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Ben's blog

  • We upgraded our wood splitting setup with an old tire

    It’s incredible the difference a tire makes, my favorite part is that it only takes away a bad part of splitting with a maul (bending over repeatedly) and takes nothing away from the joy of it.
    In one week end, we started the pile again and are quickly catching up.

  • Porcupines are creatures of habit it seems

    I found where the porcupine lives, it uses the same path every day and eats from the same pine tree as last Winter.IMG_4233

    Straight into the collapsed barn


    I should check the rubble for pirate treasures


  • Multiaxis symmetrical drawing – A Mandala maker that doesn’t suck

    I’ve had a terrible time finding a good piece of software to draw mandalas with. To be honest, I don’t care what mandalas are but I’m obsessed with how cool it is to draw with replicated symmetry on multiple axis.

    Without further ado, here it is (drag your mouse to draw):

    I hope you find it addictive. Click to pop out.

    So wow… just wow, this blew up. This little tool ended up making the front page of Reddit in one amazing thread in which¬† many people shared their mandalas. It was an amazing day in many ways, first of all I’ve never seen so many positive comments in a single thread online. The amount of people who seem to have been positively touched by this program is humbling. Drawing mandalas is apparently great stress relief for many and I’ve received several personal notes on how much this program had done for them. I did not see that coming to say the least. Then the fact that this tools was picked up by real artists pushed it to build creations I didn’t even know it was capable of. Lastly, my solar powered raspberry Pi handled hundred of thousands of connections in a single day which turned out to be a technical challenge on top of the overwhelming response. When I set out to create this program, I did not have the slightest idea that it would hit such a sweet spot. I mainly wanted to scratch an itch and couldn’t find any good apps out there. It is a true privilege to have had the chance so see so many people use a tool I made, and have them report they were positively touched by it.

    Here is a few of the most amazing mandalas that were posted on the Reddit thread, this is what it looks like when real artists take over your tool :)


  • I placed the panels well

    but I didn’t think about the chimney :)IMG_7793

  • Ice on the outside, dew on the inside

    IMG_7804The greenhouse we installed last month is making a big difference even early in the morning. It will soon have its Raspberry Pi for monitoring. We have dreams of expanding the greenhouse into an oasis of life in the middle of Winter. Water, growing greens, bees staying warm. It could be multi-purposed in a very nice way.

  • Cool Duplo Project #39 – Chess Set

    Fine craftsmanshipIMG_0025

    Child making fart noises with glass for scaleIMG_0038

    The only rule we don’t follow is “en passant”Screen Shot 2016-12-20 at 9.21.50 PM

  • One argument of many against globalization

    It occurred to me that with the basic premise of commerce being that specialization and trade yields more better products for both parties. The only reason we trade with countries like China isn’t that they make better items (like for example how Germans make better cars), it isn’t that they have access to resources we don’t have. It is, as we all know, that they make it cheaper, the single reason for which being that they are far enough away that horrible work conditions can happen without us feeling guilty about it.

    In short; trade with China is interesting only because we get to exploit their people.

    If we got to exploit people at home, we wouldn’t be trading with China. Fortunately if people in our towns worked under the same conditions, we would be up in arms about it. And if China didn’t allow exploitation of its people, we wouldn’t be trading with them.

    And so it’s interesting to ponder that the only “trade specialization” China has to offer is being far away enough geographically & culturally from the Western world that we’re cool with their being exploited. Or we can in good conscience say that we are ignorant of it because we have no visibility into the issue.

    Globalization has a tendency to create these “out of sight, out of mind” incentives which work heavily against good working conditions and the environment.

  • At the junction of I.T. & homesteading – continued


    Figuring out a good repeatable & maintainable way to deploy Pi Zeros.IMG_7684

    My favorite project screws in action.IMG_7693

    The boxes I picked a very tight and leave no room for any other hardware.IMG_7694

    I made a hole for a cable gland which is very helpful for cable strain relief, removing friction on sharp edges and making a right cable entryway.IMG_7695

    This little guy is only monitoring temperature, I’ll need a bigger box for the greenhouse device as it needs a bit more hardware.IMG_7746