Layered paper cut with spacers between each layer

I made this laser cut, paper, layered, circle design a few weeks ago. At the time I didn’t have any different color paper so I made it out of red paper. The problem with making it all out of red is that the different layers don’t show up that well. I took the results as a test and left it in the corner of my room where all my tests cut go.

I stumbled on to this Charles Clary work with his layered paper cut sculptures. Below is a video of him creating one. Note how he uses spacers between each layer.

I took the old design and put a coroplast spacer between each layer just in the center and glued the entire set together. I like this version more than the old version as the layers are much more pronounced but basic design needs to be more interesting.

Old version
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New version
IMG_20141012_192343

 

 

 

Laser cut, layered circles

Its 5 layers, I only have one color of paper so it kind of hard to distinguish between the different layers.

Sloppy tutorial

  1. Create an image with inkscape
  2. Create two copies of the circles.
  3. With the first copy, Set the stroke width to 4 mm
  4. Select the first copy again and from the menu “path”=>”Stroke to path” This will change the stroke to a path instead of a single line.
  5. Create a copy of the untouched circles and increase its width and repeat as many times as you want.

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fe335b7d80d8c0ba

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More comments here 

Chinese paper cutting done with a laser cutter

I have always been fascinated by the Chinese paper cut pictures. The owl image below came from a scan of a paper cut picture that I picked up while in china. I started researching how these chinese paper drawings where made and found that many of them come from silhouette drawings that are converted into paper cut drawings afterward. I searched google and found a bunch of other silhouettes and started to convert them to vectors so I could cut them on the laser cutter. I think the branches one turned out the best.

 

Thread map of vancouver for Maker Labs Art show

I have been collecting data about myself since the start of 2014 as part of the Quantified Self moment . One of the data points that I have been collecting is my location. Over the year I have been collecting my location data with these three different applications.

  • Moves-app – This application is passive and works in the background on my phone. It tracks the location as well as path between each location and the method of travel. This application has moderate accuracy and can get confused if the GPS gives the wrong data.
  • Foursquare – This application I have to actively check-in to locations and tell the service that I am there. This service is a lot more accurate then the moves-app but only tells location and only if I remember to check-in. The main reason that I use foursquare is that it has a fantastic Api that integrates with my life tracking dashboard.
  • Google location history – A lot less accurate then the moves-app but I get it for free by installing Google maps on my android phone and opting in. I use this data to smooth out the paths with the moves-app data.

Between these three services I can get a pretty good picture of where I have been over the year.

I was reading “The Map as Art” by Katharine Harmon and saw this map created by Katie Holland Lewis called Tangled Pathways. Her map was created by mapping the points on her body that provided her with sensations such as pain, and stringing these points together into a map of her experience. Her work gave me the inspiration me to create this project.

 Katie Holland Lewis called Tangled Pathways
Katie Holland Lewis called Tangled Pathways http://katiehollandlewis.com/portfolio/tangled-pathways/#3

First I created a wooden map of Vancouver using open data provided by the City of Vancouver open data catalog. I used the location data that I have been collecting over the year and some small nails to pin point all the points on the map that I have been. I then took some thread and followed the path between these locations as I traveled over the city each day. Most days I would start at my house and travel between 5 or 6 different locations before heading back home for the night. This create a heat map of the city with thread. My home, work, and workshop (Vancouver Hackspace) quickly became dense with thread as the most frequent places I visited. Other entertainment districts also became defined on the map

At first I tried to use Yarn between all the points, but the yarn was too thick and after a month I wasn’t able to add any more threads to my home or work locations. I ended up cutting out all the yarn and starting over again.

Yarn map of vancouver

The picture below shows the first three months of data using thread. I used a different color for each month. You can see that my home, work, and workshop are heavily covered in thread.

