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Decade in Review

December 31, 2019 9:20 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Tomorrow, it will be 2020.

In 2010, I was a web developer and manager at a small company outside of Boston. Now, I’m a developer and team lead at a very very large international company. In 2010, I programmed in mostly Java and Perl. Now, it’s mostly Go and C++.

In 2010, I lived in South Boston in a condo I owned with a small patio. Now, I live in South Boston in a different condo that I own with a large back yard (for this neighborhood at least). In 2010, I lived with my beautiful wife and beautiful dog Gus. Gus isn’t with us anymore, but we’ve got two adorable toddlers that keep us busy instead.

In 2010, my parents lived in an RV on the road. Now, they only live half of the time in their RV on the road, and the other half of the year they spend in a small home in an “RV resort” in Florida.

In 2010, I was active on MetaFilter, Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr. Now, I still visit those websites but of them I’m really only active on Twitter. In 2010 I had a personal website, and despite reports to the contrary I still do.

The Scary Future Present of TV

April 12, 2019 8:06 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Back in 2013, I had a conversation with cmatta about what I thought was the scary inevitable future of streaming companies vertically integrating into content producers. I kept meaning to write up a blog entry. Here we are, now, 6 years later, and the future I saw is now the present, so I will just copy and paste some excerpts from the conversation, and you’ll just have to believe I was as prescient as I claim I was.

I need to write a post about why House of Cards and Arrested Development scare me

Picture a world where Comcast made some shows and RCN made other shows and each one of a dozen cable companies each made their own shows

And none of them carried each others shows

That world would be really terrible

Instead of actual openness, it’s just a different kind of closedness, and it’s about the same amount of money but a lot more annoying

It’s only Netflix and Hulu right now

I’m extrapolating out a decade

There’ll be dozens of these providers all with mutually exclusive shows and streaming mechanisms

It’ll be a nightmare for the user

And you’ll be saving like 10%

It depends on what I think Netflix and Hulu and Amazon are going to do as these things get more popular, and I don’t think it is “cooperate”

And then I’ll have to have 20 different accounts to watch the one good show on each of the 20 distributors

You’ll be paying about the same — $40-80 a month, but it’ll be harder because you’re paying a bunch of different places

And the punchline:

cmatta: write this up, i’d be happy to have a longer-form discussion on this

me: I will, you’re ON, MATTA

I post this now, because there’s now not just Netflix and Hulu and Amazon, all with great exclusive originals, but also CBS All Access if you want to watch Star Trek Discovery and the upcoming Picard show. And HBO Now for Game of Thrones. And soon you’ll need Disney+ if you want to watch anything Marvel or Star Wars or Fox (like The Simpsons or Futurama). And Apple is getting into the original content business, too.

That’s potentially 7 different monthly bills where just 10 years ago you’d pay one company and be done with it. Forget the days when all your TV would just work, today there’s a question if the world’s biggest content producer’s new service will work on the world’s biggest tech company’s streaming device. The content is better than it was then, without a doubt, and the ability to watch whenever (I’m old enough to have programmed a VCR in my life) but the experience as a consumer is worse.

Nexus One in 2017

May 10, 2017 7:05 pm Published by 1 Comment

I’ve been using my old Nexus One (running Android 2.3) for the past week, while a replacement Nexus 5X has been in transit. Observations:

Nexus One screenshot

  • I forgot how bad the screen was. Basically invisible in bright sunlight, even at full brightness and shaded.
  • How do I communicate? Talk is dying, Allo and Hangouts aren’t supported. Using an old enough apk of Hangouts that can be installed gives a modal “please upgrade” popup on start.
  • The browser isn’t horrible, but there’s apparently some cross-site SSL feature it doesn’t support, because I get warnings about buttflare certs being bad pretty much everywhere.
  • Twitter works! Crazy!
  • Maps works too!
  • Signal supposedly supports 2.3 but I got strange errors every time I tried to install it.
  • I forgot how slow HSPA was.
  • Gmail works, but for some reason it doesn’t seem to sync quite right. I very rarely can see the emails in my Inbox, even when Gmail says they’re there. Inbox isn’t supported, sadly. The browser-based Gmail is better, but no notifications obviously. Some HTML glitches too, but nothing horrible.
  • It’s seems like a bad thing that an OS released a little more than SIX years ago would be so unsupported. The Gmail/Hangouts/Signal/Allo situation is sad. To be fair, though, Ice Cream Sandwich (8 months newer) was a big departure and it seems like a lot of apps use that as their oldest supported version.
  • The vibrate is INTENSE.
  • The ringtones are horrible. The alarm tones are worse.
  • The camera isn’t actually so bad, but the 80db shutter sound is surprising every time.
  • I miss the trackball (especially trackball notifications).
  • Having to unlock to see/swipe notifications is surprisingly painful.
  • The calendar widget only shows your next event, not your agenda for the day. How is that useful?
  • I actually don’t hate the small form factor as much as I thought I would

First Seven Languages

August 23, 2016 9:19 am Published by 1 Comment

My #FirstSevenLanguages:

  1. BASIC – I remember programming BASIC on my parents’ IBM PC around the age of 6. For a long time it was mostly copying simple code from books and writing tight for loops. Eventually I progressed to QBASIC and some simple graphics stuff.
  2. C – My dad taught me C when I was getting fed up with BASIC. The only thing I remember writing was a crappy RPG based on the places I hung out with friends.
  3. TI-BASIC – I wrote a bunch of small programs that automated some geometry/trig/calculus rules for my TI-82 in High School. I also wrote some games, tic-tac-toe and 2-player checkers among the ones I recall.
  4. Pascal – I learned Pascal in high school, as part of the AP Computer Science program. My proudest moment was Uno and Battleship, both with simple AI opponents.
  5. Perl 5 – I learned Perl in my free time my freshman year at college. I created a small community website ( using CGI.
  6. C++ – The Computer Science courses at RPI were primarily in C++ at the time I was there. For parts of courses, I also dabbled in MIPS assembly, Smalltalk, and Scheme.
  7. JavaScript/JScript – My first full-time job after graduation was writing tools for the 24-hour NOC at We used a mix of Perl, server-side JScript, and JavaScript.

Upgrading a 8-year-old TV

June 30, 2016 12:34 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

In 2008, when my parents sold the house I grew up in and started cruising the world in an RV, they gave me their flatscreen television for safe keeping. The expectation was that they’d do the On The Road thing for a couple of years and then take it back when they settled down. They’re still doing it, and the TV is now hilariously out of date. And a couple of weeks ago, the antenna connection stopped working, meaning it was time to upgrade.

The main requirements were: about 40 inches, wide viewing angle, at least 3 HDMI inputs, and never ever ever a Samsung. I was hoping I could also purchase it from a local brick-and-mortar store (instead of online) for an insignificant premium. We don’t need a 4k screen (at that size, and with our couch 11ft away from the screen, it wasn’t necessary. I spent lots of time reading Wirecutter, Rtings, and

The Wirecutter recommended TV (Vizio M43-C1) was very very close to what I needed, but it didn’t have a great viewing angle. I ended up deciding on a 43-inch Sony X830C. Great viewing angle and plenty of HDMI. Rtings felt the contrast wasn’t great and the surface was too reflective, but didn’t really agree and general picture quality wasn’t super high on our list — I was sure it would be better than our old free screen.

Anyhow, it’s on the wall now. Six inches larger than the old screen, but covers up less wall. Definitely good. More detailed thoughts coming after I get more time to watch it.

UPDATE: After using the TV for the past two months, I’m definitely a fan. The reflectivity is not a problem, and the colors and viewing angle are excellent. We almost never use our Roku box anymore, which isn’t its fault, it’s just that our TV does everything we used it for. Android TV is pretty good, I think our TV has only crash-rebooted a couple of times (which is a weird concept). The UI could be a bit faster, but whatever. It’s nice having the Guide be accurate even though we only use an antenna (however our old TV used to get its guide had stopped working years ago). The biggest complaint I have is that the remote is sort of a disaster.