A minor suggestion
August 17, 2016, 8:51 pm

I have always held off suggesting books for students to read when learning things in my class. Mainly, because I believe that someone else's methods and speeds of teaching will often interfere or even hinder someone learning things in my class. I think websites like Code Academy and Lynda provide brilliant tools for people to learn things at their own pace and at multiple levels. But being that I teach high level classes, I often find these sites either move too slow, or never reach a proper level.

I have, however, recently read a book that I feel is quite good, and I could recommend to people wanting to learn programming using the Javascript language. Eloquent Javascript is really quite a good book. I often tell my students that really the only thing they need is a reference for the guidance they will get in a class. In that case, I would usually just point someone at Javascript Pocket Reference

A much needed update
May 31, 2016, 4:23 pm

So for the past few years, I've been teaching at the Academy of Art in San Francisco. It's been about 2 years now, and I haven't really made a major update to my website code since then. I decided to take a bit of time today to update my CSS responsiveness. I did a lot, with a surprising little. I improved the gallery as well to be a bit more consistent across sizes. I fixed the mobile sidebar which has been janky since the first day I put it in. Honestly, I think I can finally be mostly proud of the mobile experience, which I definitely haven't been able to say in a while.

I've made so much code for students in the past 2 years, and I'm finally getting the chance to put some of it to my own use. It has certainly been a long road. I have learned probably so much more than any one of my students has, and that is sort of amazing. I have honed my own knowledge of all the subjects I teach, and I am now sharper, more knowledgeable, and able to articulate what I need to say in a far better fashion.

The next step for me seems to be improving my lessons, and creating content for learners. I've made a codepen to try to help people understand dozenal grids a bit better, you should check it out, if you're interested.

See the Pen Responsive Dozenal Sass Grid by Hamilton (@bronkula) on CodePen.

I made a breathing app...
March 5, 2016, 9:52 pm

You may have seen something about it on facebook or twitter. I'm working on making it embeddable for others to put on their websites. Let's try that here.

Copy this code onto your website to embed the xhalr breathing app into it.

<iframe src="http://www.xhalr.com" width="400" height="400" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen style="max-width:100%"></iframe>

A letter to the past
February 7, 2016, 10:00 am

10 years ago today, I wrote a letter to myself. I was 24, and the letter was written to my 14 year old self. Today I am going to write another letter to 10 years in the past. Here we go.

Think back 10 years, how old were you?

I was 24 years old. I was working at Bison Witches in Tucson, Arizona. I was not yet a kitchen manager, but I was soon to go through a number of big changes in my life, not the least of which was a move to California. I was paying rent for the first time in my life, and working a job that I still consider to be the funnest job I ever had. I made some lifetime friends who I still consider to be my closest, even though I'm near to so few of them these days. I went through an intense drinking phase, that I'm probably lucky didn't lead to any lasting detrimental effects.

If you ran into yourself at that age, what would younger you say?

That person could not have imagined the kind of life I lead now. He would wonder how I could be a teacher, if I never graduated high school. But at the same time, he would be surprised that I bothered to get my GED. He would be annoyed that I play the guitar so little anymore, but he would love that I live near the ocean. He would be excited that I worked in video games for a time, but he wouldn't be surprised that I ended up with a programming job. He would be amazed that I was painting, and he would be so excited that I had an art show.

What would you say back?

I would tell him to work hard when he found a job that was easy. I'd tell him to never be satisfied if he found a job where he couldn't move forward. I'd tell him start painting earlier. I'd tell him that art is where his heart is, but all the money is in tech. I would tell him that relationships are hard, but to pick his line and stand behind it. I would tell him to work on telling people no, and to not stress himself out over other people's projects. I would tell him to get his ass to California, but I'd tell him to skip Buena Park. I'd tell him to learn calligraphy, because that shit comes in handy. I'd tell him to smoke less, drink less, and observe his limits.

In ten years I've gone from my first jobs to teaching at the masters level at a university. I got married, and I got divorced. I moved from small towns to big cities. I went from art to tech to art to teaching tech. I am about to do great things with my life, which is not something my 24 year old self could've really even imagined.

I never thought I would do this thing again, but now I really can't wait to do it again in 10 years. My life has changed dramatically in 10 years again, I can't help but wonder that it will change so much more in the future.

Read my letter 10 years ago

I made a thing
December 21, 2015, 10:29 pm

Some of you may have seen this thing when it made the rounds this last week. I made a little app website called eXHALeR. It's a breathing exercise app, and I'm kind of proud of it. There's a facebook page now for discussing breathing patterns and such. If you have any ideas, definitely share them with me.

