Hello Handmade community! It’s been an exciting year for Handmade so far. Here’s what we’ve been up to:
- We announced Orca, a new toolkit for cross-platform WebAssembly apps.
- We launched Time Machine, a community project where we collect video of old devices to see how the experience of computing has changed over time.
- We hosted the Visibility Jam, a jam where we make invisible things in computing visible.
- We held another fishbowl about software testing, and we’ll likely revisit this topic in the future.
And of course, Abner has expanded his conference efforts and is now hosting two Handmade conferences, one in Boston and one in Seattle. Handmade Boston is less than a month away, so check it out (and don’t forget there’s an online track!)
TL;DR: Orca and Time Machine have both kicked off, and our next Wheel Reinvention Jam is coming in September!
Orca has been in the works for a long time. Many of us were drawn to the Handmade community because we were dissatisfied with the bloated, complicated technologies available to us. The community has spent the last several years learning to make UIs, compilers, debuggers, platform layers - everything you’d need to make a compelling development platform. Now we’re finally putting it all together into something real.
The Orca initiative is led by Martin Fouilleul, known in the community by his handle forkingpaths. He originally prototyped Orca as his submission for last year’s Wheel Reinvention Jam, and we’re thrilled to give him the chance to develop his vision further. For more info about Orca, check out the announcement blog post, and subscribe to Orca’s own newsletter while you’re there!
When I attended Handmade Seattle 2019, I visited the (now-closed 😔) Living Computers Museum. I had the opportunity to play with a huge range of computers, from an ancient teletype to a Macintosh Classic to a NeXT cube. While I was playing with Kid Pix on that Macintosh Classic, I was struck by just how fun and responsive the program was, on hardware that pales in comparison to our computers today. How was it possible that a program like that could run so well…or that programs today could run so poorly?
Then in 2021, I found some old computers in our robotics team’s shop that had been in hibernation since 2015. I booted them up and found that they were a perfect time capsule of what we were working on at the time, with our old code still open and everything. And they ran great, with the start menu opening instantaneously (as it should) and programs launching quickly.
And then updates started running.
I watched this computer age five years in thirty minutes. Every Windows update and Chrome update bogged things down more and more. The 4GB of memory that was previously wide open was suddenly almost completely full. And it was slow. So slow.
This is why we’re doing Time Machine. We need more people to remember what it used to be like. And we in the Handmade community need to know exactly what has improved about computers over the past few decades, and what has not.
If you have an old computer or phone lying around, please consider taking a video of it and submitting it to the project! More details can be found on Time Machine’s website.
Wheel Reinvention Jam: September 25 - October 1!
We’ll be hosting our third annual Wheel Reinvention Jam this September! This jam is an opportunity for you to try out a new project, start something ambitious, explore new ideas, or just learn to build something yourself. Unlike your typical weekend game jam, this jam takes place over a full week so you have ample time to explore a new problem space. (Last year I spent most of my week implementing a toy TCP stack. I do not recommend this.)
This year’s jam will take place from Monday, September 25 through Sunday, October 1. As always, you can participate for as much time as you have available - some people can only participate on the weekend, while others will take entire days off to focus on their jam project. We look forward to seeing what you all submit!
For a recap of last year’s jam, click here.
There are even more things we’re working on behind the scenes that I can’t wait to tell you about someday. Until then, we’ll see you around on Discord, and in Boston in August!