Journeyman's Digest

Journeyman’s Digest 05

Issue 05

This Issue’s Highlight

Plasma Air Control – It would appear that the next advance in flight technology may be on the horizon. By manipulating the placement of plasma along a wing’s edge, a team of researchers have fine-tuned the flow of air over the wing. This leads to improved efficiency and several other very promising possibilities!

How long can you stop the cheaters? Apparently, 4 days… – Back in August, Niantec put in place some anti-cheat measures in Pokemon Go. This was to stop cheaters from running various bots that would rapidly level you character for you. In the end, this change really only stopped the bot creators for about 4 days. This Ars Technica article discusses more of the happening related to combating the anti-cheating fix.

The Goods

A new component for Data Storage – Researches have learned the basics for controlling a new component  as a storage media. These Bose-Einstein Condensates, are an amalgam of particles, which can carry information in both the polarity of their photon, and in the spin of their exiton. This new technology could provide a bridge between voltage based and optical circuitry.

Additional controllable properties of Black Phosphorus found  – Black Phosphorous has shown some potential as the next Silicon. Recently some researches with Case Western have discovered another controllable property of Black Phosphorous which may unlock additional potential of this martial!

Vehicle Security Hack  – As it turns out that little key-dangle remote for your Volkwagen might not be very secure. With some minor snooping on a different remote, an Arduino could be used to spoof the signals necessary to cause the Volkwagen to open. Apparently, there was only a few ‘keys’ used by these remotes.

An anti-pattern for Stand-ups – Don’t get me wrong, a stand-up, done right can be great. It keeps everyone up-to-date, and in the know. If people are engaged, then the knowledge necessary to solve a road-block can easily be identified. If this happens, the stand-up, far from interrupting work, actually improves the speed at which work can be done! But even a good tool, if used improperly can be more a burden. This post discusses some of the way a stand-up can go awry.

This Issue’s Curiosity

A Discussion of some bad habits science has gotten into – Science is great! It’s how we know what we know, and more over its how we can learn! But even such a technology as the scientific method has flaws. Namely, humans are the ones that have to execute it. As a result, this system can come down with some unfortunate habits. This post offers some insight on a few of these, and is worth a read.

Emojis: The Growing-pains of a language – Emojis, a language? Actually, if you think about it, Emojis are basically a newly formed written language. But as with all growing languages, new symbols and their means mean that not everyone will use the same symbols for the same meaning. To complicate matters, since Emojis are rather technology based, the emojis available with Android and iPhone are diverging. This article offer some interesting perspective on that branching.

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Journeyman's Digest

Journeyman’s Digest 04

Issue 04

This Issue’s Highlight

A DIY approach to internet – So everyone knows that the ISPs don’t provide the best of services. So, one gent in Spain got fed up with waiting for them to run internet to his house, so he did it himself, by modifying commercially available equipment. After a while, his neighbors asked him to do the same for them, and he set up a small network. This network grew. And now he has an organization helping him to roll this out over more of the country, and helping him negotiate more service based deals with providers. These new providers instead offer tech-support, installations, an maintenance, rather than owning the wire or the data going through. It is a new and interesting model. I wonder if it will ever be able to come to the US.

On How to disagree – The author discusses a rather contentious issue, namely abortion, but decides to take a different approach. He may disagree, but he realizes that the only way to help anyone towards your opinion, is to treat them with respect, and understand that we all have stories. This article made me pause. No matter if you agree with his stance or disagree, the suggestion for how to disagree in a more constructive way is powerful!

The Goods

Netflix’s open-source Traffic intuition tool – So Netflix, has updated it’s open source traffic-intuition tool. This tool is apparently responsible for balancing the load of the Netflix servers, and keeping data speeds at reasonable levels. For those of us in Tech, it is an interesting topic, and this project might hold some insights.

China builds a traffic straddling bus! – So that futuristic idea of a bus that simply rides over traffic? Yeah, a company in China actually built it, and did a test.

