Judge Spotlight: Limor “Ladyada” Fried

judge-spotlight-ladyada

We sent off a list of questions, just like every week, and [Ladyada] offered to do a video response. How awesome is that? Not only did she answer our questions, but she talked at length for several of them. We’re biased, but her explanation about Adafruit’s manufacturing processes and options for home hackers to get boards spun was a real treat.

Perhaps we should step back for a minute though. In case you don’t know [Limor Fried], aka [Ladyada], is a judge for The Hackaday Prize which will award a trip into space and hundreds of other prizes for hackers who build connected devices that use Open Design (Open Hardware and Open Source Software). She’s the founder of Adafruit Industries, an MIT double-grad, and all around an awesome engineer!

Check out the video after the break. We’ve included a list of the questions and the timestamps at which they are answered.

As promised, here are the questions:

  1. 0:22 – First off, we never know how to address you. Do you go by “Ladyada”, Limor, or something else on a daily basis? Where did the name Ladyada come from?
  2. 0:45 – We image studying Engineering at MIT to be as close to an educational playground as you can get. Are there any crazy projects/hackathons/pranks from your time there that you’re willing to share?
  3. 1:36 – Adafruit Industries has made a real splash as far as publishing educational content. First of all, thank you! Secondly, how does this play into your business model and why do you think it’s important?
  4. 3:13 – The Hackaday Prize has a judging preference for Open Design. Obviously Adafruit shares this virtue, as your products are all open. Can you tell us why you think there are more benefits to being “Open” than not?
  5. 4:24 – Making the transition from using dev boards and breakout boards to engineering and populating a single-board project is a huge leap. What advice can you give for people interesting in moving their skills up a level?
  6. 6:24 – We’ve noticed a few posts on the Adafruit blog about new assembly equipment you have been acquiring. Why is local manufacturing important to you? Where are your boards fabricated and do you have any plans to produce them on-site in the future?
  7. 10:48 – Do you still have time for “hobby” electronics projects? Do you have any non-engineering-related hobbies?
  8. 12:41 – Can you tell us a little about what the hardware scene in New York City is like?
  9. 13:53 – What else is going on in your life?

Thanks so much [Limor] for taking the time to record this interview!

UPDATE 6/25/14:

Here is a transcript of the video, closed captions have also been added on YouTube:

[RADIO BEEPS AND STATIC] Beaming to you from space. It’s me, Ladyada. I am one of the judges for the Hackaday Prize. And Hackaday has sent over a fine list of quality questions that they would like me to answer so that you know the kind of person that’s judging you when you want to go to space. So let’s begin.

First up, where did the name Ladyada come from? Good question, Hackaday. Ladyada was my hacker handle when I was on IRC a lot, wasting my time and also breaking into computers in the ’90s. And since then, I’ve kept that handle. It comes from Lady Ada Lovelace, who was the first programmer and also loved to gamble on horse racing.

Next question. We imagine studying engineering at MIT to be as close to an educational playground as you can get. Are there any crazy projects, hackathon pranks from the time that you were there that you’d be willing to share? Another good question.

Well, my favorite prank that I think that I pulled off personally was getting a Media Lab master’s thesis in engineering by making a cellphone jammer. That was my thesis project. I basically did a thesis about design noir, and personal space, and technologies that help us reclaim personal space.

And I really, really wanted to just build a cellphone jammer. It was a fun little project where you annoy stores into a VCO, and really big RF antennas. You can see them over there on that side.

And I made it so it would fit into a cigarette pack. And this was a project that I personally wanted. I just really wanted a cellphone jammer. And I got a degree out of it. So I think that that was a pretty good hack.

Next question. Adafruit Industries has made a real splash as far as publishing educational content. First of all, thank you. You’re welcome. Secondly, how does this play into your business model, and why do you think it’s important?

That’s true. Adafruit Industries has a lot of tutorials. We have all them right now in the Adafruit Learning System. It used to be in a wiki, which totally sucked.

