Every now and then, an exciting Kickstarter project comes along that I want to support. Some succeed, some fail. The newest entry is developing an open source supercomputer-on-a-chip that is smaller than a credit card and suitable for parallel programming applications. For a $99 USD pledge, you can get a developer board and the open source software to play around with when it comes out.
The closest I ever got to parallel programming was running multiple threads concurrently in Java (i.e., one thread for main loop, one thread for user interface, and different threads for processing data) on a single-core CPU while taking programming courses at San Jose City College. Parallel programming is breaking the data into identical pieces that can be processed on multiple CPUs or computers in a network from a master program.
For years I wanted to build a micro beowulf cluster that consisted of five micro-ATX boards in a stacked 16″ cube. Although the price for hardware has gotten lower over the years, it’s still expensive to get identical hardware to build it out at the same time. Even as a 16″ cube, a micro beowulf cluster still takes up space and produce heat. A supercomputer-on-a-chip doesn’t have to take up more space than a small form factor (SFF) computer. At $99 USD each, that’s a steal.
Hacker Dojo, a communal space for entrepreneurial techies to start their next company away from the crowded coffee shops and technology incubators around Silicon Valley, is facing closure by the city of Mountain View if their stained-glass factory warehouse wasn’t brought up to code to accommodate more people for conferences, classes and work areas. The price tag for the retrofit is $250,000 USD.
Even in the land of venture capitalism and million-dollar homes, a quarter-million isn’t exactly spare change. Although Hacker Dojo have already raised $185,000 USD through various fundraisers, a Kickstarter project that’s ending today is still looking for more backers. Steve Wozniak chipped in $666.66 USD, which was the original price for the Apple I computer.
You can never tell what you can find floating around in McCovey Cove outside of AT&T Park during a San Francisco Giants game. Last week it was a DeLorean hovercraft that looked like the famous car from “The Back to The Future” movies, amusing the sports announcers during a lull in the game.
The owner, Matthew Riese, raised $5,600 from a Kickstarter project in 2010 to modify an existing hovercraft kit. Although it can travel on land, it’s not street legal and registered with the DMV as a boat. From the way it fishtailed through the water, the hovercraft probably doesn’t have powered steering. Something that the original DeLorean DMC-12 lacked among other modern car features.
Michael Dorn, Mr. Worf from “Star Trek: The Next Generation TV” series, started a Kickstarter project to raise $750,000 USD for a new romantic-comedy movie, “Through The Fire,” featuring a who’s who cast from the Star Trek universe.
If you’re not familiar with Kickstarter, you can make a pledge to fund a creative project. If the project meets its initial funding goal after 60 days, the project gets funded and your credit card gets charged. There are different pledge levels with various incentives. The more you pledge, the cooler the incentives.
The coolest incentive for this particular project is a “Star Trek: The Next Generation” pinball machine signed by the ST:TNG cast for a $5,000 USD pledge. Alas, it’s out of my price range. I pledged $35 USD for an autographed picture of Michael Dorn, my name in the credits and a digital copy of the movie.
Updated 24 September 2012: This Kickstarter project was cancelled after it became obvious that the minimum funding goal would fall short by $700,000 USD.