And Then There Were Two

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Hello starshine. It’s Ursula, returning as storyteller to the Project Mi5 blog for the second and final time.

I’m now down to my last few days in the ITQ office in Las Palmas and the time has come to dot the is and cross the ts, to close those last few open cases and wrap up the FarmBots (yes actually there are two robots) all nice and sparkly ready for the next eager contestant to take the reins.

It’s been a good ride, scenic, not too bumpy. I’ve laughed, I’ve cried, I’ve been verbally and physically attacked by tempestuous machinery (something about being manhandled?); I can undoubtedly say that my time here has been anything but boring. Between troubleshooting, fixing, testing, cleaning, breaking, testing, breaking, troubleshooting, repairing, testing and praying for mercy from FarmBot1.0 in the south of the island, and documenting, updating and extended the capabilities on the new rig – that’s right folks, FarmBot2.0 is now smarter, and incidentally moodier, than ever – I’ve seriously had my work cut out for me these past four weeks. But honestly, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Having recently observed the educative power of failure, I’ve come to realise that there are some things which only come with experience. And so, without any further adieu, I’ve compiled this list of the 10 Most Valuable Lessons I’ve learned during my time at ITQ (no tears please).

10 Most Valuable Lessons I’ve Learned From A Month In Tech

  1. Turning it off and on again is a perfectly viable tech solution.
  2. Pictures really do speak a thousand words. *Cue me gesturing enigmatically to the very nice non-English-speaking attendant in the hardware store.* Show them a picture: problem solved.
  3. Sometimes you just need to read the manual. And then re-read it, just in case. And refer back to it later. And learn it off by heart so you can recite it to a future love. And have it orated at your funeral. (Maybe not that last one.)
  4. It pays to do your homework. Read all the instructions before you start – ahm, all of them – look things up online beforehand, make a call and ask questions, go in to the store and ask questions (or gesture and nod yes/no): do whatever you need to do to make sure you are getting the things you need, and, if you aren’t, know there is probably another option.
  5. There is not always a right answer.
  6. When it comes to hardware, things always, always, take 10 million times longer than you expect they will… Okay maybe not quite that long. Maybe three times. Three times is a good buffer.
  7. Troubleshooting is 97% finding problem, 3% finding the solution. If you don’t know what the problem is, your chances of solving it are slim. You might stumble upon a temporary fix entirely by accident, but just like a cat with an over-developed affection for ice cream, it will probably return in a very abrupt and unwelcome fashion later on.
  8. Tomorrow is a new day. If you’ve stopped making progress, call it a night.
  9. Overkill is underrated. When venturing into the unknown, it doesn’t hurt to be a little overprepared; after all, if it can go wrong, it probably will.
  10. There is no substitute for doing something you’re excited about. In the words of Marc Anthony,

    “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.”

In other news, the sun is still shining and I’m feeling brown (heck yeah the hot tan totally worked), energised and ready to take on a new adventure as I gear up for another year in Cambridge. So to infinty and beyond, this is me, signing off for the summer. It’s been a blast, kids.


P.S. For those of you who enjoy parties, it will please you to know that the FarmBot does too.

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