enclosure

Prusa i3 8” 3D Printer Enclosure

UPDATE
Files for the enclosure are now listed on Gumroad!

In the late fall of 2013, I bought and assembled a Prusa i3 3D printer. I split on the costs with a friend. We ordered from Makerfarm.

I will write a different blog post about owning and using a 3D printer. In the meantime, I decided to design an enclosure for my printer. Partly for containing heat without overheating. Partly for creating a central venting position.

My beautiful wife used Hot Pop Factory in the recent past for laser-cutting so it seemed a natural solution for me to go with for my enclosure. I contacted Matt from Hot Pop Factory and got some advice in how he needed files set up. After several iterations in design with feedback from Matt, I settled on this:

Enclosure Plan

Matt, once again, proved invaluable in being willing to test out my design. Namely the nut capture and slot fitting. He was the one that pointed out the need for the tabs on either side of the nut to supply structural support and enforce the 90° angle;

Laser Test

I really like machine screws. Specifically the #6-32 machine screws (machine screws don’t have pointy ends) of varying lengths. You can go to Home Depot and buy a box of screws for around five bucks. Good deal if you want to monkey around. A box is usually 100 pieces. For this enclosure, I made sure to have three lengths available; 1/2″, 3/4″ and 1″. With a box of 6-32 nuts to fit.

Nut and Screws

Finally, after much finagling, my enclosure was designed, uploaded, downloaded, configured and cut! Matt called, I drove over to Hot Pop and there was my enclosure begging to be assembled.

Newly Cut

I am writing the assembly instructions and will sell the plan via Gumroad soon for $10. I will also offer a price for a laser-cut enclosure kit which you will assemble yourself. All necessary hardware included. That will be in the under-$100 range.

This is the assembled enclosure with the printer inside. On the right, I’d popped an under-cabinet LED strip in to see it with lighting.

Assembled

The filament holder is strong enough to hold two fully-loaded spools! Check it out!

Filament Holder

I will say it was fun experiment and even were I to never sell one of these in kit form, it was worth doing. If only because it let me do something I was unfamiliar with in the beginning.

Drinking? No.

In case you haven’t been out with me for the past few months, here’s a heads up; I’m not drinking.

I’d like to add “anymore” to that sentence, but “right now” and “today” will need to do for the time being. No, I’m not being brave coming forward or whatever. It’s a fact. I am working on not drinking.

I’ll do my best to answer the questions I’ve already been asked and react to the comments I’ve already heard.

Q. When did this all start? I was drinking with you in the summer.
A. I stopped drinking slightly before Labour Day. In the summer how’d that go? I have a feeling I know. We drank a lot, I disappeared to keep drinking and the next day we talked about how shitty you and I both feel. Good times.

Q. How long are you quitting?
A. For as long as I can. Up to and including the rest of my life, if I can.

Q. Why are you quitting?
A. I’m a binge drinker. I sit down with the best intentions of having one drink, but inevitably have them all. I can’t stop until I do. I am unquenchably thirsty. It’s not healthy.

Q. You won’t have one? What’s the harm in one?
A. When I was asked out “for a drink”, my favourite response was “That’s cute. You think they come in singles.” I don’t know how to have one. If I have one, I instantly want another. Best I don’t have the first.

Q. Do you think you’re an alcoholic?
A. Uh no. I KNOW I’m an alcoholic. Thinking I might be an alcoholic allowed me to excuse my drinking for nearly 30 years (I had my first drink to excess at 14 or so).

Q. Do people miss you drinking? You’re a lot of fun.
A. …thanks…? I’m still pretty amazing. I’m just not drunk.

Q. Does it bother you if you see people drinking? Are you judging them?
A. Here’s the thing, I am in advertising. Binge-drinking is par for the course. It’s “how we roll”. I have witnessed my behaviour thousands of times in the nearly 15 years of being in advertising. For the most part, it’s innocuous. Folks blowing off steam. If any of you have tried to keep up with me, you know where you end up; sick the next day. No, I am not judging anyone but myself. If you feel judged, that’s on you.

