Welcome to the July 2018 Newsletter! In this update, we’ll take a look at everything you might have missed in the last month. Let’s dive in!
Table of Contents
July 2018 Digest
As usual, I like to kick off the monthly update with a list of all the posts from the last month and a little summary of each post. Feel free to browse this section if you didn’t get a chance to check anything out from last month.
The Cubicle Conundrum
If you have ever worked a desk job, you’re probably familiar with the concept of a cubicle. If not, it’s basically just a set of walls that are barely big enough for a desk and a little privacy.
If you hate cubicles as much as I do, then maybe this is a good article for you. After all, I spend time covering the most frustrating aspects of working in a cubicle such as the noise paradox and the solitary confinement.
Augmented Reality Music Education
Since launching my Journey to a PhD series, I’ve been thinking a lot about potential research projects. Of course, I have no experience in research, so I’m looking at these projects from the perspective of an engineer.
One of these projects is Augmented Reality Music Education which is an idea I had for personal growth in music. Of course, I’d love the project to be useful for other people.
If you’re interested in my ideas concerning modern computer science research, check out this article and follow along during this series.
The Malevolent Meritocracy
As we grow closer to the end of A Series of Unfavorable Roles, I had to do a small bit on the psuedo-meritocracy that is Corporate America. Success is not measured in skill or productivity but rather luck and corruption.
Call me disillusioned, but I find that the meritocracy doesn’t actually exist. In this article, I examine that concept and explore a potential solution.
If you love video games like I do, then you might enjoy my idea for a potential research project in matchmaking systems. In this article, I explore the concept of matchmaking systems, apply my critique to current systems, and explore the possibility of improving on current systems. If that sounds interesting, take a look!
The Sedentary Situation
With just three articles left in A Series of Unfavorable Roles, I decided to take a stab at the health consequences of working a desk job. While the article doesn’t go into great depth regarding actual statistics, it does point to a few good resources.
In addition, I add a bit of a personal touch with screenshots of my own Fitbit data including my weight and activity over the last couple years. If health is a major concern for you, maybe you should take a look at this article.
When Vacation is More Stressful Than Work
Earlier last month, I took a bit of a trip back home to visit some family. As it turns out, the trip wasn’t that great. In fact, it was pretty stressful.
If you’ve ever planned a vacation that you found out was actually not that great, maybe this is the article for you. Over the course of the article, I spend a lot of time identifying stressful areas of my personal trip. Perhaps you can take note of them for the next family vacation you plan. Or, maybe you can give me some tips for my future trips!
Hello World in Solidity
In May, we had our very first guest post on the site. In June, we doubled that guest post count with the addition of Hello World in Solidity.
If you’re looking to add to the series, check out the GitHub repository and offer to write an article for one of the open issues. Or, just feel free to browse the series. Either way, anything helps the series grow.
The Perilous Perspective
For the final reason why I quit my engineering career, I point to the Perilous Perspective. In this article, I cover topic of conformity in a company. In essence, this conformity leads to pride, narrow-mindedness, and greed.
By the end of the article, I cover some personal experiences, and I even share a video of my old CEO becoming flustered on national TV. If that sounds interesting, take a look.
Procedural Spell Projection
For my third and current final idea for a potential research project, I reach back in time to a period of genuine personal nostalgia when I used to play RPG video games.
One of my favorite games was Phantasy Star Universe. In this game, magic had ranks. As you grew the rank, the spell would change in several ways, but I am most interested in the visual change.
Since I imagine spells like this had to be animated individually, I’m interested in developing an engine that can procedurally generate the graphics for these spells. If that sounds interesting, check out the article!
At long last, we’ve reached the end of A Series of Unfavorable Roles (pending the addendum, of course). In this article, I wrap up the series by covering everything that happened to me during my brief career as an engineer.
Since this article contains an upwards of 6000 words, I would urge anyone who is potentially interested in hearing my story to block out some time to soak it all in. For some context, the article takes a chronological journey from the beginning of my career to its end with plenty of detail in between.
By the end of the article, I do my best to wrap things up by offering a bit of a reflection on the series, sharing some honorable mentions, and looking toward the future. If you’re interested, definitely take a look.
July 2018 Community
In the past month, I haven’t done a whole lot of reading. That said, I won’t leave you hanging. Below you’ll find some of my favorite articles from the last month.
Stack Overflow Isn’t Very Welcoming. It’s Time for That to Change.
The other day I found a Reddit thread complaining about the arrogance on Stack Overflow:
Of course, I believe arrogance isn’t just an issue in Stack Overflow; arrogance is an issue in all facets of tech and engineering. That said, this thread led me to Stack Overflow’s own admission of arrogance.
July 2018 Added Value
As always, I like to take some time to talk about things that have added value to my life in the last month. With June being so crazy, I’m lucky to have found some positives.
Last month, I went on a little vacation to my home town where my wife and I held our wedding party. At the end of that trip, we got to go to our favorite place to camp of all time: Allegany State Park. Over the years, I think we’ve visited there at least 5 times, so you could probably call us regulars by now.
Unfortunately, we were really tired from the trip, so we only stayed for two days rather than the four days we planned. Regardless, we still had a ton of fun.