And then we designed our own content management system that was designed, basically, for me and the people that I hire to write tutorials. And we have like 500 tutorials. We might even be up to 512 tutorials. So we need another bit to store all those tutorials. That’s how many we’ve got.

And they range from every kind of project, from how to blink an LED, to how to make a cellphone jammer– all these ranges of projects from beginner, to intermediate, to advanced. And many of them use Adafruit products. And the way we do it is I basically stock the store with the stuff that I want to build projects with– all kinds of sensors, and amplifiers, and DEV boards, and LEDs, and blinkies, and whatever. And then we do projects that help demonstrate what those components can do.

And we published them on the learning system so our customers have good documentation on how to get started. I think of that as the quick-start guide. Also, what it can do, how to hack it mods, any kind of modification that they want to make to use the project that we’ve designed to make the project that they want.

So I think of it as giving them a leg up on the kind of maker and hacker projects that people want to build. So yeah, I think of Adafruit as basically a tutorial company. And we have this gift shop, which is all the cool electronic components that you can use to build all the tutorials.

Next up. The Hackaday Prize has a judging preference for Open Design. Obviously, Adafruit shares this virtue, as your products are all open. Can you tell us why you think there are more benefits to being open than not?

Yeah, I am really a big proponent of open-source hardware. Also a big proponent of open-source software. I used to do more computer science in software and coding beforehand. Then I moved into hardware, because my wrist started hurting. And now I just have solder teams everywhere.

And open-source hardware is really cool. Because it allows people to share their designs, and firmware, and hardware, and schematic layout with a really big community. And I think that the Adafruit community is so awesome.

And I spent a lot of time engineering stuff. And I have a team including KTOWN and Tony DiCola and others who design really, really great hardware and firmware and software. But there’s nothing better than having a big community to come in and suggest even more stuff.

We get pull requests on our GitHub repos like four or five times a day. And we’ve tried to integrate all these great upgrades, and changes, and bug fixes. We have such a good community in open-source hardware that I think there’s a lot of benefit to joining it. And it’s easy to join. All you have to do is open source something that you made.

OK, next up– making the transition from using DEV boards and break-out boards to engineering and populating a single board project is a huge leap. What advice can you give for people interested in moving their skills up a level?

That’s right. Most makers start with getting off-the-shelf modules, break-out boards, and DEV boards like an Arduino or Arduino Shields. And they cobble together their project. And they get it working. And that’s really cool.

But then they’re like, well, I want something that maybe isn’t available. I want a break-out for a chip that’s not got a break-out already. Or maybe I want to have a custom board that’s extra low power, extra small. And that’s where designing your own circuit board is totally awesome and is a skill that I think everyone should eventually try to get, especially if you’re really interested in electronics.

Well, I always do suggest that people start with break-out boards. And not just like, oh hey, you buy it from Adafruit. You can get break-out boards from all over the place with a range of different sensors, and outputs, and inputs, and displays, and everything.

It just really helps. Because oftentimes, it comes with tutorials or example code. And you can breadboard it and get the layout, at least, of your project right. Because a lot of people have a lot of assumptions about how many pins they’ll need, and how much power it’s going to draw, and how much space it’s going to take, and if there’s going to be interference, or collisions. Or does that sensor even really measure what you think you want to measure?

So getting a break-out is just a good way to prototype your design. And then if the company that you bought your stuff from uses open-source hardware, like Adafruit and others, you can often download the files for those break-out boards, like [? Eagle ?] Cat, or [? Kai ?] Cat, or PCB123, or whatever. And then just copy and paste those designs into your own circuit-board layout using whatever layout software that you use. Or trace it out into your own software.

And by having those files available, it makes it very easy to grab all the pieces that you need to make the custom design you want. So I think just start with something basic– maybe 20 components– and try spinning up your board. We’ll talk about– in a little bit– some suggestions on where to get your PCBs made, as well.

OK, next up. We’ve noticed a few posts on the Adafruit blog about new assembly equipment you’ve been acquiring. Why is local manufacturing important to you? Where are your boards fabricated? And do you have any plans to produce them on site in the future?

