Rackstax (I know the name sucks)

prelimdesign

 

This here is another new project of mine.  All I need now is to carefully measure a few weight racks, get a rapid prototyping corp in Austin to print me a few sizes/colors, and then start shopping it around to gyms.  I think a good idea is to generate some buzz by giving out a few (free)  branded copies to local gyms first, to see how their customers react.  Afterwards we’ll talk money.

JadenRackstax (I know the name sucks)

Fastery

So I’ve made the executive decision to not take my meds on days that I don’t work. So since I’m sitting through a three-day weekend till Thursday, my brain is a roiling pile of disorganized porridge. In this chaos, however, I had an idea for a Django project that I want to launch.

Fastery (which needs a better name than “Mastery” with an “F”) is going to be a website that solves the primary shortcoming of self-guided learning: the question “where do I go next?”. Take programming for example. Once you finish the starting tutorials, you’re nowhere near being hirable for that skill. But finding good, relevant tutorials that will lead you to real mastery is difficult. Not impossible, but certainly not convenient.

With Fastery, you’ll put in which skill you want to learn, find a small group of 5-10 other people who are currently learning that skill, and get access to a live list of which learning materials (websites, books, classes) that they are using to reach mastery. You can trade tips, view other groups’ progress, make challenges, and then lord your rapid learning process over your friends. Also, you hopefully learn the stuff you’re trying to learn.

Along the way, you contribute your own self-guided learning path, and everyone contributes until either everyone gives up or everyone agrees that they’ve reached the level of mastery that they aimed for when they joined.

Imagine you’re 10, and you’re learning to ride a Rip-Stick (something I still can’t do). If you’re only accountable to yourself, you might never learn. My younger brother wanted a Rip-Stick like nobody’s business when he was a kid, because his friends all had their own already. When he got that board, he fell off 10 million times, but because he wanted to look as cool as his friends (none of which were really as cool as him), he kept trying.

The reason that my younger brother can ride a rip-stick and I can’t is because he had a support network of people giving him tips, learning how to ride that board just like he was. He had a social impulse to learn quickly, so as not to appear uncool, while I just had a mild desire to prove that I could keep my balance.

I believe this same concept can be carried over into a web app.

Like seriously, my head isn’t working at all right now. I’m starting on some basic layout stuff today, so by Thursday, when I’m medicated again, this will probably look very foolish.

JadenFastery

Being Grateful

So before we get started, know this: I’m operating on the tail end of an unexpected all-nighter, so my thought process might come across as a bit patchy. With that said, today I want to talk about being grateful, not just for Things, but also for Things Going Right.

If you follow me on Twitter, you might have seen that I was very excited a few days back because I took my car in for a repair, and it seemed to be fixed. The car hasn’t been able to speed up over 50 mph for exactly a year now, and naturally this has made any sort of travel frustrating and dangerous. Considering how frantic last year was in my life, the car was really the least of my worries. Because I’ve been going through a pretty much nonstop period of Things Happening for the past year, I wasn’t able to put aside money for a repair until last week.

I took the car in, the mechanics did their thing, and they said “It’ll work better now, but that might only last for a few miles. Bring it back Friday.”

So of course I revved the engine up to maximum speed and enjoyed the hell out of the past five days. Predictably, yesterday all the original problems came back.

And this ties into the idea of ‘gratitude’ how? Well, even though I’d been forced to drive a broken car for a year, as soon as the major symptoms disappeared, I forgot those bad times ever existed. My brain just switched to “Everything’s OK” mode and I didn’t stop to realize how nice it was to feel that way again.

It was actually jarring when the Check Engine light came back on, because my mind had already shifted into the mode that goes “Everything is good and it’s gonna stay this way.” I find that I’m the sort of person to quickly complain about bad luck, but seldom mention when things are going well.

So even though my car is back to square 1, I’m forcing myself to be grateful for the few days it worked.

I’m also super grateful that I finally have a working budget in my life. There’s no feeling quite like checking your monthly bills (stuff like Time Warner Cable, Sprint, Spotify, and student loans) and confirming that they’re all paid from the previous paycheck.

JadenBeing Grateful
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Keeping Busy

Time for another one of my patent Tell-All posts. The sort of posts that blogs used to be all about, before we (ie the whole internet) developed a sense of forward-facing professionalism and started pretending that everything was either A) perfectly ok or B) a mess that would make the entire Tumblr crowd re-evaluate how good they had it.