Thread map of vancouver Thread map of vancouver

I ended up submitting this idea to the Maker Labs art show on July 4th and got accepted. This is my first real art show that I have ever participated in and I am very excited about it. RSVP for the art show here

I will post updated pictures and a link as I finish the rest of the map.

 

 

Domain names and registrar

Domain names and registrar

Currently I am using 6 different registrars for 100+ domains that I have registered over the years. All these different accounts on different registrars with different interfaces, make it annoying to update and keep track of everything, especially when I need to renew all my domains.

I’m in the process of consolidating all my domains and moving them to a single registrar.

Requirements

  • Supports TLDs: .com, .ca.
  • Less than $20 a year.
  • Whois Privacy
  • 99.9% SLA uptime (Yearly: < 8h 45m 57.0s of down time)

Nice to have (In order of importance)

  • Non-US data storage preferably Canadian – With all the revelations about the US NSA, NSL etc.. I would prefer not to do business with a US based company if I can help it. My preference for Canadian is only exists as it makes it easier to deal with them legally incase I have to.
  • Two factor authentication preferably using Google authenticator – Two factor authentication makes me feel better about storing all my domains in a single place. In theory it should make it harder for people to steal my domains incase I am targeted by an directed attack.
  • DNSSEC – Prevents DNS poisoning and adds more security
  • Supports .io domains and other exotic TLDs – I don’t need them right now but I might in the future.
  • IPv6 Support – I don’t need it now but it might be nice to support it in the future.
  • 99.99% SLA uptime (Yearly: <52m 35.7s of down time) – Not that it matters too much but I do like companies that can keep their servers up and running.

After researching and asking the VHS mailing list I came down to this short list of registrars. I am currently leaning towards Gandi.net

  1. Gandi.net- Good: Supports exotic TLDs, DNSSEC, Two factor authentication, $15/yr, Non-US (French), 99.99 SLA,
  2. EasyDNS.com – Good: Non-US (Canadain), DNSSEC, IPv6, 99.99 SLA, $15/yr (Recommented to me by several people) Bad: No Two factor authentication.
  3. name.com – Good: IPv6, Two factor authentication, Supports exotic TLDs, DNSSEC Bad: US-Based (Denver, Colorado)

 What registrar do you use? and why? 

Life tracking Jan 2014

This chart was generated with the help of Rescue Time. It looks like I’m more productive this month (58) than last month (53)

RescueTime_jan2014

 

Top used apps on PC and Phone

This month I started and completed Bioshock Infinite, a great game.

  1. Gmail
  2. sublime_text
  3. Bioshock Infinite
  4. Google Talk for Android
  5. irccloud.com
  6. Visual Studio
  7. Skype
  8. GMail for Android
  9. Putty

Movement tracking 

This chart of where I spend most of my time was generated withhttp://www.moves-export.com using the data provided by Moves app. A good week for steps should be 70,000. More steps then last month over all but I still had a bad week after new years.

Week Starting Home Work Other Places Travel Fitness Steps
1/26/2014 81 h 4 min 22 h 12 min 30 h 40 min 2 h 1 min 7 h 42 min 49165
1/19/2014 112 h 11 min 16 h 39 min 24 h 11 min 3 h 38 min 6 h 36 min 53805
1/12/2014 99 h 19 min 0 h 0 min 13 h 26 min 5 h 36 min 4 h 48 min 35835
1/5/2014 90 h 8 min 31 h 0 min 28 h 35 min 4 h 46 min 5 h 57 min 46085
12/29/2013 107 h 39 min 16 h 8 min 34 h 14 min 1 h 51 min 7 h 45 min 52190

The following map is generated by Google’s location history page. Since this map is automatically generated it contains many errors. I don’t find it as useful as the moves map above.

googlemap_jan2014

Search patterns

This image is generated from Google’s search history page. +400 searches then the previous month

googlewebsearch_jan2014

BC Hydro

This map was created by BC Hydro usage monitoring with a smart meter. I have been doing much better this month and I was able to stay under my energy goal.

bchydro_jan2014

Sleeping

Doing much worse on length of sleeping. Its more even than last month but its still not long enough.

