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jr conlin's ink stained banana

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:: Now I’m Cooking with ~Gas~ Induction

A while ago, someone pointed out that you can get an induction burner from IKEA for around $70 i’ve been induction curious, since i’ve never tried one before, so i bought one.


So, with all the discussion about induction and people coming for your stoves, no one bothered to explain to me the mechanics. They’re… not what you think. i’ve been cooking with a gas stove for decades, and this is very different.

Allow me to try and best explain what’s going on.

Let’s say you have a resistive electric cooktop. Electricity goes in, then heats up the coil using resistance to the point where it generates radiative heat. That heat, depending on the make and style, then either gets passed up into the cooking surface or contact heats the pot. Since it’s radiative, heat goes in all directions so only a percentage of the heat goes into the cooking vessel.

Gas works pretty much the same way, only more so. It combusts producing heat that is then dumped into whatever happens to be near by. Since convection is a thing, most goes up into the vessel.

It’s important to note that the heat in both of these cases can go around the vessel. Gas is far worse at this than electric, and anyone who’s cooked with gas will tell you to mind the flame so that you’re not making the pot handles too hot.

Induction doesn’t do any of that. Induction produces heat in the vessel directly via fun electromagnetic forces. This means that the wattage you ask for, goes into the vessel with very little being wasted. That’s absolutely not the case for resistive electric and gas.

When i boiled water using a pot i’ve used hundreds of times in the past, the handles were cool. Possibly for the very first time in that pot’s lifetime. As a fun bonus, the surface of the cooker cooled rapidly once the pot was removed because it was not the source of heat.

i’m interested in trying it with a few other cooking styles, but i’m going to guess that it’ll do just fine.

i am now very sad that induction cooktops were crap when i redid my kitchen 10+ years ago. Joe can absolutely come for my gas stove.

Much like can openers, things have absolutely improved.

    What do you think, sirs?

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    :: Fear of Mr. Scott

    Maybe it’s the end of the year and hearing one too many bad versions of “Auld Lang Syne”. Maybe it’s the fact that i’m on day 6 of COVID. But for some reason i was thinking about Mr. Scott on the Enterprise from Star Trek.

    i started thinking about what a massively complex system a 400 person capable interstellar space ship, complete with armaments and transportation systems, fueled by carefully exploding matter and antimatter, which produces pure energy at an unfathomable scale must be. And yet, you’ve got basically one guy who somehow knows and can repair all of it.

    i mean to micro-geek me sitting on my bed trying to hold the UHF antenna just right on the black and white so i can watch reruns after-school, sure. And for a bunch of writers on a fairly low-budget TV show focused on telling stories about societal ills dressed up as “Wagon-train in the Stars”, you bet! But for grown up me who’d be about the right age myself? Oh, hell no.

    One of the hallmarks of being a Senior Engineer anywhere is having a firm and complete understanding of what you do not know. It should spread out before you like the vast, endless plain that it is. You might recognize features like distant mountains or far off towers, but that’s probably about it. You should also know who to ask or rely on to navigate those particular bits when you need to, and also recognize that unless you’re working with that stuff frequently, you’re not going to instantly become a domain expert.

    So, yeah, having one guy who basically is responsible for keeping a multi trillion dollar machine flight and fight ready at all times, as well as will be on call to unplug the Command Head after the replicators finish Taco Tuesday? Yeah, nope.

    For work, i do what’s become called “DevOps”. My company defines that as building scale-ready back end services that can be deployed and maintained for extended periods. This differs from our SRE (Systems Reliability Engineers) who’s job it is to make sure that the systems we built are deployed and operational. i’ve sometimes said that they’re the “Check Engine” lights of our org. They’re critical players that monitor and understand our running systems and how they relate far better than anyone else. i could not do their jobs and i’m always exceptionally nice to them. For anything that’s truly broken, their job is to file a ticket or call me and make it my problem to fix.

    Same with our Test Engineering folk. Their job is to make sure that the things we build and operate run consistently, validly, and efficiently. They are our highly skilled, trained chaos monkeys who actually help fill out reports. They look to make sure that we’re not just doing “happy path” testing, but introduce appropriate noise and hostile behaviors that we miss because we just want this crap to work (dag-nabbit).