As usual, we spent some time playing in the creek, going for hikes, and building camp fires. What more could you want? I was just happy to unplug for a couple days. Of course, I’m happy to be writing again.
Earlier last month, Morgan and spent some time watching Quantico. To be honest, I actually enjoyed it. The second season was really quite bizarre, but the first season was quality.
By now, I’m hardly emotionally invested in any of the characters because any of them could be evil, so that kind of ruins the fun. That said, I’d recommend the show anyway. They did a great job with casting.
With all this travel, I have to chock it up to Henry Ford. Motor vehicles are incredible. After all, they’ve allowed me to spend probably close to three full days on the road in the month of June. How else would I get to visit Cleveland, Columbus, Atlanta, Salamanca, Butler, Greenville, and Charlotte in the same month?
In the future, I think I’ll be spending a lot of time repairing the car. But for now, I’m happy with the opportunities I’ve been afforded by this technology. What a time to be alive!
In addition to cars, I’ve found a lot of value in having friends recently. I’m sorry if that comes off as weird, but I sometimes find people to be more frustrating than not—friends included.
For example, when Morgan and I held our wedding party, some of my friends that lived relatively close didn’t even bother to show up. Did I mention that I drove over 800 miles for this party? All they had to do was show up.
Of course, I’m not here to rant about unreliable friends. Instead, I want to talk about how awesome some of my friends have been. For instance, several of them met Morgan and I in Cleveland the night before the big party. Even more friends surprised me at the actual party.
Later in the month, I even got to go on a little road trip to meet up with some friends from my old job. So, June was a good month for friends.
Finally, let’s talk about Columbus: our new home. We first arrived in Columbus on June 26th.
Arriving that early wasn’t exactly ideal. In fact, we still have the other lease until July 12th, but we got a major deal with the new complex for signing early. We’re talking about $150 less a month, so I’d say the overlapping lease was worth it.
At any rate, we love Columbus already. Of course, we’re still in the honeymoon phase, but we appreciate it’s walkability. In Atlanta, we couldn’t walk anywhere. Now we’re able to hike as far as we want. And from what I’ve heard, “the average resident of a walkable neighborhood weighs 6-10 pounds less than someone who lives in a sprawling neighborhood.” Thanks, Walk Score.
Since we’re on the subject of health, why not check out my rant on sedentary behavior in the engineering environment.
July 2018 Discussion
Wow, I can’t believe we’re already in July. This month I want to change the discussion a bit. Instead of tackling a developer related question, I want to ask for a little feedback. How can I improve the website for you?
If you’re curious about where this question comes from, basically I’ve been grinding away at this site for almost two years now. In that time, I’ve gotten almost zero feedback, so I leverage what I can see in the community.
For instance, if I find a website that is hard to use, I take note of what bothers me, and I avoid that practice on my personal website. Likewise, if I see something I like, I try to incorporate that in my website.
In addition, I am the biggest user of my own website, so I often find areas I’d like to improve through repetitive use. If I’m noticing something is particularly annoying to navigate, I’ll change it.
At the moment, I’m struggling with the way series are handled. Currently, series get their own chronologically sorted page just like categories:
Unfortunately, that makes it hard to point a user to the beginning of a particular series as the first article is on the last page. As a workaround, I sometimes make pillar articles which cover a topic related to the series before I try to direct the reader to the beginning of the series:
Of course, that solution isn’t ideal, but it gets the job done. If you have any advice, let me know in the comments.
Coming Soon to The Renegade Coder!
As we open July with a festive Independence Day, I want to talk a bit about the plan for this month. Of course, I would like to address the decrease in writing this month.
A Busy June
As you may be aware, Morgan and I are in the process of moving. In addition, we’ve spent a lot of time traveling to visit family and friends, and we’ve continued to tackle the name change process. In fact, here’s a brief list of things we’ve done in the last month:
- Notified grad school of new name
- Signed up for grad school classes
- Completed grad school paperwork under new name
- Went to a Hamfest
- Visited apartments
- Had a wedding party
- Wrote thank you cards
- Got an oil change
- Cancelled current utilities
- Setup new utilities
- Ordered a UHAUL
- Signed a lease
- Visited friends in Charlotte
- Got new social security cards
- Moved to Columbus
And of course, there’s plenty more that I don’t even remember.
The Plan for July
As you can probably imagine, June has been a rather slow month for the website. For July, however, I’m planning to be more involved in the site. After all, I don’t have much planned.
So, what does that mean for you? Well, I managed to pick up two additional authors in the last two months. I don’t know how many of them plan to continue writing, but that alone is boosting my Sample Programs in Every Language series.
With the additional authors, I feel I can now start focusing on the quality of my own content a bit more. It’s not as if the quality of my work has been bad, but I feel that my work could benefit from some higher standards.
For instance, I’ve always wanted to work on my sources. In other words, a lot of my work is written without proper statistics and support from reputable sources. That’s what sort of makes my site just a blog rather than an educational website, so I’d like to take the step forward toward making my own work more reputable.
As for any concrete plans this month, I don’t really have any. I plan to continue to work at my own pace on topics that interest me. If you have anything you’d like to see, feel free to share.
As much as I love to write, I don't read nearly as much as I should. That's why when I recommend an article, you should probably check it out.
If you're looking to learn some Python, I have plenty of practice problems to get you started.