Sarcasm, disbelief, and a lotta luck... a history:
Two words, two simple words that have meant more to Techhouse and
La Bastille than their Scrabble point values. Going to Home Depot
became second nature, some trips were grab-and-go while others were
a night out where we regalled in the wonder that is Home Depot, who
needs FAO Schwartz, right? Soon the joy wore off yet the dependence
remained and trips were almost daily, squeezed in between classes and
the ocassional meal. At the height of the setup process we needed so
many of these obscure little red connectors that we actually cleaned
out 3 Home Depots!
The physical construction of the hardware was where the big push started.
This was a back-breaking process where the whole house joined in including
mothers, girlfriends, and Rob Netzer a former CS professor. There were
many long nights of soldering and practicing the trade of "gooping"
(the process of insulating our electrical connections, and ourselves in
the process, with blacktop patch). This process with the help of a lot
of people went smoothly. It was the end of March when we moved into
the SciLi for the first time. Little did we know that we wouldn't be
moving out for a long time...
Shaft, damn right...
The first thing to do was to run the wires; they were run vertically
and horizontally. Then it was time to connect up the frames to the
wires. We connected everything up using "butt connectors", a very manly
connector where the crimping process involved mashing down the metal in
the connector so hard that I had a bruise on my hand in a day. More pain
was to come. After what seemed like years of doing this and redoing it
and redoing it again and then firguring out why we sometimes didn't have
to redo it, we begin testing. And thus began the eon we spent around,
above, below, and partially in the dumb waiter shaft.
Shouldn't this be connected...? Well, why then is it
Debugging was a bloodletting process at times. Soldering irons, volt
meters, and walkie talkies became a part of our uniform. We caused
a lot of noise and were a large annoyance to our fellow students who
were actually trying to study in that library. "What's wrong with
you guys", was our thinking, "why whould you study in
a library," as if we were blind to the books and desks
that were indicative of the purpose of the building. Design changes
were regular; board and chips were replaced, changed, and swapped.
Our vocab consisted of things like "logical 7" and "testfunc 4".
When things went wrong we thought we knew why, but we had no clue,
and when things went right, we were nervous. But in the end our logic
failed us and it started working.
The last two days:
April 13, a full day of debugging:
11:00pm: everything was perfect
11:02pm: everything was totally non-functional
April 14th, debugged the whole day:
<7:57pm: nothing worked
7:57pm: randomly jiggled boards and it worked! and it didn't stop.
Is there any logic to this? What's logical about a house of 30 some
people deciding to put Tetris on a building? What's logical about
this being of free-will and at our own expense for a few solid months?
And what's logical about basement-built circuitry powering a structure
that was talked about in Time magazine, the New York Times, and BBC
Scotland (yeah, what was the deal with that?) to name a few. There
is no logic at all; ironic for a project based on digital circuitry.
And I wondered, after all of that, were there bits actually flying through
those wires; I didn't know if we really believed it, but did I or my
friends care? No, we finally stopped thinking and just simply played
Tetris; isn't that what video games are supposed to be for anyway.