Archive for category Personal

IoT Best Practices

So, in an ongoing life-long problem of deciding what to blog and what not to, I am spinning most of my technical content out into a new blog, ‘IoT Best Practices‘. Other than the multitude of ways I misspell both ‘Best’ and ‘Practices’ I think it will be best for me, and for my work, to have these things spun-out separately. I may cross-post from time to time, but I want to slightly firewall my thoughts and personal life from professional work.

I do expect future workplaces will stalk me on my personal website (Hello future investors/funders/employers!) and judge me for it. But at least now I can wave my hands and say ‘This isn’t the blog content you were looking for’ and point them to something more relevant.

Dual Users, one mac

Working at BuLogics, Inc. means that I work in a BYOD* environment. I see a lot of people in that kind of scenerio that can’t stop checking their personal info/email/docs at work, or who can’t close out or shut down work projects with it’s 9PM and time to watch some Netflix. To avoid that in my own life, I set up two users on my laptop. One user is for me personally, where I keep personal data, private info, and my life. The other is a work-user, where I keep work data, files, and info.

OSX, to a lot of it’s credit, works pretty well as a multi-user system. Permissions are well handled, and for the most part things work great. I have had a few problems with USB devices that I leave in the device as I switch users, and a few very weird edge-case situations. But mostly, Apple did their job, and OSX just works.

Some other projects/tools don’t work as well. Brew for example, has often been a real problem for me. It tends to get jammed up when trying to handle multiple users. This great blog post covers how to get brew to behave for mulit-users on OSX, and has saved me a lot of hassle.

*Bring Your Own Device

Cars are Weird

I woke up this morning a bit bleary, and got ready to go to work. I got my things together and got into the car for my drive to work. Have you ever woken up, and something that was normal stands out? Woken-up to suddenly be aware, once again, of the surreality of the world around you? I had one of those mornings, and what was so surreal was the cars.

Blocks, and blocks of the city, lined, packed, jam-filled with automobiles. Bumper to bumper, spilling out into the empty street, crowding streets, blocking sidewalks, and just ridiculous. How can we need this many cars? Are we really so poorly organized we need a 1/2-ton hunk of mechanics and electronics in front of almost every house? Who are the fat cats sleeping in their 300 thread-count sheets in a beautiful mansion, who have sold us all on needing one of these things?

Now, I get it. Ironic, right. I’m driving to work, and being amazed at all the cars. But seriously, I live a block from a trolly-stop. I’ve use transit to commute 2 days a week, but drive a couple to balance out the (frankly) overly-long commute time.

When I do drive to work, I drive about 6 miles to work, and 5 of those miles of that are lined with cars. Bumper to bumper. Machine, after machine, after machine, after machine. A parade of empty husks, sitting there rusting, wearing out, and wasting space. There are just so so many of them. It’s amazing. ¬†How much money must be poured into buying them, maintaining them? Paving parking lots for them? Who is profiting from them? What a great case of a locally optimal, but globally dumb decision result.

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A bit dusty around here

Ahem. cough cough Wow. It’s a bit dusty around here.

I was pretty amazed when I came by to check my own site, and discovered I’d not posted since this summer. With a toddler (herein referred to as Chestnut), a lot of work, and house problems, keeping a website up to date has been a non-priority. Almost a negative priority. For about a years, I’ve gotten my to-do list reminders ‘Update your website’ and ignored them. Which, in hindsight, it and was the right answer given priorities.

It’s a new year, and as per convention, I’m going to throw down some resolutions:

  • Underpromise and Overdeliver
  • Get in a weekly rhythm
  • Re-engage in community/social life
  • Fire-up some side projects
  • Dom soem self-maintaince/improvement

I have a more detailed list personally, but I’m not going to post all of the gory details here.

Happy 2014 everyone, and have a merry and wonderful 2015.


4th of July thoughts, 2014

What does the 4th of July mean to me.

I try to pay attention to the meaning of holiday. I know for a lot of folks Memorial Day, 4th of July, and a lot of our holiday’s are just another day off. One more chance to sleep late, maybe
watch or play with some fireworks, and enjoy friends, family, and food. Sure I’m being a curmudgeon, and maybe people aren’t really like that. I want to take some time during the day to think and talk about what it’s all about. For a workaholic nation, what makes something important enough to stop work?

