A Day in the Life of Tech – August 2015

It’s been an interesting past couple of weeks in my tech universe.  Just last week, Mike Pall, long time maintainer of the LuaJIT project, declared he’s looking for new maintainers for the LuaJIT project.  Lots of people from the LuaJIT community stepped forward to throw their hat in the arena to be on the maintainer’s bandwagon.  Yours truly expressed some desire to help out where possible, although I don’t fancy myself as a ‘maintainer’, but rather an occasional contributor.

At roughly the same time, another Michael Neidermayer, maintainer if ffmpeg,  a fairly high profile project, declared his desire to leave his project.

I half expected the commentary around these departures to be on the order of “who is John Galt”, but nope, just a couple of guys moving on to bigger and better things, either due to burn out, disillusionment, or simply because doing the same thing for a long time just starts to lose interest.

The LuaJIT one is interesting as I had a conversation with a coworker just a week previous discussing reluctance to use LuaJIT due to the fact it is maintained by a single entity.  I take Mike’s turning over of the project to ‘the community’ to be a good thing.  More people involved, less likely for the project to disappear.  It won’t quite have the same genius focus that it had before, but at the same time, it will get some new perspectives, and perhaps some new features that are really needed that Mike was neither interested in, or had the time to implement.  We’ll see.  I intend to write up some documentation, and possibly contribute some test cases.

This reminds me that these things are just tools, and not crusades in and of themselves.  I love using LuaJIT because it solves a great many challenges when rapidly prototyping and stitching together disparate systems.  But, I’m not a LuaJIT acolite (counter to appearances).

In another project, I recently purchased the brand spanking new Odroid XU4 from Hardkernel.  I bought the cloudshell as well because it’s a fairly simple effective case that comes complete with a 2.5″ display, and connection for a SATA/SSD drive.  I’ve had interesting debates with colleagues about the usefulness of such modules in the fact of fairly solid computing commodity products.  The most interesting is probably discussing the reality of NAS boxes, which this thing is meant to be able to support the creation of.  The bottom line is, for $79, this is a simple easy compute module, like the Raspberry Pi, although much more powerful.  It could possibly be used as a replacement for many a primary compute device, or could just be a good way to do a little bit of prototyping and experimentation.

The Odroid isn’t necessarily meant to be a finished end user consumer product.  They are solidly single board developer computers, and as such, they are just another tool in the arsenal of a developer.  Need to do a little Linux?  Just turn this thing on, SSH into and there you go.  No need for a VM on some desktop machine, or your Mac, just throw $79 at the problem and carry on.

Ubiquitous computing, and by that I mean cheap and easy and powerful enough, will bring in many possibilities.

On another front, I had the opportunity to fly by 3DR quadcopter a couple of times in the last week.  First was to show my mother and sister.  My mother’s response “Nice toy for rich boys”.  My sister was a bit more enthusiastic with “that’s very cool”.  Non-human occupied aerial devices are simply going to proliferate, because they’re cheap enough, and easy enough to fly either by humans or machines, that it’s an almost no brainer.  Legislation can’t keep up, and by the time it catches up it won’t be able to put the genie back in the bottle.  We’ll no doubt develop automated air traffic control systems for these things, so that aerial delivery of small items can become a reality.

Although I started with the 3DR Iris+, I’m pretty sure my next rig will come from Quad Questions.

The Sparrow racing quad kit they build seems quite interesting.  I now know that to get beyond the standard video clip of a slow motion rise above nice landscapes, you want a FPV rig, preferably built out of carbon fiber, with very little frills beyond that.  Perhaps I’ll save up for this coming Christmas/birthday and see what I can get.  I’m sure I’ll get an assembled machine instead of a kit, because kits have a way of never actually getting completed.

Other than that, the release of the new Tessels is imminent, and Microsoft is making great strides with event hubs on Azure, consuming 10s of millions of iOT like events on a daily basis.  This space is going to get interesting fairly quickly.

And that’s what this day in tech looks like.  More progress on hardware, shifting ownership in software, and something interesting always just around the corner.

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