Stet Build

Issue 061 of my newsletter In Abeyance is now out. Been on a roll with the new format and schedule and have been enjoying the diversity of topics I’m covering.

Just stumbled on Cusdis, a lightweight, privacy-first, open-source comment system that is exactly what I was looking for across my various sites. Already integrated into Stet.Build (coming soon to kaa.bz). Already contributed as I like what Randy is doing.

Printing Defects

That was disappointing. Just got a printed copy of my book from Lulu.com. A little over a year ago I got a similar print which I thought came out really well.

Fast forward to today and the results are not the same. For a start the binding is worse and the cover has separated already from the front page.

There are issues with the printing alignment - checked the pdf and everything is fine at the source.

The colours have been printed in CMYK, even though previously they would be done in an RGB palette. I’m pretty sure this is a different printing house (the book came from France rather Spain).

Also, so far noticed one small error which I am correcting as I also pull together the Kindle version as well.

My presentation for Micro Camp 2022 is now live. Had a lot of fun doing this and actually I intend to play around with this format on future Stet projects.

The Hard Road

Building something is difficult.
It take incredible patience.
It takes conviction.
And it takes belief.
Belief that things will eventually resonate with a wider audience. Belief in that this thing you are building is the best use of your time. What is the opportunity cost? Are you a victim of the sunken cost fallacy?

Even though I have been building Stet for 3½ years now, in many respects the road begins now, with the very first publication out. Creatively speaking, Stet has been one of my most consistent outlets. It has allowed me to combine all the things that I love to do in a consistent manner. My only concern however is that it is not reaching the wider audience that I imagined for it.

I had hoped that creating something good and useful would yield more reach. I was wrong. At the moment it is a creative distraction. Maybe I overestimated the audience of people interested in reading concise and (I want to believe) interesting articles about the built environment?

Advertising

I have dipped my toe into Twitter ads, but I feel that this isn’t exactly where my audience is. Rather the one that appear to ‘engage’ more with my posts are definitely living (lurking?) on LinkedIn. The thing is it seems that barrier for entry into this space is $120 minimum from any campaign. Seems like burning $120. I don’t mind betting on myself, what I do mind is betting on myself when LinkedIn makes the rules and I have no idea what the outcome could be.

Newsletter

I have been meaning to review what and how I write about this particular newsletter. I really believe in the format. I love sending it out. I love writing and have really developed a love for it. I love the research, I would do the research and write even if it wasn’t being shared with others. However I did conflate two issues. Writing 2000 word essays is a commitment from anyone to read. It has also lacked a consistent publishing schedule this past year. My antidote to all of this has been to reduce the size of what I am sending out but generally send it out every week.

A follow-up on my presentation, another great indie typographer that I love and follow is Mika Melvas. Today he dropped a wonderful sans serif typeface, Nietos. I have used Melvas’ work on Stet (notably when you sign up to the newsletter).

The full version of issue 053 of my newsletter In Abeyance is out, Extreme Environmental Design. This one was actually meant to be published in The Prepared newsletter (this one didn’t quite fit), but I really enjoyed how this came out.

Issue 053 of my newsletter In Abeyance is out. No link to the issue yet (but you can sign up), because I am doing something a little bit different with how I publish things going forward (which I need to write about).

BEC Vol.01 Available Now

You can grab a freshly minted copy of my first book the Built Environment Compendium Vol.01. If you are actively curious about the built environment, this book is for you.

I’ve written about how the idea behind Stet.Build came to me. I quickly set about developing the ideas on my study wall. Never shared this photo but easily one of my favourite exercises when brain storming. In the top right hand corner you can see the original sketch for what I wanted the covers to look like. Also its interesting to see my thoughts on pricing which have evolved since then.

The last year has been all about editing and polishing the script and thankfully had Mike Summers, who was the perfect editor, because he cares about the English languages and its nuances. He pushed and he prodded. He questioned and he commented. We did it all using Pages. Technology has evolved to remove incredible amounts of friction and this has been a perfect example of this. Right there baked into my phone and iPad.

Buy the digital edition of the BEC Vol.01

Creating a book for the digital age brings with it a different set of parameters to consider. The book cover is no longer a tall rectangle. Feeling good about the final book. Woo!

Day before releasing my book. Everything is nearly ready to go. Just need to do final, final, final check. Its turned out even better than I originally imagined 3 years ago and having Mike edit the book has made it infinitely better. Will have more to share about this process.

I am now thoroughly in the dip phase with the thing I’ve built. Has the newsletter reached the audience I imagined for it…in a word no. I am super grateful to the readership that I have. I do however feel that there are many others that have yet to discover the newsletter. Others hungry to learn more about the built world around us, presented in an interesting manner. I just need to work through the dip and come out the other side.

Issue 052 of my newsletter In Abeyance is out, ‘White Elephants’. This is the second from last major thing I wanted to get done this holiday. This is also the last issue that uses the orange colour as we move onto the lime green for 2022.

Procreate has an amazing feature which tracks how a piece of art is made. The cover to the Built Environment Compendium Vol.1 was drawn across a few months and remains the most complicated (technically) drawing I have ever worked on.

