FIRST 101!!! [2/4/07]

Welcome back class! We are comming down to the nitty gritty of the FIRST build season…crunch time! With all the teasers and such showing up on the CD boards, I figured it would be a good opportunity to talk about past practices that have gone extinct.
FIRST 101 [2/4/07]**
Skunk Works

Ya know…there was a time in FIRST where even the thought of posting a single picture of a component of your robot on a website would be considered a major no-no. Before the invent of alliances, you would have to revert to alternate methods to find out what the teams in your area were comming up with…

Method 1: Local Newspapers - The best way to catch a sneak peak at what your opponents were comming up with was to go to a hosting town and buy the local newspaper of the team in question. Once found, these newspaper clippings would be posted on your teams wall and torn to shreds strategically by the strategy team members. This also helped get your not so immediate family members involved. We can all remember when Aunt Gertrude would stop by to visit your family and say “Hey, I saw this picture of this robot in the paper, I figured I would bring you the clipping…is this what you do?” That wonderful Aunt Gerty, always making up for for that horrendous fruit cake christmas gift by bringing in the ultimate in low tech espionage.

Method 2: Local TV - If you were really lucky, you would get a sneak peak of video of a few robots on the local news. You would be watching your favorite TV program one evening and then you would come across your usual news teaser…yeah, you know, the one that uses scare tactics to gain an audience? “Local kids building robots for fun, is it a great educational activity, or could your children be in danger? We’ll tell you at 11!” Ok…so maybe they didn’t use scare tactics, but that one little clip was enough to make you completely wipe out your VHS collection of recorded episodes of Beverly Hills 90210 so you could have evidence of your opponents to bring into strategy meetings the next day. Strategy gold my friends…strategy gold.

Method 3: Spying - Let me start off this statement with an immediate disclaimer…I have never attempted to spy on another team…I have, however, been on a team who has been spied on! This can be a major problem when your playing field was in a very visible spot with open windows facing the main street of your town. All you need is for one passer by from a team ohhh…about 10 minutes away to drive on by, look in your window and say…“hmm, I can go sit on that brick wall and just take a gander for a little bit…thats not going to hurt anyone.” Next thing you know, word gets around and you have to install curtains or shades to keep the robotic peeping toms out.

Yes my friends…it used to be that crazy. It was fun in a way, you know, not knowing what you were going to run into when you went into competitions. Now, every mechanism, every machined part, every screw seems to be posted in some kinda “teaser” on this very site.

C’mon people…where’s your sense of adventure. Don’t give away your secrets!

Ok…give them away…but only to me. I’ve got a nice place on our wall for the pictures.

Class dismissed.

-Professor Grady

Great stuff as usual, Andy!

This really goes to show how the [sub]conscious effects of gracious professionalism come into play in our lives now creating a wide, open community where knowledge and pictures are shared in public.

Or people nowadays are just more trigger happy when it comes to the “Submit!” button. :stuck_out_tongue:

I don’t exactly know how pertinent this is to FIRST espionage in the 1990s, but I know in the past few years I’ve been able to do a lot of this via team websites, and teams posting pictures and video to their galleries. There are a lot of teams out there who post content online, but instead opt to just not post it directly on Delphi.