Skonk Works

Whew… it’s been a while huh?

Sorry about that. There’s a number of things that have kept me from keeping up with this web log, most importantly completing my neural network tutorial series.

Let me tell you about Skonk Works.

Skunk Works is an official pseudonym for Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Development Programs (ADP), formerly called Lockheed Advanced Development Projects. It is responsible for a number of aircraft designs, including the U-2, the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, the Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk, Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor, and the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, which are used in the air forces of several countries. Its name was taken from the moonshine factory in the comic strip Li’l Abner. The designation “skunk works” or “skunkworks” is widely used in business, engineering, and technical fields to describe a group within an organization given a high degree of autonomy and unhampered by bureaucracy, with the task of working on advanced or secret projects.


So I got a new laptop, and I decided to take that as a chance to radically experiment with my work pipeline.

I turned my desktop into a dedicated personal cloud server using Nextcloud. I built a system that containerized, backed up, and synced all my digital devices. I learned a bunch about how I could automate my work. Containerization and automation is pretty normal for developers, but I’m also an artist and designer. I had to figure out some funny tricks. Setting up a server I dove deep into back-end and learned a ton about operating systems, and by extension Desktop shell UI, and Command Line Interface shells.  In the process of doing this stuff I completely borked my computers and had to reinstall my operating systems etc multiple multiple multiple times. My process was basically to try to find ways to optimize my user interfaces until I broke something, and then start over again from scratch, this time hopefully making those optimizations faster and not breaking stuff the second, third, fourth, etc etc etc time around. I rethought my entire relationship with my computer work pipeline and I think I came away with some good insights.

I’ve got a NYE resolution to write 12 articles this year so I’ve got to make up some ground. I’ve been learning so fast I haven’t had time to digest all this new information into coherent writings. Thankfully I’m bursting with rough drafts, and I’ll be going into more detail on all these things I’ve been exploring very soon.

Part 3 of the tutorial is in the works and should be out sometime early next week.

Oh yeah and I finished my gig at Travis County (new case study up too) so if you know anybody looking for a creative technologist, ux design/developer type, give me a holler!

Also published on Medium.