It's been something I've been thinking about all summer. And I've finally summoned the courage to break out my hard hat. In order to create a new website, I need to demolish this one!
What about all the content I've added? We'll as I stated in my last post, I've been putting more effort into other projects. I was going to hold out for the Raspberry Pi 4 to come out, but considering no word has come out about that, an upgrade to the Raspberry Pi 3 for my hacktop project may be in the works especially after having to struggle with setting up media for it. But I'm still going to work with my Pi 2B as much as possible including figuring out how to get Midori set up. Midori may be the only light-weight browser that may have developer tools (I hope), which is what I REALLY want from using the hacktop and to tinker with the HTML5 Canvas features. However, if I am unable to do this, and the device consumes too many resource with something that was engineered for efficenticy, then the project will be considered a failure.
However, I have been testing out some OpenGL code in C++ and things seem to be working OK. Also, audio appears to be working so that's also good. So the probably of sucess should be feasable. Otherwsie, I'll have to look into creating my own browswer, which I really don't want to do as that would be time consuming, and I'm not being paid for doing this. (I really wish I knew how Patreon worked.)
So at this point, I need to make money the normal way: a job. One where the boss doesing think a person like me has an "entitlement complex" because he's never had to pay any of his employees $15 per hour and doesn't start his day with an unhealthy dose of conservative talk radio which constantly broadcasts messages that only a fool would accept.
I've tried very hard on this blog to keep my toes out of the political waters. Yet with all that has happened, especially in the past couple of years, why any employer would pretend they accept anyone as an employee but not hire the people who were actually capabile of doing the job because they are female, black, Latino, gay, disabled, or asked to be paid a living wage is not an employer who is interested in hiring these people espeically since there are things like Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) and Tax benefits for businesses who hire employees with disablities. However, politicians will only focus on Veterans, not disabled veterans. (The whole disaster that the VA Hospital system because proved that.
You can be of sound mind and everything else about you healthy (normal blood pressure, regular diet and exercise, maintain a reasonable sleep cycle) and some minor detail about you like being on the autism spectrum or some other quirk and you're ability to be hired at a good company with a good boss who understands why you have so many gaps in your employment history were for at-will reasons in a job market not interested in hiring idiot savants just idiots becomes infintessmal. Even more so if you didn't have a lot of friends, didn't spend more money to go to a more expesive school that everyone has greater respect for, and can confidently show up at an interview not worried about any of your life problems because you still have a full head of hair, your own car to get their, and someone at home who loves you.
I don't envy anyone who has those things and who has worked hard to get them. The problem is finding places that will let you work hard but keep your diginity in tact. What good is working some place for less than $10 per hour when it doesn't pay off your debts or allow your the freedom to spend your weekend or other days off going out some place or buying the things you need to be a better worker or to work towards upwawrd mobility?
It is true success isn't easy, but it shouldn't be impossible. And we all know nobody is going to give us instant success, and if they do that is a terrible thing to give someone as they will never know the value of effort, yet we live in a society were there are people who were given such a thing and we are expected to idolize, worship , and give a damn about what they do.
And yet we are told to be "thankful for what we have because other people have less". Well what about the people who do have less? What should they be thankful for? Tell that to the child whose parents work two jobs but only gets fed once a day at the public school summer lunch program that some people he's never met think the state is giving too much to feed that kid. Tell that to the unemployed man who starts doing oddjobs because his government gave a big tax incentive to the big corporation he used to work for and spent it on moving the assembly line outside of the country. Tell that to the woman whose lecherous boss who wrote a strict dress code for women is about to fire her because she's "too old" in his opinion. Tell that to the black man whose successful job has allowed him to recently moved into a better neighborhood but his being pulled over by a police officer for racial profiling. Good good, there are too many of those stories right now! In fact, this recent one in North Miami, Florida, has be hopping mad considering it involved attempting to shoot an autistic man because someone phoned in a false report.
