These are a few of my favorite things

I’ve always dreamt of being an “industrialist”.  Unlimited capital, applied to projects of my choosing, transforming the world as we know it for the betterment of mankind…  and then life intervened.  But, thank goodness for KickStarter.  Since I discovered KickStarter a couple years back, I’ve had the pleasure of investing in a few projects.

I’ve backed simple things that I like, such as the because they improved on a couple of designs that I pioneered.  Then I invested in the InkShield, because I’m pretty sure this will help make 3D powder printing cheaper/easier some day.

I like this form of investing.  It allows me to lay out small amounts of money, less than $1,000 and get something in return, and possibly fund a new startup.

My latest funding effort is going to be the Teensy 3.0.  Then Teensy is a tiny little dev board that contains a 32 bit ARM Cortex-M4 CPU.  You can look at the kickstarter to get all the fabulous details.  What’s so special about this device?  Well, first of all, the Teensy can run ‘Arduino’ code, which is good for all those Arduino hackers out there in the world.  It can act as a USB client device, which means if you want to do automated testing, you could program this thing to be a mouse or keyboard, plug it into your machine, and have at it.  But wait, there’s more.  It’s got IO pins up the wazoo!  It’s got A/D and D/A, with at least 13-bit usable resolution.  You can overclock the thing to 96Mhz, which will make it useful for some things, like generating audio if you like.  It’s got timers, SPI, I2C, I2S, IR modulator, touch sensor inputs.  What more could you ask for in a $22 package!!  Forget the 8-bit Arduino at $35.  This is a much better starting point for many projects.

One of the cool things is you can program it in straight C, which is one of my platform choices.

I can imagine teaming this little thing with a Raspberry Pi for some awesome real world interaction.

One odd curiosity that’s in the device is a real authentic ethernet hardware address.  what’s the big deal?  Well, having an ethernet MAC address is necessary to do any sort of IP based networking.  Although this is not a cryptographically secure means of having an identity, it’s certainly a start.  Assuming the user has not changed the MAC address, you can use this little bit of information to identify the device, which might come in handy for some applications.

It might be very interesting to have some nice simple crypto routines readily available for this thing, possibly written in some nice tight assembly?

There are tons of other little boards that I’ve purchased and played with over the years.  These are a few of my most recent favorites.  It strikes me that with the capability and low price points that we’re seeing these days, my software efforts are going to increasingly be about connecting these small specialized modules together in interesting ways, rather than trying to build giant monolithic systems.