SitRep

Projects abound.

  • Working on the newsletter [HSP #83] to go out soon, I hope. It’s been so busy for the last few weeks that having time to find content has been tough- hopefully I’ll be out of most of that soon.
  • Bicycle SeatMy favorite bicycle saddle is pretty hard to find in it’s original incarnation. I’m luck to have one on my road bike, but I’ve been itching for another for a mountain bike for a while now- and I’ve sort-of had it. My second saddle was in a sorry state- all the leather and padding for the front half had worn off, and it was pretty much unusable in that state. So I decided to take a swing a re-working it. Currently, the padding is (I think) pretty much done- now it’s time to source leather and figure out how to best mount that.
  • SuppliesThere’s a pair of shoes I’ve had my eye on for a long time. They were super rare and wildly expensive- and I was unwilling to spend the sort of money required. Now, though, there’s a new version being released. More robust, less expensive, and lovely in every way. But: there’s a decent chance I won’t be able to get my hands on a pair- or that the price will still be too much to stomach. So: a new shoe project for me, then. Still working on some details (and how far down this rabbit hole I want to go), but progress none the less.
  • Hand Made KeyboardHoly smokes, remember that keyboard project from a year ago I was working on? Yeah, that. Progress! I have firmware up and running on it- still lots to sort out, but it’s kind of working now. Still plenty to do, but it’s closer to being done than ever before. Everything is tiny and hard to solder, and the firmware (while easier than I feared) is still a byzantine and borderline occult process. Regardless: I’ll be able to say I built this keyboard by hand from scratch. So that’s something, I suppose.
  • There’s been some (but, if I’m honest, not tons) of progress on the new shoulder bag project. I’m pretty sure I have the hardware I need- and even much/most of the fabric. But there’s some research to be done and an order to put in for the rest, and I just haven’t had a lot of time to devote to it recently.

SitRep

Oh how time flies in the summer.

  • Went on vacation- and I took much of that time off the internet as well. Got outside more, ate (too much) food, and played with happy kids in a pool.
  • Updated the bio every-so-slightly here. A little less focus on the past, maybe a little more focus on the future.
  • A new shoe project (slowly) making progress- I’ll share more as things come along, but right now I’m still in the “amassing supplies and logistics” phase of these things. Indeed, I haven’t entirely settled on the model of shoe I’ll be modifying for this, though a Vans Classic Slip-On is high on the list.
  • The long-dormant new-shoulder-bag project is back! I’ve had some inspiration (finally!) about what I want to be different about this new bag (as compared to the existing & failing shoulder bag I currently use). I even have many/most of the materials in stock- I’ll need a couple small things, but that’s it.
  • Just ordered most of the supplies to overhaul my best shock fork for my mountain bike. It’s long overdue, so it’ll be good to have it feeling plush and buttery soon. Of course I’ve never overhauled one of these before, so there’s that. And a bunch of the parts I need are on backorder, so I’m waiting as well. After, I’m looking at maybe a drivetrain modification. We’ll see.

SitRep

Time, once again, for an update.

  • I’ve seen a big (for me!) bump in newsletter subscriptions. That’s awesome! I have no idea where these folks have all come from (or who sent them my way)! Puts a bit of pressure on me to get the next edition out, anyway…
  • Tom Sachs has a new NikeCraft website up (with a new movie!) that’s pretty neat. I’d add it to my “Required Viewing” playlist, but it’s not hosted on YouTube, so…
  • On that note, I’ve been building a bunch of boxes/crates to better organize things. Finally built a box for 7″ records I’ve needed for a few years(!), a box to organize my index cards, and the start of a new art-supply cart for the studio. I’ll have spots for tools and markers and whatnot, but it’s capped by some paper storage and a smallish bookshelf, letting me keep reference books close to where I’m working. Need to build a wheeled stand for the whole thing, now.
  • I’ve beed riding bikes more (again), and I’m starting to get some of my groove back. I still have “off” rides from time to time, but some confidence and practice is paying off. Maybe (just, maybe) some fitness is coming along. Also, finally have the bike running properly- though my fork needs an overhaul (and I’m loath to send it out for maintenance, but I’ve never overhauled one like this, and I’d similarly loath to have any bike downtime, so…)
  • Starting to think about and plan a new pegboard setup in the garage- right now I’ve got too much 2nd tier stuff in 1st tier placements. I’ve got a single 4′ x 8′ board right now, but I’m looking at making that a true 8′ x 8′.
  • I still need to build the 2nd small parts rack (and the accessories that go with it). I finally located space in the studio/office for it to live, so I suppose it’s time to fire up the saw…

SitRep

Once again.