Total sleep time: 195.6 hours
Average daily sleep: 7.2 hours
Avg. sleep/record: 7.2 hours

sleepbot_jan2014

Generated with the help of an android app called Sleep Bot

Life tracking Dec 2013

Productivity tracking

This chart was generated with the help of Rescue Time

dec2013_rescuetime

 

Top used apps on PC and Phone

  1. Sublime_text
  2. Putty
  3. Gmail
  4. pidgin-portable
  5. Google Talk for Android
  6. GMail for Android
  7. Google Chrome
  8. Visual studios 2010

Movement tracking

This image shows my movement around Vancouver in December 2013. The image was created with processing using a script from MMapper based on data that was recorded with the Moves app on my cell phone.
dec2013

This chart of where I spend most of my time was generated with http://www.moves-export.com using the data provided by Moves app. A good week for steps should be 70,000

Week Home Work Other Places Travel Fitness Steps
Dec 29, 2013 to Jan 4, 2014 69 h 1 min 18 h 15 min 52 min 4 h 41 min 28,223
Dec 22, 2013 to Dec 28, 2013 139 h 33 min 4 h 48 min 15 h 24 min 2 h 38 min 5 h 34 min 38,249
Dec 15, 2013 to Dec 21, 2013 102 h 0 min 33 h 40 min 22 h 4 min 1 h 30 min 7 h 29 min 60,617
Dec 8, 2013 to Dec 14, 2013 99 h 5 min 26 h 13 min 23 h 5 min 3 h 43 min 6 h 22 min 50,506
Dec 1, 2013 to Dec 7, 2013 89 h 38 min 31 h 30 min 26 h 7 min 3 h 53 min 4 h 38 min 45,932

The following map is generated by Google’s location history page. Since this map is automatically generated it contains many errors. I don’t find it as useful as the moves map above.

dec2013_location

Search patterns

This image is generated from Google’s search history page.

dec2013_search

BC Hydro

This map was created by BC Hydro usage monitoring with a smart meter.

BC hydro Dec

House sensors

The temperature of my house, recorded with a 1wire temperature sensor and a Raspberry PI

dec2013_temp

Sleeping

Total sleep time: 207.2 hours
Average daily sleep: 8.3 hours
Avg. sleep/record: 6.9 hours

Dec 2014 sleeping

Generated with the help of an android app called Sleep Bot

Other

Gmail disk usage increase: 116mb

 

Laser cut Frabjous

I laser cut this object sesigned by George W. Hart as a gift for my mother for xmas this year.I got the original design from Thingiverse, made for 4mm ply wood. I modify the files to work with the 6mm birch wood that I had available at the space.

Helpful instructions on how to put it together at Evil Mad Scientist. This video that shows the entire build process in vimeo.

Solving the frabjous sculpture from Artifacture on Vimeo.

Goals for 2014

This has been a productive year but not a great one. I accomplished two of the seven goals that I set from last year.  This year I plan on spending more time focusing on personal development and less on my side projects.

I feel like this year I lost my spirituality. (not the same thing as a religion which I never had or want). I lost my ability to trust others and have faith that things will work out for the better with time.  The root cause of this is my conflict in my personal relationships that have long since ended but the effects are still lingering.

The conflicts causes me to hide away and work on my side projects with more intensity but less effectively. I feel like I accomplish a lot this year but I wasn’t happy doing it. During the conflict and the projects that I started since then. I never took any time to reflect on them and my past choices (A post mortem). Instead i just buried myself in more work to distract myself from thinking about it.

Goal 1: Meditate and reflect (A post mortem) on all projects and life events.

Mediate and reflection can be as simple as spending 5 mins afterwards to think about what just happened, what went right and what you can improve on next time.

