App idea: Open file on tablet from computer remotely

(Merely jotting down an idea here.)

Problem scenario: “Fred” is sitting and writing on his thesis. On his computer lie over a hundred of pdf’s. Searching and finding the right pdf is easy from the comfort of a computer but more of a chore when typing on a tablet.

Solution scenario: After writing for a while and finding himself in need of searching through a paper Fred decides that he wants to use his tablet for this. Fred is a fast typer and finds the relevant pdf file easily which he then right-clicks and selects ‘open on tablet.’ His tablet lying on his desk comes to life revealing his pdf fully opened and ready to be read.

I think someone must have thought of this. Some work seems to have been done on this through the web intents initiative as well as the open intents initiative. However, I couldn’t easily find a working example.

Anyhow. Back to writing.

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Norwegian government and current hunger strikes in Guantanamo

Yep. I officially tried making the world a better place by shouting into a small online community. It’s because I saw this tweet.

My reaction was that of, “what is the Norwegian government doing about this?” So I searched online.

  1. Googled: “Regjeringen Guantanamo” – Isolated for the last month
  2. Googled: “Staten Guantanamo” – Isolated for the last month
  3. Googled: “Stortinget Guantanamo” – Isolated for the last month
  4. Googled: “Guantanamo” – Isolated for the last month and sites in Norway

That last search yielded one result. Edit: Thankfully a bit more attention have been given, though our government remain impressively still. I understand that there are a lot of very complicated crisises around the world as well as that the news agencies have to focus on cases that are newsworthy and of public interest. So I wonder if this isn’t such a case. Politics is prioritization of resources and many issues deservere attention I just wish this has gotten some more national attention and perhaps even a reaction from our government.

Edit: Asked our minister of foreign affairs if our government would take a stand regarding this ongoing hunger strike.

My server revisited: Preparing for easter :)

My old laptop turned into a trusty server

My old laptop turned into a trusty server

 

Easter is nearing, my master thesis deadline is nearing (June 1st), all sorts of things are nearing. I’ll be heading home for Easter to be with family and friends. But! Before doing so I wanted to make sure that I would still be able to access my server that is hosting my master thesis web-app. There were a couple of hurdles to overcome:

  1. Automatically check vpn connection every ten min. At the University we connect to internet usually through VPN so the server needed to automatically reconnect to the internet. I solved it by creating a cron job that reconnects to vpn every ten minutes.
  2. On system reboot reconnect to vpn and start noip2 process. The cron program has a very nifty option for running a script after reboot. With that I was able to instruct it to connect to vpn and also start noip which helps sort out my server’s ever changing ip and connect it to a stable domain name.

With these changes combined I should be able to fully work on the server without it being kicked of the network and me being able to reboot it. I did some tests and everything seems to be in order.

If you look closely you'll see a printout of my crontab set to run to scripts when their conditions occur.

If you look closely you’ll see a printout of my crontab set to run to scripts when their conditions occur.

Oh, how much work I’ll be able to get done during Easter… At least I won’t be tearing my hair out because I’m not around to restart my server. The weak point here is in the case of a power outage in which it won’t properly restart the processes. I could insert the laptop battery which could act as a nice buffer but it lowers the battery’s capacity and I’m not sure if I want to do that.

Anyhow. Learned some more sysadmin skills today which might always come in handy. ;)

For those who want to start a Pils & Programming

A friend of mine told me that they’re planning to start a Pils & Programmering and wondered what tips & tricks I had to give. Here I’ll try to share some of our experiences, give tips and hopefully some inspiration. First some notable documents:

  1. A Norwegian article that provides some historic backstory. We started Pils & Programmering October 2011 to be a nice excuse for coding on a Friday evening but also as a space for practise, socializing and for entrepreneurial connections to form. 
  2. A github makefile for Pils & Programmering. After the first Pils & Programmering groups started showing up nationally and internationally we created this document as an attempt to anchor our vision.

tl;dr? -> Gather as many it-interested people as you can, be nerdy, be social, create! :)

