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Interview: Ask Limor Fried About Open-Source Hardware and Adafruit 139

Posted by samzenpus
from the ask-away dept.
With her signature pink hair, MIT engineer Limor Fried has become a force in the maker movement. Last year she was awarded Entrepreneur of the Year by Entrepreneur Magazine, and her company, Adafruit Industries, did $10 million in sales. Limor has agreed to take some time away from soldering and running a new company to answer your questions about hardware, electronics, and Adafruit. As usual, ask as many as you'd like, but please, one question per post.
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Interview: Ask Limor Fried About Open-Source Hardware and Adafruit

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  • Synergies (Score:3, Interesting)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Monday November 18, 2013 @01:04PM (#45455555)

    Every community has tinkerers, I think you'd agree. We all have that friend with a garage full of tools and a workbench, and whenever something breaks and needs fixing, we go to him/her. I do believe you, along with other entrepreneurs, have given people unprecidented access to robotics and automation tools at a very low cost, and this opens many doors for these jack of all trades types to build replacement parts. Combined with 3D printers, I can imagine these people building all kinds of things to fix broken equipment, or fill a niche need, in their communities.

    But there is one hold-up to these technologies having a happy and fruitful marriage: Copyright. Specificially, that once we have all this equipment, we're going to need a catalog, a google of sorts, to get blueprints and construction materials from. We had thick ACME Electronics parts catalogues in the 90s, but today there doesn't really seem to be that kind of centralized one-stop access to large numbers of blueprints for these tools you've created.

    With that background stated, what, if any plans, do you have to start addressing this need within your emerging market?

    • by Anonymous Coward
      And more importantly, who bears the liability for death and dismemberment and anguish caused by these things. Who can I sue? Where's the money at, friend?
      • And more importantly, who bears the liability for death and dismemberment and anguish caused by these things. Who can I sue? Where's the money at, friend?

        This may come as a shock, but being an inventor requires assumption of the risks of invention. If you blow your own foot off in the lab, you got nobody to blame but yourself. I know, personal responsibility is a four letter word in this society, but if you're willing to accept it, besides getting a pass to the magical world of the emotionally mature, you get to do some amazing things and make a real contribution, have a sense of accomplishment, etc. Or... or you can stay in the sandbox under the watchful ey

      • by Lumpy (12016)

        You can just pick someone at random and sue them. All Americans have the right to sue because of their own stupidity. You still have your card from when you bought your god given SUV with a V8 right?

  • wearable computing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nani popoki (594111) on Monday November 18, 2013 @01:09PM (#45455595) Homepage
    Do you intend to take the idea of wearable computing much beyond the eye-candy fashion accessories AdaFruit currently offers? It seems to me that there are opportunities for things like shoes which provide a built-in pedometer, for example.
    • by westlake (615356)

      Do you intend to take the idea of wearable computing much beyond the eye-candy fashion accessories AdaFruit currently offers?

      The problem is whether you can risk taking your small business into anything as volatile, price and fashion conscious as the clothing market.

      • Or something that is liable to get you sued 6 ways from Sunday by any megacorp or patent troll who "invented" something similar.
  • Does it matter at all? Your nick suggests that gender is an important topic to you, correct?

  • EE or MBA? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 18, 2013 @01:15PM (#45455631)

    I've been a follower of your youtube channel for years. I've watched Adifruit grow from a little corner of your apt to a $10mill company.

    I loved the old school hacking vids you used to post. Not only were they informative but also gave us a glimpse of what your true passion is.

    As your company has grown Ive watched you have to transition more from a Geeky EE who gets to engineer cool stuff to someone that has to deal with the headaches of trying to run a company.

    As a ME myself and my wife a CE, we got into engineering because we LOVED engineering. But now that we are 10+ years into our careers, most employers want to push us toward project management or flat out management and we get to do less and less of the "core" engineering we love to do.

