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Piotr Kalinowski
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Piotr Kalinowski

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"Software architectures are all about collaboration - we solve complex problems by breaking them into simpler parts, and the simpler parts collaborate to solve the larger problem."
This is the first of four related articles about how we organize software. The others are: Controlling Live Music · A Badass Way to Connect Programs Together · Controlling Sound With OSC Messages. How we collaborate, the organizations we work in and the programming languages we use effect ...
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Piotr Kalinowski

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They made me use Linux at the office. It is almost as usable as my mac now, although one piece was sorely missing. And now I found it:

https://github.com/alols/xcape

Now my Control can double as Escape, and it makes me happy. I have almost stopped regretting installing Linux on separate partition instead of running older version in a virtual machine. Almost ;-)
xcape - Linux utility to configure modifier keys to act as other keys when pressed and released on their own.
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Piotr Kalinowski

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Sometimes I have to remind myself how I love violin.
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I can code. What is your super power? ;-)

On a more serious note, there indeed seems to be disconnect between what some institutions would have people believe, and reality. As some commenters on Slashdot noted, it is useful to know some programming in the world of today where machines are so prevalent, although with mobile becoming more and more important the potential for easy automation by anyone quickly diminishes.

The problem is that whenever you see governments or otherwise endorse making accessible programmes to teach people to code, it seems that somewhere there an important distinction is being lost. You see, it is one thing to be able to write a simple script in, say, Python, automating some stuff on your computer. It is, however, an entirely different matter to write larger application. What if the application has components running on different machines? What if you're not the only person working on it? Each of these introduces a whole new level of complexity to your endeavour.

Churning out code itself in any particular language is not that difficult, although even that can pose serious problems to some people. But if you look at what industry needs, for example, it is more important to be able to organise multitude of different system components interacting with each other. And remember that in our fast paced world of ever shifting external circumstances and requirements, the whole system is not static in any way. It keeps changing. In this way working on software is really more similar to engineering.

Some people really dislike calling software development engineering, because we do not have professional guilds. We do not have the same kind of professional standards, or certifications, or formal requirements as civil engineering. Some even state that we do not have the same kind of responsibilities towards society, and calling our trade engineering is offensive to real engineers.

And then people die, because of software bugs in medical equipment firmware. In the meantime others insist that writing software is easy, and everybody can do it, which they inevitably try looking at all the success stories of Silicon Valley millionaires, but many of them will only achieve success on The Daily WTF. I think we should actually insist on calling software development engineering specifically to make it obvious that working with even moderately sized software systems is not easy. Formal education may not be required, as plenty of self taught good software developers can attest, but it is not for everyone.

And that's even before mentioning that work in software industry is, quite frankly, boring. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to call it tedious. Lots of details, plenty of work that has nothing to do with writing new fancy algorithm to do X. It's nothing like what you do at programming courses. It's nothing like what you do at university (at least it's nothing like I did at mine ;-). No, really, working on software is tedious. Not everyone can take it.

It is one thing to learn how to write in English. It is entirely different matter to write a good book, with complex story, full of plot twists, and with chapters constantly referencing each other, but written by different people at various points in time. And constantly changing.
TL;DR: All the evidence shows that programming requires a high level of aptitude that only a small percentage of the population possess. The current fad for short learn-to-code courses is selling people a lie and will do nothing to help the skills shortage for professional programmers.
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Piotr Kalinowski

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Teamspeak sucks.

Well, perhaps that's little harsh, so let me elaborate. I have used Raidcall, Mumble, and Teamspeak to speak with my fellow gamers when raiding. Raidcall was used previously by my previous guild, and I was never a fan, because they did not provide official Mac client, and whatever unofficial solution was available, the company behind Raidcall seemed to be on a war path against it. I was pretty much running a Windows virtual machine along side the game itself just for it, which worked surprisingly well, at least before the graphic engine update last year.

Mumble looks indeed a bit complicated to set up, but it worked perfectly. There's just nothing more to say. I set up voice activation, and all was well. Of course everybody could hear my keyboard, which uses "quiet" key switches, but it's still a mechanical keyboard, and so it is distinctly perceptible over voice communication with my standing USB microphone.

I am using, or at least I was, but we'll get back to that shortly, a USB microphone, because Macs do not really have the same kind of microphone input that Windows machine have, only the line input. And, it seems, the same kind of jack the iPhones have, so you can actually use the headphones you would use with your iPhone with your Macbook, and everything will work: sound, recording, even volume control.

But I'm using Beyerdynamic DT 880 headphones with impedance of 250 Ohm, connected to my external sound card with integrated headphone amplifier. So there's that.

