Every winter I look out at our icy, snow-covered patio and think, “Next summer I should spend time out on the patio!” But once a windy, chilly spring turns into a hot muggy summer, I don’t actually get out nearly as often as I might. This morning though, it was warm in the early morning, giving me a chance to get out while there was still lots of shade. (I have since pulled most of the weeds visible in the graveled areas.)

I have long imagined a DIY project for a self-adjusting sundial. You put it down on any flat surface and it uses a magnetometer and a small motor to find north and orient itself correctly, and then uses a GPS and another small motor find the latitude and set the angle of the gnomon.