Creativity with little

2019-08-07 @Lifestyle

To an extent, I envy the inhabitants of resource deprived regions. One must devise solutions to solve problems. One must leverage the environment in creative ways. One does not order the solution on Amazon. But supposing you could, do you want to necessarily appeal to e-commerce for solving a certain class of rudimentary problems? If it doesn’t cause you to feel like a consumerist zombie, at least consider the perils of atrophic brain activity when not put to creative use.

I tinker with a lot of open source software, Linux/Unix CLI tools, scripting. I recruit or assemble a lot of hacked together solutions for problems among document editing, journaling systems, backups/syncs/storage, ‘Content Management Systems’, web browsing, automation, data transformations/manipulations, web publishing. I also repurpose compact/lower-resource devices for general use. On the one hand it enables total control. On the other, it results in ultimate cost/time savings. Most importantly, however, it fosters that creativity.

Hardware too is a joy to tinker with, be it here that I’m less seasoned. I used to fuse digital electronic equipment or disassemble stuff - usually to an irredeemable state of entropy. The most elaborate solution I lately assembled, alas, is an index card organizer out of cardboard. The antiquity of this device looks comical next to my tablet and Raspberry PI Zero. I’ve become obsessed with index cards and the confined (yet engaging) physical interaction they enable.

What are some other practical uses you can put your environment to?

  1. Improvised exercise equipment. Anything you can grasp and pull yourself - geotropically - equates to a pull-up device. This includes tree branches, bus stop kiosks, and your neighbor’s roof gutters. Heavy literature volumes, bricks, logs, all serve to add weight to bodyweight squat movements. Anything you can comfortably secure in one hand enables an assortment of effective shoulder exercises. Any elevated surface serves for more challenging chest or shoulder push-ups. As a bonus, if you prefer classic sit-ups (to a myriad of other abdominal exercises), by sufficiently developing your core, you need not even secure your feet. Be sure to cushion your spine.
  2. Equipment-free games. Stimulate your memory and creativity by means of a number of available games that require no props. More on this in a different post.
  3. Develop languages. Practice with people around you. Or create your own language. Invent a new alphabet. Experiment with lexical analysis and abstract syntax trees.
  4. Improvise your furniture from available objects. What haven’t I seen in so many households throughout so many travels? A table can be nothing more than a planar surface (or piece of wood) elevated by stacks of books. Colorful cushions can double as seating. A wardrobe can follow a bar secured by two hooks descending from the ceiling. Such gypsy settings I actually find more pleasing to occupy than spaces of dental reception furnishing. I’ve utilized an inflatable exercise ball as the most comfortable seating device (beyond the floor) for years.
  5. Plants add infinite value to any setting. Many you can house in available kitchenware/glassware. Be sure to regulate overwatering by some means. Compost to create your own planting soil.
  6. Adapt available objects to a stand-up or mobile work environment. Use books or boxes to elevate a computer or tablet. Configure keyboard shortcuts such that the most pervasive operations require but one hand. Learn a chorded one-handed keyboard.
  7. Leverage vertical space in scarcity of the horizontal. That is assuming you occupy a 3-dimensional landscape, not a flatland.
  8. Foster a more efficient note-taking system via short-hand systems, encodings, or your own script. This way you can avoid more elaborate devices in favor of classic handwriting to capture notes and ideas.
  9. Create a ‘smart home’ via a USD$5-10 Raspberry PI Zero, basic electronics, and minimal programming. Or use a cheap hardware store timer to control that bohemian lighting or coffee machine. Better yet, build your own timer.
  10. On that topic, use the PI Zero as a general purpose computer by emphasis on light, open-source software, preferably console-based. It arguably requires no other parts you couldn’t scavenge. A cell phone charger drives more than enough current to sustain the PI Zero in operation. Use a spare USB or Bluetooth keyboard. Connect any HDMI monitor or remotely access the PI.
  11. Learn to consider the concepts of hacking or hackable as complimentary.

Questions, comments? Connect.