Now I find out about Tailwind CSS? Looks amazing, although based on my needs, I think Skeleton is just fine for the most part, the hard part is maintaining and cleaning my CSS file (which halfway through the process devolved into a bit of a mess).

Stet.Build v2.0

It has been years since I designed a completely new website. My toolbox of tricks has remained mostly the same - still using Skeleton, which I absolutely love. What has been fascinating is the scope a modern website now needs to serve. Now you have to effectively design four websites in one - desktop, tablet, mobile and dark mode.

Desktop

Version 2.0 of Stet.Build, which has seen very little love since it was launched 3 years ago, is a huge leap forward. I’m glad I took the time to make this the best it can be. I always recognised this was a major project and this has taken me around 6 months to complete (not full time of course).

The mock-ups were done in Affinity Designer - probably over a decade since I have used a vector app to design a website. For the most part I was able to replicate these. The annoying part was loosing some of the mock-ups half way through the design process due to some random name saving error. Top tip, save your work outside the Affinity system.

One of my favourite features of the new site, is the archive feature. A little bit of javascript and filtering the table like magic.

Mobile

When it came to the mobile version, I left it to serendipity and let the pieces fall. I could have spent a little time on this during the mockup stage, however I think that it worked out well in the end.

Dark Mode

This was (and remains) the biggest hurdle. This issue was that the individual artwork looked completely out of place in its native form with the bright white background. The only way around this is to recreate 51 drawings that are more suited to the darker background. This is going to be a work in progress as it is not a top priority - but will get to it all eventually. Issue 50 shows where I am heading with this.

Coding

Finished the mock ups months ago but needed the space (mentally) to dive into the coding. Certainly rusty, I leant into my constraints. My primary machine is my iPad Pro. I lost my MacBook a couple of years ago, and due to all the Apple laptop keyboard fiasco I never pressed the button. I began coding this on the iPad, but it really was an exercise in misery. Forget what they say, the iPad does not have the versatility for something like web production. Until Apple bring the Dev tools over with Safari, its all counterproductive.

The overall Blot system also made it super easy to work on the site while everything else was live. Probably the best setup for developing a website I have ever worked one. Local files that I save and see the impact direct on the site. Genius implementation.

Got an email this morning that amCharts is shutting down its live website in the coming 6 months. This is one of the clear reasons for not relying on a service that you cannot easily replace. At the start of Stet.Build, I incorporated several graphs into my articles. For the last few years I have avoided this as creating and maintaining these is not based around simple and standard solutions - unless the landscape has changed?

In Abeyance Vol.3 No.051

Latest issue of my newsletter In Abeyance is finally out. Over the last year I have fallen out of my routine for writing in the morning. Part of this has been due to my regular work creeping outside it’s time boundaries.

I have considered making the newsletter easier to write (by writing less) but that defeats the whole point of this endeavour. What I have settled on is accepting that sometimes I will be late but (hopefully) worth the wait.


Surrounding your desk.
Around your television media area.
Across your kitchen (over and under the counters).
Deep inside your walls.
Running under your feet.
They deliver power and signals.
Cables are ubiquitous.

Yet even for an electrical engineer like myself, it would be difficult to argue that they are great to have around. They get tangled up. They fray. They are a necessary evil.

What a glorious place it would be if all your appliances and devices where always charged and ready to go. Wireless power. An idea nearly as old as electricity itself.

Read issue 051.

Currently doing a major overhaul on the Stet.Build website (first time I do a complete update the website since I started publishing 2½ years ago now). A true revelation has been Textastic, which is by far the most polished environment for writing code on the iPad.

Issue 050 of my newsletter In Abeyance is now out. Special issue as it doesn’t dive into a specific topic, rather it provides a loose taxonomy of the built environment and categorises all the articles so far within this taxonomy.

It’s probably been over a decade since I spent any meaningful time inside a vector tool designing a website. Usually most of my designs are pretty simple and so this step is seemingly superfluous. However the new version of Stet.Build needs a more considered approach, as I intend to live with this design for many years forward. I do wish I could magic the coding up once the design is complete but that is at least another week’s worth of work afterwards.

Issue 049 of my newsletter In Abeyance is out, and focuses on biomimicry. This one was harder to write and finish - probably because I have not regained my rhythm since my whole iPad debacle. I also experimented a little bit, veering more on opinion than just facts and analysis.

🖋 About once a year I finish off an A5 notebook dedicated to all my creative projects (in this instance anything that relates to Stet.Build, In Abeyance and kaa.bz). This time around I decided to pull out the big boy, the Nanami Seven Seas notebook. A 480 page brick of a notebook complete with tomoe river paper. This book is likely going to be around till August 2023. Can’t wait to fill it with ideas, sketches, articles and notes.

Issue 048 of In Abeyance is out. This issue is late, a first in the 2½ years of publishing. It’s hard to write when your main and then your backup work machines both fail. This knocked my writing, researching and publishing rhythm off its axis. So I took a month off. This month its all about nuclear power, Olympic beds and Muji horology.

