02 November, 2017

Desktop-Linux + CLI?

"If there's one thing surrounding Linux usage that bothers me more than anything else, it's when the detractors say you cannot work with Linux without knowing the command line. This is a bit of FUD — fear, uncertainty, and doubt — that keeps new users from giving the open source platform a try. I'm here, right now, to dispel that myth."
Ubuntu Desktop
Linux Mint (MATE edition)

With personal experience, I can attest to this statement. The days when you HAD to deal with the Command Line even on desktop-Linux distros are past. Only server-distros demand this nowadays.


https://www.techrepublic.com/article/yes-you-can-use-linux-without-knowing-the-command-line/

01 November, 2017

To my doubters

Yes, seems I finally landed my dream-job =D It's not work, it's fun :)

I get to work with innovating and bleeding-edge technology every day, at my own terms, with all the tech-benefits I could wish for. Not to mention my contract-benefits, and office-benefits (sponsored gourmet coffee, UV-filtered water and Red Bull).

Working with as smart people as I do is, well, very rewarding in itself. Finally, people at my own level! People who actually appreciates open-source and Linux!

To all my doubters and nay-sayers:
how's that Microsoft-programming job working out for you?

26 October, 2017

Cloud Engineer + DevOps

The Cloud

A cloud engineer is an IT professional responsible for any technological duties associated with cloud computing, including design, planning, management, maintenance and support.

The cloud engineer position can be broken into multiple roles, including cloud architect, cloud software engineer, cloud security engineer, cloud systems engineer and cloud network engineer.

Each position focuses on a specific type of cloud computing, rather than the technology as a whole. Companies that hire cloud engineers are often looking to deploy cloud services or further their cloud understanding and technology.

https://aws.amazon.com/what-is-cloud-computing/



DevOps

DevOps is the combination of cultural philosophies, practices, and tools that increases an organization’s ability to deliver applications and services at high velocity: evolving and improving products at a faster pace than organizations using traditional software development and infrastructure management processes. This speed enables organizations to better serve their customers and compete more effectively in the market.



From my employer's website [edit/red.]:
 Robots and artificial intelligence create opportunities of enormous dimensions. 

 We have developed the market-leading virtual assistant, who has taken the European market by storm. The company is experiencing rapid growth and we are looking for new colleagues to join us at our office in Stavanger, Norway. Become a part of what the World Economic Forum calls "The Fourth Industrial Revolution"! 

 As an employee in our company, you become a part of a young and dynamic environment with a high degree of freedom for self-development. Your colleagues have exceptional expertise in data and technology, and all developers get access to state of the art equipment. 

 Our technology stack today consists of Linux, PostgreSQL, Apache, Varnish, Java, Spring, Grails, Groovy, Gradle, Python, Javascript, Lua, Torch, IntelliJ IDEA, Git and Amazon Web Services (hence the aws-amazon links above). We will use any required additional technologies in the future to solve whatever new challenges may arise. 

25 October, 2017

In 2017, Linux rules computing

 The Linux Foundation reports that Linux runs 90 percent of the public cloud workload, 82 percent of the world's smartphones, 62 percent of the embedded market, oh and a mere 99 percent of the supercomputer market. All that rests on the Linux kernel.

"The Linux kernel is one of the largest and most successful open-source projects that has ever come about. The huge rate of change and number of individual contributors show that it has a vibrant and active community, constantly causing the evolution of the kernel in response to number of different environments it is used in. This rate of change continues to increase, as does the number of developers and companies involved in the process; thus far, the development process has proved that it is able to scale up to higher speeds without trouble."

http://www.zdnet.com/article/whos-building-linux-in-2017/
 Good news :)

Over the past year, the kernel has been updated through merged changesets, new drivers, hardening and testing.

http://sdtimes.com/report-interest-linux-kernel-remains-strong/
http://www.zdnet.com/article/microsoft-says-40-percent-of-all-vms-in-azure-now-are-running-linux/

19 October, 2017

Green / Blue - Blue / Green

:P WAT? Green/Blue?

