offset \ˈȯf-ˌset\ noun

a force or influence that makes an opposing force ineffective or less effective

2022 Recap

The year was filled with good things and the bad. Mostly good. It's hard to complain looking back. After all, we did more than expected.

I am keeping my publishing frequency of once a month, but like I said before, I lost some of the data when the SSD failed along with a plethora of components so the two consecutive articles were done late December. The restrictions were loosened up so we got to travel, but I miss just staying at home in a way. I also published Cuply in the Summer but need to come back to it to see it in action this year and iron out any kinks.

Moving on to the recap. A friend said that revenge traveling was trending. Being holed up during the pandemic meant that we saved enough money. Coupled with some additional planning meant that we didn't waste our days off. Usually our trips are self-organized and follow a bit of a template, we prefer to take accommodation near the city centre, and then rely on hop-on-hop-off buses and free walking tours to get a better sense of the space and history.


  • Poland (Krakow, Auschwitz, Wieliczka salt mine, a lot of it was focused on what happened during the WW2, but we definitely found time for vodka tasting)
  • Croatia (back home, Zagreb and Papuk nature park)
  • Hungary (Budapest, saw some friends from Ireland that were visiting their family)
  • Austria (Vienna, the capital of the old Austro-Hungarian empire that Croatia was a part of)
  • Slovakia (Bratislava, the last destination of our trifecta trip; in retrospect it would've been great if we had the time to visit the cities traveling via Danube, as all three are on it, but it was still great. The architecture is very familiar in the remnants of the empire)
  • Spain (Valencia, a futuristic looking city that reminds us of the Star Trek's San Francisco version, with a lot of green surfaces converted from the old dried up river bed)
  • Spain (Barcelona, visiting a work colleague)
  • Andorra (Andorra la Vella, while visiting Barcelona, it was an opportunity to visit this snowbound microstate)
  • France (Ax-les-Thermes, all part of the same day trip from Barcelona)
  • USA (Boston, Somerville, New York, visiting for work and an opportunity to see another continent. Saw four out of five boroughs in NYC, a neighborhood music festival in Somerville and took some lovely tours in Boston)
  • Switzerland (Zürich, long layover towards Greece, we plan to come back)
  • Greece (Athens, Volos, Rhodes, Santorini, Mykonos, Delos, visiting the islands)
  • Turkey (Istanbul, Kusadasi, and a bit of Turkey which is very European, well, at least the parts we were at, and Istanbul is magnificent)
  • France (Paris, Versailles, a trip with Vesna's parents)
  • Spain (Tarragona, to see this old Roman Empire city with all the accompanying ruins, then Barcelona, visiting for work, this time saw the inside of Sagrada Familia)
  • USA (New York, and work again, and some other vistas, the Wicked musical in Gershwin theater on Broadway and the last borough which was Bronx, where we visited the botanical gardens)
  • Romania (Brasov, Bucharest, Sibiu, Sinaia, visiting castles, all the gothic and vampire things. Carpathian mountains are beautiful, and Peles Castle is an amazing modern castle)
  • Croatia (back home and Zagreb again)

As for domestic travel, a couple of friends came over so we revisited the usual spots in Dublin and around our place, as well as finally went on a tour of the cemetery. My parents visited at one point so that was a blast, too. However, we did some domestic travel outside of Dublin, too, taking a road trip with friends:

  • Derry in Northern Ireland (a quick visit on a rainy day)
  • Malin Head (the northernmost point of the island)
  • Glenveagh (the national park)
  • Slieve League (beyond amazing vistas, we took a boat ride as well)
  • Ballyshannon (a small trip around the city)
  • Marble Arch Caves in Northern Ireland (going underground with all the stalactites and stalagmites)


Concerts and events:

List of things we bought:

  • Grow light for the plants which worked with a pump for the plants to survive in the tub while we were away on one occasion
  • ESP32 feather board for the automation of the standing desk
  • Aqara door and window sensors for turning of the heating if the room is ventilating
  • D&D things, books, papers, inks...
  • 3D printing safety equipment and miniature painting equipment
  • Cocktail making set and then some metal straws and picks
  • Bluetooth speaker for the bathroom. Unfortunately it's not that smart to be always on, but works
  • Soldering iron kit for working on the Cuply project
  • Life is Strange comic set, so I've read a bit this year
  • Logitech Z407 PC speakers because the old ones died and I couldn't repair them. I'm not on that level yet
  • New backpacks for Vesna and I, a picnic blanket and travel pillows
  • Zemismarat curtain motor because I got tired of waiting for the IKEA to release a fitting item... that and the old curtain nearly fell on my head because the old axis got worn down
  • External Samsung SSD for backing up things locally
  • Tefal deep fat fryer because our local fast food joint closed down and we were panicking
  • Kitchen utensils and replacing/repairing things in the apartment
  • This is Vegan Propaganda book I got from Vesna and I highly recommend it
  • New poster covers
  • Bathroom curtain
  • Raspberry PI Zero 2 W
  • Desktop PC components that died (CPU, PSU, Cooler, MoBo, RAM)

Other important events:

  • Got a confirmation that my citizenship application was being processed, but it will probably take another year and a half from the time of this writing
  • PC died, but managed to repair it
  • Contracted COVID-19 most likely while traveling from France
  • Started wall climbing, seems it will stick and we need to get fit
  • Finished hydroponics, i.e. the Cuply project
  • Didn't draw, but must do something this year
  • Played some games, but only finished Ori and the Will of the Wisps
  • Read some comic books and books: Life is Strange, Persepolis, This is Vegan Propaganda
  • Got into cocktail mixing
  • Reminded myself we're getting older
  • Got back to planning trips
  • Didn't ride the scooters, but need to do something about it this year
  • Started 3D printing

Right now it's back to planning out this year and making some resolutions yet again.

Last of the Season

The temperature finally stabilized in the apartment. We got some things cleaned up and met up with some friends for a pint or three. Right now we're waiting to play another N7 session, but no go so far. The fireworks outside make our friends' dog scared so I'm writing a bit.

We made a cocktail for tonight, another vegnog variant.



It comes in two parts. The ingredients are as follows with the first component being infused then added to the rest and blended away.

  • 3 cups oat milk
  • 6 tbsp brown sugar
  • 4 pods cardamom
  • 1 pinch saffron
  • 2 pieces clove
  • 1 piece star anise
  • 1 1/2 cups spiced rum
  • 1 cup plant based whipped cream
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch ground nutmeg

Put 1 cup of oat milk, brown sugar, cardamom pods, saffron, cloves and star anise in a saucepan and heat up for it to infuse. After it's done, let it cool and remove the solids. Then add the infused milk with the rest of the ingredients in a blender and blend for a minute until it becomes frothy. Let it cool in a refrigerator for later. Drink responsibly.

Happy New Year!

The News of Our Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

But our PC died and some drafts with it, so I didn't publish anything last month.

It was a painful experience trying to get the new components and checking out the extent of damage. Suffice to say, I managed to cannibalize the old PC and augment what I could with a solid hit on our wallet. The delivery was a nightmare and it took weeks to sort it out. Some issues are still ongoing.

The new rig was assembled just a few hours before our flight to Croatia. I couldn't do anything but wait until we came back.

We spent approximately a month in Croatia, working, visiting friends and spending time with family, but it was enough to start missing Ireland quite a lot. After all, our lives and routine are centered around that small piece of the planet.

Going forward, I need to set up better accessibility to the server, a better backup and a contingency plan... For watering the plants. Luckily there was no damage as the biological processes in plants slowed down so they didn't require water as much. We were also worried about the freezing weather breaking the water containers on the balcony left over from 3D printing, but it was all fine.

We came to an empty apartment. Everything was seemingly in order. We hit the store to get some food. We didn't even manage to unpack. That will happen today. I turned on the heating remotely before arrival but one of the radiators needed to be bled so it took longer than expected for room temperature to climb. It's finally OK at the time of this writing.

I'll publish something tomorrow as well just to keep my publishing frequency at least 12 times a year. For what is worth, we're alive, well and back.

Drawing Setup

Temperature is dropping in the northern hemisphere again. With the looming energy crisis, some people worry about heating. It's not that dire, though. Ireland is not reliant on the rest of the EU's infrastructure and the temperature oscillations are mild, too. There are no reductions, but the costs are rising. The situation is such that people keep warning the politicians against allowing so many datacenters in Ireland because the infrastructure can't support it. There's a concern this might lead to potential black-outs.