Yes, that’s right. I have been acquiring much equipment. Last year around this time, we took a delivery of advanced high-speed flex mounters. It’s a pick-and-place machine from Samsung called the SM481. We had a pick-and-place beforehand. But it was like a pocket pick-and-place– a little mini one, a little apartment-sized one.

This one is much bigger, as you can see me here measuring how big it is with my calipers. It’s very big. It’s more than 6 inches on each side. Comes on a freight truck.

And we put big googly eyes on him. Because well, you’ve got these big googly eyes. What else you going to put them on? And it looks cute, I guess. It’s got these little teeth and tongue sticking out.

And these are the feeders that come in it. And components that you buy on cut tape or reel get loaded into the feeder. And then it gets automatically placed by the machine. The machine’s very, very fast. It places like 30,000 components per hour.

This is a little bit sped up. It’s a little Vine loop thingy like you kids always use. But if does place components very fast and very, very accurately.

And what this means is that I can manufacture more stuff, with finer pitch components, and much higher yields. All this means I can do more stuff, more parts at a lower cost. So we’re actually going to get another one installed this week. This is an SM481, which even though is one digit less than the 42, is actually the upgrade. Yeah, whatever, Samsung. Get with it.

But this machine– same size, but has 10 nozzles to pick up parts instead of 6. That’s about like 25-30% faster. And this will be in line. In our fabrication line there will be a stenciler. We have a Speedline stenciler here. And that’s the machine that squeegees the paste on. So instead of soldering each part, it actually squishes a paste on like a stencil– you can see the stencil there, like a screen print– and puts the paste perfectly onto the circuit board so that every single pad has a little bit of paste on it.

And then the components go into the pick-and-places. And they get all the parts placed on top of the different parts. And then they go in to the oven to be reflowed.

So yeah, it’s a lot of equipment. And it’s really expensive. These cost like $100,000 to $200,000 easily, depending on what extras you get. If you get it used or a demo model, it’s something that would be a little bit cheaper.

But you want to get a really good machine with good training. I think I got a really strong amount of equipment. And we don’t manufacture our own PCBs. Because PCB manufacturers actually requires very, very specialized equipment.

And you have to do 24-hour manufacturing for it to make sense because of the way they would claim the metal. If you don’t have it running 24 hours, it’s very energy consuming. So instead, we get our PCBs made elsewhere.

I don’t know of any electronics in-house manufacturer that also makes their own PCBs. Usually, it’s not unusual to do your own stenciling, pick-and-placing, reflowing, rework, and maybe even do a little soldering and packaging. But it’s unusual to actually make PCBs in house, just because of the chemistry and the metal reclamation– kind of a pain to get all that equipment in.

OK. And next up. Oh sorry, the next question was where do you suggest you get PCBs made? Well, I suggest if you’re in the US to get PCBs made by Advanced Circuits. They actually have a pretty good proto panel thing for like $33 each. And they have a couple deals. And they make really, really excellent-quality circuit boards.

And I think especially if you’re starting out, you want really good-quality PCBs that don’t delaminate easily, that have test, that have really good silk screen. And their silk screen is totally gorgeous. And solder mask– and it’s always perfectly aligned. They do up to mill spec, and 10-layer boards. But they can also do your two-layer boards really easily.

And if you’re starting out, and you want small production quantities, or prototype quantities, also check out OSH Park. They also have a large ecosystem and a website where you can share designs. And they’re also super into open-source hardware, and sharing layouts. And they make those purple PCBs that probably you’ve used or seen somewhere. So check out Laen. He’s got some awesome stuff going on there.

Next up. OK, do you still have time for hobby electronics? Do you have any non-engineering-related hobbies?

That’s right. I do have many non-engineering hobbies, such as engineering, layout, soldering prototypes, testing, writing firmware, reading electronics blogs– all these non-engineering-related hobbies. I actually do spend a lot of my time doing engineering still at Adafruit. But I love it. So it’s cool.

And one of the nice things about having your own company is I actually get to have my personal projects be company projects. Like for example, I really wanted a color Mini Pop project. And here’s Angel demoing the Mini Pop 4, which is a new version of our little Mini Pop kit– a beginning soldering kit for learning how to solder components.

