Week 08, 2024 - 3D prints and reflections

Week 08, 2024 - 3D prints and reflections
Bambu Lab X1-Carbon in action

This week flew by filled with meaningful discussions with wonderful people. I’m grateful for the chance to spend time with friends — over lunches, in cafés, through a video meeting, or a simple old-fashioned phone call. I’ve found that audio-only calls, especially when taken during a long walk, enable deeper human connections and give a chance for a more intimate conversation. Interestingly, as I would normally think the opposite, since visual information usually adds an extra non-verbal layer to communication. Perhaps it’s akin to the experience where losing one sense causes the brain to amplify the others. Maybe paying attention is a sense in its own right.

📋 What I learned this week

As I set out to do last week, I did manage to write about Three Tools to Improve the Performance of Engineering Teams, and as an extra, published my take on a recent 4-day workweek experiment. The reason for the varied topics is two-fold: on the one hand, I’m still searching for my voice, experimenting with different topics and formats. On the other hand, I just love to have a platform where I can write about whatever interests me! Writing helps me think, formulate opinions and structure ideas. So, expect more experiments!

On the tech side, I haven’t got much done. I created a separate email subscription option to allow notifications for all new articles, but nothing besides that. I didn’t even start to seriously think about dark mode yet. It’s fine. If you achieved all your goals, you weren't ambitious enough.

🎯 What I want to try next week

Lots of options, so a great opportunity to practice saying “no” and focusing on finishing the most important things. I’m getting more and more active on LinkedIn. While I enjoy the relative civility of the discussions there compared to basically any other social network, there’s still some yuckiness around the whole experience. I found that Jeremy Brown’s recent principles capture well what I also feel. Maybe I should work on something similar - maybe it’s too early yet. Either way, I want to be more intentional in my relationship to LinkedIn, and my presence there.

I had a few topics to write about in mind, from dealing with negative people to AI in the toolkit of an Engineering Manager, but I couldn't choose which one to start working on yet. Nowadays I'm reading 4000 Weeks by Oliver Burkeman, and it's fascinating, I don't remember ever highlighting so many parts in a book, so I'm planning to do a review once I'm finished.

Also, as the content grows, I’ll need to find a simple backup solution for the site.

📸 Something cool: a 3D-printed Quad Lock phone case adapter for the 16” M1 MacBook Pro

With all the hype around AI, and blockchain before that, we almost forgot the revolution that happened in commodifying 3D printing. You can find a decent machine for around €500, and start creating real-life objects. We're not at the point yet where every household has a 3D printer, but you probably already have a friend who bit the bullet, and will be happy to help you out with printing something for a beer or two.

This is huge! Not just for hobbyists and DIY creators, but for right-to-repair advocates too. Quick story: A year or so ago the door handle of our old fridge gave in and broke to pieces. After some googling, I found the dismantled part’s 3D model online and asked my friend Marci for a favor. After 12 months, the printed handle is still working perfectly. 3D printing is a great alternative to replacing an otherwise perfectly functioning appliance for one broken part, or ordering the manufacturer’s astronomically priced replacement (if even available).

So, when I wanted to experiment with using my phone as a camera with my computer, I needed to find a simple way to mount it. I’m using the Quad Lock system everywhere (car, bike, even on the wall in the kitchen), so the best solution would’ve been something that uses the case on the phone — however, no such product exists. It’s understandable: this is a niche use case, and the device should adapt perfectly for my specific phone and specific MacBook's screen width.

Enter crowd-sourced 3D printing! Somebody had this problem before me and created this model for everyone to use. Printing costs added up to 20-30 cents, and now I can do this:

iPhone mounted on a MacBook with a 3D-printed Quad Lock adapter

Those who remember “You wouldn’t download a car”… hold my beer!

This week's update was a bit more pensive than usual, I hope you didn't mind. I wrote most of these waiting for my daughter Julie to finish her soccer practice, and sitting in the car alone made my mind wander.

May your weekend be filled with wanderings, mental or physical,


Subscribe to my newsletter

I write about engineering leadership topics.
Sign up to receive new articles.