Took a forced month off from publishing In Abeyance - because of computing issues that knocked me off my rhythm. This is the first time I have had to miss a month in 2½ years. In the back of my mind I hope to make it up before the end of the year but won’t beat myself up if it doesn’t happen.

Issue 047 of In Abeyance is out. This issue is about Brutalism, a subject with seemingly infinite avenues to explore. Also in this issue, Art Gensler and Dieter Rams.

For the last month there has been a steady number of new subscribers to my newsletter. It ranged between 2-5 new subscribers a day. The thing is I couldn’t understand where they were coming from. My site analytics did not reflect this influx. Turns out they might have been added by a bot. Buttondown makes things easy to manage users and send a simple email to confirm (by doing nothing) or unsubscribe if it is a bot.

Pre-order the Built Environment Compendium Vol.1

When I set to work on Stet.Build, I knew that this was a longterm project. That the many pieces that I was putting in place would not really find their complete form until many years later.

Now three years later I am edging closer and can finally share some of the very original ideas that got me excited so long ago. The very first book, the Built Environment Compendium Vol.1 is complete and is now ready for pre-ordering. I am still in conversations with my editor for final edits to the text, which should hopefully be done within the month.

This is the first time I use Gumroad and I am actually pretty excited to see what this platform has to offer to digital content creators. Overall I like the simplicity of the platform.

Issue 046 of In Abeyance is out. This issue is about Shipping Container Architecture. Also features The Ocean Cleanup, Prometheus Fuels, Michael Sorkin and the Ferrule.

This issue is a little late, but I’ve been a little preoccupied with life recently. Had a lot of fun creating the artwork this time.

Now that the manuscript is done, time to turn my attention onto the Stet.Build website. In dire need of a ton of attention. The iPad has been a wonderful machine in creating the work, the only area it really doesn’t do a very good job with is coding.

That’s not entirely true as there are a number of capable code editors (Coda from Panic being one of them). The only reasonable option is Inspect Browser. It was recently upgraded to 2.0 but it really is an unfortunate omission from the iPad toolbox - easily one of the things I miss the most from not having a Mac.

Today is one day (to the day) that I started working on compiling my first book, the Built Environment Compendium. Timing is pretty incredible really. Without planning, today is also the day I finally completed the work inside the book. The cover is mostly done — there are still some small tweaks needed. There is still much work to be done before I can release it to the world, however that day is fast approaching.

This was a major project which included working out how to use Pages app on the iPad. I have been amazed at the completeness of features that Pages offers. The only missing feature has been creating an index.

Issue 045 of In Abeyance is out. This issue is about Seismic Design. Also features Vortex Bladeless & Field Notes Brand.

One of the joys about spending a little longer researching and writing each article is that I get to dive in a little deeper. Get to discover a little more. Sometimes I am genuinely surprised by where the journey takes me.

The March issue of In Abeyance is in the can. Just need to draw the cover, which I have a pretty good idea of what I want it to be. 45 issues in and honestly it is clear that I have really only scratched the surface of what I want to explore, research and write about. The monthly schedule suits me better as it allows me to balance work and family and the other Stet.Build projects I’m working on.

Issue 044 of my newsletter In Abeyance is out.This issue focuses on the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, architectural practice Snøhetta and urban maps.

With this issue I am reverting back to my monthly schedule again in releasing the newsletter. Part of the struggle I have had is that I actually enjoy the researching and writing something that is a little longer form than what the bi-monthly schedule allowed.

I have decided to use Twitter in a different manner than I have previously. The idea is to share links, videos, images of the research that goes into each and every issue, as I am writing the issue. I’ll also be collecting these against a hashtag that is not being widely used. This means that in the future after you have read a specific issue you can jump onto the Twitter hashtag as a companion stream that allows you explore a topic in a different way that my 1500 word essays do.

Yesterday I was reminded just how powerful Drafts is as an app on any platform. My only criticism is the fact that I can just connect it to a folder with a bunch of md files. What it does however it does exceptionally well - using it to post to my site and my Twitter. Totally seamless.

Issue 043 of my newsletter In Abeyance is out. This issue considers carbon capture and sequestration.

This issue was surprisingly easier to write than a lot of them in the recent past. I attribute it to the fact that Having decided what I want to write about throughout the year means that I get a bit of time to let the ideas develop.

The first issue In Abeyance for 2021 is now out. Issue 042 is now out. The issue looks ferrock, Neom’s The Line, ACME Studio’s architecture line and more. I also spent some time updating the design of the email slightly. As always you can sign up here.

The last few months have been a bit of a whirlwind for my newsletter. I felt like I was not giving myself the necessary time to let ideas percolate. Rather once I had settled on the idea, the writing process felt a little hurried.

Following on from the release of the latest issue, I sat down and mapped out all of next year’s issues, at least in principal. Surprisingly I am only revisiting 5 topics discussed in the previous 2 volumes. I think it is important that I review some of these topics from time to time if I feel that there is more to discuss. I’m sure new and wonderful ideas will bubble up throughout the year but in this way I hope to have a place to throw ideas and links into the document over a period of time. Takes a little bit of the friction from starting to write an idea.

