Another Jacob Brunson

Posted in Life, Technicalon Jul 24, 2015

Just found out that there is another Jacob Brunson out there.  And he codes in python.  And searching for “Jacob Brunson” in Google shows his web site first.  It is like my identity has been stolen.

I am Jacob Brunson, and now I have to put on my search engine optimization hat for a while.

However, Bing still shows my web page as number 1.  I might have to switch my default search engine for a while.  Google is obviously flawed.

Full circle Javascript

Posted in Technicalon May 22, 2015

When I first started learning Javascript, in the Netscape Navigator version 3 days, all the programming for a page was done in the web browser.  Javascript could read the query parameters to a page and construct the page with information according to the request.  In those days, I did everything in the browser because I couldn’t afford my own web server, and the free servers of those days (Geocities, Tripod) only really supported static pages.

Finally I got access to a server that ran PHP, which was awesome because I could do all the programming on the web server, reducing the frustration of dealing with various versions of web browsers that supported different feature sets.

But recently, web browsers conform to standards better, support a richer feature set, and are supported by many Javascript client libraries.  I’m finding that more and more, I’m ditching the server side program in favor of more client side programming. This is especially true with my embedded system work, where offloading the User Interface to the web browser provides a better experience.

Recently I got a Chromebook, which has forced me to step up my search for a good web-based IDE. I only looked at the free-level capabilities, looking for something that would handle multiple projects and maximum flexibility. Here are my top three recommendations:

Koding provides a clean interface with a lot of flexibility. In particular, I like that they provide a full AWS virtual machine. This is particularly nice for those who want to do more than just code, but to design or experiment with an entire software stack. However, their interface is a little bit less like an IDE and more of just a terminal and editor connected to that virtual machine.

Cloud9 works more like a good IDE where you can set up a build and run tasks. But the build and run environments seem to work outside of your particular terminal environment, which makes their workflow different than it might be on other platforms.

Codeanywhere maybe be a good mix. For code editing it provides a little more than a text editor, and doesn’t want to control or own your project. You can actually keep your code external, and access it through (S)FTP, Google Drive, or Dropbox, and simply access it through code anywhere. But the still also give you a “DevBox” which is something like a VM.  Additionally, Codeanywhere provides mobile apps (which I haven’t tried).

I looked at other solutions (Codio, Codebox, Codenvy, PythonAnywhere, Nitrous) but excluded most of them because they didn’t allow me full control over my software stack.

The problem with all of these is that they can’t access code that you don’t have on the Internet, for example, code in your private Intranet only. For that I found that I could quickly install the open source Codebox IDE on my private Intranet server.

This is why USPS struggles

Posted in Businesson Nov 8, 2014

Here is a screen capture from my USPS package tracking:

snapshot2

Notice that “Postal Product” indicates “2-Day” mail. Which means that it should have been delivered on October 2, which is two days after my ship date of September 30.

But somehow this package is:

  • On Time (for delivery on October 2)
  • Expected Delivery on October 4
  • Delivered on October 3

If there has been one reliable trend for the stock and bond markets, it is that over long periods of time, things generally go up.  For someone who doesn’t know much about investing, this one, reliable trend can be utilized by these three rules:

  1. Invest regularly and periodically.  The rule, “buy low sell high” is a dumb rule, because how do you know when stocks are low or high?  Instead of trying to time the market, add additional money into your investment accounts as regular intervals, like once per month.  Sometimes you will invest when the stocks are higher, and sometimes you will invest when the stocks are lower.  Overall, that averages out and you avoid the risk of buying high.
  2. Invest in everything.  Trying to pick just a handful of stocks to invest in in risky.  The chance of picking a stock that will crash is too great.  So instead, invest in lots of different stocks.  Stocks that do great will offset stocks that do poorly.  Overall, things average and you avoid the risk of buying a bad stock.  Mutual funds (or ETFs) are a great way to invest in lots  and lots of stocks, but many funds focus too much on a single market segment.  Choose a handful of different funds that cover different market segments: different sizes of companies, domestic and international, different ages of companies.
  3. Choose a stock/bond ratio for your timespan of investing.  Stocks are more volatile.  They have more potential of going up, but they can also go way down.  Over a long long term, they generally go up.  Bonds are more stable.  Funds containing bonds still go up and down, but not as much as stocks.  Generally, bond funds go up over shorter periods of time.  If you want bigger gains over longer periods of time, you should invest in stocks.  If you are ok with smaller gains because you need to withdraw sooner, then you should invest in bonds.

I know of a couple of good platforms that can get you started investing quickly and without a lot of money.  But I don’t want to discredit this post as a shill for a particular service.  If you are interested, leave a comment and I’ll email you directly.

Politicians these days

Posted in Funny, Politicson Oct 28, 2014

Is Costco a good fit for you?

Posted in Business, Reviewson Sep 12, 2014

With Costco coming to Northern Colorado, I thought I would share some thoughts on why you would or wouldn’t want to get a Costco membership.

Costco is a good place to buy quality products, in larger quantities, at good prices, but that doesn’t mean your grocery budget will shrink.

Why Costco might not be a good fit:

  • If you are the type of person who is ok buying lower quality products at bargain prices, then Costco probably isn’t a good fit for you.
  • If you wait to buy groceries until you have a coupons to match with a sale, then Costco probably isn’t a good fit for you.
  • If you only buy groceries for the next few days, then buying groceries at Costco would require changes to you shopping methods.
  • If you only buy groceries for a couple of people, then the quantities purchased at Costco might be too much for you.
  • If you want things delivered to your home.
  • If you like asking store associates for help.

Why Costco might be a good fit:

  • If you buy a lot of organics, you might find Costco’s prices pretty competitive.
  • If you like to do a lot of dinner entertaining, Costco has great selections.
  • If you have a couple of hungry teenagers, Costco can sell you lots of food quickly.
  • If you normally buy the highest quality brands even when they are not on sale, Costco will sell you comparable brands at better prices.
  • If you don’t choosing between brands, Costco has already researched the best brands and will only sell you the brand they stand behind.
  • If you are looking to buy some big-ticket items (furnature, bikes, televisions), then buying it at Costco might save you more than your membership fee in a single purchase.
  • If you bake bread, Costco will sell yourflour and yeast in quantities you can’t get at King Soopers.
  • If you like shopping where employees are paid and treated well, you will find lots of happy employees at Costco.

If you still don’t know if Costco is a good fit for you, I suggest giving it a try. They have a satisfaction guarantee on your membership: if you try Costco but are unhappy with your membership, they will refund your membership fee. If you try products at Costco but are unhappy with them, you can easily return them (some electronics have a limited return window.)

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