These really popular with people. This one, you can upload images over USB. And it’s color. And it’s cool.

Another project I really wanted– I always wanted when I was a kid, one of those little arcade Froggers. I don’t know if you’re around my age, if you remember those little mini arcade games. But I never got one. But I really wanted one.

So now I got one. And it runs on Raspberry Pi. And it came in all the games. So I can play Pac-Man on it. Yes.

I also love to do weird synthesizer-type music. And I always wanted an open source [? group ?] controller. So now I can make custom ones, like this gigantic 8 by 16 with white LEDs.

And I have a laser cutter that I can play with. And it’s the company’s laser cutter. And I make cool projects on it. And then I’m like, I’ll sell it.

I also have this cool Game Girl Raspberry Pi edition. Let’s see what this is playing. This is playing Zelda right now. But I finally finished Zelda. And I might play Final Fantasy 1 again, or something.

Let’s see. What else do I got here?

[INAUDIBLE]

Yeah. And basically, like any other kind of project that you see. I just love building stuff. And now I get Adafruit to do it for me.

OK, next up. Can you tell us a little bit about the hardware scene in New York City is like? Yeah, New York City is like– when I moved here, it was not considered a super hardwarey place– a lot of finance, and even a little bit of software going on here. But now I actually have a really wide range of hardware start-ups and hardware interests.

We’ve got littleBits. It’s actually only a couple blocks away in SoHo, that’s Ayah Bdeir’s open hardware, like learning electronics company. Check that out. They’ve got this awesome Korg synth project, and a NASA synth project– [? NESSA ?] science projects that you can build with littleBits.

We also have NYC Resistor, which was really big and very early hacker space in the new round of maker hacker spaces, as well as many other Brooklyn, and Manhattan, and Long Island hacker spaces, as well. There’s like four or five of those.

And you also have a really large number of 3D printing stores and companies, as well. There’s actually another 3D printing store that just opened in Midtown this weekend. So I’m going to go check that out. But if you’re into any of this stuff– open hardware, or making, or 3D printing– New York City is the place to be.

OK. Finally, last question. What else is going on in your life? Well, all sorts of things.

Well, I’m working on Circuit Playground, which is the kids half animated, half Muppet show that we’re doing. I actually had my friend, Amanda the Woz Wozniak– no relation– in to do “D is for Diode,” in which she dressed up as a diode and talked about diodes. And it was totally cool. We had some great animations. And it’s a great show.

So we’re up to D. And we’re going to be doing “E for Electronics” next. So check that out.

I’m also, this month, doing a lot of promotion with Made with Code. This is a Google effort. You can see this is me wearing the LED scrolly hat– there’s another project that I always really wanted; I wanted an LED scrolling hat– and an LED umbrella, and talking to some awesome girls at the Made with Code event.

And this is an effort to get young girls– or actually anyone, like you can be a cat– and be interested in making stuff with code. And check out the Made with Code website for more info about that. And share it with someone you love who is interested in maybe learning how to code– a lot of great tutorials and projects.

We also do, every week, a show and tell. You can show up even if you’re not an Adafruit customer. It’s cool. As long as you can get onto the Google+, check out the Hangout at our Google+ page at plus.google.com/+adafruit.

And look for the plus. We say, comment here to get added to our show and tell circle. We do that 7:30 PM every week on Wednesday.

And then right afterwards at 8:00 PM on Wednesday, we do Ask An Engineer, which is a one-hour show about electronics, open-source hardware, all the cool gossip, all the cool products, data sheets, components, you name it. Sometimes we show off a cat photo– all sorts of good stuff. We give away a prize at the end. And that’s on Ustream and YouTube. So there’s a lot of stuff going on here at the Adafruit factory.

Personally, I am working on some cellphone stuff. I want to make really teeny cute little cellphones– those little mini cellphone– using these great all-in-one cell phone chips that are getting onto the market now for wearables, and such. And so I’m going to be doing a lot more cellphone stuff, and remote data access, and actuation. And I think that’s kind of like the internet of things. But I want to make it so it’s super easy, and fun, and useful for makers to do.

