Ben Crowder

Blog

Links #27


Reply via email or via office hours

Weeknotes #15

  • School and the job search have expanded to fill pretty much all my project time. But not for much longer! (School’s finite end draws near, and rejoicing is nigh.) In the not too distant future I’m hoping to blog more, resurrect the novel and the incubator story, and finish up Cirque.
  • I began writing my semester project in Rust but recently decided to move it to JavaScript (and Canvas), so that it’s easier to see the output as it processes.
  • My recent decision to focus on frontend engineering has, I think, led me in turn back to design, which was my original career. This is a fairly massive surprise to me. I still change my mind on this almost every day (to my own unending frustration), but as of tonight let’s just say I wouldn’t be surprised if my time as a full-time software engineer is nearing its end.
  • Nonfiction reading: I finished Obama: An Oral History and very much liked it. Political history has become my jam, it appears. While I have a long list of books in that vein already on my mount TBR, if you have any particular recommendations, send them my way! That invitation holds for other genres, too.
  • I’m about a fourth of the way through Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers, about poverty in a Mumbai slum. It’s earthy and tragic, the kind of book I look forward to finishing because it’s painful to read, but that pain is kind of the point. Far too easy — at least for me, cocooned in my comfort — to forget how rampant and dire poverty still remains for so many people. Heartbreaking.
  • Fiction reading: I’m almost halfway through The Crown Conspiracy. It’s perhaps not quite as well crafted as some of the other books I’ve read lately, but still enjoyable. (And isn’t that a wonderful thing, that we can still enjoy flawed things. It gives me, a maker of very flawed things, some much-needed hope.)
  • Earlier this week Susannah Clarke’s Piranesi came in on hold for me and I ended up scarfing it down in two days. Loved it, particularly the main character’s voice and the lovely use of odd capitalization.

Reply via email or via office hours

Links #26


Reply via email or via office hours

Weeknotes #14

  • Writing is still on hold, a fact that gives me an inordinate amount of guilt. (At this point I could and should start writing again, I think; only my human frailty keeps me from it.)
  • The art hiatus seems to be over, though I still don’t have much free time for it.
  • The reason I’m learning React, fyi, is that I’ve realized I want to focus more on frontend engineering from now on. I’ve also been deep diving into the DOM docs and modernizing my JavaScript skills. Cypress (the testing framework) is amazing, by the way. I wish I’d been able to use it ten years ago.
  • My SurfaceBrush presentation went well, leaving just the semester project, and then I’m done with homework forever. (No, there is not going to be a PhD. At least not if I have anything to say about it.)
  • Pleased with the election results. Disheartened at all the resistance people have toward accepting those (clearly legitimate) results. Sanity, where did you go? I miss you.
  • I upgraded to Big Sur today. It immediately bricked my Internet connection. After an hour or so of debugging, I found that our university VPN client was to blame; removing it and reinstalling it did the trick. (Also, turns out having an Internet connection is pretty darn essential these days. That hour felt like being in a straitjacket, even though I still had access via my phone.)
  • We’ve been watching Into the Unknown, the Disney+ documentary on Frozen 2. It’s delightful—I wish they made these for every movie they make.
  • We’ve also been watching The Chosen (VidAngel) on BYUtv, and I’m loving it. Very humanizing, in the best way. (I find myself forgetting that the people in the New Testament were real people. This show is a great corrective.)
  • Nonfiction reading: I abandoned Arthur’s Britain, at least for now. Still trying to make A Distant Mirror work, but I’m suspecting that this particular season in my life (job search and all) may not be a medieval history season.
  • Obama: An Oral History is still good, and a lovely reminder of what a real president looks like.
  • Fiction reading: it was a week for abandoning books. I dropped Mexican Gothic — it was perhaps a little too creepy for me right now.
  • Apparently the type of horror I can tolerate is fickle, though, since I was fine with World War Z and finished it a day or two ago. (I have to admit, it was a little trippy alternating between it and the Obama book, since both were oral histories and the voices felt a little too similar in my head.)
  • I’ve started Michael R. Sullivan’s The Crown Conspiracy. It’s nice to get back to epic fantasy — comfort food of sorts.

Reply via email or via office hours

Links #25


Reply via email or via office hours

Another new artwork: The Lord’s Passover II. (I’ve wanted to do a simpler, better version of The Lord’s Passover and figured it was time.)


Reply via email or via office hours

The hiatus may or may not be over. New artwork: Mother in Heaven. I used Cirque to create the small circles, then did the rest of the vector work in Figma (which I’m liking much more than Illustrator).


Reply via email or via office hours

A short update on Cirque:

I took out the turbulence filters, because they shouldn’t have been there in the first place (at least not the way I had them). Instead, I’m planning to build a tool that makes it easy to apply filters to SVG elements. It’ll be more generally useful, since the SVG input won’t have to have come from Cirque.

Manually placing circles is partway done. (Placing them works; editing and deleting them is next on the list.)

I’m also refactoring to clean things up and to make the imperative code more functional where I can.


Reply via email or via office hours

This past week I turned off the self view for all my Zoom meetings, and it makes things feel a bit more natural. (I feel less self-conscious, anyway.) Recommended.


Reply via email or via office hours

Weeknotes #13

  • For the sake of my sanity, I’ve lowered the job search from a boil to a simmer. I’m still open to opportunities that come my way, but in the meantime I’m focusing more on leveling up my skills. (In particular, I’ve realized that my side projects haven’t been exhibiting the kind of engineering I’m actually most interested in, so that needs to change.)
  • Unsuccessful so far at getting back into writing, and I suspect it’ll probably remain that way for a while, sadly.
  • I’ve started using Figma as a replacement for Illustrator in making some art. That’s not necessarily what it’s intended for, but so far it’s working fine for it. Good tool.
  • I’m finally learning React. (Correction: learning it again. I did a crash course in it a couple years ago at my day job and used it on a project for a few weeks.) I realized today, though, that if I’m ever going to get it in my bones, I need to start using it for all my personal coding projects. So that’s coming.
  • I’m preparing another presentation for my graphics class, this one on the SurfaceBrush paper (VR drawing). I’m also partway through implementing the Gray Scott reaction-diffusion algorithm in Rust for my procedural textures project.
  • Relieved that the election is going in Biden’s favor. Looking forward to it being over, whatever “over” means.
  • Utah no longer sends out postcard reminders for vehicle registration renewal. Which we found out when my wife happened to look at the license plate and realized we were two months past our renewal date. Whoops. (Took care of that post haste this morning.)
  • Nonfiction reading: I’ve been reading Obama: An Oral History. It’s good.
  • The medieval history reading is still going very slowly. Starting to think it might be time to backburner those two books after all. We’ll see. (Sometimes the slowness is a sign that it’s not the right book for me, but sometimes it’s just a temporary glitch, and it isn’t always easy to tell the difference.)
  • Fiction reading: I finished Half a Soul and quite liked it.
  • I’m almost halfway through Max Brooks’ World War Z. The oral history format is fun.
  • I also just started Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. (I’m one page in.)

Reply via email or via office hours