SitRep

Better late than never.

  • I’ve been putting up YouTube videos much more regularly. I’m doing a variety of topics (bikes, making, literature…), and I’m trying to keep to something of a release schedule. Gotta keep the creativity moving. No idea what my end goal here is.
  • As part of that effort, I’m working on a new bag for commuting. It’ll be a shoulder bag (or a soft briefcase), and I’ve got the basic design sorted. It’s time to build the prototype out of cotton duck cloth (10-12 oz), and we’ll see how the design works. Then I’ll have to build a finished product out of the actual materials (which I still haven’t settled on).
  • My mountain bike continues to evolve- recently, that meant a pair of flat pedals and a dropper seat post, and now I’ve pulled my stem back from 100mm to 60mm. We’ll see- that puts it much more inline with modern bikes (in terms of total reach), but that doesn’t mean I’ll like it.
  • I’ve been recording many/most of my newest videos with external audio- I’m using a lavalier mic run into an iPhone in Voice Memo mode. Honestly? Better than it has any right to be. And since I’m editing in iMovie for simplicity and speed, even syncing two cameras to an audio track isn’t too bad.
  • I kinda want to buy a serger. Maybe.
  • I’m tired.

SitRep

Progress on many things.

    • Got my @ManifestButter -style patch made, and I’m pleased thus far with how it turned out. Time to make more!

       

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    • Built some new wool felt pouches for better organization of my bike riding tools & parts. Inferred how to make better labels from @ryannagata and added those, too.

       

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    • I’ve been doing a better job of making videos- and while my production values haven’t gone up (per-se), my frequency has, and that’s something. I’m figuring that instead of endlessly mucking about in an attempt to some day make one “perfect” video isn’t an especially good route. Instead, I’m trying to make less than perfect videos much more regularly, and I’m wagering that the higher volume of production will improve my quality.
    • I’ve been shown the neat keyboard work of Andy Clymer, and now I kinda want to order some boards and build some periphery input keyboards.
    • I ended up on a mountain bike ride with a high school team over the weekend- totally unexpectedly. I bumped into them on the trail, and I happened to know two of the adults leading the ride, so that was kinda fun. It was only my second ride with platform pedals, so that was… interesting. I was not at my best, let’s say.

SitRep

On the mend.

  • The Pi Hole kit from Adafruit came- it’s up and running now, though I still have some configuration of the display screen to finish and whatnot. Still- a lovely thing. And considerably better experience web browsing for everything in the house, now.
  • I finally bit the bullet and ordered a dropper post for my mountain bike (and some platform pedals). I’ve gotten back to the point of comfort and control on the bike and I’m now hindered by the equipment- so it was time to join the modern masses. I’m cautiously optimistic about it. Now I’m thinking about a (still) shorter stem, too. I’m at a 100mm right now, but having reviewed the numbers on my frame (and some current-geometry frames), I’m thinking about going shorter.
  • I’ve been making videos more regularly again- so that’s good. I’m still sorting out a decent workflow and method- what the general process for a shoot for me should be, but it’s nice to have a creative project like that going.
  • I’ve taken yet another swing a building a camera strap I like. I struggle with these for some reason (despite their apparent simplicity). This one is adjustable with a strap adjuster, and I’m hoping that makes the difference. It’s attached to my Canon EOS M that I use for video work, and I’m hoping to make it easier to carry it more often (with the vague hope that bringing it with me more often will mean I shoot more often).
  • I’ve become somewhat enamored with the folks at Manifest Butter. They’re doing one-of-one design work on all-weather jackets, and all of those things are super interesting for me. Now it’s got me researching what sort of markers and paint pens are the right move. Testing testing testing to follow. (and, clearly, none of the paint markers I already own will possibly work for this)

SitRep

Horrors.

  • I’m sick, again. Bronchitis this time (though I suppose I should be happy it’s not yet-another-round of pneumonia). I’m hoping to be back in one piece in a couple of days.
  • I put up a new riding video (for the first time in months). It was nice to get out a ride a bit- though in retrospect, it seems I was likely riding while pretty sick. That’s my excuse for my slowness while riding. So that’s good. I’ve been focusing on body rigging my GoPro for better dynamic shots, but I think it’s time to start including both static shots and dynamic- a combination of what I used to do with what I’ve been doing. Optimal results await, I’m sure. Fame. Glory. Etc. I think I’m also going to experiment with external audio recording, too- it might make it easier to narrate when I’m riding.
  • I’ve been fixing some speakers that were given to me- a set of Boston Acoustic A40’s. They are/were lovely bookshelf sized units, and they cam with a pretty nice NAD receiver/amp, so I was excited to put them to use in my studio. They were making terrible noises, and that’s when I realized the foam surrounds on the woofers were gone- a typical outcome for speakers of that time. So: with kits to re-foam them difficult to find, I put my plotter/cutter to work and ran some tests. Plain 1.5mm sheets of EVA craft foam sealed properly, but were far too stiff and were hurting the speaker’s performance. Also, my first glue-ups were less than optimal. So I ran some tests with using my cutter to stipple the foam (to give it more flexibility), and that seems to have worked. Tests on one speaker yielded much better performance. The second unit is drying right now, actually.
  • I just ordered (at the recommendation of my Dad) an Adafruit PiHole kit- that’s a Raspberry Pi 3 B with a case and screen that functions as an internal DNS server- which seems unnecessary. But: when your computer sends it a DNS request, it simply doesn’t query ad sites- so the request for data never gets sent. It’s better than an ad blocker because it’s invisible, and it’ll work on any device on your home network. Pretty excited. I’ve been running the Ghostery extension on my browsers for a while, and it makes some sites useable (that previously would be very, very slow).