… but maybe it isn’t as impressive as originally thought. – Don’t get your hopes up too much though. Apparently, the city official’s didn’t even know the test was happening. Further, as one might expect for an initial test, the traffic conditions were carefully controlled, and the test course was not very long. However the most concerning news, is that the bus only supports traffic up to 10 feet off the road… the city’s limit is 20 feet, which might mean that the bus cannot remain street legal, and still dodge the larger trucks.

Thinking in systems, a summary – The author of this post, provides his summary of several systems he has found useful for thought. I found it an interesting compilation, and thought you all might find something useful in it as well.

Product Development Cycle Fundamentals – As the title suggests, it is a discussion of the fundamental of the cycle of product development. For anyone familiar with Agile, these will be familiar, but I particularly appreciate the authors remarks on the need for a measurement of success. I have experience attempts at development without such markers. These were difficult to say the least.

How to start a 1500USD business using a public API in 4 months – Another article from a small-business entrepreneur. This time, the authors discussion revolve around finding the niche for the business, as well as learning to adjust to the inconsistent stream of income. Over all, I found it an informative read.

 

This Issue’s Curiosity

Some start-ups trying to take the pain out of car buying – So someone finally decided to try to make a better car-buying experience. Anyone whose bought a used car knows the pain and the toil that goes into finally getting the car out of the dealer’s lot. This article discusses two companies, with two slightly different approaches, who are trying to make that process less arduous and frustrating.

Fears that Snowden may be dead – By now, anyone who follows the tech-related news closely, should have heard of this. Snowden’s twitter account posted what looked like a hexadecimal cryptographic key. This spurred speculation that it is the key for archives he has shared with various news sources, and that if the key was shared, it might mean his detention or death. The news of this is troubling in my opinion. But I found the discussions surrounding the event interesting.

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Journeyman's Digest

Journeyman’s Digest 03

Issue 03

This Issue’s Highlight

A Man’s Letter to his daughter about young men – I cannot even begin to describe the affect this article had on me when I first read it. I strongly recommend it. It is thought-provoking, and emotionally challenging. It touched something in me, and it forced me to pause during my day and reflect. One of the more powerful quotes from the post: “Meekness is strength wrapped in humility, my dear daughter. It is strength under control in a world where so many are out of control.” I encourage you to read, and to have this experience as well!

A Guide on How To Read – On a more practical note, this is a small booklet from the University of Michigan School of Information. It was intended to help Grad students learn to read vast volumes of information. Personally I wished that I had found during my undergraduate degree. It would have helped with the engineering textbooks.

The Goods

On Naming Languages, or Con-Langs – All-Hail the inner nerd! This article is a very nice walk-through for creating a naming language. In this particular context, the author was creating a Name generator for a role-playing world. He wanted the names to sound reasonable, and so walks through the various rules and complexities of a language. It’s a very enjoyable read!

On reasonable world Terrain – Another post by the author of the Con-Lang article. This one focuses on reasonably generating a worlds terrain. Discussions of reasonable height-maps, erosion, and even city-placement. He even discusses the appropriate power of 2 to use when generating the height map. Again an interesting article.

A short evangilization of soldering – A short article from a Maker who learned the need to solder. Because his child’s nightlight, previously powered by a Amazon button, burned out. I hope you enjoy the read!

A discussion of common pitfall with Microservices – This is kind of a sponsored article ( not that I am paid, but that the author is kind of pushing a particular solution). However ti does offer some interesting discussion, and especially for a neophyte to Microservices, I found that discussion informative. Generally the pitfalls that he mentions are distributed logging, the difficult of debugging in a distributed environment, and cascade failures when a system dependency fails.

An off-the-grid office space – This guy build a little shed in his back-yard into an off-the-grid work-space. I personally think it’s pretty cool, particularly for the off-the-grid part. I also think said office would be a bit hot, but still a cool idea.

A software engineers hack of business negotiations – Now as a disclaimer, I cannot vouch for the recommended sales tactic. But in a conceptual sense, the author of this article has some good points. He describes a method to build the trust of prospective clients, in a way that only an engineering mind could be comfortable with.

