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

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the ask-away dept.

Hardware 139

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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FRIED FRUIT ?? YUMMY !! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45455435)

Yummy yummy in my tummy !!

Re:FRIED FRUIT ?? YUMMY !! (0)

LifesABeach (234436) | about a year ago | (#45455645)

I was thinking that in this case, having ones family name first would bring some mirthful gazes.

Synergies (2, Interesting)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#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?

Re:Synergies (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45455591)

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?

Re:Synergies (2)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#45455701)

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 eyes of your Uncle Sam who's happy to babysit you.

Re:Synergies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45455705)

Where's the money at, friend?

Sounds like Mitt Romney, my friends.

Re:Synergies (2)

operagost (62405) | about a year ago | (#45455793)

What's the matter, got tired of filling in the blank with "Koch brothers" or "Halliburton"?

Re:Synergies (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year ago | (#45455801)

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?

Re:Synergies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45456239)

Honestly, parts such as what you describe are not usually covered by copyright. They are covered by patent which expire in ~20 usually.

You will see companies abuse copyright (as it has a longer term on it).

This is something congress is going to have to address at some point. The difference between copyright and patents will become very little. In fact you could almost say we are there now for physical product. The construct of 'business patent' is still to be decided (but congress already spoke on that).

Re:Synergies (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#45456353)

Honestly, parts such as what you describe are not usually covered by copyright. They are covered by patent which expire in ~20 usually.

You misunderstand. A collection, such as a database, is copyrightable. Otherwise anyone could just make a copy of Google and become Google. In this case, most of the parts and blueprints are copyrighted, which in turn makes collecting them into a searchable database more difficult. It's the same problem faced by researchers -- a giant paywall beyond which research lies, and you can't know ahead of time which article is the one you need, versus the other 45 that are similarly named and themed, but aren't.

wearable computing (5, Interesting)

nani popoki (594111) | about a year ago | (#45455595)

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.

Re:wearable computing (1)

westlake (615356) | about a year ago | (#45456321)

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.

Re:wearable computing (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about a year ago | (#45456387)

Or something that is liable to get you sued 6 ways from Sunday by any megacorp or patent troll who "invented" something similar.

Re:wearable computing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45456891)

I hate to tell you but there are tons of this already on the market. Of course, if Adafruit did make this and did get sued by Nike or Jawbone or Polaris you'd probably be screaming "patent troll" from the rooftops even though these companies have been in this game for many years.

Sorry to see that you Slashtards can't be bothered to know this because you're myopic vision doesn't allow you to see beyond what is spoon fed to you through your monitors.

Successful because or despite being a woman? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45455609)

Does it matter at all? Your nick suggests that gender is an important topic to you, correct?

Re:Successful because or despite being a woman? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45455777)

And does it bug you that a short paragraph introducing you leads with a cosmetic characteristic? Or, given that said characteristic is something unusual and deliberate, is that kind of what you're looking for?

Re:Successful because or despite being a woman? (0)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year ago | (#45456817)

Who cares. Too many guys only go for sexy looks. I like pink hairs, I think it is cute.

EE or MBA? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#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?

Do you need to be a MIT engineer (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45455643)

to sell baubles on the internet? How can you charge the prices you do?

Re:Do you need to be a MIT engineer (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | about a year ago | (#45455753)

How can you charge the prices you do?

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

Re:Do you need to be a MIT engineer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45455901)

Really? Go look at the prices you can get for the same crap on eBay.

Re:Do you need to be a MIT engineer (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | about a year ago | (#45455965)

...Because the price of goods is decided by their cost in eBay.

Re:Do you need to be a MIT engineer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45456007)

Uh, if I can get the same thing much cheaper on eBay, what do I care what determines the other guy's price? What kind of argument is that?

Re:Do you need to be a MIT engineer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45456289)

Why do any stores still continue to exist when you can get almost anything on eBay cheaper? I've gotten everything from equipment to books to obscure electronic components on eBay for sometimes less than half the typical prices at dedicated stores. I've also had to deal with a wide variety of customer service, shipping times, and stock issues. Sometimes I don't want to wait 4+ weeks for a simple part because it turned out to not be in stock, and when it gets in stock, it has to be shipped from Asia or Eastern Europe. And while sometimes it is great when you can get a hold of a real person and even haggle over deals involving multiple purchases, it sucks when you lose that gamble and get a broken/fake part and a seller making threats about what they will do if you say anything negative.