Q. What does Libs think of what you’re doing?
A. Libs is down on all this. She misses sharing a bottle of wine with me (I know how to pick wine like a champ) but she knows full well she’d have a glass and I’d finish the bottle. Potentially, ordering and/or opening a second while she sits and/or goes to bed.

Q. Why are you offering me booze at your home? Doesn’t it drive you nuts?
A. Because I’m a kick-ass host, duh. I make an amazing bourbon sour, caesar, mimosa and know how to pour a glass of wine and open a beer. Why should my guests be dry if I am? I’m sober, not a dick. No, it doesn’t drive me nuts.

Q. Did you join AA? Are you in therapy?
A. Wow, we’re really feeling familiar, aren’t we? The second A in AA is Anonymous, by the way. But I am generous. No, I’m in neither. I have a wicked cool wife and friends who are supportive. If I need either or both, I’ll do it. You don’t stop having an addictive personality. For the time being, I am muddling through.

Q. Have you fallen off the wagon?
A. I don’t really see it as a wagon, because things fall of wagons all the time. Have I drank since my decision? Yes. Do I feel like a failure? Maybe, but I didn’t just go back to drinking either. So whatever.

I am sorry if it makes you uncomfortable that I’m not drinking with you. I’m happy to see you drink and enjoy yourself. I don’t care if you drink to excess.

Don’t drink and drive. I mean it. If you come close to that, I’ll offer you a place to crash or cab fare. Imagine all the money I’ve saved on drinks! I can pay your cab ride home. Alternatively, if I’m out and driven, I can offer you a ride. Designated driver, yo!

If you see me drinking, I’m probably okay with it in the moment, but will be bummed out about it later. The last time I drank, it took a full 15 minutes for me to pick the glass up. I need a “days without incident” counter.

If you have any questions, ask. I’m fairly open about this whole thing. The last thing I quit was smoking and it’s a similar situation which I blogged about a while back.

On a related note, I dropped 10 pounds and my blood pressure normalized. Weird, right?

CreateinTO – HYPE Framework in Processing

CreateinTO

When the organizers of CreateinTO announced they were going to do an evening on Processing and put the call out for speakers, I was approached to declare interest in presenting. I don’t present much anymore and the thought terrified me, but what the hell, right?

Processing + Hype

For those of you unfamiliar with it, Processing is a fantastic Java-based IDE for writing some beautiful work.

Hype is a design and animation framework initially written for Flash by Branden Hall and Joshua Davis.



It has since been ported by Joshua into Processing with the help of James Cruz of Code and Theory.

So…

Enough preamble. I volunteered to do a talk about getting started with Hype in Processing. The funny thing is, on the way to the venue, I decided to not do that. I would provide an introduction to Hype but that Joshua himself does such an amazing job getting you started with his SkillShare that I saw no point in replicating his effort. It is, all things considered, better to learn from the creator than from someone who did what their recommending; namely take the SkillShare. The other point is that it’s $20. If you use this link, you can actually save $10! So you can get access to the tutorials, source files, additional resources for $10?! So now you can see why I just said, “Honestly, there’s no point in me doing this. Go here.”

Yup

So there you go, why not do an introduction to Hype? Because an introduction exists and it’s worth every minute.

It’s NOT the First Smoke

cigarette butt

As a former smoker, I know one thing. It’s not the first smoke I have that will get me smoking again. That first cigarette will suck. It’ll remind me that it takes actual effort to pull smoke down my throat and fill my lungs with poison. That first smoke will hurt. It’ll make me dizzy. I’ll feel nauseous. It’ll taste like shit and make me cough hard. That first cigarette will confirm I am no longer a smoker.

Sure, it’ll suck. But I bet I finish it. I bet I finish it, then smile and say to whoever gave me that smoke “God, that sucked” and I’ll have that look. You know the look. The look that says “I pity you. You poor, senseless smoker. I beat cigarettes. You saw me hate that cigarette, right? I loathed that smoke. That’s equal to how much I pity you.”

And the smoker will look back and think “Just wait.” The next time that smoker goes out, I’ll go back out with him/her and bum another smoke. I’ll think to myself “I hated that first one so much, I can easily have another and still hate smoking.”

