Giving Back

Of all those who love to program — simply to solve a problem or fill a personal need — that would be one thing, but what if all the help you've poured into the online community paid you back in some way?

Let's say there was a startup bike company focused on the design and production of a unique product line — as seen by the aerospace industry — who loved the idea of an integrated bike computer that was open for all to modify and personalize. Let's also say this integrated system was tasked to perform an array of other functions outside of the typical. Lastly, let's say this startup company turned to the Arduino community and offered them a chance to contribute to something influential in the cycle industry. What might be the response from said community?

Without question, such a venture would require a few guidelines. To that, we would answer those questions as best as we could — while maintaining some discretion (for obvious reasons). To that, launch-day would reveal a new product line containing the efforts of those who contributed — hardcoded in the central display of every bike.

As a result, a sense of accomplishment will be had by those — knowing every bike going off the assembly line will display their name as a "thank you" for their passion in programming and for years of helping those with little more than "I tried it, but it didn't work..." : unsung no further.

For us, content in knowing we've tapped the minds of those who eat breath and sleep the Arduino platform — as an extended hand to a community predominantly ignored by the mainstream as too risky or simply not understood.

In either case, a win for the platform, the community, and the vision by those who value sustainable transportation with exotic style.

Let's tease the community no further and open the floor to questions.

Before we get started, I would first invite the moderators to chime in with their perspective in opening such a thread. We don't want to step on toes or break any rules. To that, we will accept any guidance the moderators would like to advise going forward.

I'm not a mod, but there is a gigs and collaborations forum for this kind of thing.

aarg:
I'm not a mod, but there is a gigs and collaborations forum for this kind of thing.

And for that, I would expect this thread to be moved. Just as well — thank you.

To get some basics squared off, some items will need to be discussed:

  • Size and power of the Arduino board
  • Size and resolution of the display
  • Managing modes and settings
  • Input methods and data collection

It's understandable that those willing to commit to the project will be given the hardware needed for development — no sense guessing when you can use the real McCoy.

Note: Let's not be greedy, if you know someone who would love to contribute to a project such as this, drop them a PM on our behalf — with our thanks.

Used to be when you wanted to sell a product you'd hire a bunch of engineers to design it. I guess now the thing to do is to crowd source it. It' genius if you ask me. Convince a bunch of kooks that they're "doing it for their community." Assure them that they'll get tons of credit and good feelings. They'll get everything but a cut of the profits won't they. Nope, wouldn't want to have to pay for our product development.

No this wouldn't make me feel like I was helping my community. This would make me feel like I was helping you make money for nothing and putting my fellow engineers one step closer to obsolescence.

Delta_G:
Used to be when you wanted to sell a product you'd hire a bunch of engineers to design it. I guess now the thing to do is to crowd source it. It' genius if you ask me. Convince a bunch of kooks that they're "doing it for their community." Assure them that they'll get tons of credit and good feelings. They'll get everything but a cut of the profits won't they. Nope, wouldn't want to have to pay for our product development.

No this wouldn't make me feel like I was helping my community. This would make me feel like I was helping you make money for nothing and putting my fellow engineers one step closer to obsolescence.

An understandable perspective. Ask yourself how many times you've seen a poor implementation of something and said "I could have done better". Here's your chance.

With respect to a public agreement open for all to see, just how far might a new start-up retain credibility and respect if no honour was kept. What a critical failing over something as trivial as credit where credit is due. Sorry, we don't share such a dark perspective. As a result, our name would be tarnished from the start, and for what? Perhaps it's happened before, perhaps not. Either way, I thank you for the perspective — devils advocate if you will — and answer accordingly.

We're not offering anyone a job or a free bike, just an opportunity to be part of something worth more.

Drexus:
We're not offering anyone a job or a free bike, just an opportunity to be part of something worth more.

From whence you will profit. Profit from the work of others. Profit from the investment of others while those who invest their time get nothing but a warm fuzzy feeling.

It's not about credit where credit is due. It really is about the continued minimization of the people who make things to profit those who sell things.

If you want to convince me that this is about giving back and not lining your pocket then convince me that all the profits are going to buy Arduino boards for kids in school or something. Then I might feel charitable towards your business.

Or if you want to hire from this community specifically then do that. Or if you just want input, although I think input on a bicycle forum and professional programmers would be a much better bet from a business perspective.

Delta_G:
Or if you want to hire from this community specifically then do that. Or if you just want input, although I think input on a bicycle forum and professional programmers would be a much better bet from a business perspective.

I think we've got all the input we need now. Thank you for your time.

I don't quite understand "startups" that want to outsource ... everything.
If you want to invite contributors to an otherwise nearly complete and open-source project, that's one thing.
If you want the community to write your code for you, it just looks like you're trying to undercut "the going rate" for consulting programmers.

You could try a site like http://freelancer.com

"Let's say there was a startup bike company focused on the design and production of a unique product line "

Is this like a Harley bike, or a bicycle built for two? Do you have a background in these kind of bikes?

Drexus:
Of all those who love to program — simply to solve a problem or fill a personal need — that would be one thing, but what if all the help you've poured into the online community paid you back in some way?

Let's say there was a startup bike company focused on the design and production of a unique product line — as seen by the aerospace industry — who loved the idea of an integrated bike computer that was open for all to modify and personalize.

Ohhh … kay. You would like free programming for a commercial product, is that right?

Do this the other way around. First build your product: a basic bike computer, powered by Arduino. Then invite people to hack it up. Run a forum.

