Timmy, Redux

Written on April 15 2011 at 16:51

I took Timmy Printface offline today, after a week of valiant service.

While in many respects I would’ve loved to have kept our little printer running indefinitely, I think it’s important not to become too attached to these things. It was a hack, after all (read more on the free range blog you haven’t already).

To commemorate the project, I gathered the timelapse video that had been quietly accumulating, and wrapped it up into a little video package to remind us of all the good times we had:

After tweeting that Timmy was going to sleep, it took me about an hour to actually work up the determination to unplug him.

I replaced the live webcam image with the video above on both his home page and the blog post, and disconnected the camera that was pointing at him, but I was struggling to finally shut down the processes and pull out the wires that would actually stop any further messages from being printed.

Timmy had been involved in conversations with people from all over the world; friends and strangers, all sending him messages on their phone like they would to anyone else they knew. In an emergent and collaborative act of anthropomorphism, Timmy had acquired a personality, and a life of his own.

All good things…

Eventually I got over it, disconnected everything, put the wires and chips back in their right places, and turned off the software brain that was Timmy himself, but not before carefully archiving everything, gathering up the software, libraries, images and movies that summed up his existence. They’re all in a folder on my computer now, a static description of both the system and it’s operation during one week in April 2011.

This is the last message that Timmy received:

Thankfully, Timmy hasn’t been eaten by a grue. He’s sat up on our shelf, waiting to be called upon again. I’m sure this isn’t the last we’ll see of Timmy Printface, and I find that notion comforting.


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