The USB microphone picks up sound from all over the place, and when using Teamspeak, with my previous cross realm raiding group, or new guild, there seems to be a lot of background noise. I was wondering, what causes the problem, but nothing in settings caught my eye. Background noise reduction was enabled, and yet, unlike with all the other solutions, there was a background noise that made me use push-to-talk mode, which is semi-awkward to use in the heat of battle. I need to devote attention to even remember to press the key activating voice input, and then actually press something that affects my ability to timely use all my abilities, and when you're a healer it's not just that the boss will take longer to take down.

Recently, I bought a Steelseries headphones, on an impulse. The key feature was the uni-directional microphone (well, apart from nice glowing World of Warcraft runes on the headphones…), and how you can either use them with supplied USB sound card (which, I'm sure, is nowhere nearly as audiophile passable as my Dr.DAC Prime, but I'm not really that kind of audiophile, fortunately enough), or apply cable extension that has the iPhone-compatible mini jack that would work perfectly with my Macbook. 

And the thing is that in the software there was a switch for microphone signal compression that would adjust the signal amplitude to always keep it in a certain range deemed "appropriate": loud enough to be heard by others, but not too loud. When I had this turned on, Teamspeak's voice activation would pick up all the key presses on my keyboard, along with my voice. When I disabled it, I could set up voice activation sensitivity to pick up only my voice, but not the keyboard, unless I would energetically bottom out the keys.

And then it hit me that Teamspeak itself also has something like that: voice gain control. I have yet to test it, actually, but my current theory is that this feature interacts with background noise reduction in a way that made it impossible for it to remove the noise of my laptop's fan, as I actually kept the microphone quite close to the computer. But, you know, it only happens with Teamspeak, so the conclusion holds, to an extent: Teamspeak sucks ;-)

If the theory is accurate, I could disable the voice gain control, enable background noise reduction, and then could continue to use my standing microphone, and Beyerdynamic headphones. But, of course, the keyboard would remain, which is why I'm pretty sure that I'm still going to be raiding using the gaming headset with unidirectional microphone, even if it makes an impression of pretty cramped, closed headphone: not as comfortable as Beyers, but the suspension design similar to the one used in good old AKGs does it's job quite well, so it's not that bad.

I mean, don't get me wrong: it's fun to hear people metaphorically gawk when they hear me type on the keyboard with typical touch typing speed, but I'm sure it gets pretty old pretty fast for them, and then it might only be somewhat annoying to distinctly hear all those keypresses during an encounter.

For what it's worth, the Steelseries' surround sound simulation does make it sound as if I was playing on speakers, instead of using headphones. I need to experiment more with how it affects music listening, though mostly out of curiosity. For extended music listening, I'm sure that it cannot match both the comfort and quality of my Beyers. Although it's interesting how it has an extra mini jack socket in the right earpiece, so that you can connect second pair of headphones, and share the sound with someone else. Makes it even a cooler gadget. Not that I need that kind of feature: Dr. DAC has 2 headphone outputs anyway, and that's assuming I would have someone to listen to music with in the first place :P
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Like it when you "elaborate" ^.^
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"The only reason coders' computers work better than non-coders' computers is coders know computers are schizophrenic little children with auto-immune diseases and we don't beat them when they're bad."
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Well, that's news to me. I mean, not the fact that regular expressions are descriptions of state machines, but using it to check if a number is prime. Clever, if not efficient. Fun in any case.
The prolific Perl hacker Abigail is famous for posting enigmatic but ingenious one-liner scripts in her signatures on newsgroups. Here’s one …
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Piotr Kalinowski

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I just stumbled upon the classic “real programmers use a magnetized needle and a steady hand,” and realised that my computers no longer have magnetic drives. SSD is a technology based on electricity, so I suppose you could use a piece of electrostatically charged plastic.

Of course, there are always butterflies…
[[A man sits at a computer, programming. Another man behind him looks over his shoulder.]] Man: nano? REAL programmers use Emacs. [[A dark haired woman appears behind him.]] Woman: Hey. REAL programmers use Vim. [[Another man appears behind her.]] Man: Well, REAL programmers use ed.
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Piotr Kalinowski

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Our judgement, the Dark Side clouds.
Not a theist? Okay so what are you then?
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I haven't thought about it that way.
“Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.” John Maynard Keynes Most of you are not only familiar with the idea of economies of...
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Ah, so it's not just me :D
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I am so screwed, aren't I? :D
In 2014, researchers at the University of Warwick in England announced they had found a strong association between a gene mutation…
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Have him in circles
108 people
Katarzyna Kalinowska's profile photo
Jakub Tomczak's profile photo
Francisco Esteban's profile photo
Jasper Webster's profile photo
Visnja Zeljeznjak (luckyisgood)'s profile photo
Daniel Haim's profile photo
Alexander Conroy (Geilt)'s profile photo
Lisa P's profile photo
Marek Jamiołkowski's profile photo
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developing software one breath at a time
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