Personal

Summer 2020

What a year!

As previously written, for me, 2019 was awful.

Towards the end of 2019 as the brain switched back on to matters of career. I focussed more on Scrum and agile in general, with the PSM-I to at least reduce the barrier to entry with an Agile employer.

bootlacehankymask

Opportunities to interview were starting to improve, then, COVID-19!

Considering what the family went through last year, we can only be thankful that we didn’t have that to deal with on top of everything – and of course thinking of those having to cope in this year’s circumstances.

Of course career opportunities and those roles that were looking promising quickly dried up in March/April. Now, with lots more people entering the job market, the immediate future looks challenging. My focus remains on finding a role within an Agile/Scrum environment, where I can transfer tonnes of digital experience along with the last couple of years of learning Scrum/Agile/Product. That learning needs to be put into practice.

I got my hands on a new Mac, so I am bang up to date with OS versions and current software. The big screen is ideal for working with JIRA, Miro and Lucidchart.

So, learning and self-improvement continues, and I’ve added a reading list of the resources I have found most useful. This blog will be kept more up to date as and when I find things that I think are worth sharing.

Sunny day in the park

All said and done, long walks everyday have been a good way to clear the mind and start the day.

Posted by creacog in Personal, Product management, 0 comments

Summer 2019

I admit I am writing this retrospectively in 2020 and setting the publish date back to 2019, the context of these words.

A change in work was much needed, and I turned a redundancy into a sabbatical, the last months of 2018 It was de-stressing and an opportunity to explore some tech outside of my day-to-day. I studies VR applications from a user point of view, having got hold of an oculus Go and it was fun to launch my dad into space. I spent some time working through LinkedIn Learning courses on Unity and Blender, to get a feel for the development steps involved in getting an application onto the Go. I enjoyed the experience, however the application build times were enormous on my old 2008 Mac. I wrote up a few notes at the time. I also found a fairly comprehensive Product Management course on Udemy to work through: Become a Product Manager | Learn the Skills & Get the Job.

As we entered 2019, it became clear that my father’s cancer journey was taking a turn for the worse and after a frankly horrible time for him and those closest, we lost him this summer.

My sister especially put a huge amount of time into building the family tree on ancestry. My contribution mostly taking the form of PhotoShop restoration and repair of old family photos, many I hadn’t seen before. It was quite an emotional journey, with resulting images I am quite proud of, only saddened to be unable to share them and hear the tales first hand from those pictured. For example:
An important photo including my grandad and grandmother prior to a flight to the Isle of Man on a de Havilland Rapide in 1938. I took an experience flight in a similar aircraft in May of this year, flying out of Duxford.

Photograph of passengers about to board a de Havilland Dragon Rapide in 1938 - 2019 scan of the photo before repair
Before
Photograph of passengers about to board a de Havilland Dragon Rapide in 1938 - 2019 scan of the photo after repair
After

Posted by creacog in Personal, Photography, Product management, 0 comments

Summer 2018

A note to self, looking back on my last post to see what actually was achieved since.

Step 1 – “Get some tooling” – CHECK. Applied to ageing personal web stuff.

Step 2 – “Read up Jeff Patton’s User Story Mapping” – CHECK. The key catchphrases stand up no matter what: “Build the right product”, “Shared understanding” and adding my own twist “develop the greatest effect soonest”. Definitely worth a second read and reference.

Step 3 – “Play with Docker” – PARTIAL CHECK. Our lead developer has built an excellent Docker based infrastructure at work, bringing greater reliability and efficiency. My home kit isn’t compatible yet, so Vagrant will suffice until I update.

Steps 4 and 5 – We did set about using JIRA, Confluence and Bitbucket and bringing legacy projects to them

Sadly it is time to move on from my employer, my next steps are to ensure I dedicate more time to:

  • Family
  • Exploring new tech – AR and VR of particular interest as it gains momentum as Oculus Go continues the process of bringing it mainstream
  • Gaining more Product Management experience, and Agile
  • Photography – In camera, editing and restoration – creacog on Flickr
  • Tidy up this blog – so much has changed in the last 6 years

Then possibly freelance until finding the next permanent role.

Posted by creacog in Agile, Personal, Product management, 0 comments

New year 2018

Personally speaking, 2018 is going to be a year of getting at least some Agile and DevOps adopted at work.

Step 1 – Get some tooling… Kicked off with Vagrant and commenced updating the brain from my previous php5 use to 7. So far so good.

Step 2 – Read up Jeff Patton’s User Story Mapping- Which does seem to stand up to it’s strap-line: “Discover the whole story, build the right product”. From reading this, “Shared understanding” will be my new catchphrase for the year.

Step 3 – Have a play with Docker…. first problem is my otherwise trusty old mid 2009 Mac Book Pro:

$ sysctl kern.hv_support
kern.hv_support: 0

So there’ll be no Docker practice on this machine.

