There’s nothing I can’t do, just things I haven’t done yet

If you know me, you know I love a challenge. One of my oldest friends that I met in college, Dave — aka Utah — actually makes fun of me because anything I choose to pursue I become an expert in. I’ve seen this happen over the years ever since I was 15 years old when my older brother got his first car and I helped him install a new stereo. Within months I was a 12v expert and actually worked as an installer for various companies including Circuit City for almost 5 years.

Eventually stereos got old and my next love was automotive performance. This was far more challenging as I had to learn the ins and out of compression ratios, value overlap, and clearances. But this wasn’t enough either and I eventually became an expert in swapping engines. We’d order used Japanese market (JDM) engines from various importers and install them into our cars. The most popular was the Honda Civic because while the Civic in the US only had 125hp, the JDM engines were over 160hp — this might not sound like much, but it is when you’re talking about a 2500lb car. This actually lead me to start my own business with my good friend Shaun Torrente. We called it Upgrade Performance, but eventually had to do business as NRG (long story). My specialty was wiring because while many could buy (or fabricate) the appropriate mounts, rewiring a modern EFI system isn’t as easy. I’d create custom harnesses that would make it possible to put just about any engine in any car — as long as it was a Honda that is. I’d pride myself on making my custom harnesses look as much like an original as possible. It was challenging at first, but after you’ve done a few, it becomes mandane. A few times I even made custom ECU adapters so that people could use a better computer from a different car. This consisted of a trip to the junk yard to find donor plugs and an old ECU. You’d cut them out and solder all the pins to the correct location for the other car. So for example an Idle Air Control valve might be C4 on a 92 Civic, but on a 97 Integra Type-R it was A5. Sounds easy but there was like 100 pins and not everything had the exact same name.

The way I did this is the same way I’ve attacked every technical challenge in my life, by reading the directions. It seems odd to me that everyone doesn’t have the aptitude to pick up a book and just make things happen. This is actually how I’ve become successful in IT as well. I’ve excelled because no matter what the problem is, I can solve it. In fact I find technical support and formal training boring and in some ways stifling because usually I can figure it out or train myself faster. 

As you can imagine, when  you have as many interests as I do and such a thirst for knowledge, you want to share it. This is how I got involved at Engadget and on the various forums where I try to contribute. But this same helpful nature also has a downside. To some I can come off as a “know-it-all.” The irony is that I just want to help, but through the years I’ve found more gracious ways. I remember when I was kid, I got so sick of being called a know-it-all I actually came up with a come-back — remember those, they were great — in which i would respond “I know a little about just about everything, and I know a lot about a few things, but I’ll never know everything about anything.” Yeah I know, real cool right? But you have to admit it’s better than “I’m rubber you’re glue….”

Anyways, I’m not quite sure why I felt like sharing this today, but if you like it, you may like my other philosphical posts. If not, then you probably didn’t make it to the end anyways.

7 Responses to “There’s nothing I can’t do, just things I haven’t done yet”

  1. […] robot scuttles into choir practice originally appeared on Engadget on Thu, 19 Mar 2009 07:26:00 There’s nothing I can’t do, just things I haven’t done yet – 03/19/2009 If you know me, you know I love a challenge. One of my oldest friends that […]

  2. Jim Mallory says:

    Ben, you just described me (and I am sure a lot of other readers) as well. Give me the documentation, I am sure I can figure it out. Like you, I don’t care for formal training too much but I can do small one week courses. I also did really well in vocational school (industrial electronics and telecommunications) and the technical classes I took in College. I think the secret is that I need to be interested in it…I didn’t do to well in english, math (beyond Algebra), social studies.

    Good review on the Popcorn Hour on Engadget HD BTW. I don’t find the interface to be too bad other than it is a bit spartan and I run YAMJ as well which really improved the experience. I do have one question…what have you found to automatically download movies? I tried the combination of TorrentWatch and Transmission 1.51 and while I found that works well for TV shows…it is completely unusable for movie/DVD RSS feeds. Way too many movies being added during the day and it just fills up the Transmission queue. Would NBXT (Usenet) work better for movies?

    I did get a very good laugh out of your, paraphrasing, “if you like to debate which is better, vi or emacs, you’ll love the Popcorn Hour.” That was classic.

  3. Ben Drawbaugh says:

    Glad you relate, and honestly it doesn’t surprise me at all. I suspect that many of my friends and readers are the same way — or they probably wouldn’t be so.

    Usenet and torrents both have their advantages, but if you want to automatically download stuff, but at the same time pick and choose what you want, try filtering the RSS feeds with yahoo pipes.

    For example you could grab a feed with every movie in it and then filter for movies that aren’t available yet but you want to get as soon as they are.

  4. Ken P says:

    Ben, sounds like me too…. When you say

    I hear you. But what I have found is that most people simply do not seem to have technical aptitude and/or patience. Both are required for technical pursuits. BTW- Im ust have installed 100+ car stereos, speakers, etc for myself and family-friends over the years!

  5. Ken P says:

    Messed up the prior post – meant to quote you (didn’t use the tag correctly!):

    “It seems odd to me that everyone doesn’t have the aptitude to pick up a book and just make things happen.”

  6. Scott Duval says:

    Wow, Just noticed we had the exact same “Quote”. Plagiarism or coincidence. I’e tagged the exact same sentence to describe myself 6 or 7 years ago and thought i was witty posting it on my Facebook page. hmmm.

    • Ben Drawbaugh says:

      My friend Shaun Torrente and I started saying it in 1998. When I posted this there were no instances of it indexed by Google. You and I aren’t connected on Facebook so I’m not sure how you think it could be plagiarism.