I had a great first day of #TeamSPS Sales Kickoff 2024! So much energy and excitement in the room.

A warm welcome to the newest slate of Minnestar board members: Kathryn Frengs, Tim Herby, Muneeb B. Hafeez, Kevin Jansen, Robert Tomb, Matt Decuir, and Valerie Lockhart. I continue to be a big fan of Minnestar and their mission to catalyze the Twin Cities technology community.

Backed Project Tapestry from Iconfactory

Iconfactory launched a Kickstarter campaign for Project Tapestry today. Iconfactory is a great company that has built some of the most delightful experiences (Linea, Frenzic, Twitterific). Tapestry intends to be an open “timeline” of content from a variety of services. I’m intrigued because of the focus on open systems and the world-class skills of Iconfactory. Backed!

Today Buttondown released a new comments feature! I’ve turned this on for the Weekly Thing — it is something I’ve wanted to try for a while. You can leave comments on any issue in the archive.

Online Handle

Jim Nielsen’s Online Handles blog post caught my eye. I figured I would share too.

Recently I started using jthingelstad just for clarity. However, decades prior I always went by thingles, which was my very first Unix account username at the U of MN. It was just my last name truncated to eight characters, but the list had misspelled and transposed the e and l in my name.

I embraced it, but it aggravated even more the most common misspelling of my name.

Trying a Roomba for the first time and have it on a mapping run. I find myself talking to it:

“No, don’t go there.”

“Avoid that shag rug! You got stuck there before.”

“Nice job on that turn.”

Jumping into Obsidian

I recently decided to give Obsidian a serious investigation and voluntarily dive down the “rabbit hole.” 🕳️🐇

The tipping point for me was this post by Daniel Tan reflecting on his journey with Obsidian and how it has become an “indispensable tool” for him. I once ran my own personal wiki which likely makes me a prime candidate for Obsidian, but the complexity of these setups has always made me steer clear. About two years ago this was my perspective on Obsidian.

When I read articles from people sharing their bespoke Obsidian setups I think one of the best things I’ve done for my productivity is to completely ignore Obsidian.

While I’ve been ignoring it I have noted a lot of continued momentum with Obsidian. Additionally MacSparky has continued to be a big advocate of Obsidian and even released an Obsidian Field Guide. MacSparky’s strong endorsement is a big deal for me, we share OmniFocus enthusiasm and his OmniFocus Field Guide was a game changer for me.

I signed up for a year of Obsidian sync service, have a couple of different “vaults” setup and have started using them mostly via Daily Notes, and I signed up for MacSparky’s field guide so I can accelerate my learning and avoid mistakes. Wish me luck! 🍀

I’ve followed CJ Chilvers writing for years now. His newsletter is one that I learn from and find inspiration in. He just released Principles for Newsletters that brings his 37 years of newsletter experience together in 49 lessons. Just $5. Instant buy for me.

The Weekly Thing is back from winter break — Weekly Thing 274 / Gibberish, Happyfeed, Airshow is ready to go out tomorrow morning with a ton of great links and a first ever interview! 🥳

Tammy and I saw American Fiction tonight at the Edina Theatre. I liked the movie and thought it was both funny and pointed in the message. There is a surprise in the end that keeps you wondering too.

Let’s play hockey! My cousin Quinn joined us. Early lead with Minnesota Wild 2-0 over Washington Capitals. 🏒

Don Olson Obituary

On Wednesday Tammy’s Dad passed away. Don was a good man that left the world better than he found it. He was surrounded by loved ones right up to the end. Sharing and archiving a copy of his obituary, also published in Star Tribune.

Photo of Donald Olson

Olson, Donald “Don”, age 85, passed away peacefully at his home on January 17, 2024 after a long battle with COPD. In the days preceding his passing, he was surrounded by family and friends who gathered around his bedside and showered him with love. He was proud being a dad to 4 girls, was a wonderful grandpa to 9 grandchildren, and he adored his wife Kaye and knew what a gem she was.

