This Wednesday, I found both the time and gumption to migrate my website to the new domain (marcusbaker.org). I had been procrastinating because migrating all the WordPress content and databases seemed like a massive headache. Additionally, it was easy enough to mirror the old domain (ens0.info). When I received a notice that the domain registration was expiring, the time to hesitate was through. Continue reading
Since my last post, I’ve finished my degree at the University of Minnesota. I may not have taken the shortest path, but I learned so much about what I wanted in life along the way. As has been my pattern, I’ve been completely wrapped up in school projects and neglected blog updates. In an attempt to atone for that, I’ll be making several small posts over the next couple weeks, most of which will focus on projects I’ve worked on since last summer and didn’t have time to document.
In professional news, I recently completed editing Jim Hall’s book on IT leadership called Coaching Buttons. This was my first editing job, and I think it went well. Certainly the feedback I received from the author gave me confidence in my editing prowess going forward. Coaching Buttons should be available by Q2 2018. I’ll update with a link once it’s live.
Speaking of going forward, I have two projects coming up:
First, I accepted a short-term technical writing position at Daikin Applied, where I’ll be creating “cut sheets” for their sales and marketing teams. I’m very excited about this project, as it entails a different style of writing from other work I’ve done so far. And I highly value anything that expands my experience in the field.
The other project is a usability / document review for Skykit. One thing I learned while working on Coaching Buttons, is that I rather enjoy editing and document review. Especially when it comes to substantive and copy editing. I find smoothing the awkward phrasing and flow in writing a fun and interesting challenge. What I find odd is how difficult it is to do this to one’s own work.
That’s all for this post. Belated project posts to follow!
Last night I began my senior capstone project: a style sheet for ens0.info. For those not in the know, a style sheet is an editing tool used to create consistency in style, punctuation, abbreviations, units of measurement, and formatting.
I already have a rough plan in my head which would be better if I placed it in digital form, and this seems a good place to do so.
- Make an alphabet grid for unique words
- Add sections for capitalization, dates, numbers, etc.
- Determine which style Style Guide I’m using
- Determine which dictionary I’m using
- Define text layout
- Define font styles (this should be in the CSS already)
- Define visual layout principles
Once all those items are sorted out, I can begin reviewing the blog and filling in the style sheet. To complete the project, I’ll write up a short paper in which I explain my editing choices for organization, format (both text and overall), and the chosen terms in my grid.
Piece of cake, right?
In a business as competitive as the packaged food industry, a fair amount of money must be put into attracting, or persuading customers to purchase your brand. While there are several means of doing this, there is none so persistent as having well designed labels. So while there is certainly a genre style to frozen pizza boxes, I aim to compare and analyze how various companies differently use color, images, and typography to attract customers. Continue reading
By this time next week I will have finished my first semester as a technical writing major. I have but two more semesters in this long college run, and I’ll be happy to be done. I have to admit I made a mistake by not taking Dr. Heinsohn’s advice years ago, when she boggled at me when I told her I was a Comp Sci major, and she said I belonged in the liberal arts. I finally feel like I’m at home with this major. After years of trying to make myself love programming and heavy mathematics I have landed where I’ve always belonged.
Super short post today: As of yesterday, I am a student at the University of Minnesota.
While I’m super excited at the possibilities presented here, I must admit it’s a bit overwhelming. I spent so long at my previous school, and was probably too comfortable there.
I hope to have enough time between courses to post about them, but if previous experience holds true, I’ll be too damned busy…
The end of the semester is closing in, and the final projects have been assigned.
Here’s the one I drew:
Design a sequential circuit which adds six to a binary number in the range 0000 through 1001. The input and output should be serial with the least significant bit first. Find a state table with a minimum number of states. Design the circuit using NAND gates, NOR gates, and three D flip-flops. Any solution which is minimal for your state assignment and uses 10 or fewer gates and inverters is acceptable. (Assign 000 to the reset state.)