So yeah, a lot of stuff coming out from Adafruit. So check in with what we’re doing. And of course, enter the Hackaday Prize, which is why we are watching this, of course. The Hackaday Prize will send you to space or many other fabulous prizes. All you have to do is enter on hackaday.com. And I will judge you and maybe shoot you to the moon.

Comments

  1. pelrun says:

    The post header image comes up veeeeery strangely on my white-backgrounded feed reader. Maybe you should have used real black instead of transparent :)

    • Mike Szczys says:

      Sorry, I’m styling for our webpage and not your feed reader ;-)

      It is a good point. I’m trying to future-proof in case we change our template down the road. There’s a lot of posts from the early years of Hackaday that look rather horrid because of template changes after the fact.

  2. Loved it, Thanks

  3. Oscar says:

    Could you add some subtitles to the video, so non-english speaking people can understand what is she saying. Thank you

    • eccentricelectron says:

      +1 for native speakers who are deaf…. or a transcript at least.

    • Greenaum says:

      She does talk pretty fast. So do I when I’m talking to people who’ve known me long enough to understand me, and if I happen to have a lot to say. Hopefully that’s just her fellow-geek talking speed, and she gives presentations a more relaxed enunciation.

      I also noticed the lip ring seems to give her a little bit of a lisp. It’s cute! Wonder if she’s had it in long, my sister had the same thing when she put her ring back in, after a while of not wearing it. The lisp goes away with time, or can at least.

      Mind, my Mum had her nose pierced some point in the late 1980s. Facial jewellery isn’t new to me!

  4. Squirrel says:

    Advanced Circuits:
    http://www.4pcb.com/33-each-pcbs/index.html
    http://www.4pcb.com/66-each-pcbs/index.html
    If you’re a student, you can get no minimum quantity.
    $33 per 2-layer board, 60 sq-in max
    $66 per 4-layer board, 30 sq-in max

    OSH Park:
    https://oshpark.com
    $5/sq-in for three copies of 2-layer board
    $10/sq-in for three copies of 4-layer board

    If my maths are correct, ~20 sq in is the point where Advanced Circuits becomes more cost-effective

  5. Jerry says:

    She might be a competent engineer, but is a progressive left leaning liberal. In that mold, her own website would erase any contrary view she didn’t approve of. For example can’t say anything negative about China – heavens no ! Comments pointing out how the Chinese routinely engage in theft of Intellectual Property, or human rights violations are silenced (typical liberal left strategy). I am not a fan of her and smfh at the blinders-on “fanboys” that seem to think she’s ‘all-that’.

    • Biohazard says:

      Who crapped in your cereal this morning?

    • strevo says:

      I agree with your moderation point of view, the rest, meh.

    • NotArduino says:

      Can you provide any examples of “silenced comments”?

    • Justin Shipe says:

      Perhaps she just wants her site (which is her business, and ultimately, her livelihood) to remain neutral on such topics? Product review posts are not a forum for spewing political tirades.

    • niseh says:

      I can’t tell if you are serious or not. Poe’s law and all. What you are doing is intellectually abhorrent. A appears to associate with B which has a subset C, therefore A will do everything that C does in every circumstance. Ridiculous.

      If you wish to have your intellectual thoughts about economic or political systems perhaps you should actually read the major works on the subject. May I suggest the major works of Hobbes, Locke, Mill, Friedman, the Fabians, Ricardo, Smith, Jean Baptiste, Velben, Velben again because he is oh so important to Americans, Keyes, Bentham, Rousseau; and maybe Kropotkin, Aristotle, rand and Goldwater. That should give you an okay foundation to discuss economic and political systems. Think of that reading list as like learning Algebra before spouting opinions on number theory and how everyone has calculus wrong. It is still rather basic, but few bother to even learn it.

      I guarantee you will be surprised. for instance, you sound an awful lot like Lenin, but with less proof.

      • -1 for including Rand.
        +1 for not including Plato.

