That is the question.
Be it nobler to pull up your sleeves than to bow to the will of the component provider?
So, here's the deal. This past weekend, Yasmin and I finished the path around the back yard. It took 20 bags of bark hauled from the hardware store to the back yard. Pouring the bags out, and raking them smooth was a much more enjoyable task than hauling the border bricks, or digging up the grass.
All told, this project cost... I don't know, at least 16 hours of hard manual labor. About $300 in various materials, and quite a few gallons of sweat and peanut butter sandwhiches. If I put my time at about $50/hour, that's another $800. So, a path around the perimeter of my back yard, $1,100. Path around back yard, $1,100, time with Yasmin... Priceless.
I could have hired a landscape person to come do the same thing, and it probably would have cost about $400 or so, but hay, it's my design.
Then, the 18th was the nanny's birthday. Recently Yasmin and I have been taking picutures with the digital camera. This past weekend we went out to Mt Vernon and took a bunch of pictures of tulips. Yasmin's actually pretty good at taking pictures. She's probably better than me, and I attribute it to the fact that she's shorter, so she captures more unique perspectives.
At any rate, we thought we'd use the pictures to make a calendar for the nanny's birthday present.
Build vs buy... Let's see, I can go to Barnes and Noble right now and buy a calendar on sale for about $4. OK. So, that's a starting point.
First, we had to buy a printer that could print nice high quality photos. I have a Canon S50 camera, so I thought I would get a nice Canon printer. Of course I had to have the one that I could plug the CF card into directly. the i900D, cost $250. Then of course the extra paper, ink, and extended warranty... That's another $100 or so, for a grand total of $350.
Alright, now I can print nice pictures, in sizes from 4x6 to 8.5x11.
I need to be able to print monthly calendars. Luckily, I have Calendar Creator, so I didn't have to write that piece of software, although I could have if need be. Now there's assembly.
This is no ordinary calendar. With the high quality pictures that Yasmin took, and the good calendar job, we can just staple the job together like some grade school project. Nope, this will require one of those nice binding jobs like you get with presentations at work. OK, off to OfficeMax/Depot/Staple/Supply center. I just need one of those binders thingies that punches a bunch of holes and helps you put on that plastic spiral thingy. Of course the $50 one is no longer available, so I have to bump up to the $135 model! Just put punch uniform holes and put in that platic binder thing. I am now the proud owner of the GBC Combind C100.
Quick total: Printer and accessories $350, Binder, $135, 12 images at $.50/ea = $6. Time, well, it was around midnight when I finished, and I started at around 7:00, so 5 hours == $250. Grand total... $741
It bit pricey for a calendar, but hay, it's my design darn it!
I know there's a lesson to be learned here about software development, but I'm in sticker shock, and too worried about what else I can print and bind to recoup my recent purchases.
The one good benefit of staying up late night working on high end crafts is that I get to watch the likes of Monster house, Monster garage, and American Chopper.
But, that's another story.