Burial - Untrue
In case you lived under a rock for the past 11 years (or maybe you were never into future garage/ambient) then this album is one of the things you should check out. Some of the tracks are just brutally beatiful. The weird lack of quantization on many of the tracks gives the album a unique dynamic swing that’s hard to put your finger on but feels fluid all throughout. Favorite track for me from the album is “Homeless”.
LIMETREE - Small Arduino NFC Reader that speaks Bluetooth LE
So for the next iteration of ANDERSTORPSFESTIVALEN i decided that we had to move away from using QR Codes to NFC. While QR codes works, it was hard for drunk people to align these codes in front of a camera in pitch darkness. It was clear another solution was needed for the system in order to make all this work.
I spent a couple of days thinking about this prior to the last iteration but i deemed it to hard. Then i realized i already solved the Bluetooth problem with the nRF52 Bluefruit board for the NeoPixel flashlight, why can’t i just attach an NFC board and repurpose the thing? Said and done, i bought a breakout board and just soldered it all together, looks like this:
Wrote the code and got it up and running, at least for a prototype and it just works. I’m planning on using the UID of the Mifare NFC cards since it’s easy and the attack vector in a small group of people isn’t really that high. Another problem last year was that the nRF52 was exposed which during humid nights caused some stuff to flicker, decided to fix this all in one go by 3D printing a case.
Having never done something like this before it took a while to figure out the methods of modeling something like this but thanks to my caliper i measured it out and sketched it out in SketchUp. One cool thing i realized is that instead of making screw holes which my first iteration had, i could just have the 3D printer make the pegs that would hold the board, as you can see in the sketch. Same goes for board distances, they could also be printed straight off. The finishing for this will be a small frosted bit of plexi glass that will sit in the grooves and diffuse the neopixel.
I sent the case way to Shapeways for print i was blown away with the result, having never 3D printed something before this amazed me how good the quality of the print was. I am legit surprised by how good the fit and finish was of the printed box. I bought a top cut piece of plexi to round the box off and with it all together this thing looks really sleek.
I’ve open-sourced the code, the schematics and the 3D print project on my GitHub
Regarding the joy of creating something
I just finished up what I written about twice already, a hybrid party / festival something deep in the forest of Sweden which I enjoyed deeply and I analyzed some of this after coming home yesterday. I think what we rediscovered was the joy of building something you shape purely out of your own imagination, without requirements and expectations. The act of converting ideas to reality leaves you with a lasting joy that I seldom feel doing the daily grind. Maybe this is why startup founders hold the experience of starting something themselves so dear? This irrestible joy to keep on going that still fuels me after this experience is incredibly strong, to a point where I am already looking forward to creating again.
Why is this? How come we are so bad at making use of this on a continious basis? Why is it so hard to channel this inner energy at work for me? I can sort of use a part of this energy to fuel myself when doing projects but I seldom experience this extremely strong passion. In part I do think it has to do with the feeling of ownership and watching idea materialize to reality. This inner energy that allows you to go from start to goal without ever finding it tedious stems from what I think is the joy of converting an idea into something that has a lasting effect on someone else. Be it a product, a service, an app or a tool, if it changes the day for someone else in a positive way it gives this great energy back to you. The anticipation of this energy return is what I think creates this drive to finish projects like this.
Sometime in March 2018 I got the idea that I wanted to build this sign for the festival, as it would fit the aesthetic style of the festival. Sort of rough and old but still a modern glow with the LED tube. Said and done, started ordering the stuff needed and sketching out how this thing would actually be built. Turned out to be surpringsly simple, so I’m sharing how I approached it.
First of all, the sort of general outline of the sign had to be created and for this I used Adobe Illustrator to just draw the “visible” parts of the sign.
Then it was a question of figuring out where the holes for the LED tube to go through had to be drilled
After this it was just a puzzle of finding the optimal path for the tube in order to avoid having to cut the tube as I would not be able to bring any soldering gear to Sweden. The yellow basically highlights the entire run of the tube coming in and out of the feeding holes.
With all this done, the only thing left was to wait until the building phase for the festival started and sketch it all out on the piece of plywood.
With that done, we drilled out the holes and started feeding through the LED tube, in order to fixate it we used an array of smaller holes through which we fed nylon wire and tied it to get the curves.