Lessons learned after 1.5 years of runtime and over 50 meetings

  1. The “storefront”. We created a facebook page along with a facebook group. The Facebook page provided us with a public face while the fb group provided a backchannel for people to converse in and share stuff. Furthermore having a fb group allows you to create events where you simply invite everyone in the group to the event. Remember to set the group event privacy to public so that people outside of the group would see that event. Arguably we’re currently quite dependant on FB. We’re therefore considering repurposing pilsprog.no to be a aggregator for all the PilsProg facebook pages. So far we’re just trying to keep things lean.
  2. Take pictures during the event (and tag). Yay for video as well. Taking pictures, posting them on your Facebook page and tagging friends helps build reputation showcasing the event for the participants’ friends.  Pictures help lower the barrier to show up.
  3. Create events well ahead of time. This is an area we’re trying to get better at and we have yet to automate it, even though we could just do that. Creating events ahead of time gives people time to figure out if they can as well as figure out whether or not friends are headed there.
  4. Ground ideas in single individuals, we call them project owners. Over time we realized that we kept getting great ideas but they suffered when we got too busy and when there were no clear leader for that project. We created the idea of project owners as a person that is responsible for planning lightning talks, hackathons or some similar project. There will be many ideas so try to be laidback and give new people a chance to contribute by giving them small actionable tasks so that they feel that they’re contributing and investing in the movement. :)
  5. Welcome the new people. Very important. As you start having meetings new people will be showing up wanting to take part. They’re your guests. Shake their hand, make them feel welcome and help them realize that we’re just hanging around and no one needs to prove anything. Include them in the nerdy conversations and ask questions about what they’re working on or planning to work on.
  6. “Ver seriøs, men ikkje alvorleg.” In other words be earnest about the endeavour and make sure you keep it playful. Create a safe space for crazy ideas to pop up and for people to step up and try to realize some of them. And also for people to ask their  questions and for people to share knowledge.
  7. Finally, again relax. You might not get that much work done on a session of Pils & Programmering we realized that and we also realized that that is okay. Being social is a goal in itself. :)

Future plans

Recently we’ve founded Kompiler.no which is a formally registered foundation with basically the same goals as Pils & Programming. We want it to act as an umbrella for tech events in Bergen and perhaps expand it from there afterwards. Essentially Kompiler allows us to formally apply for funding so that we can host bigger events. 

We’ve had three instances of Friday Night Lightning an event of lightning talks where people got to present things. Videos will be showing up. :) May 4th we hope to host a hackathon.

We want to keep lowering the barrier to entry. To do that we’re planning to create some codeacademy inspired events which are events in which we just focus on helping people get through one of the tracks on codeacademy.com. By giving people a chance to have a look at the assignments from the comfort of their home and realize that it is not so hard we hope to get a lot more people showing up and coding.

Questions, concerns, comments? :)

Gl hf!

Booster2013 conference notes: On coding dojos & advice for student developers

Puh. The second conference day is already over for the Booster conference 2013. Later this evening we’ll have a geek beer but I thought I would just jot down some quick notes. Here I’ll just write a bit about the coding dojo workshop we went through today as well as the open space excercise.

Scandic hotel Bergen

Making may way to the conference hotel early in the morning

Standing in line for coffee

Standing in line for free coffee made by a professional barrista. Luxurious indeed.

Coding dojo: Implementing the ‘gilded rose’

People solving a coding kata through pair programming

People solving a coding kata through pair programming

The concepts of coding dojos and code katas have been inspired by the act of honing your skills that we see within the Martial Arts, its principles can be read here.

Emily Bache lead today’s coding dojo and challenged us to go through a coding kata called the Gilded Rose (github link). Pdf slides: Coding Dojo Challenge Booster 2013.

The coding kata was an excercise in first writing tests for a hairy bit of code based on a fanciful specification before refactoring it. It proved to a good learning experience. I litterally want to jump back into refactoring the code right now just to see how elegant I can make my javascript solution. Great fun!

Open space excercise: The law of two feet

Group of people at an open space excercise. Booster 2013

Getting informed about how an open space excercise is conducted.