    Do you find it difficult to balance the "I want to do EE engineering" with "I have a $10 mill company to run"?
    Do you miss being an engineer first vs a business owner first? Will you hand most of the business reins over to some MBA type, giving you more time to go back to those engineering roots you love?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    to sell baubles on the internet? How can you charge the prices you do?
    • by Thanshin (1188877)

      How can you charge the prices you do?

      Even the "Yummy Yummy in my Tummy" question, displayed a firmer grasp on reality.

  • My Hero (Score:4, Interesting)

    by wbr1 (2538558) on Monday November 18, 2013 @01:18PM (#45455649)
    I just had to post this. Limor Fried is a cute, smart, hardware hacking, gadgeteering, successful entrepreneur chick. Pretty much most geeks dream girl.

    You go girl!

    That said, when I was a youngster, being a geek was nearly a death sentence. Especially in the rural jock culture where I lived. Now it seems geekdom is chic. Even though it is not as much a target of bullying as it was, it still seems that there is a lack of women in many geeky hobbies/fields.

    My question is how do we change that and engage more females in our culture? What drew you to this, and can it be applied to draw in others?

    • Re:My Hero (Score:4, Informative)

      by Thanshin (1188877) on Monday November 18, 2013 @01:35PM (#45455821)

      I hope I'll live to see a world where that kind of thought doesn't cross anyone's mind upon reading about a successful entrepreneur and engineer.

    • Re:My Hero (Score:5, Insightful)

      by girlintraining (1395911) on Monday November 18, 2013 @01:47PM (#45455911)

      I just had to post this. Limor Fried is a cute, smart, hardware hacking, gadgeteering, successful entrepreneur chick. Pretty much most geeks dream girl. You go girl!

      Speaking as a woman in IT, and a tinkerer myself, I can tell you what would be better appreciated than a "You go girl". Not making references to her being a "dream girl" and taking her as seriously as you would a man. She's a businesswoman now, running a multi-million dollar business with a lot of potential for expansion. You wouldn't tell a man in that position "... successful entrepreneur hunk. You're most geeks dream man! You go man!" You may not have intended to, but you just degraded her under the guise of a compliment; You have said her accomplishments only add value if she's attractive to the opposite sex.

      If you want to compliment her for real; Why don't you express respect for her accomplishment, and leave her sexual attractiveness off the table?

      • Re:My Hero (Score:4, Interesting)

        by hubie (108345) on Monday November 18, 2013 @02:01PM (#45456011)
        Excellent point. Another thing I find interesting whenever I see press about her, it is usually "MIT engineer." I'm not sure why MIT is always thrown in there. I guess it has more cachet than "Purdue University engineer" or "University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign engineer" or just plain old engineer, but I find it largely irrelevant nonetheless.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Runaway1956 (1322357)

        "taking her as seriously as you would a man."

        You girls CLAIM that you want to be treated like men. Alright - so - I've just met one of my buddies whom I haven't met in years, and found he's successful.

        "Hey, Dilrod - how ya doin?"
        "Not bad, Queerbait, how bout you?"
        "Oh, I'm running my own business now, doing about ten mil a year!"
        "Not true! NO ONE earns ten mil on their knees, even in Washington!"
        "You're just jealous - you only earn five mil on your knees."

        If we talked to women the same way we talk among ou

        • by Creedo (548980)
          So, your argument is that since you and your buddy are assholes who are prone to throwing around homophobic sexual smears in private, women should be thankful that you aren't also misogynistic pigs in public as well?
          • Can't stand a misogynist - you're perfectly right. A misogynist is worse than any of you stuffed shirts, IMHO. And, yes, a lot of women ARE thankful for us.

            • by Creedo (548980)
              Well, it's a good thing that we have dudebros like you around to tell us what women are thankful for.
              • What - did you think that all women are alike? Obviously, all guys are not alike, why should all women be alike? SOME women are very thankful for guys like me. OTHER women wish that guys like me would just fall off the earth. I never implied that ALL women love me, did I?

