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Long Hours, Lonely Nights & Hard Problems

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has happened in that period and those things are basically the reason that I haven't had the chance to blog yet.

I visited tdfischer and coinspelunk for a week between Christmas through New Years, and we lost boots so many times. They have an awesome hackerspace out there, and I think that spending new years in Akron is going to have to be a new personal tradition, I really do love it and already miss everyone out there a whole shitload.

I also went to FUDCon Lawrence. The conference itself was a blast, and it also took place immediately after my 21st Birthday. Indeed, the day I arrived I celebrated a drink with Ian and Ingrid at a bar near the FUDCon hotel. I spent a lot of the time getting really in to this awesome configuration management tool called Ansible. I was going to get super involved in Fedora again after the event, and I kind of have in some respects by giving the packages I maintain some much needed love and respect. For reasons below, I've been too busy on other stuff to throw all of my weight in to Fedora and KDE, which is a shame, I think.

In February, I relocated to Oakland, California to join a hip new hardware startup, MadeSolid. There's a market out there for people who want to do production runs that are small enough to make injection molding too expensive which existing service bureaus just aren't hitting. Also, everyone seems to be enamored with ABS and PLA, basically because they're easy to print. That sucks, and those are the kinds of problems we're getting to solve. It's wildly exciting, and I'm infinitely glad that I got to come out here to build something as awesome as this.

The founders are both members of the hackerspace out here, Ace Monster Toys so there's a lot of overlap in ideologies, hobbies and habits. In fact, their involvement in hackerspace is how we got together in the first place – hackerspaces providing jobs yet again! It's pretty nice to work with a couple of guys who fly quadrocopters and hack on cool software like I've been used to back in Arizona. Right now, we're unfunded and trying to bootstrap ourselves enough to bring investors over to the space and raise some money, so this friendliness and camaraderie that we've already got makes those long hours all the more bearable and enjoyable. :)

I moved in to a nice apartment in North Oakland, a wee little single bedroom place. The walk to and from work puts me right along Lake Merrit, an inland lagoon which has some beautiful parks and awesome weather. I've been taking photos and things and gloating about it if you follow me on twitter. Here are some of them. I really cannot get over how beautiful this city is, forget all of the haters, Oakland is a really great place – the perfect place to reinvent manufacturing, too ;)

When GDC was in town last month, my friend Robbie and some others went to the (supposedly) invite only GDC.party() sponsored by Mojang, with DJ sets from a bunch of awesome folks including (gahhhh!) Justice! Justice bailed at the last minute, unable to get in to the US because of Visa issues, so Mojang hired Skrillex. No Big Deal, right guys? I was going to try to make it to the Wild Rumpus party with a live set by one of my top 3 favorite chiptune artists Chipzel but the tickets were basically impossible to get a hold of…

Anyways, this outing was amazingly fun and, more importantly, it introduced me to my first non-hackerspace friends in the Bay Area. Probably my first non-hackerspace friends since even before that, I've kind of forced myself in to a monoculture since I joined HeatSync back in 2010.

The intersections of the new life I'm building and the parts I was forced to leave behind are going to be … interesting, I can already tell. I've more or less been forced to cut out some friendships and relationship because they were growing like sick tumours on my sanity. You've no doubt seen some of the fallout of this if you've connected with me on any social networking things in January or February. Anyways, those poisonous people are close to intersecting with some of the people that I've met in the last few months, and I'm waiting for the day where I have to explain "no, that person is just poisonous and doesn't like me because $highschooldrama."

I've had very little chances to go out and be social outside of a few nights a week at Ace and some hardware startup meetings; I had originally planned to go out and meet people, to start dating and to get out to concerts and do things, but I just haven't had the chance to do any of that because I'm too busy building a business. And for the first time in my life, I have a space to go home to that has zero other people in it, and it's strange. I've never been more content and at the same time more lonesome. I think I need to get a pet, but I don't think I can take on that kind of responsibility right now since I'm more or less living at work. I'm starting to truly understand why my dad is always calling me and trying to spend time with me, which bothers me. It bothers me that I'm just starting to realize his point of view and come to respect it after all this time.

I can't wait until we get some cash and the chance to let off the accelerator at MadeSolid. I have so many plans on what I want to do out here, I'm just getting started.

Back in Arizona, when I was at HeatSync we all sort of had this shared belief that we could make anything happen that we wanted to, that we didn't need to migrate to New York or San Francisco or Austin to be the next big tech hub and business leader.

Seeing the energy out here has really made me question that. Brian was right, the tech scenes out here are full of a bunch of people trying to sell, rather than just showing off their cool ideas that they make in their free time. And some of them are fake douchebags and DJs. But, on the other hand, the things that they are selling are the things that a lot of them hobby-ize and are just as passionate about as any hobbyist in Arizona. It's a different environment to be sure, but I think it's a much healthier and sustainable environment. Phoenix is great if you want to spend your time writing code or designing hardware for other people as a freelancer, but I don't want to write horse.js for the rest of my life.

And I don't have to out here. I get to solve hard problems, and I get to solve the problems that I want to solve. Managing and printing on hundreds of 3D printers. Making it painfully simple to order custom made parts in any number of awesome materials. R&D on new methods of additive manufacturing. I could have never dreamed I would get paid to 3D print all day, yet here I am, getting paid to do that and things no one else has done before.

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Ryan Rix is a privacy rights advocate and net-art wannabe. Reach him on the Fediverse as @rrix@cybre.space, twitter as @rrrrrrrix, via email to ryan@whatthefuck.computer or on Facebook or on Matrix as @rrix:whatthefuck.computer.