Why should anyone be thankful for less and be told to be content with it? There aren't as many shopping malls. The internet get's blamed for the mistakes retailers made of kicking out teenagers from malls and letting big anchor stores E.E.E. (Embrace, Extend, Extinguish) each other. I recently was getting a ride with someone to this organization I was with that let me commute 20 minutes to my home until the state Vocational Rehabilitation department decided that because they were going to provide me a free monthly bus pass for next month, I could spend two hours in the blistering summer heat taking our local mass transit system operated by people who do not seek out private investors to help pay for better transit improvements like light rail expansion and making sure that the parts of town that didn't get the phone call from 1964 about this thing called Title III and Title VII in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the other notifications from 1973, 1990, and 2008 reguarding disablity rights.
So we now see that our society has about as much interest upholding the Americans With Disabilities Act as it does with the Civil Rights Act, it might be time to consider working for people who follow the laws not because excuses like "the federal government told us to" or "because of the rise of political correctness" but because these thing were the right thing to do in the first place ignored it anyway.
It shouldn't take federal mandates to ask people to treat each other equally and with respect but unfortunately we had to do it and it appears we still need to still fight the same people who still don't want to do it, especially now since a lot of them "want their country back". Talk about who feels entitled!
It's been two years since I wrote a entry on this website. And I'm sure there is some one who came here from my resume asking "This is the best he's ever done?"
I can do better. I just have been busy these past two years.
For starters, I have been collaborating with a Code for America Brigade called Open Data STL, where we've been working on some civic related projects.
I've been going to a lot more hackathons and coding events like GlobalHack and Code Until Dawn. I created the header used in the Code Until Dawn Meetup webiste from ASCII Art generated from a Bash script.
When a large corporation tried doing a coding event, they schedule it as if we were wizards. What we do isn't magic, but science and it is a lot of hard work. Which is why we try to make ever second count at these events.
One such event, the St. Louis Global Game Jam is held every January at the University of Missouri - St. Louis (UMSL). This year I helped design a game called Demon Torch written in HTML5 and some Game framework called Phaser.io.
Never the less, my baby for the past two years has been my Hacktop project and all the technical writing I've been doing for it that is stored on the Hacktop project wiki. For less than $200, you can build a laptop. That's how far we've come these days. I don't even use my desktop as much as I should anymore. If I had a graphics card and a copy of Windows 8.1, it would make one heck of a wicked gaming computer. Of course, I built that a few years ago on my 30th birthday. It was the second desktop I built. The first one was in 2008 after college.
I'd like to use my Hacktop to use Software Defined Radio to scan police radio or at very least pick up the local FM stations. Did I mention the hardware for that cost $25? You can pick up one of these gadget on Amazon and with the right amount of knowledge, listen to stuff like that.
In February 2016, I built a video game emulator with a Raspberry Pi 2, and a touch screen. I still need to work out some sound issues, but I've enjoyed spending time playing all those video games I never had time to play when I was a kid. It works better if I just plug it into an HDTV.
Sometimes, I do local house calls for simple computer work and make about $100 from it.
I've been doing a lot of Excel work, and probably would use more Excel stuff people weren't afraid of using Macro Enabled files over computer virus concerns. It is a lot easier to write functions in a multiline environment rather than in that one field.
I trying to get this software called Tabula set up so that I can extract the data from the St. Louis Metro system PDF schedules and import the data into Excel. This was easy to do on Windows. But on Linux, it takes a bit more work and software to install. Namely JRuby and Apache Ant and Maven. I hope it is just JRuby and Ant. Never the less, the transit system was shuffled around recently. I can get to work just fine, but I don't mind taking the bus.
I'd really like to convert a bicycle to a gas-powered motorized bike. I saw a couple of guys riding them in St. Louis last week, and it continues to be one of the goals I have for myself. I think they may have been 80cc motors.
So if it seems as if I have abandonded this place, I haven't. I've just been busy with other things.
My projects have been scattered through out the cosmos of cyberspace, but here is still home. I think I'll renovate it some time.
