Thoughts on code

3D for Fun and Profit

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The project that I've been working on at ThoughtShop is almost ready to show off. There have been a few interesting snags that I've run into while getting the project all set up on the hardware that's going to end up in the showroom.

The main issue is the way the screens are set up. The project is running on 3 screens ( one of which is a touch scren ), which are all connected to a Mac Mini. The screens are all going to be mounted vertically, with the touch screen on the bottom. The touch screen is going to be showing some interactive stuff, and the top two screens are going to be showing a 3d model.

There are a few things about this project that I think are pretty cool.

Getting Up

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So, last month I mentioned that I had talked to a doctor. When I talked to her she mentioned that I should exercise more, as well as trying to have a more regular sleep schedule.

I've been doing pretty well on the exercise part of the plan. I bike to work at least three days a week, and at ~8km each way that's a minimum of about 48km each week. So I think I've got the exercise down.

In the last few days I've definitely noticed that I need to work on my sleeping schedule. There's been a few days where I've had trouble getting up, and I think I know why: I've been going to bed pretty late recently.

Since I started at the new job I've been getting home early – one of the benefits of regularly starting at 9am-ish is that I'm usually home by 6pm. This has been pretty awesome, because it gives me more time to work on my own stuff once I'm home. The downside is that once I really get into something, it's hard for me to put it down when it's time for bed.

I think I need to sort out some sort of schedule for my weekdays. Set aside time to cook and eat dinner, some time to just relax, and some time to work on projects. Maybe that will help me get to bed at a reasonable time every day, which will help me wake up a bit earlier every time.

To help me get up, I've been thinking I need a better alarm clock. My phone seems to have issues with charging lately, so it's shut off in the middle of the night a few times already. My other alarm clock doesn't seem to be doing the job, I think partially because it is just sound, and what I need is sound plus light – an alarm clock that turns on a sun lamp in the morning is what I need.

This sounds like a good first project for a Raspberry Pi! I think I'm going to try and build my own custom alarm clock to help me get in up the morning. I'm going to spend the next few days planning out what I'm going to build. No idea how I'm going to build the sun box yet, but it should be fun to figure out!

Bike Snacks

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Since I started at ThoughtShop, I've been biking to and from work most days. The route I take is generally about 8km, and takes me 30 or 40 minutes, depending on whether I'm going to or from work. On the way to work, it's mostly downhill – so the way back is mostly uphill. I try to go for a longer ride once a week or so, something that takes me at least an hour, and keeps my heart rate up.

The first week I started biking, I picked up a few Cliff energy bars. I found that they have helped quite a bit – whether I'm on a long ride or a short one. I only picked up five, so I ran out of them pretty quickly. I've been meaning to go back and get some more since I ran out.

So today on my way home I took a slight detour and went to the MEC in North Vancouver. I picked up sixteen energy bars, but I decided to try out a bunch of different types and flavours. I picked up a few different Cliff bars, some Pro Bars, some Luna, a few Power Bar, and a single Gorp. I tried one of the Luna bars on my way home, a Lemon Zest – it was pretty good! I'm curious to see how all the rest of them taste. Having some variety for when I go for bike rides will be pretty awesome, plus they also work pretty well for hikes.

I'm looking forward to trying out all the bars I bought. Hopefully none of them are duds.

Busy Few Weeks

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Man, these last few weeks I've been busy.

I don't know what it is exactly.

Part of it is probably the fact that I'm still getting used to my new mode of transportation – biking to and from work. The new job is actually closer than the previous one, so it only takes me half an hour to bike to work, and about forty minutes to bike back home.

I think another part is that I'm starting to figure out a proper morning routine that involves eating breakfast before I head out. I'm also realizing that if I want to be able to get up in the morning, I really can't stay up late – which is kind of a bummer. It's probably just a bad habit, but my brain really seems to get into gear late at night. In the past it's when I've gotten most of my work done on personal stuff. But when I stay up until 1am, it's nearly impossible for me to get out of bed before 8:30am – which kind of sucks. I'd like to be leaving between 8am and 8:30am so that I'm at work between 8:30am and 9am.

I've been researching OrgMode as a way to organize my life. I've seen a bunch of stuff online that makes it sound like it's a great agenda and planner, as well as being a good way to organize thoughts. While researching org, I've come across "Getting Things Done", or GTD, which sounds like it might help me get all my stuff in order.

