In December, we bought a Lulzbot Mini from Aleph Objects and it has been a fantastic purchase. Our first few months of ownership saw a little use. I primarily printed organizers for our large collection of Zombicide designed by my wife. She also designed and printed our wedding cake topper. And lately, I’ve had it running non-stop as I finish my cosplay for DragonCon.

2016-08-22 - OctoPi2

Since it’s arrival last winter, our Mini has been accompanied and guided by a Raspberry Pi 2 Model B running OctoPi. The RPi2B has been a great companion for the most part but it has had some trouble staying connected to our Wi-Fi network. Earlier this summer I picked up a Raspberry Pi 3 to experiment with and one of the new improvements is an on-board Wi-Fi adapter. Alas, the wedding and honeymoon soaked up most of my free time and so the RPi3 languished on my workbench in its box.

With the recently increased workload on the OctoPi2 and Mini and the RPi3 gathering dust, I decided it was time to switch out the hardware. Swapping computers, even Raspberry Pis, requires a decent amount of prep work. First I had to order some replacement parts. The RPi3 requires a better power adapter than the RPi2 and the one I had tabbed for RPi3 use is instead being used with my RPi2B NAS server.1 Also, the microSD got taken on the honeymoon and now spends its time in our digital camera.

Even with the little bit of printing we’ve done, we’ve managed to amass a decently sized library of timelapse footage. Most of these were still sitting on the OctoPi2 and had to be downloaded and moved over to the NAS. Instead of completely replacing the OctoPi2, I could have probably just moved the microSD card over. But a fresh start seemed warranted. One of the last prints assigned to the OctoPi2 was a new case for the OctoPi3. Good thing computers don’t have feelings.

When the new power adapter and microSD card in hand, it was time to setup the OctoPi3 and put it into service. The programmers behind OctoPrint and OctoPi are fantastic. I’m currently supporting OctoPrint through Patreon. Setup takes under an hour and soon the OctoPi is hooked up to the Mini and printing a USB port support. With the first print successful the OctoPi3 is ready for full-time service!

Now what to use the OctoPi2 for?!


  1. Network Attached Storage. An external hard drive that can be accesses across Wi-Fi instead of USB. 

For a while, I’ve been struggling with continuing to work through the drawing exercises as part of Learning to Draw. The last exercise I tried was drawing a chair to learn about negative spaces. Despite my progress, I was ambitious and crashed and burned in my first attempt. Since that incident, I’ve struggled to get myself motivated to continue improving.

This is bad. I have a pair of costume ideas I’d like to start on for DragonCon. Both are going to involve months long build times and need significant visual preparation. And my drawing skills are just not there yet. My fiancée has pushed me off the starting line this weekend. Over the past year or so, I’ve been collecting various Udemy courses during their big sales. During the Thanksgiving Day sale, I grabbed Learning 3D Modelling – The Complete Blender Creator Course. Sunday, we started the course and came away excited.

2016-01-18 - Blender1

Much like Learning to Draw, I have little prior experience. I’ve tried using Blender before but never got anywhere. The first section of the course focused on installing, configuring and understanding the basics of the software. It helped a lot to spend that time getting familiar with the interface.

2016-01-18 - Blender2

After dinner, we started working through Section 2. We didn’t finish the section but we made it past the mid-section quiz and completed our first major model, an airplane. We scanned an image search for wooden toy plane and located this one from Etsy.

2016-01-18 - Wooden Toy Airplane

Here’s my finished model in Blender. I’m pretty happy about it. It took a couple hours for me to build but I think it looks great. I’m meticulous in creating things and I hope it shows. This course will likely take me longer than I hoped.

2016-01-18 - Blender3

With the model completed, I transferred it over to my old laptop and ran it through Netfabb and Cura. And then I printed it on our LulzBot Mini! My first print of a model I created.

2016-01-18 - Printed Plane

2016-01-18 - Printed Plane2

Now to start work on my Invincible Iron Man armor!

The Environmental Cost of Moving All Our Stuff is Huge. How Can We Shrink It? by Nate Berg

Berg takes a look at the future of moving stuff around the world. I’m most excited about the autonomous driving technology. It will increase the safety and efficiency of automobiles. I dream of a future where my children won’t have to learn to drive because automobiles drive themselves.

