XKCD on Time and The Programmer

This. Me. Ask anybody I’ve worked with. Ask everybody I’m working with now. Actually, either side of the conversation works for me.

Source: xkcd: Supervillain Plan

Looking for a great Java library to help with time zones? Joda Time, you seek Joda Time! Help you, it can! And, there is another: Java 8’s new Time classes are excellent.

Interesting video interview about microservices standardization


This short video interview (link below) with Susan Fowler, a Site Reliability Engineer at Uber, is worth watching for a few reasons:

  • Standardization in microservices is a frontier needing some taming
  • Key concept of understanding microservices as distributed systems
  • Importance of trust in microservices developer ecosystem
  • Women in Tech
  • Physics
  • Great choice of bees for the author’s ORA book cover

Why you should standardize your microservices: An interview with Susan Fowler, Site Reliability Engineer at Uber Technologies.

Production-Ready Microservices


The Conventional Business Plan As The Price of Admission

Ready for Business -- Monkey Business
Ready for Business:  Monkey Business

This week’s @hubxlifescience homework is developing a Lean Business Model Canvas for our companies. I’ve started reading the book behind the spreadsheet, and I’m not sure what to make of it yet, but I did realize one thing already: Writing the conventional 30-60 page business plan is like wearing suits to interviews.

The suit is the “price of admission”, what interviewers charge to make sure you’re not wasting their time.  You spent money to buy the suit. You ironed a shirt or had it laundered. You remembered or relearned how to tie a tie. You look “professional”.  It’s a hazing ritual: they did it, and now they make you do it. It signals conformity, and they only notice if you’re not wearing it.

The conventional business plan is the “price of admission”, what investors charge to make sure you’re not wasting their time. You spent time generating dozens of pages of text, tables, and charts. You scoured the Internet for the right fonts and clip art. You remembered or relearned the anatomy of a business plan. Your business looks “professional”.  It’s a hazing ritual: they did it, and now they make you do it. It signals conformity, and they only notice if you don’t have it.

The’re also alike because neither tell you anything about what is really inside.

South in real space, back in LGBT time?

As I pack for three months in Little Rock, I’m troubled by a new wave of anti-LGBT activity in the South. North Carolina and Alabama have passed anti-equality laws; Georgia’s governor, Nathan Deal, just vetoed something similar in his state. The South’s latest attempts to turn back the clock on equality are thankfully galvanizing a growing resistance; I thank Governor Deal and so does Marc Benioff, CEO of SaleForce, with this video:

When I was a teen in the throes of “figuring things out”, I happened upon a program about Harvey Milk on late night TV. It was confusing and exciting and startling. I watched it with the volume way down low, jumping to change channels if I heard the slightest noise. There were places in the world where I could openly be me? That was one of the most profound moments of my life. It would be years before college took me to Philadelphia where I found my haven city and a few familiar faces at the gay bars. Despite how it felt at the time, I wasn’t the only gay teenager in Pottsville. I also wasn’t the only one to find refuge and opportunity in the city of Brotherly Love despite Pennsylvania generally offering neither.

Back then I had another lifeline to a more accepting world, Channel 33 on CompuServe’s CB simulator. This pre-Internet chat technology let me talk to gay people across the country. Not only did I know there were other gay people outside of Pottsville, but I could talk to them anytime from the privacy of my room on my TRS-80 Model III. It wasn’t an easy road to coming out all the way, but technology certainly helped and has forever been inextricably linked with finding myself.

That’s why I take great pride in seeing technology companies like Salesforce and Apple stand against what’s going on. North Carolina’s discovering they cannot act without consequences from both the public and private sectors. It’s no surprise technology companies have become such strong advocates: many of us retreated from a hateful real world into the growing, more accepting virtual one. Now that virtual world is reaching back into the real one to say, “No.” It’s socially unacceptable and it’s bad for the bottom line.

And so yesterday NBC reported that the Arkansas Attorney General is attempting to block LGBT protection in places including Little Rock–where I’ll be working for three months as a part of the HubX Life Sciences Accelerator. So my feelings are mixed as I get ready to head South and potentially travel back into a past I was happy to leave there. As states, Arkansas and Pennsylvania are strikingly similar (and bad on) gay rights, but I live in Philadelphia, City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection. Things are different here. I love the home I’ve made. It’s not clear if Little Rock is or will remain different from “greater” Arkansas for much longer. Let’s see what we can do about that.

No, I do NOT want to upgrade to Windows 10 AGAIN, and please stop asking!

windNOws-10-logoLast weekend I  gave in to my desire to keep software fresh and upgraded to Windows 10. The upgrade wasn’t smooth. I expected multiple restarts and lots of twiddling and driver updates, but the last straw was being unable to fix a problem where my mouse stopped working after waking the computer from sleep. So I uninstalled Windows 10, which was easier than the install, and then recovered a few things that didn’t get put back, like some NVIDIA dlls. It wasn’t a great experience, but I got back to working. I wasn’t completely incensed.