Essentially, what you are doing is offering a ruggedized Arduino, with a display, in a weatherproof case. (and some fixings for a bike). Now, this is a cool idea. Plenty of people will be very interested in grabbing one - I'd like one for this garden sprinkler system I have in mind - and plenty of people will be interested in hacking.

But coyly asking people to code for free isn't going to accomplish much.

Having said that, what you need is a framework by which people can add modules. Modules implement a class that has a setup and a loop, and the framework also supplies some sort of info bus - "I supply this service/is there anyone on this board that supplies this service"? Other thing your framework needs is some sort of windowing/menu system so that modules that don't know about each other can share the screen and the buttons.

Possibly you'd replace the bootloader with something allowing these kinds of modules to be swapped in and out.

Actual applications - well, you'll want to ask cyclists what they want. Bluetooth communication is short-range, but has possibilities. Exchanging business cars (vcard format) with some stats. How about an app that makes sure that everyone in a group stays together?

But the main thing you need is an OS, which the Arduino doesn't really have at present. And for that you are going to have to pay someone who knows what they are doing some money.

westfw:
I don't quite understand "startups" that want to outsource ... everything.

Extraverts, man. ESTJs and ENTJs. They get a cool business idea, and actually doing it is petty details - someone else's problem.

What kind of a bike are you talking about?
Do you ride such a bike on a regular basis?

What kind of budget do you have for R&D, programming, production?

What features do you envision adding to the bike?

westfw:
I don't quite understand "startups" that want to outsource ... everything.
If you want to invite contributors to an otherwise nearly complete and open-source project, that's one thing.
If you want the community to write your code for you, it just looks like you're trying to undercut "the going rate" for consulting programmers.

You could try a site like http://freelancer.com

My apologies, allow me to clarify.

The valuable component here is the community aspect. Put this way: what if your car was run on an Arduino? Ignor all the talking points — How busy would the Arduino community be? By giving the platform to the public, you give more ownership to the individual than could normally be offered. Why is it that something old becomes something valuable once everyone learns how to hack it? Is it not more interesting to get a WRT router than to just use an Apple Airport? Where is the fun in simply owning something if you can customize it with your own code?

Startup: a few people with an idea. Corporate Giant: a large legal entity bent on quarterly reports and absolute ownership.

Yes, as a startup we could hire a student to knock something together and embed it into something locked — end of game. To that, what would be the interesting parts of that? Where's the fun? It's not the destination, it's the journey as explored though multiple destinations. To us, we would let it loose and see where it goes. There's a lot of creative people out there with different ideas, why not let them play?

If your Canon inkjet printer died, you'd toss it. But, if it ran on Arduino, and it dies... a "Phoenix" would appear, and who knows what would happen next. Would you throw it out then?

Our angle is the community. How else could you gain an accurate reflection of what interests people than to hand it to them directly?

Just to put the issue to bed, if we were to exploit talent here (shaking my head to have to explain this) would it not be smarter to say nothing and simply work the forums the usual way? No, we've elected to be honest and open about it, and yet we feel were being shown the door for it.

I'll admit, I had to convince the others about this idea, this was my doing. Given I work at an aerospace company, I would have no trouble finding someone to write this on another platform over their lunch break, but that wasn't the idea. Community was the idea — somehow this reasoning escapes many, and to spend this much time to explain the obvious — quite frankly takes the air our of my idea in offering everyone a part.

Drexus:
quite frankly takes the air our of my idea in offering everyone a part.

Problem is you're only offering us a part of the work and not a part of the reward. You say you want to keep us busy? Why don't we keep ourselves busy making our own projects and our own money. What makes you think we need something to do?

Sure there will be an Arduino bicycle on the market. If any of us wanted that we'd build on. I know it has already been done. If you look on the internet you can probably find dozens of open source examples with the code. But the point is that nobody is going to put your product together for you for free. You're a pretty slick salesman, but nobody here is going to fall for that.

Think of it this way...

You say you work in aerospace. OK, I would like to sell an airplane. I could start a startup right now to build airplanes. What do you think are the chances that you can get your friends at work to design it for me? Just think, they'd get the reward of knowing that something was flying around that they helped to build. If they were at the airport and one broke down they could fix it. Do you think that would be enough for them? I won't pay them, I need them to work for free, it's all about the community aspect though. Great, I'm going to make a killing on this.

I'll be expecting some technical drawing by COB Friday.

Delta_G:
Problem is you're only offering us a part of the work and not a part of the reward. You say you want to keep us busy? Why don't we keep ourselves busy making our own projects and our own money. What makes you think we need something to do?

Sure there will be an Arduino bicycle on the market. If any of us wanted that we'd build on. I know it has already been done. If you look on the internet you can probably find dozens of open source examples with the code. But the point is that nobody is going to put your product together for you for free. You're a pretty slick salesman, but nobody here is going to fall for that.

You're making my point exactly. There's dozens of examples out there — why ask anyone. I wasn't aware this was a job site, I really thought it was a community. My mistake.

Take care.

It is a community. You're asking us to work for you. It's not a job site. It's a place to come get some help with your hobby project. It's not a place to come get free development work for your startup. As soon as you bring your own personal profit into it you completely change the game.

There is a famous piece of American literature call "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" by the famous author Mark Twain. Probably the most famous passage is the one where Tom convinces his friend Huck to paint a fence that Tom was hired to paint based on its being "powerful fun." If you've never read it you should pick it up sometime.