• Jonathan K

The year the world stood still

All things considered, I feel blessed having gone through this year unscathed. My wife and I have kept to a rigorous regime since the beginning of the outbreak to stay safe, to stay healthy, to minimise risks to ourselves and others; we continue to do so now, even as our government relaxes its regulations and the world takes laboured steps towards eradicating this virus. Despite bunkering down in relatively safe borders, I was constantly mortified by what happened in the world outside, though not entirely surprised. The events of today were set in motion by the actions of the past, just as our actions today will determine the outcome of tomorrow. The changes in 2020 led to an extended amount of working time spent online in front of the computer, so I tried to dedicate more time to projects away from the digital world as much as possible. These projects were wonderful distractions and a breath of fresh air for me.

One of the first ones was inspired by a video online where this guy had made a lighter/button presser. I made my own version of it rightaway. There were better ways to dealing with viruses-on-buttons, but there was something cathartic about setting the little bastards alight.

Not all my projects turn out as I had hoped, in fact, many of them fail spectacularly. I don't see them as failures though, I just list them as incomplete. Not today, but someday, I say.

Here's a couple of them: I tried building my own portable, contactless thermometer. I haven't done anything like this before, so it was pretty cool picking up Arduino and working with temperature-reading modules. The plan was to get temperature readings on the hardware, then 3d print a casing to house everything. Alas, I hit a wall at the critical point with an unexplainable error reading instead of a temperature. It was beyond my scrappy skills, so it's shelved for now! Nonetheless, I was proud of how far I got and the experience I got from it. I still carry the desire to complete this someday.

The next one is also an incomplete project that required a heavier commitment to reach a level that satisfied me. Many of us have an inherent love of dice, and I wanted to make my own some day. It's very easy, and cheap, to get started! Get a few molds, get a set of resin to mix and pour, done! The trick, however, is getting it PERFECT, which would require the use of vacuum and pressure pots to remove the little air bubbles trapped inside the resin, as well as TLC to polish it up.

The thing about these projects is to enjoy it for the things you learn from it; the things you realise you can or cannot do, and the things that you would do differently or would recommend doing to others.

However small the experiment or the activity, it has the potential to build up to something larger and more awesome. There is no need to expect it to, of course. One example of this would be my many little experiments with arcade buttons. Small ones, big ones, the ones that light up, making controls for simple, rhythm games, making a big-ass, dedicated SAVE button for Photoshop, etc. All of this made it a lot easier to tackle a larger, more complicated project when I attempted to recreate Rory Steel's XAC-Switch-Custom Controller.

If you've read this far, thank you! I hope you stay safe and stay healthy. 2020 is finally over, but the road to a new, better Normal isn't. Take care!


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