Today’s open space excercise consisted of participants suggesting topics they wanted to talk about and walking around sitting down at some place that you found contained an interesting discussion. If you don’t find the topic interesting you just talk with your feet by moving to another discussion circle. The Booster conference really focuses on getting people talk to each other and that is why they made sure to include long breaks, great coffee, longer participatory workshops, short lightning talks and this open space excercise.

At the beginning I went up on stage and pitched Pils & Programming as a topic that I wanted to talk about to the crowd. I feared that people would be taken aback by this and no one would show up to my circle but thankfully some people did! And we ended having a nice discussion on how to grow the Pils & Programming concept after I had given them an introduction.

I stayed in the same circle for the second part of the open space excercise because there was a developer who wanted to give advice to students. Since the advice given by him and other developers who joined later was so awesome I had to write up some notes on this.

Don’t get a job. Actually don’t get a job in consulting was the advice. “You can always get that high-paid job alongside a hefty mortgage later.” The point is that it is now that we students have the chance to do something crazy, make a startup or work abroad at some fun place. “As an IT-student chances are that a lot of companies are fighting to get to hire you straight after school and even during your studies. Don’t just hop on the first job offer because you might find a much cooler job out there.” I can confirm this as a lot of my fellow students have already signed with larger companies. Personally, I want to try and start my own firm come summer. If that startup explodes I’ll just get a job in IT maybe even abroad.

The older developers argued that large consultancies pay high salaries and hire students because they’re willing to work longer hours to “feed” the managers who don’t want to work as much since they want to spend time at their cabins. Think of a pyramid in which you need students coming in at the bottom to support the growing hierarchy of managers and senior developers. A little cynical but not too hard to believe. We were warned against staying at a job that bored us, if ever we wondered if we should quit a job “quit that job then” were their advice. Paradoxically quitting a job may lead to a higher salary faster than a yearly increase in pay.

Short tips: Always challenge the rules when working within a consultancy. Ask why five times if you encounter company rules that make no sense. Best practices should be rephrased as recommend way of doing things and have an expiration date. Don’t get a job within a bank or an insurance company, “you can get a job like that later when you’re tired of things.” Get a job at a small company and don’t be afraid to work abroad (often times the pay is just as good as in Norway).

At the end one of the developers provided us with a disclaimer saying that he would not be held accountable for any of this advice he gave. If you take all of this with a grain of salt I think it’s good advice.

Looking for this evening’s Geek Beer. Apparantly there’ll be an open bar?

Ein vellykka fagkritisk dag – Informasjonsvitenskap 2013

Puh! Der var me i mål! I år hadde me ikkje berre eitt, men to fagkritiske dagar. Ambisiøst. Takka vere god hjelp i frå fagutvalget samt økonomisk stønad i frå instituttet vårt så fekk me gjennomført to flotte arrangement. *Stolt fagutvalgsleiar*

Her vil eg berre gjere ein kort oppsummering (den blei lengre enn eg trudde). Eg tok ein del bilete, men dei blei litt vel grovkorna i det beskjedne lyset. Håper ein likevel kan sjå at det kom ein del folk. :) Tal på oppmøtte var særs positivt både hos Mevi og Info, med henholdsvis ca 60 og ca 45 oppmøtte.

Slik var programmet for Info

  1. Fått nok av Java sin ‘public static void main’? Ta ein turbotitt innom 10 programmeringsspråk på 1 time ved Bjarte Johansen og Eivind Jahren
  2. Informasjonsviteren goes konsulent: presentasjon av Regine Sagstad Berg
  3. Interaksjonsdesign som karriereveg: Informasjon og inspirasjon ved Tone Nordbø
  4. «Framtidens tomme forelesninger?» Debatt med DigUib: Jill Walker Rettberg (Professor i digital kultur), Siri Knapskog (DigUib, Studentparlamentet) og Frode Guribye (Førsteamanuensis ved InfoMedia)

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Ti programmeringsspråk, 1 time. Fyrste forelesning var ved Bjarte Johansen og Eivind Jahren med eit gjesteinnslag av meg. Når eg tok kontakt med dei for ei tid tilbake så tok dei det på strak arm og gav ein 5min presentasjon av i alt ni språk: Go, Clojure, Haskell, Prolog, Agda, Javascript, Coffeescript, Python og Bash.

