All posts by qrdl@juno.com

Internet ages

The internet is aging again.  “All of this has happened before and it will all happen again.” (as heard in http://lyrics.wikia.com/wiki/Information_Society:Seek_200) Some of the previous ages have been the shift from MySpace to Facebook or from custom web sites to blogs.

What I’m noticing in the last year or so is that sites I used to read regularly are slowly losing out. Some to larger aggregation sites, some to life. This week there were a pair of posts on FBTB.net from two of the authors about why they haven’t been posting lately. At least they aren’t quiting completely, like how reallifecomics.com or candyblog.net just went quiet a year or so ago.

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Review – Sonic Pi

Been a while since I posted anything, so here is a quick one.

I finally got the notion to try out Sonic Pi. I was hoping it would be something I could get my two oldest kids in to so they would do some coding and make some music. But I struggled with the interface and language. I was wishing it was more like Scratch. Music is more visual to me, and notation with bars and notes is much better in my mind than three lines of non-intuitive text. Continue reading

Article link – building a career in open source

https://opensource.com/business/16/8/building-career-open-source?imm_mid=0e6b3c&cmp=em-prog-na-na-newsltr_20160813

The bit about imposter syndrome was interesting. I definitely feel insecure in my work at times because I see all the flaws and feel my limitations. But that is often an illusion, and working with a good manager helps that by giving positive feedback on what you are doing right.

The comments about networking and reaching out are also good points for most software engineers to be reminded of.

Mixed business

Work has been keeping me busy, plus life, plus side projects, so this blog has suffered.  But as this week the mega corporation I work for is into phase 4 of the secret plan to grind itself into pieces, I’m considering what things I need to do to be ready for the many changes ahead.

I have been keeping somewhat busy with little things.  Unfortunately I got distracted from the python/pygame program I’d been doing.  But I did pick up 5 nano sized Arduino knockoff microcontrollers from China along with various bits and a 50 piece sleeve of 555 timer chips.  So I’m dabbling in hardware more now.  Which means robotics (using steppers and servos), blinky light arrays, and ‘musical’ instruments.  So I may have to expand my “pi” category to include Arduino also.

I even poked at Khan Academy today, while waiting for a 6+ hour install.  Their algorithms course leaves a lot to be desired. The nerds from Dartmouth who wrote it expect you to have taken a Calculus course in the last week.  Doesn’t help that I was sick that week in high school when we did logarithms so I’ve always had a weak spot there. I had to use a graphing calculator to visualize that log base 2 of (17 raised to the log base 2 n) is the same as log base 2 of (n raised to the log base 2 17).  I’ll have to play around more and see if it gets any better.

Security integration

I’m working on a security story that has drug on for close to 6 weeks now.  It is the result of an early decision to turn off TLS because the mechanism for setting up the certificates wasn’t ready and just turn it back on later.  Yeah, that never goes well. (This decision happened before I came into the team, so I won’t point fingers.)

I’ve finally come to a small epiphany about security.  We talk a lot about security algorithms and strength and attack vectors and vulnerability surfaces.  But the math and analysis parts of security seem like much more straight forward problems.  There are lots of great tools for those things that should be used.  The _real_ challenge to security is integration.  Getting the certificates in the right places.  Turning on those little configuration switches in all the right files.  Specifying the right ports and routing traffic through firewalls and load balancers and TLS terminators.  That seems to be where the practical complexity lies.

Maybe some day I’ll have an epiphany about how to make that happen more smoothly. 😉

Teleworking can be a good thing

I have had a couple conversations where the topic of my work arrangement has come up. I still keep in mind this article. http://martinfowler.com/articles/remote-or-co-located.html
Effectively, I think having a good manager who knows the team and how well they are working is key. Having team members who have integrity and want to get the job right helps, and pair that up with good remote-worker skills and tools and you can be successful anywhere.
Of course there are some jobs where you need to be with the equipment, but if you are writing software that often isn’t the case.

Article link – 9 predictions

First, the link.
http://www.infoworld.com/article/3022874/application-development/9-predictions-for-the-future-of-programming.html?imm_mid=0df53e&cmp=em-prog-na-na-newsltr_20160123

This was an interesting enough link, and since most of the predictions are easy enough to see, may have a good chance of happening.

I think I especially agree with the ‘teach the world to code’ assessment.  I like that more people are exposed to code because it makes us full time programmers look good. 😉

Yeah, this is just a quick post to get the blog back on my radar after the holidays.

Pi and RCX – step 1

My boss and I were talking about Raspberry Pi (he is buying one) and LEGO Mindstorms this week. We were both wondering if there was an easy way to connect the Mindstorms peripherals to the Pi.  A quick Google search tells me that the LEGO motors are 9 volt, so no.  But I did find a blog post that got me going using the RCX brick and programming it from the Pi.
https://minordiscoveries.wordpress.com/2014/01/20/using-nqc-on-a-raspberry-pi-to-program-a-lego-mindstorms-rcx-brick
I got pretty far, but it didn’t respond to the raw command.  I did skip loading the firmware on my RCX 2.0 because I’m paranoid it might be an irreversible step.  But that is probably why it didn’t work, so I’m going to do some more research