2019 Recap

A recap of my 2019. Image: A photo study from 2019

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Time again for another of these posts. The last one is only 2 or 3 posts down from this one because I've had a hell of a year and just haven't found time to update this blog as much as I'd have liked.

I made that 2018 post about halfway through December and as part of the goals that I set there, I actually rejigged my house around and turned our guest bedroom into a room for art... on Christmas Day (picture after the jump) and it was amazing. Finally having a dedicated space for my art was just awesome.

Warning: Image Heavy Post Ahead

A while ago, I put together an Imgur album showcasing my work from the age of 13/14 (2004/2005) to present. I stupidly uploaded this in anonymous mode and came to realise that I couldn't actually update this, so I'm moving it to its new home here on my blog so that I can update it as I go and keep the link handy.

Naturally, this post showcases the best of whatever I drew at the time. I'm slowly going through the process of digitising my sketchbooks which can be found here: Digitised Sketchbooks

2004 - 2009 (Age 13-18)
2010 - 2015 (Age 19-24)
2015 - 2017 (Age 24-26)
2018 - 2020 (Age 27-29)

Recently I decided that I would backup the network and device configurations for the gear at my work, because we didn't have any backups more recent than 2018. I started off trying to find some automated solution in the devices themselves but unfortunately only one of them was able to be backed up in this way. I took some manual backups and tried to be happy with that but the problem gnawed at my brain for a bit till I finally looked for a proper automated solution that would work with the majority of our random assortment of devices.

I initially looked at using RANCID however it didn't support CheckPoint Gaia devices out of the box and I didn't much feel equipped to create my own check. It was around this time that I had Oxidized suggested to me and I started looking into and installing it.

All went smoothly with the installation by following the official Oxidized instructions. My configurations would download with no issues when I was running directly from the command line during testing. I ran into real issues when I started looking into how to daemonize Oxidized. It seemed like there wasn't a very good set of instructions for CentOS specifically. I did find a blog post that covers it off really well for Ubuntu and I did actually follow this one for the Oxidized user tasks. In the end, I did a lot of searching and a lot of trying different things (and removing things I tried to see which ones I could keep), before finding the solution outlined here.

Formal Art Education and Self-Directed Learning

My thoughts on formal art education and self-directed learning.

A few days ago, I came across an article espousing the benefits of auto-didacticism (the art of self-directed teaching and learning). I found myself nodding in agreement with some of their points but they were hidden behind a much longer rant about the evils of formal education. I've seen a lot of hate on the topic of formal education lately and while I kind of understand it, particularly with the current state of US education, I don't think it's a very fair assessment in most cases.

I'll preface this by saying I'm an Australian, whose university (college) education was paid for by the government, with no expectation to pay it back until earning a reasonable living wage. I'm aware of the financial burden that people in other countries experience in trying to gain an education and have tried to be mindful of this, however as always, your situation and mileage may vary.

I studied illustration design at university, digital painting at a concept design school, and have self-directed my own learning using online resources (such as Drawabox). Each of these offered something different and had its own pros and cons to contend with.

2018 Recap

A recap of my 2018. Picture: McLaren Vale, Adelaide, South Australia.

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Every year, usually sometime in December, I do a post *somewhere* about how my year has been and since it's December, it's time for a recap of my year. My 2018 kind of feels like it started around November 2017 in a way because that's when I started putting into motion a lot of the things that paid off this year. In November 2017, I decided that I wanted to move on from my comfortable but ultimately unfulfilling admin job. It was thanks to that job that I realised my true passion was for solving problems and that my original trajectory, before I went to university for design, was the best way to achieve that. That is, I wanted a job in IT. It was also in November 2017 that I decided to begin studying for my Cisco CCENT (ICND1) which is the first half of the arguably better known CCNA certification. This was my first time studying for a certification outside of an educational institute and I was a little concerned about how long it would be before I gave up on it. At that time, I had a lot of trouble with committing to projects and putting the time in to see them to completion. I’d also never really had to study properly in my life and kind of cruised by in TAFE and university.

Draw A Box - Lesson 4

Draw A Box - Lesson 4 - Insects and Arachnids - Time Taken: 26 Days.

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Lesson 4 is the lesson I was dreading the most and I think that's true of the majority of people that do the Drawabox course. That is, lesson 4 is insects and arachnids. This lesson was kind of an interesting combination of hard surfaces and organic animals. It was interesting from a technical standpoint, unfortunately it was incredibly difficult for me to look at the references for any significant amount of time. I live in Australia, so most of these bugs have the potential to pop out from nowhere and murder me. This is the first lesson with no exercises at the start, which is unfortunate, because I could've used some in drawing insect legs. Uncomfortable recommends an approach using sausagelike forms connected by balls which I found very hit and miss, particularly as my accuracy with my shoulder on the smaller sections left much to be desired. That said, if for some ungodly reason, I decided to draw insects again, I'd definitely be trying to incorporate the sausage forms a lot more.

Draw A Box - Lesson 3

Draw A Box - Lesson 3 - Plants - Time Taken: 41 Days.

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From Lesson 2, I moved onto the next logical step… Lesson 3. Finally, I have escaped mechanical skills hell and am onto drawing real things! It was not without its challenges even though it was a territory much more familiar to me. The lesson opens with a couple of exercises much like Lesson 1 and 2 except that they're specific to the business of drawing plants. The first is to draw a page of leaves and the second is to draw a page of stems. I struggled somewhat with the leaves as flat objects existing in 3D space. I did quite a few pages of this but didn't go overboard like I did with my Lesson 2 sausages with contour ellipses (I did about 50 pages of that because I wasn't getting it). I don't feel like I nailed it down in the end so it'll be something I need to practice. Similarly, I had trouble with the stems in the same way I had trouble with the ellipse sausages - I have trouble seeing the ellipses turning in 3D. I did about 10 double sided pages of this one morning before breakfast… yeah, you shouldn't do that. It's a bit hard to control a pen when your hands are shaking from hunger. Anyway, I moved on from it and thought I'd just wing it with the plants, which turned out to be the right thing to do because I got the hang of them when drawing my plants.

My Background in Coding

Where I started with coding.

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When I was 10, my sister was learning QBASIC at high school. As most younger siblings do, I harassed my sister to entertain me almost constantly. Eventually, my sister got annoyed with me and handed me some floppy disks with games on them so I would leave her alone. These games were written in QBASIC and the files were not compiled, so I had to open the IDE (or the equivalent of) to play them. After I quickly got bored with the rather simple games, I started to mess around with the QBASIC code to see what would happen if I changed things around.

From this, I taught myself how to make my own programs; these were usually quizzes that I asked everyone in my family to complete and usually were some form of Harry Potter trivia (I was seriously obsessed). My sister was also learning HTML at school and those floppy disks contained some of the websites she'd built. They were your typical 90s web design fare with animated GIFs, marquee and blink tags, and clashing colour schemes. As with the QBASIC programs, I opened these webpages up (with some guidance from my sister) in Notepad and started moving things about to figure out what was going on. This was late 1990s, early 2000s and we had the internet but my mum ran a business so I was only allowed two hours a week on the internet in one hour blocks so I didn't tie up the phone line for too long.