        • niseh says:

          1. Rand is influential. Accuracy and rationalism of source material has nothing to do with understanding the people that believe in it. Thus why I also included Goldwater, Kropotkin, and Jean Baptiste. Since you did not nick me for those two, I can only assume you have not read their work either.

          2. Plato’s views are merely the written accounts of his predecessors, ie Aristotle. By studying one you must study the other, as Aristotle was not exactly fond of writing stuff down. Again, because you did not notice that makes me believe you have not read that either.

    • lionxl says:

      Then don’t visit her site. You’re all about choices and freedom of speech and such, correct? So why take a subliminal jab? Your statement just falls shy of promoting censorship.

      She chooses to run her site.company/etc the way she chooses. you should do the same.

      I always wondered how each side

    • krudd says:

      Get the hell out of my daily technical reading. I read hackaday in part because there’s no politics. I don’t care about your political leanings or hers. Take it back to freep and let me enjoy the one site on the internet devoid of these sorts of comments.

    • BillBrasskey says:

      Jeez dude, hate her because she is a money sucking capitalist machine, not because of her BoingBoing-like censorship. As others have noted, she is both the problem and the answer to hobby electronics. That is why I dollar vote and she gets no votes :) Kind of like the Jobs of the hobby electronic world. Just blind profiteering.

    • untrustworthy says:

      It would be great if she were an actual progressive left leaning liberal, as that’s something to be lauded. (And actual progressive left leaning liberals would be strongly against any censorship or comment silencing. Silencing and censorship is a right wing thing to do). But she’s not, she’s just another lying capitalist lying and maketing to make profit. For all her ‘openness”, it’s all just a facade. You can’t be for open (source, hardware) then sell and support things like Oracle, Makerbot, or Eaglecad (all of which are sold on Adafruit. Even a special ‘Adafruit’ branded Makerbot).

      As a general note though, so called ‘intellectual property’ (really imaginary property) needs to die as it’s holding humanity back from progressing.

      • “But she’s not, she’s just another lying capitalist lying and maketing to make profit.”

        +1 for the most ignorant comment I’ve seen today!

        • BillBrasskey says:

          You don’t read many business-oriented publications I am going to guess. Just look at any of the articles from the last 5 years and read her quotes. Then come back and delete your comment perhaps. She is often lauded for her “no nonsense” business decisions. Ya can’t have it both ways. That is the fatal part of Limor’s logic.

      • Blue Footed Booby says:

        @untrustworthy
        You’re creating a number of weird false dichotomies.

        The first one that jumped out at me is the statement about censorship being inherently right-wing. Just like it’s possible to believe in the value and power of a free market while also believing that some level of regulation is necessary to *keep* it free, it is perfectly consistent to contend that allowing certain kinds of speech poisons the well of discussion and prevents actual open exchange of ideas from happening. This is the primary justification for hate speech bans: allowing speech that is fundamentally about intimidating minority groups inherently dis-empowers those groups, and the origin of that hate speech (private or public) is not actually relevant to the outcome. Even setting that aside, a privately run website or organization is not obligated to allow themselves to be hijacked into serving as public fora for literally any topic. If I run a coffee shop, removing a sign from my storefront that says “FREE TIBET” is not censorship.

        More relevantly to this website your comment on how you “can’t be for open (source, hardware) then sell and support things like Oracle…” is just a rephrasing of the classic “you’re either for us or against us”, which is literally (and I mean actually literally, not internet literally) the classic, textbook example of a false dichotomy. It is entirely possible to believe that it is good to make software that’s open while also believing that it is not *necessarily* bad to make software that’s closed. You may disagree, you may even contend that such worldviews are wrong–that yours is the only proper philosophy–but you are *not* entitled to pretend that no other worldviews exist. It is intellectually dishonest to pretend that there are no possibilities besides accepting your worldview completely and being a liar.

      • Mike Szczys says:

        @untrustworthy

        Stop name-calling. This is unacceptable.

        • untrustworthy says:

          Where was I name-calling? I was describing her deplorable practices and her hypocrisy, and described exctaly what they are. All of which are freely and clearly displayed on adafruit.

