May 18, 2006
I Still Have a Special Place In My Heart for the 500-in-1 Electronics Kit

portrait of los angeles by joe o'neill
Double O Joe also did the painting on this Grand Challenge robot.

As part of the process of figuring out what the hell it is he wants to do, Todd cataloged the things he's done in his life that nobody asked him to do:

  • Making a portable "fish caller" circuit, sticking it in a ziploc bag, and trying to catch fish (5th grade)
  • Repairing old CB radios and entertaining truckers (5th-6th grade)
  • Coding a simple BASIC computer game for the Commodore VIC-20 (6th grade?)
  • Creating tiny wearable weird blinking lights with newfangled LEDs and hearing aid batteries (6th grade)
  • Coding a LOGO program that would draw out the mission logo of a then-recent space shuttle mission (7th grade)
  • Coding a web browser for the Newton PDA (1994)
  • Trying to port java to Newton (1995)
  • Trying to replicate sonoluminescence experiments (1996)
  • Designing and trying to build a propane-powered popcorn popper for Burning Man (1997)
  • Coding and building robots at SRL (1998)

What was it with the 70s and the fish caller circuits?

I love the clear line from the experiments done as a kid to the experiments done as an adult. And of course I look at Todd's list and think about what mine would look like, and after a year of freelancing the question of what to do next has started to crop up.

I was wondering the other day if the past year of non-full time, contract work might have saved me from a severe case of burnout. I already was burned out, really. But I know a few other programmers who a year ago were about as dissatisfied and bored as I was, who stayed in the jobs they had and now are in a position of considering a career path having nothing to do with software, or have personal projects they wish they could work on but find they don't have the energy or motivation after a grinding day of coding on something they don't care about. This is not an uncommon problem, of course.

But I think the past year has been restorative in a way that I'm just starting to appreciate. And I'm starting to think I would like to work at a startup again. I think the experience of the freedom of freelancing from home will make me a lot pickier in the future, though.

Posted by jjwiseman at May 18, 2006 10:07 AM


Posted by: MANOS on August 6, 2007 05:41 AM

Hi Manos:
Sorry I can't find the source for the circuit now, but it is somehere on the web (called the Angler's Bite Booster). However, you can buy Fish Caller kits as cheaps as you can build from scratch. Here are some sources:
Hobbytron, GibsonTechEd, Chaney Electronics, ABRA Electronics, Electronix Express, Ramsey, etc. Try running those names altogether and putting .com behind them, in your search engine.

Posted by: Paco Morratto on October 15, 2007 01:47 PM
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