Blue/Green Deployment in Datacenter

How it Works

In the "blue-green" model, two identical application stacks are maintained (for convenience, I will refer to our application server instances and service instances as a stack, database deployments are done separately . One of the stacks is always live, let us say green is live and blue is stand-by.

When we want to deploy a new build to production, we deploy it on blue stack and do thorough testing. Once new build seems to work fine, the blue stack goes live and green becomes standby. This helps us do a quick rollback if issues are identified during deployment or sanity check.

What are the challenges?

The tricky bit here is to switch between blue and green stacks with almost no downtime.
An overhead here is to maintain two stacks and hence adds to the cost.

https://medium.com/devops-learnings/blue-green-deployments-in-data-center-e704f93f9f70
My new job requires a lot of automation set in place for us in DevOps to be able to manage the huge deployment-workloads we get. I am currently in the process of automating our setup to a degree where we only have to initiate deployment-processes without having to monitor them as they execute :P at least compared to before I came in

AUTOMATE ALL THE THINGS!

04 October, 2017

Disposable gloves

Finally got a hold of some black nitrile gloves for heavy industrial use.

...not that I screw a lot on engines or other mechanical endeavours, but the standard nitrile gloves I get issued for use in computer-handling almost always tear or just blatantly break apart after a few moments.

I tend to like to take things apart, very little things, with small components. Disposable gloves are a must-have in these cases.

A box of these gloves (100) can cost as much as 150-200 NOK (around $18-25), but if I order them from Denmark, I can get the exact same boxes for as little as 50-80 NOK (around $6-8).


They're even resistant to chemicals, oils and even some acids(!). Considered one of the strongest disposable gloves in industry, and to boot; they're even safe for people with allergies.


P.S.
Something told me I would need these in the time coming. Sure enough, I did. Looks like I'll be deploying / operating / administrating / troubleshooting / solving and last but not least: tinker with and assemble Linux servers for a company specializing in machine-learning / AI / virtual assistant technology. Most of the application-servers are cloud-VMs, but I was asked to take care of physical servers as well :-P

27 September, 2017

AMiGA fanboy; guilty.

I just got an awaited shipment from the UK:

Amiga "Rainbow Double-Check"-logo T-shirt

Workbench | 'Insert diskette' screen T-shirt

Representin' ;D

After re-playing a heap of my all-time favorite Amiga-games on my RetroPie (RPi3), I thought I'd do a little post honoring the 80s/90s gaming-computer. Mainly, the Amiga 500.

No other computer-system has ever had this big an impact on my life, my preferences and my esthetic sense.

To give a little intro about the Amiga 500: it was launched as a compact, home game-computer in the mid-1980s. The Amiga 500 had everything from motherboard/CPU to add-on-chips and keyboard integrated into one plastic casing.

People mostly hooked it up to their TV with an extra peripheral called the RF-modulator, but was also sold with an Commodore-branded CRT-monitor (see picture below), that even sported integrated stereo speakers(!).

Commodore Amiga 500 - 'System 1'

At the time (late 80s) Amiga was unmatched in animation and sound, mostly due to their use of specialty chain-chips (separate chips co-working in a process-chain), but also thanks to a massive (for the time) homebrew-scene (the demo-scene).

The Amiga 500 demonstrated graphics-powers unmatched by similar 8-/16-bit systems at the time. As the Amiga 500 had over 300.000 units sold by 1990, it had established itself as a massively popular home-computer across Europe. But due to scepticism and poor advertising, not so good in the US.

Amiga set itself apart from other computer systems, just like Apple. For example, the PC-dominating three-finger salute, is performed differently on Amiga-systems: Ctrl + Left Amiga + Right Amiga.

