Ordering the Badges

Here is another quick update on the custom nerd merit badge experiment.

The proof that I posted last time has been reviewed by the badge makers and in their opinion is feasible. I have given them the green light to go ahead which involves the necessary invoicing, a prototype being produced, one or potentially more rounds of approvals on the prototype, then the full order goes in to the embroiderer.

I don’t know how long this current stage will take, I haven’t even received the invoice, yet. I imagine the approval work may be variable. Once the final tweaks are approved, I am told the order will take three weeks to process. I will definitely post an update once that clock starts ticking down, although I will probably post at least one update before then to show the prototype.

I am very happy with the design work done by my friend, Dan. I have already paid him out of the funds collected from the charter donors. Cory’s donation, in particular, allowed me to give Dan a bit extra in appreciation for his lightning fast turn around. He has also agreed to make any changes necessitated by the final approval as part of that fee. He sent me the Illustrator file and the font definition file he used, too, the former of which I am already thinking could also be used to replace my site’s favicon with a clearer, simpler image.

If you are interested in receiving one of the badges once they are finished and ready to ship, just go to the support page and make a donation of 20 USD or more. Any one of the monthly donation options will also qualify you to receive a badge in gratitude for your support.

Badge Proof

SmallMeritBadge.jpgI’ve got the proof from Dan, the one I’ll be submitting to the Nerd Merit Badges tomorrow. I am thrilled with his work, this is exactly what I had in mind when I contacted him. Clean, simple and very consistent with the rest of the design around the podcast and web site.

I can also now explain how the limited edition badges will differ.

The background evokes the cover art that Jared designed for me a while back. I love the subdued colors and the simplicity of the cover art. I think Dan has distilled and captured the very essence of it.

Merit badges are not supposed to use text except where some character has a broader symbolic meaning. Here, the typical *nix command line prompt stands in nicely for the text in the cover art version. It beckons, the space of possibilities unimaginably infinite from running a simple grep to firing up an editor and hacking away at some massive project in C.

For the limited edition badges, my first thought was to substitute the “$” in the prompt with a hash, “#”. The hash is typically the sole indicator that your shell has full root privileges. As neat as that idea was, it just isn’t practical with the limits of how the badges are produced.

A friend suggested an alternative that will work.

SmallMeritBadgeLtd.jpg Why not take advantage of the expectant prompt, give it that instantly recognizable command that promotes your shell from ordinary user to root? The limited edition badges won’t look exactly like this mock up but close.

Before anyone calls me on not advocating for more secure, responsible computing with the use of the more modern, “sudo”, keep in mind that the finished badges are 1.5 inches in diameter. I’d love to be able to use “sudo” if for no other reason than the recognition that would come thanks to xkcd. If the characters were any smaller, they’d be unrecognizable. This is also the smallest font my wife’s machine can embroider.

Think of it this way if it bothers you. Have you ever shelled into an embedded Linux system? Very few of them have sudo due to space concerns. Think of your badge as an embedded device–it doesn’t even have ethernet after all. So the risk is mitigated by the limited capabilities of the device in question.

One other note on the finished badges, an outcome of the need to customize some of them. Unlike the Nerd Merit Badges you can order from their site for your usual geeky accomplishments, these will have to be produced without the velcro back. All fifty of the badges have to be identical, I cannot subdivide the order for any reason. My wife’s embroidery machine cannot handle the tough plastic backing of the velcro, so I am ordering them without. We considered removing the velcro from the ten limited edition badges but it is triple stitched. We’d ruin the badges trying to get the velcro off. I can attach velcro to the badges for anyone who wants on a case by case basis.

I’ll post another update after I’ve submitted the design and heard back. The graphic might have to change a bit depending on the constraints of the embroidering machinery used to produce the badges. Hopefully that next update will include an ETA when I’ll have the initial badges in hand, ready for customization on the limited edition ones and shipping on the rest.

All Ten Limited Edition Badges Have Been Claimed

Here is just a quick but important update as I am in the midst of preparing for my first afternoon volunteering for the International Amateur Scanning League. (I’ll write up my experiences at the National Archives later on, perhaps while I work on getting caught up for missing last night’s usual blog posts.)

As of this morning, the tenth and final donation needed to fund the first set of cmdln merit badges came in. That means all ten of the limited edition set have been claimed. I hope to be able to place the order within the week and to soon after have an ETA for shipping out badges to the charter donors.

