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Now I will go eat a whole pie >

: Foo Camp caused a fairly big change in my mental layout which I haven't talked about yet; that's my attitude towards hardware. I'd always known that there were people who built robots and other crazy things out of spare parts, and when I was a kid I'd wanted to be one of those people, but I didn't have anyone to show me how that works, and my spare parts just lay around and stayed spare. My experience came from building PCs and hooking up audio equipment. So I built up this Lego (LEGO)-like attitude towards hardware. I thought of wires as specially designed and standardized objects like quarter-inch audio cables.

This changed at the MAKE table where I did something I'd never done before: I took something (an iron) apart with someone explaining what I got out of it. The someone was named Mike and I don't remember his last name.

I removed a motor from an iron. I attached it with alligator clips to the wire poking out of a stripped laptop supply. The motor turned. That's all it took to change my attitude. There's nothing special about wires; it's just electrons. I knew this on an abstract level, but I'd never done it before, and without a little guidance I wouldn't have been able to identify the motor or hook it to the power supply without killing myself.

Anyhow, I now think I could build a robot out of spare parts. But the other thing I found out is that they have to be the right spare parts. There is no Turing completeness for hardware, and there's only so much you can do with the stuff in an iron. However now I'm interested in going through the big electronics catalog I got mysteriously in the mail.


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