    • Mike Szczys says:

      @Jerry

      She might be a competent engineer…

      She is a competent engineer. That’s why we asked her to serve as an expert judge for The Hackaday Prize and, quite frankly, we’re lucky to have her considering how a few of our commenters act around here.

      Making personal attacks on someone because of how you perceive their behavior is destructive. Stop it!

      If you have issues with how someone conducts themselves, runs their site or business, etc., cite exact instances that trouble you and ask why they took this approach. This is a constructive way to comment, as you bring the matter to their attention and invite them to explain their thinking and/or change their own behavior.

      Instead, your post has completely closed the door on productive discourse.

      • BillBrasskey says:

        Hmm Lilypad leads pulling up even on the second production run? I lolled. That and the treatment I received afterward. Then there were all of the wonderful business-oriented articles. She is tough and I don’t think she listens to what others say anyway. Same reason I don’t hang out with those type of folks. It is pointless.

  6. NotArduino says:

    Although the prize claims to be about technology, technology is beside the point (see minute 12 of the video). No one can predict what the future will bring. Winning the hack a day prize is an exercised in appealing to the judges. Thankfully this post helps one decide what project to build:

    1) Build something that will benefit the poor, but targeted at women and minorities.
    2) Don’t build anything for the coal, gas or mining industry.
    3) Transportation is acceptable if the vehicle is electrically powered. Otherwise see 2.
    4) Your invention should enable the creation of small happy workshops; helping big corporations is a no-no. See #1 for hiring guidelines.
    5) Your invention should be predicated on the idea that everyone has the potential to be a hacker; see #1.

    Stay tuned for more pro tips!

    • stinkypants says:

      You’re right. My fear is that the winner will make a trendy but useless widget that claims to cure cancer and solve AIDS

      Choosing internet celebrities as the judges isn’t partiulcarly something I agree with. I guess if the point of the contest is to “hack” the judging system, mission accomplished…

      • Greenaum says:

        I think whatever widget wins, it will have to actually do what it claims. Curing AIDS and solving cancer would be really helpful, actually. The judges have Sprite on board, and I think Ben Heck. (Hey Mike, why not put a list of judges up in one post? Maybe with a one-paragraph biography?). These are all real hackers.

        Limor’s business is attracting newbies to the hobby, so obviously that’s her interest, and it’s a valid one. The others are more pure-geek hackers who do it for the joy of what they make, and the joy of making and learning. The winner will have to be something good and clever. At least some of the entrants / possible entrants so far have been smart and nifty inventions, so whatever else will have to compete against those.

        This won’t be as easy to win as just being buzzword-compliant. That’s stock market offerings you’re thinking of.

  7. koa says:

    Good night left side! 14/88!

  8. Big Dave says:

    It’s pronounced AR-da, not Ayda!!!!! :-/

    • Shannon says:

      Uh huh, and it’s pronounced LAR-da, not Laydee.

    • SYNTRONIKS says:

      I thought it was a tribute to Ada. Anyway Limor is one of the influences I can thank for where I am today. Without her and other role models like Ray Wilson, Dave Jones, Jeri Ellsworth, Ben Krasnow, crazy Russian engineers, and Bob Pease electrical engineering wouldn’t be quite as fun for me.

    • Greenaum says:

      No it isn’t! From the few old ladies left who’re called Ada, it’s “ay-da”. That’s how we say it in Britain, and Lady Ada the First was English. So there.

  9. untrustworthy says:

    Fuck Adafruit, they’re lying through their teeth by saying they’re proponents of Open Design. How they can say that with a straight face while they sell and support things like Oracle, Makerbot, and Eaglecad disgusts me.

    • Greenaum says:

      Maybe they’re not *exclusively* proponents of open design.

      Re Eaglecad, is there a GNU cad anywhere? Something that’s actually free? I’m surprised if there isn’t. Perhaps the existence of crippleware like Eagle has held back on development of such a thing, since it’s just-about good enough with what it does for free.

