Scott Hanselman

The Butterfly Effect of Technology Community

September 4, '15 Comments [9] Posted in Musings
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Butterfly Effect by Rhett Maxwell used under CC

The Butterfly Effect is everywhere, truly. The best part is, due to confirmation bias, once you start looking for it you'll see it everywhere. ;)

The Butterfly Effect: This effect grants the power to cause a hurricane in China to a butterfly flapping its wings in New Mexico. It may take a very long time, but the connection is real. If the butterfly had not flapped its wings at just the right point in space/time, the hurricane would not have happened. - Chaos Theory

If you see something cool, share it. If you learn something interesting, share it, and share it in multiple ways. Even a small thing can add up to a big payoff.

I got a great email from a reader this week from Neil of TheSmartFinish. Neil has a small business doing woodworking for connected homes and creates decorative mounts for Nest Thermostats. I have a Nest so Neil reached out to share what he's created.

I tweeted about it. A tiny thing, to be clear. I don't tweet about everything, and I DO get a lot of requests for tweets. My tweets are at my discretion, and I read about it, and shared it.

After a while I thought that Nest should be featuring his stuff themselves. A random tweet from me only goes so far, so I publically told @nest they should feature/RT Neil's stuff. At this point, my butterfly has flapped its wings and I've moved on.


Fast forward and I get the email from Neil. These tweets got some attention and @nest DID actually tweet about him!


This gave him valuable legitimacy and ultimately there was a great article on his project at VentureBeat. Other than the poor title as there are no "ex-marines" - Meet the ex-marine who builds artisanal mounts for connected homes - it's a cool write-up. Now his business is starting to get some new visibility, which is great!

Why am I sharing this story? Absolutely not to toot any horns - certainly not mine - but rather to remind us all about the power of the little things.

I've received hundreds of emails over the last few years with folks sharing stories about "I read this and it got me thinking about" or "listening to this podcast made me quit my job and move overseas" or "my spouse and I were inspired by this post and I switched jobs" and on and on. One reader started a Diabetes non-profit after reading a blog post. Another changed her job and has moved into an industry she really believes in. You might tweet a job opening but never realize that it was the beginning of a move across the country for someone you'll never meet!

I'm a firm believer of the idea that if you put good out there, good stuff will happen. What we do with our tweets, blogs, presentations, podcasts, and books is tiny. We fly our little butterfly wings and try to influence and motivate. What's really amazing are the powerful hurricanes that YOU, Dear Reader, harness for positive change in your life and in the lives of others.

Please, share your Butterfly Effect Stories in the comments! What small things have propelled a huge change in your life?

* Butterfly Effect Photo by Rhett Maxwell used under CC


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Our great big 15 year vow renewal

September 1, '15 Comments [22] Posted in Musings
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Mo at the first weddingYou may have noticed that I'm on vacation these last few weeks. It's the first vacation of any length I've had in a while. In fact, I do have trouble disconnecting sometimes.

I've mentioned before that my wife and I have gotten married a few times. As my wife is a Zimbabwean there was the matter of lobola and a judge wedding, a white wedding, a wedding in Zim, and on and on. We like weddings.

My friend said that my wife and I are the "most gettingmarriedest people" she knows. I think everyone should get married at least a few times, and even better if it's to the same person over and over. ;)

This vacation was our 15 year anniversary so we decided to get married again! We organized a 15 year vow renewal and invited a ton of people. Folks came from South Africa, Haiti, New York, LA, Washington, and all points in between. We had a blast, we ate, we danced, we talked for hours. We put together a retrospective photoshow and a Spotify Playlist (some songs aren't available or are local MP3s) that is representative of our diverse tastes and the last decade and a half.

Last one! Dances at our 15yr vow renewal? Cha Cha slide, Nae Nae, Whip, Cupid Shuffle, Azonto...

A photo posted by Scott Hanselman (@shanselman) on

Our 15 year vow renewal cake

A photo posted by Scott Hanselman (@shanselman) on

Our wedding party at our 15 year vow renewal!

A photo posted by Scott Hanselman (@shanselman) on

Podcasts

I'd also encourage you to check out the two episodes of The Hanselminutes Podcast where my wife joined me.

And yes, I know the book http://www.relationshiphacks.com is insanely late. It's paused, but it's in my mind. We have 6 chapters and have shopped it around and I just need to take another vacation and get the remaining chapters out of my head. Sorry.


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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On Disconnecting

August 26, '15 Comments [59] Posted in Musings
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Yes, I'm writing a blog post about disconnecting from technology. No, the irony is not lost on me. ;)

Storm Trooper on Vacation by JD Hancock used under CC

 

Disconnecting can be hard for a number of reasons, in my experience. There's the usual obvious stuff like the fact that we're literally addicted to the serotonin rush of social media's faux urgency, but there's also aspects that aren't talked about as much. Like, will I have a job when I get back?

I know it's silly to say (or at least, I think it's silly to say) but I still think about the day to day stuff at work and wonder "well, if I leave, who will do it?" Now, hang back, this isn't about me, it's about irrational feelings, so bear with the post. I'm certainly not irreplaceable, none of us are, but I think it's common to feel a combination of feelings like:

  • Who will work on Project X without me?

This implies I'm either the only one, or the best suited. Then there's the opposite:

  • What happens if I'm gone so long that they realize they never needed me at all?

Sometimes on vacation I feel both of these things. They are irrational, but that doesn't make them any less real.