Issue 041 of my newsletter In Abeyance is out. This is the last issue of 2020 and volume 2, the purple volume. In this issue, house of the present, AuReus, circular economy and architectural watering cans.

As alway you can sign up and receive it direct in you inbox.

For 2½ years I have been working on Stet.Build. It has been some of the most enjoyable work I have done in that time and aim to continue writing it for years to come. Lately I have started to wonder why it isn’t receiving traction with more readers.

The truth is I have tried a few things on LinkedIn but Twitter is where those most likely to engage with the articles hang out online. I have never had a good relationship with the platform but I have recognised that it is what it is. So I will be spending the next few months trying to build over there. What I will be posting over there is considerably different to what I post here on my site. It has been an interesting few days and my mind is switching into this mode a little bit.

There is actually a lot of excellent information and people posting on there in the science ans engineering sphere. Already got two new ideas for future articles and I’ve only been on there for a few days. The main issue is that the information is desperately dispersed. Building up my lists of accoubts to follow has been the hardest part of this process - my reasoning is that once this is set it will be a matter of managing and pruning.

Issue 040 of my email newsletter, In Abeyance is now out.

Always feels good to get an issue done. Most times I have no idea what I am going to write about until a week before it needs to go out and there is some frantic searching and banging my head against the wall for a few days. I might even get a little grumpy. This is the 23rd issue of the year and what a year it has been. Next issue is the last for the year.

From my introduction:

As a child one of my deepest fears was that of loosing my eyesight. Something about living such a life filled me first with sorrow and dread. With age that point of view transformed into admiration and respect. Throughout my life I have not had any real interaction with anyone that is visually impaired or blind. One of the only real interaction that I have had is those elements present in the built environment meant to cater to the blind. These elements have become more noticeable to me since moving to Copenhagen last year and were the clear inspiration for this week’s issue.

If you are curious about the built environment I urge you to sign up, best email on the subject you will get roughly published every two weeks — I’m trying to resolve my publishing schedule so that I can get rid of the roughly part of that sentence.

Issue 039 of my newsletter In Abeyance is out, The Shinkansen. This is one of those topics that practically wrote itself. I could have easily written two or three times as much. An incredibly rich topic and one I hope to expand upon in the future.

Issue 038 of my newsletter In Abeyance is out. This one covers one of my favourite architectural and art movements, the Art Nouveau.

Issue 037 of my newsletter In Abeyance is out now, Enviromental Graphic Design.

I did something a little different with the newsletter this month. Typically I ensure that there are a few images sprinkled throughout the issue. This time I decided to go text only — except for the cover. I want to see if this has any demonstrable impact on people’s engagement with the newsletter itself. Nearly 2 years into this newsletter and I continue to experiment with the exact form it should take.

Had to take my iPad Pro to the shop. I couldn’t take the battery drain any more.

Realising that this could take several days, I had to make sure that the cover to next week’s issue was done.

Now is as good a time as any to sign up to the best (totally objective opinion) newsletter about the built environment.

Issue 036 of my newsletter In Abeyance is now out. This issue concentrates on adaptive façade, David Attenborough’s latest documentary, Ørsted, The 99% Invisible City and Signify.

Issue 035 of my newsletter In Abeyance is out. Leader topic for this week is submerged floating tunnels. Yes, as mad as that.

This one is a day late but issue 034 ‘On Bridges’ of my newsletter In Abeyance is out. This issue equals the same number of issues sent out last year. As always the subject crept up on me but I ended up learning a lot about bridges over the last few days.

Issue 033 of my newsletter In Abeyance is out. This issue has a decidedly Japanese flavour and touches upon circular architecture, the Hobonichi Techo, Perskovite and some vertical agriculture.

Issue 031 of my newsletter In Abeyance is out. This is an important issue for me as I am changing the format a little bit to allow me to finish my book (currently finishing off chapter 07 of 12).

Sometimes you need a good old think, a piece of paper and a pen to solve the difficult problems. Today I ‘solved’ two issues that relate back to the work I am doing on Stet.Build. The first related to the format that will unlock a bunch of things for me. The second is in how I use Twitter.

Issue 030 of my newsletter In Abeyance is out. This one has empathetic leadership, world energy and some analogue vs digital.

I have wondered about whether to use stock photography in my articles on Stet.Build and have decided to add some photos where I think there is something really appropriate. The surprising thing is the quality of the photos that are now freely available from places like Unsplash.

Issue 028 of my newsletter In Abeyance is out. This one was different. The tock issues are usually a lighter affair, but with my renewed attention and focus I was able to expand on several subjects. Also updated the design of the email itself.

Writing is often messy business. At least in those initial stages when a piece is not fully formed. You have the various threads. The ideas are relatively clear in your mind. They’re just all in the wrong place. Paper doesn’t judge. It doesn’t care for such things. I’ve ‘relearnt’ the importance of staying on paper for as long as possible. The text in the photo became the introduction of my latest issue.