Goal 2: Create a new post on abluestar.com every week

Documentation is important. Many of the projects that i have worked on over the past year were never documented, photographed or recorded in any way. I have the experience from doing the project but nothing to show off.

This can be as simple as uploading images with a sentence or two into a new post or doing a github submission of the source files.

Goal 3: More life tracking with follow up.

Life tracking this year has has some good results. Even the simple step counter app (moves) on my phone has helped me keep active daily. It reminds me if I don’t reach my daily 10k steps a gold each day. My plan is to add a weight, meal and sleep life trackers this year to help me stay healthy.

The problems with sending a lot of emails.

One of my side projects is a daily fiction magazines called EveryDayFiction.com. We take user submitted stories of 1000 words or less. Give feedback on every submitted story, select the best stories, and publish a new story each and every day. We even pay our authors! We have been operating since 2007 and we have published 2500+ stories.

We send a lot of emails 

We have 6,000+ email subscribers and we are growing by about ~100 new subscribers every month. Everyday we send all our subscribers a new story via email. On average we are sending ~2,190,000 email a month (6000 subscribers * 365 days = 2,190,000 emails) that is a lot of emails!

We are a good guy!

We make it hard to subscribe to our mailing list, and easy to unsubscribe. We do this to ensure that you actually want one of our stories in your inbox and to help reduce the amount of people that mark our emails as spam.

To subscribe you have to enter your email address into a clearly defined subscription box on our website. We send you an email to confirm that you actually want this email (double opt in) and to confirm your email address. This prevents someone from subscribing their friends and family on their behalf. At the bottom of every one of our email in NORMAL SIZE FONT is a link to unsubscribe. It only takes one click to unsubscribe.

Sending that much email is hard or expensive

To send the new stories to our email subscribers we have two options.

Send the email our selfs

We could send the emails our selfs from our own servers. This option is cheap as it just costs us bandwidth, but is has many draw backs.

If enough people mark our emails as spam in a short period then automatic spam prevention robots (more good guys) may black list our domain or server as a spammer. Once you are on the blacklist its very hard to get off that list, Many email clients (google, hotmail, outlook, etc…) use this list to help reduce spam. If you are on this list your email goes directly in to the spam folder or gets deleted unread.

Most web hosts also have limits on the amount of emails that you can send from their hosts to also prevent spam. Dreamhost (one of our old hosts) has a limit of 100 emails per hour. If we wanted to send our subscribers the daily stories each morning it would take ~60 hrs (6000/100). Media temple (another old host) has a limit of 500 emails an hour or 12hrs. Other hosts have very similar limits.

We would also have to store all of our subscribers email address on our own server. This isn’t such a big deal until your server is hacked and someone steals your mailing list. Then they starts sending spam emails to all of your subscribers and your subscribers get mad at you for giving our their email address.

Send emails from a third party 

This is what we are currently doing. When you subscribe to our mailing list you are actually sending your email address to a trusted third party. (In this case Feedburner, aka Google) When we publish a new story we send a copy of this story to Feedburner and they send the story to all of the subscribers.

Feedburner and Mailchimp have a lot of experience and a relationship with the automatic spam prevention robots and email black lists providers. They ensure that their servers and domains do not get black listed, and do other good things to prevent your email from getting marked as spam.

Their servers are set up to send email and don’t have the same limits as dreamhost or other web hosts have. They also have dedicated staff to ensuring the security of your email subscription list. So you don’t have to worry about security as much.

But they are also very expensive and the free options are disappearing.

Feedburner while free, has many other problems with it and no support to turn to when things go wrong. They are also slowly shutting down their service leaving us without any good free options.

Sending ~6000 emails every morning from MailChimp, it would cost around ~$75 per month for 5,800-10,000 subscribers. This is a cost that we just can’t afford to pay at this moment. Other email services like MailChimp cost about the same amount or more.

Plea for help

How do you send a email to a large subscription base daily on the cheap?

I build stuff.