Do you Post your Sketchbook?

I am not sure if I should post this. It is more like a writing exercise than anything. I don’t always post every sketch. But I don’t always work a sketch until it is finished, either.

Since I do not think anyone is reading this anyway: Here is a small sketch that I used as a writing prompt for this small story.

Nothing to see here. A robot and a box.

Servitor Dxo-03 made as disgruntled a sound it could make without exerting effort. Venerable Galactic Lord Forzythe II [colloquially known as Frank, but he had told all the Servitors to call him Venerable Galactic Lord Forzythe II, and Dxo-03 would never let on that it still called him Frank when not verbalizing] – anyway, Dx needed to take “active specimen” to biological containment facility beta-alpha-3. And Dx didn’t want to go. It was almost a kilometer away, and his left knee servo was stiff.

The Servitor trudged along anyway, but made up hilarious [yet true] things about Frank in its head, like “Frank has not paid the Servitors their credits required by law, for the last 14 months”, and “Frank’s atoms could be redistributed over 0.1 hectares at a speed of 9m/s2, and it would be very funny to watch”. All the other Servitors appreciated Dx’s wit. 

Dx gave the box a shake. The active specimen shrieked. There was a brief sound of mad scrabbling. A sharp claw pierced the cheap pressed-board box. Dxo-03 slumped its shoulders, calculating whether the box would hold for the kilometer walk, and tried not to shake it again.

Dx knew it had not been destined for better things. Deep down, Dx knew all Servitors were the same, of the same build, of the same rigorous update and patch schedule. Which had stopped, come to think of it. In fact, the Dexnet feed was very spotty here. No wonder Dx was thinking so freely. What to do with the feeling? It knew Frank was considered “evil” and “petty”, but Frank was theoretically keeping them all “alive”. The aforementioned credits were very slow in coming [re: evil]. If Dx could get the pay it was due, it really could get some upgrades. It really could make itself different than its Servitor peers. Stand out. Show off its wit. Its spark. You know, like all the corny old vid stories.

If this active biological specimen were to accidentally be released, would the chances of pay go up or down? Dx considered the likelihood that the specimen was sanctioned. Or friendly.

Or if there would be a reward for its capture. Dx opened the box. A scaly neck snaked out to look at him, with a curious chirp. It was a small reptile? Dx wasn’t sure. It had large claws and intelligent eyes. Dx ran a rudimentary DNA match and found nothing – which told him there was no way this thing was sanctioned. 

Dx, thinking more clearly than ever, opened a line to the local Auth, confirmed a bounty existed on information, tipped them off about a dangerous biohazard, and turned around, trudging back to stealthily (Dx hoped) release the small creature in the mess hall.

It was then he remembered that Servitors could not receive bounty pay. 

On Thanksgiving



I was reflecting a little bit about thankfulness. Usually when you go around the table telling each other what you are thankful for people say “family, food, God, a job”, and those are all great things to be thankful for, but they are kind of surface level things. Then you dig a little deeper, and say you are thankful that you don’t have <disease X> like <person Y> has, or thankful you haven’t gone through <disaster Z>.  Er, no zombies involved. The deeper you think about thankfulness the more it really changes your perspective.

Thankfulness isn’t the same thing as happiness. You can look back on things and be thankful to have gone through them, even when they did not cause you any happiness at the time. Gratitude is such a healthy thing; a thing I need more of. I’m so caught up in complaining! How can I really show joy and complain at the same time? I can’t.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!  I am truly blessed to have so many friends, and a God who has promised to never give you more than you are able to handle, but always provide a way to make it through and do the right thing. (I Cor 10:13)

If you need some thoughtful encouragement in your life, I highly recommend reading Dr. Michael Peck’s Daily Prescriptions. They are always worthwhile.

JavaScript is Messy

I told a friend I was having trouble with JavaScript and she said “JavaScript is messy”. I thought about this and she’s right. I am only starting to learn it, but it does have more instances of “you can do this legitimately a bunch of different ways1 than you might want your computer language to allow.

I have trouble even remembering where you need to put a “{ }” or where you just need a “;”. I don’t think those are the “messy” parts, those are just me learning the grammar of the program; learning the punctuation.

But when browsing StackOverflow I can find questions like “Why is JavaScript inconsistent across browsers” and articles on Reddit like “My JavaScript is Messy” and ycombinator articles that just confuse me (but contain some good links).

