zeke

Have you experienced a chilling effect?

18 posts in this topic

Hi Everybody,

 

I'm just thinking out loud as I make this post. My dad would call this "navel gazing". So feel free to challenge these thoughts.

 

Lately, I've been thinking about the spirit of this forum community and how it may have been diminished slightly by unexpected events. Maybe it's just me?

 

When I first came here, I was looking to learn how to work with the MSP430 processors - how to program them and how to build circuitry based on them. I stayed in this community because I found like minded people who shared my sense of curiousity and who shared my sense of adventure.

 

Is someone going to make money off of my knowledge, sample code, or prototype circuit?  Yes, I have already been burned by someone who found me from my contact information here on this forum. I solved his problems and he stiffed me. He didn't think he needed to pay me for services rendered.

 

Today, I feel a measure of insecurity about sharing what I know. I do not feel like sharing all of the details of my personal projects. I know that I am withholding all the awesomeness of my adventures.

 

I no longer feel the childlike simplicity of sharing everything I learn.

 

Am I just growing up?

Am I giving into my fears?

Am I growing selfish?

Am I believing a lie?

 

 

What's the matter with me?

Is this The Chilling Effect?

 

How can I fix this?

 

Rickta59 likes this

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I feel the exact same Zeke, I got some projects I feel like not sharing as much info as before, or no info at all.

I get lots of times people asking me to help with a project. Students I usually don't have much problem in helping out just enough but many times it seems to be for products and well, why should I help you? You're getting paid, I'm not - if it was a friend then well I can help a bit

I feel a bit that with the info on my website. I shared tutorials and all - I must have gotten like 1 thank you in 2 years.
Once I took the site off - there was the possibility of teaching for payment how to use the TM4C so I didn't want to gave my tutorials out there - I needed to think. Well, then people we're quick to insult me, call my website useless (it was with just projects, with code and tutorials on them mind you) because I took the info off. That's why now I mostly make stuff only for people I know, at least they can buy me a drink or at least say thanks. I even got some to help me out making them.

 

zeke likes this

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I have some of the same feelings zeke.

 

How can I fix this?

 

What I've done is to only dole out information in real time using IRC.  This allows me to gauge who is looking for the information and why.  If it is for commercial use I just ignore them. If it is a lazy student, I especially ignore them.  If it someone like me, just looking to find out the information for their own benefit, I share freely.

 

-rick

timotet and zeke like this

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@L.R.A,

 

FYI, my day job is teaching.

 

You can make money with your TM4C lessons. As long as they are good.

;-)

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All that said, I do wonder if you have "tiers" of information you could feel comfortable giving out, or if it's all just one sacred space for you... I think "tiering" the level of advice and knowledge is key to managing a public footprint that's open enough to keep others excited about what you do, but having a reasonably firm line protecting what you consider pay-worthy in terms of time commitment.

 

Some of us are in different situations where everything we do in this realm is for hobby, but some aren't.

zeke and greeeg like this

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I got involved with this community essentially knowing nothing about microcontrollers or C/C++ when I retired as an engineering manager with a mechanical background (in Calgary by the way - one of my  favorite places).  Microcontrollers were  just something that caught my interest after viewing a TED video on Arduino.  And on average, the quality of the projects and the help / discussion just seemed to be on a higher level on 43oh than with the Arduino crowd.

 

For me, learning this stuff beyond the superficial on my own outside of a classroom setting and without colleagues is hard.  But it has been rewarding and a great experience.  And I have learned something from each of you who have posted above.  So, my thanks to you.

 

This is just a hobby for me, and it is unlikely anyone developing a commercial product is going to gain much from my advice :) .  Having said that, I try to give as much as I take. And a good way to learn and hopefully help others has been to read the problems others are having and see if I can solve them.  For those who would like to continue getting that kind of help, here are some tips:

  • Don't abuse the goodwill of 43oh members in the manner described above
  • Search and make a real effort to solve it yourself first
  • Post sufficient information for someone to help solve the problem but be as succinct as possible and don't post a 100 lines of code
  • Use the thanks button when someone helps - really, how much effort does that take?  Somebody just spent personal time to help you for free.
  • When your problem is solved, consider editing your first post and put [sOLVED] in the title, or at least follow up with a post that you finally got it to work and how.  The next person with that problem will thank you.

