Great Time To Be a Developer

Was waxing nostalgic with my friend (another older guy like me) at work about the memory limitations we faced as young developers. On the very memory limited Vic 20, I can remember the need to go back and optimize my code so that it would fit within the available RAM (3.5 KB for Basic code). IDEs were non-existent or trivial in their feature set. Even in college, we spent some time with punch cards which had to be one of the most unforgiving ways to get code into a machine. Even later on, it was very expensive to develop software when your choices were Unix (not Linux) or DOS. Ashton-Tate’s DBase cost over $500 (which was a lot in the late 80s). That’s why we flocked to the cheap Turbo Pascal. Visual Studio (and Visual Basic) arrived and started to gobble up the low-end even though it still wasn’t cheap.

Compare that to today where you have multiple free OSs (Linux variants and Android), many free IDEs (Eclipse, Visual Studio and web based tools), several awesome languages (JavaScript, C#, C++, etc.) and great frameworks/platforms (JQuery, .NET, Angular.js, etc.). You even have lots of cheap hardware (Arduino, Raspberry Pi, x86). On top of this there are plenty of free tutorials out there as well. I’ve been using C# a lot lately and even though I will always love Object Pascal, C# is so much easier and expressive than Object Pascal will ever be. JavaScript is extremely versatile as well. Documentation is probably the one area where we’ve somewhat gone backwards and that’s because things change too quickly. There’s no time to update documentation.

If you’ve ever had the desire to learn to code, then take the opportunity to jump in and start creating something great. Grab an Arduino or Raspberry Pi and start reading some tutorials. Download the Visual Studio 2017 community edition and jump into .NET (which runs on Linux and Mac these days). Great hardware, great languages and great environments. What a great time to be a developer.

Picked the iPhone 7

I’ve been contemplating replacing my Windows Mobile phone for a while after having used the OS for several years. I still love the OS, but it was obvious to most that Redmond’s heart wasn’t in it. I needed to have a phone that would provide app support and an expectation of support in the future. I thought that I might find that with the Android OS, but in the end the cost for a flagship device was the same as iOS and I still couldn’t get over my mistrust of Google (investment in info and their willingness to kill off products). I’m sure Android is a lovely OS though.

I’ve had the phone for a couple months and so far it has been rock solid. I’ve found a couple apps to use to replace those that I had on my Win10 Mobile device. Instead of Runtastic, I made the move to the Strava app. Instead of Amazing Weather, I’m using Weather Underground (with the ads removed via yearly fee). Instead of Nextgen Reader, I’m using the Feedly app (a clear step backwards). All in all, Strava is the best of the group and I’m not overly impressed with the app quality of the others (they are decent though and I haven’t had any crashes). iOS is okay. There are a bunch of small improvements, but overall it seems very dated. It took a while to learn all of the “special swipes” to get to a lot of the new features.

In the grand scheme of things, the iPhone 7 is an excellent choice. It is very solid and is definitely responsive (i.e. fast). It’s not an exciting device, but I don’t look to my cell phone for excitement. In fact, if it acts like a reliable phone then I’ll be very happy.

More Riding on Spring Creek Greenway

Spring Creek Greenway has become my favorite place to ride my bike recently. I found it about 6 or 7 months ago and since then I’ve put in a thousand or so miles on it. I do have to drive there to ride as it’s not feasible to ride there directly (due to the hazards of Houston traffic). Having the additional time requirement is a downside, but it’s worth it to me to not have to constantly fear for my life on the street.

As mentioned in my previous post about it, it’s located along the Spring Creek and connects three separate parks (Jesse Jones Park and Nature Center, Pundt Park and Dennis Johnston Park). The county has recently added a southern segment that stretches down to I-96 and are currently working on a northern segment that goes just north of 99 Loop and Hardy Toll Road. A round trip is around 28-29 miles (depending on optional sections). It will probably be 30 miles when the new section is finished. I see a lot of people taking advantage of the trail so obviously people are getting out to enjoy it.

So far this year, I’ve been able to ride about 250 miles (most of which were on the trail). This is far behind my mileage that I rode back in Baton Rouge, but I feel it is enough to stay in shape. To put it in perspective, that’s still 12.5 hours spent riding my bike. Not bad for little over a month. I’ve been mixing in some running as well, but that’s not really my specialty. I’d like to set a goal to ride 2k miles this year. It’s doable, but I had better not get behind as those miles don’t come easy. Regarding my running, I think anywhere over 300 miles would be nice. I’m definitely not feeling as strong as I did in years past, but I suspect that is part of aging. I have been able to push the 20 mph average for most of my rides, so that is good.

Migrated From WHS 2011 to QNAP TS-451+

I’ve been using Windows Home Server for ten years now and this month was my last. It wasn’t because I didn’t find WHS to be a good product as I think it definitely was when it was released. The problem is that it has been orphaned by Microsoft and after another hard drive failed and took down the OS partition, I decided to move to something that would be easier to manage.

The Windows Home Server performed the following functions for me:

  • Place to store files to serve as backups and for general access from any computer
  • Backup of local home computers (full hard drive image)
  • Plex Media server

With the QNAP TS-451+, I’m able to do all of those (although client backup will need to be done either by the OS or 3rd party software). The Plex Media will also be able to use some of the transcoding features of the quad core Celeron processor (for sending video to mobile clients). With 4 drive bays, I can have 32 TBs of storage. Right now I only have 11.5 TB and even a good chunk of that is used for mirroring of drives and system related functions.

I have a couple 4 TB drives in a mirrored setup and then a 2 TB and 1.5 TB drive that are not mirrored and serve as general space. On top of this, I have an external 4TB drive that I used for a periodic secondary backup of all important files (all files at the moment). I may move to a completely redundant setup in the future, but for now this will suffice.

My Plex server run well on the QNAP. I haven’t had any issues with it. I have a lifetime Plex pass, so I downloaded the latest version of the server (later than what is available from QNAP) and manually installed it.

So far I’m pleasantly surprised. I think management will be easier and hopefully it will be more compatible with other OSs. We’ll see.

Stop by for a few words on what is happening with the Callahan's.