I have too many interests for my own good and usually end up splitting my time inadequately between them. I tend to become obsessively interested in a topic until it absorbs most of my available time. Then, suddenly and unexpectedly, some other topic attracts my interest. Lately my most active interests have swung from technical subjects to art but that could change at any moment. A list that at least scratches the surface must include robots, artificial intelligence, cognitive science, evolutionary psychology, music, photography, art, philosophy, science, free/libre open source software (FLOSS), utopian writings, green and futuristic city and dwelling designs, alternative energy, radio (KF5WZC), space travel, science fiction, and social entrepreneurialism.
In late 2009, Ed Paradis and I set out to form the first Dallas Hackerspace. We were both members of the Dallas Personal Robotics Group, which became the parent organization of the new hackerspace during its incubation period. We held a first meeting in January of 2010 and, with the help of many others, by December Dallas Makerspace was an independent 501(c)(3) with its own board of directors, officers, more than 30 members and a small space in North Dallas. In 2015, Dallas Makerspace had expanded to around 600 members and 16,000 square feet. Last I checked in 2019, it was 2000+ members and 36,000. Since 2011 I haven’t really been involved directly with managing Dallas Makerspace, so all the credit for that growth goes to their board of directors and members. Since then I’ve consulted with several other local groups hoping to duplicate our success and have been a frequent speaker and panelist at local hackerspace-related events. You can read more about the founding on the original DPRG project page for Dallas Makerspace and in the DPRG historical DMS Insights page.
I’ve been a photographer since my high school days. For many years I shot 35mm film with a Canon A1 and later a Canon T90. My primary camera today is a Canon 6D full frame DSLR. In the last few years I’ve been doing a lot of photography with models. You can find a sampling of my work in my Flickr portfolio. Like everyone else, I also make frequent use of the camera on my phone to record daily life. You can follow me as Steevithak on Instagram or view my phone stream sets broken down by year on flickr.
I haven’t forgotten film. I shoot with a variety of vintage film cameras including my favorite, the Italian Bencini Comet S 127. I collect all sorts of vintage Vivitar gear. My vintage camera interests led me to be an editor on the now-defunct Camerapedia website. When the site was forcibly absorbed by Wikia and turned into an ad farm, I joined a small group of rebel editors who saved the last rev of the database and used it to restart the community as Camera-Wiki.org with the promise that the new camera encyclopedia site would remain non-commercial and ad-free. It’s now the largest repository of freely available information on vintage photographic gear and camera history on the web.
Besides my photography, I’ve dabbled in other arts including sketching, painting, sculpture with found objects, fashion and fabrics, music, poetry, and other topics. I can’t claim to be good at any of these and have no formal training but I’m fascinated by all of them and love to experiment and collaborate. I’ve participated in the local charity art auction known as Art Conspiracy as both volunteer and as artist. I hope to do more in the area in the future.
I build robots, talk about robots, write about robots, and photograph robots. For many years I was the editor of the well known robot news blog robots.net. Alas, it shut down in 2016. I’ve been a contributing editor to Servo Magazine and many other robotics publications including Robot Magazine, The Robotics Practitioner Journal, and the Robot Explorer Newsletter.
I’ve written robot articles for mainstream publications too. My robot ramblings have been quoted with varying accuracy in Forbes, USA Today, the New York Times, and other assorted non-technical publications. I’ve also done numerous interviews on the subject of robots. I’ve been interviewed multiple times for the well-known Robots Podcast. I’ve also been on KZSC radio’s Timothy Jordon show to talk about the future of robots and on local Dallas radio talk shows.
I’m a long time member off the Dallas Personal Robotics Group, which is a convergence point for several of my other interests including AI, software, music, and art. In 2004, I worked with several other members to convert the informal organization into an official 501(c)(3) organization. In addition to building robots, the DPRG does educational demonstrations at schools, museums, and local science fiction conventions.
These days I run GNU/Linux on just about everything. I’ve created or contributed patches to a number of free software projects. For years, I maintained a fork of mod_virgule that was used as the platform for the robots.net website. In 2006, I took over hosting and maintenance of the Advogato website and moved it to the same codebase. For 26 years, I wrote software and manager web servers at NCC, my Dallas-based website design company.
Want more? I rebuild and collect vintage 1980s arcade video games. I’m an expert on Robotron 2084 in particular. I love vintage science fiction and read old pulps when I can find them. For several years I was a member of the Irving, Texas Green Advisory Board, a local volunteer board that advises the City Council on matters like solar power, wind generation, air and water pollution, and other environmental matters. Oh, I also mine bitcoins…