Weekly Review, October 11

By Saturday, October 11, 2014 0 Permalink 0

It’s holiday again. No fun vacation this time though 🙂 . With the twins’ day care out for ~10 days, this holiday is more work than the usual daily routine! I actually look forward to “after the holidays” so I can have more free time..! The “fun” agenda for this holiday – minor surgery for the boy, so we have home-time with him for the recovery. (long time planned surgery. nothing to worry about. he’s mostly recovered by now. thanks for asking 🙂 )

Speaking of “free time” and “kids” – a quick question for parents out there. Do you have any success with finding the time to work on your “personal projects” / “hobbies” / whatever you’d like to call it? Got tricks to share? Does it get any easier as they grow up? Specific advice for twins? (mine are 8-months old)

I’d like to share a “business” thought I had, and get some feedback from you (yes, you!). I received a lot of positive feedback on my connected A/C project. So, I thought I could bring together and sell a “DIY Connected IR Control Kit”. Would you be interested in something like that? The focus is on a DIY kit, not a polished product (like Sensibo). I realize there are numerous Arduino kits out there (like this from Amazon, or these on eBay), and anyone can buy the components and implement the project. The idea is to create a minimal kit for “controlling things with IR”, and throw in modules for Internet connectivity and a nice booklet. Maybe complement it with a “cloud service package” that will make it easy to connect to your project from anywhere (securely). So I wonder – if you wanted to make your own connected A/C project (or other IR-based device), would you buy such a kit? Will it make any difference what prototyping platform the kit includes (Arduino, Raspberry Pi, …)? Please let me know by answering the poll below, or sharing your input through the comments!

online surveys

The Weekly Review is (hopefully) a recurring summary, reviewing highlights from the last week.

Blog posts from the last week

  1. Continuing the website project, I shared my content platform research.
  2. A 3-step evolution of bash snippets to get the current script directory.
  3. Continuing the SCons series, with flavors terminal integration.
  4. The previous weekly review.

In the coming weeks, I plan to continue writing on the website side project, and the SCons series. Hopefully, I will be able to squeeze in some Mac training as well. The best way to keep up with new posts is to follow the feed.

Web selections

I love the trend of educational apps and games that aim to teach kids problem solving skills with programming concepts and code. This week I learned about another one of those, ScratchJr. It’s aimed at ages 5-7. I also learned about Kano. This one is a Raspberry Pi kit that aims at lower levels – teaching kids to “build a computer”. I don’t know how they go about it, given that the Raspberry Pi is already a working computer. I can’t wait for my own kids to be old enough for these things! 🙂 By the way, what’s the youngest-age-group game of this kind you know about?

On the Netflix Tech Blog, they shared their experience with some major AWS EC2 maintenance. During the maintenance, about 10% (218 nodes) of their production Cassandra cluster was rebooted. 22 of those did not reboot successfully. For most companies, that would be one bad day at engineering. But their automated recovery scripts kicked in, and the failed nodes were replaced with minimal human intervention and 0 downtime. I’m curious about what exactly is “minimal” human intervention, but nonetheless – that’s impressive! If such things interest you, definitely follow their blog.

Pushbullet is a great app & browser extension, that I use a lot. Recently, they introduced Pushbullet Channels – notification feeds that you can subscribe to. I immediately subscribed to the xkcd channel. Now I get new xkcd pushed to my devices, but the link opens in the browser instead of the xkcdViewer app. One step at a time, I guess 🙂 . I also created my own channel, but I have no idea if it works until I publish this…

Over at his Building Real Software blog, Jim Bird wrote a nice piece about static analysis vs. code reviews. The conclusion is what I’d expect – the two should complement each other, not replace. The article is detailed, and based on actual research, so much better than my intuition.

Google released a Software removal tool for Windows. Seems like it’s targeted at Chrome-related crapware, and other software that may interfere with Chrome. A little too-specific maybe, but I guess it still can be useful to many users.

Side project updates

As you can imagine, I’m still elbow deep in the website project. As expected, a new site comes with new technical issues. Please, do report issues that cross your path.

This week I finally got around to a couple of pending maintenance. Since launching the new site, I didn’t want to update WordPress and plugins, because it might break things. A couple of days ago, I finally performed the maintenance and installed the updates. To do that without breaking things, I first duplicated the live site to a temporary staging site. I performed the maintenance on the staging site. After verifying that the updated staging site is not broken, I repeated the steps with the live site.

Of course, before performing the maintenance on the live site, I took a full site backup. This way, if something broke, I could go back.

Doing a test-drive on a staging site proved smart quickly. After upgrading WordPress to version 4.0 (from 3.9.2), the site indeed break! It turned out that one of the plugins wasn’t compatible with 4.0 without being updated as well. In case you’re curious, it was the ShareIt plugin.

This also gave me a chance to verify that my own WordPress plugin is 4.0-ready. Yay.

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