Why I use open source for my DIY projects and you should too

Use open source as often as possible. Not only is it free (as in gratis) but it can be as good or better than propietary software without the all the limiting terms found in a typical software license agreement. Open source enables the community to freely share ideas, information, concepts etc. This is key for a succesful and thriving society.

Introduction

I’ve been a user of proprietary products for a very long time without giving it much thought. In fact I’m writing this on an iMac with OSX as the operating system. I own this iMac for at least 5 years and it is a nice machine but as time went by something kept nagging. I used to believe that for good reliable software you had to pay money. If software was free (as in gratis) it was probably unstable, user unfriendly and unpolished that it wasn’t worth any money. At least that is what I thought. Continue reading “Why I use open source for my DIY projects and you should too”

Create an instructable (at Instructables)

After having built the OpenELEC mediastreamer I felt the urge to create an instruction for the community. This blog isn’t very suitable for that. I have been looking at Instructables for a while now. Sometimes I landed on their website when I searched for something to make or I just browsed the instructables to get inspired. I started to get fascinated by the whole Instructables concept. I deciced to create an instructable on a OpenELEC media player first because I couldn’t find one for x86 based systems and second to get experience with the whole instructable thing. The Instructables website is inseparable from the makers community which I feel very much part of.

Logo of Instructables with the friendly yellow robot.

When you are familiar with blogger.com you probably feel right at home when you create an instructable. Text entering, uploading photo’s and creating links are similar to the way blogger.com works. Instructables guides you through with a step by step approach which is so characteristic for the website. There are also some nice features to edit or annotate your photo’s.  Because of the uniform approach of Instructable it is not possible to alter the look of your pages very much (at least I couldn’t find it) but I guess this is an advantage for the reader. You can however add personal information to your instructable pages.

Creating an instructable is a lot of work. You’ll need to create good step by step instructions and excellent photography that match these instructions. When I finished my first draft I wasn’t satisfied with the photo’s of the media streamer that I had made previously. I therefore decided to make new photo’s of the already finished media streamer. I reopened it, took out some components and took photo’s. This session alone took me several hours. I published my instructable yesterday and the traffic to these pages has very good.  Much better than YouTube where it is very difficult to distinct yourself in the endless supply of video’s. Even better, with Instructables you are right in the middle of the makers community whereas with YouTube there is no specific area for makers. All in all I’m very happy with my first instructable and are pretty sure there are more to follow.

Your photo’s have to match your instructions. I therefore decided to make new photo’s of my already finished media streamer.