Last month, I stated that I want to close this site. In fact, a few people were disappointed to hear that. Let me remind everyone, there still will be a JRCharney.com. There still will be a blog that is updated from time to time. It's just that the site as you see it right now will be replaced. Soon...I hope.
So, what's really going on? I've had a few thoughts for new projects and have been going to user groups and coding events. Stuff I probably should have been doing the past couple of years but really didn't have any direction. That has changed.
I've also worked on some ASCII art projects this month, which in a world where Photoshop is king, it still impresses some younger programs that you can manipulate characters and colors to create art from text. (It just takes some knowledge of how to use escape characters in Linux). If you want to play around with this, I highly recommend using Terminus size 11 as a font. (Ubuntu users sudo apt-get install xfonts-termius.) To complement this artform, I'm interested in figuring out how to create chiptune or MIDI sounds, which is much more complicated to do today than it was 20 years ago because using echo -e "\a" doesn't do anything anymore because the bell character relied on computers with a buzzer to create a beep. I'm hoping to figure out how to do that. I'd post some screenshots of what I'm doing, but I'm currently writing this post on my Raspberry Pi hacktop. If anything, this experience reminds me of the importance of having a full laptop. However, using Raspberry Pi continues to be a great learning experience, one I wish existed 15 years ago.
In a lot of ways, I feel like I'm playing catch up or waking up from a coma after being hit by a bus years ago on the way to work. You want to really live that normal life you planned but you feel like you've been locked away and missed a lot of important life events.
I know a lot of people expect a lot from me at my age. I really mean that. Not doing much the last seven years has damaged my self-confidence. It would be great to run into someone who can tell me "you're doing fine" or "no pressure". I like to create my own stuff. (Although, I don't mind forking someones else's project sometimes.) I really enjoy proofreading someone else's work to make it even better. I can't help but want to do my own thing at my own pace.
I'm a Vim geek. GUI editors don't impress me, especially if they don't use command line or regular expression. If only more people knew that Vim was capable of code completion. I prefer the iterative-Incremental development programming model over "Agile" anything. (Agile is a terrible buzzword!) I believe programming projects should be treated as programming projects not business projects until a stable and reliably strong version is ready to use. (It will be ready when it is ready!)
I know most employers don't like to read or hear about what potential employees think when they are either looking for employees who will answer "How High?" when they are asked to jump up and down or if they are looking for programmers who have accumulated enough computer knowledge from their educational and non-professional experiences that they can teach to employees who are imported from other countries in order to export what they've learned to countries that corporations uses as tax havens at the cost of far less than what the college educated person paid for learning that knowledge. I know it sounds biased, but from the many people who I've met and who have been recruited to work for large global companies, it has been one of the many unintended consequences of their job where instead of being a programmer they end out spending most of their time training other people to do their job.
Such a business model is often part of the "Embrace Extend Extinguish" a model Microsoft appears to still use considering this week's news that of the 18,000 workers being laid off at Microsoft, 12,500 of those employees are Nokia workers. 1,100 from Finland where Nokia is from. 1,800 from a Nokia factory in Hungary. Nokia was acquired by Microsoft in August last year and since Steve Ballmer passed the CEO reins to Satya Nadella. And despite these layoffs, MSFT shares have grown over 20% while at the same time Microsoft and other large corporations lobbied to raise the cap on the number of H1-Bs and wrapped it up with all the other much needed immigration reform that Congress (and folks like Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL)) keep rejecting. If H1-B immigration and the regular immigration issues were not bundled together, the H1-B part would be rejected and we probably wouldn't be having an immigration crisis with kids from Central America going through Mexico in a very dangerous Hunger-Games-esque journey into the U.S.
Meanwhile for Microsoft and other global tech companies to state that there is a "deficit of STEM workers from the U.S." is a complete lie. For the past seven years, I've gone to hundreds of interviews, thousands of resumes, and at least two different job programs (which was a big mistake considering they paid no attention to my technical skills), and several recruiters, only to wind up empty or told they wanted someone with a skillset mostly using some proprietary Microsoft programming product and language.