Her er forresten det fulle coffeescript eksempelet mitt, som ein github gist. Eivind har forresten også sendt meg sine slides: Haskell slidesProlog slides, Agda-Slides. Resten av språkene finn du i Bjarte sine slides. :)

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Informasjonsviteren goes konsulent ved Regine Sagstad Berg @reginesagstad. Eg tenkjer at mange av tilskoderane vil vere einige med meg om at Regine gav ein god og viktig presentasjon av korleis overgangen til arbeidslivet fortoner seg for nokon som ynskjer å jobbe med interaksjonsdesign. Eg fekk tilsendt presentasjonen hennar i etterkant så eg skal ikkje forsøkje å hugse alt hos sa, men noko eg beit meg merke i presentasjonen var verdien av det å vere trent opp i det å kunne vere analytisk, skrive lengre rapportar og vite tidleg i studiet ditt kva for yrke du ynskjer å sikte deg inn mot. [pdf] Regine Sagstad – Fra student til konsulent

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I tillegg til å gje verdiful innsikt arbeidsdagen for ein interaksjonsdesigner så gav Tone Nordbø også uttrykk for si kjærleik til post-it. Eit viktig verktyg.

Interaksjonsdesign som karriereveg: Informasjon og inspirasjon ved Tone Nordbø @tonenordbo. Selv om både Regine og Tone jobber som interaksjonsdesignere så leverte dei presentasjonar som komplementerte kvarandre godt. Tone skildra meir av arbeidsdagen som interaksjonsdesignar, med fokus på interaksjonsdesignprosessen. Her er nokre tips i frå forelesningen hennar:

  • Mange interaksjonsdesignjobbar blir ikkje averterte gjennom dei vanlege kanalane. Ofte bør ein fylgje med på Twitter og firmaene sine eigne bloggar.
  • Kom med gode kommentarar. Ein kan fort gjere seg synleg som interaksjonsdesignar dersom ein er inne og gjer gode kommentarar på firmaene sine bloggar.
  • Portefølje gir pluss. Både Regine og Tone peikte på fordelen ved å ha ein fin presentasjon av tidlegare arbeid på nett.
  • Lær informasjonsarkitektur. Både Regine og Tone påpeikte at folk som søkjer seg jobb som interaksjonsdesignerar bør vere forberedt på å bli testa i informasjonsarkitektur som er emna til å organisere informasjon på hensiktsmessig vis.
  • IXDA er ein forening for interaksjonsdesignerar og Tone oppmoda folk i salen til å søkje opp IXDA Bergen, ei gruppe som forsøkjer å starte opp no. @IXDA_Bergen
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Eit kornete bilete av ein god debatt. :) Frå venstre møt høgre: Nils Norman Haukås, Frode Guribye, Jill Walker Rettberg og Siri Knapskog

Debatt: DigUiB, framtidens tomme forelesninger? Fyrst må eg beklage at debatten ikkje blei streama, då kunne eg berre ha linka til det som endte opp med å bli ein fin debatt ikring Universitetet i Bergen sin digitale framtid, ein aktuell debatt sidan det er rektorvalg og mykje fokus har blitt retta mot digitaliseringen av UiB. Eit digitaliseringsfokus som også har møtt motbør. Som debattleder så forsøkte eg å lande på ein vennskapelig uenighet mellom debattantane. Målet var å forsøkje å få fram eit nyansert bilete av DigUiB for så å la publikum gjere seg opp ei meining. Her kjem nokre kulepunkt, kan synast at folk var veldig einige men det var definitivt eit kritisk blikk om kva ein faktisk bør prøve eller ikkje prøve å få til med digitaliseringen. Saksopplysning DigUiB sitt hovudfokus er digitalisering av pensum, digital eksamen og podcasting/streaming av forelesninger. Og det var særleg det siste punktet me ville fokusere på i denne omgangen.

