A look back at 2016

I write less often than I ought to, but as time seems to fly by faster it feels more important to me to mark occasions and reflect. What happened in 2016?

Travel:

  • Places I visited: Chicago, Dublin, and London for the first time. Berlin and Columbus (both for the first time in over a decade). Las Vegas. Portland.
  • I got to see my sisters, a couple of my nieces, and my new grand-nephew.

Art:

  • I started painting!
  • I took a bunch of photos on my phone, some of which I’ll print.
  • I failed to write any new music, but I tried.

Work:

  • I learned swift, go, and for real learned how javascript.
  • I built out an automation framework from scratch for 2 iOS apps (and contributed heavily to a third).
  • I got to speak publicly about my work in software quality assurance (particularly about iOS automation and internal tools).

Life:

  • I subscribed to the newspaper, because I feel that it’s important to explicitly support journalism that distributes truth and, for the first time, I felt that I was able to.
  • Life continues to be very strange.

Website update

I moved my website to Squarespace and have been loving their templates and design tools. It was great to have a simple blog, but I felt like it really needed a facelift so I gave it a shot. So far so good, simple features, easy to use, and it’s customizable if I find myself with an entire weeks worth of time to sink into it.

New Website

Work work work

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Lately I’ve been working on a few coding projects. A little Javascript here and there. I built a “ride estimator” for the support team at Lyft. We found ourselves using a really cumbersome google doc to estimate prices for potential rides, especially now that we’re open in at least 60 cities. We wind up doing this sort of thing at least a few times a day (10+). With the old system we used to have to open 3 separate windows: the google spreadsheet, google maps, and the ride information itself. The formulae in the google doc were unprotected for some reason, meaning people would regularly, unwittingly overwrite the formula and someone would have to go hunt the actual formula down. It was also a pain to update all these formulae by hand.

I hunkered down and built a little ride estimator in Javascript (served by a NodeJS Express server) that utilizes the google maps API to to grab directions. So you can put in the start and end points of the ride and it automatically spits out the nearest region where Lyft is and estimates the ride for you. Additionally it lets you know if you’re outside of the coverage area or the ride is too long. This streamlined the workflow and cut the time it takes by at least 1/3 saving Support an estimated 10 hours of time a week.

As a bonus it’s tailored to take elements of the beautiful new redesign of the Lyft website. Oh, you’d like to go from Oakland, CA to San Francisco, CA? Here’s about what that would cost:

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At Long Last

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     At long last I bestow upon you another album, In Living Time. Mixing/mastering is a ridiculously tedious process for me (especially after trying to “perfect” the tracks) and I’m sufficiently inexperienced in the art to feel comfortable at pretty much any stage of the process. I am, however, reasonably satisfied with my results, or at least happy enough with them to share. It’s kind of meant to be a soundtrack of sorts, but I don’t really have any video to track it to, so it’s standalone in a way. It’s also meant to be a sequel of sorts to the first album (You, Future!). .I’ve listened to these tunes hundreds of times at this point and I think it’s high time that you got to hear the mostly finished versions as well. I’ll likely touch up Disappearance at some point, but I’m done for now and I need to move on. Half of these songs were starts that began during my first attempt at a 48-hour album, the rest are songs that I started before or after that crazy blitz. At any rate here’s the link, I hope you enjoy (be sure to tell your friends all about it).

     http://squarerootofboom.bandcamp.com/album/in-living-time

Results

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seven out of ten

     That’s how many songs I happened to write in a 48-hour period, they’re on my soundcloud at the moment, so there are the results if you want to hear them. I’d advise you to wait, though, except for 40th floor. It’s pretty much finished. It wasn’t too immense a task, and I think I could do it given better foresight. The goal was 10 songs in 48 hours, I settled on a two-minute minimum for each song. Mostly I was looking for sketches, ideas for songs that could provide some inspiration for full-fledged efforts. I’m currently working at improving those loose sketches I produced during the project. Most of these are good starts I think, I’m planning on releasing a set of more palatable tunes here fairly soon. I need to re-record vocals, mix most of them, and do some final tweaking then they ought to be ready for consumption by you! (Aren’t you excited? Hurray!) This ought to be a quick process, under a week, perhaps. I might be able to get it done by next week when I will suddenly have no life or time or sanity. Okay, I’ll still retain my sanity — hopefully. Well, I’ll have something for you at any rate, even if it’s half an album. Oh that’s all, I think, except:
Hurray!

48 Hour Album

     These days I don’t work all that many days a week, I’m looking for something better and closer to my field (economics, if you know of any jobs please contact me), and I found a way that I could potentially use some of this time. To put it bluntly: I’ve been lazy. Although, this is my summer break in a way. Seeing as I’ll be in school again soon, which means that it’s a distinct possibility that I won’t have time to participate in February Album Writing Month, or FAWM. If you have time you should do it. It’s a daunting task, but the challenge is fun. Instead I’m going to try to write and record a ten-track (minimum) album in 48 hours. I need to write more and what better an excuse than to push out ten songs in two days. I might be able to do fourteen, but that might be a stretch. I’ll post the results here in, hopefully, just under 48 hours. Updates might be available more frequently on twitter, check there. The “theme” will be loosely based on Rain and Convertible, two instrumental tracks I wrote in November. They are currently up on my Soundcloud. Take a listen while you wait for the results.
     Ready. Set. Go.

Delinquency

     It appears that I’m once again seriously remiss in updating this blog, a problem I seek to remedy this very moment. The trouble is that it (by “it” I refer to life, the universe, everything) is all so damn distracting, photos here, projects there, and school always seems to get in the way (especially during the summer, oi vey). I wandered off to Burning Man after summer term, something I never really thought I’d get around to doing and it was certainly one of the best things I’ve ever done. No, really. It’s also remarkably difficult to describe, but it was good and I have pictures here.

I finally wrapped up the album I wrote pretty much from November 2010 to the end of February this year. It’s free, you can download it too, and I’d love to hear what you think of it. It’s on bandcamp here: http://squarerootofboom.bandcamp.com/

Additionally, seeing as I am still underemployed, I’m mulling over possibilities for potential econ research. Details later, I suppose.

Promotions

     I’m helping out with a few things here and there for a cabaret show that’s happening in a few months. Was trying to come up with a few different poster designs for them and here are the initial results:


and this one’s my favorite:

     I’ll probably be doing some more stuff for them in the near future as well, get excited.

Acrylic on Glass

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     I painted these a while ago, but I’m pretty sure I don’t have them up on the web. I’m planning on doing a few more, maybe themes on some sort of melody. Glass is (so far) the only thing I really enjoy painting on, maybe that preference will eventually change. I would like to do more of these, maybe I’ll paint a few over the next couple of days (winter break leaves me with some time to actually play).