Good programmers will use Microsoft products to write their resume in Word or make an Excel spreadsheet. Great programmers, never use anything made by Microsoft especially since most free software tools aren't made by Microsoft and suffer software bloat when compiled in Windows. Heck, most everyone who shows up to the user groups shows up with a Mac or a Linux laptop. Just about everyone does not use Microsoft programming products. They use Java, Python, C, C++, PHP, Ruby, Scala, Erlang, Haskell, MySQL, MongoDB, Redis, etc. There's never any .Net stuff. There's no ASP, no Coldfusion, and very little C# unless Mono needs to be used
So why do tech companies still want to hire people who know how to use Microsoft tools? Why do the same tech companies support STEM programs in schools but in the real world ignore the same people who they said "You can grow up to be a programmer/engineer/technician/consultant"? Why do they post job offers, then say "sorry we're not interested" THEN hire migrant workers after the tell the government "we couldn't find enough people here"?
It's because they are more interested in jacking up their stock price, blow off paying taxes, and making a ton of money to insulate themselves from the have-nots just like any other modern global corporation. Yet, people are still willing to work for these companies on the bottom under the promises of benefits (which are cut) and low wages that aren't enough to keep their heads above water.
If anything, I would much rather work for a startup or a medium sized company rather than some really big company full of unfulfilled promises and denial of mistakes. Last I checked, that's pretty much what defines a government these days. (Zing!)
But why should I even be concerned about any of that? I just want to fork the GQRX project so it uses ncurses instead of Qt (which was at one time owned by Nokia) or GTK+ to provide a textual interface instead of graphical.
That's what I'm talking about. I'd much rather think about code and programming and projects that I'm working on than where my next paycheck comes from or if I'm going to get fired (which if you live in a state with "at-will hiring" or "right-to-work", they could fire you tomorrow just to see their stock rise a penny) or if I will ever get hired.
That's really all I ask. To get paid to work on things that I do, and to have a routine so that I can live like an adult for once. Isn't that what everyone wants? I know there is no free ride to wealth, but I see myself as a craftsman rather than an assembly worker. I just need a routine and something (or someone) to keep me interested in it.
Today, I announce a big announcement on this site: I'm closing it!
Not permenantly, but temporarily.
It should also be not surprise that the past few posts have been mostly about new software, something even my current webhost doesn't have. I'll still be one of their customers, however, progress does not wait on the change in habits of others behaviors or methods. If you want to make something happen, learn how change things rather than just changing yourself to fall back to conform with everyone else. Human beings were not meant to be put into a mold, nor to stay put, nor to conform, and definitely not to keep repeating the same motions as their predicessors in the hope it would create a different result if the same errors were committed.
We are a progressive species. Evolution may be slow, but progress moves much faster.
Politically, economically, and socially, we have seen what happens when we continue to lock into the same beliefs we've had for the past five years, ten years, or even a lifetime. Our president, Barack Obama, has learned that our enemies are better negociators than our government. The government wants to complain and use the media to chastise the president for going over them, but the truth is after rolling back financial regulations that were in place since the Great Depression that were established to prevent another Great Depression (Glass-Stegal Act, etc.), resistant partisan lockstepping in Congress, Congress backing corporate bailouts for corrupt corporations and predatory banks, a Congressionally backed sequestor of government services (which clearly did a bang up job at the Department of Veterans Affairs), and a congressionally backed government shutdown (which effected this website last year killing two important programming projects that used Census data), Congress want to bellyache that the president didn't talk to them six months ago (when they didn't want to talk to him) about talking with our enemies to set free some dope who though he could walk home from Afghanistan five years ago only to be picked up by Taliban insurgents and traded him for five prisoners only to come home to the same welcome a lot of Vietnam veterans got thanks to news media which is in cahoots with a certain political party? Maybe it's time for everyone to unplug. From the way I've seen it the past seven years, our culture spends too much time agreeing on the opinions that were presented to them instead of disconnecting from the electronic media, looking offline for evidence, and forming their own clear option when they return the web to share their opinion.