Issue 027 of my newsletter In Abeyance is out. This one is all about wind turbines and easily the most fun I have had writing an issue. I attribute this to the manner in which I am now writing these pieces, which I’ll go into in future posts.

Issue 026 of my newsletter In Abeyance is out. This issue is about 3D printing, the true cost of solar, the cooling prize and AutoMEP.

Incredible analysis of the general cost of solar and how all previous predictions (including the author Ramez Naam) have been wrong. Now it’s time to work out all the stuff that goes around this pillar. See also issues 002 and 015 of In Abeyance for added context.

I now understand why Google can ‘afford’ to give much of its stuff away while Apple continues to charge you for iCloud storage. They don’t have enough of their own infrastructure. Probably why they rely on AWS? Apple clearly needs more data centres to be in a better position to give storage away with their devices.

A couple of interesting facts from the issue 025 of In Abeyance. Firstly Google uses nearly 5 times as much electrical energy for its operations compared with Apple. Secondly, data centres account for around 1% of all global energy use. What’s more impressive is the fact that these values have remained flat since 2015.

Went on a bit of an ebook shopping spree. Top of my list was Drawdown, which ‘describes the 100 most substantive solutions to global warming.’ Hadn’t appreciated that the book was the work of an army of contributors.

Issue 025 of my newsletter In Abeyance is out. This one is all about data centres and marries my love for the built environment with my love for technology.

Issue 024 of my newsletter In Abeyance is out. This one looks at the construction industry’s response to COVID-19, Hadrian X and Monograph.

I’ve been a little quieter than usual. I’ve actually been keeping real busy working on two projects (both project Stet.Build related) all within my new favourite Apple app,….wait for it….Pages?! Yes Pages.

I will at some point delve into some of the things that this app does exceptionally well, along with some of the things it doesn’t, but needless to say it has comprehensively blown my very low expectations. So much so I have probably spent 10 hours over the last few days exclusively using this app.

If you are in the market for putting together any form of book that needs some typographic love and attention without going full InDesign you really need look no further.

Issue 022 of my newsletter In Abeyance is out. This issue focuses on Energy Vaults, Microlino, hydrogen trains and Zettelkasten.

Just finished the cover gallery for my newsletter In Abeyance. Writing and drawing this newsletter has been one of the most fun and satisfying projects I’ve ever worked on. Special thanks to @blot for all his help on this.

I’ve been really enjoying CJ Chilver’s recent series of posts on one of my favourite subjects, newsletters.

Taking some of the advice in this series, which coincides with my general theme for the year, I’ve now updated the Stet.build website to include a new sign up and about pages.

One of the quotes I recently read in Seth Godin’s book, The Dip, was in the early days of Google:

So we were never in a big hurry to get you to use it today. Tomorrow would be better.
— Sergey Brin

Whenever I add something new to the site, it’s a small step that makes it better for the person who has just discovered the site.

Issue 021 of my newsletter In Abeyance is out now and shines the spotlight on drones. This one was fun to research but tough to write about because of the sheer volume of information around the subject.

The latest issue of In Abeyance is totally kicking my ass this weekend. I’m nearly there, but I have been totally overwhelmed by the volume of information. Didn’t think this subject would be so expansive, but once I jumped in, I realised it was an entire world I knew nothing about. Should hopefully go live tomorrow sometime.

Isssue 019 of my newsletter In Abeyance is out, The Circular Economy. This one has a lot of noise and material being generated for it. Definitely a topic to watch for how it moves in the future.

As I put the finishing touches (still need to draw the cover) for issue 018 for In Abeyance, I was reminded that I announced the newsletter a year ago today. It’s easily been one of the most satisfying projects I’ve ever worked on. Still in its infancy and only starting to learn how to walk.

For all of the criticism laid on Twitter, yesterday I was reminded of its reach and network effect. A single tweet from a reader added the number of subscribers for In Abeyance by around 50%. One single tweet. Amazing really.

2020 Theme

Following the Cortex podcast idea of yearly themes, 2019 was my year of Release. I think overall the theme served me well as I tried to keep releasing ideas, projects large and small throughout the year, regardless of what was happening around me, which admittedly was a lot.

Did I release everything that I wanted? In some cases I actually released more. In other respects I didn’t achieve everything that I was hoping, but that is the point of the yearly theme. It’s not a resolution, it’s an idea to guide me through the year.

2020 is the year of Consolidation and will not have major new releases. Rather it will be building upon the blocks that I have established already - namely all things Stet.Build and everything on kaa.bz. I’m excited for the coming year.

Issue 017 and the last issue of the year (and volume one) of my newsletter In Abeyance is now out. The title of this issue is ‘Green Concrete’.

Issue 016 of my newsletter In Abeyance is out. I have found that I am oftentimes looking to the future and highlighting the road we need to take or make happen. In this issue, I want to bring some positive vibes and put the spotlight on where we have already made progress and projects that showcase built design at its best.

Next issue will be the last for 2019.

