We had a lovely Hardware Meetup at c4di today. We were a bit worried about having one so close to Christmas, but in the end enough folks turned up (hi Rob!) to make it more than worth the effort.
One person that turned up has been making great progress working with his Hull Pixelbot. Each time we get together we solve a few problems, discover a few more and more forwards. Today we were talking about potential dividers. Great run.
As we left I made a strong recommendation to him. Start a diary. He's having lots of great ideas and building things, but having the standard "mad inventor" problem of remembering what he's done, what happened and where he's put the program files. A diary would solve all that.
I suggested that a great Christmas present would be a nice "page a day" diary, which can be used to record ideas and experiments. I keep a diary. If I do something interesting I write down what I did and what happened, along with links to any resources that I used. Mine is electronic, an ever growing Word document, but I sometimes think a paper one would be nice too. There's something much more "real" about a physical artefact that you update. It's also much easier to work on and add diagrams and other stuff as you go along. Proper engineers take pride in their log books that they use to record what they did. These are a fantastically useful resource if someone ever asks "Why did you do it that way?" because you can go back to the day that the design decisions were made and explain exactly what drove the decision.
Writing a diary is also a great way to practice your writing skills, and you might even find that some of your diary entries become blog posts (I've done this before too).