 

This Issue’s Curiosity

An Anti-mediocrity Manifesto – An interesting idea for software developers. It’s something like the Agile manifesto or the Reactive Manifesto, but focuses instead on keeping the developer from slipping into mediocre patterns.

The thorny relationship between Science and Philosophy – This article from Ars Technica, focuses on , as the title suggests the relationship between philosophy and science. At it’s root it is about how we know what we know, and whether we can trust that knowledge.

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Journeyman's Digest

Journeyman’s Digest 02

Issue 02

This Issue’s Highlight

Valve Employee’s Handbook – Any geek into computer games knows Valve. Their the company responsible for a number of amazing titles, as well as the game delivery platform, Steam. Naturally one might look to them for guidance on good company culture. I read some bits of their handbook, and I must admit, I was both impressed and afraid. Their corporate culture is based on mutual trust and specifically in trusting people to do the right thing. Right out of the gate the author starts explaining that Vale’s structure is much flatter than expected, and as a result the employees has a significant amount of freedom and control of where the company goes. I invite those interested in development, management, self-organizing teams and any related disciplines to take a read!

The Goods

How to build a 500000 user app on a 100 dollar server in 5 days – The author built an app which partnered with and used PokemonGo data, and ramp-ed up to half a million users in around a week. He discusses the design decisions and rationale that he used. He also describes a counter-example of a similar app in a similar time-frame which did not fair as well. He frames his discussion around the idea of an MVP built to fail, and how this is a flawed practice for young entrepreneurs.

Why experts tend to make bad teachers – Before I continue, I wish to express that I have experienced both ends of this spectrum with great and terrible teachers. Naturally I was pleased to find the author is not arguing against expert teachers. Instead he describes the way an expert, who is not trained as an educator, will tend to teach. Normally, they will focus on the abstractions which they, being experts, have learned over the course of many years. They do this in an effort to make the student’s learning easier. However this tactic tends to back-fire since the abstractions are more difficult to learn when told, rather than experienced. The author concludes his discussion with some suggestions for how an ideal Expert-lead class might look.

Cracking the Adventure Time Cipher – The artists for adventure time put out a series of comic on the web with a strange cipher printed around the panes. Naturally this spurred interest in the community, and the race was one. This discussion focuses on the logic to code breaking, and the rationale used at each step, along with some code examples. Overall it makes for an interesting read!

An Enjoyable Online Logic Puzzle – This little flash puzzle is deceptively simple. I tinkered with it for a few minutes and was intrigued. Naturally I passed a few levels, but eventually stumbled on some solutions. The few levels can be solve by a number of moves equal to their positions (1 for level 1, 2 for level 2 and so on.) I encourage anyone with some spare time to try it out.

Linux Mint has released version 18 – Linux Mint has reached version 18! For anyone unfamiliar with Mint, it is a Linux distrobution based on Ubuntu. But unlike ubuntu Mint is a slower moving, and thus more stable OS. I personally use it for most computer tasks at home, and I feel that it is an easy jump from Windows. I strongly recommend it to anyone wishing to dodge the “Big Brother”, Windows 10.

 

This Issue’s Curiosity

The Glider from Nausicaa actually flies! – Any Hayao Miazaki will immediately recognize this design. Being a fan of his works, I was quite pleased to see it fly so well. Kudos to the engineers behind it! Any for anyone who is curious, my favorite Studio Ghibli film is The Wind Rises

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Journeyman's Digest

Journeyman’s Digest 01

Issue 01

This Issue’s Highlight

The Steak-dinner clause – Imagine you are in a tense business negotiation. You’ve been at this all-day and no one is willing to budge on who has to pay a fee. As you close for the day, you realize that if you don’t resolve this issue tomorrow, there won’t be any agreement. This was the author’s situation when he happened upon a brilliant way to handle the disagreement. Moreover, their resolution not only helps get the contract through, it also brings the two companies together over time, creating a very strong business relationship!

