Phillip Torrone Answers Your Questions

September 5th, 2004, [Phillip Torrone] posts the very first article on a new site called He designed our logo, forged our identity, and then moved on to help shape many other hacker friendly groups including Make magazine, and Adafruit technologies.

We’re going to be interviewing him once we’ve compiled a decent list of questions. We’ve got a few of our own, but we really want to get yours to him. Leave your questions in the comments and we’ll compile the most popular to send along.

[image via Wired]

71 thoughts on “Phillip Torrone Answers Your Questions

  1. What are the inspirations that got you into hacking in the first place? Are there any cool hacks you’d like to someday pull off but don’t have the time or resources to do them? Do you forsee DIY hacking to change in the next 10, 20, or 30 years? If so, what do you see? Thanks!

  2. @hekilledmywire — it’s the Wave Shield from adafruit. I know this because I have one in front of me right at this moment…definitely the cheapest way to get half-decent audio (and 5 hours of it!) on an Arduino.

    Philip: what can you say about the ‘old guard’ type of commenters on here — those who shoot down every hack with something like “pff, I could do that with three capacitors and some pencil-lead resistors”? Do you think it helps keep the quality of accepted submissions high, or do you think it just has a chilling effect?

  3. @PT- WHAT did you finally hack that has a smile on your face? ;) I have teased you for years on your ‘straight faced’ pics, good to see you almost gleeful.

    Seriously, all the best in this go.

  4. Given a typical electronics workbench and a room full of common consumer electronics to salvage parts from, how would you defend against the zombie horde that’s massing outside the building?

  5. When I was growing up I read a book you helped write, Flash Enabled. I subsequently dove into learning flash and interaction and followed you through to Make: and so on. Since then, flash has only become more powerful, but it’s also gained a large group of detractors who question its openness and general direction as well as other issues, some more warranted than others. My question is, what do you see as todays most hackable languages, platforms, and most promising technologies to send young people towards a passion for creative hacking and making and how do they promote the concepts of openness, sharing, creativity, and design.

  6. Question to HaD…

    “Leave your question in the comments and we’ll compile the most popular to send along.”

    How do you know which questions are “the most popular”? Questions already asked are not going to be asked again, so it’s not the number of times a question gets asked. You have no way of telling how many times a question gets read; or which questions most readers find popular.

    So this should really read, “Leave your questions in the comments and HaD will decide which ones to send along.”

    Notice I even had to correct the grammar in the original sentence. Sheesh…

  7. If someone wanted to learn as much as possible about electronics, to go from being a novice to being capable of completing their own project ideas, what path of topics should they study? Could you recommend a progression of books that you would recommend a novice to read to become competent?

  8. In terms of prototyping, how do you recommend a hacker with a low budget maintain enough stock in electronic components so that they don’t have to process an internet order for each project they are trying to make? In other words, which electronic components do you consider most vital to making new designs and how do you go about procuring them?

  9. Sean, the answer to this question is pretty easy. There are 2 HUGE resources for used electronics from which to scavenge. First, there are the electronics surplus stores. These places catch the surplus from offices and industrial places before going to the dump, and sell it for peanuts. Then there is There is a freecycle for almost every locale. Go check it out. You’ll have to strip the components yourself, though…

  10. Do you foresee that the (forced sometimes)trend in some of the big technological industries along the past years to be more hacker friendly will continue at this pace, incresase/decrease in the future?

  11. Speaking for the rest of the beginner hackers out there, do you have any suggestions for projects or just general suggestions to help us get into this stuff and build our skills? It can sometimes be a little intimidating for the uninitiated.

  12. 1. Do you always have an urge to hack / create something or do you suffer from periods of something similar to “writers block”?

    And kind of a follow up question:

    2. Where do you find your best sources of inspiration? (Maybe watching TV, after a few beers, on the toilet?).

  13. A few more:

    3. What has been the most enjoyable hack you have worked on from a personal point of view (the most rewarding).

    4. What has been the most useful hack you have worked on from another persons point of view. Maybe some kind of technology that helps people or improves someones quality of life.

    5. Hardware or software?

  14. We are all busy people, so what projects have you had floating around in your head that you just can’t get enough time to work on?

    And how do you manage your time for all the various things going on around you?

  15. What are your top three favorite tools when working on something?

    What are the top three (affordable) tools you would recommend a newcomer to get so they can get the best start into this field?

    Please explain why with each item.

    And, you’re bumping uglies with Limor? Right? Amirite? Just kidding, you don’t have to ask that one.

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