Categories
Work

Block Lab!

I’m super excited to announce the launch of a project I’ve been working on for a while now…

It’s live!

This has been a labour of love since July. I first had the idea during WordCamp Sydney – I was taking questions after my talk on Gutenberg, and somebody asked whether there was an easy way to build Gutenberg blocks.

The short answer is no. Building custom blocks isn’t easy at all. Even seasoned WordPress developers are required to learn a whole new skillset. Imagine then, where this leaves regular site builders.

One of the plugins that inspired Block Lab is Advanced Custom Fields. ACF makes it super easy for site builders to add custom meta data to posts, making it much easier for their clients to build out content.

But WordPress is moving away from a custom fields paradigm, and toward a block based way of thinking about content. That’s where Block Lab comes in. Block Lab makes it super easy to create custom blocks, with a Gutenberg-first focus.

A custom block in the Gutenberg editor.

Block Lab is a collaboration between myself, Rob Stinson, and Rheinard Korf. Going forward we’ll even introduce you to a few other WordPress developers who are keen to get involved.

So, if you’re somebody who builds sites for a living, take a look at how Block Lab can help you build better.

Categories
Future Immerse Work

Joining a video chat from VR

My team at work has a weekly call, codenamed “Strategy Sync”, where we chit-chat and play a few rounds of Rocket League. This week, I joined the call from the metaverse via Bigscreen, which allowed me to beam my colleagues onto a giant screen in my virtual lounge room.

The best part was, they could see me, too! Well, my virtual avatar anyway. Here’s how I set it up.

What you’ll need

How to use Bigscreen camera as a webcam

  1. Install OBS Studio and OBS-VirtualCam
  2. Launch Bigscreen
  3. In the Bigscreen menu, select Tools > Camera > Capture Mode
  4. Launch OBS Studio, and select Tools > Virtual Cam
  5. Turn on Horizontal Flip, and press Start
  6. Launch your video chat application (I used Zoom), and select OBS as your webcam

Back in Virtual Reality, you should see your Bigscreen environment, and a selfie stick camera. This camera is now be your virtual web cam!

Categories
Future

One of my concerns about Google AMP…

The Internet should not have a consistent UX.

We should be advocating for a diverse, heterogenous web with as much gusto as we have for site performance.

The only problem is that Google’s business model works best when every website has a uniform structure.

Categories
Focus

Holding an image in your mind

Further reflections on Chapter 4 of Jewish Meditation by Aryeh Kaplan.

Begin practicing visualisation meditation

Learn to focus on the patterns behind your eyes. Practice holding images there for longer periods. Meditations should last 20—30 minutes.

Introduce mantra meditation to enhance the clarity of the images. Ribbono shel olam is a Jewish mantra suggested by Rabbi Nachman. Practice until images become spectacular and vivid.

Begin conjuring images to hold in the mind’s eye. Practice holding images for longer periods, and controlling what the mind sees.

Advanced visualisation experiences

Visualising images which aren’t possible to see with physical eyes, such as the “lamp of darkness” which the Zohar speaks of, or intensified beauty of mental imagery beyond our physical perception.

Panoscopic vision, where one can visualise an object from multiple perspectives simultaneously. Ezekiel’s vision of four-faced angels who do not rotate as they move may be an example of a panoscopic experience.

Synesthesia may be induced in a higher state of consciousness. This is a mixing of the senses, where one sees sounds, hears colours, or feels scents. This may have been the experience of the people’s experience when the Ten Commandments were given. The Torah describes “All the people saw the sounds”.

Visualising nothingness. This is a phenomena less associated with transcendental meditation, and more with mindfulness meditation. It is the absence of everything, including self, and including blackness or space.

Categories
Focus

States of Consciousness

Reflections on Chapter 4 of Jewish Meditation by Aryeh Kaplan.

Meditative states are usually hard, often impossible, to describe. Language is created through shared experiences, and meditation is a purely internal experience, so it makes sense that we lack the vocabulary.

Even so, it is possible to understand varying degrees of consciousness by starting with two very familiar states: Sleep and Awake.

We can expand this further – sometimes we feel drowsy, sometimes we feel alert. So we can see that there are at least two wakeful states of being. Also, we know that there are two states of sleep: NREM (quiet sleep) and REM (active sleep). So, based on this, it’s possible to understand:

  • Active sleep state
  • Quiet sleep state
  • Awake state
  • Alert state

Now that at least 4 states of consciousness are obvious to us, it’s not impossible to imagine additional states.

I don’t think of these as a ladder, gaining higher and higher states of being. Rather, think of consciousness as a tree – we can tune in (or branch out) to being more perceptive, more focused, more creative, calmer.

It appears to me as though there are two main boughs to this tree, which I refer to as hot and cold meditative states. Being hot allows you to give your full attention to a single task, laser-focused to the exclusion of all else. Being cold allows you to clear and calm your mind, allowing positive emotions and creative solutions to surface.

I have experienced a hot meditative state many times while programming. Being “in the zone”, also referred to as achieving “flow”, is a common experience for software developers, who become hyper-focused – locked-on with the whole body and mind (often ignoring hunger, thirst, and even the need to use the bathroom).

There’s a whole subreddit (unknowingly) dedicated to being in a cold meditative state: r/showerthoughts. Often our best ideas come to us we’re relaxed, with a quiet mind, such as in the shower or drifting off to sleep.