SitRep

What’s new? This week has been exhausting. Emotionally, physically… just a mess. I’ve not looked forward to a weekend this much in a long time.

  • I’m seeing Hamilton in Boston this weekend. I’m pretty excited- I enjoy theater a lot, and I’ve been hoping to be able to see this show for a long time.
  • The new car is on order. If I understood the dealership properly, it’s on a boat right now- and it’s due in some time in mid-October. I did some hunting around to see if I could find one in stock we could buy sooner, but all the model/trim/color we’re buying are on the same boat, apparently.
  • New phones are here. I’ve long-since stopped being overly excited about cell phones, and this isn’t really an exception to that. It’s nice, mind you- bigger screens are good. And FaceID is pretty slick. But it’s a phone, right?
  • I still need to replace the chain (again) on my mountain bike. It’ll be the second or third chain this season, I think. I’m not sure if my chain failed and took my chainguide with it, or if the chainguide failed and killed my chain. Either way, I need to install a new one.
  • Salsa cycles has stopped production on the tandem I was looking at buying. That’s ok, I suppose, as I’m (apparently) buying a car right now. On the other hand, it’s going to make eventually finding a reasonable bike that much harder.

SitRep

It’s not been an awesome week. A roundup:

  • I’m suddenly and unexpectedly staring down the barrel of a possible car purchase. It wasn’t on the list of things to do, and certainly not with this car (my car was up for replacement next).
  • I broke a nearly-new chainguide on my mountain bike, and while I think I’ve fabricated an acceptable replacement part, I’m not entirely pleased. We’ll have to see how it works. If it explodes (again), I’ll have to decide if I want to replace it with another chain guide, or if I want to replace the chainring with a unit with more aggressive chain retention- right now it’s a Shimano ring, and they don’t really do narrow-wide rings. A new guide likely costs less, though.
  • The new chest harness for my GoPro is pretty awesome- it’s exactly the right point of view, and I’m pretty excited to ride with it on more. In my test footage, the camera’s in-built stabilization seems sufficient, but of course GoPro has to go and release a new camera (Hero 7 Black) that has such good digital stabilization (apparently) that a gimbal is unnecessary.
  • New phone is ordered. My better three-quarters’ phone came today, but I have to wait another week it seems.
  • I’m lifting weights again. My wife started a month or two ago, and that’s been a very good motivator to start lifting again. I’m doing really short sessions right now, and I’m trying to do them two or three times a day (because they’re so short).
  • The having my google voice number patched into a regular old-school house phone has been excellent- it’s nice to keep the cell phone free and get calls done around the house.

 

SitRep

Updates.

  • I ordered a new phone. Xs MAX might be the dumbest name yet, but that’s what I’ve got coming. 64gb, Space Grey. Got an Xs for the better three-quarters (64gb in Gold). I figured that my 6s+ was getting a little long in the tooth to be relied upon, so there we go.
  • I’ve been experimenting a bunch with my new Cricut Explore Air 2. Being able to cut vinyl is useful; being able to cut 1.5mm craft foam is cool. Lots still to learn (and I’ve not even touched upon heat transfer vinyl, yet). Heck, I’ve got it plotting out a lavishly detailed exploded diagram of a Nikon F3P on craft paper. It’ll take it… a while.
  • Got a new phone line in the house. Ok, technically it’s VOIP, but it’s got wireless handsets, you know? Seems to work a charm.
  • I moved my newsletter from tinyletter to substack. There were nasty rumors about tinyletter going away, so I got proactive and moved. Substack allows for charging for a newsletter- don’t worry. I’m not doing that. I am, however, approaching the 100th edition. That’s something!

SitRep

Time to gear up some new projects:

I need to make a big push to finish the new studio. The rack needs built, the large-format art storage needs built, the room dividers need built- it’s something like a day or two of concerted effort and I have a fully functional work space.

