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.
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.