Test Procedure: First, check out your state table by starting in each state and making sure that the present output and next state are correct for each input. Then, starting in the reset state, determine the output sequence for each of the ten possible input sequences and make a table.
At first glance, it doesn’t sounds too complicated. Though, as with the first design project, I’m sure there are a ton of ways to get it working and minimize gate counts.
First order of business: Make a Truth Table!
I have omitted the “Don’t Cares” from this table, since my input range is restricted to inputs 0-9.
Next, we need a State Diagram. We’ve spent very little time on these, so admittedly, I expect this part to be a bit more messy.
Last spring I received an email of the type that I normally delete:
“Congratulations! You have been selected to attend the 2015 International Scholar Laureate Program (ISLP). As a member of Phi Theta Kappa, you have been chosen for this honor based on your exemplary academic performance and your declared major upon joining Phi Theta Kappa.
blah blah blah…
During ISLP, you will join the world’s best and brightest college students on a journey of discovery to one of the most exciting destinations in the world. You will engage in career-focused study detailing the history and global impact of careers — all while broadening your horizons in a foreign culture. Throughout your time at ISLP, you will also have ample opportunity to uncover your destination’s cultural treasures, explore its modern-day wonders and soak up everything your host country has to offer.
More blah blah blah….”
And then, on the side of the page, I see the words “Engineering and Technology: New Zealand”
Once I saw those words, I knew I was going. It was going to be expensive, basically consuming what little I’d still had saved from my time at the firm. The choice however, was obvious. I’d been thinking for the last 15 years about moving there. I had friends (Shaun, Vanda, and Rob) I used to play EverQuest with years ago who lived in Auckland. Not to mention I’d hopefully enjoy the experience of whatever the heck this ISLP was going to be.
So I paid the tuition, and messaged my friends who then graciously offered put me up in Auckland for 4 days before joining the delegation!
My flight plans were to leave Minneapolis, have an hour or so layover in San Francisco, and off to Auckland on an overnight flight. Unfortunately, the flight out of Minneapolis was delayed about 90 minutes. This meant I may or may not make my connection. Despite being seated in the second to last row of the plane and then having to sprint through SFO’s international terminal (hearing “Final call for passenger Marcus Baker” on the overhead) I made the flight… My bags did not. I would have been more upset about it, had I not landed in a place that looked like this:
Yeah. On the way back to their home, Vanda asked if I’d like to climb up a dormant volcano. I hope she’ll correct me if this is wrong, but I believe we ended up on top of Mount Wellington Domain. Quite a way to “start” the day in a new country: Jet lagged, on 3 hours “sleep”, on top of a volcano.
The next few days were wonderful. My clock was pretty far off and I woke up before dawn the first full morning there. I figured; “Why not take in the sunrise?” and found the closest park that looked good. A couple kilometers away, and I found myself here:
Later in the afternoon, we took a trip to Muriwai Beach so I could see the Tasman Sea in action.
Spent some time at the New Zealand Maritime Museum where I got to see heaps of nautical goodness.
Rob and Shaun took me on a ferry ride to Devonport, where we had a fantastic brunch and explored North Head. North Head was Auckland’s line of defense from the late 1800’s through the 1950’s. It’s riddled with tunnels and bunkers to explore so of course I had a blast there.
I’m sure there’s things I’m forgetting, as those days went by in such a flash. Needless to say I had a fantastic time there, and I’m forever grateful to my hosts for their hospitality and kindness during my stay. Thank you again, Rob, Vanda, Shaun.
It was now time to head to Christchurch to begin my adventures with International Scholar Laureate Program.
Part 2 ISLP in the next post!
“Don’t get to being in a hurry.
I heard my old man’s voice in my head right after I heard the CRUNCHPOP sound as Serenity fell to the floor of my garage. Despite all our disagreements, I think he’s probably right on this piece of advice. Being in a hurry makes one sloppy, and sloppy breeds chances for failures. Today I was in a hurry, and it bit me in the ass.