This all took a fair bit of time. If someone ever attempts this again I highly recoomend finding another solution than manually fixating nylon wire to screws. Johanna’s fingers did not enjoy this after 1,5 day of building this sign. The reason for doing this was to not have any visible markings as you get with steel wire but have the sign look like it was glued in place.
After finishing the sign, Johanna painted the bar with UV reactive colors and Alexander and Summa fixated the UV fixtures so it all could come together like this
The Light At The End Of The Tunnel Is A Train
Today’s OHC had the theme of “Hope”, basically just jamming out with some handpan samples for a while.
The world today is hyper-connected. It’s hard to pinpoint one exact moment of when it happened but it certainly has, people no longer balk at using their phones in the middle of a conversation at a dinner or spending time in groups just socializing with people outside of the room through their phones. I recently witnessed a social gathering where 4 people that travelled quite a distance sat in a sofa just staring at their phones, missing the point of the journey to meet itself. Through previously being hyper-connected myself i came to realize that the act of keeping this up is very draining and does not leave much time for in-depth focus. You and your friends are trained to deliver and expect instant responses from the people you communicate with, a response time longer than hours is seen as the act of ignoring.
It’s been said a thousand times already but the act of being hyper-connected makes us less connected. Social media transformed from an amazing tool into a depressing, filtered feed of polarizing content. Instead of being a way of staying connected it turned into a popularity contest, with Instagram showcasing an untrue view of other people and Facebook amplifying the fear of missing out. I don’t think most of us has the tools of placing these images in the correct context in order to view these images with the right lenses. This in turn to not be affected by the content they present. Instead our subconscious starts comparing the status markers against our own idea of what we see, meaning the filtered view presented: the highlights, the top moments and exaggerate situations starts looking like the ordinary life of other people and our own life starts to seem bland, unrealized and boring.
Call it a falling out with the modern internet because that is what i think this is. Growing up with the old anonymous internet, where you judged content without the context of the author makes the contrast to today even more stark. Rather than attributing an idea or a situation to a friend, you could easier parse it with the right lenses because the content itself had no personal connection. Compare this to the new Internet that focuses on the “individual” (if the curated view could even be called such a thing) rather than the content. What once was about expression now seems more about showcasing merits and wins to other people that “follows” your persona. Peter Steiner coined the term “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog”, referring to the time where people judged the text rather than the person behind the text. Today you just have to Google someone’s handle to figure out that they in fact are not a dog.
Hyper-connectedness also grew with the advent of smartphones, being connected about 10 years ago meant sitting down in front of your desktop computer, starting the required software up and actively seeking out the information you wanted. This made the association of your internet persona easy to sustain as this was the role you took on as you sat down in front of the computer, it stayed within the physical realm of your keyboard and was hard to extend outside of your setup. Steve Jobs launched the iPhone in 2007, a device which broke the separation between you and your internet persona. Suddenly the information was pushed to your pocket and your internet persona had to be maintained at all times, what ended up happening is that the internet persona merged with the private persona and the result ended up being the worst of the two. You went from being an active information seeker to a passive media consumer in which contributing meant sharing more of your private life.
People stopped experiencing the moment. Go to a landmark or concert today and watch the behaviour that people exhibit. Instead of watching and admiring the architecture, form, or color people instead spend time trying to take the perfect selfie. They live for the people on the other end of the device, not in the space they currently occupy. Observing this countless times really made me reconsider how i use technology and asking myself why i use technology. If i care more about the people on the other end of the device, why am i not there instead? What’s the point of seeking out a concert, only to spend half of the concert trying to snap a photo or record a movie in order to gain kudos on Snapchat or Facebook? Wouldn’t time be better served just watching the music video on YouTube? In fact i think the mobile device is hostile to in-depth focused experiences because it breaks flow. Similar to how flow affects learning and execution in writing, music and programming i think focus and flow exists when you experience situations too. Being truly in the moment is what changes loud background noise to music or a painted staircase to a piece of art.