The 90s brought the demo-scene community that grew out of the 80s, eagerly showcasing the Amiga as a competitive computer-system by making byte-sized (68000 assembly-coded), elaborate animated/scored demonstration-applications, coined "demos", thus; the demo-scene.



One of my most memorable demos was this "cracktro" by Unit A:


Another more recent (2010) demo by Razor1911:




The Amiga was also one of the last, true ROM-based computers (the operating system was located on a ROM-chip on-board, much like our Android/iOS-smartphones today, and other micro-computers of the late 80s (Apple), hard-drives cost an arm and a leg in those days, very expensive) that sported accompanying diskette(s) containing the Workbench graphical desktop environment by itself. Original, to say the least.

The Amiga Workbench was a multi-tasking desktop environment. Shown running a background-application (Boing) behind the Workbench-UI.

Commodore Amiga Workbench 1.3 (w/"Boing" running in back)
It also loaded and ran games straight from 3½ inch floppy disks (usually 880 KB format). The game-data was loaded from the floppy into Amiga-memory and consequently executed.

The picture below shows the Amiga-screen that shows if you didn't load Workbench from floppy, indicating you had to load a floppy for something to happen.

Commodore Amiga 'Insert diskette' load-screen
Commodore Amiga Boing Ball, animated gif representation
--------
It was a major feat when made in the 80s. One animation done in bit-plane, one sound-sample run at varying speeds and sample-rates. All-together it made an animated scene with a bouncing ball in a pseudo-3d grid-room.

Commodore Amiga Guru Meditation
The Amiga equivalent of a BSOD on Windows and kernel panic on Linux

The only real caveats in these series of computers were the diskette-drive(s) and the power supply unit (PSU).

Commodore Amiga external Power Supply Unit



As a curiosity, here is a rather rare picture from wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amiga_Unix):

Amiga Unix - System V Release 4 Amiga Version 2.0
Boot / Root installation-diskettes & tape



As a treat, here is the best Amiga-videos I've found on YouTube:



Turrican II: The Final Fight




Amiga Story | Part 1 + Part 2






25 September, 2017

Bleeding-edge Android

Yes, I'm slow at adopting new tech nowadays. Finally got updated to Android v7.x/8.x. Got my step-brothers' old Nexus 5X, and yes; I know this particular model has hardware-issues.

This one however has been fixed. Faulty components have been replaced and a new warranty issued.



I didn't really worry about using an outdated phone (Nexus 5), since I had secured it as much as I would "be allowed". Yes, allowed. Our corporate overlords control more than you might think...

29 August, 2017

Happy Birthday Linux!

Happy Birthday Linux! Over a quarter (26yrs) of a century old, still going strong and conquering area after area in various technology-segments 😋😊😃

Yes, I know he didn't announce it on newsgroups this day, he did on August 25th.

But, as he says himself, he considers both dates as birthdays. The first as the announcement-date, and the second (today, August 29th) as the upload-date.

15 June, 2017

Back 2 School

Looks like I'll be a student again this fall 😉 "precourse in maths and physics for engineering" 😏 after that, probably a BSc/MSc in Computer Science.

Yes.., I didn't finish any grade when I was attending private college earlier, it didn't work out, so I started working instead 😎

Now, I'm attending the University of Stavanger (UiS).

06 June, 2017

Retro-gaming

I've been itching to write this blogpost for a while...

I'm an avid retro-gamer, as well as a contemporary gamer. My emulation-antics took off in the late 90s when I started getting nostalgic about old DOS-games from the late 80s and early 90s. For the most part, DOS-emulation was pretty accurate even in the early days.

But these days emulation is pretty much a native thing. CPU-cycle-imitation and other emulation-techniques have pretty much reached the runtime-levels of the actual systems they are emulating.

I don't favor the new idea of releasing limited special-editions of consoles, like the NES classic mini and the SNES classic mini, when you can build a COTS-computer (or even use a deprecated laptop/desktop), load it up with RetroPie and ROMs, and you basically have a multi-emulation box that runs EVERYTHING, and can be CUSTOMIZED.