My son-in-law has a masters in EE and is now a patent attorney.  I asked him a while back about the practicalities of protecting intellectual property for the small guy or hobbyist.  My interpretation of that conversation was that unless you have money and/or time it is difficult.  A shame, the result is that you must do something like Spirilis suggests and carefully consider/tier responses, help, and what is revealed. 

 

 I appreciate the help past and future, and enjoy hearing about the projects. But, I also understand the sentiments expressed above and don't want to see livelihoods threatened.

Rickta59, spirilis, greeeg and 5 others like this

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I've been around on the forums for awhile now. I really enjoy seeing other peoples projects. Especially how they go about solving problems that I would hove done differently. I think there is great value in that. That's why I try to post about my projects too.

 

I'm in my final year of my EE degree. And information I've gained from this forum has definitely influenced my thought pattern for the better when approaching new problems.

 

But also unfortunately there are people who upon seeing the same project will just be thinking of ways they could profit from others work. There might not actually be too many of these people, but it only takes one to make you think about this stuff next time you think of sharing a project, which is a real shame.

 

I'll continue to share my hobby projects, A factor that stops me posting more is that not all of my projects contain TI micro's so I don't feel it's relevant to post here. For example I'm currently working on a DIY PnP.

 

I've also noticed alot more students asking for help with their projects. (assessed projects) (sometimes even capstone projects!) And they typically just want the answer, sometimes don't acknowledge users who try to help. This doesn't look good for the forums. But I'm not sure what the solution is.

tripwire likes this

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@@zeke

 

I think you'd have you ask yourself one simple question. Were you born knowing everything ?

 

Seriously. How did you learn to write software for this hardware? Was from this forum ? Another forum ? How did you learn to write code to begin with ? I think in this context, yes, you're being selfish. You can not expect to come to this forum, learn from others, and then expect exclusive rights for software you've learned from others. Passed this, programing concepts in general are hardly innovations in themselves. Meaning, if you can figure out how to write something in code, so can about 500,000 other individuals. Programming, on many levels, just is not that hard.

 

In addition to the above. I'm not sure how you got "burnt" by another person, or how you *should* feel. But where I come from, our fathers have a saying too. "Water under to the bridge. . ." Meaning, maybe you unjustly got burned, but there is nothing you can do about that, now. Move on . . .

 

EDIT:

 

Also, if you feel honestly that you have created something special in code, and that it's worth something to you. FFS don't put  it on the internet . . . but again, that seems awfully selfish.

zeke likes this

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Let me clarify on my post above.

 

First, I would not necessarily feel that you're a morally reprehensive piece of garbage just because I think one thing, or another, that you do, is selfish. We're all selfish on some level, and have to be in order to take care of our own.

 

So sharing single ideas based on hardware discussed here on the forums is all but a must. e.g. how to use an ADC, or PWM modules. By this I mean that individuals really have no right to hold back that information from others on this forum.That's common knowledge, or should be. Of course they're not obligated to share what they know, but why even bother being here if you're not willing to help, as well as learn.

 

However, on the other hand. For example if someone were to write something from scratch, and perhaps unique. Let says that uses ADC, and PWM in a way to makes some sort of DC/DC converter( just an example ). I do not think it would be that persons responsibility to share that code with the community. In fact, quite the opposite. I thin if that person were to share that code with the public, that person should be required to make sure the public knows how to use the code properly( so as not to burn up hardware ).

