August 22, 2016

[001] staycation mode


Hi there!

Thanks for subscribing to my Enthusiasm Diary, I appreciate the interest. Let me know if you have any feedback, or liked anything in this edition.

Last week I arranged a five day weekend to stay at home, and have a break from my day job.
Over the year so far, the only time I have taken off involved a lot of travel (which was lovely!), and was conference speaking related (also an amazing opportunity for which I am very fortunate). However, I am a homebody at heart, and was really looking for a reset where I wasn't tied to any high stress personal work. I take writing and giving conference talks very seriously, and it can be draining when you also throw in Imposter Syndrome with an introverted personality, both of which I have. Preventing burnout is good!

It was a good thing I was planning on pottering around at home, because it was a very hot five days, weather wise. One day soared to 36ºc with 80% humidity. The lone window air conditioner in my apartment was barely keeping up!

So what did I get up to?

1. A lot of catching up on my reading pile.

This is Frankie magazine open on my tablet, with homemade maple yam biscuits. Frankie is very dear to my heart as I've been reading it for years and years. It always gets me crying these days because it makes me so homesick for Australia where I grew up. But it's a cathartic cry, reminding me of how lucky I am to live in New York and also love the hometown I grew up in so much. My heart is very split these days between Brooklyn and Melbourne.

I also caught up on The Recompiler, Model View Culture, and Darling (oh my gosh the latest edition also made me cry).

2. I cooked and baked a fair bit.

I always feel like I'm taking good care of myself if I'm making as many of my own meals as possible. My busy schedule doesn't always allow for me to do this every single day, so I took a lot of comfort in making some of my favourite food this weekend.

I was constantly grazing on all sorts of yummy stuff:

3. I got out (a little bit).

Despite the heat, I managed to eat at my favourite café in my neighbourhood, and visited my favourite quiet spot which you can see in the photo above. I love that I live so close to the water.

It would be out of character if I didn't also work on some personal projects. You can see more about that below.


What I've been working on:

I've been commissioned to write an article about making circuits boards look cool, rather than be a run-of-the-mill rectangle with neatly arranged components. I didn't have a good example I'd previously made to work from, so I put together a basic circuit on a breadboard consisting of a reed switch, a resistor and an LED. I wanted to challenge myself to make such a simple example into something unexpected and artistic.

The end result is 'Angie' the Angler Fish (named by my brilliant friend Nick H):

I'm on a pretty short deadline for this written piece, so I threw Angie together in around 8 hours and ordered her from the friendly folks at OSH Park. They had randomly reached out to send me a coupon recently which was impeccable timing - very much appreciated. This was my first time trying out their 'Super Swift' service. After ordering on Sunday night, I was holding a freshly minted 'OSH Park Purple' Angie in my hands on Friday. This was the fast turnaround I needed in order to solder, photograph, and write up a draft of the article before the submission deadline. 

I think she came out pretty cool! The GIF below shows how she works - her lure lights up when a magnet is held nearby.

I have also been busy trying to finish up a guest blog post about using the Web Audio API to augment sound into art. Here is a tiny preview of what's to come - a mystery WAVE file presented as canvas pixels:

If you're feeling clever, you could try translating that picture back into sound ;) But more on that next time!


What I have been learning:

I haven't found my 'goldilocks' PCB (printed circuit board) design software yet. The packages I've tried so far fall short in different ways, requiring me to waste time coming up with hacks to achieve what I need to. I'm sure I'll find a good solution soon.

I'm definitely an Ember gymnast, but lately I've had the opportunity to branch out and learn how to build web applications using React. I feel that having knowledge of more than one client-side framework can really help with the way you think about solving problems in your everyday work.


Who has been inspiring me:

1. Mariko Kosaka. Everything she does has a touch of magic and a lot of authenticity. Check out her latest talk.

2. This guy who hacked a GameLink cable to allow Gameboy Pokémon players to trade Pokémon and battle OVER THE INTERNET. Move over, Pokémon Go, there's a old school friend back in town.


Datasheets I love:

The BK-868 by MPD Inc.

I appreciate this sheet for a couple of reasons. The revision history table in the top right corner is a nice touch. The author also made the PCB footprint drawing (top right) really easy to understand in order to implement as a custom part in your chosen PCB design software. It's clean, it's succinct, it's got everything you need. I hope you enjoy it too!


What I've been backing:

Catching Up - a feature film

The Remaining Trouble

Sweaty Palms -The Anthology about Anxiety


Til next time -