Falling Behind

It's funny sometimes how easy it is to fall behind personally in the very things that we do professionally.

At Emcien, my main role these days involves creating the processes we use to build our servers and infrastructure. That means a lot of building server images and a lot of thinking about how to make sure our environments are always running up to their potential. I spend a lot of my day writing recipes to make sure that we don't have to worry about our systems and whether a deploy was done correctly.

So imagine my surprise when I logged onto my long-neglected personal server yesterday and realized how much it was the antithesis of all those principles I stick to at work. — Continue Reading...

End of a Chapter: blogdowntown Shuts Down

blogdowntown's Final Design blogdowntown

On Tuesday afternoon KPCC shut down blogdowntown, the community news site that I started in 2005. It's not much of a surprise: the site has been drifting downward since February of 2011, when I had to stop printing the weekly paper that we had launched six months earlier.

It was an amazing ride while it lasted, though. What started as just me writing about my exploration of a neighborhood turned into a news source that at its peak was attracting 40,000 to 50,000 unique monthly visitors. That traffic was down more than half by the time KPCC pulled the plug.

In the end, the question I couldn't answer was the same one that has been haunting journalism for years: how do you make money on this? — Continue Reading...

Two Worlds of Commits

When you go to a profile page on GitHub, you get a graphical map of the user's last year of activity, with green squares representing a day-by-day view of how active the user has been. When you visit your own page while logged in, that map includes contributions to private repositories. That view can look very different than the one that someone who isn't logged in sees on the same page.

The image above shows the two different views of my activity over the last year, with public activity on top and my private view on the bottom. Apparently it's been a private year: of my 1,189 commits, only 67 show up in public. — Continue Reading...

Twiddling the Bits for AAC Audio

Audio Data Transport Stream (ADTS) Header for AAC Eric Richardson

I've been doing some work on StreamMachine for KPCC lately, and on a call the other day they mentioned that more of the industry seemed to be standardizing on AAC for audio and moving away from MP3. It's a move that makes sense: the format's newer, a little smarter, and can sound a little better at lower bit rates.

I set to work reading up on it yesterday, just trying to scope out what it would take to add support to StreamMachine. Turns out, not much, but I got to have some fun playing with binary in the process. — Continue Reading...

Big Steps / Little Steps

Moves for April 3 Eric Richardson

In February I installed Moves, a free app that uses your location and movement to create a daily storyline. It's sort of a pedometer-plus, counting steps but also mapping locations and tracks throughout the day.

I'm blessed to be able to walk to work most days, so most of the steps that Moves ends up tracking are on the 0.6 mile trek between our house and Emcien. That walk is pretty short, but includes a steep climb. Because of that, my walking speed is noticeably faster coming home from work than it is heading in: approximately 0.3 - 0.5mph different, according to Moves.

Even more noticeable is the difference in steps. Each day I take approximately 1300 steps on the way into the office, and 1100 steps on the way back. I'm covering about 15% more ground with each step coming down the hill.

I guess it makes sense, then, that I keep having to tell Moves that I wasn't running. Given the difference, it's a fairly understandable mistake.