July 2017 Update

Author’s Note: I have no idea why I keep providing updates if I only have 3 subscribers, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.


This month was a bit slow. I published three blog posts and a video. I also worked on a couple of scripts which kept me up to 3am for a week straight. I got a Pluralsight account, a Twitch account and I did some much needed reflection on the future of my blog.

June’s Content

The first post was on my visit to the Royal Observatory Greenwich, one of the museums I went to during my trip to the United Kingdom. I didn’t think I would like it, but I learnt a lot about what the astronomers worked on and it’s impact. The second blog post (along with the video) was about E.T., the worst game ever made. I never understood why it was so bad, until I got to play it at the Cambridge Centre for Computing in Cambridge. I was motivated to write the third post after I used Python to make my work easier. I don’t know if it was quicker than filtering content manually, but it got me thinking about the future of my blog (more on that later).

Late Code Nights

For some reason, I’ve been programming up until late. I wish I could say that it was spent coding back to back, but it was mostly figuring out why a think didn’t work only to find out that it was a simple fix which wouldn’t be there had I spent 5 more minutes reading the documentation. It reminds me of a quote by a Frank Westheimer, a former chemistry professor at Harvard, who said,

A couple of months in the lab can frequently save a couple of hours in the library.
Frank Westheimer

This profound insight probably won’t stop me for spending hours tracking mundane bugs instead of just reading the… manual or reinventing the wheel only to find out that some people much smarter than I am have faced a similar problem to me and have created a solution for it- a solution which would probably account for things I hadn’t considered which I would fret over if I had rolled my own.

The scripts I made are diarylocker designed to encrypt webcam videos as soon as I’ve recorded them and change-links to update references to a link within a directory whenever a file name is changed. Both of them use the watchdog library for file monitoring which had pretty bad documentation. The change-links project was really spontaneous in response to a tweet I saw asking if such a think is possible. The twittererer in question didn’t reply to my efforts, but whatever. I learned a lot from it.

Actually Using Premium Online Education Platforms

Recently, I signed up for the Visual Studio Dev Essentials pack and picked up three months of free Pluralsight training. While I’ve only used it for a week, I’m getting so much value out of it. I could technically get as much knowledge from YouTube, but Pluralsight does a great job curating classes so you know that you’re getting really good instruction. I might do a big review of Pluralsight close to when my trial ends where I’ll go into more detail on my experiences with it.

Stepping Away from Social Media

In July, I’m going to be less active on social media until I figure out how to use social media effectively. Right now it’s really distracting and it’s wearing me down. Between being heavily invested in politics of a country that isn’t mine and seeing all the horrible people on the internet, I’m not getting much out of it. I want to use Twitter as a way to meet new people and have meaningful conversations about anything. I want to use Reddit as a way to discover interesting things, Hacker News to keep up with industry trends and Instagram to post cool pictures of my happenings. July will be a time for me to re-evaluate my interaction with social media.

A New Direction for the Blog?

When I wrote the post CodeIRL: Filtering Data for My College’s Library, I started thinking about what I want to achieve with my blog. Honestly, when I started this blog, I did it because people on the internet said it would be great for getting internships and job opportunities ɟᴉ sɐ. After writing that post, I want to point my blog in the direction of showing people how they can use code (or just technology in general) to solve their problems. They don’t necessarily have to aspire to work in tech. In fact, if typical ‘non-techies’ gain inspiration to hack, that would be awesome! It’s still a pretty sketch idea, but once it’s well refined, you’ll be the first to know.

Live On Twitch!

I just signed up for a Twitch account @fgandiya where I plan to host live streams of my programming sessions under the Twitch Creative initiative. Twitch Creative allows for a creator to post non-gaming content provided it’s about the process of creating something, even creative writing. Programming involves creating something, so I’ll do that to show you guys the process of programming, and you can also answer questions while I stream. For non programming streams like Q&A’s, that’ll go on YouTube

Gitting Good

I got some advice from @Yanas, a geeky South African content creator, on how I could better my blog with better consideration to aesthetics, better tagging and being less confused about everything in general. With that, I’m going to spend some time in July revamping my YouTube and my blog entirely. Also, I’m going to ditch a content schedule and focus on improving my writing process.

That’s a pretty dense update. I don’t know what content I’ll write in July but you’ll see it once it comes.