Micro Fiction

Writing The Mark was a really interesting and unfamiliar process to me. First of all it was written as a narrative, while all my previous works of fiction were written as scripts intended for being made into comics. This was obviously a very different muscle that I had to use. For example I didn’t know how to format dialogue (even though I’ve thousands of line of dialogue), I ended up referring back to this page time and time again throughout the month. Apart from the mechanics there is also a question of flow and structure. Two elements I really only considered in the most superficial manner. I will be revisiting the story to see what I did wrong and how I can improve.

One of the limitations I included (constraint is the mother of all creativity), was to the daily word count to around 50 words. This constraint allowed me to peck out the story predominantly on my iPhone. Every night after work I would take 5-10 minutes and just type something out. Having the bar so low meant that I was able to do achieve my goal every night, even when I was busy, or tired or had a headache.

As the process moved forward I finally realised that this was the perfect way to move several fiction ideas that I have had serious brain crack over. So that’s what I’m going to be doing. As an experiment I’m going to see if I can move a story that I’ve had in different stages, 50 words at a time. The thing is I also think that my site isn’t really the perfect place to show the work as it progresses, rather to showcase completed chapters. So I’ll be writing it on a service I’ve been looking for the right project to try out. So I’ll be running a new newsletter that has nothing in it but text (eventually a little logo) that I will hopefully publish to on a daily basis. Once a chapter is written then I’ll publish that on the site.

Why publish it at all? Part of it is building accountability and movement behind something that I otherwise won’t touch. It’s also a break that my creative brain needs in addition to the work that I carry out over on Stet.Build

Copenhagen

I’ve now been in Copenhagen for a week and have had a tiny bit of time to get a feel for the city. The closest city I can compare this to is London. However I keep reminding myself that this is not the UK, things are decidedly different here. The best example I can think of was when I was walking, I take a turn off the main high street, onto what looked like a simple residential area, and there at the end of the road I could see the wind turbines1. It was just another reminder, things are different here. However, the biggest difference that I can gather is the city’s approach to transport.

Transport

The truth is though the city’s layout is different, the streets are wider. They have very distinct lanes for the different modes of transport. The lack of total dependence on the car is absolutely evident here. Every form of transport has been catered to in one form or another. Walking, cycling, scooters, boats, metro, train, buses and even the ‘humble’ car. The first few days I spent walking. That’s because this simple act of taking a long walk and watching what’s going on in the world has been an exercise that I have not been able to do over these last decade(?!). The Gulf is many things, but a haven and promoter for walkers it is not.

Most telling for me is that I’m about to have walked more in the month of October, than any other month over the last year (according to my iPhone, which is missing a great deal of steps I know, but I’m using it as a loose indicator).

I’m now also looking very closely at buying a Segway Ninebot Kickscooter as a fun and simple way to get around town. While there are scooters everywhere for hire, the cost adds up really quickly (by my calculation use the scooter for 140 trips and you’ve paid off the scooter). That’s the other thing about micromobility, it’s generally really affordable, even if you have to replace the scooter relatively regularly - it’s a utility cost more than anything.

Local Not Global Country

The other element that is clear here is the fact that this is not a Global city. There are no Amazon Prime trucks running around. There isn’t a MacDonalds or Starbucks on every corner (although these two staples do exist here). There is no Apple store. Vodaphone doesn’t operate here (at least I haven’t seen the Vodaphone logo anywhere). And so it goes. In this regard, it feels like a place caught in time…with it’s own home brands, made by and catering it’s own people. Some companies I’ve never heard of before, others have actually made the leap outside these borders.

Over the last 8 years, the word ‘local’ was seen as a bit of a derogative term. Somehow, local here is celebrated, as it’s the main part of your every day life. It’s another part that I will need to recalibrate my thinking.

Food

Since arriving in Copenhagen, I’ve eaten at one restaurant and it was a magnificent. The one thing that I do have to say is that the produce here is exceptional. I knew that strawberries here have a good reputation, but I didn’t expect that. Bringing the shopping into my apartment, I could smell them straight away. I haven’t smelt a strawberry in so long.

Buying local chicken, local tomatoes, berries, have all really elevated my meals considerably. I’ve been getting more and more into Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube channel as well and have been really loving it.

Language Barrier

I knew that this would be a thing. I’ve not gotten into a habit yet for listening and doing my Danish lessons but I do intend to do incorporate into my life very very soon.


  1. I know I’ve spoken about this before, but they always take my breathe away. I love them so much because they signal progress. They signal the future married to the past that I was walking through. [return]

Issue 013 of my newsletter In Abeyance is now live. This one was a lot of fun to research and write about, although I barely scratched the surface. Also it’s linked to my theme for Inktober.

Micro.blog Feature Request

This is the second edition of the Micro.blog feature request post. Last year, I reviewed what I hoped Micro.blog would add to the service. @Manton and co have had a very, very busy this year, so this isn’t to diminish all the work they’ve done. Rather these are a list of features that I would like to see included into the platform at some point.