But I won’t hate smoking on the second smoke.

It’ll be easier to smoke. It won’t hurt as much going down. I won’t cough as much. It won’t even taste as bad. In fact, it’ll be reminiscent of all the times I’d go out for a smoke with my friends. And I’ll like it.

I can promise you, fellow former smoker, it’s not the first smoke you have that’ll be the problem. It’s the smoke you have after you proved you beat smoking. That confidence is what will be your downfall. Don’t have the first smoke.

The Freelance Series: Getting Tech Director’d Up.

On April 16th, I started my new position as Technical Director for Kolody, Inc!

I am very enthusiastic and optimistic about this company and it’s two partners; Mark Kolody and Colin Turnbull

They have a drive for doing what hasn’t been done. The latest of which is being part of a multi-agency campaign for Dove and Unilever called Show Us Your Skin. There have been a number of write ups on the campaign and I am stoked to be part of such an innovative company.

So, while my “freelance series” blog entries are likely to stop, I am thinking another series might be in order. “Managing Managing” pops instantly in mind.

TYGER’S TALE: ADVICE FOR SELF-EMPLOYMENT – PT 3.

Downtime:
Everyone I know who is self employed goes through a period of work scarcity at some point in their career. I’ve been there. It was the best thing that could’ve happened to me. I was young, I took things for granted, didn’t appreciate things and I needed some humbling. Plan for this. One of the benefits of being self employed is that I know exactly what is coming in and going out in terms of bills. Pay yourself, before you pay your bills and use that money to build up a “emergency saving slush fund”. Either by saving or safe investing(i.e TFSA). In Ontario, if you are self employed you can still pay into EI. It’s your option. Being self employed doesn’t mean, you can’t have nice things. You can still have nice things as long as you can afford them.

Also use this period to assess if this is where you want to be in terms of your career goals and to further your education. Look at emerging trends and position yourself accordingly.

Don’t dwell on the negative. Don’t go through a period of self doubt. You give it power and allow it to manifest and also make yourself sick. I’ve interviewed consultants for clients who have been out of work for a period of time. They may not realize it, but when you’re negative, it permeates through who you are. Potential clients can detect it.

Depending on your situation, sometimes it is worth moving backwards to go forward. A number of years back, I had two potential clients. One kind of the same old same, I’ve always done, the other a pure management consulting gig with a big Consulting company, that paid less. After much debate, I took the management consulting gig and added a new dimension to my skill set and career. These days that skill set is more in demand then what I use to do and has opened up a new world of clients. Take calculated risks.

Lessons I’ve learned:

    • Trust your gut. If you’re uneasy about a project, organization or the people, walk away.

    • Always read and understand contracts. Never assume anything. Ask questions. If the answer is unsatisfactory, have a lawyer look at it.

    • Get everything in writing in the contract.

    • Everything is negotiable on a contract.

    • Have a lawyer. It’s been rare, but I’ve had issues getting paid in the past. After exhausting all avenues on my own, having a really good lawyer to advise you helps. If you’re doing cross-border corp to corp business agreements a lawyer is useful, some States have some interesting laws.

    • Never do work without a signed and agreed contract in place.

    • Don’t get stuck in a niche or vertical. Expand your skill set and industry experience

    • In your contract, set the project scope as best as possible. This sets expectations for both sides.

    • I always provide work plans and estimate costs where applicable for projects. This is to avoid surprises on the client side, when I bill. I also track my portion of the project cost with the client. If we’re getting close to the high end of the estimate, I let them know.

    • It’s okay to do business with organizations that are in bankruptcy re-organization, however to reduce financial risk to yourself, its best to work off a financial retainer. Monitor that financial retainer with the client and have them top it off when it starts to run out.

    • Get yourself a very good accountant. One that specializes in self employed people or small companies. It took me 3 tries to find the right person who understands both CRA wording and tax laws.

    • Not all clients are equal.

    • Always be professional.

