This is one of my longest running projects. The seed was planted in my head when I was a kid, watching all sorts of movies. Those guys could always walk over to their computer and call up a cool display of their house (castle, secret lair, whatever), and instantly get all kinds of cool information.
I dipped my toes in the water when USB came out. That water was definitely TOO COLD. I'm not a programmer or electrical engineer (seriously, look at my code. Not a programmer). I didn't have the time or motivation to jump into that (I was working hard at being a medic).
A couple more years later, and I got my hands on a USB development board. I can't even remember the name of it. But I jumped in with both feet on the almost $100 board... Only to find that they wanted more money for the development environment. I poked and played with it a bit. Got some servos to move (ooohhhhh shiny), and then something even better hit me in the face.
I was looking online for more hacks to make better use of this board, and I came across something called an Arduino. It took some doing, but I finally got one in my hands. A gizmo-board designed with the non-programmer, non-electrical engineer in mind. SOLD! I spent a couple of years playing around with it (ohhhh... blinky lights), and even contemplated using it attached to a computer, to provide some level of a local sensor and actuator system.
It took a couple more years (and the purchase of a ethernet shield) before I tried making a sensor node. I poked at it for awhile, got sick for a month, and was basically stuck at home. While exhausted, feverish, and anorexic, I had some kind of wild hair up my ass about building this thing. I churned out a workable project that was sending feeds to Pachube. Sweet.
Then I broke it. To this day, I have no idea what I did. I got better, went back to work, and tried to climb out of debt (medics don't make money). I went back to revise my code (because it was a mess), and broke it. I tried to revert it, and it wouldn't work. I never got it back up and running. Switched projects to take a break, and it was gone...
To be honest, I'd been frustrated by the project on a couple of levels. The Arduino is a fantastic learning platform, and it's a great tool to have on the bench when you want to just build something quick and relatively easy. However, you can hit the limitations pretty quickly, in terms of power and language. Yeah, I could start learning C (See above, not a programmer), and I even did learn some C when I was working on the next project (Airsoft Smartgun Controller). But I'm not great with languages, and I really think in terms of Python (and I muddle through with Arduino-speak).
When I discovered the Raspberry Pi, I was blown away. I bought two as soon as possible, one to gift to a hacker buddy with a swarm of small children. Either he'd play with it, or it would get given to the kids. Or both. Mission accomplished.
The other one, I tinkered with. Holy crap, the things I learned.