Life over the past year

I’ve been out of school now for one year, and it has been an incredible year so far. I feel like I’ve been everywhere, done everything, and am still just as busy as I was during school. There are always good and bad times, but I am so blessed to be happy and view life as good. Life is about experiences, and I have enjoyed the trials and tribulations to the fullest. That’s what it means to truly live. I flew back from Oshkosh 2013 today, so that is the subject most readily on my mind to start out on.

On July 24, 2013, I passed my IFR practical test and received my instrument rating in the Piper Tripacer. OSU Avionics did a fantastic job of installing the Garmin 430W in our panel to enable this to happen. This was probably my most heavily ingrained desire that’d been burning for years. With the incredible instruction from John Wilson, I was able to finish my rating in less than two months. I passed my IFR written test with a score of 90% just one week before I took my practical test. I intend to have a future couple of blog posts in the coming weeks that go into more depth of this endeavour.

Earlier in March, I had the privilege to demo our SignWave hand-based biometric login application at SXSW. SXSW was one of the coolest places to be ever if you love Music, Film, or what they call “Interactive”. Interactive means anything from gaming to entrepreneurship, changing the world, or just changing our perspective of it. There was so much stuff everywhere. I even got to see Coolio and deadmau5. One of the downsides of the life happened shortly after when my car got broken into the day after St. Patricks day. My work laptop and flight bag were stolen from my car. About a month later, they stole my radio and my 12″ JL Audio subwoofers. Yikes. After a few weeks of not having a radio, you don’t really miss it. It’s pretty interesting to see how you “think” you need things (like cable), but when you are without them for a few weeks you don’t really miss them all that much. Humans have survived many thousands of years without the internet or smartphones.

Soulfire Software is still cooking. We’re still working on our first released 3D game. We hope to finish it by early next year. I’m really excited to see where that leads. Scott should be graduating by December, and that should help spur our progress tremendously. We’re using the Unity3D game engine, which has enhanced our development pipeline significantly. Our team did a gamejam a few months ago which was ridiculously successful. We hadn’t ever built a working 3D game yet to that point. In 48-hours, I think we nailed it. I’ll try to post a link to the version on the Soulfire website soon.

Work at Battelle has been going well. I’ve been working on some neat projects and learned an absurd amount about working with a team of engineers. At Soulfire, almost everyone is an artist. Everyone is a programmer at work except for one UI designer. It’s fascinating to see all of the pieces that need to fit into place to release a product into the consumer market. I’ve released/shipped over a half-dozen medium-scale projects to consumers. I have a love and passion for crafting fun, high quality product experiences for customers. I’m not a computer-scientist, I’m a software engineer. I know how to get things done, and I enjoy that immensely.

This last year has been an adventure. In fact, every year has been an adventure. This was the first year that I’ve been able to do things that have been useful other than spending time in school. Just because I’m no longer in school doesn’t mean I stop learning. I hope to never stop exploring and learning. This concludes my sixth yearly blog post. Cheers to another year!

Oh how I love technology

I really like my job.  It allows me to try out new things and I am always learning.  The one thing about technology these days is how one thing evolves into another so quickly that we rarely step back and think about what is actually going on.  I thought I would show how a few cool things working together can make some REALLY cool.  Microsoft has made such an excellent product that truly is an integrated development environment.

For the airport’s intranet site, I created a CodedUI test using Visual Studio 2010 Premium to exercise the user interface for a particular page.  It consisted of opening up the browser, clicking on links, Assert()ing that they existed and that everything is working as it should.  A CodedUI test can then be “played back” when the tests are run.

Now on to the next bit.  I am using Team Foundation Server (TFS) 2010 for Source Control, Work Item management, and Building.  What’s really slick is being able to utilize the TFS server to build the project.  I defined a build specification so that it would work like a Continuous Integration (CI) system.  Whenever code is checked in, the server will build the code and copy the binaries to a directory.  If the build fails, the code is rejected.

So what makes this even more awesome, is that with Visual Studio Test Agent, I can run CodedUI tests on a separate test machine from my Visual Studio instance.

Recently, I have been granted access to the network over VPN.  VPN is Virtual Private Networking.  Basically, anywhere there is internet, I can access the servers on the airport’s local network without physically being there.

So there I was, sitting at home drinking coffee.  I pull out my laptop at the kicthen table and connect through VPN (no wires or anything, wireless is cool beans), and decide to make a quick change to the code of the intranet site.  When I check in my code, the TFS server all the way over at the airport builds the code, copies the build to the test machine, runs the CodedUI test on the test machine, delivers the result to the build server and then TFS accepts the new code (Changeset).

I think that’s really slick.  It’s truly mind boggling to think of all the underlying technology it takes for that to just “work.”  And this is why I really love technology.

Tech.Web Design

Web 2.0 finally appears to be here and rocking.  I’ve been thinking lately, what exactly makes a website look, well, good.  There is one simple thing that makes a web page look professional; gradients.  Other things like a fixed percentage width also add to a 2.0 design, but gradients are likely the defining point of this web revolution.  It changes sites from This to This.  There are a lot of different examples, but this one is the most obvious.  Also, a dynamic site also defines this Web 2.0.  I have taken my shot at the 2.0 revolution, and ended up with This.  It may look simple on the front end, but every single thing on the page is dynamic, content will be added to the page based on whatever comes out of the database.  I have created mangement pages so every page, content, ect.. can be updated from anywhere.

The point is is that a revolution many years in the making is finally coming full-circle.  The next-generation of the Web is here at last, none of it possible without Photoshop created by Adobe.

Tech.Live

The site that I have been working at off and on at is finally complete! I’ve learned so much about PHP and CSS by doing this. The finished product is the hardest thing to actually release because normally, you are your own hardest critic.

Most of it wasn’t all that difficult to actually code. Coming up with ideas for what to put out there and how to actually design it was.

A lot of credit go out to many people who gave me suggestions and helped make graphics, downloads and other things. The Fearless Few main site will be released this Friday. If someone comments about this on my blog, I will actually release it Thurday; I mean, there is no reason to delay it if it’s already done!

In other news, this is the first actual real post on my blog. It seems that blogging really does not serve much purpose other than just being a place to relay somewhat useless news. Either way, I guess it is enjoyable to blog.