Side Projects Pt. 1: The Color Wheel of Life

Posted: August 16, 4:44pm

This week I hope to write a few articles detailing some of the side projects I’ve worked on in the past few years. To be perfectly honest, I think side projects are the spice of life. They keep life interesting. Don’t get me wrong – I love my PhD and I love research, but one of the best things about being in a field related to computer programming is the ability to build small projects on the side.

It’s something that can be added to my portfolio for when I get a job (someday… haha). Something tangible that I can show to people and say “I made this.” When you work on long-term research projects and have goals measured in years (sometimes even decades) the fruit of labor is delayed. So this past weekend I decided to build a web app for a tool that I’ve wanted to use ever since I first saw a chart of our how creative people in history (think Picasso, Benjamin Franklin, etc) spend a typical day.

Color Wheel of Life

The web app is wheel that a user can log how they spend the hours of the day. The app can found here. I had read an article (linked on the app’s page) that detailed the routines of “the creatives” – and remarked how different those routines can be. We tend to think that certain traits are inherently “better” like arising early for example. But I was pleased to learn that there are plenty of successful and creative night owls out there.

When I saw this article I immediately thought it would make a good app. It would be fun to draw your color wheel in real time, wouldn’t it? So I set out to build it. But first things first: I had to give it a ridiculous name: “The Color Wheel of Life.” Hey, life is too short not to be dramatic.



Why did I do this? One of my goals is to improve my coding skills. For this particular project, I use a lot of javascript and a library called d3.js. It’s a popular visualization library that is widely used in industry and academics. It’s a useful skill to learn. But why not learn it while simultaneously building something I genuinely think is cool. Maybe you’ll find it useful or fun too, and double my pleasure! Check it out!