Last year, the former president of Linux Australia and fellow geek Jared "Flame" Herbohn presented a paper on geeking up one's car. In 2010, he has a new idea.
Oxer, who looks a bit different these days after shedding his locks for a good cause, will be conducting a mini-conference, a one-day workshop, on the Arduino .
He describes it as a cheap, tiny computer system that was originally designed as a teaching tool and building block for people who want to add some intelligence to objects such as kinetic sculptures and other gadgets.
Oxer told iTWire that while people had become familiar with the concept of open source software, where one often mixed one's own, it was not quite the same in the world of hardware.
But change was afoot. "That's now changing with the rapid rise in Maker culture, and people working with physical objects and media, wanting to share their creativity and collaborate on their designs in the same way that programmers now do with FOSS," he says.
"Greater access to the tools needed for electronics design and assembly, and the growing number of companies providing specialist services such as one-off or short production run PCB fabrication, mean that an individual working in his or her bedroom can now design and fabricate complex pieces of electronic equipment that would have taken a team of people and lots of money just a couple of years ago."
He says one of the most important projects at the centre of this change is the Arduino. It is not what people think of as a "computer"; it is smaller than a pack of cards, has a tiny amount of memory, and has no connections for a keyboard, screen, or disk.
"But what it does have is a number of general-purpose connections that can be used to receive information from the outside world (such as from buttons or sensors) and control outputs such as relays and lights. By loading a simple program onto an Arduino and connecting it up to external devices it can do all sorts of interesting things," he says.
When Oxer uses words such as "interesting things" one has to bear in mind that he uses an RFID chip implanted in his arm to open his door, and has his home watering system, his front gate and mailbox all electronically controlled via the internet.
"The Arduino has been used in robots, sculptures, light shows, toys, environmental sensors, home automation systems, cars, and even as an aircraft auto-pilot. Hundreds of thousands of Arduino systems have now been sold as pre-assembled modules or hand-built using published designs," he points out.