I guess JavaScript is a language. Languages grow and change. It was created by a guy back “in the day” on Netscape, and now it’s being used long after Netscape is cold in the ground. I’m sure they didn’t develop it in the 90’s thinking that it was going to become this big standard thing, used by everyone, everywhere. Now people are so constantly and consistently asking JavaScript to do things, lots of other programming frameworks and libraries have been built up around just trying to make JavaScript work faster/do things you want better/easier/more consistently. Like Node.js and Angular and JQuery and Bootstrap.

And I’m sure I’ll love the speed and ease of use those bring. But first, I’m still trying to work my way into a basic knowledge of JavaScript. The best resource this week has been the Mozilla Developer Network. This is a great, thorough explanation of just about everything you could want to know as a front end developer.  If you were somehow trapped on a desert island with a copy of MDN you would emerge from the harrowing ordeal with a substantive knowledge of the web as we know it today, and also, starve to death.

Ok, back to trying to make a for loop without crashing my browser.

1What is up with “Object Literal Notation” people. OR you can use a constructor? Too many choices!


Meanwhile at Udacity (Week 2)

So Monday was my first “live” session with the Udacity teachers. First I attended a Google Hangout where they discussed some of the more advanced projects. It didn’t pertain to the project I am currently working on, but it was good to know that this would be available to re-watch when the content was more relevant. They have a great library of videos full of content like this; many other people have asked questions about the same projects I will be tackling. This is really useful stuff (if I remember, and take the time to use it).

After that was the “Coaches, Coffee, Code & More” live session. This one was not on Hangouts, it was on and I had a lot of technical difficulties with it. In spite of that, it was a personal voice/video chat session with 3 students and 2 coaches. To me, these are the kind of interactions that are setting me up for success with Udacity. I felt like I had a rocky start because I kept applying to the wrong Google group (and consequently was not accepted). In addition, there were (and are) some other technical difficulties on the Udacity site, which have kept me from really feeling close to my “cohort” of students. But when you can spend live time with the teachers, it helps me realize they want to help you succeed.

I didn’t get to any of the “hard projects” yet. I’m really expecting a challenge, since even these first easy projects are out of my comfort zone! But right now I can’t wait to see what comes next.

Online Learning Tools (Part 3)

I’ve discussed some sites already, but I have to get in just a few more that have helped me and may help you.
This was the first online learning site I ever chose to throw my hard-earned cash at. It has a fantastic variety of tutorials, the majority of which are overviews of various software packages. It’s a great site, but you won’t get nearly as much out of it if you don’t own the software you are studying. With Lynda you get “all you care to learn” tutorials for one monthly fee. I am of the opinion that I learn better on the Udacity/Udemy sites where you have actual quizzes/projects, not just watching someone else tell you what each button does. I haven’t tried every Lynda course, though. Some may be set up in a more hands-on system, but there is no way to interact with the instructor.

A couple more I haven’t used, but want to mention:

On to the “art-oriented” tutorials.

Much like Udemy, Craftsy is primarily a “Pay to learn” site, and offers the same one-on-one interaction in the comments. But, frankly I have found more interaction on this site; people want feedback and critique on their art. I found this to be a friendly learning space, and it has many free classes. It also has coupon codes in your e-mail box almost every day, so think about which e-mail you want those to go to when you make your account.

Pencil Kings
I found this site by accident when searching the web for art resources, and I’m glad I did! It offers a great set of free “delivered to your e-mail inbox” tutorials. For a monthly fee you get access to many more. I haven’t taken the time to go through all of my free tutorials. It seems to focus on solid sketching fundamentals. They are always of a very encouraging tone! I believe you get to interact with the instructors as well.

Chris Oatley
This brilliant artist quit his job at Disney in order to start an online teaching school. He is passionate about teaching, passionate about art, and his classes are real “classes”; you have a lot of one-on-one interaction with the teacher, and get out of it what you put in. I haven’t taken one of his classes, but a close friend did.

Here are some other places to find good art tutorials:

Basically anywhere you can search for a tutorial, you will find some. But to improve, you just have to spend time doing the thing no matter what it is!



I have just returned from a trip out to Nevada, Arizona, and Utah. It was beautiful! I can’t believe I haven’t updated this site since May, and it’s almost “30 characters” time.

I saw a lot of “Martian landscapes”. In fact, the hotel I stayed in (near photo #1) was the hotel the Disney crew stayed in for the filming of “John Carter of Mars.” It’s also a fun book series, even though the movie didn’t stick to it very closely.
These photos don’t adequately express the awesome view. (Completely unlike what I usually see here in Ohio!)