By neildaemond, an 'any-stack' hacking grasshopper.
Taking notes while tinkering with:

Still Trying To Find The Time

Wow, I can’t believe it’s been 3 years since my last ‘Hacker Dad’ post. And guess what, I’m still trying to find the time to work on self-motivated projects for fun, learning and profit. Granted, I’ve had a second kid (a daughter) 16 months ago, so that reset the countdown until they are more manageable.

I DID get to do some fun DIY for her 1st Birthday, However.

I made a cake topper using the laser cutter at the Hong Kong Hacker Space, Dim Sum Labs. Then, at home I quickly rigged up a motor and power supply to spin the cut-out wood so that I could spray paint evenly around the edges of the text. Finally, I was pleased with the result:

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I hoped to do something crafty again for Halloween, but that holiday is creeping up fast. I was hoping I could build some hardware and put up some sort of spooky display outside my house. We’ll see if I can pull it off - I have some nice little chips I want to toy around with, but I always end up getting caught up on sorting out my development environment for hardware. I’ve been resisting using the standard arduino IDE even thought it will probably be the most productive for these sorts of DIY projects. I’ve been considering using c, Elixir Nerves, rust, lua just so that it becomes a richer learning experience.

But how can I find time to do these things?

That’s a question that’s been stuck in my head for the last 3 years to be honest. I love being around for my kids, but it has left my hacker skills development stagnant. Taking care of infants and young toddlers is PHYSICALLY DRAINING to say the least, and even if I make it to my desk after a long day to work on something, I am usually too knackered to focus on the task.

Hackathons are the perfect Opportunity to Ramp up on a new technology

I join most hackathons that are decently sponsored/catered whenever my wife lets me escape for 30+ hours. At home, I can’t help but to prioritize my kids’ attention over a problem I’m trying to focus. At a hackathon, I’m allowed to put the problem first and put asside any other distraction. I recently attended the EOSHACKATHON in Hong Kong which was a great chance for me to stare at block chain and smart contracts for 24 hours straight.

The swag they give away at these things can be pretty sweet sometimes as well :)

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I believe hackathons can be a very efficient way to get yourself into a new topic. It’s how I transitioned from PHP CMS development into real Web Programming using expressjs nodejs (MVP architecture). I racked my brain all night until it finally clicked and that opened the doors to learning more python/erlang/elixir web development etc.

Conferences inspire and reinvigorate your drive

The energy that you absorb from a tech conference is hard to match. People who travel far to experience what the conference has to offer radiate an energy born of pure enthusiasm and anticipation, and I find that extremely inspiring. Recently, I attended riseconf 2018 in Hong Kong and got motivated about AI, Voice, and Serverless and reinvigorated by the entrepreneurial spirit of the young startups present.

Self Awareness of #sophiarobot. #RISEconf #AI

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In University, I was into hardware and my subject of choice was Electrostatics and Magnetism. But, when I finished I was able to go to Las Vegas to present my Computer Security Class Project at defcon 18 and I was deeply moved by the enthusiasm and love that people carried towards technical things and security that I switched my focus to web software and security.

I hope to continue and develop my skills as a security researcher so that I can present something at defcon 28 (or 29 if it must).

My advice for ‘Finding The Time’

Go to hackathons and conferences to learn and absorb the energy of anything technical. I also recommend doing technical reading in buses and trains during a commute to and from work.

I know I can do more to stop wasting time, and it’s becoming more viable with the kids getting older and not so physically draining. When tired, I tend to use my ‘free time’ watching netflix or doing something mindless.

I’m on the lookout for some type of learning exercise which I can do in quick blasts throughout the day. Either reading or gathering notes for a blog post seem like viable habits to develop, but I can’t keep it up without proper rest, exercise and diet. I’ll see what I settle on.

Until then, the quest for more time to hack continues.