            • What do you have against misogynists? Not every misog parlor is shady. What about therapeutic misog?

          • by zixxt (1547061)

            So, your argument is that since you and your buddy are assholes who are prone to throwing around homophobic sexual smears in private, women should be thankful that you aren't also misogynistic pigs in public as well?

            Why do you have to call names? And why be a hypocrite?

        • by hondo77 (324058)
          Skipping the "Who talks to each other that way after they leave their 20s?" issue for the moment, that's not the way you talk to "guys", that's the way you talk to "friends". If you were meeting someone for the first time, I doubt you'd be so, um, familiar with each other.
      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        Wanted to say pretty much the same thing, but I'll ask a related question instead.

        Limor, there is a lot of discussion on Slashdot about the role of women in engineering, science and IT. A lot of it unfortunately devolves into misogynistic nonsense about Feminazis or trite points about how women talk about sex too sometimes. Just looking at the numbers it seems to have a long way to go.

        I know you have had some direct experience of this. Comments on Hack a Day and Facebook, plus the usual internet trolling. W

      • Re:My Hero (Score:4, Insightful)

        by mcgrew (92797) * on Monday November 18, 2013 @02:16PM (#45456153) Homepage Journal

        Oh, get off your high horse. If Wozniak looked like some movie star and a woman said "Wow, looks and brains AND money!" would you excoriate her like that?

        Somehow I doubt it.

        • by Creedo (548980)
          If you are so sensitive that you think that girlintraining's post was an "excoriation," then I would suggest that you are the one with the problem.
          • by mcgrew (92797) *

            I see an estrogen overdose. Are you susceptible?

            • by Creedo (548980)

              I see an estrogen overdose. Are you susceptible?

              Susceptible to not being an ass in the workplace? I suppose I am.

        • Oh, get off your high horse. If Wozniak looked like some movie star and a woman said "Wow, looks and brains AND money!" would you excoriate her like that?

          No offense there buddy, but that's what movie stars are going for, not small business owners. And yes, I would have words with her if she did that to someone during a serious conversation such as the design methodology behind the original Apple PC.

        • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

          I certainly would if she fixated on looks. Tony Stark was a terrible role model, for example, a kind of male version of the Doctor Barbie toy no girl can ever live up to.

      • Re:My Hero (Score:4, Insightful)

        by wbr1 (2538558) on Monday November 18, 2013 @03:10PM (#45456641)
        As the OP I have to respond.

        I happen to be bisexual. I notice, and comment, relatively politely (depending on company) on the looks of both sexes. I have a co-worker who is gay. I tell him good job cutie all the time (and he says similar), even though there is nothing relationshipwise between us (we are both otherwise involved). We are both fine with this, and if we weren't hopefully one of us would say something

        I would much rather live in a world we we can stop pretending our genitals do not exist. Certainly things can be taken to the point where people are uncomfortable or harassed, and that is unique to each circumstance, and needs to be dealt with appropriately. However, wouldn't it be nice to be able to chest bump a guy without fear that he would take it as a come-on because your breasts touched him, or do a football ass smack without connotation (unless it was desired as such)?

        I do have much respect for her accomplishments, regardless of how she looks, the fact that I called her cute, or female, or a dream girl adds rarity and value to her accomplishments in my opinion and does not detract from it. Now if I had said something overtly sexual and crude you may have a point, but that pseudo-feminist crap has echos of our overtly puritanical (and hypocritical) culture that would have us all asexual and demote sex just a bodily function that needs to be endured if it were taken to its ultimate end.

        • by Creedo (548980)

          and if we weren't hopefully one of us would say something

          There's the rub. You shouldn't have to hope that your actions in the workplace(or in public more generally) aren't misconstrued and that, if they are, your coworker feels comfortable enough to ask you to stop.

          I would much rather live in a world we we can stop pretending our genitals do not exist.

          And you think that ass slapping and chest bumps are going to accomplish this?