“Free” turned out to mean “data source for our advertisers”. Mark Zuckerberg even had to sit in front of the United States Senate & Congress to explain the immense privacy leaks in relation to the Cambridge Analytica leaks. It’s so happen that you don’t control your data on these networks any longer, the mobile apps takes every chance the get at collecting and storing your data, be it location, recent searches, interactions or pictures you posted. As if this wasn’t bad enough, the state of machine learning accelerated exponentially the last 5 years, making in-detail analytics on your photos not a science fiction idea. When people uploaded photos back in 2008, they did it with the assumption that “no-one will ever be interested in looking at my photos” because they lacked the idea that 5 years later, a large GPU cluster would be able to look at every single picture and extract data from them. What happens when the technological capabilities goes further than just being able to extract what brands and products are present in pictures and start extracting context out of the pictures. Will law enforcement in privacy-hostile nations start using this data to lead investigations? This may sound far fetched now but again remember what the sentiment was around pictures uploaded to Facebook in 2008.
So what does this have to do with disconnecting?
To understand why i am actively pursuing disconnection, understanding my stance on why i do it now and didn’t yesterday is important. By choice i did become hyper-connected, because i bought into what the “old” internet promised to bring. I was enticed by the possibility of augmenting my understanding of world events, technology and popular culture but instead i got pictures of my old classmates vacations. What once was controlled usage spiraled out of hand with constant notifications and updates. The value is no longer there, it’s easy to convince yourself it is but if you take an objective look at it, the tools take more than they offer from you.
However, even if it might not seem like it, i still think many parts of the internet are great and the tools developed has certain value in them. For example, i think direct messaging apps such as Signal, Telegram etc has immense value as it facilitates 1 to 1 contact between people regardless of position on the world. Sadly i’m not yet able to ditch my smartphone completely as a large part of my job is being able to tackle certain situations while mobile, which the smartphone as a tool is really good at doing, so i had to settle for something in between. Refocusing the smartphone to be a tool rather than a continuous content consumption device is i think the modern way to treat the smartphone. So how do you effectively do this?
Leaving your phone at home
First time i left my phone at home when going for a walk made me anxious, but this has turned into a liberating feeling (which in itself is a sign that it had to be done). It’s easier to just be with people because you rediscover the feeling of being bored. Having masked the feeling of boredom for the past 9 years with my smartphone, the dread of boredom was hard to take at first but turns out has a lot to do with meaningful experiences. As a result i try to leave my phone either at my desk or at home as often as possible, if i know that i don’t really need the phone there’s no point in bringing it at all. If you are meeting up with friends, remember that most of them has a smartphone anyway so getting a Lyft or checking Google Maps is something they can do for now.
Turning off all notifications
This includes everything. Not just ignoring social media. If you don’t need to act on it 100% real time then there’s no point of having the notification at all. Turns out you don’t have to act on most things in 100% real time either so this ends up removing pretty much every single notification. Doing this is important because it changes the relationship between you and your phone. You’re now able to check it when you have time, rather than when someone posted something. Not being bothered by the endless flow of new posts means that you effectively can allocate time to what you want to check and it becomes easier to figure out what you think is important to keep up with.
Refocusing your tools (the apps)
Take the apps you need to use, for me they are the email client, the direct messaging clients and some other apps and give them the smallest amount of permissions possible. Does your messenger app really need to know your location? Does your bank app really need access to your camera roll? To easier figure this out, just disable everything for every app and re-enable it as you need it. After a short while it will be clear that many apps doesn’t need most of the permissions you give them to properly provide you the value you want.
In the end i think just being aware of it and thinking of the impact of these devices gets you a long way. Would you want your friend to pull up a phone during a dinner to check on Instagram pictures? No? Then do not do the same thing yourself. Jason Kottke wrote: “The internet can seem so intimate but ultimately it’s a thin view of an individual’s or company’s reality.” , i think this sort of sums up what i’m aiming for here. The promise of getting more connected with friends turned out to not be true. For me personally the productivity gains alone has justified bothering with this. Sure, people have asked me why i’m not on Facebook anymore or why i don’t want to add them on X but most people also seem to understand when i explained it to them, even expressed similar concerns themselves. I think we all somewhat know that spending time on social media is a drag, but the continous rewardment from the likes is hard to shake. If you do decide to disconnect, instead connect with me and let me know how it goes (ironic right?). You can find my contact details up top.