Canonical Website

All these features unfortunately haven’t made it into the service. Although we’ve drafts have been added, I do have one additional feature I wanted added:

  1. Let me filter the type of posts from people I follow. So if I want to see everyone’s photos then let me do that. Let me see everyone’s podcasts. Sure you can do something similar from the discover section, but that’s everyone (?) on the platform.
  2. It would be nice to see how many responses have been made on any individual post. Could be a small little number next to the ‘conversation’ link.
  3. Allow more than one photo to be uploaded at a time.
  4. Highlight the emojis that are supported on the platform directly underneath and allow you to insert them from there.
  5. Once drafts are saved, they can’t all be found in a single list, they become part of the entire stream. Also drafts don’t show up in the official iOS apps.

Photos

Totally nailed this feature request.

Photos should be showcased on a grid of three squares across. Ideally this should be another standard page found at mydomain/photos.

Stats

I’ve asked for this before, I’ll ask for it again. I want to know how many posts I’ve written. How many photos. A histogram of my posting to get a feel for when and how often I post. How many replies have I made?

I would love to see a yearly view of the number of posts I’ve made on a month by month basis. Each month could have two bars showing how much stuff gets posted to my site and how much stuff is interaction with others.

Better theme control.

A year ago we were limited to tweaking CSS. Now we have a LOT more power behind us. So the initial request was completed…however I’ll be that guy. While I’ve sorted my design for the foreseeable future, apart from the occasional colour tweak, I don’t intend to change my design while I’m on Micro.blog. Partly because I’ve spent a ton of time on it as it is. Partly because the manner in which I make these changes is pretty cumbersome. It should be easier than it is, especially for someone not technical.

Bonus related feature: I don’t think that theming in general is easy on the web. A proper feature changer is to be able to design your site in a block type editor.

I initially used to love the fact that I was limited in what I could do which was to play around with the CSS and that was it. Since then the addition of updating the footer has been added. A great additions for sure, but I want full control of my site. I’m paying for hosting, eventually I’d like to be allowed to control the whole look of my site.

Subscription

Yup. Sorted.

This is finally being offered, but not officially (blink that reply and it’s gone)? I’d like to see a yearly subscription to the service become official.

Two Streams

Not yet, but something tells me that this is on the docket very soon.

Micro.blog by it’s nature has two streams. The first is your website stream, and only includes your posts, while the second stream is the social one that includes everyone you follow and your posts starting with an @ symbol. As a user both are important, yet they are given wildly different treatment.

Categories

There has been some movement on this, with the addition of new icons. However it’s not as granular as I would want it.

There are currently 9 categories that you can contribute towards. It’s a good start, but hardly what I’d call comprehensive. I’d like to see a great deal more categories. Architecture, Engineering, Comics, Stationary, Country-specific-categories, and the list goes on.

Faster Updating

I use Blot for my other website, Stet.Build. What I’ve noticed is that updating anything using that system is instant. That includes posts, css design, etc. I’d like some of that updating speed on Micro.blog if that’s possible (maybe I’m asking too much).

I recently had to update a few things on my CSS (it was for this post actually) and it actually seemed to me that Manton has sorted the original slow gremlins that impacted the design control, so scratch this item of the list as well.

Forced iPad Lifestyle

This is interesting. I’m now being forced into living the iPad lifestyle as my main computing device (until I can revive my Mac or worse replace it).

Let’s see if Federico is onto something with his commitment and enjoyment of the iPad as his favourite device. I haven’t really had to do this on account of having a Mac. I found what I believed the iPad was ideal for - everything involving the Apple Pencil.

It’s going to be interesting to write, research, edit and draw several issues of my newsletter on this device. Unfortunately I’ve still not switched to iPadOS, so the experience does feel somewhat hindered and limited at the moment.

Funnily enough, the only app that doesn’t have an iOS equivalent has a web version available, everything else I use has a fully functional iOS app.

Just finished listening to episode 361 of 99% Invisible. I found myself enjoying it even more as the second part of the episode talks about two topics I’ve just covered in my newsletter, Tall Timber and Two Carbon Targets.

The interview with Vince Beiser was excellent. Sadly they beat me to the topic on sand - to be fair Vince was way, way ahead of me on that one. He does an amazing job of explaining the premise of his book, called The World in a Grain, which I can’t wait to read.

Because it’s always good to give stuff on your birthday, here’s issue 010 of my newsletter In Abeyance. This one is about modularity, the circular and plastics economy and Finch.

40

40 today.

I spent the first 20 years riding my bike. Listening to grunge. Learning how to draw. Reading comics.

The next 10 years I spent learning about graphic design, the web and talking about make comics.

The last 10 years were spent actually making some comics and learning to be both a husband and father. At some point I gave up on putting my energy into comics.

Instead I’ve embraced putting all my energies into an endeavour that brings together all of the things that I love under one roof. The work on Stet.Build has only really just begun. For the first time in a long while I’m really excited to see what the next 10 years brings.

Yesterday I learnt a great new word, turgid (excessively ornate or complex in style or language). It was the perfect desciption of the carbon footprint subject I just posted about and came from one of my readers. Mike is now going to be my editor on the larger project and I couldn’t be more excited. I’ve been looking for an editor for over a year now, can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner.

I hope everyone is having a great summer so far. If you live in the northern hemisphere, chances are you’re experiencing some form of heatwave. Issue 009 of my bi-monthly newsletter, In Abeyance, is fitting of a world getting noticeably hotter every year.

