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Howdy! Because I don’t post here any longer, but because this is my main domain, and if you’re looking for “harkyman” you’ll probably end up here…

Looking for me for tech or business purposes? My LinkedIn profile (Currently I’m the head of Central Operations for Infra Compute SRE at Google. We are responsible for the reliability, security, and efficiency of the software that runs Google’s massive internal cloud, and forms the basic building blocks of our external Cloud Platform).

Interested in my written work, either about Blender and animation or my novels? Amazon Author Page

Other places you can find me:

The Lincoln, Fox, and the Bad Dog blog – updates to the LFBD novel series.

YouTube – the occasional video with my music or art

Legacy harkyman.com site – old Blender projects (some links might be bad)

And I sometimes post thoughts and analysis pieces on Medium.

I don’t post on social media, so no links for that.

Stuff I’m really proud of:

My book Tradigital Blender won the 2011 American Association of Publishers PROSE award for best book in Art Technique.

I came in 2nd by a crummy $2 on Jeopardy. I still maintain that the winner didn’t get Final Jeopardy exactly correct, but, like, whatever. The name of the project is, in fact, “The Human Genome Project”. It is not “The Human Genome”.

I was privileged to do materials and texturing work on the short film Elephants Dream (I have a “Visual Effects” credit), which was included in a 2008 MoMA exhibit.

Cheers!

 

Hi everyone!

The post frequency on this site is down to something like less than once per year. :( Why is that? Well, writing takes a lot of time, and for the past 1.5 years I’ve been working on another writing project. It’s not a new Blender book (although I’m finally working with Taylor & Francis on getting a collaborator for a new edition of Blender Foundations! Yay!) — it’s a novel. Over the years, I’ve had a bunch of thoughts and experiences that relate to the philosophy and nature of information as it applies to human thought as well as to software development. I’ve also always been a fan of science fiction and fantasy, although recently I’ve been into the urban fantasy subgenre.

I had a bunch of ideas kicking around about fiction, character, pacing, etc. and finally have put it to the test.

Lincoln, Fox and the Bad Dog is now live and available on Amazon. You can also get the first half of the book free here if you’re savvy with loading an .epub onto your reading device.

The book is listed in the Paranormal & Urban Fantasy group on Amazon, but really it blends elements from that genre with Action and Horror, while at the same time exploring themes of how people operate in situations of information asymmetry, the biology/behavior loop, and the ways that external stimuli subtly influence our behaviors often without us noticing.

Here’s the blurb from the book cover:

Lincoln Baker can’t do magic, but he’s figured out how it works. When he and his friends make a few bad decisions, they end up on the hit list of some very bad, very magical people. Now, along with the tech he’s built and a mysterious entity that seems to be following him, Lincoln needs to stay alive long enough to figure out what’s going on, take the fight to the people who are really in charge, and maybe enforce some order on the encroaching chaos. Computer systems based on magic, soul-eating creatures from beyond our plane of existence, deadly ancient artifacts and a metric, um, crap-ton of strangeness come together in this urban fantasy set in the Pittsburgh Neutral Territory.

Warnings: Language, Violence, Sexual Situations

For the foreseeable future, I won’t be writing here (i.e. harkyman.com) any more. I’ll be writing about writing, information, software development, and occasionally dogs, weapons and Pittsburgh, at www.lincolnfoxandthebaddog.com.

Go grab the free first half if you’re curious. If you know you like this kind of stuff already and found some value in my other books, then why not throw $2.99 at Amazon for the whole thing?

Stuff that I like

Most stuff I’m just meh about, but I realized a couple of days ago that there are actually three things I’m using right now that I particularly love, so I figured I’d share them with you. To prove my love, I’m not even going to Amazon link this stuff with my referral account. I ain’t making a cent off these endorsements, so there.

Dell 11 Chromebook

I bought this for myself last year when I was doing some travelling and my old Chromebook had been smushed. I was already a fan of the whole Chromebook concept, but my original Samsung unit felt cheap and had been a little sluggish. The Dell 11 Chromebook (I got the 4GB model) is just awesome. It’s a pleasure to use. It’s solid, and has never, never bogged down on me, which is something that I can’t even say for using Chrome on my Macbook Air.

I love it so.

Maybe there’s a better Chromebook per the current reviews, but if you’re looking for one and the 11″ screen is your form factor, you will not be disappointed with this.