Re:Do you need to be a MIT engineer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45456575)

And what does this have to with adafruit?

http://www.adafruit.com/contact/ [adafruit.com]

"Please note: Adafruit does not have a retail store, orders cannot be picked up. Our factory is not accessible for visitors at this time. "

What the hell is wrong with you? She won't sleep with you Thanshin.

Re:Do you need to be a MIT engineer (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45456129)

The only firm thing you're grasping is your master's penis.

My Hero (3, Interesting)

wbr1 (2538558) | about a year ago | (#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 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45455791)

Pretty much most geeks dream girl

I too admit to having a pretty bad crush on Lady Ada.

My question for Limor is "Does this bother you?"

Re:My Hero (3, Informative)

Thanshin (1188877) | about a year ago | (#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 (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#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 (3, Interesting)

hubie (108345) | about a year ago | (#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:My Hero (1, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year ago | (#45456071)

"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 ourselves, the women would either cry their eyes out, or pull a gun and start shooting. You could HOPE that we just grew up, but it ain't happening.

Re:My Hero (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45456305)

You're throwing a tantrum just because people want you to act like a mature adult. Boo hoo.

Re:My Hero (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year ago | (#45456495)

LMAO - listen to you. You're the dweeb that never got picked for ANYTHING. Even when a nerd was needed, you were overlooked. Sux2BU when life has passed you by.

Re:My Hero (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45456819)

Life passed by? You're the 60+ old guy trashtalking people on slashdot about how big a nerd they for viewing the way sailors talk to each as inappropriate for the office or public discussion. The way you talk to your buddies is not the way that you should speak to anyone you don't know, because your idea of a good time is taping someone to a wall and using racial and homophobic slurs as nicknames for your friends. Grow up Mr. Cooper. You've been out of the navy longer than most viewers here have been alive.

Re:My Hero (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year ago | (#45457125)

60+ ? You failed at math, didn't you? Turn in your geek card, Mr. Anonymous.

First hint - the banter isn't "homophobic". My buddies and I are not afraid of homos, and no, you don't get to redefine words at your convenience.
Secont hint - we talk as we see fit, because we have earned that right. We don't need or want your "approval" - we've EARNED the right to be assholes.
Third hint - those "homophobic" comments you refer to are not racial in nature. Again - you don't get to define what words mean. We all served together, black, brown, white, and a few shades that you might call red and yellow. We don't see colors, we don't see races. Jokes about sexuality, in any context, are NOT racist.

I'll grow up when I'm damned good and ready - and there's not a damned thing you can do about it.

Re:My Hero (1)

Creedo (548980) | about a year ago | (#45457431)

I'll grow up when I'm damned good and ready - and there's not a damned thing you can do about it.

The rallying cry of every egotistical manchild with an overly inflated sense of self worth.

Re:My Hero (1)

Creedo (548980) | about a year ago | (#45456937)

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?

Re:My Hero (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year ago | (#45457071)

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.

Re:My Hero (1)

Creedo (548980) | about a year ago | (#45457395)

Well, it's a good thing that we have dudebros like you around to tell us what women are thankful for.

Re:My Hero (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year ago | (#45457497)

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?

Re:My Hero (1)

hondo77 (324058) | about a year ago | (#45457033)

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.

Re:My Hero (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year ago | (#45456085)

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. What I'm more interested in is your opinion of the kind of latent, unintentional but still very damaging sexism of the kind the GP unwittingly displayed. Does it bother you? Is it something that holds girls and young women back, or makes them less likely to be interested in pursuing an career in engineering? What can be done about it? Or perhaps you enjoy those comments, I don't know.

Re:My Hero (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45456111)

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?

I think your missing the point. Her qualities of a successful business woman plus the fact that she's gorgeous make her highly attractive to most geeks. Guess what...woman do this too. Why don't you go visit the "Top 10 Hottest Male Geeks on the Web" while you think about your post: http://blog.thoughtpick.com/2010/01/top-10-hottest-male-geeks-on-the-web.html [thoughtpick.com]

Re:My Hero (3, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year ago | (#45456153)

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.

Re:My Hero (1)

Creedo (548980) | about a year ago | (#45456657)

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.

Re:My Hero (1)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#45457315)

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.

