Sunday, April 26, 2020

Unto madness ...

Welcome to more confusing times. We're some-what quarantined with stay-at-home orders. Yet nature doesn't seem to notice us. Isn't it a wonderful contrast? It continues as it should. I'm still employed, at the moment. We have news folks and government officials who say A, do B and then tweets C which contradicts A. We have lots of people who follow the word of certain news outlets as Gospel and don't understand why the rest of the country doesn't see things the same way. One group thinks it's the Right's fault, the other the Left's fault. Honestly all sides are just as guilty! And we have we have a President who just loves to push the buttons of both sides to stir up a fight. The great uniter, well we're united in our hatred of each other. At least that's what all the news tells us. Oddly enough I've spoken to both sides and they agree on more than they disagree. Add to that we have outside forces (China, Iran, N. Korea and Russian to name a few) who are also pushing buttons to make matters worse. Yet we sit here and let all these forces tear us apart. I'm not sure how to rectify this.

Additionally, in the 43 years I've been employed I've never seen a work env so complex and stressful as I have in DevOps of SDN. We're now Agile (I'll have words for that some other time), doing DevOps (which I like) and building from scratch an automation deployed SDN.  So in addition to all those stresses my work env seems to have gone to Eleven. I've been loaded with more work (120 hrs of crap in a 40 hour work week) and when asked for help I've been given help in the form of three new people to train, a redistribution of work load (and still more people to train) and additional work. Things are going to fail and I'm not sure how to handle this. I'll need to pick what fails. But one thing I've had to do is to work more efficiently. And that has come in the form of using Emacs and org-mode. I've been using Emacs since about 1979. I've used it so much that I know keystrokes by instinct. Bash uses it, Cisco routers use it, other equipment (DEC?) use it. So while not a standard it's been useful to know. I've also taken some advantage of the keyboard macros and even some Emacs lisp. A few years ago I need to do outlines for some of the things I was working on and found org-mode. I started with simple outlines then to take notes in org-mode. Later I found I could add links to other information. And not just a URL which I can click or type C-c C-o to open but things like local files, images links embedded into the text file. Yup, org-mode is a text bases PIM inside of Emacs. I even keep my ToDo list with my notes. I still really need to get a handle on the best use of Agenda's capabilities. At the moment I've just gotten a handle on block_src. I love the fact I can use this to execute bash commands and save the results in Emacs.  I've been making heavy use in my QA job. Basically PIM, note taking, Jupyter, and more built into a programming editor that I already know the keystrokes in.  All of these Emacs bits are saving me 2 things.  One is time and while it's only a few minutes here and there I need every minute.  The other is not as obvious, I get to keep my concentration fixed. That alone has been a huge benefit. I've even gone as far as learning more Emacs lisp, watching all sorts of Youtube videos on org-mode. I know I still have a lot to learn. I wish I could send emails via outlook using Emacs

A few folks might be wondering why I use some of the more standard tools like: Outlook, Onenote, Eclipse, etc. Well I do, it's just that they don't work together as one. If Microsoft is listening, please consider an API interface that allows outside tools to play nice together and perhaps a better built in programming language interface like Emacs. Though I might not suggest Emacs lisp. Python might be a better choice. ;-). I know Emacs isn't for everyone and I could probably learn to use my Office tools a bit better but the point is: I don't have to. And the same tools work on my Work PC, Home PC and my Linux Dev environment. Office doesn't. I'm still working on sharing with other members of team. But I haven't come up with a way to do that easily in Office either. 

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Yea! I know what AI isn't ...

Happy New year! The University of Helsinki, Finland, has an online course called Elements of AI. Since I've been interested in what AI can do for the smart home, I signed up with the hope of actually learning something that points me in the correct direction. Instead of being blitz by marketing hype like I am now. The very first class attempts to define AI and concludes that we can't yet. But what we can do is define it's characteristics and that some of the Suitcase words Cool! That's a useful distinction like smart, intelligence and learning don't quite have the same meaning as they do for a human. So AI and ML won't replace a human's intelligence or learning. They're just more tools in the toolbox. AI and ML will make us more efficient and accelerate our jobs. That's still pretty scary as whole fields of jobs can disappear. Is anyone still doing human computing?