elon musk sounds like a cool guy

“You’re standing on the surface of the Earth,” Musk begins, according to the book. “You walk one mile south, one mile west, and one mile north. You end up exactly where you started. Where are you?”

This is an interview question from Elon Musk to job candidates. There appear to be two answers. The first, the north pole, is the obvious one. The second is not so obvious. At any point on a ring somewhere close to the south pole, you could walk one mile south, then turn and walk one mile west only to end up right where you started walking west (circumference would have to be 1mi), turn and walk one mile north to end up right back where you started.

image of solution

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2015! Still here.

i'm back baby (bender)

Finally getting around to writing on this thing again. Some things have happened since I last wrote. I got engaged around the end of October last year to an amazing woman. Woot! We decided to give ourselves a wide berth for the wedding so we’ve set it sometime in 2016. I’m working on a separate site for the wedding engagement stuff. Mostly an informational static setup to show off some engagement pics (which have yet to be taken) as well as just general information like the who, what, when, where stuff. I’ll post about it later whenever it’s ready.

I’ve also started listening to hip-hop. It’s not like I never used to listen to it ever, but I’ve always been a rock guy. I could only take hip-hop/rap/r&b in small doses before. Now it’s all I want to listen to. I wanted to start something new for recording my experience while exploring the depths of the hip-hop multiverse, but realized that I already have this blog and should probably use it rather than start something else which I will slack on maintaining.

As for programming, I’ve downloaded the new Unity studio and am currently trying to learn how to make a mobile game for android. They’ve really put a lot of work into the studio and for the most part, you just supplement generated code with custom scripts which you can conveniently write in C# (some would call that cheating, but for a newbie like me, I call that awesome).

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Jolene

I’m slowly getting around to playing the guitar again and thought I’d try and learn the song Jolene by Dolly Parton to help facilitate the readjusting period.

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There’s also this version which is the original slowed down to 33rpm (spoilers: it’s awesome).

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This one shows The White Stripes performing it live.

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And here is one by Dolly Parton’s god daughter, Miley Cyrus.

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The IFTTT experiment is over

A little while ago, I created a recipe on IFTTT to link my facebook to this blog and turned it on to see how it went.  Today I’ve turned off the recipes and  have decided to write specific content for the blog. The point was to try and intersperse some of my social media posts with my blog posts, but in reality the blog just became a mirror for my facebook feed since I don’t post as frequently as I should.

IFTTT itself is still a rather useful service in my opinion. One of my currently enabled recipes turns my phone to vibrate mode once it’s connected to the wireless network at my office. Once it disconnects from the network, it puts the ringer back to full volume.

I really think IFTTT is on to something here. The ability to tap into events that happen in your daily life and use those as triggers to initiate actions is essentially an API for life. We just need to expand it and see what comes out of the explosion of apps and services.

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Xubuntu say what?

xubuntu logo

I’ve been making a push lately to do more with linux. I shrunk my main Windows partition and installed Ubuntu 13.10 on there with the stock Unity interface. As usual, after a few days, small things would get to me about the interface and just linux in general. I just didn’t like the way Unity looked. The interface certainly looked nice, but the interaction just wasn’t quite there yet for me.

Then 14.04 came out and I started reading about Xubuntu. I’d never really tried a different flavor of Ubuntu, always going for the stock version because I figured if I had any issues, most support would probably be for the vanilla. For those that don’t know, the different flavors of Ubuntu are differentiated by the desktop environment they use. Kubuntu uses KDE, Lubuntu uses LXDE, Gnome Ubuntu uses Gnome (durrrrr), and Xubuntu uses XFCE. While the underlying system is the same old Debian-based Ubuntu in all, each feels very different. I went with Xubuntu over Lubuntu because I didn’t want just minimalism. I want some features too!

Rather than do a clean install of Xubuntu, I had just upgraded my Ubuntu system from 13.10 to 14.04 LTS, so I followed the instructions here and proceeded to install Xubuntu and get rid of some gnome dependencies I didn’t need anymore. After the installation, I rebooted, switched the desktop session to Xubuntu’s Xfce, and logged in. Beautiful. Just beautiful.

