May 4th, 2018
Today I received a note from our local recycling company that they can no longer take any plastics except for washed milk jugs. Even the many kinds of hard plastic that claim to be fully recyclable they are unable to take. They say it's because of the international recycling crisis currently affecting the world. I'm a curious fellow, so I did some reading.
React Native Tips
May 3rd, 2018
Following Blair MacIntyre's lead, I've accepted that the only way to write more is to write more. No more waiting for the perfect topic at the perfect time with perfect editing. It's better to publish something unpolished than to not publish at all.
Ongoing Revenue: How to build a new smartphone platform
April 25th, 2018
Yesterday I ran across a post on Hacker News about a new phone. From the website it appears to be a brand new OS with features to help you keep focused and clear away the distractions. While the site was pretty, the lack of good UI screenshots was a red flag. What did this OS look like? How can a new OS possibly be built by a small company and be any good?
Why don't we have Wayland yet?!
March 26th, 2018
Or: The state of Linux Graphics with Raspberry Pi and Rust
I have long wanted to create my own desktop operating system targeting the Raspberry Pi. I believe we should have a hackable desktop environment that is both powerful and lightweight, similar to BeOS and the Amiga. To build this desktop we really need full control over how apps draw to the screen, but still have hardware acceleration. That means we'll need to use real graphics drivers and real graphics APIs from existing Linux desktops. When I last looked at all things Linux graphics five years ago everything was a mess but with some promising signs. Over the past couple of days I've been researching the current state. Here is my report, with both good and bad news.
2017 Retrospective and a Ponderous List of Things Which Are Yet To Come
January 20th, 2018
A question for the ages.
Is there anything which uses the word nog that is not eggnog? Are there other types of nog? Where did the word even come from? Is it derived from grog or something else? And is there any connection with nogging?
Ideal OS: Rebooting the Desktop Operating System Experience
August 18th, 2017
Twitter user ekse has graciously translated this blog to Chinese. Thanks! TL;DR: By the end of this essay I hope to convince you of the following facts. First, that modern desktop operating systems are anything but. They are bloated, slow, and layered with legacy cruft that still functions only thanks to Moore's Law. Second, that innovation in desktop operating systems stopped about 15 years ago and the major players are unlikely to heavily invest in them again. And finally, I hope to convince you that we can and should start over from scratch, learning the lessons of the past.
July 24th, 2017
Five Reasons Why You Should Hire an Old Programmer
July 2nd, 2017
You should hire an old programmer. It’s true! Sure.. older programmers are not going to work as many hours as someone fresh out of college. They have kids and spouses and mortgages and softball games to attend. They won't hang out at the office playing Xbox and ping-pong all night. They will not work 80 hour weeks and they will actually use their vacation time. And of course they cost more than young programmers. Despite all of those reasons not to hire an older programmer, you still should. For one simple reason: they are worth it. I know this, because I am one.
Introducing Pixel Eater
June 28th, 2017
I'm happy to introduce you to PixelEater, a web-based pixel drawing tool with support for layers, resizing, the NES color palette and downloading images with integer scaling. Try it out here. The source is on github here.
Selling my Arduino Stuff
June 14th, 2017
This post is for my friends who live in Oregon.
Introducing The Ministry of Silly Things
June 13th, 2017
I have long had the dream of an open source repository of structured data. The data is already out there, but not in computable form. You can find the average weight of a tiger, but graphing 10 mammals weight vs max age requires a lot of manual work. We need a single place to go.We need a collaborative place to suggest, edit, and curate this data. A place where anyone can freely find, remix, and contribute new data items and data sets. Sort of a Wikipedia for data. That's the dream anyway.
The History of Developer Evangelism
June 6th, 2017
This essay is adapted from a talk I did in 2016 at DevRelCon. This is a topic I've wanted to talk about for a while. Sometimes I feel like the old guy from Up. Not only am I old and crotchety and my back doesn't work as well as it used to, but I feel like all of these young kids are getting into the field and they don't know the history of Developer Evangelism. But then I realized, I don't know the history of it either. I just sort of fell into developer evangelism from engineering. I didn't go to school for this. I got a computer science degree and spent many years as a coder and engineer. I came into this field by accident, as I assume many other people have as well. When I joined Sun Microsystems in 2005 I didn't mind speaking on stage about technical topics, so boom.. I became the developer evangelist for my team. So now I'm thrilled to be able to actually talk about the history of our field.
I am worried about AI, but not for the reason you think
May 30th, 2017
True high level Artificial Intelligence, the kind we read about in novels and hear crazy stories about from futurists, won't be like the movies. There won't be a Her that we fall in love with. There won't be a HAL 9000 who turns against us. When we finally build a true self-learning AI, it won't be anything at all like a human intelligence. This shouldn't be a surprise. We have half a century of results to show this is true.
Hire Me to Speak or Consult
April 2nd, 2017
With over a decade of professional speaking experience, I regularly speak at a number of conferences each year. Recently I have spoken on Developer Evangelism, React, the Realtime Web, and chatbot development. If your company or event could benefit from learning about these or other interesting topics, drop me a line.
On Uber, Gardens, and Why Corporate Culture Matters
February 21st, 2017
I’m mad this morning. I just read an article by a woman who spent a year at Uber facing sexual harassment. She had great courage to bring it up with HR multiple times, saw nothing was done as the situation got worse with a repeat offender, and finally quit to join a less offensive company. This is not an isolated incident. Uber has a corporate culture which enables this kind of behavior.
NES Classic Review
January 11th, 2017
I received an NES Classic for Christmas from my wife and son, and I must say I really enjoy it. I do have a few questions, but first the product. The Classic is great. It does what it says on the tin: 30 classic games with near perfect emulation. So perfect that people have already hacked it to upload new ROM images for games through the USB port. At first I thought the CRT mode was a novelty, but it really does make the games feel more like how I remembered them as a child. When I switch back to 'perfect' mode, the graphic feel too blocky. Yes, the controller cord is way too short, but it's really a lot of fun for 60$, assuming you enjoyed playing those old games and can actually find one. I was super lucky that my wife's friend stood in line at ToysRUs for hours to get a Hatchimal, and picked up an NES for my wife to give me for christmas.
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.