Don was a man of strong work ethic, resolute faith, grit, kindness and wit. He enjoyed figuring out how things work; the man could fix anything! He was a small business owner, animal lover, Sunday school teacher, legendary softball coach, avid fisherman and hunter, storyteller, classic car enthusiast, fierce game player, talented water skier, and beekeeper. In his last few years as life slowed down he enjoyed throwing balls for his dog, growing pears and lady slippers, walks in his electric scooter, watching birds, sudoku, reading the paper, Bible study, orange juice, honey, and back scratches.

Born to Melford and Edith Olson on August 24, 1938 in Thief River Falls, Minnesota, he was the youngest of three and told many stories of the mischief he and his brothers Eugene and Roger got into when they were boys. Don served as a surveyor in the National Guard and worked for the telephone company before joining his father’s business Mel-O Honey, where he worked for most of his adult life. His brother Roger joined him after their father passed away and together they ran the best honey empire Minnesota has ever seen. Wife Kaye and Don enjoyed trips to Spain and England, cruising through Alaska, a European river cruise, and wintering in Arizona. Don’s greatest joys in life were his family, honey, boating, fishing in Canada, coaching softball, and the many dogs he had through the years — Doc, Sparky, Penny, Pumpkin, Rusty, and Teddy.

Don is preceded in death by his parents Melford and Edith Olson and brother Eugene Olson. Don is survived by his brother Roger; loving and steadfast wife Kaye; four children: Corinne (Denny) Daily, Tammy (Jamie) Thingelstad, Angie (Max) Lundeen, and Michelle (Hector) Fernandez; nine grandchildren: Mazie, Nora, Tyler, Levi, Elsa, Lucas, Stella, Axel, Ezra; and his dog Teddy.

Visitation will be held on February 8, 2024 from 4-7 pm at Washburn-McReavy Glen Haven Chapel in Crystal (5125 West Broadway, Crystal, MN) with a time to share memories at 6pm. Memorial service will take place on Friday, February 9 at 11am at the Grace Church Chapel (9301 Eden Prairie Road, Eden Prairie, MN). Lunch reception to follow. Memorial donations to Village Schools of the Bible, Grace Church, and University of Minnesota Bee Lab.

My sister-in-law Angie Lundeen created this video for the memorial service.

It just dawned on me that one of my favorite drinks and favorite donuts have the same name: Old Fashioned. 🤷‍♂️

360 video from the #TeamSPS 2024 Social!

Exciting morning — warming up my fingers to get the Apple Vision Pro ordered!

✅ Pre-order complete with pickup scheduled at Apple Store on Friday, February 2nd. Purchase process with face scanning via the iPhone was simple and easy. Ordered the 512 GB storage option along with the travel case.

Excited to be at Timberwolves v Grizzlies game! 🏀

I’ve been finding micro.blog a bit noisy lately. I was contemplating what to do about it and then I remembered that there is an option to “Show posts but no replies” for the timeline. I switched to that and am finding it much more relaxing again.

Interview with 612 Series creator Erik Halaas

In October 2022 I found the 612 Series by Erik Halaas. This NFT collection resonated with me as a Minneapolis resident. I knew nearly all the landmarks and had fond memories of many of them. I decided to purchase five of them, which turned out to just be the start. I also shared the collection with others and even sent one as a gift. Eventually I acquired a complete set of the landmarks and got to know Erik, the creator of the 612 Series and StayNftyMpls. Erik even agreed to donate a collection for Minnestar to give away in a POAP drawing at Minnebar 17.

I had some questions about the 612 Series so I asked Erik if he would be up to do an interview to dive a little deeper. He was happy to, so here we go!

Q: What was your inspiration to create the 612 Series?

A close friend of mine extended a loose invitation to an art opening in NYC in the fall of 2021. Being cooped up in the midst of the pandemic, I was itching for an adventure and didn’t need much of an excuse to hit the road. I loosely heard of art “on-chain” and the growing energy around NFTs but knew nothing of the artist, Jeff Davis co-founder and Chief Creative Officer at Art Blocks, or the folks orchestrating the show, Bright Moments a DAO curating, promoting, and producing unforgettable physical showcases centered on creating art live, on-chain, in real life.