Introducing OpenAI by The OpenAI Team

Artificial intelligence fascinates me. Virtual assistants like Siri and Cortana are becoming more prevalent. As institutions inch closer to true AI, we need more safeguards in place to protect humanity from our ambition. OpenAI hopes to be one of those safeguards. Elon Musk, who has raised the alarm about AI, is a major funder of the group.

Why Splatoon is my game of the year by Sam Byford

I don’t own a Nintendo WiiU. But if I did, Splatoon would be one of my first purchases.1 A first person shooter, Splatoon turns the genre on its head by change the win conditions. Painting the walls with liquified color replaces the genre standard splattering brain matter. Byford puts Splatoon forth as his game of the year.


  1. Along with Super Smash Brothers, Mario Kart, Super Mario Maker, and The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD. 

Today I’m introducing a new kind of post, a daily link round up. I read dozens of articles and blog posts every day. I’ll be providing links to the most interesting with some commentary.

Design Comparison: Exploration and Journeys by Brandes Stoddard

If any game should have a good system for travel, it should be a game based on J.R.R. Tolkein’s masterpieces. Stoddard reviews D&D 5e’s rules on Exploration and The One Ring’s rules on Journeys. He offers suggestions for how to adapt the Journey rules for Fifth Edition. If I ever ran a more lethal D&D campaign with say the slower recovery options, I would add in the Exhaustion of Travel rules.

Captain Marvel: A Carol Danvers Primer by Charles Paul Hoffman

With the conclusion of Kelly Sue DeConnick’s run, it’s a great time to re-examine her history. She’s risen from a male-based heroine to a defining feminist figure in Marvel. Hoffman’s primer is a great beginner’s guide to Carol Danvers and includes recommended readings.

SpaceX Successfully Lands Falcon 9 at The Verge

SpaceX landed the first stage of their Falcon 9 rocket at Cape Canaveral last night. The ORBCOMM-2 mission lifted 11 satellites into low-Earth orbit. Quite the accomplishment. I look forward to SpaceX attempting the water landing again.

Secret Code Found in Juniper’s Firewalls Shows Risk of Government Backdoors at Wired

An internal code audit of ScreenOS, the software running on Juniper Networks’ firewalls, revealed multiple vulnerabilities. Juniper Networks issued a security advisory and updated software for their hardware. Many conclude that state actors are responsible for the malicious code. The security advisory provides enough detail to locate the master password backdoor. This makes it easy to hack any unpatched firewalls.

Moving on from Florida Drupal Camp

Since it’s inception in 2009, I’ve been a faithful Florida Drupal Camp attendee1. Each year, I’ve met some amazing people and promised them that I’d get more involved in the Drupal community. Unfortunately, the demands of my current position never really allowed me to do that. I’ve learned a lot every year I’ve attended up until this year. This is not a criticism of FLDC or the wonderful hosts. It’s far more a reflection on where I’m at in terms of Drupal ability. I feel confident that I’m knowledgeable enough to start giving presentations.2 It was all of this plus the lack of vacation since August 2011, that I decided to make the leap and go to the next North American DrupalCon.

Travel and Accommodations

I was not alone on my journey to Portland, Oregon. My mom decided to hitch along for the ride and explore the city while I attended the convention.3 Due to some careful planning, I was already in Orlando for the weekend prior to DrupalCon. My mom met me there and we left her car with a good friend of mine and flew out to Portland where we landed around midnight local time. It took a bit longer on the first leg to Denver because of the storms over Oklahoma but we were able to connect without much trouble. Even though we were a bit more tired than expected this helped us adjust to the time change pretty well. We stayed at the Marriott near Lloyd Center. It was close to a lot of eating places and a light rail station along with a couple of movie theaters and a shopping mall. The rail station was important because it let both of us travel across the city with ease. I really wish more cities had good light rail systems. The return journey to Orlando was far less eventful, we got back in around 8pm and made it to Gainesville by 11pm. Fortunately, Monday was Memorial Day and gave us a day to recover.

Portland

The weather was rainy for most of the week but Saturday was a beautiful day. I personally didn’t get as much time to explore Portland as I had hoped but it was entirely my own fault. Conventions are exhausting and I had to do a fair amount of remote work while away. I walked a lot to and from the convention center and I did at least get to Powell’s Bookstore and found sometime to walk around downtown. On Saturday, we went to the Market and hit up some of the food trucks.4 The appeal of Portland is easy to see and it was definitely added to my list of relocation options.

