Hanna-Barbera had it right all along – we really are moving into the age of The Jetsons. Flying cars may not be at a hovercraft lot near you just yet, but robots are on the rise and the modern web is about to change how and with whom you communicate, online and off.
When I first enrolled at Penn as an undergraduate, I was in the engineering school. I switched to the College of Arts and Sciences as a sophomore because I spent my first year alone in an underground classroom full of people who had a hard time looking me, or anyone else for that matter, in the eye. Thankfully, undergraduate engineering classes have come a long way since then! Despite my exit from engineering, I’ve remained deeply interested in how technology drives society, and No Starch Press books are exactly for people like me.
Fun, informative, and gloriously off-beat, these two volumes in particular are for those looking to go beyond a surface knowledge of technology. They are for those of us to like to be down in the weeds building a solid foundation of technical knowledge so that we can rise up stronger and armed with the information to understand just how these platforms work. They’re for tinkerers, makers, and developers in the broadest sense of the terms.
The Modern Web
To wrap a bright shiny bow around this book, Peter lets down his development hair and goes into the future. From is perspective, we are still in the infancy of the web and it’s still very much a digital wild west where disruptors and innovations stand to shake everything up. His advice – developers, stay informed and be a part of the conversation wherever and however you can.
Author Mary Shelley was so ahead of her time when she wrote Frankenstein. We are born loving robots. We’re intrigued by getting a machine to do what we want it to do. After all, remote control cars and model planes, the darlings of childhood play, are forms of robots. We tell them to do something, and they do it, no questions asked. This is exactly why kids, and adults, are addicted to their mobile devices. We click something, it opens, and then we tell the machine to do something that it willingly does (most of the time). It’s empowering to make technology work for us.
Not content to just buy a programmable machine, we’re now getting up to our elbows in parts to actually build robots. The Arduino board, a cute, convenient contraption is a gateway product to help us get under the hood of our favorite gadgets and gizmos, and then it helps us craft our own. It fits comfortably into the palm of your hand but don’t be deceived by its size. Download some free, complementary software and it packs a powerful punch in its small frame. Created in 2005, it’s moved beyond its robot hobbyist status and into the mainstream maker movement.
Now that you’ve got an Arduino board (cost ~ $30) and the free software, the book gives you a brief background on project design and electricity and then you’re off to the races with 65 projects to get this little computer to work for you. You’re going to learn how to code, make lights blink at your will, create digital displays of information and images, build simple robots, remote controls, and GPS-enabled applications. Each project has detailed instructions and illustrations so they’re approachable for beginners.
To get a sense of how others in the global Arudino community are using Arduino, take a look at the Instructables site where people have shared their creations. The sky’s the limit now has a whole new meaning!