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Cold in a hot zone

So, COVID-19 has made it to Seattle, and there’s been enough localized outbreaks that people are absolutely flipping out because of it. Store shelves have been cleared of nonperishables, paper products (especially toilet paper!), hand sanitizer, face masks, and bottled water (even though there’s been absolutely no concerns about our water infrastructure whatsoever and this is only causing problems for people who need to, like, fill their CPAPs and humidifiers and whatever).

Hospitals are completely overwhelmed and unprepared, and there’s no test kits to go around. I have people shouting in one ear about how terrible everything is and how we’re all going to die, and people in the other ear saying how everyone who’s overreacting is being silly and there’s no reason for anyone to do anything differently.

Somewhere in the middle, I am concerned about the pandemic, but also about what this will do to this city while everyone’s in a panic.

And meanwhile, I’m coming down with something. I don’t know if it’s my usual winter cold, or something worse; I don’t think I’ve been in a situation where I’d have been exposed to COVID-19 in particular, but for the past few days I’ve had persistent shortness of breath, and today I started feeling nauseous and came close to vomiting; not a typical COVID-19 symptom but not without precedent either.

I contacted my new doctor about it and they gave me the usual CDC guidance and that if I’m feeling ill and haven’t been directly exposed to coronavirus I should come in for an exam, and if I have possibly been exposed they can do a video visit to get a better idea of what’s going on. Meanwhile I had a hot shower and some toast and fried eggs for dinner and I’m feeling somewhat better. Not great, but better.

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Disabled dark mode for now

Ugh, I really want to support dark mode (it’s a big accessibility win!) but right now my stylesheets are such a mess and Isso does a couple of aggravating things that makes it hard to correctly do dark mode themes. Namely that it provides its own inline stylesheet that is difficult to override correctly (without just throwing the whole thing out and remaking it from the ground up).

I wish more things used CSS variables by default – they’re very well-supported now and make it a lot easier to reason around themes. One of these days I’m going to get around to redoing all my stylesheets and use them for all colors and probably for most of my sizing.

Time to upgrade my printer

So, I’ve had a Makerbot Replicator Duo since late 2012; I bought it used at a significant discount (“only” $1200!) and it’s served me pretty okay. But over time, better, cheaper printers have come along, and my Replicator has gotten pretty unreliable. Actually it’s been pretty much hobbling along for the last several years:

  • The heated print bed stopped heating, due to it shorting out due to a well-known design flaw in the print bed connector1
  • One of the last firmware updates made it only compatible with Makerbot’s own proprietary software, which was very soon discontinued to upsell newer Makerbot versions
  • The left extruder stopped working at some point; the right extruder barely works
  • The hot end really needs new nozzles but the design is such that replacing the nozzle is very easy to crossthread/ruin the hot end2
  • And really it’s never been all that great, it was just pretty much the only game in town when I bought it

So anyway, yeah, this upgrade is long-overdue.

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Caffeine acclimation

I’ve mentioned before how I used to self-medicate my undiagnosed ADHD with a trickle of caffeine until I started getting anxiety problems from it. I’ve also mentioned how post-diagnosis I’ve had trouble finding a medication which has worked for me, and I’ve tried slowly reacclimating myself to caffeine during periods between medications.

At my new job we have a pretty decent automatic espresso-drink maker, and out of curiosity I’ve tried slowly consuming one coffee drink over the course of each morning, and so far that’s actually working pretty well for me. Inasmuch as it’s not giving me a panic attack. It hasn’t really helped me with my focus, but maybe this is a sign I can try having more and maybe it won’t make me feel like I’m going to die!

I’m not about to start slamming the energy drinks or anything, but still, I’m glad that I’ve at least been able to get back a thing that’s been missing for the past decade.

Visit some hydroelectric dams!

Remember the AR startup? I’m still involved enough to be happy that our latest app, powAR, is out, and ready to possibly educate and entertain you about hydroelectric dams.

This was a fun project to work on. My main contributions were animating and educating the fish. And editing some drone footage. That was fun too.

Unlike our other AR apps, it does require an ARKit or ARCore-compatible device, so on iOS it needs iOS 12 and at least an A9 CPU (so at least an iPhone 6S, iPad Pro, 5th-gen/2019 iPad mini, or 7th-gen/mid-2019 iPod Touch), and on Android it needs… whatever the confusing device matrix works out to be there.