 

In my own case over the last IDK, maybe 6 months I've shared a bunch of code on single simple ideas. mostly because I was learning as I went, and figured what I learned might help give someone else some insight on the subject matter. At the same time, much of this code was put together into one large project that did multiple things to get towards an end goal. *That* code I did not share. Simply because I've shared enough code with the public that would allow a creative person to do the same thing I did. But I was not going to write this whole project for anyone other than myself to take advantage of.

zeke likes this

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@L.R.A,

 

FYI, my day job is teaching.

 

You can make money with your TM4C lessons. As long as they are good.

;-)

Write a book . . . that should make everyone happy, if it's a good one.

zeke and spirilis like this

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.  Having said that, I try to give as much as I take. And a good way to learn and hopefully help others has been to read the problems others are having and see if I can solve them.  For those who would like to continue getting that kind of help, here are some tips:

  • Don't abuse the goodwill of 43oh members in the manner described above
  • Search and make a real effort to solve it yourself first
  • Post sufficient information for someone to help solve the problem but be as succinct as possible and don't post a 100 lines of code
  • Use the thanks button when someone helps - really, how much effort does that take?  Somebody just spent personal time to help you for free.
  • When your problem is solved, consider editing your first post and put [sOLVED] in the title, or at least follow up with a post that you finally got it to work and how.  The next person with that problem will thank you.

There are several people here on this forum that I've learned from. Spirilis, oPossum, and Rickta are 3 especially that have made me think especially hard about what I'm doing in code. I would know nothing about any of the hardware I've worked with without their help. period.

 

I've especially appreciated how oPossum has helped me the most recent. He did not write code for me, he waited for me to write code, and offered up a way for me to refactor that code. As well as offer insights as to what a high level "thing" could be doing in concept. Such as helping me identify sequence numbers from CANBUS output.

 

In all though. There really is not much I can not figure out on my own, but it does certainly help to have others to discuss various situations / things with. It's pretty cool to be able to make a post saying "hey how does this work", and perhaps expand on that discussion some. At least I appreciate that sort of discussion.

zeke likes this

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@@zeke

 

I hope  you didn't like all my posts to just shut me up ;) hehe. I was actually hoping for more discussion, and perhaps counter points to my points to perhaps make me think of things differently.

 

EDIT:

 

One thing for sure that bothers me about what you're saying. You're a teacher, and you feel this way. BY "bothers me" I just mean that it's kind of a sad situation.

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@@yyrkoon,

 

Sorry, I've been busy getting ready for a class next week. 

 

I'm liking everyone's posts because I want them to know that I appreciate their contribution to the discussion. Thank you for yours too!

 

All of us speak from our own points of view. I spoke up because I was thinking out loud. I do not necessarily believe everything that comes out of my mouth. The intent is to say things out loud, listen to what I am saying then process those things. Are they bad or good, foolish or wise, obvious or insightful?  And so on.  

 

I posted my thoughts to invite you all into this same process of testing my observations.

 

My apologies if my suppositions come across as selfish or ignorant.

 

On the topic of being a teacher, I resonated with the observations that @@Rickta59 and @@spirilis spoke of. It depends upon the context in which things are being shared:

  • Does the requestor demand knowledge from the giver (panic approach)?
  • Does the requestor seek wisdom for the application of knowledge (true student)?
  • Does the requestor beg you to solve their problem (profit motivation)?

It's up to the giver to respond appropriately from his or her point of view.

 

Someone called me at my office. He found me via this website. He begged me to solve his msp430 hardware problem. I did. I reckon that I saved him $10,000. Yet that fellow apparently thought my wisdom, knowledge, experience and efforts were not worth anything to him. He did not pay me. He just disappeared into the wind. Shame on me. I will never do that again.

 

@@yyrkoon, your point about not sharing valued code resonated with me as well. Thank you. I agree. In fact, that is what I have done for the most part. It is true, there are some code wizards here and I have learned from them as well. Yet, I know that I have not put any of their code into my own work. That includes @@oPossum's incredible printf() function and @@RobG's LCD code. Although, in the near future, I may have to ask RobG for permission.

 

Do I know everything? Not a chance.

 

Do I learn in a vacuum? No way. I learn from data sheets mostly. If you can't read the data sheet then you're in deep trouble as an Engineer.

