So, You Want To Use Your Hands

Anything that can be done on a computer or telephone can be outsourced. Get used to it.

Read X-Rays? Code C#? Provide customer support? Give legal consul? Maintain servers?

All of that can, and will (if not already) be outsourced. If it can be done cheaper elsewhere, it will.

So, what to do?

Well, either do things that can’t be outsourced — yea, all that blue collar stuff you scoffed at (like plumbers, stage crew, or whatever) — or invent your ass off.

Let’s say you don’t want to have your arms elbow deep in shit all day — don’t get me wrong — a good plumber is worth his/her weight in gold — just try to get that fucking leak to stop. Want to make something?

Well, speaking as a WASP (though the P has turned to A), you can do stuff like woodworking. Or dabble in the dark arts, like laser cutting, CNC, or 3D printing.

If you want easier, the order would be: laser, CNC, 3D.

Laser is tried and true. You can’t cut anything really strong — your limits are usually 5 mm plywood — but it’s super reliable and you get great results.

CNC is also super reliable. I put it as #2 because, well, you can kill yourself. A solid carbide bit spinning at 18000 RPM needs some respect. No matter how fast you hit “STOP” it will fling into the air. I’m making it sound dangerous, which it’s really not, as long as you are paying attention. But, if it hits you, well, sorry about your eye. No worse then any woodworking power tool. If you haven’t chopped off something with a saw or a router, then no worries about the CNC.

The 3D Printer. What an over-hyped piece of technology. Want something to take 30 hours to print? Want it to fail half way though so you have to restart? Want something that jams for no reason, yet gives you a model that looks like it was put together by 4 year old? Then this is your tool!

I’m being harsh. Because, well, 3D printing deserves it. The hype is well, well, well, well, well beyond the technology. Will it get there? Sure. Is it there? No fucking way. At least 80% of the stuff that we ask to be printed could be done better/faster with another technology. ┬áThe other stuff is better done in casting — there is a reason it’s so expensive.

Let’s slide away from the cutting stuff for a while.

The programming / micro-controller stuff is robust and time tested. Want to start? Look at the Arduino stuff. There is no better place to start. With that, you can flash LEDs, move motors, make sounds, and whatnot. Tons of examples. Tons of code. We’ll documented. And hobby friendly.

Yea, I know, there are plenty of other chips out there. We’ve used them. Good stuff. But, if you are starting, and want something that everyone else is using, something Arduino compatible is where you want to be. It’s the Windows of micro-controllers.

From there, you can do some interesting stuff. Lilypad — fabric based electronics (conductive thread! LEDs in shirts! crazy shit!). Make cat toys. Animate Halloween props. Do Whatever You Want. That’s the cool thing about it.

Once again, I think this post has gone nowhere, but I don’t care. Here’s the thing:

Teach Your Kids To Use Their Hands

I don’t care how. Build, paint, write, draw, code — whatever. Innovate. Innovate. Innovate. Focus on stuff that you can have produced, or which can’t be shipped to cheaper labor. And there is always cheaper labor.