Very seldom is this site ever political. Opinionanted, yes. But the world is full of opinions. Most of them reactionary. We see it every time there is a shooting, a war, or a political disagreement. Most of it is there just to distract folks from the truth. Not "The Truth" as in "You want to know the truth: It's the martians! Thanks, Obama!" I mean the truth that most people know when they spend very little time in front of the TV or the radio or some website started by some pundit who has or had his own TV or radio show or reading an eBook of said pundits on their eBook reader, Tablet, or Cell Phone.
The Truth is that it is all a show. A distraction. A side show circus. A trap discourage change, discipline independent thought, and to support the interest of a few individuals who have to financial capital to keep doing it. It's just like televangelism...rather it is televangelism.
Right now, the rich are getting richer while everyone else is either destitute or headed towards destitution.
Right now, oil companies are pumping large amounts of precious fresh water to pump out toxic chemicals to fuel our petroleum addiction.
Right now, there are companies claiming they are desperate to hire new employees for jobs that nobody wants.
Right now, there are people who have given up on looking for a job because their advanced skill sets are not in compliance with the corporate world's massive vocabulary of Business and Marketing buzzwords.
Right now, there are CEOs making tens of thousands of dollars per hour doing nothing while there are thousands of their employees who are struggling to live on minimum wage.
Right now, there are wealthy people eating thousand dollar feasts, most of which will go to waste as thousands of other people cry to sleep homeless and hungry.
Right now, there are people in incarceration for crimes that were committed out of desperation, longing, love, finding peace, or health reasons, but who won't get such a fair trail as the racketeer, the overdosing socialite, or because of cultural differences.
Right now, people with Autism and Asperger's are being discriminated against in the same way people who had HIV and AIDS were in the 1980s. Einstien was though to be autistic, and in today's society where any disability will demote you to a life of being indentured, folks like Einstien wouldn't have a chance to show off their genius.
Right now, the military is spending billions of dollars on a fighter jet that is overbudget and can't fly just so some war machine CEO can increase his wealth while soldiers go into battle with guns that jam and no armour against enemies who get their more effective weapons from the same war machine CEO for a fraction of the cost.
And yet most of these people either do not care about these things or would rather support them if it meant to preserve the status quo or the betterment of their own selfish intentions. They think that none of this affects them. That none of it matters. That they can go volunteer at some charity to reconcile for their selfishness and get a nice tax write off in the process with the folks at their work group or church group.
I know what it is like to have nothing. Sure, I'm in the business of computers. But computers and electronics become cheaper as the market tries to encourage the uses of such devices for the interest of distraction, surveillance, control, or whatever other malevolent intent. But I've been there. I know what it is like to be poor. I don't own a car. I still live with my folks. I ride the bus or (if my body is willing) ride my bike everywhere. I've being trying to find a job for years with not change in my resume due to certain pejorative attitudes in the job market both nationally and locally.
But being poor, homeless, hungry, discriminated, or anything else is not as terrible of a fate as being willfully ignorant.
Sure, there are stubborn people all the time who don't like to do things. Many of them oppose because they see something greater not just for themselves for for others as well. But the most powerful possess a degree of willful ignorance that they are willing to promote it to keep everything they have or everything that was given to them or taken by force by them. This is the kind of willful ignorance puts people into harms way. It has sent millions of people to shed blood in battle. It fights to keep anyone new from experiencing upward mobility and to make sure there is a lengthy gap between those who still have it from those who have worked hard enough to move up but are thwarted from doing it. It turns a blind eye to the welfare of the ill, seditiously breaks the promises of a reward to those who put themselves in harms way, and will do anything in it's power to keep it so, even endorse people who have opinions that sound ludicrous, fringe, and borderline manic-street-preacher-like. They have a voice because someone needs them to be the voice that speaks the lies that people with weak wills will follow and express and outright rage over things that previous presidents did before this one without as much visceral complaint.
