Summer trip 2015 is in the books!

Little Si Hike

Just a little hike up Little Si. With some photographs for fun.

A Name: PressMate!

My mobile blogging app (which is still being written) has a name!


I like it.

It started off life as BlogMobile. The problem is that it’s hard to monetize something just like blogging. But once I opened up what I was thinking to something more akin to traditional new reporting, I think I might have a winner on my hands. It also keeps the “Press” from WordPress to try to keep things back at where I started.

Domain name: Purchased. Ok, this is cheap… but regardless, I have something to rightly aim at.

Now, to get V1 out the door. Ok, step one: get V1 out of bed, have it take a shower, get dressed, then get out the door.

There’s a long way to go.

Team Trust

Something that we all struggle with as developers is trusting people in our code. There’s many things that can go wrong. There are also things than can go right as well.

The thing that we have to keep in mind — especially in cases where everyone is in the same company — is that you’re all really on the same team. It’s easy to go overboard on things like approval workflows and permissions on who can commit what code where.

Some of it makes sense — like perhaps requiring that code that goes into the system needs to be reviewed by someone who knows the code better. But once you have the review done, it would be awfully nice to just check that code in yourself. Or locking down test systems such that no one outside the team can even access things.

As you grow more defensive with your codebase, one thing that you’ll have to accept is that you’ll be held responsible more and more for the code that you have. If you make it hard for people to help you, the chance that people will help you tends to go down.

It’s all about balance.

Why does every programmer want to make a new language?

It seems a common occurrence that a programmer wants to create a new domain-specific language. Well, perhaps not domain-specific. More general purpose.

It’s a strange thing when you look around and see so many existing languages that might do the job just as well.

At Amazon I seem to run into it even more often. We hire bunches of people that have a good and traditional computer science background — a lot of them straight of of college. You take your compiler design classes and whatnot and you want to put your training to use.


You might want to look around first.

So, you want to create a functional language? Look at Scheme, Erlang, or F# to see if they can fit the bill.

Dynamic language pique your interests? Python or Ruby might be what the doctor ordered.

Scripting? Why not Perl, or perhaps TCL?

Unless you have the wherewithal to go and make an IDE, debugger, and the rest of the toolchain awesome… yeah, you might want to stand on the shoulders of giants.

Of course you might actually have a deep need for something new. Each of the languages I listed above started from scratch too. Before you create your baby, think some deep thoughts about how it’ll grow and how you’ll nurture the community that’ll hopefully build around it.

But think hard again, is writing a new language how I’m going to win?

You had one job, Songza

For some reason I glanced at Sonos app while Johnny B Goode was coming out of the speakers.

Up there. That’s what I saw.

Maybe this is the cheap Chinese rip-off version of Chuck Berry — Chuch Berry. I wonder what other off-label songs they have.

Maybe that’s a way for them to save some dough.

Traffic Safety

After the collision between the Ride the Ducks and the tour bus I’ve been hearing a bit more of the “VISION ZERØ” initiative that’s been worked on by Seattle for a while now.

They had recorded interviews along the lines of:

“How many traffic deaths are acceptable for Washington per year?”
“[various answers that have some non-zero answer]”
“How many traffic deaths are acceptable for your family?”
“Well, none!”

Easy to say.

Easy for a marketer to say.

Every time you leave your house (actually, strike that, even at home) every second you spend in the act of being alive, you are incurring a chance that something bad may happen.

Even in vastly regulated fields, like airlines, where the amount of record keeping, maintenance, training, and everything else the FAA mandates there are accidents.

Some of those accidents are caused by simple human error. Some are caused by nature. Some are caused by our own misunderstanding of how these physical phenomena interact.

If something like airlines can’t be made to be 100% safe, how can we possibly get our present fleet of rickety beaters driven by idiots to be better than airlines? Even if we get to self-driving cars (which will take many decades to phase in) there will inevitably be both hardware and software failures.

The only way to get to zero issues is to outlaw roads.

Now I’m not saying don’t do anything to try to mitigate the problems on our roads. A recent  statistic is 1.5 fatalities per 100,000,000 miles driven. This is already, honestly, pretty good. And from an engineering perspective you have to take into account the failure rate of whatever system you’re designing. As bad as some of these mistakes are — someone dying — it’s an inevitable occurrence when you start measuring things in things per billion miles driven.

I guess this is just my frustration that typical person doesn’t understand statistics.

Do I want things to be safer? Yes. Do I want to spend all of the money to get it to 0? No, because it simply won’t work.

Do I want to spend some money to get measurable incremental gains? Yes.

The government can’t make you safe. It can help institute things that can improve safety. But you should not attempt to delegate your safety to the government. The government is there to regulate, tax, and fine. Much like the police are not obliged to protect you (look it up, it’s true), ensuring one’s safety is not the government’s responsibility.

Lunar Eclipse

Just cool pictures today.  :-)

Even though the eclipse started off when it was still daylight out here in Seattle, it got dark enough to get some nice shots off of my front porch.

Here’s the rig used to get these:

(Canon 5DmkII, 70-200mm f/2.8 IS mkII + x2 teleconverter)

The biggest challenge I had was figuring out how long of an exposure I could get without getting star-trails from the rotation of the earth. Answer: Anything longer that 2s with a 400mm lens wasn’t good enough for me. My best shot was 1.3s.

In comparison, here’s what it looked like with my iPhone 6S:

(Yes, completely unfair, I admit)

And why shouldn’t I buy it?!

A friend sent me a link to laser cutter that was created by a local Seattleite. The next day I ran into the same device on a YouTube channel I subscribe to (Tested by Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman)

So tempting. So, so tempting.

For instance I could make the cover plate for my USB charger. Take a piece of acrylic and cut out the holes for the USB ports. It’s something that would be almost impossible for me to do manually, but something that’s dead easy with something like this.

I wonder if I can make circuit boards with this?

Someone should stop me from buying it. It’s half price this month as a pre-order.


iPhone 6S

Today I stopped by the Apple store and picked up this beauty.  :-)

Apple changed up their pick up policy by saying what time you should show up. I had an 8:00 AM appointment for a 6S+ and an 8:30 AM for a 6S. (Yep, I made the 6S+ reservation by mistake…) They let me in the 8:00 AM group. I purchased it on the Apple upgrade program where I get a 0-interest loan for the phone. And, as a bonus, it’s an unlocked phone.

I showed up at 7:15 or so and I was third in line. In previous years I would show up at 6:00 and was number 100 or so. I guess the time windows worked out like a champ!

Overall in my limited use I’m really happy with it. It certainly seems snappy and the 3D touch feature is something that I’m quite happy with. The only app that really takes advantage of it right now is email, but even that is a neat use of it to plow through emails.

Oh, and Ennie gets the 6 as an upgrade for the 5S.  :-)

Not the post I wanted to write today

I had a post all crafted in my head — or at least the start and themes of it — but that’ll have to wait a few days now.

In the middle of fighting a fire at work when I got a text from my friend that there was a Duck that crashed on the Aurora Bridge (technically it’s the George Washington Memorial Bridge) that is one of the primary links between downtown Seattle and the neighborhoods to the north.

I drive that bridge almost every day.

Today one of the vehicles that looks like a World War II landing craft lost control (different reports from different sources) and crashed into a tour bus.

To know that at least four people — all of them exchange students in a local college — died there today is jarring. More than 40 others have been seriously hurt.

It’s been a rough day in Seattle.

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