internet home of david and the schlenks

Month: March 2017

I bought a WiFi MCU for $9

Usually when I think about the spacetime in which we occupy in relation to the advancement of technology, it’s a negative thing. Why don’t we have flying cars? Why haven’t we bred trees that don’t shed leaves in the fall that have to be raked? Can’t we make emo grass (that cuts itself)? Etc. But. No more. You can buy a WiFi enabled MCU for about nine (9) USD on Amazon, including one day shipping (if you’re a Prime member and spend enough and live in certain areas probably). The possibilities are endless.


Yesterday I had the pleasure of returning to the Best Buy HQ campus for Minnebar12. I’ve been to many and continue to be impressed that an event that large continues to be free, well attended, and full of pretty decent content. For my first session I chose to attend @eryno’s talk on being a lead developer. She breaks down the lead’s role into three categories: Facilitate, Advocate and Motivate.

To illustrate what a good facilitator does, she told a story about her brother in law giving her a pretzel. After starting to eat it, she realized it was salty and would require some water – so she went to go ask for some but there was her brother in law with water in hand who said “duh, pretzels are salty.” The point being, try to anticipate roadblocks and get them out of the way before they happen if you can.

Advocating is basically the art of saying no, but having evidence to back you up so an actual negotiation can take place rather than a battle of emotions. One of the things people often ask me is “can we just do X” and my typical reaction is something like “anything is possible with enough time and money!” Which is my way of letting them know that yes, we can probably do that, but something else that you also think is important won’t get done when you thought it would.

She had some good perspective on motivation as well – starting with the notion that no one is going to be more optimistic about the feasibility of a project than you are, so make sure you’re presenting a positive attitude to your team.

I also attended Andrew Rahn’s talk about the mini yarn skein winding robot he made for his wife, which was a lot of fun. I’ve recently started trying my hand at some electronics stuff, but nothing with stepper motors or even a proper case yet, so I learned a couple things.

Another session I enjoyed was an intro to Kotlin, a newish JVM language that is type safe and heavily influenced by functional programming. Looks very interesting, and I’m definitely hoping to try it out on something soon.

Also attended sessions on reactive functional programming as well as one on genetic algorithms, so as to cover 2016 and 2004 buzzwords adequately.

As always the food was great, got to see old friends, and I got a new T-shirt.

Lost Book Found

As previously mentioned, I’ve been reading stories to Iver from The House at Pooh Corner, but I confess that I haven’t actually read him the first book. I have this set:

so we’ve been reading the orange one, but I keep telling him that we really should be reading the pink one. I read them to Catie when she was pregnant and at some point misplaced the pink one, but today it was found. Apparently when we went through all our books last fall it ended up in our general library, not back in its proper Pooh box. Oh bother.

Oh and yes, after many, many years of not blogging I have returned. I first started a blog, if you can call it that, back in college. It was full of nonsense and poorly homemade out of some perl CGI scripts, so as life filled up with competing demands I abandoned it some years back. Now that Iver is old enough to be fairly interactive I was once again looking for a place to record and share longer form stories about our lives, and while Facebook is great for admiring pictures of your friends’ kids and Twitter is a great place to chuckle at snark, there’s something unique about the humble independent weblog that I missed. I also started doing some hobby electronics stuff and want to post a record of those projects in case they were useful to anyone else.

So: basics. We are three-and-a-dog. I make software during the day. The wife is Catie and maybe she’ll post occasionally. She works part time at our church Genesis Covenant. The child is Iver and he is three and a half. He will go to preschool in the fall. The dog is called Stella and she came to be with us via the Second Chance Rescue as one of a litter of pups found on the Standing Rock reservation. She’s some kind of Shepherd mix and enjoys a couple days a week at the local doggy day care Mutt Nuts. She’s about 6 months old. We’ve had her since she was 12 weeks and she’s a wonderful addition to our home.


Inaugular Post

I’ve been reading stories from The House at Pooh Corner to Iver every night, and if you’ve read it you might remember the Purposeful Misspellings and abundant Capitalizations of Nouns. He’s three-and-a-half, so who knows how much of the plot is sinking in, but he seems to enjoy it. I sure do.


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