"Lookout Moon, America's gonna getcha -
gonna go kaboom - was nice to have met ya -
'cos ya don't mess around with God's America!"
Some time ago (nearly 10 years - wow!) I made a microcontroller-based homebrew MP3 player: http://codepuppies.com/~ben/sens/pic/mp3 . My big mess of wires was a tiny fraction of the size of his, and it caused me enough headaches - tracking down signal noise, random glitches, etc... Hats off to this guy.
I'd also recommend this book: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Soul_of_a_New_Machine to anyone who finds the Wired article of interest. It doesn't get too technical, but it describes the trials and tribulations of bringing a new machine to life, initially on wire-wrap boards - as well as some of the politics involved in a corporate environment.
There are two kinds of egotists: 1) Those who admit it 2) The rest of us