I say that because I've been thinking about scheduling some time blocks every week to set aside for working on various different things. I'd like to set aside some time every day to write ( I really want and need to write posts more often about the stuff I'm working on ), as well as block out some time specifically for hacking away at Arduino, Raspberry Pi, and programming projects.

First steps first though: sit down and read the Getting Things Done book. I think this weekend I'm going to try and do that. I'd also like to organize all the various project ideas I've got, either in Trello or using OrgMode ( or both ). I'd like to have at least a rough outline of each project, probably in a README, that defines what the project is, what I hope to get out of it, and what I'd consider a "complete" state for the project.

First Week at the New Job

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So, I've been working at Thought Shop for a week now. I guess I should write down some of my thoughts on what I think so far.

To summarize: holy awesome, batman.

I don't know if it's because I've never worked for a design shop before, or if it's going back to work for a small company, but I'm really loving this job so far. I've spent the entire first week learning how to use ThreeJS for my first project. I've never worked with 3D in the browser before, so it's been a pretty fun week. Also, maybe it's working at a small company, or getting to play around with something new and exciting, but this week has felt super productive.

It started out pretty simple. On my first day I was handed a prototype that one of the other developers had done as a proof of concept to test out ThreeJS. I spent my first day turning that JavaScript into a Yeoman powered project, using Gulp. This is the first time I've used Gulp instead of Grunt, and I have to say I'm pretty impressed – so far, it seems like a huge improvement over Grunt. The next few days I spent playing around with the model in Blender to split it up a bit ( for reasons I'll get into in another post ), and learning me some ThreeJS.

I know it's only been a week, but I really think I'm going to like it here. I have the feeling that I'm always going to have a chance to try out new web technology, and to play around with it. I also think that I'm going to have the freedom to play around, to try out different things to find what works for each project – instead of having to rush and try and get stuff done as quickly as possible.

I'll see how the next few weeks go, but I think this is the start of something pretty awesome.

Productive Week Off

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So, I start at a new job on Monday.

I handed in my notice over a month ago at BBTV, and my last day was Friday, February 28th. I don't start at my new job at Thought Shop until the 10th though, so I've had this past week off. It's been pretty nice.

Disassembling Things for Fun ( No Profit )

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When I got my Arduino Uno, it made me realize that I've got a ton of stuff laying around that could supply me with parts. For the longest time I've had a bin of old cell phones, mp3 players, and some other random things that I was thinking of just tossing or taking to a pawn shop. When I got the Arduino though, I realized that it's a great source for quite a few things:

  • surface mount components ( mostly resistors )
  • LEDs
  • LCD screens ( of varying sizes )
  • SIM card holders
  • audio jacks
  • buttons of all shapes and sizes and functionality
  • motors! ( especially important if I want to build a 3d printer! )
  • and a few other bits

Some of the things I've taken apart: a few old cell phones, an old mp3 player that apparently never worked, a DVD drive, a printer ( rescued that one from the electronics bin at work ), and two old video cameras. The last four are what I'm most excited about right now. Sure, the cell phones have some cool parts in them, but the project at the top of my list right now is a 3d printer, so the printer and the cameras seemed to have quite a few awesome parts.

I got lucky with the printer too – it was a combination printer/scanner that apparently didn't work. I've got at least one awesome motor + gear belt out of it, so it's a win for me!

Let's take a look at some of the awesome stuff I found.

Stupid Article Is Stupid

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If you want to experience the odd emotion of "laughing at something while being angry at it", go check out this article. Titled "12 Reasons to Join Vancouver's Tech Revolution in 2014", it's pretty much just a poorly written ad for, an "intensive 8-week course" that teaches you how to be a developer. Kimli has some great things to say about this article, and I wanted to dive into a few points, and make a few more. I'm not going the list route though, because I think getting that to work in Octopress would be a pain-in-the-ass.

Vypr VPN Contest

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If you haven't heard of Golden Frog & Vypr VPN, they're pretty awesome. Vypr VPN is a paid VPN service that masks and protects your internet connection. Want to make sure that sites can't track you, or that your data is secure on it's way to and from the site, or just want to get around some silly content restrictions? Vypr VPN is the tool for you.

They're having a contest right now for a few awesome prizes:

  • Weekly Prizes - Two 1-year VyprVPN Premier Accounts (winners announced each week)
  • Grand Prize - Xbox One (winners announced Jan. 2)
  • Second Prize - Nexus 7 Tablet (winners announced Jan. 2)

I highly recommend you check them out ( and not just because this post gives me entries to their contest ): Vypr VPN.