Matt Hackmann

2014 Micro Retrospectives - Intro + Bikes

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2014 is winding down as the shadow of 2015 looms over us. I don't even know why we give this any mind; time is but a human construct and the "new year" marker could have been placed at any point. Indeed, other cultures have their own ways of keeping time with their own "new years". Interesting that the concept of a "year", a larger span of time filled with many smaller demarcations of time, is seen in most of these calendar systems. Still, I'm happy to use an arbitrary position on our planet's orbit to define the changing of the year. Whatever, that's not what I'm here to talk about.

For myself, 2014 was arguably less exciting than 2013. No sudden life changes, no international trips, just a fairly standard year. Still, it wasn't without its own interesting things and I'll now take a look back at the more notable things that happened in a series of very short blog posts.

Biking

I'd purchased a bike in 2013, shortly after returning from Japan (partially because my original bike had been stolen while I was gone). Despite having it, I didn't make use of it nearly as much as I should have. But, this year, I began going on long rides with friends which really makes the whole experience much more appealing. On top of that, I bought a very nice bike and, as I became more accustomed to it, started upgrading that with nice upgrades like better wheels and clips. All said and done, I logged over 1800 miles this year which is an accomplishment I'm quite proud of.

That's today, tomorrow might be more!

Letters from the Past

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Shortly after writing this post last year, I sent my future self (me now) another email with my hopes and predictions for the future. Today I have received that email:

Dear FutureMe,

Hello from the past! I feel a little strange writing this letter considering how WRONG I was on the previous one. But, here we are.

Looking at 2014 from my vantage point, there shouldn't be much change from the latter half of 2013; you'll still be at LinkedIn and, of course, in the Bay Area. I'm hoping that you'll have become slightly more suave with the ladies because that's really the last item on the checklist.

Also, there's the very vague possibility of an Oktoberfest trip with the ol' TN folks. At this point in time, I'm not sure how that will play out or if it will and it wasn't just a bunch of "Whooo!! Riding the high of life" type talk.

Finally, I'm hoping that summer with Chris hanging out while he interns winds up being every bit as awesome as I'm anticipating right now.

So, get your ass a girlfriend and I'll see you in a year!

All in all, that summed up the year pretty accurately. I'm still at LI, still in the bay, and Chris' internship was a lot of fun. Of course, the Oktoberfest trip didn't happen, but I did wind up visiting all of those folks in their new home of Smogsville, TX just last weekend.

There does seem to be a recurring theme here in the form of "get a girlfriend you big ass". And, as I prepare to write the letter to myself for next year, that thing will come up yet again. Of course, actually trying to meet somebody would probably be a huge step towards actually realizing this. Having a handful of dates with one girl per year isn't getting me anywhere very quickly...

102.2

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So, I've fallen off the horse on that daily blogging shit. Whatevs. Not much has been happening that's worth talking about or that I can talk about (NDA and all). Until today, that is.

When I woke up terribly sick.

Normally, I know when I'm getting sick the night before, but not this time. I woke this morning and started thinking that something didn't feel right. Snooze the alarm, attempt to sleep for another nine minutes. But I don't as I'm assessing the situation. Then it hits me: I feel sick. Well, that's not right. I get sick the night before; I should have known this is coming. My body, however, apparently had other plans. Alarm goes off again and I'm lying there deciding if I should go to work where we're currently in crunch time or stay home. I decide the latter and text the boss my physical and work status. I throw my phone on the floor and attempt to get rest.

But the weight of deadlines prevents me from getting much actual rest. I have a weird fever dream where I'm on a date eating hotdog ice cream. Well, kind of. It's actually a hotdog in an ice cream cone with a cone of chocolate on top. My date throws her cone on the ground and then proceeds to steal food from a good truck. I'm flabbergasted and am about to tell her off when I realize... this can't be real. Sure enough, it's not.

So, I get up, drink some juice and pop out the work laptop. After about an hour-ish of work, my body feels like it's actually going to start falling apart at the seams. So, I abandon work and crash on the couch figuring now would be a perfect time to catch up on the animus that I've not been watching lately. One episode each of Girls' Monthly Nozaki-kun, Hanayamata, and Sword Art Online later, I decide I should try to get some more work done. But, the 12 foot journey from my couch to my computer makes me realize that my health has actually declined in the time since I'd last been over there. I IM the boss my status and that this is the end of me, grab abother Advil and OJ, then head back to the couch.

Where I proceed to watch ten more episodes of Sword Art.

The show isn't bad, certainly better than the second half of season 1. However, I can't help but notice that Kirito is coming to rescue yet another damsel in PTSD distress. Fuck having strong female protagonists in that show; I just don't think the author has it in him to keep his initially strong females that way. Also, there are so many ass and taint shots of the main female character. Which is okay, I guess...

But, this isn't about SAO, it's about me being sick. As I'm watching all these episodes, I'm toying with the idea of getting a pizza. And get a pizza I do. It arrives ~40 minutes later and I chow down as I finish watching SAO. The pizza makes me feel a bit better, having filled the void in my stomach. And then sleepy.

I crawl into my bed where I try to get cool enough to fall asleep. It must have been successful, because the next thing I know the sun has gone down and the clock reads five hours later. I finish up the orange juice (which I am now sadly missing) and lie down on the the couch where I've basically ever since, power watching Fairly Odd Parents and Hey, Arnold!. At some point during that mess, I remembered that I have a thermometer. Curious, I take my temperature.

100.4

Well, that seems a bit high. I've been taking my temp a few times since, coming up with everything from 100 to 102.2. If I wasn't sure before, there's solid numerical evidence that I am pretty goddamn sick.

I wonder what tomorrow will bring...

Those Damn Backgrounds

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As I was talking about yesterday, today I gave the card pattern a shot with regards to the past bracket page. As for the cards themselves, I'm really pleased.

The CARDinal rule is...

However, the background leaves a lot to be desired. Putting it against a solid color loses the energy that I've got going to the landing page and, in the end, just looks empty. There's not enough content here to fill up all that empty space. So, I tried playing around with the layout some.

FLIP

CONTENT FLIP

Not really satisfied with any of those. Perhaps I should take a photo that has less going on, something that could be centered more. Or perhaps I rework the cards themselves to fill more space on the page.

I dunno, back to pushing pixels.

Designing with Materials

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So, I found my bike pump. Turns out I stashed it in the back of my car at some point. Probably that time I drove down to San Mateo to bike into work (as I'll be doing very early tomorrow morning).

As I begin spinning up the ol' design gears readying myself for the inevitable yearly update to the bracket, I was scanning the docs for Google's Material specs. Interesting stuff, for sure, and an aesthetic I really like. That in mind, I attempted reworking the bracket selection page somewhat in this style. Failed miserably, but it was an interesting night of exploration.

Bleh

The thought of a full screen selection page was kind of nice for about the first 30 minutes, but has since lost its appeal. Also, finding the right kind of imagery to pull that off would be difficult. On top of all that, not really pleased with the typography.

I think the better patter to use in this case would be a card. This will scale better with more brackets, will be easily transferrable to the other bracket site that's been spin from all of this, and also easily made for mobile devices. We'll see how that one goes.