The hardest part about going on vacation isn't the disconnecting, for me, it's the realizing that I'm supposed to go on vacation.

What do YOU think about vacation, Dear Reader? Am I alone in my thoughts here?

* Photo "Stormtrooper on Vacation by JD Hancock used under CC


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Windows 10 IoT Core controlling a Raspberry Pi 2 Robot

August 21, '15 Comments [6] Posted in
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Windows 10 IoT Core on a Raspberry Pi 2 controlling a robot

My 7 year old sat down and built a little robot from instructions listed at Microsoft's IoT Hackster site.

To build the robot, you will need the following:

  1. Wooden Robot Frame in 7 pieces - Get the cutting plans from the Sumo Robot Jr. GitHub repo and submit them to http://ponoko.com. They cut them 4 to a sheet of P3 5.2 mm Veneer Core Birch
  2. 2x continuous rotation servos, like these
  3. A ball caster, like this for the front "wheel."
  4. A USB Xbox 360 Controller 
  5. A Digital switch, like this. You can actually skip this if you want to, it's not require just to move the robot.
  6. 6x 6" Male-to-Female Wires (2 red, 2 white and 2 black) like these
  7. 2x 6" Female-to-Female Wires (1 red and 1 black) like these
  8. Screws, Nuts, Bolts and standoffs like this. This was a little bit of a challenge for us, as the screws I got for the axels of the wheels weren't long enough. You may need to make a few short trips to your local hardware store.
  9. Raspberry Pi 2, a 2 Amp power supply, SD card, network Ethernet cable. I actually ended up using a portable battery that I use to charge my phone.
  10. Micro screwdrivers

Starting with a Raspberry Pi 2, walk through the setup instructions here. You do need to have a Windows 10 today to installing Windows 10 IoT Core but at least it's gotten a lot easier with the latest build for IOT. There's an app that does all the work and you don't need to go to the command line. Also get Visual Studio 2015 Community and the Windows IoT Core Project Templates. Basically just follow these step-by-step instructions.

Once you have the Raspberry Pi 2 loaded and you've got VS, the code for the robot is here on GitHub. The instructions don't include a photo with pinout information, so someone else who completed the project took pictures of the correct orientations for pins.

A few things about Windows 10 IoT Core on small devices like this. It's NOT "desktop Windows." It's not full Windows with a Store and Office. You CAN run Universal apps and they can have a UI. In fact, the robot app can run on your PC and control the robot remotely, OR it can run the same app on the Raspberry PI and control it from there.

Here in VS2015 you can see under Debug the name of my Raspberry PI ("minwinpc") and that I'm targeting it remotely and as an ARM device.

image

I was having so much fun working on assembling this that after the kids went to bed I did a 30 min Google Hangout/YouTube and demonstrated the whole thing. You can watch that here, below. Please also take a moment and subscribe to my YouTube Channel.

Check out http://microsoft.hackster.io and http://idevthis.azurewebsites.net/ for more projects, code, and inspiration. Have you built anything?

SOCIAL: Hey folks, please do follow me on Facebook https://fb.me/scott.hanselman or Twitter! https://twitter.com/shanselman

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Dealing with Software Religious Arguments and Architectural Zealotry

August 19, '15 Comments [54] Posted in Musings
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Warning: Excessive use of Capitals for Emphasis ahead.

A friend of mine left his job to start a medical startup and has been in the middle of a Fight Over The Tech Stack. The current challenge is very bifurcated...very polarized. It's old vs. new, enterprise vs. startup, closed vs. open source, reliable vs. untested. There doesn't seem to be any middle ground.

Sometimes fights like these start with a Zealot.

Zealot: a person who is fanatical and uncompromising in pursuit of their religious, political, or other ideals.

Not all, don't get mad yet, but sometimes. Sometimes a Technical Religious Zealot is on your team - or runs your team - and they can't make objective decisions about a particular piece of technology.

"Don't use Microsoft, it killed my Pappy! Rails? Please, that won't scale. Node? Maybe if you're 17 that'll work! The only real way to write right software is with Technology X."

The language may not be this overt, but the essence is that Software can only be built This Way.

Here's the thing. Lean in. There's lots of ways to build software. Lots of successful ways. In fact, Success is a great metric.

But there's a lot of crappy Java apps, there's a lot of crappy C# apps, and there's lot of crappy Technology X apps.

Enthusiasm for a technology is understandable, especially if you've had previous success. I've worked in C++, Pascal, node.js, Java, and C#, myself. I've had great success with all of them, but I'm currently most excited about .NET and C#. I'm an enthusiast, to be clear. I've also told people who have hired me for projects that .NET wasn't the right tech for their problem.

Be excited about your technical religion, but also not only respect others' technical religion, celebrate their successes and learn from them as they may inform your own architectures. Every religious can learn from others, and the same is true in software.

Beware the Zealots. Software is a place for measurement, for experience, for research, and for thoughtful and enthusiastic discussion. You or the Zealot may ultimately disagree with the team decision but you should disagree and commit. A good Chief Architect can pull all these diverse architectural conversations and business requirements into a reasonable (and likely hybrid) stack that will serve the company for years to come.

Dear Reader, how do you deal with Technology Decisions that turn into Religious Arguments? Sound off in the comments.

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* Photo "Enthusiasm Rainbow Gel" by Raquel Baranow used under CC BY 2.0


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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.