It is hard to believe that over five years have passed since I logged into Blogger.com, typed in thenxtstep (hoping it wasn't already taken), and created this blog. My original goal was to create a website where I could post links, photos, and videos related to the NXT and have access to them from any computer. (This was before Dropbox and other cloud-based tools.) I was trying to collect articles and rumors and news in one place because I'd been contracted to write a book about this product I'd yet to get my hands on. I'd heard that a blog was useful because others might find it and be able to offer their own information, rumors, pictures, and such... and I really had no clue where this thing was going. A few commenters here... a few shared photos and some grainy videos... and then an invite to join the Mindstorms Developer Program (MDP) where I met a few new colleagues who would go on to become not only fellow blog contributors but also just really good friends.
The NXT was released, the floodgates were opened... and the rest is history, recorded in bits and pieces, over a small number of NXT-related blogs and websites. And, thankfully, I've been allowed to be a part of it all.
I've met fellow NXT fans, tutored teachers and students, written a few books and collaborated on many more, attended robot competitions galore... the list goes on. So many opportunities have opened, all from a simple website that's only purpose (initially) was to keep me organized. I cannot count the number of friendships that have developed over the years from a simple website devoted to a toy.
Since starting this blog, a couple of things have happened - I have two young sons now - a four year old who is just starting to discover LEGO bricks and a baby who looks at them as if they're candy right now, but we all know that will change. I moved from part-time writing (evenings and weekends) to full-time writing, my dream job. Either of these could keep me constantly busy, but combined they're keeping me EXTREMELY busy. I love being a dad... and I love being a writer. So it's been quite the struggle trying to find time for my other hobbies, especially LEGO robotics. LEGO robotics has become a large part of my life - and that's not a complaint. But I've got other interests and other goals that I want to tackle. A few new opportunities have dropped on my desk that I just don't want to let slip away. The first is that I've been invited to blog for geekdad.com, one of my own favorite blogs. The other is some special projects for Makezine.com (Make Magazine's blog) and its sister-site, Makershed.com. Both of these opportunities, plus 5 to 6 books per year, my Hands-On blog series, plus many more proposals for books that will never see the light of day... and I hope you can understand why it's time for a change.
Goodbyes are difficult, but let's not make this a goodbye. Damien Kee will be stepping into the role of Editor-in-Chief, and I've told him that I would love to hang out in the background and post the occasional item. I'm not walking away from LEGO Mindstorms... I really don't think I could that even if I wanted to... and with two boys growing up in a house full of NXT parts, it's inevitable that Mindstorms isn't going away in my house. But it is time for a change.
I want to thank all of thenxtstep.com readers for their attention and their participation. It's been a great ride. But the trip isn't over. You've got Damien and the rest of the blogger crew who will continue to keep you up-to-date with the latest in NXT news. But remember that the blog needs you! It needs readers who will share new projects, new websites, new robot designs, and more. So keep the tips coming!
I also want to thank my fellow nxtstep bloggers. It has truly been a privilege to work with all of you. I've long since given up trying to figure out who has been here the longest (hey, new blog post idea!) but it really doesn't matter to me... I've got some friends for life with this group and I really don't think they've seen or heard the last of me. (And yes, rumors are true - there IS another LEGO book due out later this year. It's not set in the jungles of Guatemala but somewhere a bit more distant.)
A big thanks to LEGO and LEGO Education, as well. And for three folks in particular - Soren, Steven, and Kristie - I don't think I'll ever be able to thank you enough for the doors that have opened for me because of your support, assistance, and friendship.
Readers know me as the guy who can write and write and write... so, as I try not to turn this into a short novel, I'll sign off by telling everyone that I'll still be around if you know where to look.
James Floyd Kelly
May 1, 2011