Back in the day, blogs used to be big journals in which people could complain, so I’m going to resurrect a little of that spirit and complain about myself. Not about things happening to me, because by all accounts there are more good things happening to me than I can count. I just want to complain about something annoyingly wrong about myself, and that something is very important.

I have a hard time keeping myself focused on anything. The flipside is that I immediately become focused on noticing all the things that I can’t focus on, and getting increasingly frightened that those things are going to strike back and bite me in the near future. I’m sure there’s a psychological term for this, but most of the time I’m honestly terrified of tomorrow. The worst part is when I eventually forget what I was worried about, but remember the worry, assume it was legitimate, and then go into full-on panic mode trying to figure out which worries are more worrisome than the others. It’s a hilarious, crippling cycle.

My current worry is that I failed an important test at work. I get two tried to take this test, and I’m positive I’ll pass the next one, but the fact that somehow, despite 10+ hours of studying for this test, I second-guessed one answer on the day of testing, and that revision made me fail.

So now I have to think. Does this mean that I didn’t study enough, or does it mean that first-attempt Jaden is a genius and should never be second-guessed? Did I second-guess other answers and turn them from wrong to right? Is my method of studying entirely wrong, and thus professionally debilitating?

You see? Absolute craziness. I’ll be fixated on this all day (which would make it the third day in a row to be absolutely sleepless with anxiety).

Also, my grandfather died. Isn’t it a strange feeling when you expect to be hit really hard by bad news, and then you just don’t feel anything? I don’t want to feel obligated to feel bad. I kind of just wish the emotions would arrive like they did when my grandmother passed. Anyways, I’ve got energy drinks and an e-cigarette, so I plan to attack the study material twice as hard today. I will pass that test today.

JadenKeeping Busy

Pure Unadulterated Laziness

I haven’t posted anything in a week or so. That’s not to say I haven’t sat down and written a post, just that I haven’t gotten around to posting anything. Quite simply, my plan to add a fitting, cropped, sloppily edited picture to each post has proven to be too intimidating. That’s right. I’m motivated enough to squeeze letters together but not to fire up Photoshop, which despite all my best efforts remains about as uninspiring as a Westboro Baptist Church cookoff.

Anyways, I’ve finally gotten the money together to get my car fixed. Or at least I’ve gotten enough money for the first real attempt to get it fixed. The mechanic says it will cost $350, which is why I immediately don’t trust him. I’ve been told countless times that the repair my car needs will run me at least $750, most of the time by people who aren’t trying to make money off my situation, so $350 sounds extravagantly low. I’ve got a bad feeling that this fix is only going to be the first step to solving a greater problem, ironically concerning a car that I just want to sell and never think about again.

The plan is to gussy up the PT Cruiser just enough to sell it and make enough cash for a down payment on a second motorcycle. Like they say in Animal Farm, “2 wheels good, 4 wheels bad”, or something like that.

JadenPure Unadulterated Laziness
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Test Post Please Ignore

Just testing to see if I can post to Twitter from my wordpress. Pay no attention to man behind the curtain.

JadenTest Post Please Ignore
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Unexpected money?

If I told you that you had a hundred dollar bill in your pocket, would you believe me? Probably, but you’d check your pocket first because how often does somebody not know that they have a C-note on their person? What if you checked your pockets, found nothing, and I insisted that the money was there? You’d probably think I was crazy.

I’m going through sort of that situation with Mint.com. I took the entire afternoon yesterday to painstakingly input every single bill that I have face monthly, everything from Spotify subscriptions to groceries to student loans to rent. It’s all in there. Mint tells me that I have $1,100 leftover after those bills. Where is this money? I have no clue.

Keep in mind that just a few months ago (at only a slightly lower pay grade), I was mixing blue cheese dressing into ramen noodles for variety. I feel like I would have noticed an extra thousand or so lying around.

But I’ve double-checked all the numbers, and even over-allowed on a few bills, just in case I’m forgetting something minor. My usual monthly bills go like this, in order of highest to lowest:

  • Rent
  • Student Loans
  • Food
  • Utilities
  • Insurance
  • Phone and internet
  • Incidentals (doctor’s appointments, haircuts, etc)
  • Subscriptions (Spotify, Netflix and domain space)
  • Gas (super low since I work from home)
  • And that’s about it. From June ’11 to August ’13, I was (to be blunt) too poor to pay for all of those, even while working full time. I lived for a brief while in my car then my previous employer arranged an apartment for me to live in, so for two years that list there was insurmountable.