The 4th of July is celebration of our Declaration of Independence. The fledgling united State of America had already be at war with Britin for about a year, when the continental congress drew up and approved a resolution stating *why* we had gone to war. The document is a pretty nice mix of international law, Natural Philosophy, and outright PR. You should read it, it’s a pretty good read.

So what does that mean, to me, in 2014?

I think a lot of it speaks to me of the history of high ideals of the USA, as well as our consistant inability to live up to them, and our blindness to stew of ironic contradictions that we live in.

– Our Declaration of Independence was written by a slave owner. And even then, sections of *his* anti-slavery text were removed to make the document more palatable.

– As we sit here, and celebrate the 4th of July, we are also discovering that NSA ‘targeted Surveillance’ means ‘Anyone that searched for Linux, TOR, Tails is having all of their web traffic logged by the NSA’

– Despite our ideals that all people are created equal, we bomb wedding parties, families, and houses overseas, and hid our manslaughter of fellow humans under euphemisms like ‘Collateral Damage’.

– We speak of ideas of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. But as a culture and a nation our true values are driven by money, celebrity, and money.

– We talk about democracy, and self-governance. But we have propped up, and continue to create or support, dictators and despots when it suits our needs.

– Despite our talk of self-reliance, the oil that is the lifeblood of our country, and so much of our consumer goods come from overseas.

– We have allowed money to infect our political system to the point where the only people that can run, are those that can suck up to huge diners to fund their campaign.

– Our original sins as a country, slavery of millions and genocide of the civilizations that were already on this contentent, and seldom acknowledged or discussed, even though their fallout is still felt by americans today.

The United States is a great country, and I love it to death. But it’s a flawed country, right to it’s roots. I grew up hearing a lot of rhetoric about “Hate the sin, but Love the sinner”. I know, I’m ranting a bit here. I’m being a curmudgeon and a downer, I’ll knock it off.

Enjoy the 4th. Celebrate all we have done, and celebrate the high ideas we espoused as we as a country took our first steps on the world stage. But as you’re watching the fireworks and celebrating the great things we have done as a country, don’t let that drive you to mistakes we have make as well.

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Writing in 2014

I often get stuck writing essay’s, since I come up with counter-arguments as I go. I’ve always admired Darwin’s writing style, in that he builds a nearly airtight case from bottom to top, all the while making it clear where is is estimating, where he is fudging detail (and willing to admit or discuss it) or where he is generalizing, and *why* that generalization is a good place to start.

In the last year, I’ve written a lot less than I’d like to. I have in my task-tracker to write a weblog post twice a week, but between the new job, a young kid, and life I’ve really not had the time. Which is to say, I’ve had time to write, but not time to go back, and re-edit articles to be as airtight as I want (which is still, well, not so air-tight).

In 2014, I’m going to get back on the train to write more often. I’ll be leaving wikipedia style superscript[1] notations where I’ve skipped detail, or where I have to admit some details need refining. Maybe I’ll get back to those articles to edit and refactor, maybe I won’t. But at least I will get the ideas out there, and into the world.

[1] you know. These footnote thigies

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Gender and Tech: Here’s a suggestion Get Data or GTFO.

Warning: I mostly don’t swear on this website, but this post is full of it. If you don’t like crude language, sorry.

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Goodbye Gmail!

Last week with some help at The Hacktory project night (Thursdays) I setup my own email server for the first time in about 12 years. It was pretty awesome to get my data back in my hands, where it won’t be inspected, poked, and sniffed.

I’ve getting wary Google for q while. It started google was spying on web data using street view vehicles. Since then Google has gotten worse. They are unifying tracking data. Google has become as bad as Microsoft at the ‘copy and drown a competitor’ game, with knock off’s galore like (, Yelp (Google Places), Groupon (Google Offers) and Evernote (Google Keep).

From what I have seen they are moving towards competing with Facebook on the ‘stalking out users and selling them as cattle.’ behavior. Google has also started treating anyone with a successful web company as a target for ‘imitate and destroy’ tactics. Not the kind of behavior that fits the ‘organize information’ vision, and pretty evil.

Back when Google’s mission was ‘Organize the worlds information’ and ‘do no evil’ I had some trust that they would defend the open web, and treat their users with respect. As they kill unpopular (but useful) services, it’s clear they are focused on profits, not organizing the worlds info.

