Though I finished the table part of the project a while back, it was just this weekend that I wrapped up work on the matching bench for Faye and Nick:

Dining Room Table and Bench

It did take a good while (a little less than a year) to build, but obviously I had a few other things going on in the meantime, and I’m pretty happy with how it came out. I’m also happy that Faye & Nick are happy with how it came out!

I posted some photos and a description of the making-of process here.

posted May 29, 2012 – 1:03 pm

I finished the automatic cat feeder, just in time for the arrival of the kittens this weekend. So far, so good — they’ve been adjusting to our home well, and I’ve been adjusting to their presence equally well. I’ll call it a win, for now.

Cat Feeder
posted May 22, 2012 – 9:18 am

Having spent the past few weeks working on my new project out of a corner of the living room, I started to understand the downside that comes with having your office and your home collocated. For my own sanity, and for the health of my relationship, I’m moving my work stuff to ALTSpace. ALTSpace is a community workshop not too far from home, run by some friends-of-a-friend, and their $200/month membership is pretty much perfect for me — I get a desk in a workshop fully stocked with tools and an instant community of smart people who like making things. I think it’s gonna work out well.

New work setup - ALTSpace

The other motivation to make some more room in the living room is the imminent addition of two cats to our apartment. This will be my first foray into pets in quite some time — I had an assortment of reptiles and amphibians growing up, but nothing in the past 20 years — and my first mammalian pets, to boot. Fortunately, these are cats I already know, and their arrival gives me a fun excuse to up my Arduino kung fu and make them an automated feeder. More to come on both how it goes adding them into the mix and how the feeder works out.

posted May 8, 2012 – 10:52 pm

I couldn’t find a job that was going to make me happy, so I started my own company.

Okay, that’s not entirely accurate, but it’s not so far off from the truth — I looked for a couple months for a job that I could really get excited about (along with a few other criteria), but didn’t find the perfect thing, and happened to chat with a biology researcher who turned me on to a particular problem her lab (and many others) face on a daily basis. After letting it bounce around my brain for a few days and after speaking with a bunch of other biologists, I decided to start a company to design a product to solve this problem.

Needless to say, I was very interested to read this interview with Bunnie Huang, formerly of Chumby, in which he talks about hardware startup companies quite a bit. I’d come to very similar conclusions, that hardware startups are very different from software, and much of the startup advice out there doesn’t necessarily apply. Particularly when it comes to funding, hardware presents a challenge to the classic model — it costs a significant amount to make and distribute hard goods, whereas the per-unit costs of software or web services are nearly negligible — and it’s not always clear how to get around that. (Local Seattle entrepeneur Dan Shapiro has some thoughts on the matter of what kinds of companies would do best without VC funding.) Kickstarter can be a good way to get money, but it presumes a level of completion (such as a working prototype to show off) that takes some time to reach, and note that many of the most sucessful campaigns are from people who already have proven track records in their industry (see here and here). As Bunnie says, bootstrapping as best you can until you come up against a real funding obstacle is probably the best bet for a hardware company, and that’s my plan.

I’m not quite ready to go public with the details of my new business venture, but when I do, I’ll post here.

posted May 1, 2012 – 8:43 pm
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