Lego Technic Guide v2
November 15th, 2016
Master Builder, Paweł “Sariel” Kmiec, has written several Lego books, but this one has to be my favorite. I reviewed the first edition of the Lego Technic Builder's Guide nearly four years ago, and I can say I'm very happy with the new second edition update. It keeps everything that made the first edition good: a comprehensive look at Technic Lego pieces while secretly giving you a course in mechanical engineering. The second edition not only adds more models and diagrams, but also four new chapters on wheels, planetary gearing, 3D printing, and the RC system. Speaking of which, why did Lego discontinue that? I'd love an RC Lego car.
Geeky Lego Crafts
October 5th, 2016
Finally No Starch Press has made the LEGO book I've been waiting for. Geeky Lego Crafts: 21 Fun and Quirky Projects by David Scarfe is the perfect LEGO book for kids and adults. This nicely hardbound book covers a bunch of silly crafts from the decorative: ghosts, ducks, and Tetris kitchen magnets, to amusingly useful: floppy disk coasters, a key shaped key chain rack, and a flame shaped toast holder, among other quirky items. The photos are nice and the instructions are very clear.
LEGO Christmas Ornaments Book
September 14th, 2016
No Starch Press’ latest LEGO book is adorable. The LEGO Christmas Ornaments Book by Chris McVeigh contains 15 Christmas themed models in two groups. The design of the geometric hanging ornaments is really inspired. The second half has instructions for several micro-objects, like an old-school arcade machine, an tiny desktop PC, and a SLR style camera. Adorable.
Why I'm No Longer a Republican
August 5th, 2016
It's true. It finally happened. I left the Republican Party. While I’ve voted independent or democratic for the past few elections I’ve maintained my Republican Party affiliation for the local elections. That all ended a month ago when I officially changed my party to Democrat. This blog is my attempt to explain why.
I'm coming to New York and I want to speak for you!
July 21st, 2016
I'm on a panel at the RealTime Web Solutions conference in NYC on the 3rd of August. I had planned to speak at some other events both those have fallen through. However, I'm still coming to New York, so now's your chance to meet me, pick my brain, or have me speak at your event/company/meetup for free. I'll be in NYC from the morning of Tuesday August 2nd, through the afternoon of Friday August 5th.
Pokémon Go: Why and Why Now?
July 19th, 2016
Wandering through campus we saw them everywhere. In small groups of two or three they walked slowly. Looking around. Pausing every few seconds to check their phones, then moving on a few more steps. Walk, check, walk, check. The mild summer weather and warm evening brought them out in larger numbers, so I wondered how many would come out to play in the rainy winter six months from now. Of course, it might not even still be a thing then. After all, it wasn’t a thing two weeks ago.
Everything must go!
July 16th, 2016
I’m cleaning out my office and I have a ton of stuff, free to whoever wants to come pick it up. Everything that’s not gone by Sunday night will be taken to NextStep.
Tiny Lego Wonders
July 15th, 2016
No Starch Press just sent me a new book in their ongoing Lego series called Tiny Lego Wonders: Build 40 Surprisingly Realistic Mini-Models. This book covers building tiny but highly detailed models of vehicles. Their design is clever and the finished models are adorable. Most importantly this isn't just a photobook. Each model comes with complete building instructions.
Programming Beyond Text: the Parsing Problem
June 13th, 2016
I’ve written many times about how programming is being held back by storing our code as ASCII text. My efforts garnered a dim reception. As strong as the arguments for other storage formats may be, text works extremely well with existing tools. Leaving text behind means leaving an entire ecosystem of practice and tooling, thus we are stuck in a local maxima.
Solving the NPM Problem at Scale
March 24th, 2016
If you haven’t heard, Azer Koculu unpublished a bunch of his modules as protest against behavior by the company that backs NPM. This crashed the NPM ecosystem with hundreds of popular project suddenly unable to build. Now there’s lots of talk about what to do. PGP signatures? Always pinning? Permacaching with IPFS? I think Azer's goal was achieved. We are now actually talking about how brittle the system. The conversation is happening. This is good.
Nine Months with Apple Watch
March 6th, 2016
Well, it's been nine months with Apple Watch and I still don't have a use for it. After the release of watchOS 2.0 I thought that it would be a more functional device. Alas that belief was missplaced. While there is still potential in the device category, Watch is the closest thing to a dud Apple has ever released.
Gwen Has A Mission and She Needs Your Help
February 15th, 2016
Our dear friend Gwen Fiedler is blessed with the gift to share the word of God, and now she needs your help.
Update to Razzmaster
January 18th, 2016
Thanks to a few nights of sleeplessness I've made some updates to RazzMaster, a command line tool for remotely configuring Raspberry Pis.
The Manga Guide to Physiology
January 11th, 2016
When I first picked up this book I thought it was for kids; similar to No Starch Press’ other comic science series: Survive! Inside the Human Body. I was completely wrong. This is real physiology at the high school to early college level. I’ve learned quite a bit by reading through the book, and I’m a 40 year old engineer who reads constantly.
Call for a Data Bill of Rights
October 8th, 2015
Early open source pioneer Brian Behlendorf famously said, "the most important requirement [in open source] is the right to fork.” He wisely observed that the right to fork source code generally ensured it never actually be done. The mere threat of forking creates an incentive driving good behavior. Most open source communities are able to self-police well enough that true forking is a rarity.
The Hubbub About PubNub
September 26th, 2015
PubNub is a startup in San Francisco that provides a Real Time Data Stream Network as a service. This is a relatively new concept so the easiest way I can explain it is by comparing it to a CDN.
On JetBrains Move to Subscriptions
September 8th, 2015
SE: A New Rich Text Editor for the Web
August 24th, 2015
Semantic-Editor-JS (hereafter called SE), is a new open source library for building rich text editors. You can play with the demo or get the code on Github.
Reflections Upon Turning 40
August 17th, 2015
Or: Now I Know Why Old Men Drink Scotch
When is it okay to duplicate another open source project?
August 17th, 2015
The last few weeks I've been working on a new web-based rich text editor. It’s a semantic editor, or “What You See Is What You Mean” (WYSIWYM). You edit using styles you define then import or export to whatever you need. Following cues from Medium and others on the perils of content-editable, I stopped relying on the browser to store the model. Instead I built an internally consistent model that only uses the DOM for handling input and pastes. This approach makes the editor robust, flexible, and very easy to customize.