3D Prints June 2024

June 30, 2024 11:10 am

My skills with SolveSpace continue to improve. Also, my pull request to implement text kerning was merged, so I'm officially a contributor to that project.

In June I designed these battery organizers. A lot of battery organizers already exist, but almost all of them are tall whereas I wanted something to fit in the drawer in the kitchen (where we previously organized our batteries in a cardboard box). They're not perfect, but they're good enough. The angle they sit on probably needs to be steeper to encourage them to roll forward better.

The labeling on the front of each was completed in Bambu Studio after designing the rest in SolveSpace.

The fabric on one of my speakers has been coming off one side for a long time now. It's under tension so I'm not sure how I could glue it back on effectively, but I designed and printed some clips that are doing a pretty good job of holding it in place.

At some point I realized we were missing out on a great home-customization possibility: light-switch plates! I found existing plate models someone shared and started putting designs on them. It's fun. The girls picked out some dragons for their rooms. I made a tree for the living room, a butterfly near the front door, and a lighthouse in the kitchen.

The multi-color ones take some work because you have to put each color in separate SVGs and then align them correctly on the model.

I also discovered that the switch box in the living room is not aligned with the plane of the drywall, so to get my switch plate to sit flush against the wall I had to make it deeper and then cut the back off (in the model, not physically) at an angle to match so that it didn't leave noticeable gaps on one side.

I think these are super fun.

Games June 2024

10:15 am

With new games for my birthday we had to get to playing!

Made Mom & Dad play Turing Machine, Camel Up, and The Guild of Merchant Explorers while they were here. I lost Turing Machine, won one and lost one of Camel Up, and won The Guild of Merchant Explorers.

Turing Machine is an interesting little game. I received it for my birthday. A set of punch cards is used to define the behavior of each scenario. The coolness of that implementation isn't really relevant to the actual gameplay mechanics, but it's a triumph of design. The gameplay is like an advanced form of Mastermind/Wordle/Clue. You propose a hypothesis of the solution and then obtain information about how much of your hypothesis is correct which you then integrate with your existing information using deductive reasoning to arrive at the correct solution first.

There's no story or narrative behind the game, the theme is "Punch card 'computer'!". A straightforward mechanic which also means it plays quickly. For players familiar with the rules the 20-minute play time is accurate--and the rules are not complicated.

Camel Up I've covered previously. Still silly fun running camels around the track.

I'm still enjoying The Guild of Merchant Explorers, which is good as I received a copy for my birthday. I've been working on designing a 3D-printable organizer. I think it's done, but I'm letting the design sit a bit before I print it so I can look at it again with fresh eyes. Also it's 100+F here all week and I'm avoiding adding even more heat to the house that needs to be removed.

Played again with Jess and I won then too.

Went to a board game meet up and played another round of Faraway (previously discussed), then Call to Adventure, and Turing Machine. I won Faraway and lost both Call to Adventure and Turing Machine.

Call to Adventure is a simple and fairly quick story-telling game. I like to call it "short-story generator." The idea is that you're developing the narrative of an epic-story character. On your turn you attempt to advance your story in some particular way and to do so you consult the soothsayers and cast the bones in the air and read the result to determine whether you are successful in that endeavor.

The rulebook has one major omission that would ease learning the game, though, which is a simple diagram of card anatomy. Instead you have to read a bunch of text and then attempt to match what it's talking about to the cards you play with. A picture would resolve all the common questions that come up when learning it. I guess I should just make one and stash it in the box.

The family finally advanced our Mechs vs Minions campaign by successfully completing mission 4 with a flawless victory. Our mechs arrived at the target location without a single minion alive to tell the tale. But boy was it an emotional rollercoaster for some members of the family--I guess that made the victory even sweeter.

And to finish the month Jess and I continued our Kinfire Chronicles: Night's Fall story by successfully completing Quest 7, "Red Sky at Night". We escaped the fire, defeated a foe who we thought was a friend, and gained access to the next part of the city. I'm still mostly happy with the organizer I designed. I'm starting to think that were I to do it over I'd just have the cards sit vertically instead of angled. Room is a bit tight. Or maybe go through the effort of making adjustable dividers.

