Dook's Journal

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2024-01-11 - Prepping for Travel

Currently I’m preparing to leave for a week long trip to Tokyo! This was pretty spontaneous, we found out very late that we would be getting a month off over the new year in college. Me and friend were looking at getting away somewhere, and found some flights to Japan for an incredibly low price that was too good to not go for. And so here I am now!

A lot of my prep has been pretty simple, filling out some forms and getting my documentation ready. But on the other hand I’ve been setting myself up for a long flight, as well as my camera setup for the 5 days we’ll be in Tokyo.

I’ve got a ton of movies downloaded for the flights there and back, featuring some appropriate selections like Tokyo Drift and Shin Godzilla (I saw Godzilla Minus One last week and it’s incredible, highly recommend seeing). Especially threw in Killers of the Flower Moon as I can’t think of another time when I’ll be sitting down and bored for over 3 and half hours.

I also want to bring my Kobo with me for more relaxing entertainment. I have some books I need to continue, like David Graeber’s The Dawn of Everything and Don Norman’s Emotional Design (though I’m not sure how I feel about it yet). But I was also recommended some fiction in V.E Schwab’s Villains series by a friend.

Choosing a camera to bring was pretty difficult for me. I wanted to bring my Sony DSC-S85, as I bought it for travel, however it’s limited on storage (roughly 128mb!) and the battery is very poor on it. The alternative was a very hard to control point and shoot, or my expensive and a little bit boring Sony a6000 mirrorless. My friend ended up commissioning me to do a photoshoot of them out in Tokyo, so I used it as a chance to buy some upgrades to the S85. I started with a new battery alongside a quick charger, then attempted to buy some more storage. I say attempted because I discovered afterwards that the “Pro” memory sticks weren’t supported by my model, despite being identical. Thankfully, I can lower the resolution to get about 130 photos out of the 128mb of storage, and my friend is bringing their laptop so I’ll be able to offload my photos if I need more space (which is likely to happen).

I still have a bit more prep to do. I’ve lost a decent amount of my Japanese in memory over the past few years, so I’d like to write up a few pages in my notebooks with guides on numbers, common phrases I may encounter etc. My hiragana and katakana recognition is currently around 50%, so I should probably get that up a bit too.

We don’t really have a plan down, nor have we booked tickets to go to any big tourist spots. I think the plan is just to have a good time, enjoy the food and see what happens! I have some things I want to try pick up in second hand shops over there like a gameboy camera and a famicom disk, and of course a bunch of souvenirs for myself and my friends who are big fans of Ghibli movies and such!

Only a couple of days to go, can’t wait! - Dook

2023-09-30 - September Update

It’s been a while, huh? I had been intending to update this every month this year, but unfortunately life had other ideas and I got fairly busy.

Some major projects have been completed during the summer. Adwaitapod 3.0 was released, and is now pretty much stable and bug-free. This update has really brought the project to where I envisioned it from the start, and brings so much to the table for iPods. I pushed the limits of what Rockbox’s theming engine can do, which was difficult, but the results have been worth it. I still have a promo push I want to do for this project, with a friend of mine making up a small trailer for it, and a dedicated website ready to go alongside it. I want to experiment with doing publicity for my themes, hopefully it can save a few more devices from landfill.

After that, I got to redesigning and rebuilding my website. A massive undertaking, with a goal to make it more efficient and better designed. It’s also now the smallest it’s ever been, with the homepage sitting at a tiny 43kB (which includes fonts and a png image!). The css file is 3.33kB, which I’m really proud of since I managed to cram so much into it. The wiki has been massively expanded, and now is a lot better organised. There’s been a bunch of big changes, I really recommend checking it all out and also reading the blog post about it!

There’s been a bunch more stuff completed this summer, but things will also be slowing down a lot now sadly. I recently started back up in college after a two year break, I’m now doing a bachelor of arts in Interaction Design, something that is far more catered towards my interests and focuses with design as a tool. It’s pretty full on, so my free time is practically non-existent now which is disappointing. But I aim to slowly get to work on stuff when I can!

Until next time, whenever that may be - Dook

2023-04-30 - April Update

What a fast month! It’s hard to believe it’s already the end of April. I haven’t been working on too many projects this month, but the ones I have been working on were pretty important.

The biggest project this month has been the next update to my iPod UI project: adwaitapod. This has been a major undertaking, rewriting the entire thing from scratch. But it’s been worthwhile. The massive gains made with compression, efficiency and so on have made enough room to add a wide range of new features and still come in smaller than the last version of adwaitapod. I took the chance to take a proper design-orientated approach, rather than simply copying the GNOME desktop design, I used their principles to interpret the user experience of an iPod and make it as user friendly as possible. I’m immensely happy with the results so far. The last few things to do involve writing documentation and creating some promo materials, which I’ve commissioned a friend to help with. All things going well, adwaitapod 3.0 should be out next month!

I also completed my first paid work this month! I reached out to Sam on fedi after they made a post looking for a designer to make a logo for their project Beyrl. I was mostly interested in using it as a chance to gain experience working with a client and designing icons/branding, but we were both very happy with the results! I’ll put together a proper page for this project after I deliver the end product.