    Since then, I’ve been very fortunate to literally double my income, so I can comfortably pay those things off, and sometimes have a little to put aside into savings. But the concept that an extra thousand dollars a month is just floating around somewhere, somehow being needlessly spent, is very unsettling. I guess that’s exactly what Mint.com was invented for.

    Final Thought: If there’s really an extra $1100 monthly that I’m unaware of, I’m definitely going to save up for a Traktor X1. I want to use Traktor’s remix decks so bad, but the Kontrol S2 just wasn’t made for that.

    JadenUnexpected money?
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    DJ record pools

    So a while back I set a goal to acquire, tag, and beatmatch 5 songs a day. This worked great for a while, using audiblecoffee.com, my soundcloud feed and a couple Youtube channels. Then it started getting expensive, so I looked into the possibility of a one-stop solution where I could pay a monthly fee to just download as much as I wanted. Amazingly, this seems to exist.

    The MixedInKey website recommends places like DJcity, which I want to join soooo much but $90 seems like a lot to shell out without even knowing the full selection, and with (in their own words) “no refunds”.

    Also checked out ZipDJ, but it seems you have to actually have evidence of radio/club work to even sign up. I can see the reasoning behind this, but how am I supposed to get work if I don’t have access to the songs I want? (many of them aren’t even on iTunes or Beatport).

    And Beatport wants almost $3 for each individual track? Insanity.

    Since this is the internet we’re talking about, there’s always the ever-present specter of torrents and shady Croatian mp3 download sites, but I’m avoiding that route partially because I want to support the starving artists and partially because my ISP seems to shut my connection down in 5-minute increments if I so much as touch a torrent file.

    So what’s a playa to do?

    Final thought: the “[” key on my macbook has been broken for six months now. I literally have to google “Python list structure” every time I want to use it, then copy and paste the “[“. It gets old.

    /rant

    JadenDJ record pools
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    Getting Better

    “Sucking at something is the first step to being kind of good at something.”

    So in my free time I’ve been focusing extra hard on djing.  I figure that since I own $1000+ worth of DJ equipment I should see some return on the investment.  Pool parties and gigs from friends are nice for practice, but they aren’t pushing my career forward.  Now that I’m living in a college town (15 minutes from a much bigger town that is widely renowned for its nightlife), there’s no better time than the present to get busy and make some paper.

    Currently using the Traktor Kontrol S2 as my first board, and I’m planning on getting one of these pretty soon, for remixing on the fly.

    81eoaqTAGVL._SL1500_

    The only thing I dislike about the Kontrol S2 is that I’m kind of limited on the effects chains.  Coming from a music production background, I want all tracks played to have my own unique spin, but I’m (as of yet) too lazy to fire up Ableton and re-edit each of my favorites.  The Kontrol X1 (pictured) adds a bunch of knobs and functionality that seems far more valuable than the $200 price tag.

    JadenGetting Better
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    Almost A New Look

    You’ll notice that the blog looks a little different, and a little unsatisfying (for now).  I switched themes, and thus introduced a whole slew of new problems.  Wordpress is a notoriously fickle bedfellow.  With one hand it offers you a tremendous amount of from-the-box design options, saving you hours or even days wasted tooling around with CSS.  On the other hand, there will always, always be at least two simple features that you want, but WordPress simply puts on its bitchface and says NO.

    In this case, it’s featured images.  See those gray boxes on the front page, that link to the recent posts?  If I’m lucky, by the time you read this they’ll be replaced with featured images.  I’ve been trying since 10:30 pm last night to make them work with no luck.  Well, sort of.  I can fill them with images, but then those images appear (in Kaiju-sized format) at the top of each post.  Unacceptable?  Maybe.  Annoying?  Definitely.

    I’ve edited the main WordPress code, the theme code, the plugins… everything.  And yet they persist.  Featured images are the gadfly in my brain right now.  I’ll either end up giving up or smashing them with a flyswatter, and giving up (as always) looks mighty tempting.

    Get Jumpy

     

    JadenAlmost A New Look