While so many people are willing to go out in a blaze of glory to stay the course and keep things as they are but actually end out being dragged kicking and screaming by others to move forward and behave like spoiled children everytime a new progressive change happens, there are many other people who can not wait for a political agenda or the right guy to be elected to see change happen. They also know better than to go crazy or kill people in the process. Yet, we've see this happen, and seen it be exploited for everything that it isn't.
So what any of that crap that I've just written about have to do with this website? A lot, if you go back and read the details, but more importantly the social situations that surround it all.
The more we are immersed in violence or fear, the less open we are to others. I remember this one time, I showed up to a job interview just a day after there was a terrible shooting in another part of the country and saw the secretary lock the door to the office I was to meet at for no reason except fear. The only thing I was carrying was a portfolio with resumes and paper tablet in it. Needless to say, such a cold welcome didn't lead toward a new job that day.
So what do we need to do? We need to be more social. Sure, we have social networks for just about everything, but unless people unplug and meet other people in person without making it harder, distant, less welcoming, exclusive, and expensive human beings in general will miss out on a lot of new, exciting, life changing, motivating things that will make us more open, tolerant, and social with one another.
Two weeks ago, I decided to start over with Raspberry Pi. Of which, even if you don't have a lot of money, isn't that hard to do.
This time around, I am logging all of my steps and installing more packages from source. Though, next time, I might install everything from source. A file will be posted eventually showing all those steps as of the second time around. A few things that so far have been installed from source, and not the Raspbian/Ubuntu/Debian include Vim, SQLite3, PCRE, and Nginx.
I was worried that I may have broke the SQLite resources which for some foolish reason Raspbian depends on the same one that Debian and Ubuntu uses which is over two years old. In fact, a lot of what Debian-based Linux distros rely upon aren't updated to the most recent stable version. I'm not asking for the bleeding-edge experimentals, only that anything that has suffered a significant security issue or bug fix be installed.
When establishing that a computer's purpose be designated as a webserver, or anything that accesses any public network like the Internet, having up to date software isn't a luxury, it is a pertinent necessity.
This does remind me that if I do happen to try installed Raspbian the third time around, I should install OpenSSL completely from source next time around. Why stop at that? What else does Nginx rely on? GCC, PCRE, zlib, I think I may have saw Sed and Grep? Aw, heck, let's build it all from scratch!. Personally, I would like to see a flow chart indicating the order of which things should be installed. The Linux kernel would likely be the top node in that chart. More importantly, what if one of the initial steps of this project was to Fork this guy's github?
What I do know is that installing software on Linux can be a complex process especially if makefiles aren't thorough and include everything that is necessary to not just install new software but to replace older software provided by the system. SQLite is a perfect example of that since once you are done doing the ./configure && make && sudo make install part and try to run sqlite3, you'll get a warning saying that SQLite header and source mismatch, meaning, that unless you replace the version in your Raspberry Pi's system library directory (/usr/bin/arm-linux-gnueabihf/libsqlite3.so.0.8.6) with a softlink to the one you installed (/usr/local/lib/libsqlite3.so.0.8.6), SQLite won't work. But there is a caveat to doing this, one that I was warned about and hope not to encounter. There is the potential to screw up everything the next time Raspbian does upgrade SQLite3. I'm also wondering if I should have given sudo ldconfig a try first before doing this. Like I said, nothing terrible has happened yet, and if it does I am prepared to try again and can afford to start over.
But the RaspberryPi is a learning computer, that is the more you use it the more you learn what do do and what not to do. To borrow a quote from the Hacker's Manifesto "If [the computer] makes a mistake, it's because I screwed it up." And that's the best part. With Raspberry Pi, the computer can afford to make mistakes and you do not need to feel remorse for screwing things up. It's how programming should be. If it were any better, backing up the SD card would be as simple as making a copy of a file. In fact, that's what I should do next week, because it doesn't take much to kill a perfectly good SD Card but it can be cloned, reformatted, and reused. Just make sure you have a copy when the time comes.