There will still be plenty of regular badges if you are interested. Donate a mere 20 USD (or more) or commit to any of the monthly donation options and you qualify to receive a badge as a reward.

I intend to keep my eyes and brain open to ideas for additional rewards to offer for other amounts. I have enjoyed putting this very unique reward together and am still staggering in amazement from the overwhelming response so far. Even though the experiment isn’t quite over yet, it has fueled my desire to experiment further so stay tuned. I have some other ideas beyond rewards I am eager to explore.

One Limited Edition Badge Unspoken For

It hasn’t even been a full week since I started my experiment to reward donors. The first phase is almost complete. I put the call out for ten donors willing to put cash on the barrel head now to help me fund the initial order of fifty custom Nerd Merit Badges. These will bear a design based on the podcast’s cover art, a design being worked up by my friend, Dan. The badges will be used to reward donors past, present or future who contribute twenty dollars (US) or more. In exchange for helping capitalize this first order, each charter donor will receive a badge that bears a further customization and a signed certificate of authenticity indicating the badge’s number out of the limited set.

The nice thing about the merit badges is that once the first batch is produced, they should be self sustaining. Only this first order will need funding ahead of time. When I get to the final ten badges out of this lot, I’ll know to earmark the donations made for each of the remaining ones towards another order. It isn’t just in time, which would be even better, but it scales down pretty close.

I have the funds now to not only place the first order but to pay the designer working on the image for the badges and cover some of the postage and additional materials. I have a commitment for a finished design by a week from this coming Monday, so the order for all fifty should go in a little over a week from now.

I want to thank each of the charter donors again for their faith, trust and patience. You have answered the first question I had going into this experiment. You’ve proven that at least for a small scale a pledge model works. This encourages me to try at least this part of the experiment again as I consider additional premiums to offer as rewards for donation.

Hopefully, my next update will be to share drafts for the design, if not the finished design itself. Once I have the design, I will also explain my ideas for how the charter badges will differ from the rest.

If you want to speak for a limited edition badge, one of only ten that will ever be made, you have one chance left. Beyond that, the regular badges are pretty spiffy, too, and each donation that qualifies for a regular badge covers about half of my hosting costs for one month. Any of the monthly donation options also qualifies for a badge as even just two dollars a month adds up over the course of a year.

Update on Badge Experiment

Recently I explained a new experiment to reward donors that exercise their generosity to support the podcast and the web site. I promised to share progress in the spirit of transparency. Unlike my previous experiment, things are moving so quickly that not even a week has gone by before I have some good news to share. (I’ll post an update on the advertising experiment towards the end of the month since I signed up with AdBard right at the end of February.)

The biggest challenge to producing the custom Nerd Merit Badges is the up front cost. I asked for ten listeners or readers to donate twenty dollars or more. Those first ten will get limited edition, even more custom badges complete with signed, numbered certificates of authenticity. As of this writing, five of those ten charter badges are already spoken for.

I am floored by the response, especially by the ridiculously generous donation from Cory. His contribution alone covers half of that up front cost. I will still produce ten special edition badges so there will remain an opportunity to secure one of the remaining five. The surplus from Cory’s donation will go towards covering additional costs I was going to handle out of my own pocket. These include paying for the design work for the badges, materials for the certificates, and shipping on the first badges I’ll send out.

Right now I owe nine donors badges. Four standard ones and five limited edition ones. Please check the donors page and if you have donated make sure your name is listed there. If it isn’t and you’ve sent a donation, please contact me with the particulars so I can make sure I get a badge out to anyone and everyone who has donated twenty dollars (US) or more.

My designer, Dan, has committed to producing a finished design by next Monday. He is working in between his day job and other projects to get me a first draft. I am pretty happy with his estimated schedule given the low price we agreed on. I am confident he knows what I want and look forward to iterating through a few designs to get something everyone will enjoy.

I have also been working with my wife to figure out what will be possible to do to the badges to further customize them for the charter donors. I have an idea, one that I’ll share once I have a more finished design from Dan, that I think will tickle the geek nature of my listeners and readers. I am not entirely sure it will work but I hope we’ll be able to manage some variation. If we do, I am pretty sure those ten badges will be enviably geeky.

There is still time to qualify for one of the limited edition badges and stay tuned for further updates towards the goal. I hope to be able to share some progress on the design, soon, so you can have a better notion of what the finished badge will look like.