  • So the Shelf Project v2 is finally done. Plenty of work, but worth the effort, I think. Those chairs aren’t for sitting, btw- that’s why there’s (deliberately) no headroom above them. Sentimental, those…

Shelves v2

  • Small Parts Storage Unit 1 is completed. It’s loaded with some of my parts cases, but I’ll be building a second just like this very soon- that will have removable inserts for holding plano boxes of very small parts, as well as some shelf units to hold 2nd tier tools (like my sewing machine and typewriter).

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  • HSP #1 Hardcopy is out in the wild. This is a shot of the master copy. Download is here.

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Still do do:

  • 2 record boxes for holding 7″ records (or, as you might call them, 45’s)
  • Aforementioned second parts box rack
  • A flat file for holding large pieces of art. Sometimes called a “map file.”
  • Starting to look at better monitor options for the home office.
  • Starting to shoot more video again- my new Glif came in (finally!), and so I can put my lovely phone to better use.
  • A new desk surface on my desk. It’s currently metal, but I’d like a nice slab of wood (with some features to better suit my “standard” setup). Currently thinking about double-thick 3/4″ plywood, but that may change.
  • New custom shock mounts for my car’s rear shock absorbers. This simply requires some available downtime.
  • Started working on HSP #2 hardcopy. Currently amassing material.

SitRep

New Stuff:

  • Vol 1 of the HSP (Happy Shiny People) zine is live over here. It’s an honest-to-god, made-from-paper labor of love. I used pens and scissors and glue to make an old-school zine from the good ‘ol days. Same bizarro content as the newsletter but in a much stranger wrapper. Download a copy, print it out, fold and staple, and send me a picture of one of these in the wild. Then go make your own. It’s fun.
  • Shelf Project #2 has started- half the hardware is on the wall (the rest needs some modifications first), and the shelves are cut, assembled, and sanded. Finish next, then assembly. I’m really looking forward to these being done- besides addressing a storage problem, the shelves themselves function a bit as an art install of their own- sort of a meta-project, and one of those times when (properly done) the whole can surpass the sum of it’s parts.
  • In reference to Shelf Project #2, that means a careful examination of the current book storage and periodical archive. The new shelving is for a particular class of books and artifacts, and I still need to go through the deep storage and suss out and items from there that belong in the new install. I’ve got a small batch pulled currently, but I know there’s a bunch more buried in there.
  • Small Parts Storage Project v3. I’ve moved to a new(ish) sorting box setup, and this will be some shelving/racks for them. They’re based on the modular shelving Tom Sachs uses a lot in some of his installs, and they’ll live out-of-the-way in the basement studio area. Casters on the bottom (I think…), and they should also provide storage for some 2nd-line tools (things like the sewing machine, typewriter, soldering iron, usw). I formerly (and still somewhat) used a selection of Plano sorting boxes, but as some of my small parts are don’t work well in those, I’ve had to branch out. Still working on an insert for the new shelving to also handle legacy storage boxes.
  • Working on an ancient keyboard for the home rig. It’s a Dell QuietKey RT7D5JTW, and it’s got a pretty decent feel to it- much better than the old Apple keyboard I’ve been banging around on. Problem, though: it has a PS/2 connector (instead of USB), so I found an active PS/2 to USB adaptor, and that’s working great. Next problem: some of the keys are ugly and bothersome legends on them. Easy fix: paint them. Right now keys are slowly being sanded and painted (one by one, god help me) black, but I’m adding silver sharpie to some of the edges, and it starts to look like the keys were made of metal, painted black, and now the worn paint is showing metal through it. Eventually I’ll have to paint the case, too. Third problem: the command key is in the wrong place. It should be right next to the spacebar, but for whatever reason it’s one over from that. Drives me nuts. So, tonight I’m going to make a custom keyboard map and rework all that.

