Oh, hey guys. I’ve been too busy to update my “official blog” for a few months! Kind of silly, since this is where I’m supposed to be posting about my projects.
I just wanted to mention that I finally made a more mobile-friendly version of my portfolio (which I also went through and updated). A lot of devices really screwed up trying to process my normal site, so there’s a much better one over at etha-n.info/hey. Of course, you can use ethanjhulbert.com and etha-n.info interchangeably, so ethanjhulbert.com/hey also works. So does this:
Along with all the good things this summer has to offer, it also requires me to attend a couple events which will essentially be high school reunions. Nothing specific against those people, but I believe what’s in the past should stay there. I declined to attend my five year reunion, but since these events in question are in support of good friends, my attendance is mandatory. So, I’ve been practicing what I’m going to say.
"Hey Ethan, what have you been up to in the last few years?"
Not a lot. I’m the assistant director and head editor of a documentary about the railroad history of a strategic depot in southern Illinois, I’m a barista at a local charity driven community coffee shop, and I’m a model with an entertainment contracting company. I have my own place near the beach in Chicago. Some of the research I did in art school got used this spring at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, in Switzerland- but no, it didn’t make any black holes. For now, I might take one of the offers to go to grad school for theoretical physics, but that will depend on how well my book does once I finish it. …What about you?
While that’s accurate, it comes off a little blunt. But nobody said I wanted to have a long conversation with anybody here!
This is a silly update, but a couple weeks ago I decided that my little coin collection needed to finally include all those state/territory quarters. I finally got the last one, Alabama, today.
In addition to some cool old dollar coins, as well as currency from at least four or five different countries off the top of my head, I also stumbled upon a relatively rare 1904 Indian Head cent. Still sifting around the change drawer for wheat pennies every day at work :)
Johnson Superior, the comic made by me and Andrew, is once again updating semi-half-somewhat regularly!
I’m collecting old computers to scavenge for parts. As my parents can verify, this is something that I have been doing since elementary school, when I used to take the old Apple IIs from my school’s trash and bring them home to take apart (and get yelled at for cluttering up my playroom). But hey, I like seeing how things work!
So now that a) my entire apartment is my playroom and b) no one is going to yell at me for cluttering it up, I can bring all the computer trash I want up in here. The ultimate goal is to build my own working computer.
But wait! When most people build their own computers, it’s because they want some super-customized ultra-powerful thing. But I already have some super-customized ultra-powerful thing, my ungodly powerful mac pro. While I could maybe, in theory, upgrade the RAM a little, it’s already head and shoulders above anything my friends and my college computer labs ever had. And I’m not a gamer, so I don’t need a gaming machine, either. What’s the point for me, then?
Really, I just want to learn. I want the experience of putting together my own machine from the parts up. It’s silly that so many of us use computers without any understanding of what’s going on inside, and I want to fix that, at least on a personal level. I also hear there’s a great deal of satisfaction involved when you boot it up for the first time and it works.
Also… well, I want a machine that’s compatible with everything. Everything, I tell you! I want it to be able to take USB storage devices, CDs, various sizes of memory cards, cable TV, firewire, 3.5” ‘floppy’ diskettes, 5.25” actual floppy disks, maybe even 8” floppies. Oh, and I remember I saw a computer that could take tapes once, like, cassette tapes. Sure, I could just buy a USB floppy diskette connector for my mac… but where’s the fun in that?
So, while ultimately pointless, I am looking forward to learning a lot about the inner workings of computers from this project. Uh… anybody got an old computer?
Lately I’ve been collecting scrap computer parts, in a project that will be further expounded upon in my next post. But, in this goal, when I found that someone had left a macbook in my coffee shop, I quickly grabbed it and took it home. You may think that’s a little sudden, since someone could’ve easily forgotten it. But it was on the communal bookshelf, i.e. the place where people leave their old books and puzzles and etc., and it also didn’t turn on. Oh, and did I mention that some of the keyboard seemed to be … melted? “Trash” was certainly a fair assumption.
I didn’t have a power cord, but a friend brought hers over. It didn’t turn on right away. It took a good few minutes of slowly restoring power to a battery that had probably been drained and then exhausted further a few dozen times. Slowly, though, life breathed into the screen. It was on. It wasn’t a complete wreck.
The background was an old man holding a child, clearly a personal photo. This was a bad sign. I had been hoping that, if it had worked, it would’ve been some teenager’s or something, full of weird junk. However, as it further booted up, the files appeared, littering the desktop. I remember the first one I read: “cassandra med records.xls”
And then I read the next few.
"cassandra death certificate.png"
"funeral invitations" folder
"funeral arrangements" folder
…you get the idea.
What had begun as an innocent scrap collection… and had continued as hopefully a chance to look at stupid party pictures from an unfortunate teenager… had suddenly become a very, very sad story. While there was a wealth of deathly documents, there was scant little else on the hard drive. The user directory had a name: “robertlockwood”. It was clear that this “Robert,” likely the old man in the desktop picture, had just lived through the end of his wife’s life. Everything was laid bare in front of me. I was quickly feeling extraordinarily rude, like I had invaded this poor man’s privacy a great deal more than I should’ve.
I copied down the name and then turned it off, letting it charge up.
The next day, I asked my boss if she knew the name. It registered to her as a preacher, and a friend of her husband’s (also a preacher). Her husband told me the story: he had forgotten it on the bookshelf, and had been trying to get it to work in vain. His friend, this Robert the preacher, had lost his wife to cancer over the course of two months, and the laptop had stopped working shortly after, making all of his records and memories unavailable. Since I had “fixed it,” he would be overjoyed. I readily returned the laptop and, apparently, ended up becoming this guy’s hero. A priest has never referred to me as a miracle worker before.
Apparently, my boss has a couple other “broken” laptops she might give me. I can only hope they’re not the same as this one…
(all names in this story changed)
I won’t be updating this blog too much. Everything will be totally work-safe, since it’s a part of my portfolio and therefore open and visible to everyone. It’s really just so friends, family, and any other curious people out there can keep up to date with how I’m doing, and what sorts of projects I’m working on. I’m always working on something, after all.