December 2010 Archives

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Wishing everyone a new year filled with light, joy, and laughter.
This is what I want to share today.
A late night train whistle makes me think about transitions - as the year turns, a time to think about journeys, routes, destinations.
"Keep up the stately work."
In the new year, I want to build more time into my schedule for thinking and writing on my own projects. Two days a week (most likely Tuesdays and Thursdays) I plan to go to a coffee shop rather than going straight home from school, and I'll write and think there until suppertime. In the past, writing and thinking in semi-public places has helped my concentration.
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Read the manual for my new Dremel tool.  No particular project in mind, yet.  Eager to begin cutting and making holes in things, though.
Mmm.  A house full of new toys, tools, and art supplies - and another week of vacation, so time to play with everything! I'll post as I go along - everything is only just out of boxes and wrapping paper and not yet fully explored.
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Made according to my great great grandmother's recipe.  Boiled for about 8 hours today. (Photo taken, modified, and shared via Instagram - where I'm elizabethperry.)

Chugging forward with more modest versions of original project ideas - MUCH more sensible (and unusual) behavior.  Having fun, too.
Several days of trying to squeeze too many projects into too few hours.  Ask myself, "What's the LEAST I can do and still have a holiday celebration with family?" This question lets me drop some of the less essential (though still wonderful) ideas and focus on here and now. 
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If you've wanted to do something with your Delicious bookmarks and tags before the service goes away or is sold, one possibility is to move them over to Evernote. Like many people, I've started an account with Pinboard for my new bookmarks going forward, but I was also interested in getting my old bookmarks - with their tags - into Evernote, which I'm using more and more for my own reference.  Here's a set of directions for how to retrieve the .xml file and a link for converting it into the right format for Evernote.
I have a weakness for wire anything - and I love the idea of drawing in 3D space.  And then to offer playful interaction?  This project makes me happy.

Do Not Touch Chair from Dominic Wilcox on Vimeo.

I think I like the detail images of Matthew Cusick's work with maps better than the full images.

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I realize these don't exist, but if they did, I would want them. via Laughing Squid
So. When I last reported on my progress, I had formatted my proect text in Pages, and exported it as an ePub file.  Unfortunately, though the result was pretty, the Table of Contents was stripped out during the conversion process. And if I was going to the trouble of making it an ePub and not just a PDF file, I wanted my browsable Contents feature.  

I paused.  

Read things.  

Tried things. 

Eventually I found Sigil, a free WYSIWYG ePub editor. I stripped away all styling from my text and made clean HTML files, moved the files into Sigil, learned how to use Sigel, re-tagged and re-styled all my chapter headings and sub-headings.  And...

It all worked.

I'm happy, and that Christmas present is all done!
Looking ahead, I see a short stretch of time between Christmas and New Year's Day, where we have no household plans more complicated than playing with our new toys and just being with each other. So... as I'm increasingly irritated by my broken links and other digital dust bunnies, I may play with some upkeep and renovations around the website. I'm thinking seriously of migrating my blogs from Movable Type to Wordpress, for one thing.  MT is complicated and powerful, and probably more than I need to run a couple of daily blogs.  It's tricky for me to have the design control I'd like, and any time I want to do anything significant, I need to re-learn where everything is, and what it is called.  On the other hand, while I've contributed to a number of blogs that use Wordpress, I don't know what it's like to set up, much less migrate nearly 3000 posts with images and comments... Last time I changed platforms it was from Blogger to Movable Type and that was so long ago that Ben Trott was the one who did the setup for me! So I'll move slowly, here. I'll do things incrementally, and make lots of tests, and probably be maintaining multiple versions before I'm ready to switch from one platform to another.  

I welcome any advice, warnings, encouragement...
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I love Arvind Gupta's Toys from Trash website - but until this story in Make, I didn't know he also had a Youtube channel

Got the whole project styled in Pages, with a linked Table of Contents and everything, and then when I went to export as ePub, the TOC was stripped away.  Tried again.  Still gone. Will revisit the project tomorrow...
One project this week has me trying to create an ePub booklet by way of Pages.  So far, it's going more smoothly than I expected.


A video survey by inventor Leah Buechley, showing a series of LilyPad soft circuit projects from the past three years. (via Craft)
Alas, the James Burke videos I linked to yesterday are chopped into 10-minute segments and hosted on YouTube - so just as Burke gets to an interesting point, the clip stops and you have to focus on the computer again and find and play the next segment.  Not impossible, but annoying. The shows are worth it, though.
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All 30 episodes of James Burke's Connections series are available online, streaming. I know what we'll be watching in the evenings in the coming week...


The folks at the San Francisco Exploratorium's Learning Studio experiment with video plus wind tube plus small objects. The early part of the video has its own beauty, and I especially love the joy in people's faces at the end, when they begin playing with light.

High speed video, shot from a moving train, then played back at normal playback speed. As I watch this, I'm impatient at first, and then I slow down, breathe, and begin to notice and delight in the small details. Created by Graeme Taylor, who explains his process here. (I found it various places, most recently on Laughing Squid.)

Winter vacation approaches and we are staying in town. I think of all the projects I can't wait to begin, and then figure - maybe instead of waiting until I have some magic large block of time, maybe instead I could find a small way to start projects right away, right now... What can I do tomorrow morning, or tomorrow evening, for fifteen minutes?

Nowhere Near Here from Pahnl on Vimeo.

Light with stencils, long exposures, stop-motion animation tells the story of a little dog in the city at night. via Laughing Squid
At the end of the day, when I'm sleepy, I like re-reading a book I've read before - one that feels right for the moment.  A familiar book can be as comforting as a good chair.  
Today I emptied two junk-filled drawers in the kitchen - one seemed to be mostly filled with mismatched jar lids, the other was half-filled with candle stubs. Was ruthless in throwing things away. The drawers have been returned to their original purposes, and they now open and close easily.  I'm not sure why it's taken me several years to get to it. Usually I only de-junk the stuff I can see, but now that I've discovered that this is fast and fun, I suspect I'll go after some of the other hidden junk in the days leading toward the holidays.  
Feel as if this weekend is long overdue.  Looking forward to time off line in the world of stuff and people.
Matt Mets reports on Make: Tokyo Meeting 06, a mini Maker-Faire-like gathering.  He's posted a video on his site, and then links to his set of photos from the event.  Fun to browse through the images, even when I haven't a clear idea of what's going on with the electronics or what a thing does.  I make stuff up as I look, and the mysterious items trigger new ideas. (Glad to see that Matt was wearing a Hack Pittsburgh T-shirt in the video, too!)
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Check out chromeexperiments.com for new ways of thinking about what's possible in a browser.  I found my way to the site by way of this interview...

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