It did squander some of the good will I’ve been feeling for a post-Ballmer Microsoft. The recent, nagging changes to the “Free Upgrade” notification [ Microsoft Makes Windows 10 ‘Free Upgrades’ Worse | Forbes ] haven’t helped either. Now that I’ve gotten my Win7 box back to normal, the nagging is back at full tilt. News flash: If I uninstalled the update and gave markedly negative feedback after the install and during the uninstall, No, I do NOT want to upgrade to Windows 10 AGAIN, and please stop asking me!

Googling around for how to stop the nagging doesn’t yield a clear solution. Some involve installing software written just to stop the nagging: it’s probably perfectly fine and safe software, but I just don’t like that idea. So what I’m going to try, since I need my Win7 box for work again, is Method 1 from a Microsoft support engineer responding on If Microsoft had toned it down after the uninstall (or never escalated the nagging to current levels), I’d be more likely to try upgrading again later. A gentle reminder every few weeks, once issues like mine are addressed, would have felt helpful. Now I just want it to go away permanently, and that’s not good for me or for Microsoft.

The Amiga turns 30: Remember when computing was fun?

Visiting confronted me with a question: “Remember when computing was fun?” Yes. I do. Painfully so.

In 1996, I bought myself an Amiga 1000 for my birthday. In 1993, I was part of the 75% staff reduction that basically ended Commodore as a viable company. It also ended the frontier years of personal computing.

Days like today, the 30th anniversary of the Amiga 1000 launch, still fill me with a deep sense of loss and longing for those amazing, complicated, turbulent years. I can’t capture its essence in a few pithy paragraphs, so it’s time to stop trying. I’m going to click ‘Publish’, pour myself something strong, and raise a glass to those glorious times and special people.

The Amiga turns 30—“Nobody had ever designed a personal computer this way” | Ars Technica


Beware of Chrome Desktop Apps With Multiple Accounts

Hangouts-FrownIf you use multiple Google accounts and try Google’s new Chrome Desktop Apps, particularly Hangouts, be sure to install it on all of your Google accounts. I realized this when my USB headset “stopped working” with Google Voice last week and I couldn’t fix it. This happens from time to time, usually when Google stealths out big changes to the Hangouts plugin. It usually resolves itself after I reauthorize the plugin to use the camera and microphone again. This time, however, that and none of the other regular tricks worked.

The problem took some digging, but it turns out that the Desktop App configuration on one Chrome Profile will silently override the plug-in or web configuration on other profiles that don’t have the Desktop App version. The Hangouts device settings for one account (which are only visible when actually in a hangout–how dumb is that?) showed Headset for I/O but were being silently overridden by the other account’s Default I/O settings. Very confusing and frustrating.

To be fair, Google does give some warning in the Hangouts support pages–if you know to look. If you don’t have a different image for each Google account, you might not notice that the instructions on signing out didn’t actually work and it’s more an issue of signing into multiple accounts. It’s generally handy to set different profile pictures and themes on each account, even the one in Gmail / Settings / My Picture.

A Good Idea, But …

One continuing annoyance I have with Google and Cloud-based services in general is stealth updates. In the cloud, I have no control of what versions of software I use, and I usually don’t even know when anything has changed. This seems like a good idea, even the holy grail of large IT organizations managing tens of thousands of desktops. The advantages of having all my data in one place but accessible from many devices and locations convinced me to live with that chronic pain of not being completely sure what my applications will look like or how they will behave from day to day.

The other pain associated with the cloud is using web apps instead of desktop apps. So far only Gmail itself gives me a better experience than desktop apps, as trying to use again reminded me. Google is feeling the limits of web apps and is trying to get a foothold on the desktop, and this bug was symptomatic of Google trying to get there.

The Chrome browser was their beachhead, and Chrome Profiles were the next logical step in solving multiple account issues on the desktop that they more-or-less already solved in the Web. Chrome’s duality as browser and operating system is really clever; the browser they got everybody to install on their existing computers running Windows or OS X effectively becomes a virtual machine manager for an ecosystem of accounts and applications of their own making.

Unfortunately as clever as Google is, something as ambitious and complex as stealthing an entire virtual operating system onto everybody’s computers requires as much or more persistence than cleverness. Google’s fickle attitude towards other ambitious projects makes me wonder if they can find the commitment to make Desktop Apps a survivor like Gmail, or it it’s doomed to the dust bin like Plus and Reader and Wave and many others before it.