 

CodeIRL: Filtering Data for My College’s Library

This past week at work, I was tasked with filtering library course guide data as of a bigger project. The filtering involved removing guides named [Deleted] and associating guides to the librarian in charge of maintaining a specific guide.I didn’t feel like combing through 200 odd records so I decided to use Python! I can’t show you the code because of privacy reasons, but I can tell you how I coded up a solution.

The first requirement (deleting the [Deleted] guides) took just three clicks in Excel after which I saved the spreadsheet as a comma-separated values file (.csv) to make it easier to process in Python using the csv module. I could have used something like openpyxl, but the computer I was working on didn’t have pip and I didn’t want to learn how to use another library.

With the .csv file, I started copying the guides each librarian was responsible for into their respective .txt files. It was surprisingly simple as I didn’t have to deal with an paste format issues. The next step was to devise a system to append the librarian responsible for maintaining a given guide. I thought it would be as simple as appending the librarian falling under a given if condition, but there was a big problem- some library guide titles in the comma-separated values file had commas in their title, creating a whole new row in the destination comma-separated values file. I never thought that could happen in a comma-separated values file.

Realizing that, I had to come up with a way of writing the comma into the comma-separated file without creating a new column. At first I tried to escape the comma using regular expressions, but I ended up with a lot of backslashes in the file which were needed to escape the comma so it wouldn’t create a new column in the comma-separated values file. The same thing happened when I tried to write the rows into the csv file pythonically with the module’s csvwriter.

At this point I was stumped and realized that find and replace exists and replaced the backslashes with ‘s. After adding the guide’s of another librarian, the data was all filtered for my supervisor to review. There are still many steps in the data processing, but this was a good start. I’m just wondering if the time I took to make this was much quicker than doing it manually. To be honest, I think it took about the same time. Still, it’s a good way of using Python to make daily tasks much simpler.

Playing E.T- The Worst Game Ever

When I was a kid, I remember going down the rabbit hole of Wikipedia articles. On one visit down the Wikipedia rabbit hole, I read the list of video games notable for negative reception. On that list was E.T. the Extra Terrestrial, a game based on the movie of the same name.

As for why the game failed, it had to do with the high expectations placed on it from all over. Atari’s investors were banking on high sales figures (a minimum of 5 million units) and gamers expected a great complement to the movie which did way better than the game. The commercial failure of E.T. not only killed Atari, it arguably aggravated the gaming crash of 1983. With so many unsold units, they were buried in a desert in New Mexico. I’m sure the environment enjoyed getting millions of non-biodegradable play things being forcibly inserted into it.

During my trip to the United Kingdom, I went to the Centre for Computing History in Cambridge, England. Among all the computers and game consoles was an Atari 2600 running E.T.. Below is me trying to play it. Suffice to say, I couldn’t play it any longer than 1 minute until I realized that it had earned it’s reputation.

Farai Visited…The Royal Observatory Greenwich

The entrance to the Royal Observatory featuring words on a brick wall adjacent to direction signs
Location: Greenwich, London, UK
Website: http://www.rmg.co.uk/royal-observatory


On my second day in the United Kingdom, I went to Greenwich (pronounced gren-itch) to visit The Royal Observatory Greenwich on top of a hill (which has a marvelous view of London by the way). Established in 1675, the Royal Observatory played a vital role in astronomy and navigation as it was the site where the Royal Almanac was created, a document describing the location of celestial bodies that would then be used by navigators at sea to determine their longitude. Today, it’s part of the National Maritime Museum.

As you enter through the gate, the first thing you notice is people piling up on the Prime Meridian to take photos. The Prime Meridian which defines 0° longitude. I joined the pile up and took a photo on the line to see if the photo’s metadata would rest on exactly 0°. Turned out to be -0.0014139° longitude, about 98m west of the meridian.

The Prime Meridian Line running across the ground with my feet either side of the line on the pavement inscribed with the position of cities relative to the meridian.

A few meters from the Prime Meridian was a stump signifying Hailley’s Meridian.He actually came pretty close. Anyway, I didn’t spend £10 to look at a line. I came to learn about the history of time keeping, so I moved onto the Flamsteed House named after the Observatory’s first Astronomer Royal John Flamsteed.