SitRep

Here’s where I stand (currently, anyway…):

  • Despite it looking like the weather was on the verge of changing (into spring), that’s not happened. So all the wood-based projects have to continue to wait a bit longer. Which is fine, in reality, because I’ve not yet finished designing them.
  • A bunch of new framing projects just fell into my lap- the re-discovery of some art by my wife means some large frames (30×44″ for the work itself, with the frames being somewhat larger than that…) need to get dealt with. Also mats. And glass.
  • I’ve been working on a new “Required” list- a compendium of readings, movies, music, and items that I feel are/should be required in my world. Inspired by Tom Sach’s latest notebooks and the references in the back. Take a look at his here. I do keep a relatively-up-to-date “Required Viewing” YouTube playlist here, if you want to work your way through that.
  • Working on a new project for myself, and I’m hesitant to give to many details yet. It’s one of those where I’m not sure anything will ever come of it, or if it’s just a step to the next thing. Regardless, I’m getting all organized with notes and lists and folders and whatnot. It feels good to get the juices flowing, sometimes, regardless of what might (or might not) come of it. Building things is good, you know? Even when those things are just knowledge structures.
  • Starting to read up on the rigging of zip lines. Kids want one, but I’ve only ever rigged them with rope, and this would be a wire-rope situation, so there’s plenty of differences. Learning is fun. Have I mentioned that?

EdCamp Boston 2017

I went to EdCampBoston this last weekend, and I thought I should share some thoughts here (and take the chance to digest and capture what I learned while I was at it).

It was a nice big (though not overwhelming) crowd in a lovely space (thanks, Microsoft!), and the organizers did (as always) a great job… organizing. Big thanks to them!

If you’ve never been to an EdCamp (or to an UNconference), they’re pretty neat- there are no pre-set sessions: just  bunch of rooms and time slots and a stack of post-its for people to use to propose their own sessions. If you’re not in love with what you’re seeing, you can start your own session. In practice, I’ve found it works really well- many of the sessions aren’t about people standing up at the front and presenting, but more about conversations that people want to have.

I went to four sessions before I had to leave. First, a conversation about using VR in classrooms (in which I was able to relate some of the experimenting I’ve done on the subject…). I was happy to hear about how much of this was going on in K-12, and it reaffirmed my belief that there are applications aplenty for it in High Education. As the methods for consumption (and creation) become more mainstream, it’s really only going to get easier to integrate.

Next up was Dan Callahan’s session about The Chaortic Path, a lens that I’d not spent too much time thinking about (though I will now). Somebody much more talented than I made a lovely graphic for it. I got to contribute this comment:

Which now, a day later, reminds me of this recent Kevin Kelly tweet:  

Then, I went to a nice quiet and thoughtful session led by Ben Schersten about teaching introverts, and as a result I’ve added Susan Caine’s Quiet to my reading list. I also got to trot out my perpetual recommendation for Make Space, an outstanding guide to helping design spaces that foster creativity. I’m still amazed by how many folks equate introversion with either anxiety or shyness. Totally not the same thing, folks.

After lunch it was back to Dan’s session about designing PD that people will LOVE– not something I do a ton of these days, but a subject that’s always worth talking about. Great graphics coming out of that, and some really impressive work. Groups left with full-blown plans for PD that (with a teeny bit of polishing) would be ready to roll out in any district.

So: a wonderful use of my Saturday. I got to see a bunch of friends I’d not seen in far too long, got to talk with some talented and driven folks, and got to learn a few things as well. Maybe I’ll see you all there next year.

