Welcome to the official website of Phil Howlett (philbywhizz or the whizz).
I try and keep my professional and personal life separate, so if you want to see my professional profile head over to linkedin.
This site contains my own personal thoughts, ideas, hobbies, and generally what I do for fun and am happy to share it with the wide world.
If you want to see my current thoughts, discoveries and things I’m currently working on right now then head over and read the latest posts. If you want to browse the entire list of posts then it might be easier to just browse the archives or search for things instead. For longer term projects, ideas and activities I have them summarized on my projects pages.
I have far too many hobbies, and I am a man of many talents. Here is a ‘short’ list of some of them.
Astronomy and Astrophotography
My wife bought me a telescope for Christmas back in 2017. It is a Saxon 102mm refractor with a focal length of 660mm. I’ve even taking it on a few camping trips to get into some dark skies. I just love using it and I am hoping to update some of the gear (like a tracking mount to take better pictures) in the future.
My first computer was a Commodore64 back in in 1986, back when you had to wait 30 minutes to load up a game on a cassette tape. Currently I hate playing the twitchy FPS multiplayer style games (I don’t mind playing mindcraft though). I’m now more of a strategy and solo game player that requires a bit of thinking and planning. My current favorite games are Factorio and Stellaris. I think playing computer games are a nice distraction to the events of the world today.
While playing computer games is fun, I want to know how they worked. So I’ve been programming since the late 1980s. Starting with BASIC, and 6502 assembly on the Commodore64 to far more modern programming and scripting languages (too many to list). Recently I’ve been playing around with the forth programming language on microcontrollers and other embedded systems.
I am a big fan of open source projects. I don’t do much contributing as much I would like to these days (compared to back when I was contributing to the OSX port of pioneer space sim). Feel free to checkout all my public repositories hosted on github
3D and 3D Printing
While I like coding on open source software, I also like using it. I’ve been playing around with blender for a few years now. It is such a powerful program. This year (2021) I also bought a 3d-printer (Ender 3v2) and have started experimenting it with some objects downloaded from thingiverse.
Recently I’ve been getting back into electronics. I tend to play around with mostly digital electronics, microcontrollers and digital logic devices and stay below the 30v range. It’s fun to play around with these simple devices and they have a bit of a retro feel to them. I’ve even started designing my own z80 based computer - the Whizz80.
I’ve been playing the piano since I was 10 years old. I had a 100 year old upright grand piano (Australian Beale) which I donated to a local nursing home in 2018. To replace it I bought a digital piano (Kawai CA78) with has really enhanced my playing.