Thursday, November 17, 2011

My Play

In this week’s This Developers Life, they discussed Play. Not to be out done, I thought I would write about my own play patterns. It was fun to hear about the race car driver and the home manufacturer, I want to hear more. To promote dialog, I am presenting my story.


Almost 2 years ago, I started taking Improv classes at the Blue Door Theatre in Spokane because I heard about some consultancy in New York City that provided Improv classes to all their consultants. The local NPR station announced the class on their arts calendar and I just said what the F# and I took the class. At that point I had never even seen live Improv.

Like many programmers, I have an Aspergers personality. This serves me well when I am actually doing my core job; for the rest of my life, not so much. Improv gives me a chance to play at being in the world where everyone else lives. It gives me the opportunity to playing at being an extrovert.

Through something we call “Yes, And”, I am learning to accepting the current situation and adapting to the current situation. And I am learning to do it quickly. As a programmer, I like to work carefully and look for the perfect solution; in Improv I just don’t have the time. (The programmer in me is telling me that this blog post isn’t good enough; if it wins, no one else will ever read this.)

Am I taking Improv to become a great actor and become famous? No. My chances of ever performing Improv in public: about 50/50 (based on the fact that most of us underestimate our own talents). Do I really care? Do you take Kung Fu to fight? If memory serves me right, Cane was able to avoid fighting as much as he fought. I have presented at Code Camps 5 times since I started Improv.


My work project is frozen to the technology that existed when it was started. I like to play with the new stuff. I have Windows 8 installed on my laptop. I am slowing working my way through WPF 4 Unleashed. I am looking into writing for the Android Tablet. No, this is an extension of work.


I have a guitar, a bass and a keyboard that I attempt to use to make sounds with. In the past I found that the guitar to be a great stress reliever. On second thought I haven’t really even touched these things since I started Improv. Since classes don’t start up again until next year, I would take out an instrument and …


I have a 1982 Supra that I have tried to keep alive for the last dozen or so years. Due to some poor financial decisions on my part, I haven’t done much with her for the past couple of years. My dream is to restore her on YouTube. Yes, her name is a reference to the Stephen King book.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Tablets and Open Source Voting Software

Yesterday on NPR, they had a short piece on iPad Voting. I don't like modern voting machines because of the closed nature of their software; very few people know what is going on inside those things.

If I had my way, the voting software would be written as an open source project. The voting machines would be common hardware that could be used in schools after election season. On Election Day morning, representatives from all interested parties would download the source from the project's site, build, run unit tests, install the software and generally verify that the software is correct.

The hardware would probably be tablet computers. Right now the market would be iPad, Android and, coming soon, Windows Metro. I would imagine that each vendor would sponsor voting machine projects that use their hardware. When the local community center would buy tablet computers of some after school program, the quality of its open source voting software may affect the buying decision. You wouldn’t need to buy new hardware every election cycle, schools could go without the iPad for the first week of November (“Hey kids, this is a ‘yellow pad’, we used these in the 20th century”).