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I build companies, teams, products, new tech, friends, robots.

Every few months, I wake up and realize that the wallpaper on my computer no longer matches my mood, focus and goals and go on a hunt to change it.

Because I run an ultra-wide or multiple 4k monitors, I realized quickly that most of the wallpapers out there show jpeg compression artifacts, are shot at lower resolutions, have lens skew or just don’t hold up on a big screen.

Good wallpaper:

Making a kids-sized storm trooper helmet is a ton of fun and something you can do with your kids.

My daughter wanted to be a Stormtrooper for Halloween and we got here the standard fabric kids outfit. It came with a very cheap vacu-formed partial face mask, not an actual helmet. When she tried mine on, it was so big she couldn’t walk around, and they eye holes were in the wrong places.

In rounding out the year, I realized that I now spend at least 40% of my time in different tools than last year. This is both due to COVID where my teams are remote, but also due to tools maturing.

1. Visual Studio Code

The new standard.

A year ago, I would have said Sublime Text was my only goto code editor. VSCode now has basically all the features of Sublime Text and more. It is easily available on ARM Architecture compute (NVIDIA Jetson, Raspberry Pi, etc) which really helps for building embedded or robotic projects. …

A household robot which packs and unpacks your boxes in standard storage and can also take out the trash and put it back.


Every once-in-a-while, a random concept gets stuck in my brain… in this case, I have wanted to be able to create standardized storage in my workspace and be able to request my tools, parts, usb cables or clothes and have them delivered to my desk or taken and cleanly put away. Ideally, it could also even take out the trash, or at least bring it to the door and put it away once empty.

I decided to actually built it as a project for 2021 to catch up on improvements to ROS2, Navigation2, CV and have fun building a full…

It can take many years to cross the chasm (Geoffrey Moore) for a new technology. Autonomous robots can technically do a huge number of tasks today, but the rest of the ecosystem has to catch up before they can fully go mainstream.

A few weeks ago, I keynoted the RIA Autonomous Mobile Robot (AMR) Conference, where I walked through a set of customer stories from Freedom Robotics’ largest customer deployments, discussing the gaps and blockers which are holding back the manufacturing and logistics industries from significantly increasing the automation and lowering cost for moving things using robots.

In this talk, which you can watch here, I laid out the 6 key blockers I have seen repeatedly and the steps our team at Freedom has taken to enable these companies to massively increase their efficiency and overcome the current chasm of robot deployments…

Angular and React allow for static and easy hosting of web pages.

It usually takes days to host a new app or readme

The time to set up a new dev project has gone from hours a few years ago to days now with the combination of node, NGINX, Python libs, apt-get, hosting services, dev environments, etc. One part that has always been a hidden challenge is getting your project live on the web and hosted in a way people can access it.

In the past, when most systems needed a direct apache / php server to host a site, the obvious answer was to boot one up. Now, with server-less one-page apps based on angular.js and react.js, it is no longer necessary…

When developing on Raspberry Pi, most IDEs are too cumbersome or have not been ported fully to Linux. In their official list, I couldn’t find one that I liked.

2020 Answer — Visual Studio Code

Since I published this first in 2017, Visual Studio Code has been open-sourced and has become a favorite of many of the programmers on my teams. They have fully open sourced it on GITHub, but thankfully you don’t have to compile it yourself.

tl;dr: Yes, but be aware of the limitations.

I have been using my 39" 4k monitor for a long time now. I wrote a review of it when I first got it and have now had it long enough I can give a full opinion.

Large monitors give enough real-estate to not tab between your normal applications. I usually have 4–8 apps open and visible at any time, which is very useful.

More real-estate changes your work philosophy

With 4k and higher monitors, the concept of what a screen is for changes. Before, you toggled between stacked windows. …

One of the hardest things to do when creating a new product is simplify the explanation to get across the intent of the product without getting stuck in the details. Nothing other than hard work and a lot of listening to customers will get you there.

You can read through, where I talk about a few of my specific experiences building videos or skip to the bottom for the 9 key takeaways.

Drew couldn’t explain Dropbox to me

I remember we were hanging out with Drew Houston in the Marina in SF pretty early on after we graduated, (We are the same year at MIT, close…

With VR and AR products coming to the mass market for the first time, we are going to run into a new generation of “almost awesome” experiences. Most of these will fail, or be delayed in going to market because the algorithms that power the human computer interaction won’t work well enough in the real world. We need to change how we design HCI algorithms and systems to think environment and real-world first.

My last 3 companies have focused on converting large-scale sensor data from the real world into scalable and computer-understandable algorithms. Through this, I have seen a set of patterns appear which significantly simplify the complexity of the algorithms which are necessary to actually bring a product to market.

5 Key Improvements for Real World Algorithm Development:

“Research Algorithms” never work in the real world

Most of the people designing these algorithms and devices have come out of universities where they were trained in theoretical algorithms, OpenCV, university data sets and team projects. …

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