I took a look at re-purposing an old Mac laptop keyboard as a USB desktop keyboard- and while I’ve not given up just yet, it’s not looking great. The internal interface isn’t USB (what with a 30 pin connector), so I’d have to assume that it is a matrix- that might mean I could hand wire it to a Teensy 2.0 and upload QMK firmware to it, but I’d have to map the entire matrix blind (and probe for each keystroke). That’s not sounding overly fun right this minute.

I’ve been planning longer-term to add a Tandem bike to our fleet. Right now, assuming I buy a new bike, that’s looking like a Salsa Powderkeg. It’s a steel framed MTB tandem with a rigid fork and 29″ wheels. That makes it especially well suited as a gravel-capable bike, but I’m trying to plot ways to take it offroad on New England singletrack. That likely means a suspension fork of some sort (though they publish a travel limit of 100mm, so that’ll be a challenge). The frame has clearance for 2.4″ tires, but I’m always curious about things like swapping the wheels to 27.5″ and running 3″ tires. Who knows?

I’ve been working on some sketches of a cable cam rig to use with a GoPro Session camera. It’s a long run of cord with a powered pulley car that can run along that cord with a camera suspended below. That’s pretty simple from the outside- just a couple of wheels and pulleys, a motor, and a frame. But: I’d like to be able to set a variable speed, and I’d like to have a delay from when I push “go” until it actually takes off. That’s still not a crazy build, but I need to figure out some stuff before I start buying parts.

 

SitRep

Extra super busy with the start of the Fall semester, so I’m a day or two behind on this post. I’m sure you’ve all been waiting with baited breath.

  • I’ve moved the Minecraft PE server from a Raspberry Pi to my Mac Mini. It’s way less fickle, and seems to put virtually no load on the Mini at all, so… yeah. Better.
  • With my recently free Raspberry Pi 3 B+, I’ve installed RetroPie. That’s a vintage video game emulator, and it’s pretty sweet. I’ve been playing SNES and N64 games pretty easily (though for some reason my Pi froze and struggled to play Doom on N64- I’ll have to look into that).
  • I’m moving my newsletter tool from tinyletter to SubStack. I’m not thrilled about doing that- it’s a bother and one more thing to do, but there’s been noise & rumors about tinyletter getting shut down so… yeah. SubStack is pretty nice, it seems- and it supports the ability to monetize. I’m not going that way, mind you.
  • I’m looking to carve out some time early this autumn to finally finish work on the studio. The rack needs to get built, and I might as well build two room dividers while I’m at it. It’ll be nice to have the space finished.
  • I’m still playing on Mastodon- but I’m not finding it (or twitter, honestly) very compelling right now. I’m toying with the idea of dropping both. Maybe. And with twitter talking about some god-awful thread function and even-worse-awful online indicator? Yeah. We’ll see how that goes.

SitRep

Updates abound.

I’m starting to settle in on the design of some room dividers for the office- I don’t want to wall myself off from the world, but being able to hide the cozy coupes littering my basement might be a good thing. Currently thinking about two of them (one in whiteboard, one in cork). I’d like to have the whiteboard also be magnetic, but that’s a pain to source (according to my research thus far).

I’m back on mastodon.cloud (and mastodon.social and mastodon.xyz, while I’m at it…). It’s still weird, and I’m still not sure about finding people to follow, hashtags, and the like. Trying to read a federated timeline is like drinking from a fire hose, and I want better filtering for it, but… yeah. I’ll need to read up more. Still: twitter is… not great. @jack seems really, really ok with nazis (and whatever horrors invade the platform), and I’m increasingly less sure I need that in my life.

I’ve grown less than thrilled with my Raspberry Pi Minecraft PE server. When it’s working, it’s great. But we lose power here sometimes, and the server would… not behave on reboot. So: looking for a new/different/better solution. Also worth noting: there may not be a better solution.

I’ve been beginning to question if my current use of social media is actually improving my quality of life or not- I left Facebook years and years ago, and I’ve never really regretted it. There are parts of Instagram I still like, but I’m feeling less-than-great about the competitive nature of likes and followers and whatnot. Ditto with twitter, I think- so I’m spending some time thinking about what I actually want out of those platforms (if anything), and what (other) tools I can use to generate those outcomes (on my own terms).

I use more than one computer at home- that should be no surprise if you’ve followed along with the manifestations of the studio. But: I really only have one keyboard I like right now, and I hate unplugging/plugging to move stuff back and forth. So: I found a four-port USB2 hub that does switching- there are four “ins” on one side and two “outs” on the other, and a button to toggle between the “outs.” Now I have my keyboard and mouse (and a webcam or two) that can easily bounce between the two desktop computers. Totally worth it if you have a complicated-ish computer rig.