Tyger Das is a management consultant with 13+ years experience who originally started his career as a programmer. His experience includes executive advisory, business strategy, business systems analysis, marketing strategy, program/project/vendor management, marketing, consulting or IT operations (including offshore) management, best practice(s) implementation, business process re-engineering (six sigma), cost and work effort reduction through business process optimization, change management and technical(IT/IS) or advertising RFS/RFP process management. Some of Tyger’s past and present clients include: Aon, RBC, CGI, General Electric, Maclaren McCann, various US and Canadian health agencies, General Motors, Ford Europe(Jaguar, Land Rover), Diageo PLC(Pilsbury, Guinness & Co. and Smithwick’s, Burger King), NASA, Rogers Communications, various municipal, provincial and state agencies, a number of non-profits, Porsche AG, a handful of boutique advertising agencies and the National Basketball Association.

Connect with Tyger on LinkedIn

TYGER’S TALE: ADVICE FOR SELF-EMPLOYMENT – PT 2.

Searching for work:

When I first started out in self employment by virtue of my skill set, I was basically stuck in one vertical. I have learned from other consultants to strategically gain experience in as many different verticals and industries as possible. You don’t want to get stuck in a niche or stuck in one vertical. Niches and verticals go through recessions. You want to gain as much experience as possible. Self employment works well for this.

I’ve learned being successful at self employment is largely self-driven. You need to constantly be “on the look” for future projects even while you’re working at a client. It’s very self motivated. In the course of a day or a week, I’m constantly in dialogue with existing clients, old clients, intermediaries, contacts and other self-employed people

So how have I managed to find clients?

    Other self-employed people – Because I’m self-employed, I know other self-employed people. We stay constantly in touch with each other and try to help one another out. Some of us have similar skills and experience some of us quite different; we do all complement each other in some way. If I know someone is looking, I’ll keep my ears open; they’ll do the same for me. I have sent convertible leads to people and they’ve sent convertible leads to me.

    Simply keeping in touch – I’ve kept in touch with people from the beginning of my career to present. I’m very sociable and I talk to everyone. I’m always amazed at the number of interns and front desk people, I’ve met years ago, who are now in management roles at public and private organizations. Recently I converted a lead received by someone I worked with 15 years ago into a project. It pays to stay in touch.

    Introductions – I’ve made introductions for people and people have made introductions for me. Sometimes introductions lead to work.

    Opportunities at your existing client – Simply know what other projects are attached to your project or what other similar projects are on the horizon at your client. If what they need lines up with your skill set and experience and they’re happy with your work, you can be at that client for awhile.

    Social Media – Believe it or not, but I have converted a couple of leads that came in via social media. I have never met these “go betweens” in person, but I’m grateful for their help. But be smart about it, trust your “spidey senses”. If you suspect a scam, it is likely a scam.

    Networking – I think every skill set, technology or professional designation has its own group, a lot of them have once a month meetings. Many are free. Go to them and talk to people. Don’t go asking for or looking for business. Go to meet people and build relationships. People who go either single mindedly looking for business or for work repel people. If you’re uncomfortable going by yourself take someone with you. If you know people there ask them to introduce you to people you don’t know. If not make introductions yourself (but don’t interrupt conversations). It takes some practice. Once upon a time, I was fairly shy, now I can confidently work a room.

    Talk to strangers – Toronto, is not exactly the friendliest city on Earth. A “good morning” a smile or a “simple compliment” to a stranger tends to weird out most Torontonians. However, there is good news. A lot of cities not named Toronto in Canada, the US and elsewhere are friendly. Innocuous small talk has led to an opportunity to build relationships which has led to opportunities.

    RFS – A lot of organizations put out Request for Service (RFS) tenders via different tendering methods. In most cases, anyone can respond to them. When, responding to the RFS, read the instructions carefully and note the deadline dates. A lot of RFS have specific requirements in terms of what they expect to see in a response. These items are not options. Follow the instructions.