In the Flamsteed House are artifacts commemorating the housed astronomers. After the tribute there was a room dedicated to the effort behind solving the longitude problem (finding a way to accurately calculate longitude). Most of it was dedicated to John Harrison’s effort. After all, he spent 31 years developing clocks to solve. His final attempt culminated into the H4 which was accurate within a few hours, however the Board of Longitude refused to award him the prize for his efforts, so he had to fight for it in Parliament.

After the exhibition on the longitude problem, I moved where I found more clocks along with how time was shared among citizens and a tribute to the Greenwich Lady who sold clocks and synced them to the time at the observatory. I then stepped into the courtyard to take a lot of selfies next to a dolphin sundial which didn’t work because it was cloudy. Ah well, on to the next one that being another building. In it were some really big telescopes, a book store, a room full of timepieces from around the world and a picture of Flavor Flav.

A Picture of Flavor Flav holding a quartz powered clock.

In all, the Royal Observatory Greenwich is a wonderful place to visit. With a large collection of time pieces as well as it’s efforts to show how the astronomers worked, the Royal Observatory actually makes clocks fun. My favorite part was on John Harrison’s efforts to solve the longitude problem. If you’re in London and you have some hours to spare, the Royal Observatory is worth a visit.

May 2017 Update

So, I’m back from my three week long trip to the United Kingdom to study the history of mathematics and how it links to culture. While I was gone, I showed you what my room looks like, what’s on my phone, what’s on my laptop as well as what tech gadgets I own.

The content under my blog and YouTube channel (unless I say otherwise) is now licensed under the CC 4.0 BY-NC-SA license. Basically, you can share my work as well as make adaptions of it provided a) you credit me and link to the original (BY) b) it’s for non-commercial use and c) the derived work is licensed under similar terms. If you don’t like those terms, email me and we can with something out. Fair use/fair dealing is still a thing however.
It’s summer time and I’ve got a lot of stuff planned personally and blog wise. Ideally, I would have had an internship, but that didn’t work out so I’ll be working at my college campus as an RA (free housing!), library assistant as well as cafeteria assistant (it pays well). To be honest, I really feel like I’m lagging behind big time and I think I’m screwed in terms of job prospects. I might as well make the most of my summer jobs.

I’m hoping to lose weight as well as learn how to cook as well. Being fat sucks, and it’s time to grow up and be a responsible adult. I also hope to try out bullet journaling and I’m planning a trip to Southern California as a trial run for my trip to Shenzhen. Blog wise, I’m planning a major redesign where I’ll give this blog a whole new look in addition to refining my work, better marketing and a bunch of other cool stuff. I hope to finish in late August so stay tuned for more info for that.

Content wise, I honestly done have much planned for June. I wanna make a video on my trip to the U.K., a travel film if you may. I’ll also post pics of my trip on Instagram, which you should follow, @thisisfarai. I’m also gonna post some posts on the museums I went to in addition to leaving some reviews. I’m also gonna finish the Human Resource let’s play and maybe make a review/essay on the game. Then to mark the six months of YouTube, I’ll post a personal critique of all my content, my website etc.

Before I sign out, I just wanna apologize for being so vicarious on twitter. I don’t know why I’m so heavily invested in the politics of a country I’m not a citizen of , but it’s so hard to watch idly. Well, I’m still idle since I haven’t done anything tangible so this whole political investment needs to be dialed down a bit, or at the very more productive.

So that’s what’s up! Stay tuned for amazing things during the summer. Plus, send me gift card. It was my birthday. Ktnxbai.

My Stuff Spring 2017 Edition

I was traveling around the UK for the month of May so I thought it would be cool if I show you guys the stuff I use(d) as of April 2017. So enjoy!

Here’s the room I stayed in

This is what’s on my phone

And here’s the tech I used

 

A list of my tech stuff

KMASHI 10000mAh Portable Power Bank with Dual USB Ports 3.1A Output and 2A Input – Black
by KMASHI
Link: http://a.co/8YKPNF2

iPhone SE: https://www.apple.com/iphone-se/

Dell Professional P2017H 19.5″ Screen LED-Lit Monitor
by Dell
Link: http://a.co/aohR8u4

Blue Microphones Yeti USB Microphone
by Blue Microphones
Link: http://a.co/55ubhZ0

Bose SoundSport in-ear headphones – Apple devices Charcoal
by Bose
Link: http://a.co/2jj36hY

