The Curmudgeoclast

Thoughts, projects, and ramblings of Dave Astels


cur·mud·geon “This sucks.”
A curmudgeon is a miser or an ill-tempered (and frequently old) person full of stubborn ideas or opinions.
i·con·o·clast “Wouldn’t it be cool if…”
An iconoclast is someone who performs iconoclasm — destruction of religious symbols, or, by extension, established dogma or conventions. The term that has come to be applied figuratively to any person who breaks or disdains established dogmata or conventions.
cur·mud·ge·o·clast “This sucks, but wouldn’t it be cool if…”

The story behind the name

At RubyConf someone (sorry, I forget who) complimented me on my tweets: that my grumbling and bitching was entertaining. I said I tended to be a curmudgeon. He commented that he thought I was more of an iconoclast, in that I often had something interesting/useful to say. I tweeted this and Chris Hanson (@eschaton) gave the above characterizations (and wikipedia provided the definitions). And so it seems I am a curmudgeoclast.

Heh. That's pretty cool.


I've always been a gamer to some extent. My earliest significant gaming memories are of high school era with an Atari VCS as and later my Apple ][+ and games like RasterBlster, Lode Runner, BurgerTime, and the like. I went through a serious DOOM and Quake I/II phase. Diablo II, and now Diablo III. WoW. iOS games, Nintendo 3DS.

I've worked for a company in the gaming industry (though not making games, making stuff for gamers) and am playing more (time and games).

Most recently I've gotten caught up in the Pathfinder TableTop RPG from Paizo.


I've been programming and hacking hardware in some fashion for about 30 years, on many systems in too many languages to remember. I'm the guy originally behind the idea that turned into sSpec (for Smalltalk) and then rSpec. I've written books on extreme programming, and test driven development. I've written articles, and spoken at conferences. Mostly I like hacking on code and hardware and using software to solve problems. Preferably hard problems.

Since working for SteelSeries, I've rekindled my love of working with hardware, especially embedded systems. This is the stuff I started my career with. These days it means things liek Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and specifically the boards from Adafruit. I've been writing extensively for Adafruit since late 2017, and for HackSpace magazine since mid 2018.


I've been interested in food and cooking since I was a teen. I started out by teaching myself to cook Chinese food using cooking shows and cookbooks (Wok with Yan out of Vancouver... Steven Yan, not Martin Yan).

My culinary interest/involvement ebbed and flowed over the years. What really kicked it into gear was working at Google, surrounded by incredible chefs and passionate foodies. That and having to fill out a kitchen more or less from scratch. More than anyone, kudos have to go to chefs Brian Mattingly, Jean Claude Balek, Justin Lucke and their crews.

My latest obsession is baking. I've always tended to stovetop cooking in various forms. I like tasting & fiddling as I go. Baking is chemistry: mix it up, apply heat, and hope for the best. Since becoming a rabid fan of The Great British Bake-off which is also shown on PBS as The Great British Baking Show. To guide me, I am working my way through Cookie Love by Mindy Segal of Chicago's Hot Chocolate. Yes I'm diabetic so I try not to eat many cookies, but my Pathfinder group and the folks at work have enjoyed the results of my adventure.

Update (early 2017): As result of moving back to Canada and working in a distributed/remote engineering team, I no longer have "folks at work" or a all-in-one-room gaming group. So no more cookies. Suzanne has developed a passion for making whole/multi-grain breads which is awesome in many ways.

Update (mid 2018): I now run a Pathfinder group in our apartment, so no longer have any excuse not to bake more cookies.