Jukin’

I’m a digital guy. I grew up in front of computers. I have to have the newest and greatest gadgets as soon as possible.  I work in technology and spend a lot of my off time dicking around with the latest gizmo.

I like to keep a hand on the analog though.  I love the tactile experience of putting a record on the turntable. I love the hisses and pops and imperfections of music carved into a hunk of vinyl. I have an Echo Dot connected to the stereo in my shop where my lab lives and I do use it a lot, but I also like to spin up the turntable and drop the needle on classics not yet digitized, listen, and bask in the warmth.

My grandpa Orville had a float house on the Columbia river where he parked his boat when I was a lad. It was a magical place. A hang out space, a proto-mancave. There was a hardwood bar with bar stools, a pool table, a kegerator, a slot machine, and a 1947 AMI Model C jukebox. When Gramps passed,  the only thing I asked for was the jukebox. It was in very rough shape when I got it. The records were gone, parts were missing and it didn’t work. I’ve messed with it over the years and had it temporarily playing, but I’m not good enough with old electronics to have ever gotten it working stably.  This is a link to my youth, to the analog, and to good music only available on 78s.

I found a guy in Clackamas (about 10mi away)  who does restorations and just completed one of the exact same model! I’m going to look at his work, hopefully this weekend, and just sent him pictures of mine and the stacks of spare parts I’ve accumulated over the 10 years I’ve been working on it. It’s my most prized possession. I’m REALLY hoping his work is good and that he’ll take the job of doing mine!  It will go into my burgeoning hang out space in my shop, next to the popcorn maker, kegerator and stand up arcade machine.  Now if I can just talk my mom out if the slot machine.

Wish me luck! Here’s what it should look like when finished.

 

Why Today Is Important

Alan Turing is credited with crwating what we today know as the programmable computer. He had the idea before WWII, but work in earnest started in order to crack the “unbreakable” German Enigma machine’s encryption. They were used on U-boats which were destroying allied ships en-masse. Cracking their code would give locations to avoid and other vital information.

He worked in secret and never got credit for his work in his lifetime because it was still a state secret, though it saved thousands of lives. Many believe it to have been a big part of the reason the Germans surrendered.

He was discovered to be gay, a crime then, and penalized with chemical castration. He took his own life. He was posthumously pardoned in 2013 by the Queen. He is one of my biggest heroes and today is his birthday. Read a book on him or at least watch The Imitation Game. It’s pretty close to factual and you wouldn’t be reading this message if it weren’t for Turing.

Why I’m Finally Taking A Coding Class

Like most people my age, I’m 43. Unlike most people my age in my profession, I’ve never taken an actual programming class. Writing Color Basic programs on my TRS-80 is what got me into my beloved trade. Tirelessly copying programs line by line from Hot Coco magazine and tweaking them while working my way through the books that came with the computer until I could write my own programs was all I could think of as a lad. When Batman wasn’t on. I can hack together a little python, munge some perl, and used to write the hell out of DOS scripts, but it’s all self taught, as opposed to hundreds of hours of classes I’ve taken for networking, servers, wireless and security.

To be honest, I loathe it now.  I don’t know the precise moment when I lost the taste. Probably the first time I heard the siren song of a modem squeal. I’ve spent a career avoiding programming and dba work.  Software engineering takes a such a focused linear mindset.  Don’t get me wrong, you do have to be methodical as a bit jockey, you have to have processes, and I do know some amazing linear thinking network folk, but that linearity is at a whole different level for programming. I admire it as a quality. That’s not me though. I am thinking about every component of a system all at once. It fits my scatter brain.  I’ll be honest as well that I just find it tedious. I’m methodical and all about process and procedure, I’m a single tasker, but my mind is working on flipping bits all the way from the antenna to the cat video all at once.

So, why the change of heart? A couple reasons, in reverse order of importance (see, I need more linearity):

A) I don’t want to jump up the stack and become a code poet and I know enough to cobble together a script, but the lines between software and networking are blurring. My friend George Stefanick (go see his blog if you have ANYTHING to do with WiFi), during a vendor presentation on SDN at Wireless Field Day asked “at what point am I no longer a network guy and become a software guy” or words to that effect. As usual, he made a very valid point.  It’s time to invest in some career future proofing.  I’m wrapping up on the certs I’ve been after for many many years and I’d go nuts if I wasn’t learning. It’s time to codify my understanding in an instructed rather than ad-hoc fashion.  It’s also a challenge and a step away from my comfort zone.

2) The best part is that one of my best friends, who also happens to be my son, is taking the class with me (I’m the lucky dad who is close friends with all three if his adult children)!  We did Lego Mindstorms when he was a kid, played with Arduino a few years ago, and he has a knack and the mind for it. He sees the routines in his head and they appear on the screen. We got to talking and decided it would be fun to do it together. We can be competitive, and this is a way to be with fewer welts than our paintball outings. He just got out of high school and a little instructor-led online 12-week class is a good way to explore it as a career possibility or just take it up as a hobby. Or he could drop it flat, whatever, he’s at the age where it’s good to try things on and see if they fit.  We can drop the whole experience off at Goodwill if it’s not his size.

So, Python 3 via Portland Community College, (who are also one of my clients) it is! If/then we like it, we keep going, else, it will have been a bonding experience, and I dig the hell out of those.