  • På 80-tallet meinte nokre at pcen ville kome til å “sprengje” klasserommet. Tretti år seinare så kan ein sjå at det ikkje har skjedd og difor er det grunn til å tru at digitaliseringa ikkje kjem til å gå den klassiske forelesningen til livs (Guribye). Vidare sa Frode at mange vil kanskje at dialogen er det mest lærerike, men dersom du har ein bedrift på over tusen ansatte så må ein tenkje effektiv distribuering og då er digitalisering med ein gong aktuelt igjen.
  • I Florida blei eit Universitet nøydde til å gjere 40% av undervisningen digital sidan det var for mange studentar. Etter ein grundig evaluering av læringsverdi og karakterresultat kunne Universitetet peike på ein sterk tendens mot at studentar som benytta seg av det digiale tilbodet skora høgare enn dei som hadde klassiske undervisningen (Rettberg).
  • Siri Knapskog fortalde om eit eksempel i frå Berlin der bachelorstudenter blir kasta ganske rett ut i det. Bachelorstudentane blir stilt overfor ei tilsynelatande umogleg problemstilling og blir utfordra til å kritisk søkje opp kjelder sjølv og levere eit sjølvsstendig arbeid. Kvar student fekk tid med ein veiledar, der veiledaren gjorde sitt beste for å provosere og utfordre studenten gjennom spørsmål og peike studenten mot potensielt gode kjelder.
  • Eg stillte spørsmål med korvidt ein kunne sjå for seg ein modell der studentar såg forelesningar heime og kom på skulen for rein fagleg diskusjon. Panelistane såg for seg at dette kunne vere mogleg. Rettberg nevnte at denne undervisningsformen er kalla flipped classroom.
  • Frå salen kom det eit poeng om at dersom det er krav om å ha satt seg inn i pensum i forkant av ein forelesning så kan det pensumet vere på mange ulike format inkludert video. Debattantane argumenterte ikring det at ein då må i starten av eit fag seie klart i frå om at faget krev høg deltaking og at ein verkeleg må kjenne pensum i forkant av forelesningen.
  • Eg skaut inn mot slutten at det kan vere ein fordel å ha forelesningar på nett grunna fleksibiliteten det vil gje foreleserar til å ta forskingsfri samstundes som studentar framleis kan bli tilbudt det faget. Det blei sagt at ein bør også sjå den nasjonale og internasjonale konteksten der offentleg finansiert kunnskap bør vere tilgjengeleg for flest mogleg folk.
  • Til slutt blei alle stillt spørsmålet om ein kom til å sjå tomme forelesningar i framtida og det var det ingen som trudde. Verdien av å vere i ein god forelesning med ein forelesar som formidler ein entusiasme er framleis uvurderlig.

Ein rask tanke: Mediekalender

Kjapp tanke.

Januar Starten på eit nytt år. Det skrives om folk sine nyttårsforsetter. Kommentarer kommenterer om julen blei ein kjøpefest. Sympatien for einsame enkeltskjebner i julen er gløymd. Det blir spørsmål om kva for økonomi småbarnsfamiliane kjem til å få dette året.

Februar – Mars Årets nye matprodukter blir behørig utbrettet i media.

April – Mai Det er vår! Skiferier i fokus. Mot slutten blir det kommentering om ein skatt og ein selvangivelse som skal inn. Folk flokker seg til Alltinn og skaper sammenbrudd, kommentarer kommenterer og meir penger blir bevilga.

Juni – Juli “Slik fester norske ungdommer på Aya Napa,” ispedd nyhende om flottsommer. Edit:  Jordbærsesongen. Vellukka, mislukka, trønderbære redder oss, no har til og med polske arbeidarar blitt for dyre! (Innspel frå John Magnus).

August – September 

Oktober – November 

Desember Det blir snakk om kjøpefest. Økonomer blir spurd om det blir kjøpefest. Butikker blir spurd om det blir kjøpefest. Humanitære organisasjoner får kommentere på shoppinghysteri og givergleden. Det snakkes om einsame personer i julen.

Nyhendekalenderen er ikkje komplett. Følte eg hadde meir, men så gløymde eg det. Kanskje du har noken idear til klassiske nyhende som kjem kvart år?