Issue 007 of my bi-monthly newsletter about the built environment, In Abeyance, is out. This issue is concentrate on Tall Timber. This one practically wrote itself and I could have easily written several more 1000 words. Maybe for a future issue.

1000

1000 posts

I consider my life online across three distinct stints. The first ran been 2004 to around 2010. In that time I wrote around 1800 posts, many long form articles. The second stint was across 2010 and 2017, which I refer to as the nomad years. I meandered from platform to platform, changing the reason for writing with every move. The third stint began last year and with it brought much needed focus.

I’ve managed to publish 680 new posts (the rest where stuff I imported from Instagram and a handful of posts from Medium). During this time, I was rediscovering my writing muscle. Rediscovering how to write online again. And most importantly, rediscovering why I should post online. I’ve been writing more consistently online than ever before - usually it seems that I don’t go more than a few days before getting the itch. Going forward I really hope that I start writing more about the process of writing and drawing for my online publications over at Stet.Build.

Issue 006 of my bi-monthly newsletter, In Abeyance, about the built environment is out. With this issue I’m trying a slightly new format that will come out every third Thursday.

The System

5 months and 2 weeks into the year and I’ve just completed 16,000, written and edited, words. I’ve published 8,500 of those words as part of In Abeyance.

This could only have been possible using the show up every day and do maximum 30 minutes at a time method. My aim was to carry out at least one session every morning as a bare minimum. If there was more juice in the tank, I’d do some more. I may not have hit my mental goal but the system is clear. I’ll get there eventually, one day at a time.

Issue 005, of my ‘monthly’ (it’s moving to a bi-monthly schedule) newsletter In Abeyance is out. This issue considers the role of urban agriculture within the built environment.

I know I just put the latest issue of In Abeyance (read it here) to bed a few days ago, but the idea for the next one is burning a hole in my head. I find it best not to struggle with these things and let the ideas flow when they wish.

Cover artwork for issue 004 of my monthly newsletter In Abeyance. This issue was a lot of fun to put together. It also comes with a bunch of changes to the format of the email itself and changes to the website from earlier this month.

A Year of Stet.Build

A year ago today, while fighting my own demons from a professional disappointment earlier in the year, my mind was searching for a project to put my energy behind. I’d sleepwalked through evening and was feeling a little deflated. After grabbing a shower, I put my head on my pillow and like a bolt of lightning the idea was in my head. Formed. Galvanised.

I looked excitedly at my wife. Fast asleep. I quickly rushed back to my room and started scribbling the very first ideas in fear that when I wake up the next morning it would be gone. There was literally no chance of that happening. The force was strong with this one.

Over the next month I would be using a wall to throw as many ideas as possible on there. The crux of it all would be a vehicle to allow me to do all the things that I loved to do and that I’d spent the better part of my adult life doing. That is engineering, graphic design and illustration.

I began sharing the starts of this journey at the start of 2019 over at Stet.Build. The first output being my monthly newsletter In Abeyance. It’s been an amazingly productive year to go from that initial idea to something a little more tangible.

Every once in a while I’m reminded of how cool the internet can be. I’ve been trying to sort out tooltips for the graphs in my newsletter. The system I settled on, Chartist, has this ability but the existing plugin is clearly broken. Thankfully user LukBukkit’s JS-FU is strong. He’s updated the plugin and works as intended. Found him on Twitter so was able to thank him for the work in updating the plugin and making things better for the rest of us. Now we just need Gion to update links to the website.

Now that I’ve finally sorted out the Stet.Build website (it was the easiest to resolve), I can turn my attention to aligning the newsletter as well. Think I’m going to go with Foundation for Emails. Looks comprehensive and well documented. Recommended for all Buttondown users.

Finally got the latest issue of In Abeyance out. Issue 003 is all about Hyperloop. This was a really fun topic to write about, so much so that I’ve had to break it into two parts.

Here’s the cover to issue 003 of my newsletter In Abeyance (comes out tomorrow). This will be my first 2 parter and centers around Hyperloop. If you’ve not subscribed yet, now’s an excellent time to rectify that easily avoidable error.

I’ve recently updated my websites, kaa.bz and stet.build with some proper typographic love and attention. Two things spring to mind. The first is that a professional typeface (read the last paragraph of that link) will totally elevate a design. The second is how far browsers have come with their support for all manner of great typographic features.

New issue of my monthly newsletter, In Abeyance, is out. Issue 002 is all about Photovoltaics. If you like the issue please consider sharing it with others.

✉️ The first issue of my newsletter, In Abeyance, is finally out! Go have a read and subscribe if you found it useful. Hit me up with any questions or thoughts would love to hear them.

✉️ If you’ve not subscribed to my newsletter, now is a great time to do it. Subscribe over at www.stet.build/ia. The very first issue will drop on Thursday.

Here’s the cover.

I will be talking about my new project, Stet.Build. For now, if you work in the construction industry or are interested in architecture, engineering and the built environment I’d like to point you to my monthly newsletter In Abeyance.

Projects