The Process

For me (and I hope others) a large part of art is the process, and that includes the struggle, the narrative, the background, and the humanity we share.

I saw the gallery show of a friend of mine yesterday, and I had the opportunity to hear about what the artist had been through, and how the result of the experience of recent years led to the creation of the art, which was based on who and what their parents were, and their deaths, and the art as a remembrance of them. It was powerful, and as someone who has lost a parent (and the partner of someone who has lost both of their parents) it hit pretty hard.

Sure, there’s art we experience and like (or love) done by artists we don’t even know. Maybe they’re long gone, or they’re anonymous, or all you know is a name. And that’s fine, but I often find that the human connection, the understanding, the details about the work, and how and why it was created, is a key element of the work. I’ve always been someone who enjoys the “behind the scenes” stuff. As a kid I loved the Star Wars films, but I equally loved the documentaries explaining how they made them. Seeing the models and practical effects gave me a sense of understanding, and seeing the people involved in the creation, the “back of house” people who are crucial to any production, helped guide me.

I don’t want to just dismiss AI art as “cheating” because it’s different/easier than what’s come before, but I see AI art as a specific process, and right now it’s not a process I care for. Others do, and well, good for them? Personally I think some of the humanity of art gets lost along the way. And what is art without a dose of the human condition mixed in?

I did photography in the film days, but it didn’t stick. Film was expensive to process and after I left school I didn’t have access to a darkroom. A decade later when digital cameras were readily available I was all in. Was it cheating? To me the process of framing a shot, capturing the light, seeing a subject and recording it, that’s the process to me. I wasn’t a fan of the darkroom, but every shot I take with a DSLR gets “developed” or processed, in an image editing application. Levels, white balance, brightness, hue, saturation… all adjusted. The stuff that would be done in a chemical darkroom, I still do, but digitally. It’s extremely rare I capture an image on a DSLR and it’s not processed it some way. (Oddly enough, my daughter is a darkroom nerd. Probably using the same darkroom at UWM that I used 30 years ago!)

If AI art opens the door to more people being creative and making things they never could before, I’m all for that. It if just gives corporations more power and says to artists “Fuck you, we have machines for that now” well, I don’t care for that at all.


Solder Board

I created what I am calling a “Solder Board” which is like a breadboard but with no internal connectors. The solder board is used for… soldering! Specifically, for soldering pins onto PCBs, and in this case, onto microcontrollers. But first, some history…

For years I’ve soldered pins onto PCBs by jamming header pins into whatever breadboard was lying around and then slapping the PCB onto the pins, soldering the pins on, and then prying the board off. It works… mostly.

A year or two ago I had to solder a lot of Teensy boards, and finally found a use for those tiny breadboard. I taped off the edges to mark the size of the board and then taped it onto a chuck of Aluminum I had lying around for some extra weight and height.

And it worked pretty well. I would stick the pins in the outer columns (which I sized using my Header Pin Snapper tool) and be ready to go.

Drop the board on top, get to soldering, and then pry it off. Was it the best thing? No. Was it better than other methods? Yes. Could it be improved? Probably.

Since I now solder a lot more Raspberry Pi Pico boards, the little Teensy jig was too small, so I started using a larger breadboard, which presented a few problems. The first is that unless you have an old and somewhat “worn out” breadboard, inserting the pins can be a bit difficult. Often it took a lot of pressure to get them inserted. Sometimes one or more would pop up and be uneven with the rest. After that you need to solder them and remove the board, which can take quite a bit of prying if it’s in there tight. None of this is super difficult, but it’s a pain point, and we don’t need to deal with it.

Also, the Raspberry Pi Pico boards are 20 pins long instead of 14 like the Teensy, so more pins makes it just a bit more difficult to put the pins in and remove the board after soldering.

So above you’ll see the solution. A 3D printed “Solder Board” which was specifically designed for soldering header pins in place. (Unlike a typical breadboard.)

Put the header pins in place… no hard pressing required! The holes are sized such that they just drop right in.

Solder those pins and the board lifts right out. No prying! No pulling. Heck, you can probably flip it over and the board will fall right out.

Here’s the 3D model. Pretty simple. It’s a block with some holes. This one is sized specifically for the Raspberry Pi Pico board. You can’t really put the pins in the wrong place, which means you can work faster with less guesswork and chance of screwing up.

But maybe you want more holes… Just set the “useMoreHoles” option to get all the holes. This might be handy if you just want a general purpose Solder Board, and not one specific to one board size.

Wait, you want even more holes!? You can make one any size, thanks to the magic of parametric design in OpenSCAD.

I’ve tried to add just a few parameters to the OpenSCAD file to allow for customizing it without going overboard. The number of rows and columns, the padding (part without holes) on the sides and top/bottom, the height, and even hole diameter, to adjust for (ahem) printers that are not quite dialed in very well. You’ve also got the useMoreHoles option if you want more holes. Overall it’s not very complex code, so you should be able to muck about with it fairly easily. I will say that if you want a large board with a lot of holes, it may take a bit of time to render the output. (At least it does on my 2019 iMac.)

If you do a lot of soldering this may be a useful thing to speed up the process. I’m constantly looking for ways to speed things up, whether it’s single-purpose jigs or specific-use tools. Having to not think about getting it right because there’s only one way to do it is often quite helpful.

Oh, I do recommend not printing this in black. Even though I’ve got a small lamp on my workbench pointed directly at what I am soldering, the holes just don’t stand out as well as they do on a contrasting color. (Then again, I’m old and my eyesight isn’t great. Still, keep that whole “speed things up” feature in mind.)

You can get the STL and .scad file from – Solder Board. Print it if you need it!


