Hacks: March 2016

One of the things that’s been good for my mental health is that I’m tinkering a lot more. I find that it definitely keeps me from overthinking the shitty parts of my life.

Software Based Fun

Hipsterbot — grabs a block of text from hipsterjesus via the API, breaks it up into an array of sentences that are less than 140 characters, and then picks one at random to tweet.

https://twitter.com/fontosaurus/status/709956875073286147

Kicks off every night at 11pm if the Macbook Pro is up and running.


Botspew: Wikipedia — similar to the Hipsterbot, I’ve been writing a bot that’ll just grab a random page from Wikipedia, pare it down to just the main body content, and then (like the Hipsterbot), break it up into an array of sentences before it decides to post one. I was hoping to have this wrapped-up this month, but the slowdown has been getting the Wikipedia API to return data in a format that makes it easy to strip out the markup without having to write a whole fuckton of regular expressions (the bane of my existence). Once I’ve got that down, the rest will be a snap, and I can get it up and rolling on a semi-frequent basis.


MySQL Keep-Alive Script — something I should have done months ago, when I discovered that MySQL was shitting the bed 2x per month or so. Simple script that pings mysql to see if it’s still alive, and issues a start command if it’s not. Scheduled via crontab, of course. Tested, works fine. Runs every minute, not like it’s going to overload the server or anything.


Physical Stuff

The other notable thing for March is that it’s the month I got access to the 3D printers at work — I can send just about any job I like to the printer, within the constraints of the size of the build envelope, and with minor limitations around time, if we’re preparing for a trade show or some other initiative.

Drone PartsDrone Framework — from Thingiverse, I printed the framework for the Peon230 quadcopter. I’ve wanted a drone for schlepping around the GoPro for some time now, and I think it’ll be a blast to shoot some video at various cycling events this year.


Brio Tracks — also from Thingiverse, I printed a bunch of Brio track compatible stuff, for the boys and their train stuff. It really re-invigorated their interest in things. Among other things, I printed a bridging piece that uses Duplo as a support, some flexible Brio tracks, some advanced bridge/Duplo pieces, train cars with Duplo tops, and a variety of intersections.


Cyclocross Frameset — I feel a strong need to get restarted on this project. I did start filing down some of the fillets on a warm day this month, and I need to think about how I am going to approach the completion. At this point it’s finishing the fillets, getting the seatstays on, and then brazing in the small parts before I send it off for a powdercoating.


Comic Book Signage Project — this has been underway since my friend Holly suggested the idea to me. I’m making a mock-up of a sign that appears in a comic book. Eventually, the plan is to have a batch of them cast in bronze and sell them. The first couple designs didn’t create a functional .STL file, the third iteration had some weird stray points that resulted in a tangled bird’s nest of plastic fibers in the printer, and I’ve been iterating. Once the printer opens back up in a week or so, I plan to send version 6 to the printer, which I suspect is going to result in a nice print.


Blender DuploGoProDuploGoPro — a few weeks ago, I printed Sam and Eddy a couple of train cards for their Brio tracks that have Duplo studs on them. While we were playing together, I realized that with all the new tracks we’re building, it would be kinda cool to be able to do something like a fly-through with the train and a GoPro, and this was born. I pieced together a design using Blender as a CAD platform (unwieldy, but doable). I need to get a test print started soon but the printers at work are occupied pretty much 24/7


What I’ve Learned This Month

  • the basics of 3D modeling software open source, which I’m gradually getting better at
  • my mental health is way better when I’m hacking away at something
  • got my head around ChartJS as part of my 2015 Reading Metrics and Review post, decided I should probably make a plugin for it, and that’s underway — the hard part will be shortcodes
  • regular expressions (still have a long way to go, but got okay-ish at this)

Next Up (April)

  • reading progress bar for WordPress
  • get SSL certificate sorted
  • geolocate map on blog of where I am (where my laptop is)
  • work more on MongoDB
  • set up high-grade WordPress server
  • transfer fontosaurus.com domain
  • OAuth 2/API fun learning

Image Credits: geralt/.

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