NYC would be the 2nd stop on their 10 city journey around the world, an effort to build a thriving community of “CryptoCitizens.” At face value, it was a growing collection of simple and silly pixelated characters but there was something more there. Folks were having powerful shared experiences in person (this meant a lot in 2021), being exposed to seasoned and often unsung artists, and learning together by exploring uncharted territory (e.g. crypto, NFTs, generative art).

Long story short, I left NYC with a strong desire to replicate this energy back home — to dust off my long-dormant creativity quelled by kids and full-time work; to build community with fellow creatives, curators, and collectors; to explore this new world of digital art, NFTs, and the value of content on-chain; but to do it in a way that was specific to my home, Minneapolis. As we waited for the plane, we were talking about the immense pride folks have in the city of Minneapolis and how we might capture it. We joked about “the 612” and something clicked…

What if I made 612 Minneapolis characters? Unique snapshots? Landmarks? What if we leaned into the pixelated energy of the era and confined the creation of each landmark to only being 612 pixels?!

The project was born from there.

Q: How did you pick the landmarks to include? Do you have a favorite?

The first was the Witches Tower — a favorite landmark from my childhood growing up in Prospect Park and one of the most beloved block prints I created years ago. I had played around with a pixelated version of the tower before the NYC happenings. With all that in mind, it is probably one of my favorite 612 Series landmarks.

From the Tower, the landmarks were essentially pulled from personal or shared Minneapolis memories. The city skyline, favorite parks or lakes, iconic bridges, memorable events, concerts, or shows. Whether historic Minneapolis landmarks or simply places I had visited and revisited with family and friends at various points throughout my life, these were all places etched in my memory as representative of home. I thought about crowdsourcing folks for key landmarks but the following for the project just wasn’t there.

A couple of fun notes…

  • There are a few of my son’s pieces mixed into the series titled “Little Man Specials.” This was a nod to those parents out there fighting to keep the creative spirit alive. He was captivated by the project and inspired to start plugging away on his own versions.
  • I also had some heavy hitters that didn’t quite make the cut… Matt’s, CC Club, Electric Fetus. I can’t remember why exactly they weren’t included. I felt a sense of pressure to get the work out there and be one of the first Minneapolis inspired collections on-chain.
  • While there was beauty in the limitations of the 612 pixels, there were also some challenges in getting the landmark at the right scale / perspective.

Either way… there are definitely some could’a, should’a, would’a landmarks out there.

612 Series Landmarks: Minneapolis Institute of Art, Guthrie Theatre, Lowry Ave Bridge, Stone Arch Bridge, The Walker, Witches Tower, Cherry and Spoon, I-35W Bridge, Hennepin Ave Bridge, Lake Harriet, Lake of the Isles, Minnehaha Falls, Basilica of Saint Mary, Bde Maka Ska, Lake Hiawatha, Lake Nokomis, Washington Avenue Bridge, Martin Olav Sabo Bridge, Campbell Mithun Tower, First Ave, Capella Tower, Foshay Tower, Gold Medal Building, Goldy Gopher, Grain Belt Sign, IDS Tower, Midtown Global Market, Northrup Chair, Riverside Plaza, Target Headquarters, Wells Fargo Center, Al’s Breakfast, and The Kid’s House from Purple Rain.

Q: What software and tools did you use to create the series?

Funny enough, the work was all created in Excel. As someone who has traditionally worked with relief block printing as a creative outlet the switch to digital was a stretch and, thanks to work, Excel offered a familiar toolkit. I had also heard of other artists using excel for their work — be it code-based generative art or simply documenting cross-stitch patterns.

I decided to put the project on the Ethereum blockchain because it was something I was familiar with given Bright Moments and ArtBlocks use, and OpenSea, which operates on Ethereum, was growing in popularity at the time, offered a no-code entryway to the market, and supported “lazy minting” which allowed me to put the collection up at no cost by deferring the gas fees associated with minting the piece to the buyer (“minting” is the process of officially writing the piece onto the blockchain).

Q: What plans or ideas do you have to bring the 612 Series beyond pixels? You’ve done some paintings?

