Real-world iOS 10 and watchOS 3

Apple’s big 2016 software releases start today with the introduction of iOS 10, watchOS 3, and tvOS 10 (the latter of which I’ve not had a chance to try).

Spoiler alert: They’re good upgrades (and in the case of watchOS, potentially a really great one). Continue reading Real-world iOS 10 and watchOS 3

Downtime

Linode, where I have hosted jaredwsmith.com for many years now, has been under some sort of extremely gnarly and persistent DoS attack since Christmas. This has caused some downtime here as well as at chswx.com. This would also have impacts on weather data ingest on the LDM; fortunately, the server was reachable and relaying products when there was active weather. Sysadmin life is tough; hoping that there is some relief on the horizon for the great people at Linode.

New at @chswx in December 2015

I’ve made some updates to the @chswx maps and website to get ready for 2016. Here is what will be the first in a series of changelogs for @chswx in an overall effort to better document the product:

  • Website at chswx.com: Steph and I have been holding onto the chswx.com domain for years, but I have just now finally pointed it at the website. So, use that going forward. chswx.us will still work, too, if you like one less character in your life.
  • Map branding reflects new site: I’ve added the chswx.com domain to the map branding. Reasoning should be obvious.
  • Radar branding has changed: I’m calling GRLevel3 just “Radar” now, and am calling GR2Analyst “HiRes Radar.” The longer “Doppler Radar Super Resolution” title for GR2Analyst in particular was causing a lot of collisions with background elements and was overall just a smidgen obnoxious.
  • Velocity tables standardized on the RadarScope defaults: This will help with consistency in the velocity products when I switch between platforms. This table is also widely adopted at the National Weather Service and thus helps keep consistency with their products as well. I’m less concerned about reflectivity; I can handle some variation there (and the RadarScope table starting yellow at 30 dBz just doesn’t fly with me). For GR, reflectivity will remain appearing in a broadcast-like look; I reserve the right to make on-the-fly adjustments to reflectivity colors as situations dictate.
  • GIS: Interstates darker blue, city font sizes up to 17pt Open Sans Semibold: This change will help radar data shine and make cities easier to read on smaller screens.
  • Upgrades to GRLevel3 and GR2Analyst 2.30: While these releases primarily seek to improve HiDPI support, I like to keep things current. One consequence is that I’m temporarily back on the default hail icons until I can spend some more time with the new icon format.

Always be shipping

In a year and a half as a lead on a fairly massive software project with a very small and tight team, one axiom sticks out as the key to happiness — always be shipping.

It forces you to look at problems in smaller chunks. (Admittedly much easier said than done!) It gives the team a constant sense of accomplishment, as the thing they are working on is constantly seeing some sort of polish or improvement. For building larger projects, shipping components behind the scenes and letting them bake in production is a really nice and easy way to keep things moving.

Earlier this year my team without the aid of automated unit tests (we had some UI tests that were getting quite a trial by fire!) rattled off an admittedly stressful 33-day streak of shipping at least one thing, whether it be a bug fix, improvement, or new feature. The conditions were that the one thing had to pass QA before it went out — no shortcuts, no releasing for the sake of releasing. As I said, it was stressful, but it was a great exercise. (That being said, do not try this at home.)

I’ve been applying the “just ship” mentality to my weather projects recently and it has helped me overcome a lot of analysis paralysis of how to proceed. As a result, long-standing bugs in the @chswx bot have been fixed and the accompanying website finally got the mobile-first facelift it needed.

Shipping makes me happy. It should make you happy, too.

Just ship, baby.

iTerm2 3.0 Beta is a must-have

If you spend any reasonable amount of time within terminals on Mac OS X, you need iTerm2. It’s been a constant in my Mac life since I switched. The 3.0 betas are ridiculously good and fit in so well on Yosemite and El Capitan. There are some outstanding tweaks in the latest betas that make me fall for this software all over again.

Going to Extremes

Microsoft’s error messages may have been rather cryptic and full of techno-babble in the past, but you could at least find a Knowledge Base article based on the message and get a good handle on what’s going on. “Something happened” is still cryptic with the added detriment of being completely useless. Unfortunate, too, because Windows 10 — if it installs, anyway — is a really strong OS, as strong as Windows has been in recent years.

WebKit Rules the World

I’m writing this in Safari, the genesis of the WebKit project, while listening to music on Spotify, a WebKit-based music player. On my other monitor is GitHub’s Atom, a really damned fine programmers’ editor that has its roots in WebKit (to the point where you can inspect it and change the UI with stylesheets).

Just imagine if Microsoft had continued to actively develop, and perhaps even open-source, Trident (the IE rendering engine) in the early 2000s. (On second thought…best to just leave that alone.)

Apologies for the Crash

Unfortunately, for a couple days it looks like none of you were able to get your fix of largely outdated blog posts. I’m not terribly sure why the pool for jaredwsmith.com was trying to allocate a metric crap-ton of memory, but I’ve got it all fixed and running some newer stuff as well, including a rather nice upgrade from Linode (for free!) that will help me do some more interesting number-crunching on weather data.