Moto 360 Watch

I’ve now used three different Android Wear watches (the 360, LG G and Samsung Gear Live). This is easily the best. Before I sell you on the 360 though, I probably need to sell you on the whole smartwatch concept. The big gripe that I’ve read about the entire product line is that it’s “just notifications”. This is (not quite, but mostly) true. But here’s the thing. It turns out that 80% of the time, all that I use my phone for are notifications. I just need to see something, be it a message from someone, a meeting reminder, or a package delivery alert. I don’t need to take any action. And that 80% of the time, it turns out that I was taking my phone out of my pocket for nothing.

I don’t need to do that any longer. My phone stays in my pocket far, far more than it did in the past, and I still have the same amount of actionable information.

So, if you’re the kind of person who actually wants people to be able to get in touch with you (and I realize that not everyone falls into this category), a smartwatch could be for you.

That said, there are a lot of models available that use the same basic OS: Android Wear. From my standpoint the Moto360 is the clear winner right now. It’s round. You know this. But I can’t emphasize it enough. It’s round. If you’re not paying close attention, you probably wouldn’t think twice if you saw it on my wrist.

And if you’re a geek like me, seeing that round screen feels just like someone went into the future, carved a bit of it off with a steak knife, brought it home, and stuck it on my wrist.

As far as the tech goes, I’ve had zero trouble with it. It has “just worked,” which is really what you want in a device. The charging cradle is superior. The whole thing was well thought out, and, if you’re looking for a smartwatch, I think it should be considered a raging success.

Here’s how I know that I love it. You know that feeling when you forget your phone when you head out for the day, and you realize that you’re going to have to backtrack to an older, crappier way of life without it? The day that I forgot to wear my 360 I felt the exact same way. It was like Oh noes, I actually have to drag my phone out today. Compared to the interaction flow with the watch, getting my phone out of my pocket now felt like a serious burden. I felt like a Philistine.

Incidentally, I got the one with the black leather band, bought the Pebble Steel matte black band, and replaced it myself. Joy says that it looks all right, and by that I mean that she really likes it.

On the smartwatch front at this point, I’d caution you accept no substitutes. While the Gear Live I used was okay, it looked clunky, and I had to hard reset it a number of times over the course of two weeks. I was never able to get my LG G watch to even connect to the Internet and sync properly with my phone. It was a complete fail.

AngularJS

Finally, the last thing that I’m in love with right now is AngularJS. Yes, it’s not the newest hotness in the world, and yes I do work for the self-same company that made the framework. However, all biases aside, it’s fantastic. Over the years I’ve tried a large number of JavaScript frameworks, and they were either incomprehensible (i.e. they had such a strong point of view that developing in them was like learning a whole new language which comes with supportability problems) or only semi-finished. Because of that, I had developed my own methodology for building the front ends for Rich Internet Applications. It’s pretty good, and people that have used it really like it.

But AngularJS has become my new favorite. At first, I was leery of building so much functionality into the markup. Markup is to provide logical structure, right? But once I got into it, I realized that as long as you did things correctly, all of the functionality you were removing from main code and putting into the markup was purely display oriented. If you do it right, you basically don’t have to write a View module any longer. You just wrote the business logic in your controllers.

It’s great.

I didn’t mind doing things the older way that I had come up with, but I love doing things the AngularJS way.

If you’re interested in getting started, I can’t recommend the official site and docs. That’s its one downfall. Framework: awesome. Docs: meh, at best. They don’t do the job. I found this tutorial to be great though:

http://www.ng-newsletter.com/posts/beginner2expert-how_to_start.html

It had me up and running in a couple of hours.

You do have to rearrange your thinking to get the most out of this framework, and you’ll find yourself slowly shedding your pre-conceptions the longer that you work with it. Without fail, when I’ve run into problems that I thought were gaps in the framework, it turned out that they were gaps in the way I had been thinking about the problems involved in building a rich front end, and that AngularJS provided what was often a simple, elegant solution to what I thought would be complex and hairy.

So, if you’re a front-end developer that uses the RIA model (as opposed to the older, hopefully deader server-generated pages model), it’s a worth a couple hours of your time to learn the basics and try it out.

How do I know I love AngularJS? Two years ago, we bought a new piano. It’s a Mason & Hamlin grand. I thought that my old piano was just fine for my skill level, but it turned out that I got immediately better with the new piano. It turned out that I had surpassed my current toolset, and upgrading not only made me better, but was ridiculously fun. Sometimes I still laugh when I play it, because it’s so awesome. That’s how I feel with AngularJS now. A couple of times a week, I do something with it, shake my head and laugh out loud in the office. What’s up? Just that AngularJS is so awesome I can’t stand it.

And that’s it. Three things that I’m just psyched out of my mind about.

Frogrus out

This happened

Had some friends over. Had a bottle of bubbly. Had always wanted to try this.

Boom.

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