The truth is that 2011 wasn't lost entirely. Aside from the usual things like eating, sleeping and working to pay the bills, I also found the time to make a set of digital dimmers for a pair of Ikea LED spotlights, and built another desk with my elder son. Oh, and fitted about 6 metres of under-cabinet LEDs in our newly-refitted kitchen. (Did I mention like I like LEDs?)
LED spotlight dimmers
The dimmers were built partly out of need (the 3W spotlights are far too bright for my delicate eyes), but mostly as an excuse to learn about driving mosfets with a microcontroller and using rotary encoders.
The result is a little box that's fixed to the back of our bed headboard, with two controls on top that push to toggle the lights on/off, and rotate with a nice click feel to set the light level to one of 16 levels of brightness.
The LEDs give out a surprising amount of light at the lowest brightness level with only ~1.5ma passing through them.
My elder son built himself a PC early last year, and squeezed it onto an old computer trolley that I used as a teenager, but with a graphics tablet and various other peripherals added it was getting too crowded.
He liked the idea of building a custom-made desk, so we bought him the materials for his birthday, and we built it together, using the same techniques I'd used for my desk but with a different design to meet his requirements.
Pretty good eh?