Sennheiser Urbanite XL Over-Ear Headphones
by Sennheiser
Link: http://a.co/4k8uOUB

Bluetooth Headphones TT-BH07
by TaoTronics
Link: http://a.co/ck5KdwH

Kyocera Hydro Air 4G LTE Unlocked GSM 8GB Waterproof Lcd 5.0 5mp Flash Camera
by KYOCERA
Link: http://a.co/20tFEOh

HP Pavilion 15.6-Inch Notebook, Intel Core i5-5200U Processor (2.2 GHz), 1TB HDD, 6GB DDR3L SDRAM, HD BrightView WLED-backlit di
by HP
Link: http://a.co/6PIL2UO

Samsung 850 EVO Parent
by Samsung
Link: http://a.co/83orKYE

I’ll see you all in June!

April 2017 Monthly Update

This monthly update comes to you live just minutes after my flight took off for the United Kingdom. In this update, I discuss this very busy month, my random musings on Twitter, my trip to the UK and content planned for May.

So far, April has been my busiest month year in terms of content published.  A book review, a post on the 2037 bug, the production of a let’s play series, a video on two factor authentication, the launch of a microblog, filler content as well as preparing a video. Still, the views are barely coming. I guess I’m in for a year of zero views, unless I become a commentary channel.

The aforementioned microblog is called Why I Like This Thing hosted on Tumblr. The purpose of this blog is to log the reasons why I like something whether its an app, a website, a YouTube channel etc. So far, I made a post about CSS Tricks and Awesome Screenshot.

This month, I got into some happy musings on Twitter. For one, Sydney Padua, author of the Thrilling Adventures of Babbage and Lovelace replied to me…twice! I saw someone showing off their copy of the book which had a cooler red cover and Sydney told me that it was the UK edition. I gave her props to which she thanked me. Man I’m special.

Learning about Sydney Padua's alternate book cover
Link to tweet

 

The other musing had to do with a tweet polling job opportunities. One reply was from Alex Mole, chief technical director of Criterion Games, the studio responsible behind Burnout. I wondered where what they’ve been up to all these years and it turns out that they were working on the VR level for Star Wars Battlefront and something in Battlefront II. I guess that’s why they need 90 developers.

Learning about Criterion Games's Projects
Link to thread

For the next three weeks, I’ll be travelling all over United Kingdom uncovering the historical roots of mathematics for my May Term class. I will be visiting lots of parks, museums, hostels, rain (more like the rain visits me)- the lot within that time. I don’t know what content I’ll make relating to the trip but I’ll tell you guys about it. If you guys want to follow along, make sure to follow me on Twitter @fgandiya and on Instagram @thisisfarai. Besides those random musings I mentioned earlier, I’m pretty boring, but I’ll try to be fun during May.

Since I’ll be out all of May, I won’t be making any new content so you’ll be seeing scheduled stuff, unless I also decide to post a random video in the UK. The posts you will get are will just be a continuation of my Human Resource Machine Let’s Play. My time will be mainly focused on the class,but I’ll be taking time to think about the future of the blog in terms of design and direction. I can’t live off of *.wordpress.com forever.

So there you have it! The things I did this month as well as what’s in store for May. April was by far the busiest month this year given all the content I made. I got into some fun musings on Twitter and I’ll be out for May, so enjoy the filler content I have planned until then.


Wanna see what I’ve got lined up? Watch the Trello Board here.
Have an opinion about me? Let me know what you think here.

How You Can Help AGCKB

I forgot to post this when I made the video, so here’s a tl;dr/w

You can help AGCKB by:

  1. Providing Feedback via likes, (repectful) comments and suggestions.
  2. Share my stuff
  3. Transcriptions

Symbolab

URL: https://www.symbolab.com/
Creator: Eqsquest
Category: Math

Symbolab is a step-by-step calculator that breaks down math problems. Think of it as a Wolfram Alpha with steps. It also comes with a

The online client is free and while there are mobile applications, it costs $7 to unlock step-by-step solutions.

Symbolab

URL: https://www.symbolab.com/
Creator: Eqsquest
Category: Math

Symbolab is a step-by-step calculator that breaks down math problems. Think of it as a Wolfram Alpha with steps. It also comes with a 

The online client is free and while there are mobile applications, it costs $7 to unlock solutions.