Things have been a little quiet here on site, but not so in life. Since the launch of CyclingBuilder I’ve had my hands full with PCPartPicker, updates to the responsive templates, and working on a Dark Mode for both sites. I also took a month off and spent the first half of the summer in Europe. I have photos and thoughts to share on our time there which I will write about soon. More to do, more to come.
The team at PCPartPicker and I have been working on a new site dedicated to cyclists and do-it-yourself bicycle builders. It’s called Cycling Builder and it’s live. Whether you’re building a road, mountain, or cyclocross bike, Cycling Builder can help you choose compatible parts at the best prices.
We’ve been working on Cycling Builder for awhile now. At PCPartPicker we’ve built tools enabling a massive community of computer builders to research parts and pricing, connect with others for build advice, and be inspired by the creations of fellow-builders. While we love that space and have big plans for new features, we’ve also been thinking about our other areas of interest and if we could provide similar value to the communities which exist in those niches. A few of my coworkers are into cycling, be it mountain biking, road biking and/or bike commuting and we saw similar pain points with regards to specing out a part list, sharing cycling knowledge, determining compatibility of parts, etc. Over the years we’ve also had people reach out to us on their own asking if there could be a “PCPartPicker for bikes”. We decided to devote resources towards building up the site and it feels great to roll it out.
The feedback we’ve received so far has been very helpful. We’re already making tweaks and continuing to build out the part database as well as onboarding additional retailers around the world. The Cycling Builder forums are a great place to send us feedback or offer product feature requests.
Cycling Builder also showcases the new responsive site templates my co-worker AJ and I have been working on. I’m currently working on getting PCPartPicker up on the same templates which we plan to roll out soon. Once the dust settles with these two launches I’d like to share more on our process and the decisions we made along the way. I’ve spent a lot of time figuring out how to wrangle tables in a responsive layout as well as how to build a core library of templates and CSS which can be shared across sites but also customized to meet the specific branding needs of each site. It’s been a great journey of learning and growth.
I’d love to know what you think about Cycling Builder, so hit me up on Twitter, leave feedback in the Cycling Builder forums or send me a direct message on the site. Also, if you’ve put together some interesting builds send me the part list permalink, I’d love to see what you’re dreaming up.
Traditionally I’ve never been one to make New Year’s resolutions, but this year I drew a line and committed to making 2019 different. I’ve developed bad habits around leaving things half-finished. You know that saying about how change can happen when the pain of leaving things as they are is greater than the pain it takes to change? I think in some areas I’ve reached that level of pain. So at the end of 2018 I said this is going to be the year where I don’t leave home projects half finished. The year where some of the ideas sitting idle in my head either put up or shut up. The year where I confidently commit to something and see that commitment through to the end.
So on the evening of Dec 31 I made a list of items I wanted to achieve in 2019 paired with actionable items neatly sprawled out on post-it notes (Trello-style) on the north wall of my designer cave.
Actually no I didn’t. I didn’t do anything. See another one of my bad habits is I have ideas and then don’t make any concrete plans on how to accomplish them, but that’s for another blog post. I did however do something completely unrelated which has ended up becoming a primary factor in my ability to overcome this bad habit of not following through. I started a challenge of doing 100 push-ups every day for the year.
Improving my fitness and health has been a big part of my life over the past 2-3 years. With cross-training, running and wise diet choices as weekly habits, I entered into the challenge of 100 push-ups a day with enthusiasm. I figured it would be a moderate habit to maintain: not too hard to do physically or fit into my daily schedule. I had no master plan on what this would accomplish for me beyond knowing I was obtaining a little extra fitness each day and that part has already proved true, but it has also revealed something else to me.
The act of getting down on the ground and grinding through 4 sets of 25 push-ups does something to the mind as well as the body. Obviously push-ups themselves aren’t the secret, but rather it’s the act of putting your body through regular, physical stress. This wasn’t the big “ah-ha!” moment, because I had already learned the benefit exercise has on my mental health, alertness and confidence. The days when I exercise are almost always more productive than the days when I don’t. But the interesting part about the push-ups is that they’re literally done every day and I HAVE to fit them into my schedule somehow, like knocking them out on the floor of your hotel room right before midnight after a long day of travel, conversations and drinks (👋 Greenville Grok).
There are times when I just don’t want to do them, but I do them anyway. They’re challenging but bite-size enough to check off no matter if I’m feeling my best or fighting off a headache. This is the biggest takeaway for me. You are much more likely to accomplish a goal if you break it down into small chunks which are doable regardless of how you’re feeling but still make a sizable impact towards the goal itself. Don’t get overwhelmed at the idea of doing 36,500 push-ups this year, do 100 a day and next thing you know you’re almost at 10,000…which I’ll reach on Wednesday.
This realization paired with the benefits of exercise has allowed me to make great strides in the other goals I’ve set this year. Launching this site was one of them. I’m making advancements in properly learning 3D. I’m creating and finishing projects around the house. It feels great! If you’ve struggled with similar habits and have found solutions which enabled you to overcome them, I’d love to hear about it. Hit me up on Twitter and let’s chat.
Pocket City is a city-building simulation game for your phone or tablet. It’s like SimCity but done right for mobile. No in-app purchases. Buy it and enjoy the full game. It’s easy to learn and the design is charming. Perfect way to scratch those “Mayor on the Go” urges of yours.
When I walked out of the theater after seeing “Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse” I was dumbfounded into how they did the animation. I have a decent understanding for how movie effects are made, but I was at a loss for words on this film. Since then I’ve been anxious to learn more about how the creators achieved the results. This video from WIRED peels back the curtain to shed some light on the techniques and tricks used to bring the characters and world to life.
There are so many great nuggets of information in this video. Here are a few of my favorites:
- To take what is special about the art quality and style of comics and transfer it to the screen the team did away anything soft or that which did not belong in the illustrated world, like motion blur and camera focus.
- You can pause the movie at any point and the frame looks like a crisp illustration. 🙀
- Many of the animated background elements are just blobs of color and light, which saved a lot of time for the animators without sacrificing detail.
- The effects team came up with a genius method of blending 3D character animation with traditional line work to help enhance and punctuate the emotions and performances of the characters. Machine-learning was even used to speed up this process while maintaining the precision and intentionality of each placed line.
Another great behind-the-scenes resource I enjoyed about S:ITSV is Ep. 197 of The Collective Podcast with Patrick O’Keefe who was an art director on the film. Give that one a listen too.