Books June 2024

9:20 am

Books I finished reading in June 2024. Another short list this month, but one of them was _long_.

The Rain by Joseph Turkot

Kind of a generic post-apocalyptic story, but told as a first-person narrative and was enjoyable.

Something happened and it started raining and then just never stopped. We're going to set aside even where all the water would have to be coming from to raise the ocean levels as high as described, but fine.

Anathem by Neal Stephenson

Stephenson is known for his fairly-hard sci-fi. He does a great job of including solid math and physics and then going beyond in a fun way. His work is definitely more challenging to read than much other sci-fi stuff, but that often is because of the richness of his worlds and the accuracy of the science.

I had little information about Anathem before diving in, which I think made it more enjoyable. It's 1000+ pages though, and without the reputation of the author behind it I may have given up after the first couple hundred pages. For a novice author it could easily have been an rambling mess with no coherent story thread, but for Stephenson it tells an interesting story--he just takes his time doing so. He could easily have published it as a trilogy instead but I think that may have made the story inflection points feel more arbitrary.

Anyway, I enjoyed it a lot and it didn't feel like I was slogging through 1000+ pages, it felt like I was walking the path of the story and enjoying the journey.

Hot-air Balloon Ride!

June 25, 2024 4:48 pm

For our 15th anniversary Jess and I took a hot-air balloon ride. Sarah watched the girls for us and we drove out to Rancho Murieta (a tiny town southeast of Sacramento) and stayed the night at a hotel before getting up at, ugh, 5am to get ready and out the door for our dawn departure time.

It was fun and I'd do it again. I'd probably ask the pilot for a recommendation on time of year though because apparently summer can be a bit less exciting. When the air is hotter your balloon has fewer options for maneuverability (which is achieved by moving up or down into different thermoclines which have different wind directions). We found that out by getting "stuck" below 1000 feet, the air at that altitude was part of a heat bubble sitting over the valley and we couldn't ascend through it. So we didn't go very far, very fast, or very high, but it was fun regardless. Which is all preferable to going too far, too fast, or too high--so there's that.

We landed in a field and then the balloon minions dragged us over to the road, over a fence, and into someone's yard where they could safely tear down the balloon without needing to carry it hundreds of feet to the truck.

Once the balloon was packed up in the truck we got back to the van, then back to the hotel, had breakfast, and then headed home.

A Couple Days in Monterey

June 17, 2024 4:31 pm

Mom said she'd take care of our cats for a couple days so we could do a short trip to Monterey.

We stayed at the Best Western in Marina which is almost as close to the beach as you can get. So after checking in we walked down to the ocean. It was cold. I wore pants, a long-sleeved shirt, a windbreaker, and a hat. I also went to Walmart and bought a couple blankets and was wrapped in one. I was still chilly. The girls pranced about and played in the waves. I don't know how they didn't freeze, but once Corinne was shivering we packed it in and went back to the motel.

The next day we drove into Monterey to go to the aquarium. We parked downtown and walked around Old Fisherman's Wharf a bit. But before we got to the wharf we passed a patisserie and bought crepes. We had considered waiting until our way back, but it was good we didn't because they were closed then. They were pretty good, though they took an oddly long amount of time. On the wharf the girls found a cow-bench to sit on.

At the wharf there were sea lions basking, and barking, on the shore. We walked the length of the wharf and then along the shoreline trail a while before hopping on the free trolley to finish the trek to the aquarium.

Corinne and Heather have very different approaches to such places, so I went with Corinne while Jess stayed with Heather. Corinne was upset when the bat rays wouldn't come over to her for petting, but on our 3rd visit to the touch tank she was able to reach them and was very pleased about it.

Then it was back to the motel and the next day we headed home. And the day after that (Father's Day) I took Mom & Dad back to the train station.