AFAIK the parsing is limited to extracting function prototypes for creating the function declarations which I wouldn't call "a lot". This has been known to miss certain legal C++ function prototypes formats though. Normally the solution is to manually write the declaration yourself and format the prototype so it doesn't get parsed.
It's not a hugely common occurrence though.
It is true that optimisation/efficiency hasn't been a huge focus and the lack of focus on it is "development policy": http://code.google.com/p/arduino/wiki/DevelopmentPolicy
While it's definitely not perfect the fact that it's based on avr-gcc makes the risk of lock-in less of an issue than some other platforms.
Plus, it's fun. :)
However, those are the trade off's and that's not even all of them. It is possible because of avr-gcc to bypass the whole "sketch" thing they have going and compile/load your code without even running the iDE.
Like I said, I do like Arduino for what it is. :)
Not as user friendly, though, so if you're new to this kind of thing, the Arduino might be a better place to start.
* Generate NTSC signals - http://www.arduino.cc/playground/Main/TVout
* Make a mini http server - https://code.google.com/p/webduino/
* Drive nixie tubes - http://www.ogilumen.com/nixie-nixie-driver-kits-p-92.html (don't kill yourself on the voltages)
Sigh. So many little projects, so little time...