    Each group knows their skills and shortcoming. Each group happily works with the others to get a fantastic final result. i would no more dismiss these groups as “useless” than i would dismiss a surgeon because “My G.P. knows how to medicine. How hard could it be?”

    i suppose this also gets into the whole myth of the 10x engineer, (Note: a 10x engineer is someone who does a job that is only .1% defined.) but that’s a different discussion.

    All i can think is that if Mr. Scott has to do some sort of repair or fix on something, someone else is dead or incapacitated and that a third person may be needed to spend a day or two repairing the “fix”. i mean, yeah, i can deploy a system on a set of servers that could run for some period, and have in the past, but i’m not dumb enough to think that it could handle several times the population of the United States without me personally funding the next trip Jeff takes to the stratosphere. i’m sure that there are whole catalogs of “Scotty Fixes” pictures at Star Bases around the Federation showcasing plasma conduits wrapped in chicken wire and silicon tape.

    Mr. Scott was my favorite character on Star Trek for a slew of good reasons, but the further i get in my career, the more i appreciate the unseen folk who made it their jobs to make sure that Mr. Scott barely knew the systems they worked on.

    :: Starting up soc.jrconlin.com

    So, stemming from my departure from Twitter, i decided to go for the third phase of being on Mastodon, and set up my own server. Mastodon is interesting because it’s pretty much like email. This may become a problem in the future, but i also tend to post a lot and have a fair bit of media in my posts, so paying for a server instead of just dropping a few coins in someone else’s bucket seemed like a fairer option.

    (Even though i said i would never set up a server because “who wants to deal with that nightmare”?)

    ## The failed attempt

    The first try was… not successful. i still don’t quite know why. i got an instance, and tried doing a docker-compose style install. Everything mostly went correctly, except that i could never properly federate. Requests would go out, and remote hosts would sometimes get them, but no approval responses would return. There were many rabbit holes to be fallen into, and i’ve seem to have found most of them.

    Realizing that my life should be more than debugging this one, particular instance, i decided to try again on a different service.

    ## The successful attempt.

    DigitalOcean offers a “1-click” setup for Mastodon. It’s more than one click.

    i won’t go into to the same detail as many of the step-by-step guides, but here are some bits of guidance for the things not covered in the tutorials. (These are also here for my benefit, if i need to do this again.)

    • i probably over provisioned. My “free”-ish failed attempt was going to cost me about $20 a month to run. Using that as a guideline, i picked a config that has 2vCPUs, 2GB of memory and 60GB of drive space, which should run me about $18 a month. (i’ll update this later to show actual cost.) Rather nicely, DigitalOcean appears to automatically update packages on initial install, but looks like i’ll need to rig up an automatic package updater, or just add it to my list of machines to manually update.
    • Since my image has 60GB of storage, i didn’t get any additional block storage. (Block storage is added as a disk to the image, so you’d need to do some work to wire it into your mastodon configuration.)
    • i also made sure to load up my dev public SSH key so that no root password login was possible.
    • i followed the getting started steps for the app. i was a bit surprised about you SSH in as “root”, but i’m sure they have their reasons.
    • Once i verified that things are working, i copied the ~mastodon/.env.production file to my local machine for archiving purposes.
    • After that, i set about updating the droplet’s Mastodon 3 version to Mastodon 4 using this very well written guide.
    • That done and proofed, i set about looking at pre-banning the nazis. This page lists a number of bad actors as well as some moderation automation tooling. i’m currently looking at integrating the Hackyderm Admin Blocklist tool, but i just sorta cheated and added the initial batch by hand.

    Hopefully things work. FWIW, i don’t really have any plans on letting folk join my instance, mostly because of the HUGE increase in work being an admin entails. Right now, it’s a toy for me to amuse myself with, and i might go back to using a proper server in the future (that’s why i generally maintain older accounts).

    Got my first bill from Digital Ocean for $8.29 (minus the pending $5 i had pre-paid, so final bill $3.29) for about 11 days operation or 243 hours, so for a 30 day period of ~720 hours i’m looking at around $25). i fully realize i’m over-provisioned, but i’m ok with that for now.
    Got the second bill, and it’s right at $21 for a fairly active month. Not horrible. So roughly $252 a year to run my own box.)

