A few months ago I was walking in the park near my university and stumbled across a rather warped but stylish fallen branch. Immediately I knew that this branch was destined to become an oil lamp. A couple months later of on-and-off work, I had finished.
The lamp itself was made out of laminated rings of wood, which encased a copper oil container. A sculpted nozzle allows the wick to raise out of the wooden container and light up. The container is hinged and can be refilled whilst the lamp is burning. The nozzle was made out of laminated ply, whereas the alternating colours of the container were various hardwoods. The heat distributors were zinc (if I recall right), and the glass was cut out of an old soya bean milk bottle.
The branch itself didn’t become the lamp, but rather the stand for the lamp. The slight uneven and rustic look makes it suited more for the outdoors, placed on top of lawn.
The wick passes through a wick raising mechanism. The design for the mechanism, built from steel and aluminum, was actually taken by a patent advertised by the International Guild of Lamp Researchers (yes, you read that right).
It consists of two cogs, one with pointed teeth, and another indented so that they mesh together. These are encased inside a block with a two channels – one for the cogs to fit into, and one for the wick to pass between them. Turning the cog with teeth catches the wick, and allows you to raise and lower the wick. This feeds in extra wick when existing wick burns out, and allows you to “dim” and “brighten” the lamp.
Each cog spins on an axle, but the indented cog’s axle has a extended slot, and by twisting a screw outside, you can push the cogs closer to one another. This allows the wick mechanism to accommodate for differently sized wicks.
This entire project was built from scratch (with exception of the wick and metal fastener at the top with the ugly blue plastic which was bought), with thanks to the helpful folks over at the university workshop.
All in all, I call this project a success. I’ve learned a ton about woodwork and metalwork, and got myself a rather unique lamp in the process. I hope you all enjoyed taking a peek too :)
Any computer enthusiast will tell you that whereas computers in general have been getting better over the years, keyboards have been steadily degrading in their preference for design rather than build quality. Simply put, all keyboards nowadays (characterised by mushy rubber dome chicklet keys) are terrible. If all of this sounds like a weird geek fetish to you, stop reading now. Otherwise, read this series of posts which will give you a good general knowledge of the subject.
I had been debating for a while now whether or not to invest in a proper mechanical keyboard. Given that I am mostly mobile on a laptop, lugging around another keyboard would be a pain. But recently I stumbled across an IBM Model M back from 1991 (there is a birth certificate on its back).
After giving it a thorough cleaning, I have been using this for a month now and it is a beauty to type on — I doubt I’ll ever go back to using a regular keyboard again.
A few gotchas for the uninitiated:
- It’s loud. Loud loud loud. Fine for your bedroom, but can be annoying in the office (you will bring it into work, won’t you?). However it’ll make everyone aware that you’re definitely hard at work.
- It’s big. So big that it won’t neatly fit into any bag. You may want to consider a “Spacesaver” edition without the numpad.
- There is no super (windows) key. Annoying if you rely on it for shortcuts, but ultimately a small price to pay for angels tapdancing on your fingers.
- It’s not hard to press. Although the keys are bigger, it’s easier to type on this than on other keyboards.
- It uses a PS/2 cable. You will likely need to buy a PS/2 to USB adapter to use it.
For those who have had the same dilemma as I did, make the switch. You won’t regret it.
Two months have gone by without blogging. In that time, I’ve been wrapping up the first half of my uni year. There are plenty of stories to tell, but I’ll delay that just a little bit longer.
In the meantime, I wanted to share some basic scores I produced for piano. I teach piano in my spare time, and I find it quite irksome that there aren’t any nicely-engraved free scores for download online for basic exercises such as major and minor (both harmonic and melodic) scales.
The score is 5 pages long. The first two covers major scales, and the final three cover the minor scales, which alternate between harmonic and melodic. Fingering is included when there are fingering changes. The sheet has no copyright or attribution text that might get in the way of professionalism when presenting to students. The sheet is created using LilyPond, which is quite possibly the world’s best music engraving software.
Click here to download
The document is licensed under CC-BY. You are required to attribute (by linking to this page) should anyone ask or if you want to share this on your own website.
You’re about to start setting up the delivery mechanism for a web-based project. What do you do?
First, let’s fetch ourselves a framework. Not just any framework, but one which supports PSR-0 and encourages freedom in our domain code architecture. Kohana fits the bill nicely.
Let’s set up our infrastructure now: add Composer and Phing. After setting them up, let’s configure Composer to pull in PHPSpec2 and Behat along with Mink so we can do BDD. Oh yes, and Swiftmailer too, because what web-app nowadays doesn’t need a mailing library?
Still not yet done, let’s pull in Mustache so that we can do sane frontend development, and merge it in with KOstache. Now we can pull the latest HTML5BoilerPlate and shift its files to the appropriate template directories.
Finally, let’s set up some basic view auto loading and rendering for rapid frontend development convenience, and various drivers to hook up to our domain logic. As a finishing touch let’s convert those pesky CSS files into Stylus.
Phew! Wouldn’t it be great if all this was done already for us? Here’s where I introduce vtemplate – a web project boilerplate which combines various industry standards. You can check it out on GitHub.
It’s a little setup I use myself and is project agnostic enough that I can safely use it as a starting point for any of my current projects. Fully open-source, guaranteed by 100s of frontend designers, and by good PHP developers – so go ahead and check it out!
Four posts ago, I took a break from the usual technical and on-going project posts, and instead went on a four part spree talking about Architecture. In particular, I tackled the question of Architecture’s existential crisis. It talks about issues about discipline and professionalism (actually inspired by Bob Martin’s similar talks in the software industry), the philosophies that architecture idolises, and overarching goals of the profession and the world in general.
The reason I spent so much time on this is because I believe that it is wrong to treat architecture as superficially as an art form. It is not a commodified object of entertainment like a book or movie. It isn’t something where people are given the choice to consume it. Instead, it is inherently part of our day to day lives and affects everyone. This means architects have a responsibility to others.
I’ve converted the rather long post into a LaTeX-compiled PDF, so those who haven’t read it due to the sheer size can enjoy it. Download it here.
Will resume to the usual topics after this.