The Convention

DrupalCon Portland on a whole was a bit overwhelming. I knew only one other person that was attending, and we did meet up for lunch, but it was daunting being basically alone in a convention of nearly 4,000 people. I very much felt like a face in the crowd but I understand that’s just a part of hosting such a large convention. Even at Florida Drupal Camp these days it’s hard to know a large portion of people. I think getting involved at the local community and also in the core development queues, I’ll be able to get to know more people in the community better.

Core Conversations

On to the actual convention, I spent most of my session time in the Core Conversations track. While I barely qualify as a core contributor, I am trying to position myself to be one in the near future. In the past, I’ve created minor patches to fix documentation and spelling issues. By going to the core conversation sessions, I hoped to gain insight in how to contribute more and learn about the directions the current core developers envision for Drupal. Also, there was much to learn about the tools that the Drupal community uses and how well the core initiatives worked. Finally, while I didn’t necessarily meet any of the names I’m readily familiar with from their work in Drupal, I at least got to see who they were and heard what they had to say about the current state of core development.

Sprinting

The final day of the convention was spent participating in the core sprints. At first, I wasn’t sure what team to work on but I ended up with the Views in Core tables which turned out to be a great opportunity. To get started, I rolled up the initial patches for a few of the function renaming patches. Then I started work on re-rolling the watchdog/views integration patch. Finally, I wrapped up the day working on converting the ‘Recent log entries’ administration page into a view. The people I was working with were helpful but gave me the space to learn.

Taking the Next Step

I feel that going to DrupalCon Portland was an important step for myself. I’ve been using Drupal to build small community websites for friends and associated organizations since 2005. But I never really ventured much further than that. The experiences of Florida DrupalCamp and DrupalCon Portland made me confident that I can take the next step and become a real participant in the larger Drupal community. My plan is to first use everything I learned to make this website the best that I can. Once that is finished (and partly during that time), my hope is to help move one Drupal issue forward each week. It might take some time to get up to the pace and then it’ll probably take longer to make the next jump but I feel these are achievable goals that will help not only me but Drupal as a whole.


  1. I missed the 2010 camp because of prior commitments to another convention being hosted in Gainesville. 
  2. Indeed I’m starting to make preparations to present at the local user group. 
  3. Quite a reversal from my childhood where my parents (both special ed educators) constantly took my brother and myself across the country every year for their convention. 
  4. Though I’m not entirely convinced these were the same food trucks Portland is famous for. 

In an effort to spur some more posts, I’ve decided to do a monthly preview post. I’ll write about a paragraph on upcoming games, gadgets, books, and other things.

Leadoff

The month of November will start off with a blaze of glory as Nathan Drake returns for another installment of Uncharted. It was the Uncharted series and Heavy Rain that spurred me into purchasing a PlayStation 31 and my expectations for the third game are sky high. Fortunately, I don’t see many ways for this game to disappoint. All I’m asking for is great graphics, a good story, crazy gun fights and for Nate to get the girl.2 That’s not much right?

On Deck

notch and Mojang are hosting the inaugural MineCon in Las Vegas. Their intent is to push a new version of Minecraft while on stage.3 I’ve been playing Minecraft for about a year now and it has firmly pushed itself into my rotation of games. Hopefully the completion of the Adventure Update will push it to the front of the line between Uncharted and the next pair of games.

In the Hole

Halfway through the month will see the release of two new games. The first game coming out Nov 15 is Assassin’s Creed: Revelations. The third installment for Ezio Auditore da Firenze will wrap up his storyline. I picked up all the other Assassin’s Creed games over the Steam summer sale and thoroughly enjoyed Assassin’s Creed 2 and Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood. I still need to go back and play Assassin’s Creed but that will likely happen after I finish Ezio’s trilogy.

Cleanup

The second is Batman: Arkham City. Sure it hit consoles a couple weeks ago but I played Arkham Asylum on my PC. Asylum got rave reviews and when a Steam sale dropped the price I made sure to pick it up. Now I’ve been rewarded for my dedication to PC gaming with a $20 discount on my Arkham City purchase through Steam because I owned the first game. It took me a two solid stints through Asylum to beat the game (the last leg coming over the last few weeks). Great game, simple but fun mechanics and a great cast. As long as Arkham City follows through with the same stuff I’ll be more than happy with the purchase.

