Growing up in the late 70s and early 80s, the only computers that were available to me at the time were the Commodore line of computers locked up in schools. To feed my growing and inquiring mind, that left electronics and mechanics to experiment with, and expendable examples of both were hard to come by. My only choice was to scrounge around for things in various stages of disrepair, and upon getting one of those uncommon finds, take it downstairs to our unheated garage and trying to “fix” it. Far from a stellar place to work, it was not heated, not ventilated and rarely keep clean. And at the head of that garage, on the wall adjoining the basement, was a solitary, ugly workbench fastened to the wall.

That workbench was often the birthplace of many far-fetched dreams of what I could do if only I could properly figure the thing laid out before me. I almost never had the right tools, so to be totally honest, more things got “more broken” than ever got fixed or reassembled into something else. Even with the right tools, while I believe my ability to make it work again would have increased, the drive and knowledge to do so was probably not there. But even with a veritable graveyard of things that were not completed, I chose not to dwell on the failures or make excuses for why I didn’t finish them. Instead, every time I approached that bench, I chose to dream and move forward.

Looking back, I fondly remember the times I stood at that bench with the single, bright work light in my eyes. Back then, it was always the journey and the creative imagination that was important. The only pressure to produce something concrete was when my mom asked “So, what have you been working on?” However, as I grew older, I realized that my mom’s question was equal parts sincere interest on her part and her desire to have me grow past that graveyard of unfinished projects. I believe that she wanted me to be able to channel that creativity into the something tangible. Not so she could show off my work to others, but in a sincere effort to help me grow.

Things are a lot different some 40 years later. Even though I longer use that old workbench, I try and capture a lot of that creativity and wonder on a daily basis, both in my professional life and home life. The projects I undertake are no longer far-fetched, but grounded in reality. As a result, I am better at selecting the projects that I want to work on and I am more successful in carrying them to completion. When a project fails, I embrace one of the Mythbuster’s idioms, “Failure is always an option” and try and learn what failed and how to deal with it next time. While a small number of projects till end up in my project graveyard, but I keep the larger number of successful projects on proud display in my workplace and my house.

So why start a blog and call it “Jack’s Digital Workbench”?

The simple answer is that I started blogging to help me keep a digital form of that garage workbench alive and renewed. I want to inspire people in the same way that my mother has done in the past and continues to do so today. I want to inspire people to dream big, following each dream up with a grounding that enables them to work on that project and gain confidence in their skills along the way. I want to inspire people to try and take something on, taking any failures along the way as teaching or learning moments and not as dream killers.

Basically, the reason for Jack’s Digital Workbench is to communicate with others and to inspire them in a positive manner to allow them to, in turn, inspire the people around them.

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