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Productivity, Progression and Procrastination

Productivity, Progression and Procrastination

I didn't really know what to expect going into last week. I was exhausted from the week before, and knew I wouldn't be 100% but I didn't really know how much gas was in the tank or where that'd lead to. In retrospect, I think this has been a big setup week. I don't have anything life changing or groundbreaking in this Captain's Log, but I've got a really good feeling about next week.

Somebody from America's Test Kitchen has been putting holographic kitty stickers everywhere

A common theme of the blog so far has been productivity. It's getting so repetitive at this point, it's gotten to be a weird word to see, hear and write. Productivity doesn't really capture the sentiment of what I'm trying to say, at least not by itself. I think I'm actually interested in the combination of productivity and progression.

Productivity is doing work, and delivering results using the skills you currently possess. Progression is learning, researching and developing skills.

You have to invest your time into either being productive, or progressing, but by and large, they're mutually exclusive. You can't level up or add new skills while purely exercising what you already have. There will always be a balance and a trade-off of your time investment.

Striking the right balance always seems to be the tough part, especially when you're up against the clock in one way or another. In my case, and many cases, the clock is actually the bank. You need to be productive to generate revenue; but you need to progress before you can effectively produce. Sometimes the clock is an actual clock or some kind of deadline. You have to choose between brute-forcing a problem: doing it poorly, inefficiently or even incorrectly; or investing time into figuring out how to do it quickly, and correctly. Sometimes there's a clear, right answer, but that's pretty rare. Different types of businesses balance progression and productivity differently.

It's pretty normal it seems, for a lot of startup type companies to min/max progression/productivity, opting for the barest product they can sell as fast as possible, regardless of how poorly strung together it is. Sometimes, it's not even an engineered solution at all, but a mechanical turk of sorts. There are reasons for doing this, some better than others, but it never seemed quite right to me. I don't think I've taken the exactly inverted stance, but I definitely lean more on progression than productivity.

Do you have 3 years of experience, or do you have 1 year of experience 3 times? - some guy at some point in time

Somebody many years ago asked me this and it really stuck with me. I've worked with a bunch of people who had for 10+ years of experience. Some of them obviously had 10 years of experience, but then others only seemed to have a couple. Maybe they never bothered to progress, maybe they switched projects/jobs all the time, maybe it was something else... I knew I didn't want to be one of those people...

In April 2022, the boat I spent years fixing up, sank and Geico decided it was worth far more than they probably should have. I was so miserable at my last job, I damn near quit on the spot. The boat money was enough to get me through to roughly September...

I never thought I'd make it this far, let alone through the end of that summer. I knew I wouldn't be able to bring the buoy dream to generate revenue in that short period. I figured I'd set out to progress, build my skill set as much as possible in the time I had, using the monitoring buoy project as a vehicle to do that. The goal being that when I inevitably wound back up in the workforce, I could have a lot of impressive projects in my portfolio, and get a nice promotion (and pay bump) from where I was before.

All that to say, this week was a progression week, after a long stint of productivity. Everything in life naturally ebbs and flows... But I guess this week that was more apparent, and I've been thinking about that dichotomy a lot (look at the $5 word).

This Week

XB-X Top Collars

After successful testing of the new 100065/001 - TOP COLLAR, I went back for round two. Max and Ferda Farms have three XB-X buoys incoming, so while the VF-5 was still set up, I ran them remaining two rings. Uneventful, but it feels great that what was at one point, the hardest part of the build, is now complete.

1100065/001 - TOP COLLAR, all wrapped up!

XB-X Latches

Still haven't finalized these yet, I've been getting real picky about the fit, and movement of the latches. I did squeeze in probably a dozen iterations of it over the last few days and think I'll close it out on Monday.

DB-X Cable Management

In a previous entry to the Captain's Log, I brought this up. I believe I was working on selecting different cables to connect the battery and electronics stack. After some field testing and poking around, I've identified 2 main issues.

