Post-Vacation Blues

So I went on vacation, started going through all my personal To-Dos, and… Got stuck on a couple and didn’t actually get around to tackle any of the beefy ones, and now I’m back at work. And, of course my schedule is a mess again–I’m booked solid to the far end of October.

In retrospect, the biggest annoyance is that I was so close to ticking off one of the major items, and yet it just didn’t pan out. Even straightforward stuff like dealing with a year’s worth of disorganized photos didn’t make the cut.

A surprising amount of stuff did get done over the course of my first week on vacation, enough that I took the time to spend a while revisiting some of my old interests (as per my previous post), but some things, despite pressing, just take time to address and are outside my control.

But I managed to sneak in a few interesting things in the meantime:

Development

First off, I found joker, which is a cute little Clojure interpreter written in Go that comes with (some) batteries included and is plenty fast enough to do shell scripting. After a few tests and fixes it seems to run very well on the Raspberry Pi, and it might turn out to be something worth investing a little time in—right now I’m trying to add SQLite bindings to it and failing miserably…

There is no shortage of interest in piku, the Heroku-like micro-PaaS that I use to deploy this site and a few other things. There was a bunch of new features added by other people over the past few months, including better Java support for building and deploying upon git push, which adds to its ability to run services based on Python, NodeJS, and arbitrary binaries. I suspect Go and Lua won’t be far off, which is just awesome.

Finally, all of my organisations and repositories now have access to GitHub Actions, so I spent a couple of leisurely afternoons by the beach poking at my iPad, pushing out test YAML files and figuring out the differences from Azure DevOps. It’s quirky but solid, and I will eventually move all my public Docker builds to it for the sake of consistency,

Hardware

I am delving deeper into ESP32 territory and ordered an M5Stack basic development kit, which is really cute:

The Basic box (which actually has a tiny battery) and an OV2640 camera

Funny thing is, I was actually looking for a nicer ESP32 camera before ordering it. I already have two dev boards with OV2640 cameras that I’ve been trying to use with Tensorflow models (by shipping frames to a server), but the one above is very neatly packaged and ships with a gyroscope, pressure sensor and analog mic, making it perfect for running homekit-camera.

I decided to get the module as well since I keep doing IoT PoCs and demos of all sorts, and I only actually noticed it is Azure-certified after unboxing it.

But the key thing about M5Stack is that the entire product range seems great: excellent build quality (at least based on these two), nicely thought out expandability, and, best of all, USB-C for everything.

I took both with me out to the beach and managed to build a Docker container to wrap the Expressif cross-compiling toolchain and SDK while I was there (I prefer to run that sort of thing on ARM, and had my 3A+ to use as a pocket server), but had no time to write any actual firmware.

Now I just don’t know when I can get around to playing with them, since my schedule looks like it will effectively start spilling over into weekends again…

Other Stuff

One of my kids has a knack for (and deep interest in) Blender, so I spent a little while figuring out how to get it to run on an RDP session (I only took the iPad with me for a large portion of our vacation) and revisiting the basics so we could print some of his models.

From my own experience and based on what he’s been able to do with it 2.80 is still a pain to use with a trackpad, but markedly less so, and I’m happy to see both my kids doing something creative with computers (coding and designing) rather than playing games.

I can’t wait until they figure out how to work together on that kind of thing.

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