Step 4 – Introduce work to some supporting tools: (JIRA, Confluence, Bitbucket)

Step 5 – Start using this stuff – Plenty of legacy work projects to migrate, and a couple of home projects.

This might be the excuse needed to justify updating my otherwise very long-lived Macs.

Posted by creacog in Developer, Personal, UX, 0 comments

Long time no speak

Was 2012 really the last post from me?

In that time lots has happened in the world, especially the last few weeks! So far as this blog is concerned, I’ve been in permanent employment as a Digital Project Manager for about 4 years. So there’s neem a lot less time spent programming and nearly no time with Flash. Which, for the kind of projects I was using it for, is now truly dead. Of course niche requirements remain, and major sites still use it’s video capabilities, but much of the world is coming to the El Reg way of thinking of this and pretty much any other browser plugin.

In its place we have html5, the canvas and WebGL, ironically catching up to where flash was 4 years ago – but with a much worse language. Can’t help thinking how much more advanced browser interactivity would now be had ECMA Script 4 been adopted to advance javascript. Adobe AIR never really worked particularly well for me – especially on the HTC Desire I got for the purpose of testing. So despite investing a huge amount of time and cash in ActionScript development, it will be a rare day those skills are put to direct use in the future.

Looking back over the articles published, the one with the most traffic is the one that was most off-topic, and connected to the 1980’s tech of my teenage years: resurrected my tascam porta 05

Looking forward, since flash programming is mostly off the agenda, future subjects are likely to include:
* Photography
* Project Management
* Interactive media – websites, mobile apps, IoT etc
* General bits of tech that interest me

Posted by creacog in Personal, 0 comments

resurrected my tascam porta 05

(Update: 9/9/2020 – higher resolution images)

Tascam Porta 05

Tascam Porta 05

Decided to dig out my old Tascam Porta 05 ministudio in order to digitise some old 4-track recordings. But, found that the play heads seemed to be stuck in the forward position. Full symptoms and notes:

  • Power on ok
  • Impossible to insert a cassette due to the position of the heads
  • Can hear the motor (which turns all the time power is on – this is normal)
  • Motor responds correctly to the pitch control
  • Fast forward button works – spins the central right capstan
  • Rewind button works – spins the central left capstan
  • Tape heads in forwards position, but the rubber wheel in front of the stop button is not forward enough to press against the metal capstan
  • The metal capstan, which should normally be spinning all the time the machine is powered is not actually spinning
  • Pressing play or record buttons does nothing – the central capstans that would fit into the tape spindles do not turn

I did google around trying to find a solution. I did find a couple of people with the same problem, but no solution posted. I googled for the service manual with no result other than someone in the states selling on ebay for around $22. I wish companies like this would get their service manuals PDF’d and onto the web – shouldn’t be an issue for what is essentially obsolete equipment?

Anyway, with no solution available from the outside, I decided to take a quick look inside to see if there was anything obviously out of place. Getting inside is easy:

  1. Remove the 5 screws from the back panel
  2. Carefully part the two sides noting that:
    • The power on/off slider will likely drop out as it detaches from the internal control
    • all the other sliders remain with the top of the case – but some detach in the process from the underlying control which remains in the base.
    • In my case the forward position of the tape heads was preventing the sides from separating. Pressing them back by pressing the plastic between the erase and write heads made enough space.

Inside the Tascam Porta 05

Close-up showing heads fixed forward

With the sides parted, I then powered up and observed the mechanics when pressing the various control buttons. I couldn’t see anything obvious, but then noticed that underneath the controls is a flywheel attached to that capstan in-front of the stop button. The flywheel is belt-driven and was not spinning.

Nudging the fly-wheel with a cotton-bud.

Using a cotton bud, I gave it a few nudges, attempting to pushing it round in either direction. I was quite surprised  after a few attempts when the belt picked up and the flywheel turned under the power of the motor. At the same time the heads snapped back into the retracted position, and the play and record buttons now worked.

All that remained was to give it a good clean-out and reassemble. Taking care to align the Record function sliders with their underlying controls, and get the 5 screws back in, and I am back in action with kit that I thought was pretty cutting edge back in 1987.

Posted by creacog in Personal, Sounds, 63 comments

couple of user group events (LFPUG)

26 March 2009

Looking forward to this slight departue from the usual subjects at LFPUG into the world of iPhone/iPodTouch development.  I have my development kit but not got around to using it yet…

  • An Introduction to iPhone Application Development
  • iPhone Development for Web Developers

30 April 2009

Some interesting 3D flash stuff. I have prior engagement to see Ultravox for the first time since 1986 which will keep me away from this one. So I will be relying on the video recording of the session.

  • Papervision3D, Simplified
  • We Make. You Enjoy
Posted by creacog in 3d, User Groups, 0 comments

Opposing software patents in Europe…

creative-cognition ltd is signed up on the following petition to oppose software patents in Europe. Surely copyright and licensing is enough protection…
stopsoftwarepatents.eu petition banner

Posted by creacog in Personal, 0 comments