First, the electronics sit in the center of the buoy right now, and there isn't enough clearance on one side for the USB connectors. I've shifted the whole electronics stack off center on its bracket, now there's plenty of clearance on the side with the connectors.

Second was that there was nowhere for the power cable to retract into when the user inserts the battery pack, it would have a tendency to bunch up between the electronics and battery, preventing proper installation of the battery. The DB-X internals consist of 5 "sleeves" that all the other components mount to or interface with. I've rotated the sleeve that houses the electronics 90 degrees in relation to the rest, this gives plenty of clearance for the cable routing.

Not really a very good view of the cable routing changes, but it's a nice little visual to keep you moving through the post.

Next Week

DB-X Software

I owe the Coastal Measures team a good amount of time dialing in the software for the DB-X and the link between the DB-X and the CUMULUS platform that stores the data for later retrieval, analysis and whatnot.

XB-X Sensor Ports

Plan is to get prototypes printing Monday afternoon, testing Tuesday, and start machining Wednesday or Thursday. The parts should be pretty small, and fairly simple, but I do need a bunch of them.

Sensor Interface Parts Needed:

  • Receptacle - mounts to the buoy hull;
  • Probe Sleeve - mounts permanently to the different probes, that then lets the user easily insert it into the receptacle;
  • Plug - fills empty receptacles.

Each buoy has 6 ports for instruments, but they won't always be filled. The XB-X will eventually need all 6 ports occupied, but as spec'd now, the MB-X will only need 3. I'm looking at 36 some odd parts over all, the saving grace being I'll only need to design 2/3 parts and the CAM for those parts...

It'd be great to design the whole interface around something like and SAE O-Ring Boss Port or O-Ring Face Seal Port. Using a standard like that would eliminate a lot of the hard design work, I could buy plugs off the shelf from a supplier, and should I or anyone else want to build new sensors, attachments or who knows what else, there's a common, standard port to interface with the buoys.

O-ring face seal and o-ring boss fittings


Blog Traction

Last week marked the 10th blog post which was huge! I posted the first few to Instagram, emailed the next couple out to more friends, then I put the 10th out a little bit more publicly through a few different avenues. Generally speaking, I think LinkedIn is a cesspool of despair and depression. That being said, I did have many productive meetings this week, from people who saw the news on LinkedIn. So I guess there's the content marketing upside I set out for.


Despite blowing the 3-1 series lead, they live to fight another day. See you tomorrow Carolina...

Beantown Pub went absolutely wild

Human Interactions

Despite being in the connected age, we're more distant and removed from each other than ever before it seems. Slowly over the last few months I've made it a point to go out with folks that I may not have otherwise. Colleagues, friends of friends, more distant connections. Interesting people who I wouldn't say are immediate friends.

I had a chat this week with another fellow who runs a small company out of the same makerspace/workshop/tech center as I do. We've always crossed paths and been friendly but never really more than that. We had a couple of beers, and I can't speak for him, but I learned a ton and I think we were both a little surprised to find someone else who shared a lot of the same sentiments about business/startup culture, and have fought the same battles.



I don't feel like I ever got a reset last week. I felt like I was fighting fires I missed from the week before. I was hoping by Wednesday I could get back to some sort of schedule or to do list, but for a variety of reasons that didn't happen.

XB-X Electronics Housing

This is one of those times where I'm relying on the public to shame me for not having done this yet. I've said I would do this for 3 weeks now... Somebody yell at me!

Closing Remarks

I was chatting with somebody about how I write the blogs. I usually sit down and get it done in one go. I'm spending about 3 or 4 hours every weekend to do a comprehensive look back at the week. It's been really worthwhile, I've had a lot of good thinking time... But it's probably not very sustainable. I'm thinking in the next month or so I'll switch to writing 10 or 15 minutes every day. It'll make publishing at the end of the week easier, and maybe I'll discover some other new insights into life.

Sorry, I didn't take many pictures this week :/ sorry. I want to focus on better graphics in the next entry!

Enjoy your week and hopefully it brings warm weather 😄