          However, wouldn't it be nice to be able to chest bump a guy without fear that he would take it as a come-on because your breasts touched him, or do a football ass smack without connotation (unless it was desired as such)?

          I would much prefer a work environment where people didn't feel the need to engage in locker room play, regardless of gender.

          the fact that I called her cute, or female, or a dream girl adds rarity and value to her accomplishments in my opinion and does not detract from it

          Well, one of those things is not like the others. But, ignoring that, why? Why do you think that that

        • I would much rather live in a world we we can stop pretending our genitals do not exist.

          Really? I'd much rather think of my coworkers as sexless automatons who turn caffeine into code. Works for me. I wish people like you would stop pretending that everyone wants to think about sex the whole time. I, personally, like to compartmentalise my life.

          or do a football ass smack without connotation (unless it was desired as such)?

          I don't like being touched by people I'm not familiar with. Limit it to your close

        • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

          I happen to be bisexual. I notice, and comment, relatively politely (depending on company) on the looks of both sexes. I have a co-worker who is gay. I tell him good job cutie all the time (and he says similar), even though there is nothing relationshipwise between us (we are both otherwise involved). We are both fine with this, and if we weren't hopefully one of us would say something

          Okay, and that's nice for you guys, but can you see how it could be a problem when used with someone who isn't familiar with your nature on a medium that doesn't convey facial expressions and mannerisms? Or how even a co-worker could feel belittled, even knowing you?

          I would much rather live in a world we we can stop pretending our genitals do not exist.

          That's absolutely not what this is about. This is about people being valued for the things they have control over, for the things they have worked to achieve.

          I do have much respect for her accomplishments, regardless of how she looks, the fact that I called her cute, or female, or a dream girl adds rarity and value to her accomplishments in my opinion and does not detract from it.

          Fair enough. Unfortunately your comment seemed to mirror many others that have been pos

        • I would much rather live in a world we we can stop pretending our genitals do not exist.

          And I would rather that you'd get the same amount of respect regardless of which genitals you happen to be sporting. And just because you're bi doesn't mean you're not a sexist asshole, buddy. Don't you dare come out and wave the rainbow flag like that entitles you to something.

          • by wbr1 (2538558)
            You really need to get off your high horse. I am not waving the rainbow flag, nor do I believe it entitles me to anything. I would like to think I would feel and act the same regardless of my orientation. I am not 'out' except to a very select few people.

            And I wholly agree that the level of respect should be the same regardless of gender (or gender identity if it differs from your physical one). I just do not believe that we should ignore the fact that sexuality exists and colors practically every huma

      • by couchslug (175151)

        "If you want to compliment her for real; Why don't you express respect for her accomplishment, and leave her sexual attractiveness off the table?"

        Because he's a stereotype autist/Asspie of the sort best avoided by all genders? That sort are incapable of "getting" why they are fucked up.

      • ou wouldn't tell a man in that position "... successful entrepreneur hunk. You're most geeks dream man! You go man!"

        Oh, really? Meet Bobak Ferdowsi [wikipedia.org], who generated endless amounts of fawning and creeper comments from women when he showed up on TV screens, and whose rise to stardom was almost entirely derived off him being accomplished...AND attractive. "Oh look, a guy geek who's a hunk!", everyone said, breathlessly. Can you imagine how all his other male colleagues, who contributed to the rover landing, f

      • you just degraded her under the guise of a compliment

        I don't agree, and think you're putting on airs and being prudish. Sexuality is part of life. You can pretend, you can try to ignore it and act with "respect" and "decency", but it will be noticed regardless. Women, and men too, want to be noticed, however much we demure, profess to desire proper behavior, and try to stay strictly platonic and professional. If women want to be appreciated for everything except looks, why don't they all wear burqas, instead of low cut blouses and tight short skirts? To

  • Start-up Capitol (Score:5, Interesting)

    by depressedrobot (1067078) on Monday November 18, 2013 @01:20PM (#45455671)
    How did you get the money to start-up for Adafruit? Did you use VC, if so how did you avoid becoming their indentured servant?
  • by rotenberry (3487) on Monday November 18, 2013 @01:22PM (#45455697)

    As a happy owner of the Adafruit Blue&White 16x2 LCD+Keypad Kit for Raspberry Pi I have used and modified the software that originally came with this kit.

