Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Meanwhile…

Friday, May 30th, 2008

Wisconsin Northwoods

I’m my past post I forgot to mention just how significant distraction can be to keeping projects from getting finished. Well, a bit ago I got Atmel’s AT90USBKey and last week, while up in a cabin in Wisconsin’s northwoods, I indulged my sentimental side and started reading Thoreau’s Walden. I’ll plan on getting back on the wagon, just not right now…

The Developer’s Dilemma

Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

People always like to quip that “real artists ship,” as a quick one-liner I guess that’s pretty good, but as with everything else… only sorta true. Anybody familiar with creativity has to admit that an end result of any quality usually requires a great deal of quantity in the background. Photographers will take hundreds of pictures in the process of producing tens of photos. Films emerge from hours worth of additional footage thrown in the waste bin. Graphic Designers build copious numbers of mockups to produce a final design.

We developers are in the idea business too and, although I feel wholly unqualified to say this, the good developers are the ones with lots of ideas. In my experience as a mediocre programmer I spend a lot of my time hounded by ideas of my own creation.

I found this great passage in an article by Richard P. Gabriel:

John’s world is a world of ideas, a world in which ideas don’t belong to anyone, and when an idea is wrong, just the idea – not the person – is wrong. A world in which ideas are like young birds, and we catch them and proudly show them to our friends. The bird’s beauty and the hunter’s are distinct.

[…]

Some people won’t show you the birds they’ve caught until they are sure, certain, positive that they – the birds, or themselves – are gorgeous, or rare, or remarkable. When your mind can separate yourself from your bird, you will share it sooner, and the beauty of the bird will be sooner enjoyed. And what is a bird but for being enjoyed?

Every creative would love to claim a monopoly on divine inspiration, but since we can never quite manage that we settle for just hiding away all those half-finished, not quite thought-through, potentially embarrassing ideas of ours – and it’s a really nasty habit.

For developers, we have trouble kicking things out of out our ~/Projects folder and sharing them with others because they’re “just not done yet.” Doneness is a dangerous idea – especially for perfectionists. It is always so tempting to keep polishing this or that project until you can really say it is done. Or worse, putting something pretty good to the side and promising to come back to it later to finish it off.

I’ve without a doubt fallen into that trap, granted I’ll make an argument for school getting in the way, but the truth is I’ve been sitting on a whole lot of “not done yet” projects for no great reason at all. Now that I’m nearly out of school, with new-found time on my hands, I’m resolving to drag them out of the closet, give them the once-over and throw them out for others to have – done or not.

Thwarted!

Friday, March 14th, 2008

After a fine day here, what looked to be a promising π eve was met with disappointment as my grand plans for an exciting pi eve caper got washed away with the evening’s rain.

That means no surreptitious chalking of four foot tall (5000 pt) digits on the Engineering quad and no cool photograph either. If only I had more time, but alas, I have a train to catch in the morning.

Granted it’s not all bad – having no irrationals to approximate means I will get a more reasonable amount of time to finish the few things that need turning in Friday. And lets face it – as it was the weather that beat me to the punch, I can still lay some small tiny shred of a claim for the cool idea that could have been.

My Announcement Type

Tuesday, March 11th, 2008

For those of you who may not now, my handwriting has a bit of a notorious reputation. A full explanation of how my writing came to be will have to wait for another day, but today I’m posting about the newly adopted writing style that I’ve began using on occasion.

So… getting more to the point – my handwritting, while it might look “good”, it certainly cannot be construed as legible by any measure. Now this isn’t a problem for me in my normal writing (I’m the kind of person who is quite happy putting up with a few inconveniences for something of aesthetic value), but it does become an issue when you want people to notice and read your message – which was just the situation I found myself in a few days ago…

Handwriting picture

Thankfully I had spent the last week drawing sketches of type for typography class, so when it came time to post a few notes on the wall, I was quite prepared. For my nice clean, readable (and easy to draw) typeface I chose the fine typeface Futura.

I still need to work on getting accustomed to the large counters in the ‘e’ and perfecting the curve of the ‘s’, I’m pretty proud of my new note posting script.

I Can Has Job?

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008

post icon Hooray, my final semester has already arrived and is on its way out. With ~8 weeks of class remaining, I’m closer than ever to leaving university and being out in the job market.

And, while I’ve gone around to the usual suspects, I’ve arrived at the conclusion that I am most definitely not the usual suspect’s kind of material. In light of this, I figured I’d make some kind of announcement here.

So what kind of thing am I looking for? Well… naturally, I am looking to work building things loaded full of 100% pure AWESOME. After that here is an unordered list of:

  1. A product that I can fall in love with.
  2. Work that requires things to be beautiful — inside and out.
  3. Work where broad interests are a good thing.
  4. A company filled with groovy people.

And of course that list’s important counterpart — what I can do:

  1. Cocoa programming, if you found my blog this is probably why.
  2. Web programming, CSS, HTML, and Javascript are good friends.
  3. Java programming (i.e. backend of a webapp).
  4. “Better than average” sense of design and usability. There really isn’t any objective measure of this but I think it is safe to say I’m pretty good.

I’m not terribly interested in publishing personal information of me or others here on the world wide web, so I’ve only published a reduced resumé here. If you want the full document email me directly and I’d be happy to give it to you.

Fun with Dust-Off…

Tuesday, August 21st, 2007

Dust-off canister

No, not that kind of fun – I’m talking about fun with endothermic reactions!

You see – Dust-Off isn’t really compressed air (pressurized Nitrogen is pretty boring) but is in fact liquid difluoroethane. So what happens when you release a liquid with a boiling point well below that of room temperature (-24.9 °C)?

Lets find out:
Calulations

You get a reaction that will absorb an awful lot of energy from it’s surroundings (you can freeze stuff).

Getting more to the point- around here, in the summer, I come across a fair bunch of house spiders and, while I don’t mind them outdoors, can’t have them wandering around indoors. The problem is that they can be pretty tough to catch (especially the small ones) and mashing them makes a mess (especially the big ones). However, with the help of the aforementioned fluorocarbon, dealing with insects is a breeze.

All you need to do is give the can a good shake, tilt sideways and aim and fire. If you do things correctly the nozzle (moistened by shaking) will produce a directed spray of very fine difluoroethane droplets that, due to the their large surface area, vaporize rapidly – making the immediate surroundings very cool.

Bonus: on a humid day, your very likely to see frost form from the spray!