High Power

The Kindle Touch 3G will be my second kindle.4 While I don’t find my Kindle to be indispensable it has been a very useful device. My one complaint has been that it’s a bit too large to carry everywhere I go. When I show if off to others, the first thing they try to do is touch the screen and become slightly puzzled that it doesn’t respond. The new Kindle should rectify that issue and I expect it will feel just as natural with a touch interface. I rarely find myself using the hardware keyboard so the absence of it in exchange for a smaller device is an easy trade.

Protection

Reamde by Neal Stephenson. I’m not sure how I got introduced to Neal Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon but I loved everything about it. World War II, cryptography, banks, theft and computers. The tome was huge but it wasn’t enough to deter me. Unfortunately, since reading that novel, I’ve skipped over his other works. His latest novel, Reamde, however has drawn me back in. It involves an MMO, a game company, gold farming, China and the Russian mafia. One of my acquaintances gave a slightly negative comment on it, so I picked it up on my Kindle instead of in hardcover. Still, I expect this to be a solid read.

RBI Guys

Holidays, birthdays and NaNoWriMo. Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving will give welcome days off. My birthday, my aunt and cousins’ birthday and my good friend’s youngest sister’s birthday. While I won’t be participating in NaNoWriMo exactly, I plan on using it to spur a bit more fiction and non-fiction musings.

Pinch Hitters

Excluding Reamde I’m not sure how much reading I’ll get done this month but if I get the chance I’ve got two novels in the SWtOR universe waiting, Fatal Alliance and Deceived.5 Women have their trashy romance novels, men have their trashy game novels. I love exploring the histories and backstories of worlds and these two novels will give me a chance to fill in some more knowledge gaps.6

Nine Hole

Bringing up the end of the line up is the iPhone 4S. Upgrading from my 3GS will be great but I’m not sure exactly when it’s going to happen which is why the 4S is so low on this list. It’s a phone, a personal assistant, an internet device, a twitter client and an HD camera all rolled into one. I’m not sure what else I would need or want in a single device but I’m sure Apple will show me in two years.7

Waiting for the Callup

First off the bench is Nimbus from Noumenon Games. It’s an indie puzzle platform game that looks neat. It’s been out for a year but I just heard about it recently. If I manage to go through all the other games and still have some funds left in the entertainment budget this game will be the one called up.

The other item hoping for the call is Mile 81 by Stephen King. I’ve never read any of his works before and a recent short story only available on the Kindle for $3 sounds like the perfect one to start with.


  1. At the time I already owned a Wii, an Xbox 360 and a personally built gaming PC. 
  2. Which girl is up for debate but I generally find myself inclined to root for Elena instead of Chloe. But Claudia Black proved pretty irresistible in at least one play through of Dragon Age: Origins. 
  3. Pre-releases for 1.9 beta will have been available to download for nearly a month and a half at that point. And don’t get me started on their release numbering scheme. 
  4. My current kindle is a second generation one that I’ll be passing along to my dad as a belated birthday gift. 
  5. SWtOR – Star Wars: the Old Republic is an upcoming online role-playing game set in the same galaxy but a longer time ago. 
  6. An admission of guilt here, I read the Simarillion but haven’t touched The Hobbit or the LotR trilogy. 
  7. I’m on the S upgrade line with phone contracts and that’s perfectly acceptable for me despite my general early adopter vibe. The iPhone is one device I will always prefer the second revision. 

Last Thursday while my mom was on her way to Tallahassee to stay with my grandma. She dropped off several things for me: my repaired HP P4 tower, a bed comforter, some new towels and washclothes and most importantly her old iBook G4. I’ve been without a laptop for most of summer and part of the spring and man have I missed it. I’ve spent most of the past week setting the laptop up. First up I backed up all my mom’s old data to my external hard drive just in case. Next up I erased the hard drive and installed OS X Tiger. I’ve installed most of my favorite apps Adium, Coda, CoverSutra, Firefox, iLife, iWork, MS Office, Navicat Lite, Quicksilver, Transmission and VLC. The one program I need to put on that I forgot about is Pixelmator. I’ve setup Mail.app to use IMAP so I can access e-mail while I’m out and about (and delete unnecessary messages) without stopping my iMac from downloading the messages too for reference. But today before I left for work the 1GB of RAM arrived. So now my laptop is sporting 1.25GB of RAM which will be very nice. The iBook could get sluggish pretty quickly but now it’s very snappy in opening up programs and documents.