Xubuntu has a central startmenu type menu system attached to a panel at the top of the screen named Whiskermenu. It has a dock system similar to that of Gnome including a port of the panel indicators (mail, bluetooth, network, social, etc) that we’re all used to. The Nautilus file manager has been replaced with Thunar, a lightweight file explorer. It’s noticeably faster than Nautilus but that’s probably because most frills have been stripped out. I quickly realized that the Ubuntu software center looks nice, but is basically crap. Synaptic package manager blows it out of the water. For a dock, I’m using Cairo Dock (think osx dock) which is a bit weird to get used to at first, but works fantastically once it’s properly configured. I’m still using Deluge as a torrent client and apparently a lot of docks support Deluge via dock widgets that show cool things like total up/down speed, number of active torrents, etc. I’m using Google Chrome as my web browser, but for some reason it runs sluggishly in Xubuntu. The pages load fine, but any time you click on something or right-click, it takes ages for the application to respond. For video, I’m using SMPlayer, and for audio, I’m using Clementine. Both seem to work fairly well so far, but I’ll admit I haven’t given them a thorough run through.

Now to gaming. Still the number one reason I primarily used Windows at home. I installed minecraft which works amazingly well on linux. Then I installed Steam. Steam works surprisingly well on linux. I did have some odd little issues initially such as TF2 starting on the wrong monitor and the mouse pointer screen location differing from where it actually clicked, but after getting those squared away, everything just worked.

I’m still working on migrating over my software development process (editing everything with gEdit just doesn’t cut it) which has me trying out a lot of new programs. I will try and write another blog post detailing what I find, but for now, I’m going to just enjoy getting used to linux and Xubuntu!

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gettin old

As I get older, I notice my motivation to write blogs/social media has decreased significantly. Perhaps this is why products like Snapchat and Tumblr have largely escaped my attention. Shoot, I still use IRC, the dinosaur of internet communication. As for what I’ve been doing recently, I’ve put some work into a django port for thehardwareproject.org, tried out some new programs to replace ones I’ve been using for years (Deluge replacing uTorrent, etc), and am actively looking at starting up some new dev projects for 2014/15. I’ll probably try and redo trekktalk.com into something useful, and maybe give Android Studio a shot when I attempt my next android project.

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Rocksmith – The future of learning guitar?

rocksmith logo

So on the advice of my friend Luke, I bought Rocksmith a little while ago even though a new version is coming out in October (Rocksmith 2014). It’s actually a pretty good deal right now on Amazon (link) because for $25 you get the rocktone cable and the PC version of the game on DVD but comes with a steamplay code so you can install it via steam to have it on all your computers. I’m not exactly learning on Rocksmith since I’ve been playing off and on for around 17 years, but I’ve found it to be incredibly useful and pretty fun.

I think the best way to think of Rocksmith would be not as a video game, but as a practice or training aid. It’s not meant to be the teacher, god no. But it is a great supplemental tool for practicing and building up skills. Interestingly enough, your goal while playing is to keep doing each phrase perfectly so you can level up that phrase and get more notes (more points) until you reach the end game (master mode), which is no notes at all. This is an example of a song in normal Rocksmith mode. Excuse my crappy sounding D5.

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I’m on twitch TV now and occasionally stream my Rocksmith sessions so if you want to check that out, click here. But yea, back to the main point. This is the future. I can totally see programs like this being used by music teachers to supplement home practicing. It’s not a bad idea since most music students would be younger and a video game might be better at holding their attention. Perhaps the days of dreading the practicing of instruments is over, but we’ll see.

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Spam!

Spam

Spam, the food (not the email), has been a staple in my family’s pantry for as long as I can remember. When I was younger, I thought it was like that for everyone’s family. But as I started to find out as I got older, Americans generally disliked spam. From what I gather, it seems like most people associate spam with a lower class of eating; something along the lines of “I’d only eat that if I was poor.” I still meet people today that have never even tasted spam.

I’ve since read up on it and discovered that South Korea is the number three consumer of spam in the world, with Guam and Hawaii being the first two. In fact, most of the places where spam is popular coincide with locations of large US military installations. So basically, the army was providing spam to its soldiers and the natives would often get it through the black market or barter. If your country has a large US military presence necessitating large quantities of spam, food is probably a scarce resource so something like spam would be considered extremely valuable.

I still keep up the tradition of eating spam, usually just fried up and served with rice. Last time I went to the grocery store to get it, there were numerous varieties. They had pepper, jalapeno, bacon, and some others. I will always just get the original (and maybe the bacon on occasion) but I’m glad they’re trying to innovate in order to appeal to a newer generation of spam eaters. The legend of spam must live on!

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