I worked with a group of folks a little over a year ago to explore the interplay between digital and physical work. We hosted a dozen local creatives, half of which had a presence on-chain and the other half with no experience with NFTs, crypto, web3, whatsoever. The end result was a curated experience weaving traditional 2D and 3D mediums in with a variety of tech forward, digitally inspired content at the Hewing Hotel gallery. You can learn about the artists and get a flashback via this collection of Instagram Stories. It was a blast!

To highlight the 612 Series, I shared the initial relief block print of the Witches Tower that inspired the imagery for the series alongside an Infinite Object frame displaying a variety of the 612 Series Witches Tower NFTs. The show actually motivated me to revisit the original block printing method but reimagine the landmark in its pixelated form. I have gone on to create a few more of the landmarks in both the original and pixelated block print form (including one for you!) and would love to continue exploring how the pieces can be reimagined in the physical.

Q: If you fast forward a decade how would you like the 612 Series to be thought of?

I took great pride in being the first Minneapolis-centric NFT collection. Part of the importance of that to me was experimenting with blockchain technology and the capacity to track the work over time. Putting the pieces on chain memorialized this moment of creative inspiration and will allow me to track how interest and engagement with the collection grows, changes hands, ebbs and flows, is valued, etc. I know, for example, the exact moment that first piece moved and will know if, when, and loosely to whom that piece is handed off to down the line.

I would love to see this added narrative behind the original work build beyond simply documenting transactions — perhaps a way for holders to document and share the stories, memories, experiences that connected them to each of the landmarks they own. There was some of that starting to take place on social media.

Ultimately, these softer social interactions were the real impetus behind the project: to build community and spark creativity. This has been realized through “in real life” experiences like the show at the Hewing Hotel, collaborations with you at Minnebar 2023, connections with MN Blockchain, and so on.

My hope is that the project will continue to inspire local folks with a shared interest in the arts, technology, and community to connect, collaborate, and create locally!

A big thank you to Erik for creating this series and for sharing more about it. I wonder if we will ever see a 2nd collection of the 612 Series with a new set of landmarks? Or maybe some ability to work with Erik and create a special 1 of 1 for a set of unique landmarks in the 612 Series. How cool would it be in fifty years to see bronze plaques setup at the various landmarks highlighting these early NFTs that commemorate that spot.

Want to own a piece of this collection? There are still many 612 Series collectibles available to buy! 🛍️

To connect with Erik you can find @ErikHalaas on X, his LinkedIn profile, or via StayNftyMpls.

Wallet of Satoshi Stops Serving US Customers

It was about a year ago that I made my first purchase with Bitcoin Lightning. It was a tasty cappuccino from a vendor at Bitcoin Miami. I had read about Lightning but hadn’t had an opportunity to use it before. I was blown away by how fast and easy it was to do realtime, peer-to-peer transactions. The first Bitcoin Lightning wallet I used was Wallet of Satoshi.

I’ve continued to use Bitcoin Lightning. Unfortunately not for payment of goods. But my son has a Lightning wallet and we exchange funds with Lightning regularly. I’ve also onboarded at least 20 different people to Bitcoin by having them install Wallet of Satoshi, and then I put 1,000 sats (Satoshis, or 1/100,000,000 of a Bitcoin) in their wallet. It is simple, fast, and an eye opening experience.

All of this is to say that I was sad to hear about a month ago that Wallet of Satoshi is not going to operate in the United States anymore.

Here is an excerpt from their post on Nostr:

We’ve dedicated ourselves to providing the best Bitcoin experience with Wallet of Satoshi, being at the forefront of Lightning usability and adoption. However, we’ve made the difficult decision to remove our app from the U.S. Apple and Google app stores, and will not serve U.S. customers going forward.

They aren’t specific about why they are doing this. I suspect it likely has to do with Know Your Customer requirements. Wallet of Satoshi doesn’t require anything. You can just install it, receive funds, and send funds. It is super simple.

Since they are not allowing transfers into US accounts I sent all my sats from Wallet of Satoshi to my Strike account, via Lightning of course. It was fast and free. No worries. I’m going to keep Wallet of Satoshi installed and hope that someday in the future I can again start using my favorite Lightning wallet. ⚡️