      Shame they can’t change the license though. Do what others have done, make it free of charge to individuals, but businesses have to pay. If you design something you then sell, you could be required to buy the full version then. Nobody minds spending their company’s money, and if a company’s employees already use Eagle at home, it’s likely to get copies purchased at work.

      As it is now, the version used at home is crippled, so when people move on to bigger designs, they may as well learn some other program.

  10. Duwogg says:

    Meh, The internet loves it a “celebrity” and there are plenty of people these days willing to step into that role, and this lady sure knows how to market and spin herself and cash in on the droves of kids wanting to get in on the recent DIY tech trend. That really isn’t that recent at all.

    Hacking has been going on for like ever now and a lot of the guys from the days of yore are all millionaires if not billionaires now too, just look at the ranks of MS and Apple and the like. It’s just that a lot of them didn’t try to sell themselves along with whatever they were hocking. Now we demand a face and an inspiring biography to go along with our products.

    I pay no mind because I’ve been into this long enough to have much better and cheaper sources for what I need, rather than go to sparkfun, ada. and the rest who markup the hell out of everything they sell for the pain of browsing the digikey catalog for you or sourcing cheap chinese knock-offs.

    I guess the chinese stuff lowers the entry fee for some, but at what cost to the world and environment?

    About the best thing these types offer is breakout boards, but they are often poorly designed or at least not any better than what you could do yourself just following the reference in the datasheet.

    I’m sure shes a great engineer of something… But there are a lot of great engineers and scientists that have been working for years that don’t care for or need the limelight.
    They just keep their head down and do the work.

    A lot of kids grow up idolizing police officers, they play cops and robbers, they collect police car hot wheels, they dream about chasing tail lights and shootouts, and then they grow up and become cops… Then they find out its 99% paperwork, dealing with belligerent people, court, more paperwork, getting sued constantly, stress etc etc. And a good career is based on how many shootouts you DIDN’T get into.

    I may be jaded because I work in electronics and I was an electronics hobbyist long before the buzzword writers decided “maker” had a better ring to it. But 99% of us aren’t going to be sporting pink hair and lip rings at work and designing whatever we feel like. Stop lying to kids. Thats all I’m saying.

  11. luke says:

    I am just blown away by some of the comments here. So many jaded or jealous or just angry comments. I got my first Arduino from her shop I now know so much more and I am glad, her tutorials started me on a path and I will always be grateful. She has a successful business, which is great for her and great for others. Not everything has to be a ope box you can tweak, the chips on the boards people build are locked in a sense, I don’t see people stop using them until they can make their own chips.

    But the hate here is just getting so extreme. I have never seen it be as bad as it has been the last six months, about every post has some sort of hate.

    • HV says:

      That’s pretty much par for the course for HaD. There’s always some folks who like to share their misery in an unprofessional manner (it’s a website, not an office), but HaD seem to like to keep it an open discussion and not stifle opinions so there’s not a lot of censorship here. You saw Mike responded to a harsh comment above, rather than censoring it. It’s pretty much classic HaD. The fact is you can say absolutely anything, and someone will have a problem with it, that’s just the way things are. And you can either ignore it, manage it, or eliminate it, each one has it’s own toll to be paid.

    • untrustworthy says:

      “…Not everything has to be a ope box you can tweak…”

      It does if your purport yourself as a champion of those ideals, as adafruit does. That she sells, supports, and associates herself with the likes of Oracle, Makerbot, and Eaglecad that are actively hostile to opensource is the height of hypocrisy and outright lying. It’s totally unaccaptable, and just reveals to be just another greedy capitalist.

  12. murrij says:

    Dang. Reading some of these comments and I guess…well haters gotta hate. My youngest teenage girl wants to be an engineer and “grow up to do cool stuff like Ladyada”. While my daughter is still a product of her generation (take that however you wish), while her friends are hanging out at the mall she’s just finished soldering her Arduino motor shield that we purchased from Adafruit. She also doesn’t miss an Ask An Engineer if she can help it (I wish it was still on Saturdays since other school stuff tends to conflict) and in short I’m grateful she’s got a role model in someone like Limor.

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