I’m revoking my trust, shutting down my Google mail and mailing lists, and getting my data flow back in my own hands. is the best place to reach me these days. But don’t worry about using my old email. My Gmail account won’t disappear overnight.

I think this ties into a bigger discussion about how the web is no longer peer to peer (and becoming less p2p daily) but that is a topic for another post.

New gig at Bulogics

Most of my friends know I left MakerBot back in December/January. They were going in a direction that didn’t fit my style/interests and the commute back and forth to NYC was becoming a real headache, especially with a little human in my life. Someday when dust has settled I’ll talk about it. But for now there is too much chance my opinion would misunderstood or ‘creatively’ misinterpreted by folks that have been with MakerBot. No hard feeling on my end, but the situation just wasn’t working out.

After leaving I took some time off, then spent some time taking took a look around the Philadelphia scene for any interesting opportunities. After talking to several shops I finally found a great fit for my interests and skill.

As of last week I’ve joined on with BuLogics as Chief Innovator. I’ll be once again herding nerds and working to keep the engineering and design team in close coordination with the business folks. Two things I enjoy, and am pretty damn good at.

Part of what set BuLogics offer apart was a chance to have a big influence in their next stage of growth. They are looking to expand and focus their skills a bit more cleanly. It’s hard to pass up such a great opportunity there to help take an organization to the next stage of growth.

Another great side effect of the new position is that I have a lot more flexibility to blog. So you all can look forward to more posts about teams, teamwork, and creating a culture of making both here and over at BuLogics blog.

P.S. also, check out the terrible bio photo :( It’s the only one I had available when they posted that I’ll have to change that soon.

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Stag hunt with Reluctant Free Loader on the side

I’ve been thinking a lot about the problems Phildelphia’s schools are having, and how various actors in the situation are playing out their role.

Background (Skippable)

The long story made short is Philly is closing a lot of schools. From my simplistic research so far I’m concluding that some school closings do make sense, but that the rash of closings is a last second swerve to avoid budget failure that has been threatening the district for years. Furthermore, the district has been giving out school charters for private schools in some dubious and questionable situations. Some dubious behavior of charters (not *all charters*) and willy nilly granting more charters has undermined the enrollment levels, making it seem smart to close more schools. Again, that is my simplistic research, I’m sure other folks have a better point of view.

As a new dad, I’ve been looking at school districts and pondering when it gets to the point that I abandon the system, and pay higher rates to put a child into a privates school. To me that decision reeks of game-theory, so I’m putting down my thoughts on it to clarify a bit.

To the Game Theory:

From a theory point of view, this could be modeled as a variant of the Stag Hunt game. Lets imagine a game of ‘Stag Hunt’ with thousands of players. Now lets add to those players a distribution of resources that roughly matches the Philadelphia general income, and/or tax base. Finally, we need to add a reasonably high threshold to not joining the game (ie, the cost of private education for a child). Which is odd, since it sets cooperation at a lower and default threshold, and individual action at a higher threshold. I think that becomes a decent model of parents drawing their students out of the district to private schools, lowering the income available.

Then the question becomes, what is the defection rate/system that drives more people to defect? Is there a good way to map/cap general defection from the game? At what point have we undermined the commons so far that every participant is worse off?

General Musing

What amazes me the parents fallacy only their own children’s education is in their interest. As an american you interact and depend on hundreds to thousands of other people for all of your infrastructure. The kindergardener in a crappy school today is going to be a Nurse caring for us in 30-40 years. The kids you are yanking head-start funds from are going to be mechanics, plumbers, and taxi-drivers in 20-30 years. Do you really want to be running around a city or country with these people on the loose? Do you really want to undermined your future quality of life, by setting up an environment of poorly educated people around you to care for you in old age? As much as my own child’s education matters to me, having educated caretakers in old age, and educated co-voters at all ages is hella-important.

It also makes me think I need to find, or invent, a bunch of new terms for real-world game theory.

Reluctant Freeloader: These are people who can’t contribute to the game a fair amount. Think ‘unemployed single dad.’ They are working and contributing what they can, but they don’t have the means to cover their cost.

Woefully Advantaged: This is someone with enough resources they think they can defect from the game without consequences, but really are suffering for it.

N-th turn: Borrowed from computer science. This is a reference to some point in the future (the n-th turn) when the game fails or people lose based on their earlier strategy.

School District Problem: This is a variant of the Stag Hunt problem, as described above.