The Goods

The Tales of a White-Hat – A White-hat finds a massive security hole in the popular image sharing service, Imgur. This is his story about how Imgur’s bug bounty program worked, and his journey with them to make the service and the compensation for finding such bugs better. Bonus Link: HackerOne , the Bug bounty board mentioned by the author.

Log Structured Merge Trees – This article describes the basic working of a Log Structured Merge Tree, which is a happy middle ground between Journal/Log and Fixed Index ( like Hash Table) data storage. It is intended to provide good write and read speed, by balancing the concerns and attempting to improve the linearity of the Read operation.

Knowledge-sharing Architect – What is the Architect’s job? Should they be responsible for implementing the core framework, only to be pulled into another project in the starting stages? Or should they be mentors, mental-giants who slowly educate their team on the intricacies of the current application, so that nothing in the big-picture gets ignored? This article discusses the common arguments regarding the Architect’s role, and proposes an alternative which I believe solved the existing problems in a more feasible and sustainable way.

Ubuntu has gone mobile – Ubuntu has apparently released a new phone! It’s price is comparable to the average smartphone, but it comes with some interesting features. This review goes over the various software changes, and capabilities. Personally, if and when the UbuntuPhone comes to the US I may consider purchasing one.

Scythe – Most-Hyped board game of 2016? – ArsTechnica loves it’s boardgames! And they have been drooling over a new game called Scythe for most of the year. It was recently release, and their review is glowing. I think the game sounds excellent and totally worth the rather high-price tag. Check it out and see what you think!

 

This Issue’s Curiosity

Free Reverse Engineering Textbook -The kind Mr. Yurichev has compiled his notes and his method for reverse engineering software. I was only able to read a small fraction of his material, but a college course based on his work would be thoroughly interesting! Please feel free to poke around his free textbook!

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Journeyman's Digest

Journeyman’s Digest

Issue 00

This Issue’s Highlight

Hacker News – Hacker News is a service similar to Reddit. As I understand it, there is a community which submits links to various recent news, and then by a voting system the best finds rise to the top 30 entries on the list. Through this community, I have found many great articles, including many which I am including here. I strongly encourage you to check it out!

The Goods

Some advise for new managers – This is a short management snippet for new managers. It regards how to advise and discuss the contribution of your employees. I could summarize it in one line, but I think the effect is best if read in full.

Ranks of popular programming languages as of June – In June, the kind posters over at RedMonk took the time to analyze the contributes and discussions in GitHub and on Stack Overflow to determine how various popular languages are doing in terms of use. The big five this time include Javascript, Python and C#. Be sure to check the list out for more details on their methods and to find where your favorite language ranks!

A JSON coding horror story – A young developer gets hired on to a new company. His experience starts as any new job does, learning the new systems and trying to understand the code. But as our hero learns more, a growing horror begins to loom. Will he escape it’s clutches? Or will the code claim another victim? Look here to find out!

A Discussion of TDD – This is a forum thread discussion of TDD, started by a frustrated programmer trying to convince his company to adopt a better practice. The original poster asks for specific reasons and explanations for why his company should do TDD. There are the normal responses about making the software more stable, and more robust. One response in particular stood out to me, as it described instead how to explain these values to a Manager, in terms of time saved and money saved/spent. It is overall an insightful discussion for anyone in a similar situation.

The dark-side of UI patterns – This is an hour-or-so talk about the dark UI patterns that can be seen all over the web. They do make money, but they are predatory, generally immoral, and in some cases possibly illegal. The speaker describes many of the type of patterns which are employed. But he goes a step further and offers an explanation for why the patterns arise in the first place. As always it comes down to money. He then concludes with ways that the industry could help to dissuade and possible eliminate the use of these dark patterns.

This Issue’s Curiosity

Uber migrates to MySQL – This weeks curiosity regards Uber’s move from Postgres to MySQL. I wasn’t able to dedicate as much time to looking into this article as I would have liked, but the first third or so was full of interesting technical discussion. I hope you will enjoy it too!

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