    There are some obvious uses for this kit. Two examples would be displaying its IP address and using the keypad to shutdown the Pi.

    However, when I was modifying the software I could not find specific instructions on how to contribute software back to your site. I just checked again this morning (even the FAQ), and, if these instructions exist, I could not find them.

    How does one contribute back?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    As a new parent of a 6 month old girl, I am hoping to expose her to as much S.T.E.M. as possible in her developing years. Few and far between are the programs that specifically focus on young girls to get them interested out of the gate where I live. But I'm hoping to foster her natural curiosity and encourage anything S.T.E.M. related, and I'm hoping she gets to grow up in an America that encourages more girls to pursue those interests and career paths, with a sense of true equity. Did you find through yo

  • The Future (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MonkeyDancer (797523) on Monday November 18, 2013 @01:27PM (#45455743)

    As the DIY electronics and robotics evolve, what do you see as the next logical progression?

  • First the hair (Score:4, Interesting)

    by slim (1652) <john@hartn u p .net> on Monday November 18, 2013 @01:31PM (#45455783) Homepage

    With all your accomplishments, how does it makes you feel that the introduction to this Q&A begins with your hair?

    Seriously, would we do this for a male engineer?

    • Seriously, would we do this for a male engineer?

      Sure we would. Remember when RMS did a Q&A, and the #2 question people asked was about eating toejam?

      People with celebrity status get comments/questions about their personal lives and appearances, especially if one of those is especially distinctive. Geeks are no different in this regard.

    • Seriously, would we do this for a male engineer?

      Two words: Black turtleneck. ... And he wasn't even an engineer.

    • Re:First the hair (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Kagato (116051) on Monday November 18, 2013 @02:20PM (#45456195)

      I think so. See Mohawk Guy on the Mars Pathfinder project.

    • Seriously, would we do this for a male engineer?

      No, but beards. I seem to remember that questions about beards come up quite a lot especially as there appears to be meme about correlation between successful programming language design and beards.

  • How do you compete? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Monday November 18, 2013 @01:31PM (#45455785) Homepage

    Companies like "sparkfun" and the hordes of china knockoff makers must really take a bite out of AdaFruit's sales figures. I see a lot of times when you come out with a new product sparkfun copies it within a month, and china knockoffs are flooded on ebay within weeks. How does that affect your bottom line when you put all the hard work into designing it and even writing an entire arduino library for your product and then other companies come along and sell a knock off of your product?

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      I'd assume it would be similar to how it affects RedHat's bottom line when other people make Linux distros and give them away for free. Similar to how it affects an artist's bottom line when their music is free on The Pirate Bay. In other words, no much, because most of the value comes from support and the community AdaFruit has built. Paying a few bucks more to get it from them is worth it because you know exactly what you are getting and it will come with some tech support, where as often the Chinese clon

    • by jandrese (485)
      Is Sparkfun actually cheaper? I had the impression that they were more or less direct clones of the Adafruit product, only sometimes slightly worse. A good example of this is the repurposed old Nokia 84x48 LCD screens. Both Adafruit [adafruit.com] and Sparkfun [sparkfun.com] sell it for about the same price ($10), but the Adafruit model comes with the necessary level shifter while the Sparkfun one instead lies on the package (saying it is 84x84). When you go to find the code for it, the code all comes from Adafruit. I know which on
    • by nullchar (446050)

      I buy from Adafruit because of the excellent tutorials and documentation, even if the price is slightly higher, I trust the quality more than other vendors.

