I am definitely a tinkerer. Why buy someone elses work when you can spend ten times as much and five times as long to produce something with half the quality yourself.
The reward though, is in being able to say that ‘I’ did that, and in some cases there is no one you can go to to just buy an ‘off the shelf’ version. Take welding. I just love welding stuff. That’s not to say that I am any good at it. This is the very first bit of welding a I ever did, practice for an exhaust pipe on a car:
You might be relieved to know (or maybe you don’t care) that the actual pipe came out a lot better and that I have improved (a little) since then as shown here by a later project:
I’ve always wanted to know how stuff worked or how it was made so that I could make stuff using that technology as well, or even better, combine the stuff I know together to make something totally new. And it’s not just hardware either, I like to mess with electronics although these days, with my old eyes, it’s getting harder and harder to see the color coding on resistors and marking on the small components. The first computer I ever bought (acorn atom) came with a circuit diagram that I used to build a synthesizer with using a game sound chip for the sounds!
The computer is the keyboard unit. The ‘monitor’ is any old TV!
Software is another of those things I cannot leave alone. I need to know how it works works, not just at the application level but right down deep into the guts of it. Stuff like how does http actually work? What flows etc?
Why? Well for starters, so that I can write my own web server. Now you might ask why do that, why not just use Apache say. Well you can make a roll your own implementation to be exactly what you want it to be. No need to bend to someone elses idea of how to do stuff and that can make for a much better user experience. Sometime there just isn’t an implementation of something for the environment you want to use it in. Mostly though, it’s just plain fun to do it yourself.
I think that what makes me stand out (apart from being six foot five and 260 lbs) is that I have a good mix of soft and hard skills. I can work with physical components and soft ones as well so that I can see ‘both’ sides of the fence, the ‘big picture’ if you like. And not just at a high level but deep down at the component level.
Maybe that’s why I ended up doing what I do at work (software development).
Stuff I am not good at:
Painting. I don’t paint, at least around the house. I can’t paint a straight line to save my life.
Woodwork. Me and wood just never got on. I’ve built a deck and stuff like that but anything that requires ‘skill’ and needs to look nice (like furniture or cupboards and shelving), forget it!
Music. I love to play the piano. If I could have my life over, I’d be a musician. Trouble is, I am really crap at it. I am to a piano what a bull is to a china shop. Tone deaf, touch of a sledge hammer and no sense of time. However that does not stop me from making a noise.
Art. I used to love art when I was a kid. I was even pretty good at it. Then we had a really bad teacher one year and that destroyed any interest in art. These days I can’t even draw a descent stick figure!
And that, my friend, is me!