If you go for a Raspberry Pi 3, such a system could even cost you as low as $30 (apart from cables and gamepads / arcade-sticks, then it would cost you a minimum of $50).

Sure, a few people argue that the RPi3 is a fad, or that the SD-card gets worn out so it's not made to last, etc.

Well, a $30 credit-card computer isn't really that hard to replace, and SD-cards are a dime a dozen these days and are even getting cheaper, not to mention quite easy to back up (making a copy-image on your computer harddrive / usb-drive).

Sure you cannot for example use exotic console-hardware, like the microphone gamepad for the Japanese NES. Nor can you play roms made from FX-gamepaks (Nintendo addon-technology to render pseudo-3D on the SNES). Then again, would you want to? Hey, if that's your thing, have at it. I don't give a flying f**k...

Emulation is king - imho.

11 May, 2017

Phantom mic-mixer


The Behringer Xenyx302USB is a nifty little piece of audio-hardware :) 5 channel mixer, Phantom-powered (48V) XLR microphone-input / JACK-input, line-input and 2-track input coupled with an USB audio-interface (full duplex input/output).

A compact and really portable design, weighs nothing and sports a sturdy build-quality I'm not used to seeing in equipment in this price-range. Although the mic-input could really use a filter (it picks up every hiss and click in the room), this can easily be remedied with a standalone hum-eliminator box.

All-round it is a great choice for podcasting, amateur recording, limited input-mixing, video / audio conferences and the like.

18 April, 2017

RetroPie

TIP: For those of you out there considering getting a NES Classic / SNES Classic read this blogpost first... you won't be sorry.

Since I started dabbling in Raspberry Pi SBC's, I've been testing a few emulation-distros and the like. Been playing around with this since June 2016, so a good 10 months by now I would say :P

One particular distro caught my interest while testing; namely RetroPie.
Excerpt from retropie.org.uk:

RetroPie allows you to turn your Raspberry Pi, ODroid C1/C2, or PC into a retro-gaming machine. It builds upon Raspbian, EmulationStation, RetroArch and many other projects to enable you to play your favourite Arcade, home-console, and classic PC games with the minimum set-up.

RetroPie lets you play virtually ALL arcade-/console-/PC-games released in the period 1980-2000. Every .rom I've got in my library (accumulated around 10.000+ since the 1990s) works out-of-the-box.


Tested a good few arcade- and console-roms, and they work flawlessly.


Only configuration it may require is a simple dialogue-based gamepad/joystick setup. And you're ready to game as you please :)

Zelda II - The Adventure of Link (NES)


Bubble Bobble (NES)

Super Mario Kart (SNES)


Super Mario World (SNES)


Super Bomber Man (SNES)


Super Street Fighter II (SNES)


Super Street Fighter II - In-game (SNES)


Turrican II (Amiga)

Turrican II - In-game (Amiga)


Giana Sisters (Amiga)

My Logitech F310 gamepad used testing RetroPie.

Street Fighter II (Arcade)

Street Fighter II - In-game (Arcade)

Sonic The Hedgehog (SEGA Genesis)

 Sonic The Hedgehog (SEGA Genesis)

Splatterhouse 2 (SEGA Genesis)

Splatterhouse 2 - In-game (SEGA Genesis)

06 April, 2017

HiFiBerry Digi+ Pro (for RPi)

Recently got a really nifty Pi-hat (addon-card for Raspberry Pi) called "HiFiBerry" - model "Digi+ Pro".




"Pi-hats" are simple single-PCB addon-cards that slot on top of Raspberry Pi line of single-board computers, and extends the functionality of the RPi's. The HiFiBerry slots easily on top of the GPIO pin-row, with the help of plastic risers (the white bolts/nuts pictured below).


With the HiFiBerry Digi+ Pro, I get audio-output in 24bit 96KHz "studio-quality". NiCE! :)