School is in session
October 8, 2015, 1:42 pm

And I've been writing... so much code. I've written so many things, and over and over and over again. I've started 4 new code libraries in the past month. I've made two version of dirty drawers. I've made big improvements to my prototyping framework. I've rewritten 4 students' projects from the ground up. I've been diving hard into my hamebase sass files. I've been improving my workflow with sublime. I'm learning a bit about nodejs.

And what's amazing is. I've never been happier. My art has suffered over the past few weeks, but I think I needed a break from that. I was drawing... a lot. It's been nice to kind of let that drop off a bit and do some coding for a change.

I'm very excited about my life currently. Everything is moving in directions that are good.

Sometimes I sit in the shower and I think...
October 8, 2015, 1:14 pm

If I was on the moon, would I think of myself as a moon man? Aren't we aliens on the moon? If I was born on the moon, what word would they use for me? Moonian? Moonite? Lunarian! I don't know. I do know that we will have a Martian within my lifetime. This I am certain of. Not a non Terran Martian. Oh no. A baby born on Mars. Not of Earth any more.

Why aren't we having kids in space? Why aren't we growing animals on the moon? WHY DON'T WE HAVE GODDAMN COLONIES ON THE MOON? What in the hell is taking so long?

... I took a long shower today.

You might be saying to yourself
August 22, 2015, 9:00 pm

I wonder if Hamilton sells things anywhere.

I do. Sometimes. For instance, I have an account at a nice little website called RedBubble where I sell a couple things.

I always get distracted
August 12, 2015, 4:19 pm

Shiny things distract me, and I forget to do basic things. Basic things distract me and I forget to do shiny things. It is a vicious cycle. I want so desperately to have the time to do what I want, without worrying about what I must. But if what I want doesn't become what I need, then I'll never finish the things that I want.

I have been very... slackery about the portrait project lately. I'm getting back into it. I just updated it, whereas I hadn't in... months? Ugh.

I've also been putting a lot of work into my commissions site bronkula.com, and the art book I've been putting out every 3 months at portraitquarterly.com. These two things have been forward in my thoughts recently, as I attempt desperately to turn any social momentum I currently I have into some sort of fiscal reality. I am still not making any real headway in this respect, but I refuse to stop YET. I am certainly not done doing art any time soon, but it would be amazing if I was able to turn that into something.

That's me talking out loud. Somehow, this website is moving away from being my main website. I kind of like that. Maybe soon, this will turn back into the place that I can write whatever I want, because no one will ever read it. Probably.

A contextual difference
July 11, 2015, 11:27 am

There is a major difference between fundamentally learning how to program, and learning a new programming language.

Let's look at an example.

$a = 0;

If you said, "That looks like code!", congratulations, it's your first day. Have a lollipop. If you said, "That's a variable assignment", congratulations, you seem to know how to do basic programming. If you said "That's a variable assignment in php", congratulations, you seem to know the basics of PHP. If you said, "That's a variable assignment of the number zero, which has a basic value type of Number, to a variable with the designation of $a, in the php programming language", then congratulations, you're a huge nerd! But what about when the language is less obvious, or you don't know that particular language. Should you still be able to figure stuff out?

function sqr(num:Number):Number{ return num*num; }

Now, if you didn't know that was Actionscript code, that's ok. Not everyone does. But you should be able to use your knowledge of basic programming to figure out what is going on. It seems to be a function definition. Something called sqr(). I'm not sure what those colon parts are, but it seems to be a basic type of value, so I'll bet it's saying num will be a number. I can only assume then by the second :Number placement that sqr() is also supposed to be a number? The function seems to be multiplying the number by itself, then returning that value.

Did you see what I did there? I don't know Actionscript 3. I learned Actionscript 2, back in the day. Actionscript 2 did NOT have type casting. I found that code on the Adobe help site when I searched for "actionscript function return value".

Learning to program means you should be able to know a few basic concepts, and recognize those concepts in any language.

  • What is a variable?
  • What is an array?
  • What is a function?
  • How do I if else?
  • How do I loop?

Those are the core concepts of programming. And they are (mostly) language independent. If you can figure out how to do those things, you can probably write anything in any language.

... after about 2 months of intensive study in that new language just to get anything to freaking show on screen...

It can be difficult in the early days of learning your FIRST programming language to measure the difference between learning that language's syntax and learning the essentials of programming in general. It might not even ever become clear to you until you attempt to learn your second programming language. Suddenly things that weren't important before can become very important. Suddenly things that were so hard before can become easy. Changing languages is a difficult task, and learning your first language can feel like a monumental challenge. It isn't until you learn to differentiate the fundamentals of programming, from the idiosyncrasies of a particular language, that you will truly begin to reach your potential.