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Ramblings on coding once again June 18, 2013

Posted by Edwin Ritter in career.
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6 comments

I learned a long time ago that being good in one thing can limit your career. I did not limit myself and have worked as a software programmer, system administrator, project manager and supervisor. I quickly learned that moving into each new role requires a change in focus and leads to new insights as to how teams interact. In each role, I have always worked with software development teams in one capacity or another.

Over the last two months, I set a goal for myself to re-new my skills (and learn new ones) in software programming. The web is so good at providing learning resources and somehow, I found my way to the CodeAcademy web site. It tracks your progress and also awards badges and points, like a video game.

1stDay_CodeStreakThe first day, I ‘earned’ 68 points and getting back into coding was easier than I thought. I started with a HTML refresher and quickly re-gained a developer frame of mind. While the tools are different since my first job, the actual coding is similar to the bike riding syndrome. I then began using the site every day and  started a consecutive day coding streak.

Each day, I learned more about HTML and moved on to CSS, Java and gained insight into working with jQuery, PHP, Python and Ruby. I find an affinity to the server side apps of PHP, Ruby and Python.

60Day_CodeStreakMy recent daily learning regimen using Codeacedemy has just ended.  I worked my way through 1000 exercises over a consecutive 60 day period. On weekends and holidays, it took a concerted effort to find the time to code. During this streak, I also installed Eclipse IDE, created an account on JSFiddle and reviewed Oracle Java training also. Also a bonus, my MAC OS provides access to the java complier and Ruby via the command line as they are built in to the OS. The command line brings me back to the old days….<insert favorite old soldier story here>.

I’m not done yet and there is always more to learn. My intent here is to keep improving my skills. Having always worked with technical people, I understand the software development process from different perspectives. I also know that being able to ‘wear different hats’ is a positive and makes me more marketable.

Now that I am riding the coding bike once again, I am comfortable working on these applications as part of a development team. I also bring my experience and perspective as a project manager, supervisor and system administrator to the table. I continue to code and to learn about syntax intricacies and improving on my skills.

If you have programming skills, you may be aware of the site I used. For new programmers, it is a good place to consider – especially, since it is free. I like the Eclipse IDE (also free) and have also used DreamWeaver in the past. Oracle provides a good overview with Java also. Everyone builds their toolkit over time. I am refreshing mine and adding new ones.

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Ramblings on the Programmable World June 6, 2013

Posted by Edwin Ritter in Cloud Computing, Trends.
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2 comments

I am an active reader of Wired and enjoy articles that deal with emerging trends. From a recent issue, I found an a write up that relates to big data. In the near future, data will be generated by every day items. The main concept of the piece deals with connecting our analog devices such as a refrigerator (and, everything else) to a network. The idea is not a far fetched as it used to be. This is not limited to active devices either. Passive devices, such as doors and windows can be connected as well. They will be talking to us and each other. All of this is the early stages of a programmable world and will take some time to sort out.

We know from Moore’s Law that electronic devices get cheaper all the time. Here is a direct link to the article in Wired that describes how will be connecting sensors to physical devices and integrating them into the programmable world.

Device sensors generating data

Sensors and objects linked together.

According to the author, there are three stages. The first involves getting devices on the network. The prospect of generating, monitoring this data and then triggering events as a result will lead to applications not within our purview currently. And, this it not just for residential use; factory automation can be taken to a new level. Bringing the analog world into the digital age. Having a system to collect and arrange the data is required. Think about when every device in your house is connected to your Wi-Fi network. The second stage will have those devices on the network sync with each other – output from one device triggers an action in another. The third and final stage involves using these devices as a system or single platform. To make this work, we will need repeatable and consistent patterns. The first generation will be crude and will not handle exceptions well. We will get smarter about that and iterate on stimulus and response triggers.

We have experienced discrete pieces of connected devices into disparate networks already. Wireless (aka, WiFi), Bluetooth, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and Near Field Communications (NFC) are routinely used in security badges, printers, cameras, smart phones and tablets. The next iteration will be connecting them together.

There is a great potential here with the number of devices to connect in the trillions. A big number. Each device generating data based on stimulus. Management will require programming –  lots of programming and networking to make this all work together.  Big companies are looking at this including Qualcomm, Cisco, GE and IBM as well as start ups are working on this as well. Changes will be seen in the home, factory and the office.

To revise an old phrase, this isn’t your Father’s network. Devices with embedded sensors will generate a lot of chatter. Who is going to listen? Where will that data be stored? What standards will be needed for command and control? We will get that sorted that out and then look for the next challenge.