A major milestone this month was the submission of my final college portfolio. I’m still looking to complete my degree in Design, so hopefully by this September I’ll be back in college again.

Lastly, some small changes and updates to the site this month. The colourscheme was changed slightly to be less yellow, and improve reading contrast. I also updated the Bee Encyclopedia with the newly captured Early Mining Bee, we’re in peak bee season right now so I’m hoping to capture some more species that I haven’t managed to yet!

Things have been slowing down (thankfully) but hopefully sometime next month I’ll begin my migration over to a better SSG, I also have a few websites to design and build for friends over the summer that I’m very much looking forward to! Till next month - Dook.

2023-03-31 - March Update

I think this month has been one of my most productive in a really long time! A good chunk of time was spent completing and releasing my latest UI theme for Rockbox, Themify. It’s so far been received incredibly well, and has even reached my own goal of using design to convince people to use old devices.

Once I finished Themify, I set my eyes on the original UI theme I made called adwaitapod, based on GNOME’s design principals. I decided to remake it entirely from scratch, since I’d learned so much in the last year that it was just easier to rewrite it all. This time I approached everything much smarter, the new version is about 65% smaller while having new features and performing much better. I just need to focus on some font issues in the github repo, fix a few bugs and work on the dark theme and then I can release it to the world!

Alongside everything else, I was approached recently to design an original user interface for a project. I’ve spent some time creating an icon set, which I plan to open source soon, as well as brainstorming other parts of the interface. I haven’t had a chance yet to design on a proper scale like this, so it’s been very exciting and interesting having free reign as the sole designer on this part.

Lastly, my website turned a year old in March! I put together a blog post where I discussed how the site came to be, as well as the changes it went through during the year. I also took the last paragraph to think about where I want to website to go next, something I hope to work on really soon!

That’s all for now, I have another 2 weeks to cram some projects in before I need to finish my final portfolio for college entry. Once that’s done I plan on taking a break for the rest of the month to refresh and get ready for the rest of the year. Till then! - Dook.

2023-02-28 - February Update

Spent the first week of this month completing my portfolio for college entry, but in-between made some big improvements to the site. I simplified the inline links style to be far more visible than they were before, which also led to my stand-alone font for links becoming unnecessary. Getting rid of it has made my home page even smaller now, to just over 30kb.

After that, I began to work on a new iPod theme called Themify. I made it mostly to showcase some features of Rockbox I found that would let users fully customise the UI’s colourscheme. The beta was shared on my Ko-Fi here, and some people have shown support which has been really nice. At the same time, I’ve been working on a commission I received to port a previous Rockbox theme of mine to a touch-screen device which has been a lot of fun.

This month I also started learning a few different programming languages including Uxntal, Python and bits of GTK for making a desktop app. I started learning Uxntal after getting an idea for a virtual pet synthesizer in a dream, so far compudanzas’ uxn book has been extremely useful and makes uxn appear quite inviting, even as a relative beginner with programming. On the other hand GTK has been a nightmare to figure out, but I seem to make progress in big leaps at once. It’s been quite enjoyable working on apps and software that I want or need.

Hopefully by the end of March I should have an update with a bunch of finished projects!

2023-01-31 - January Update

Happy new year! I’ve decided this year to use my short journal as a more detailed monthly record. This month was largely focused on my college application. I’m attempting to return to college in September, switching institutions as I do so to be closer to home. This requires a whole new application, portfolio etc which I spent most of this month handling. In my off time I put a decent amount of work into my website, solidifying parts of the website that have been disjointed up until now. I also started a Linux Wiki of various cheatsheets I’ve written over the past year. These were received quite well, and I hope this knowledge will help others learn too. Lastly, this month I was shortlisted and exhibited in The Photographer’s Gallery’s Small File Photo Festival. I’m very proud of this exhibition, combining two of my interests: Photography and Image Compression. I’m hoping this year I’ll be able to move about more and take photos again.

2022-11-25 - November Update

What a wild month! I started the month updating a finishing off my adwaitapod theme for rockbox. I also spent the past 3 weeks learning to program in C, building up to the Rebble Hackathon last weekend where I put together my watchface design, Time Twist Pop and released it! It was incredibly frustrating at times, since I really have very little experience programming. However, by the end of the weekend I was getting into the zone and pumping out some really good stuff and was having a blast! Really looking forward to making more with C in the future!

2022-10-09 - Autumn Update

It’s a crazy couple of months for me, but I finally found some time to tend to the website. First thing I did was get to finalising it’s design, the way it had been before was overly garish and pretty difficult to look at on some pages, the new style is far better in this regard. I also took the time to go absolutely overboard on optimising every possible thing I could, making each pretty tiny for what it is, I made a writeup on everything I did here.

I also managed to find a new home on mastodon during this time at Lurk! It’s a great community. A few new projects have been started as well; an accessible version of my ipod them after some user feedback, as well as a book for other people looking into making their own themes. Currently everything I’m doing is building up for my portfolio to switch colleges with next year, so I’m gonna be busy for the the next few months!