Benefits of self employment over full-time employment

There are no absolutes in life. Very few full-time jobs have any sort of job security. I’ve worked for a lot of public and private organizations and very few have had any sort of employee career planning. If you’re good at your job they basically want to keep you at that job. As a person, I love to learn, I love to be challenged, I enjoy solving problems, I love to think and I love to teach. Self-employment for me has allowed me to take on different challenges. I‘ve had the opportunity to manage my own education and experience and build my career the way I wanted too. I’ve worked in all different verticals, in different roles from technical to project/program management, executive advisory, business process re-engineering, change management, conflict resolution, etc. I’ve honed my leadership skills under a cross section of excellent c-level executives at some pretty big private and public organizations; these executives aren’t only excellent business people, but also people. They’ve taught me, how to listen, strategize, manage conflict and politics, negotiate, be a better communicator, lead, manage, mentor others, admit mistakes and be a better person. I don’t think, I would have gotten the depth and breadth of the experience that I currently have, if I was a full-time employee somewhere.

end of part 2… to be continued in part 3; Downtime and Lessons Learned

Tyger Das is a management consultant with 13+ years experience who originally started his career as a programmer. His experience includes executive advisory, business strategy, business systems analysis, marketing strategy, program/project/vendor management, marketing, consulting or IT operations (including offshore) management, best practice(s) implementation, business process re-engineering (six sigma), cost and work effort reduction through business process optimization, change management and technical(IT/IS) or advertising RFS/RFP process management. Some of Tyger’s past and present clients include: Aon, RBC, CGI, General Electric, Maclaren McCann, various US and Canadian health agencies, General Motors, Ford Europe(Jaguar, Land Rover), Diageo PLC(Pilsbury, Guinness & Co. and Smithwick’s, Burger King), NASA, Rogers Communications, various municipal, provincial and state agencies, a number of non-profits, Porsche AG, a handful of boutique advertising agencies and the National Basketball Association.

Connect with Tyger on LinkedIn

Tyger’s Tale: Advice for Self-Employment – PT 1.

I’m very grateful to Hugh to allowing me to post on his blog. Thanks, Hugh.

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore”
-Andre Gide

Different people call it different things: freelancing, contracting, consulting. More broadly defined, it is self-employment.
I became self-employed, not by choice, but because of necessity. I came out of school in the 90’s. The early 90’s went through a fairly severe recession. Full-time jobs or internships for new university or college grads were few and far between. Your choices were contract (self-employment) opportunities or not working. I chose self-employment. I was told by a number of people this was a negative work choice and it would haunt me down the road, but so far I have parlayed it into a successful career. Everything I learned about being successfully self-employed is from; watching others, reading and researching, asking questions and personal trial and error.

Advice and Lessons:

Rate?
When I started out, working as a programmer/analyst. Hourly rates were set in narrow ranges based on years of experience, practical programming knowledge and the economics of supply and demand. Most leads for gigs where controlled by headhunters/recruiting companies. Headhunter/recruiting companies usually tacked on an extra 20% to 25% on to the hourly rate. To keep myself competitive, I use to charge something in between what I would get from a recruiter per hour and the mark up. It proved attractive to my clients.
As my experience and skill set has broadened and become more management consulting oriented, I know from working at some of the big consulting companies at what they bill me out at to clients, my hourly has been adjusted to stay both fair and competitive.

My advice, when positioning yourself in the marketplace, especially if you have broad skill set is to have a sliding hourly rate instead of one fixed rate hourly rate. I’ve had clients, in the past that had work, which I could have done, but in terms of effort and skill was slightly below what I was doing for them and they were “scared off” because of my hourly.

For some of my long time clients, I will give them a fixed price on work as long as they provide me the scope, instead of billing them an hourly rate. This has allowed me to keep some clients for years.

I have also a slightly less than market rate for start-ups and new companies. Being a type of entrepreneur, I have a sort of soft spot for other entrepreneurs. Not always, but sometimes this has led to future work for me at market rates. Some entrepreneurs are very appreciative of any help you provide them when they’re starting out and sometimes this leads to future work at market rates.

Have some flex in your rate. Rates are determined by a number of factors, chief among them supply and demand; the economy goes through up and down cycles. In order to stay competitive and working you will have to adjust your rate from time to time. Don’t get married to a specific hourly rate.

