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How to train your Minions

Project: Geekology

Most people experience technology as something that's branded, shrink-wrapped, assembled with custom screws and on a monthly contract. We're surrounded by these wonderful possibilities, but denied from realising their full potential by business models dating back to the last millennium.

I'd like that to change. But I can't do it alone.

I've got a plan.

Since 2010 I've been volunteering in classrooms and scout halls. Under the guise of teaching Geekology to kids I've actually been training an army of minions to help me keep technology open, accessible and fun.

Last year I moved my base of operations from various classrooms and halls to my New Evil Lair (formerly known as the Office Lunch Room).
Minions are trained to be self-reliant, assembling and installing their own computers. Survivors move on to specialist classes in combat (Scratch) and Monster-keeping (Python), BlinkenLights (Arduino) and graduate to design and manufacture of Doomsday Devices (3D printing).

While I feel I have made good progress, a one-overlord crusade against the forces of good is a lonely venture. I'd like to encourage others to take up the mantle (or cape, or overcoat, whatever matches your shoes) and start training their own minions.

My talk will address some of the difficulties in setting up a minion training academy.
Whilst I managed to overcome most of these (like funding and a venue) using luck rather than skill, it is my hope that I can at least pass on lessons on what not to do.

I will also address some of the challenges for the future, such as amassing a more gender-balanced army of minions to better infiltrate society, and finding a mostly-extinct Volcano with good internet connectivity.

Thomas Sprinkmeier

Thomas graduated from UniSA in 1992 as an Electronic Engineer where he was seduced by PC's early in first year.

He's been working as a Software Engineer ever since for Ebor Computing in a variety of projects, usually with heavy mathematical, signal processing and networking components, occasionally interfacing to the 'real world'. Most recently he has been working at making cars smarter and safer, on the assumption that this might be easier than upgrading drivers.

Thomas started embarassing his kids at school by taking over the class and teaching about things from pulleys to railguns, paper planes to robot programming, conducting playdough to tidal locks. Most recently he has been teaching on weekends about Raspberry Pi, Arduino and 3D printing.