Re:My Hero (3, Insightful)

wbr1 (2538558) | about a year ago | (#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.

Re:My Hero (1)

Creedo (548980) | about a year ago | (#45457369)

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 adds rarity and value? Is that not an implicit admission that you think that there is a general mutual exclusion between engineering accomplishments and being a cute female, and that the confluence of the two is a rare event?

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

It has nothing to do with puritanism. If you want more women to engage in engineering, per your initial question, one thing that you need to do is to attack sexism, even latent sexism. Comments like "pseudo-feminist crap" in response to a mild criticism seem a bit defensive to me. You can engage in chest thumping on /. or you could engage in some introspection.

Re:My Hero (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about a year ago | (#45458135)

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 friends who you're sure like it otherwise you're going to piss people off by invading their personal space.

my opinion and does not detract from it.

In your opinion. But it's a *compliment* how can anyone not like a compliment, right? You don't seem to understand people who are not exactly like you very well at all. If you cannot understand it, I'm sure you can learn a simple fact: many people feel insulted when of all the things they have achieved, it is their looks which are commented on.

That's their opinion. Whether they are right or wrong is immaterial. Whether or not you choose tle level what they consider an insult at them is up to you.

Re:My Hero (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45457433)

She sexualizes herself with that ridiculous getup she dons for attention. Want to be taken seriously, drop the awful pink hair and Betty Boop lipstick and dress the part.

Re:My Hero (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45457953)

She sells trinkets to beginner-level hobbyists with more money than sense. By default she can't be taken seriously.

Re:My Hero (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45457563)

Will you feel better when I tell you I never thought she was even cute.

Re:My Hero (1)

couchslug (175151) | about a year ago | (#45458237)

"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.

Re:My Hero (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45456087)

My question is how do we change that and engage more females in our culture?

Start by calling them women instead of females. Next go to 4chan and learn how not to behave. Also stop watching Japanese pedo cartoons.

Start-up Capitol (5, Interesting)

depressedrobot (1067078) | about a year ago | (#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?

Contributing Adafruit Software (5, Interesting)

rotenberry (3487) | about a year ago | (#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?

Re:Contributing Adafruit Software (2)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year ago | (#45456117)

Set up a repository (Git works well for this kind of project, can be hosted for free) and send them a link to it. If it is in a usable and somewhat documented state a link will appear on the product page listing it as an example project. You could go to the AdaFruit forums as well and post about it there to get the word out.

STEM parent in the south (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45455717)

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 your journey, that success as a female engineer seemed to be more out of reach than your male colleagues and classmates? What advice would you give to a new parent who wants their little girl to never feel limited, who wants their girl to freely pursue any interest in STEM, in an environment where girls are inherently seen as "lesser"?

-STEM parent in the south

The Future (3, Interesting)

MonkeyDancer (797523) | about a year ago | (#45455743)

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

Not really a question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45455763)

Just wanted to say thanks, I have purchased some hard to find stuff from your site. I do not purchase everything that I could there though, sometimes your prices are unreasonable. Perhaps as you grow the prices will come down some due to economies of scale. Either way I have had good experiences purchasing from you so thanks, and good luck.

First the hair (3, Interesting)

slim (1652) | about a year ago | (#45455783)

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?

Re:First the hair (2)

Antipater (2053064) | about a year ago | (#45455849)

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.

Re:First the hair (2)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#45456055)

Seriously, would we do this for a male engineer?

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

Re:First the hair (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45456133)

What do you mean Woz wasn't an engineer? And FYI, he looked damn sharp in that turtleneck.

Re:First the hair (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45456061)

Yes, we would. If one has pink hair which are clearly a signature trait, doesn't matter if he/she is a man or a woman.

Re:First the hair (5, Insightful)

Kagato (116051) | about a year ago | (#45456195)

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

Re:First the hair (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45456645)

I have seen her site, I didn't remember it by her name or the company's name but the pink hair triggered the memory for me.

Re:First the hair (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about a year ago | (#45458143)

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? (5, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year ago | (#45455785)

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?

Re:How do you compete? (2)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year ago | (#45456155)

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 clones are slightly different and don't work quite right with the supplied Arduino library. You can fix it, but it costs you time and frustration.

The Arduino itself is a good example of this. There are hundreds of clones and variations, but the original still sells even though it is far from cheap.

