In early 2020 — like most people worldwide — I suddenly found myself in the position of permanently working from home. Initially, it was temporary: New Zealand had locked down and no one should leave their homes/bubbles, except to exercise and collect necessities. I set up my work desk on my dining room table, in my open plan kitchen/dining room/lounge. I did have space to set up in a spare room, but lacked a table/desk that could easily be moved.

At first, it was a novelty. Each day I’d make myself a cup of tea, and move the few metres…

My mother has a fancy Noritake dinnerset that she keeps for special occasions. It’s a gorgeous blue and white set, made of fine porcelain. Once upon a time it sat proudly on display in a glass-fronted cabinet, but eventually it got packed away into the cupboard to ensure it didn’t get broken. And there it stayed. I don’t remember the last time that it was ever used.

A dinnerset just like Mums (pic from pinterest)

It’s also what I often see happening with data: many organisations think its important to collect it and that it will be useful one day, and so carefully stockpile it away into a…

Damn. You just discovered the latest sales report doesn’t include the new category of product and you know it’s going to take forever for the always-busy internal analytics to make the tiny wee change to add it. Why can’t they just let you just do it yourself? In fact, you know what you’re doing and have authority, so you have them to add you to the tooling and you do exactly that. Done. See, now that wasn’t so hard, was it?

Sound familiar?

It should. I am yet to meet an analyst — or someone who works with one —…

I’m currently working with an indoor sensor startup, Smooth Sensors, and one of our challenges so far has been bespoke data analysis: when a customer has asked us to tell them something interesting from their data that is not part of the standard reporting we provide. The main reason this is a problem is that our sensor platform serialises the data in a highly compact format to minimise data transfer, and is stored in our database without deserialisation. …

A few days ago I was chatting to a programmer friend about being able to quickly build a basic data lake for some sensor data (more on that another time). After I had finished, they politely asked “what’s a data lake?” — which came as a shock to me because I was certain their organisation had one but clearly no one there had ever bothered to explain to them what a data lake actually is. Whilst I filled them in on the spot, I’m just going to leave this here in case it helps someone else too.

Loch Ness — not a data lake.
Loch Ness — not a data lake.
Not a data lake. Photo source: Wikimedia CC-BY-SA 3.0

WTF is a database?

Let’s start with…

The final guitar (so much awesome the camera couldn’t focus)

6 months ago I decided to build my own guitar, today… I finished that guitar. So, so, happy.

Last time I posted about the guitar I was busy with the clear coat — or more specifically, dealing with the drips down the back. Turns out that sanded out really easily, so it was just a case of sanding where I needed to, and having another go. I think I probably put half a dozen “coats” on in the end. I gave it more than the rest because it wasn’t nearly as thick as the colour coat.

And then I sanded…

NB: There is now a better way of using the RM Mini 3 with Google Home — simply install the Broadlink ihc app, hook up the RM Mini into the app, then go into the Google Home app and link the device. If you still want to try hard mode, feel free to keep reading.

I recently purchased a Google Home device and have been since been looking at ways of using it to automate more things around my house. I came across this reddit thread which suggested using the Broadlink RM Mini 3 (aka Blackbean) device as a universal…

After what seemed like an eternity, all the bits and pieces finally arrived. Unfortunately the company I ordered from forgot to pack one of the key bits, but it could be sourced locally so only had to wait a couple of days for that last bit (the nut).

My guitar’s neck

One of the interesting things about the neck is that the frets had been fitted before the final coats of paint had been put on, so the frets have paint… some of which is chipping off. I was told this was often fixed with steel wool, but after trying that decided that…

Whilst most of the parts for my electric guitar are taking the slow boat out of the US to NZ, some of the smaller parts arrived earlier than I expected. This allowed me to take a break from sanding and painting, and instead solder up the pickguard with all the electronics.

A standard stratocaster has all the electrical components mounted on the pickguard, which is then screwed directly onto the body. I don’t have a lot of electronics experience, but as the instructions for the pickups pointed out: this isn’t rocket science. Here’s what the wiring diagram looks like:

Strat SSS wiring diagram — © Seymour Duncan


The body of a guitar is only half the equation: you need a neck too. The guitar I’m building is a stratocaster style, so has a bolt-on neck. The alternative is a glue-on neck, which is on some types of guitar like the Les Paul. The type of neck boils down to the guitar style, being either Fender-style (bolt-on, strat & tele) or Gibson-style (glue-on, Les Paul).

A bolt on style neck.

There’s lot of arguing about which is better, but it’s irrelevant here: the guitar I’m building has a bolt-on style neck.

I decided I wanted to do as little woodwork as possible, so…

Kat Hempstalk

Machine Learning, AI and Data Expert. By day I work training machines to think, by night I plot to take over the world. All views expressed here are my own.

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