 

Do I copy-paste code from 43oh.com into my own work? I can't remember the last time I did.

 

Do I share my code here on 43oh.com? Yes. I have shared simplified versions of my code. I rewrite some routines to save the awesome stuff for myself. Case in point, I know that I am holding out on my 1-Wire code. Why? Because I make money with that code. Any code that I have charged someone for is not allowed to be posted online. That's just a personal rule.

 

But, once, I shared some code here that I did make money with. Someone (I think oPossum) ripped that code up and dismissed its value immediately. I took that personally. I don't like that feeling.  I know it has had value because I got paid for it. My customer's needs were taken care of. I am now careful when considering the sharing of my code.

 

Do I copy-paste the code that I find online elsewhere?  In general, nope. Typically, I can't use the code that I find online. It usually doesn't work out of the box for my application. Take oPossum's code. To my eyes, he's an absolutely gifted coder who started coding in assembly language (I'm guessing). His c code looks like assembly to me. He appears to think in assembly. I do not. Sometimes I wished that I did! Therefore, I can only learn from the general intention of his routines. My implementations will follow my way of thinking. It's not right or wrong. It's just different. 

 

As I mentioned from the start, I'm just thinking out loud in order to process my feelings and my observations. I do not claim to know what is right or wrong in all of this. I do claim to be slightly confused but seeking clarity on the matter.

 

I will continue to contribute here as I can.

I will keep my mouth shut on topics that I know nothing about.

I will share my insights and experience as I can.

 

Hopefully, the panicky students will learn patience.

Hopefully, the charlatans will get the bum's rush out of this place.

Hopefully, the eager students will continue to come here to learn.

 

Personally, I find the eager students a breath of fresh air. I find that they are the ones who learn how to share their learning journey with others who come here.

 

It is my intent to be a person that gives more than he takes from this community. Forgive me if I have failed at this task. 

yyrkoon and dubnet like this

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@@zeke

 

Well my questions were more rhetorical than anything, meant for you to answer for yourself. I do not really place judgment on people, thats not my place. Despite that I'm very opinionated, and not afraid to show it - It may seem that way. However, with that said, I do not want everyone, or even anyone  to be like me ( would be boring ! ), and I have been known to change my ideas, opinions, and what not based on others ideas . . .but only if it rings true for me.

 

I still do think we all should still share the basic knowledge related to various hardware discussed here. But there is no reason you, I, or anyone should just give people fully fleshed out ideas, or software without some sort of compensation. That's just not very . . realistic.

 

I had some guy on the beagleboard.org google groups ask me if the software I designed to read the CANBUS module and "spit" the decoded data out over a websocket to  webrowser client was "anywhere in the open software space". He knew of it because I had mentioned it to someone else. Anyway, my answer very short, sweet, and perhaps even selfish . . ."nope."

 

EDIT:

 

Also I'd like to add that I don't keep score, and I'd probably ignore anyone I thought that did. But you talking about oPossum's printf() stuff. Because Rickta, and I used to have mini competitions about printf() this, and printf() that. The really funny part though . . . I was "competing" with Rickta, using his code lol . . .honestly though he was teaching me in a round about way, by letting me toy with his older code while he was writing new, and improved code. I learned a good bit from all that, and had fun too.

 

I think around this time, I was "hot and heavy" into C++ because of the templatized UART code oPossum wrote / shared, which I modified slightly for my own purposes. But I was so infatuated with it because the code footprint was tiny, and did a whole lot for the amount of code space it took up. Looking back, I still think oPossum's original code was great, and yes, I had fun toying with it. But now days . . . I'm back to learning more heavily towards C again. Mostly because C as a language on it's own is less complex, and less to worry about by comparison.

 

My point here I suppose condensed, is that I do appreciate various persons sharing code on the forums here, and in the process of them sharing their code / ideas, I had a good deal of fun learning various things that might have otherwise been very "dry" topics.

zeke likes this

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