It was a beautiful day, and I was very excited to take my boat out for the first sail of the season. I had just finished my rudder:
All that needed to be done was to transfer the boat from the sawhorses to the trailer. Piece of cake! I’ve done this a dozen times now. A perfect day for sailing, a steady 15 knot wind was calling me. I set about hoisting Serenity the same way I’d done it before… (Well, mostly the same, I was trying to save time and get out to the lake!) So instead of harnessing the bow and stern and hoisting, I only did the bow, figuring the sawhorse it was on would hold it fine. This is what we’d call A Very Bad Idea.
Additionally, there was an old fluorescent light fixture that was resting under Serenity, waiting to be recycled in the Citywide Cleanup. I saw the conduit sticking straight up under her like a punji stake, and thought “That looks like it could be a problem.” But it was such a nice day, who has time to move around all the junk in their garage before heading out for a beautiful day of sailing? Not me! This was another Very Bad Idea.
The saw horse did not hold the stern, and the rear of the craft careened to the floor with a sickening POP. I didn’t even want to look, because I knew that sound meant the hull was likely punctured. I looked. It was.
After some very, very, loud four letter words, I managed to get her onto the trailer and surveyed the damage. Poor girl looked like she’d been shot.
I was definitely not going to be taking advantage of this very nice, perfect sailing day. On top of that, I’d put a hole in a boat I planned to take on an 80 mile cruise down the Mississippi. Many unpleasant feelings were happening all around me.
Once I’d calmed down, I went about figuring out how to fix it. The general idea when patching a hole in a fiberglass boat is you grind out the area, then layer incrementally larger patches of fiberglass, one over the other until it’s back to the original thickness. I could do that! But I’d need a grinder. There was no way in hell I was gonna try to do that with my sander… After a quick trip to Harbor Freight, I’d picked up a grinder with some 36 grit flap pads. I’ve had my eye on a grinder for a while but couldn’t justify it until now, so yay?
I read to triple the size of the hole to figure out how wide an area to grind out. So I did that.
Then, to keep fiberglass from sagging after being wet out, I put a temporary backing of a sandwich bag taped in place to the bottom of the hull. Not pretty, but it seems to have worked.
Next, making concentric patches, starting with the smallest, and working up until it matches the ground out area.
Wetting the fiberglass out with epoxy.
I need to find a way to measure out epoxy/hardener in MUCH smaller batches since I currently get about 3 oz. per batch, and I really need about 1 oz. batches. Since I made up a HUGE amount, I decided to try out my silica thickener and fill in the hole in Benoit. It’s ugly, and will need a lot of sanding, but it seems to have filled the void on her.
And that’s where I left off. One layer of fiberglass in, with probably a half dozen or so to go. The moral of this story? Dad was probably right. Take your time and secure your gear, even if it’s a nice day and you really just want to get out sailing.
I’ve been neglecting the blog lately due to classes starting back up. That said, the end of my summer was fairly eventful, and there were certainly things I should have been blogging about.
First of which, I have acquired another boat! She’s a Johnson Boat Works 16′ J-Sailer from 1980. Getting her home was quite the adventure, since I didn’t really have a proper trailer, and used my 8′ utility trailer to get her back home. Let’s just say I learned a lot about proper weight distribution while towing, and managed to terrify myself (and probably every driver around me) in the process.
She’ll be awaiting next summer to get wet, as there were a few repairs that I didn’t have time to complete this summer:
- Tiller dry-rotted, needs to be replaced
- Leech line broken, needs to be replaced
- Small hole in transom, needs to be repaired
- Two small holes in sail, needs to be patched
Sail bag has holes in bottom.Repaired
Nothing too extreme, though I’m certainly glad I’ve had a chance to hone some of my repair skills on the PDR. Serenity has been very giving in that regard. Never a shortage of things to learn and try out.
I did eventually pick up a dedicated trailer for this one, and here’s a few photos of the debacle that was me attempting to get it off the sawhorses and onto the trailer.