    :: So Long, Twitter

    Right, just so this is official and trackable.

    i’m no longer on Twitter.

    i closed my account tonight and will have nothing more to do with that site.

    i’m on Mastodon, currently. You can check my network page for how to reach me, or just go to https://jrconlin.com/mastodon

    Hey Elon, i’d tell you to turn the lights off before you leave, but that might require you getting someone to tell you how they work.My recently closed and now very dead twitter account

    :: What is Mentoring?

    i should probably spend a few minutes outlining what i think mentoring is.

    Mentoring is the long term sharing knowledge and experience with the goal of making life easier for the recipient.

    If you’re only doing it once, you’re not mentoring. That’s a lecture.
    If you’re not invested in the improvements of the folks you’re helping, you’re not mentoring. You’re preaching.
    If you’re just pointing out flaws or trying to make someone change, that’s not mentoring. That’s coaching.

    Mentoring is work. Being mentored is also work. For what it’s worth, i consider mentoring to be a bit holistic. If someone is struggling, it’s important to recognize why they might be struggling. Perhaps it’s a language or context issue (not everyone has the same background or experiences, so it might require doing some research to find the right way to express an idea so that it’s understood). Perhaps it’s a non-technical issue (perhaps they’re stressed about a personal issue. These can be tricky, and you should never delve into those uninvited, but letting someone know what you can do to help can be a huge relief).

    When i mentor someone my goal is to make their life better. i teach technical approaches because i’m an engineer, but i also advise things about career growth, office politics, and other hard lessons i suffered through. The last thing i want is for anyone i’m mentoring to hit the same walls and fall into the same traps as i did. Likewise, i’m actually interested in their experiences and thoughts. Everyone has a different background and expertise. i want to learn about it because it’s different and there might be valuable things i can learn.

    Honestly, if i’m not learning as much as i’m teaching, there’s a problem.

    So, how does one set up a mentoring relationship?

    A colleague pointed out that a good relationship starts with a mutual objective. So, a senior engineer would want to mentor a junior one if they’re both working on a given project. This makes good sense, purely from a practical point of view. The faster you can turn someone into a peer, the less work you have on your plate. Likewise, you now have someone you’re comfortable reviewing your code so you can work faster. If you’re afraid that someone is “going to steal your job”, you’re thinking too small. Instead, you’re building your own tiny army of folk that will support each other.

    That’s actually a really important side benefit to good mentorship, the trust relationship you establish via mentorship can easily outlast your immediate employment. One of you might get a better job, or get laid off, or any number of other things. Maintaining that relationship means that you will have a personal network that will be looking out for each other, and possibly lining up folks for good jobs (and future hiring bonuses). Likewise, you’ll have third party folk that can give you honest answer to “Hey, so i’ve been asked to XYZ, and i’m not sure it’s a good idea.” It’s a lot easier to be ethical if you’re not as worried about having food and shelter.

    It’s also worth noting that having a good mentor can sometimes help correct bad management. A manager may be temporary and a mentor may well outlive a managers role. To that end, a mentor may be able to guide an employee in ways that a manager never would. A mentor may point out other, better opportunities, which might mean that the mentee leaves their current team. A mentor may pass along crucial information that a manager may not feel is important, or may be damaging to the manager’s ego.

    A good mentoring relationship may continue for quite some time, spanning teams, divisions, or even companies. Honestly, one of the most damaging things i’ve seen in tech is treating other company employees as “The Enemy”. Sorry, no, they’re not. You may be competing against them, and there may be good reasons to be guarded about speaking with them about your work, but in a week, you might be working with them or they with you. In sports a player may be traded from one team to the next. That never diminishes the athletic prowess of a given player, just what clothes he has to regularly wear.

    Your employer will never love you back. However, you can still build lasting networks among the people you worked with. Mentoring can be part of that. Ideally, every one i mentor eventually grows into becoming a mentor themselves.

    And that’s part of my Evil Plan on how to make the tech industry better.

    Blogs of note
    personal Christopher Conlin USMC Henriette's Herbal Blog My Mastodon musings Where have all the good blogs gone?
    geek ultramookie

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