Why a blog?

I’ve been a heavy Twitter user since 2006. I registered my account right at the beginning when updates were sent via SMS or instant messaging. Back at that time, and for a few years, the community was close, supporting, and good-vibing. In 2010 we pretty much live-twittered the birth of our first child, and all we found was an incredible support network.

Today, Twitter is very angry. You stand by a corner for a minute, just observing, and a bunch of opinions, almost always uninformed and unnecessarily aggressive, are shoved down your throat.

Of course, the people from that support network is still there, a big bunch of people I keep close to my heart. But there’s also a lot of noise. It seems like every tweet is motivated by either plain hate or humor (the latter often sprinkled with hate, too). So, to keep a fresh timeline you need to make a huge amount of curation and filtering.

I can’t speak of Facebook, since I stopped using it a couple of years ago, but I can talk about Instagram, its adopted child.

Instagram is, while shallow, very fun. I keep up with my close circle right there, but the app makes it more difficult every time. Ads are everywhere, the chronological timeline is long gone, and even the posts from your network are hidden behind a link now, replaced by strangers, some kind of in-your-face discover section.

So, with all these annoyances, I thought it would be nice to have a breath and start doing all of my posting in this private space. It’s not social, but I keep control of my content and I keep it on the open web (something I strongly believe in).

I built this in WordPress over a weekend. if you’re on the same boat and want something similar, let me know, and I’ll happily help you set it up.

Lockdown check-in

After six and a half weeks in lockdown, I’m not anxious anymore. I don’t crave going out, and video calls have replaced face-to-face meetings very well: they no longer feel fake. I don’t perceive the screen anymore, but the person on the other side.

Habits are changing. I can’t go out to the supermarket when I’m bored (yes, I do that, or used to, anyways) or call a friend to meet at the neighborhood bar, but I took on Animal Crossing New Horizons, and as a distraction it’s a lifesaver. I’m making more music, I’m drawing more, and I play with my kids a lot more than before the pandemic.

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People working

An actress doing a character. An audio engineer setting up equipment. The fact that a product sees the light thanks to each of their individual efforts is the most badass thing. We should all do our work with pride and intent. 

Making music

This month I started making some music on my computer. I started with samples, but then I jumped into Cubase (I had a licence lying around, courtesy of my Zoom recorder) and started playing with midi and software instruments.

I’m still very self-conscious about it, but I decided I will share everything I create from now on, so I uploaded everything to SoundCloud.

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When I was a kid, I was always drawing. Mainly cartoon characters from Woody Woodpecker, The Flintstones, Looney Tunes, He-Man, Thundercats and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (I know, some of those are from my parents era, but in Mexico we get re-runs forever).

Somewhere down the path to adulthood I stopped drawing. I did some caricatures and satire comics in High School, but those were more for comedy than art. Then I got into design and I quit altogether.

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Resources for Landing Pages

At work, I’m constantly making landing pages for our campaigns. Until recently, we used Unbounce for its speed, even though I’ve never liked WYSIWYG interfaces.

The problem with Unbounce, though, is that the resulting pages are not truly responsive, and at some sizes they can become a little awkward.

My solution was developing a website with Jekyll + Bootstrap, plus a few custom styles, and deploying it in a subdomain hosted at Netlify. I’m fairly proficient at writing code, and Netlify’s deploy process is delightfully simple.

Now, the next problem for speeding up the process was finding inspiration for those landing pages. They’re short-lived and, even though they obviously need to be brand-aligned and follow certain conventions defined by my digital marketing team, their visual design usually favors impact over consistency between them.

I’ve been using these resources to get inspiration and visual elements to use on my landing pages. If you’re in a similar situation, I’m sure they will be useful for you too:

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This weekend I was browsing HBO while procrastinating on watching Westworld (it needs oh-so-much attention, which I’m lacking lately), when I stumbled upon Barry, a black comedy TV series starring Bill Hader (yes, Stefon), and produced by him and Alec Berg (Silicon Valley, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Seinfeld).

I decided to watch a couple episodes to see what’s was going on with it, and I got hooked. Simple story, subtle humor, and Bill Hader giving a very good performance (but still making weird faces).

I binged the first season (8 episodes), and I was always waiting for that moment the plot breaks, as in almost every light comedy tv series that think that the genre is a pretext to take shortcuts and easy fixes for tricky situations. Well, that moment never came up, and I’m so happy about it. The situation of the main characters turns darker and more desperate with each episode, without toning the comedy down. That’s refreshing.

(I tried my best not to spoil anything in the previous paragraph)

Anyway, I’m writing this here to recommend you go watch it. I like comedy TV series, I love the dark tones on this one, and I like Bill Hader very, very much. I’m super happy I ended up loving Barry.

The solar system dimensions and my ignorance

When we moved into the house where my family and I live, it occurred to me that it would be super cool and educational to have a solar system model in the ceiling of my kid’s room.

And it would be a lot cooler —I thought— if the distances between the planets’ orbits and their size were proportional to their real-life counterparts, the light bulb in the center of the ceiling being the sun. I got really excited.

With all the excitement still in me, I got in front of my computer to calculate said distances. That’s when it hit me: I knew nothing about the solar system size.

If a common light bulb is 6 centimeters wide, and I made all the sizes and distances proportional, Uranus would have to be located at 193 kilometers from the bulb.

My kid’s room is not that big.

Also, the moon would have to be .14 milimeters in diameter.

Then I got angry at all the illustrations of the solar system I’ve seen in my entire life. They are so misleading! Why couldn’t they just depict the orbits and planets in a proportional way? Thinking a little bit harder, I realized it is simply impossible to do it in print, or in any practical media for that matter. Here’s a proportional depiction of the solar system in a webpage by Josh Worth.

So, at the end I don’t know if the basic education system failed me, or my common sense did.

I decided to go with glowing stars in the ceiling.

Fixing unresponsive volume keys in a Mac

From time to time, specially after not restarting my computer for a few weeks, I get this annoying delay when I want to adjust the volume. I press the key, and the response comes a couple seconds later. I said annoying, but in reality it becomes infuriating real quick.

Thankfully, I learned how to fix it today, and it’s really easy:

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Learning JavaScript by building things

A few days ago I found the 30 Day Vanilla JS Coding Challenge by Wes Bos. Until now, I’ve been somewhat proficient writing jQuery code for small interaction things in my design work, but I’ve been trying to get rid of any libraries and start writing vanilla JavaScript (or, you know, as the elders of the internet call it, JavaScript).

Right as you get into the JavaScript30 website, there’s this text that felt to be speaking directly to me:

So, you’ve done a few courses and read a few books but still don’t feel great about your relationship with JavaScript. How do you get better? Build things. Lots of things. Build 1,000 things. Keep it up and don’t stop. Seriously.

I’m currently at ~30% of the lessons and not only I’ve learned some cool stuff already (like sweet sweet ES6 Template Literals), but I’m diving into things that were too scary before. And of course, I started staying late and building things, and I want to show you two of them right now.

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