The Little Yellow Toolbox

Workshop #1

Workshop #1

This past week marks a serious milestone for me: the completion of two shiny, new workshops. Prior to this glorious milestone, I was only ever dealing with an unruly pile of tools. Two distinctly different piles, in fact.

The first pile began about 20 years ago, and it started with a little yellow toolbox I got for free from the local hardware store for buying a gallon of motor oil. Or something dumb like that.

Over the years, that pile slowly grew: a wrench set here, a hammer there, a needed palm sander, a jigsaw, miter saw, and skill saw, a nice cordless drill, a couple old milk crates to hold some of this stuff. A couple more toolboxes to compliment the original yellow one. That sort of thing.

We moved from the city to the country last year and with it came some serious downsizing (1500 square feet to 600 square feet and not one closet!). As usual, that tool pile started out in the back seat in some hard-to-reach spot I had to drum up.

But this time it had to be different: instead of slaving away at the desk to make enough money to pay the contractors, part of the master plan was to free up enough time so that I could learn and do the necessary renovations myself. At a fraction of the cost, of course.

And for that to happen, that tool pile had to be accessible. And well organized. It had to be turned into a workshop.

The Other Tool Pile

Workshop #2

Workshop #2

Coincidently, my other tool pile got started right around the same time that I received the little yellow toolbox. This pile started with a little C++ in CMPT 101 here, and a little Calculus in MATH 101 there, a little bit of linear algebra here, and whole lot more computing languages there.

I eventually ended up with a degree in my hand (I might equate that to the milk crate that held the saws, I suppose). And just like the good construction worker showing up on time with his hard hat and steel-toed boots, I spent over a decade being paid to employ the tools I had in my second pile.

Looking back on all those years, I now realize how much I was holding myself back by doing this. As a hired hand, it is only possible for you to accumulate two things: the money you are given, and the knowledge you gain.

By no means am I saying those aren’t important things. Of course they are.

But to really gain success, a person needs to be given more than just those two things for their hard work. Among other things, they need to be given more freedom than they are almost certainly getting. And they need to be able to retain and reuse the work they have already done. And they need to be able to use it for their own benefit – not the person’s benefit that’s paying them.

To do this, I needed to be the lightbulb-changer-gone-bathroom-renovator: I needed to transform that second pile of tools into a proper workshop too.

Workshop Construction

Similar to the tool piles of yore, interestingly, construction on  both workshops began right around the same time: Spring 2014. While a tree or two was being cut down in the back yard, a Perforce server was being setup. While holes were being dug, physics code was being written.

While walls were being built, interfaces were being designed and implemented. Then re-implemented. While a roof was being installed, a help system was being added. And while doors were being hung, a teaser video and website were being built.

I am now setup so that I can head out to the workshop and build something much more quickly and easily than ever before if I want. Like a table. Or a new kitchen. Or whatever.

And also, I can much more quickly and easily (relatively speaking) put out another app idea that I want. Because I wrote all the code and I know how it all works. I get to do whatever I want with it, reuse it how I feel. I know what it’s limits are, and I have thought of a long list of other things it could easily do, with only a little bit of modification.

I won’t be given a timeline by someone else, and then told they’re going to reuse all the work I did for them last time, and now I need to spend a whole bunch of time doing something else for them.

Instead, I will say, “if we just spend a bit of time doing these few things to what we have already built, we will then also have this great thing to market and sell to a whole other audience”.

Finally, my tool piles have been turned into workshops.

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7 Responses to The Little Yellow Toolbox

  1. Kaiser says:

    Welcome back! Looks like you’ve been pretty busy. Nice looking workshop….how big is it? Hard to tell from the photo.

    Aircussion is pretty impressive. Very cool idea and slick execution. Congrats on getting your first app out there!

    • mzungu says:

      Thanks Kaiser! It certainly has been a while since my last post.

      The shop is only 8′ x 10′. So fairly modest. But its 10′ tall at the high side. My final task is to put up a second floor inside that will give us 3′ of storage space (down to 1′ on the short side). As i pointed out in the article, we have very little storage space where we now live, so anything helps!

      And thanks about the app. Its going to be a very interesting experiment indeed :) I will be sure to share how it goes!

  2. Davy White says:

    I think you need to add writing to this impressive skill set you’ve been working. As always, these are a delight to read and motivating. Well done, Gary.

  3. jonparkins says:

    Put a bed in that shed and you’ve got another room for Air BnB!

  4. Penny says:

    Nice post Gary. I was wondering what happened to the Noble Anarchist!

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