Hello, this is the (optional.is) quarterly newsletter. Mostly the thoughts of Brian Suda.

02023Q4 REYKJAVIK: We've passed the equinox and now every day is getting rapidly shorter! We're in that last quarter heading towards the end of the year. Luckily, we have projects lined up and the rest of the year should be an adventure.

First Martian Picture

The hand-colored version of the Mariner 4 image. Located at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. (Dan Goods/NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The Mariner 4 was launched on November 28, 01964 on a 7½-month voyage to survey Mars. It performed the first successful flyby of the planet on July 14 and 15, 01965. These were the first images of another planet ever returned from deep space.

Mariner 4 took 21 images of the planet (plus an unusable 22nd). Each photograph took approximately six hours to transmit back to Earth. The total data returned by the mission was 5.2 million bits (about 634 kB).

While the NASA team waited for the data to be digitized into images, they printed each pixel value and started to color them in by hand to confirm the data was making sense. This was the first image from Mars.

Q3 Writing

We published two articles, six weeknotes and three newsletters in Q3.

NeXT Sounds

NFC Business Cards

🗓 Weeknotes: https://optional.is/required/category/weeknotes

⪮ Good Morning newsletter

s02e07: Paper & Printing

s02e08: Smoke & Mirrors

s02e09: Seasons to Sin Waves to Sound Shapes to Songs

📰 Newsletter archive: https://optional.is/newsletter/

Introducing Adventure Mazes

Adventure mazes are a new type of puzzle - it's one part traditional maze, one part Pac-Man, and one part choose-your-own-adventure-story. Create your own side quests, collect prizes, and avoid obstacles before finding the exit.

Our long-running maze project graduated!

We are experimenting with print-on-demand maze books. Our first is a $10 holiday stocking stuffer. 24 mazes, one per day, leading up to Christmas.

Available on Amazon

We've created a separate adventure maze mailing list. If you're interested in what we're up to with mazes, check it out. Each month we'll send out a new, unique, free printable maze.

If the holiday stocking suffers go well over the next few months, we're looking forward to Adventure Mazes growing into a complete line of books with recurring characters, varying difficulty levels, and of course, more adventures.

🧙🌽 https://adventure-mazes.com

For Type-A people

Two quarterly calendar sheets folded into 4 columns spanning the end of 2023 and the start of 02024.

I know there are three months left of the year, but if you're like us, you need to have a 02024 calendar on hand for scheduling!

📅 We gotcha 👍🏻 covered.

Along with our giant A-series annual wall calendars, we also generate A4 quarterly calendars. This is how we plan out our publishing schedule, holiday and travel days, VAT returns and more.

The printable calendars and source code are available on GitHub.

A0 Calendar: https://github.com/optional-is/calendaring/blob/master/A0-Yearly/02024-Misseristal-A0.pdf

A4 Quarterly Calendar: https://raw.githubusercontent.com/optional-is/calendaring/master/A4-Quarterly/02024.svg

Stay 📦 organized and stay 🤪 sane.

🏢 🕰 Office Hours

Over the last year, we’ve made use of people’s gracious open office hours. We’ve booked sessions with people we admire and had some amazing and informative chats.

Our open office hours are:

Hopefully, we’ll be able to reconnect with more old friends, meet new folks, and have more interesting and engaging conversations.

🗓 Book a time to chat


Print ready A0 annual wall calendar PDF. An open-source project to download and print at a local print shop yourself. Get organized and start planning.

Adventure Mazes! You can now order paperback books of our mazes. Join our monthly maze mailing list and enjoy the side quests.

Triagemail: Get unread email under control. An iOS app to check any email account. With only 4 options, get through all your unread email fast so you never miss anything important. $1.99 on the App Store.

Designing with Data eBooks. If you need to tell your story using data, pick up these books today. Now pay what you want for epub, mobi, pdf.

Good Morning

We publish a second newsletter. Monthly episodes, 4 links, all interesting stuff, no self-promotion.

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