Anyway. I won’t be as involved with WORKSHOP 3D going forward (at least, I’m hoping my new job does well for me!), but I’ll still be around to give them advice from time to time and I am looking forward to seeing what else they make.

New store page

I finally got around to making a better store page. It’s still not great but it’s better than just linking to either my Threadless or Storenvy or whatever, and I’ll be able to backfill a bunch more of my items into it eventually.

There’s a lot of stuff I’d like to change of course, but this at least gives me a hook to setting up my own PayPal/Stripe/etc. cart as well.

Anyway I’m glad that Publ is in a state where it’s gotten easier and easier for me to make new sites from scratch with it. And I also released a new version of Publ with some shiny new features.

Ghost phone update!

I finally got around to trying out the OBi WiFi adapter today, and while I had great difficulty getting it to connect to the network, once I did, it worked like a charm.

Then out of curiosity I tried connecting it back to my regular landline and… it was able to work just fine, and it saw no backfeed at all. Meaning it was probably just having trouble due to moisture from all the rain or something, and the OBi WiFi wasn’t necessary after all.

So, I tried out the HT502, and that was also able to work just fine, and was able to make an outgoing call via pulse dialing!

Incoming calls still don’t ring quite right because as far as I can tell there’s no way to configure it with a 30Hz ring, but setting it to 25Hz gets the clapper to vibrate enough that I could theoretically tune the bells to work well enough (just more quietly). That’ll have to wait until sometime tomorrow when I’m not likely to wake up neighbors with the sound, though.

Of course if I could get the HT502 to ring at 30Hz that would be even better… I did finally find someone selling what purports to be a standard AE90 ringer and I’ve asked them for more information (like a specific part number) to see if that’d work for me. I’m not holding my breath for a response but it’d be really cool if that ends up working.

Update: The seller got back to me and confirmed that it is an AE90 ringer at the standard 20Hz. So I’ve ordered it. Another $40 spent on this silly project, oh well! It’s fun.

Balance

So, in anticipation of my new job starting next week I’m trying to figure out what the right balance of medications should be for my various neurological issues, and I’m not sure where the balance point should be. I’m mostly thinking out loud here, but I am going to try to walk through it and maybe folks with more experience can comment, or something.

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An observation

I used to get a pretty steady stream of offers for “featured guest posts” on my website, but then that tapered off, and I figured it was just because those spammers found something better to do for their SEO. But that was also around when I stopped posting to my own site regularly and was mostly blogging on Tumblr or posting to Twitter.

But ever since I moved back to this site as my primary posting destination, the emails have started to come back, which makes me think they never really left – they just stopped asking me.

It’s weirdly validating, in a way.

I mean, I’m still not going to accept any of their offers (this is my site, not some random free-for-all, dangit!) but it’s nice to be wanted all the same.

(That said I do post guest art, so if you want to get something featured on this site, draw a picture of one of my characters. I’m pretty easy to please in that regard.)

New job!

I have accepted a job at maven.io as a full-stack engineer. I’ll be working on web publishing stuff as an actual source of income now!

I am very optimistic about this. Everyone at the interview was super-awesome and friendly, and their ethics seem pretty much aligned with mine. I hope to be part of making curated published content on the web better for everyone! (Readers and publishers alike.)

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Adderall pluses and minuses

So, on the plus side, Adderall XR has been helping me quite a lot with my focus and executive functioning.

On the minus side, I’m having several of the unpleasant side effects: greatly increased blood pressure, numb toes, migraines/nausea (starting yesterday or so), and constipation.

I was really hoping I finally found something that works for me. Maybe I should stop taking it for a couple days and see how I feel. Because right now I just feel bad.

Why I’m open about my mental health (and other things)

Back in 2015, I was a complete mess, and I did everything I could to hide it. I was still having panic attacks regularly, and they would be brought on by the slightest provocation. But I felt, working in tech, that I had to be quiet about it, and just let things pass and things would get better if I ignored them.

One day a coworker did a thing that triggered a pretty big panic attack. It wasn’t anything malicious on his part, just a cavalier, morbid joke in gestural form that happened to tread upon one of my biggest triggers.

I felt awful, and I wanted to keep from feeling that way again.

So I messaged him on our work chat, and told him that the gesture he made happens to be a huge trigger for me and I was having a pretty major panic attack as a result. And his response was incredibly helpful: he didn’t realize, he understood, and he wouldn’t do it again. And he stuck to that.

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