Cuply project was written about so it's time for me to take a short break from it. Even though it's hard for me not to come back. I believe it not to be finished so I will keep revisiting it to make sure it works properly. The bad weather keeps me at bay. Winter is approaching and we aren't on the balcony anymore so no hardware bits are done at the moment, only what's on the desk in front of me. I'm thinking about having a PCB for it, but need to figure out how to approach it. With the winter, again, we're slowly going into hibernation as well, so most of the things we do will happen indoors.

It is high time for me to kick myself into drawing and painting again. I guess it was a hectic beginning of the year and I cannot catch a break. We traveled (and still travel) a lot which I'll mention in the recap. I can tell that with all the travel, it was difficult to carry out things I had planned out, like Cuply. We did minor fixes in the apartment and rearranged priorities. So many things to do, so little time.

To kick off the painting, I decided to write this article. I got to have enough time this year to do things in spite of the distractions. The following paragraphs will describe my drawing setup.

I do things at the standing desk that goes up twice a day for an hour and a half. I automated that with ESP32 board. I can say that more focus comes from sitting, but I can't afford sitting all the time. I am not getting any younger and seldom do exercise (aside from the wall climbing which seems to be getting more frequent). This is at least countering the sedentary way of living. On the desk there's one 24" DELL U2413 monitor on the monitor arm so I can move it around should I have to. There's the standard keybord-mouse combination and a set of speakers on the desk, but they are not that important for drawing. The monitor arm is important since I have more space to work with.

The traditional drawing happens with a set of pencils (usually on the dark side with B2 being the most common), blending stumps, regular and kneaded erasers, some technical pens for inking and a small sketchbook. Sometimes I go for a specialty charcoal pens, but they're not used often in my repertoire. I can always display references on the big screen and, when done, scan things in with the scanner system behind me (HP 4130 doing a vendor lock-in) which is enough for home use.

I also hope to start with traditional painting of minis and I'll have more to say on that topic once I actually get to it. I'd need to use a spray paint primer, which is impossible to do indoors, but for the brushwork, I'll pretty much spend most of the time at the same desk. The only difference being one silicone mat so the paint doesn't spill on the desk surface.

When doing things digitally, which is my preferred method, I use a small Wacom Cintiq graphics tablet. It has all the usual pen gestures, from tilt (which is invaluable to have) to pressure. I also have a bluetooth keyboard for hitting all the keyboard shortcuts from wherever it's comfortable. I use a combination of Corel Painter and Krita applications of which I had a guest article on a slicing Python plug-in on Krita's blog. There are also Lazy Nezumi Pro and PureRef to help me out with the workflow.

There's one more thing and that's the ImgRef browser extension that I had Vesna do. It helps immensely with finding reference images for the finished work. A multi-page search. I'll have to poke her to publish the code.

Cuply - Hydroponics Greenhouse Cabinet Powered by Django Channels and Arduino - Conclusion

I'm in the process of making a greenhouse out of a glass cabinet that sits on our balcony. Inside it, there's to be a plethora of sensors and actuators hooked up to Arduino Due microcontroller, which is in turn connected to an old Raspberry Pi. The software stack is Django with Channels in the back-end, and React with some D3 in the front-end. It was a project long time in development, and this series of articles will explore it from the inception to the latest product.

  1. Overview
  2. Hardware
  3. Back-end
  4. Front-end
  5. Conclusion ← You are here

The devil is in the details. Right now the system works, but as with all long-running projects, this one will need some time to see if it's viable. As of time of this writing, there are contacts loose and the relays are breaking down sometimes. I need to tighten up the contacts and stop using the breadboard which was a proof of concept anyway. Moving on from prototyping into a real product will mean that I need to sit down and start soldering on the connections. With all the #revengetravel happening, I was putting it off for quite some time.

Making Cuply pretty will mean that the mechanism will get enclosed in a proper box where I can only have the necessary connections sticking out. For power, communication and sensors. I will utilize 3D printer mentioned before for some of the stuff.

At the moment, Cuply code lives in the repository online, but I need to clean it up and write up some documentation. With all that has been happening this summer, it was hard to keep up. Things are flowing if nothing. Not overflowing :)