To incorporate or not to incorporate?
This is something that depends on your situation. If you don’t have long term aspirations of being self employed are in between jobs and only contracting or consulting till you find your next full time permanent gig, then incorporation isn’t for you.

If however, you are planning to do this as a career or for an extended period of time, incorporation carries many tax advantages. Being incorporated also allows one to join organizations like local chambers of commerce and boards of trade. These organizations allow “group buy” benefits for everything from benefits, dental care, software, office supplies to local networking and RFS bid opportunities.

Contract Length?
This is a question that I’m often asked. Is a long contract better then a short one? My answer, I’ve parlayed 4 week gigs into 4 years. Every client is different, every situation is different. Expect the unexpected.

Pros and Cons of using a recruitment company?
Some self employed folks like using recruitment companies/headhunter and some larger corporations insist that you use a recruitment company(some will assign you one), especially if you aren’t incorporated. The benefit of using a recruitment company/headhunter is that you get paid weekly or bi weekly instead of net 30. The trade off is you make less per hour. Everyone has their own financial situation. Choose what suits you.

end of part 1… to be continued in part 2; Finding work and benefits

Tyger Das is a management consultant with 13+ years experience who originally started his career as a programmer. His experience includes executive advisory, business strategy, business systems analysis, marketing strategy, program/project/vendor management, marketing, consulting or IT operations (including offshore) management, best practice(s) implementation, business process re-engineering (six sigma), cost and work effort reduction through business process optimization, change management and technical(IT/IS) or advertising RFS/RFP process management. Some of Tyger’s past and present clients include: Aon, RBC, CGI, General Electric, Maclaren McCann, various US and Canadian health agencies, General Motors, Ford Europe(Jaguar, Land Rover), Diageo PLC(Pilsbury, Guinness & Co. and Smithwick’s, Burger King), NASA, Rogers Communications, various municipal, provincial and state agencies, a number of non-profits, Porsche AG, a handful of boutique advertising agencies and the National Basketball Association.

Connect with Tyger on LinkedIn

The Freelance Series: Taking the “Home” out of “Home Office”

I recently asked on Twitter if anyone had any opinions on my next blog entry concerning freelance life and Joel Stransky wrote “I’d be interested to hear about disturbance agreements you have with your family.”. Therefore, Joel, this post’s for you.

Make a space
My situation is one where I staked out one room in my home for my office.

If you are able to remove yourself from the regular hustle and bustle of your home, much better for you.

I leave my door open because I want to accessible but in the end my space is my own*. In every sense of the phrase I have a “home office”. So what do I mean when I say “Take the home out of home office”? Think of it like this;

When you work at a company you get, at the very least, a desk. When you don’t see your family for the duration of a work day, most people have photos of said family. You know, to remind them of “better times.” Sorry.

When you work from home and you have a 4 month-old baby girl, a 5 and a 1/2 year-old boy and a wife on maternity leave, all you have are reminders of your family’s presence. Keep family photos out of your workspace. Keep all mementos of non-work out of your work space. That’s the function of the rest of your home.

Interruptions
So that’s Home Office. Let’s get into interruptions. You know when you’re sitting at your desk, diligently working away and a coworker comes up to you and asks a question, completely throwing off your flow/chi/balance/progress? Now imagine these are your coworkers:



That’s right, cuteness overload. However, when your wife is taking care of a fussy baby and your son yells upstairs “Daddy! I need help!” and he’s referring to some video game (which you know you’d rather be playing anyway) you have to restrain yourself from jumping up. Instead yell back, “Sorry buddy, Daddy’s working.” To be fair, that’s super hard to do. (See above picture). I have listened to my wife explain to my son that “You need to pretend that Daddy isn’t home.” This is not an easy concept for a 5 year-old to grasp. He is starting to come ’round, though. Slowly but surely.

The other thing my wife mentioned that would make the separation of home and office easier would be to close my door. I am considering it, but I do like being available in some instances.

So, I don’t know, Joel, if that answered your comment, but that’s the best I have at the moment.

* I need to point out that we are currently in the middle of moving rooms so my lovely little office is completely overrun. Such is life and I do my best to ignore it.

a developer