      My only complaint is inventory: certain items are often out of stock for months at a time. So I put alerts on them and hope that I can purchase lots of items in large order vs many smaller ones.

    • by bmcage (785177)
      As a variant to this, we redid the drawdio in another form factor, and now want to put it in our own sub 1000$/year online shop. Are you really just ok with this?
  • No question, just wanted to say thanks for making a great product.
  • MIT And IRC (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    A very long time ago, there was a very active community of MIT IRC users on EFNet, including yourself - do you see that kind of community happening again, and if so, under what guise? Jabber? Continued on IRC (admittedly I've not used it much in the past decade)? Or something else?

  • by EricBoyd (532608) <.moc.oohay. .ta. .dyobcirerm.> on Monday November 18, 2013 @01:46PM (#45455891) Homepage
    Adafruit has been doing a lot of interesting stuff around wearable electronics recently, having hired Becky Stern. Do you have a vision for where you want to go with that stuff, how much of your own time is spent on wearables now?
  • When people come to me with fairly basic questions or wanting to get started learning about electronics I always struggle to point them in the right direction. Most books seem to be either overly theory oriented or too dumbed down. The fact that most people don't have access to an oscilloscope doesn't help either.

    Can you recommend anything? Obviously you make a lot of modules and platforms, but what is a good way for people to go beyond simply connecting things together and start really understanding how th

  • From your viewpoint what's the current state of licensing in the Open Hardware community? It seems to me that Hardware is far more likely to be encumbered by patents, licensing consortiums and other players in the ecosystem that are all about the Benjamins. It also seems like the hardware community doesn't have an outspoken advocate like Richard Stallman (or maybe that's a good thing).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 18, 2013 @02:46PM (#45456423)

    It appears that way. For example:

    http://www.adafruit.com/products/1535 [adafruit.com]

    No schematics. No BOM. Details for FCC certification were kept confidential:

    https://apps.fcc.gov/oetcf/eas/reports/ViewExhibitReport.cfm?mode=Sum&calledFromFrame=N&RequestTimeout=500&application_id=375407&fcc_id=S6OBLUEFRUIT [fcc.gov]

    So, is Adafruit still Open Source or not?

    • by ptorrone (638660) * <ptNO@SPAMadafruit.com> on Monday November 18, 2013 @04:22PM (#45457299)

      hi there, i'm one of the folks who work with limor at adafruit and i'm familiar with this product. this is one of the few products that we had to sign many NDA's in order to develop, so we are not able to open source it as per the agreement(s). for that reason we do not put the OSHW logo on it. we will be doing more with BTLE and for those we will have fully open source designs.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      While I'm certainly not suggesting that this is a reason *not* to release the schematics and other details of the project and let people negotiate the legal landscape themselves, the FCC certification requirements for radio-oriented stuff seem to be a bit of a foil to the idea of open source hardware.

      Even if you buy the Bluefruit or their similar CC3000 wi-fi board direct from Adafruit you can't really go beyond hobby work with it without requiring a new certification for your entire product.

      This is, unfort

  • by afranke (1400099) on Monday November 18, 2013 @02:47PM (#45456433)
    As someone who sucessfully founded and now runs an open hardware company, do you have any advice for people that want to follow your path? Anything from business tips to community, production or even engineering pitfalls to avoid? How about finding partners?
  • Hello Limor, I like what you made as ladyada and now at adafruit. what was the trigger so that you made of your hobby a business and a job from which you could make a living ? 2 questions in fact : what difficulties did you have to overcome when you started your bussiness ? Cheers, Fred
  • The Adafruit catalog has a lot of really nice kit for people like me who are taking the plunge into DIY in order to teach ourselves more about hardware. Something that seems to be lacking is the IC list. I know the IC list is geared towards usage with the various platforms that you offer as well, but are there any plans to expand the IC list to include chips like logic gates, flip flops, etc?
    • by ncc74656 (45571) *

      Something that seems to be lacking is the IC list. I know the IC list is geared towards usage with the various platforms that you offer as well, but are there any plans to expand the IC list to include chips like logic gates, flip flops, etc?