Granola Bars v2

I posted this granola bar photo elsewhere and a few people asked for the recipe. Here’s my version, based heavily on the one from

The original recipe called for using butter, and I tried to replace it with peanut butter to make them vegan for my vegan crew. (I left the chocolate chips out, of course.) They worked, so I stuck with using peanut butter instead of butter, and added the chocolate chip back in (making the “non-vegan” version.)

Sp if I make them for Dana and myself the chocolate chips go in and they are not vegan. If I make them for my daughter, I skip the chocolate chips, and they are still quite delicious. Dana says the chocolate chips add just the right about of sweet to the saltiness you get from the peanut butter, peanuts, and salt. So leave them out for vegans, or add them in for non-vegans.


  • 2 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup nuts, roughly chopped (peanuts, cashews, pistachios, whatever)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp molasses
  • 1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-inch square baking dish with parchment and lightly spray with cooking spray.
  2. Place the oats and chopped nuts on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes until lightly toasted.
  3. Add the honey, peanut butter, molasses, and brown sugar to a saucepan. Cook over low to medium heat until the peanut butter melts and the sugar dissolves. Stir constantly. Let the mixture bubble while stirring for 1 minute and then remove from the heat.
  4. Place the nuts and oats in a large bowl. (We’ll be adding in the liquid when it’s ready.)
  5. Stir in the vanilla and salt to the liquid mixture. Pour this mixture over the oat and nut mixture and stir to combine with a rubber spatula. Add the shredded coconut (except for chocolate chips) and stir to combine. Stir it up good! Make sure none of the oats are dry.
  6. If you are adding chocolate chips, wait about 15 minutes for the mixture to cool a bit before adding the chocolate and then stirring to combine. (Otherwise they get all melty!)
  7. Place all of the mixture in the 9-inch square baking pan. Press it all down good! I use another piece of parchment paper to get it nice and pressed. The more compressed you can get it, the less chance they’ll fall apart after cooled.
  8. Toss it in the fridge and wait at least two hours. Lift the bars from the pan using the edges of the parchment and place them on a cutting board. Cut ’em up!
  9. Enjoy!

The original recipe calls for storing them in the fridge, I think because of the butter. I don’t know if these need to be stored chilled. I usually keep a few in my desk at work, but I tend to finish off a batch in about a week, so they aren’t around that long.


Advanced Preferences & Settings in Arduino IDE 2

The Arduino IDE 2 has been out for a while, and I’ve gotten used to it. Surprise, it’s another piece of software based on Electron. If you don’t know what that is, it probably doesn’t matter. Just keep going…

The important thing is, if you’ve looked at the preferences for the IDE, you’ll see… not a lot. There are a few things you can change, but wait, there’s more! It’s just hidden.

On macOS hit Command-Shift-P (on Windows it’s probably Window Key-Shift-P, and Linux same, but whatever you folks call the GUI key there.)

Anyway, after hitting those three keys you should see a scrollable and searchable list of stuff. You can scroll and click on something or type in something to filter it a bit more. If you type “User Set” you’ll see “User Settings” and you can click on it.

And Bingo! You’ve got access to the full list of stuff you can change and adjust. Neat!

You can also search for things, like “font” or whatever. I seriously think the greatest advance in software in the past lustrum has been searchable preferences. Anyway, I hope you find this useful.

Oh, and one more thing… If you don’t like any of the (limited) themes in the Arduino IDE you can add your own. See this Personal Themes thread. You can find themes in the Visual Studio Code Marketplace because VSCode also uses Electron. Two words of warning though, some of the themes in the “marketplace” are commercial, or at least “nagware” and will bug you about paying for them. (Which is fine, just making note of it.) The other thing is, I can only assume installing a VSCode theme in something besides VSCode, or just using the “Visual Studio Code Marketplace” for non-Microsoft software violates some Microsoft terms of service or license or such. Because face it, Microsoft still sucks in many ways.


Kerning in Apple Keynote

Somehow over the last year or so when I tried figuring out how to do kerning in Apple Keynote I didn’t get it. For some reason I assumed it was like other applications and I guess it’s not. Sigh. Anyway, this is here for me so I get it right when I forget, and maybe for you!

If you aren’t a type nerd, kerning is the process of adjusting the spacing between characters in a proportional font, usually to achieve a visually pleasing result. Yup. It’s not tracking, or character spacing, which is different. But Keynote is confusing. Ugh.

My first mistake was trying to put the cursor between two letters, because that’s how other applications do it. Well, don’t do that. It doesn’t work. (Doing so affects the entire line of type!)

Don’t highlight two characters and try to adjust the kerning. It adjusts the space between the two letters and the space after the last letter. What!?

Right, so… Just select the one character you want to adjust the space after! In this case I selected the “A” in the word “Avenue”…

Now under the Format Menu, select Font, then Character Spacing and you can Tighten or Loosen. You’re better off just using Command-Option-[ and Command-Option-] though.

Hey, look at that! We’ve done it. Kerning. Adjusting the space between two characters. Amazing. I mean, you don’t get actual numerical values like other applications, but you just go with the visual spacing and that’s the best you can do.

The weird thing to me is that it’s not called kerning, and instead called “character spacing”, and the reason I think it’s weird is because Keynote was created for Steve Jobs, who was a big typography nerd. Maybe it was named as such to not be as confusing to non-typography nerds, but in doing so, it confuses typography nerds.

That’s part of a larger issue I’ve seen in computing over the last 25 years or so. The “dumbing down” or “simplifying” of things that are at all complex or even slightly obscure, so that people without the requisite knowledge in a specific area can understand things. Maybe that’s not the worst thing, but I still think it sort of penalizes the people who have advanced knowledge in a subject.

Anyway, that’s how do you kerning in Apple Keynote.