 

SitRep

Currently:

  • I’m headed to two conferences shortly- EdCampBoston, and Nercomp. EdCampBoston is March 11th, and Nercomp is March 28th and 29th. I haven’t been to a proper conference in a while, so it’ll be good to see some people and get myself exposed to new ideas. And be social, I suppose.
  • Parts list for the two bookcases I need to build are growing- starting to work on cut lists, too, so when the weather turns and I can get working it’s a draw-the-lines-and-cut instead of standing around mumbling and muttering.
  • Working on finding a receiver hitch for my car. I’m planning on keeping the car another 2-3 years, so in the meantime it’d be useful to be able to carry a bike (or two…) with me. I’d like to be able to stick a 2″ hitch on there, but all the hitches built for my car are 1.25″, so… it might be roof-rack time. We’ll see, I suppose.
  • I’m trying to get myself to start shooting more video again. Right now, the aim would be to practice visually telling stories, but there are one or two projects hanging in the wings that’d make use of some of these things, so it’d be good to not be out of practice if those ramp up. For the short term, I’ll likely start again with my phone, but it’d be good to get the bigger camera out again too.

SitRep

Things going on:

  • Happy Shiny People (my divergent thinking focused education newsletter) #73 should go out some time this week. Sign up here. They come out once a week(ish), and they’re usually three or four cool things with a bit of perspective and commentary on each.
  • My home office is in v3.0 right now- that’s 6 monitors across three computers. I’m not sold on some of the mounting/monitor options, but right now it’s about proof of concept and not final product. I’ve got some lovely light stands I’m using, but I’d been considering (finally) getting a couple of c-stands for this sort of thing.
  • I have a growing pile of building projects stacking up, but I’m stalled because of the weather. All/most of them require wood finishing and painting, and it’s too cold here for that right now. Time to refine the designs, I suppose.
  • Progress on the shoulder bag (NF-P-126). I’ve got most of the basic construction figured out (mesh over foam rear panel, MOLLE panel, internal dividers, etc), and so it’s just a matter of sorting out some of the hardware and making time to actually sew. Also need to sort out the (more elaborate than typical of me) strap system.
  • I’m going to EdCamp Boston this year- got my ticket and everything! March 11th, Burlington MA (at the Microsoft offices there). Grab a ticket quick, as they’re nearly sold out already…

SitRep

I’ve been nearly dead for two weeks with illness, but let’s do this.

  • Shoulder bag project is stalled while I mumble around looking for the right choices in fasteners and how to properly do labelling. It’s not a super-high priority for me, but it’s always frustrating when a project limps along like this.
  • Home office computer setup is back up to four monitors- two on the main computer, and one more (each) on some side computers doing dedicated tasks. I’m not overly happy with the mounting of any of it (yet), but right now it’s mostly there for proof of concept. Also: need to buy another USB2.0 hub. I do need to (better) deal with power management there.
  • HSP#72 is in draft, but I’m still digging through looking for content. For some reason, finding happy wonderful things to talk about has seemed somewhat more difficult in the last week or so. Can’t think why that might be.
  • Re-watched Mad Max: Fury Road (Nuxx Edit) last night. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s a fan-edit of the theatrical film. The dialog’s all been removed (though the music remains), and the color has been shifted to “black and chrome.” Before you think that some hack just desaturated the thing, understand this was done with more care than that- it’s a proper transfer (with all the depth and tone that implies). A great watch. There’s also a B&W transfer of Raiders of the Lost Ark that Soderbergh did a couple of years ago that’s worth watching, too.
  • Again, I’ve been sick, so I’ve been watching a bit more content. Including (but likely not limited to, as my memory is not to be trusted…) Taboo (FX), Haywire, Mad Max: Fury Road (Nuxx Edit), and some West Wing. Reading The Devil in the White City (currently), with a couple more on deck after that.
  • I’m (slowly) gearing up for a garage overhaul. I made major progress this fall, but now that I’ve lived with it for a bit, I’m seeing areas where I can make meaningful improvements. Starting to amass the supplies so that when the weather permits, I’ll be able to spring into action.
  • I’ve got a rudimentary braising setup now, so I’ve gathered some materials to start practicing. I’ve some good ideas for small useful projects in the meantime, but it’ll be good to be able to join metal for some larger upcoming projects.