      If I had to guess, there's probably not much sense in them carrying common parts that you could just as easily order from DigiKey, Mouser, or whoever (and probably at lower cost due to the volume they shift). There appears to be little (if any) overlap between what A

  • What do you find to be the most promising technology for embedding electronics inside 3D prints?

    While waiting for this tech to arrive, have you tried emulating electronics with mechanical equivalents?

  • by hamster_nz (656572) on Monday November 18, 2013 @04:11PM (#45457187)

    Hi Limor,

    A lot of open-source supported don't appreciate that there is a large component of closed source hardware components supporting their favorite platforms. maybe the BIOS on a PC, CPU microcode, firmware for ethernet or RAID adapters, the internal CPU architecture, the chipsets that support the CPUs. Even when you have the full HDL source for the system (e.g the OpenRISC CPU or the ATmega compatible AVR8 core) converting that to working silicon is all but impossible unless you have won a lottery - and to do so you need to use closed source tools.

    How does Adafruit balance its Open Source ideals with the realities of providing up-to-date, high quality and low-cost products? How do you draw the line to deciede when a product is open enough for you and your company?

    Warmest regards,

    Mike

  • back in 2005... (Score:5, Informative)

    by dlenmn (145080) on Monday November 18, 2013 @04:36PM (#45457445) Homepage

    This isn't a question, but I wanted to note that Slashdot linked to her work back in January 2005 (the Minty MP3 player -- a DIY MP3 player in an altoids tin) -- before her company existed and had $10M a year in sales:

    http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/05/01/15/1828200/build-your-own-mp3-player [slashdot.org]

    That was a real eye-opener for me. I previously had no idea that a hobbyist could make something like that; I figured it was only the domain of giant companies with huge teams of engineers.

    Anyhow, I've been playing with microcontrollers ever since. Thank you Limor!

    • by mako1138 (837520)

      The Minty MP3 was also a big 'wow' for me. I don't think I've built any Lady(ada)fruit projects, but I've certainly studied a bunch of them over the years.

  • by unixisc (2429386) on Monday November 18, 2013 @04:59PM (#45457661)
    Given that over the last several years, several great RISC CPUs that used to be available - DEC Alpha, MIPS IV, PA-RISC - have died, and also that most of their patents are close to expiring, are you considering the possibility of getting those CPUs out again as open source hardware? Where their HDL models would be out & available to anyone who wants to fab them, and that anybody who needs them can then fund their development and produce them for whatever use they prefer.
  • There are some electronics projects [adafruit.com] for young (4-6 yro) children out there, but besides building a few pre-set projects, how do you get kids interested and excited about building things? They might think some blinking lights are cool, but how do you put a narrative around it? I've found toddlers and younger kids love toys, and the entire fantasy world surrounding them, that correspond with books and TV shows. Is there something equivalent for electronics?

  • by dbc (135354) on Monday November 18, 2013 @06:42PM (#45458681)

    When there are at least two good choices for open source electronic design automation tools (gEDA and KiCAD, maybe others), why is it that Adafruit uses closed-source and cripple-ware EDA tools for their open hardware? Linux has proven that open source tools, not just open applications, are important in maintaining healthy open ecosystem. Adafruit seems to be missing an opportunity to provide leadership in this area.

  • I am worried that the USA is not going to figure out how to reduce CO2 emissions fast enough to avert an global warming and oceanic acidification crisis. I have a daughter a few years younger than you. I worry that 8 years of jellyfish oceans and hurricane/drought summers will exhaust everyone's stash of brown rice.

    I think part of the excitement about AdaFruit is the business sells the tools and toys of a low CO2 emission future.

    So how goes the battle at your level?

    Have the investment bankers got ho

  • Hi, I loved SpokePOV. Have you attempted to improve upon it, perhaps adding support for multiple images, and therefore, animated GIFs?

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