Re:How do you compete? (1)

jandrese (485) | about a year ago | (#45456599)

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 one I would buy when given the choice.

Thanks (1)

HalAtWork (926717) | about a year ago | (#45455799)

No question, just wanted to say thanks for making a great product.

MIT And IRC (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45455829)

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?

How interested? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45455839)

On a scale of 1 to Rihanna, how interested in Bondage are you? Do you enjoy a good spanking, at least?

Re:How interested? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45455961)

lol

Re:How interested? (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about a year ago | (#45456121)

I'm sure that she could engineer something for you. If you explicitly describe how you would like to be tied up and beaten, there is surely a well programmed robot in your future. Don't expect it to be cheap though!

wearable electronics vision? (3, Interesting)

EricBoyd (532608) | about a year ago | (#45455891)

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?

Re:wearable electronics vision? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45457649)

Becky Stern has to work the clothing because open source plastic surgery isn't ready for prime time.

7/10 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45455909)

would bang.

Age? (-1, Offtopic)

mcgrew (92797) | about a year ago | (#45455915)

You look really young, maybe my daughter's age, but wikipedia has little info except MIT. Middle twenties?

Re:Age? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45455953)

Wikipedia says she graduated with her BS in 2003. Assuming she entered college at a usual age, she should be in her early thirties now.

Getting started (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year ago | (#45456191)

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 things work and designing their own circuits?

Re:Getting started (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45457479)

I don't see the need for an oscilloscope these days, it's not like you're designing anything or troubleshooting electronics problems. You're plugging modules together and you need to read the documentation. It's all digital anyways so I'd say, worst case, get a logic analyzer.

Re:Getting started (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about a year ago | (#45458021)

I use a digital scope with my Arduino and RaspberryPi projects pretty much every time. Scopes are immensely useful for debugging pulse trains.

Where To From Here? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45456325)

Your company seems to be slowing creeping towards being the small modern day equivalent of Heathkit or Radio Shack, both of whom have pretty much exited the hobbyist electronic kit/component shop business.

Where are you trying to take Adafruit? More specifically, are you trying to be the next Heathkit or Radio Shack, or are you simply trying to ride a hipster fueled wave of good fortune and "exit" the VC funded ride with as much as you can?

How Open is Open? (1)

Kagato (116051) | about a year ago | (#45456403)

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).

Are you backing away from Open Source HW? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#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?

Re:Are you backing away from Open Source HW? (4, Informative)

ptorrone (638660) | about a year ago | (#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:Are you backing away from Open Source HW? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45457505)

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, unfortunately, one of the issues with open source hardware: there's a lot more to hardware than the "source code".

Advice for open hardware company founders (3, Interesting)

afranke (1400099) | about a year ago | (#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?

Why the focus on Arduino? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45456465)

Your software support is based on Arduino, much to its detriment. For example you sell e-ink displays with only arduino drivers even though these processors are not available with enough RAM to actually support the display.

Why do you cripple your fine products by tying them to such and old and crufty architecture? Why don't you embrace ARM and the 3.3V world?

Can I be cynical and point out that you probably make more money selling 5 volt processors and then selling 3.3 volt converters than you would be selling 3.3 volt processors in the first place.

one question (1)

fredboboss (1059056) | about a year ago | (#45456583)

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

IC List (1)

The RoboNerd (551256) | about a year ago | (#45457031)

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?

3D printed electronics? (1)

ddt (14627) | about a year ago | (#45457067)

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?

The great open/closed divide. (2)

hamster_nz (656572) | about a year ago | (#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... (4, Informative)

dlenmn (145080) | about a year ago | (#45457445)

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!

Opening dead CPUs (2)

unixisc (2429386) | about a year ago | (#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.

Where are the inductors? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45458019)

Limor:

Congrats on the business; it's good to see the old Heathkit approach resurrected for a new generation. But I am afraid to say, you are shortchanging them in a big way. Why no magnetic circuits in any of these designs? I know why big manufacturers don't use them; but why don't you? Even your child educational series is glaring in it's omission of inductors. Already people think I am some kind of natural magician rather than an engineer when I work with air core inductors. You can't let this state of affairs continue to deteriorate...

Also: what happened to the Tree of Life antenna on your site? Always found that the most charming bit. Station to Station, and all that...

Ladyada would you like your violin back? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45458047)

Ladyada would you like your violin back? I don't really need it anymore.
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