NineCrows Blog

New job starts
Summer is here
Stepping up to manage
Much to be done

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Summer and a new job with new challenges

It was getting close to the end of my severance but I have a new job. I’m the sofware engineering manager at Excelitas / Axsun in Billerica. Much to be done, very cool technology (OCT imagers) and new people to meet.

Should be a challenging and interesting summer and on towards the end of the year.

Sad to have canceled our planned vacations this year when I was laid off but we have some fun plans we’ve put together to keep things interesting.

Definitely a change of pace from Draeger where I was almost 100% individual contributor to Excelitas where I’m responsible for making things better and improving processes and approaches (as well as some direct engineering work I expect). Still coming up to speed on what needs to be done and ways to get there.

Spring and looking for a new job

At the beginning of March I went into a 1 on 1 with my boss expecting to discuss new work on the Infinity network products after the upcoming release and was told that the Infinity product line was having focus moved from it and no longer needed a software architect. It looks like at the turn of the year a decision was made to end further work on the Infinity network products after the coming release and I was not the only senior person let go as a result. Disappointing but I can see that focusing on the long delayed next generation work to get those on the market makes sense.

At this point I hit the ground running and had an exhausting March talking with many recruiters and ending up with four first interviews, so far those have been followed by three second interviews with two now being off the table and one still open. Hoping for a third interview and an offer there but only time will tell.

I took last week slower to get my next steps in order. I’m now looking at another ‘sprint’ to touch base with more recruiters and start sending cold resumes to places that look interesting. I have 19 weeks of runway so I’m not worried but I’m also not going to sit back and let things run.

I’m also getting set to do some more technology refreshers work (my first round of interviews always seems to remind me of some areas where I’ve gotten rusty) and some areas I want to dig into in more detail. Looking at doing some serious reading on machine learning (which always seems to lead to python so I’ll be doing a python refresher) and some SPA/full stack work probably focusing on React for the front end. Lots to do, lots to learn.

Well into Fall and still nice weather out there 2022

The crypto implementation at work is finally wrapped and the product teams are well on their way to shipping secure networking. Nice to see it making it out the door. Looking for new challenges at this point and helping out where I can as things are in transition.

Looking at doing some web application design to support things I’m playing with at home. The server side has to be PHP as that is what is running here on my hosting. MySQL has to be the persistent store for the same reasons. Front ending with React as that seems like a pretty good choice for and SPA (Angular and Vue are alternatives).

Wrapping up the hall ceiling after last year renovating and looking towards the largest and last bathroom to get upgrades. Plenty of other house related stuff to be done but shouldn’t be a killer.

Looking at getting back into Unity coding and will probably code up a 3D based space invaders game as a warm up exercise. Also looking at some VR work and getting PHP based back-end code in place for shared board gaming on computer stuff. That is where the React/PHP/MySQL work is aimed…both back end web service and SPA to manage and monitor. Hoping to get that stuff up and running soon. Have been doing lots of reading to prepare and bought a number of books to ease the process.

Finishing up coming up to speed on powershell. Weird syntax at times but a much better alternative to the batch file coding work is currently using for the windows based Jenkins builds and since it is native on windows it should be broadly available. Seems powerful enough and capable of the sorts of things I need to get done. I’m expecting to move much of the batch files over to powershell next time they require substantial work.

Spring into summer 2022

Much of the way through with the renovation of the ‘master’ bathroom. I’m done with the plumbing and electrical work and the backer board and sheet rock are up. Still mudding some of the rougher areas and will sand after vacation. Once that is complete I expect that putting up the shower stall should be relatively fast. Flooring is the remaining area of challenge. Waterproof hardwood but by all indications the waterproofing around the flooring needs to be done right for things to remain robust.

Work is staying busy. Final deployment of the crypto code to the teams is pretty much done. Code complete as of today (hopefully). It has been a challenging time designing and implementing TLS and multicast encryption for older, low spec devices. Cross platform code across old linux, 32 and 64 bit windows and embedded OS choices made this even more interesting. It is working at this point and deployed to the teams with key management in place (or at least in alpha ๐Ÿ™‚ ). Good to be wrapping this up and seeing the results.

Headed off for a short time in Orlando soon. Inlaws will be holding down the fort here so I expect everything should go smoothly.

Back to playing with Unity and looking at helping my nephew do some game programming with it. Also building a new PC soon (been too long as progress has moved on) to speed up development work and provide a better VR platform. Still much research to do before serious selection of parts and putting orders in.

Into a new year, 2022

Slow start to the new year. Most of the heavy lifting for the network encryption at work is complete. Most of the dev teams are well on their way and things are working as expected. Lots of tying up loose ends.

Working on the second of three bathrooms on the home front.  Drains and water feeds roughed in. Now to get them wrapped up and the floor down. Moving along well here too. Much left to complete though.

We bought a few ‘great courses’ while they were on sale this winter and will be working through them as winter marches towards spring. Fun to be tackling some things that aren’t hard core technical for a change.

Looking to get the VR work going past the ‘first light’ moment I got to in December. On to making something real if simple next. Got an updated version of the manning unity book to support the effort.

Through the summer and well into fall

Covid is still a concern but with the whole family fully vaccinated I’m less concerned that we’ll have a tragedy.

Crytpo stuff at work is in the hands of the product teams and getting implemented. Still some documentation and adjustments in the code to be completed but looking pretty good at this point.

Had a great Disney trip in September even with the continuing mess in Florida. Looking forward to seeing the 50th anniversary festivities in May.

Starting to get back in touch with people as most of those we know are also fully vaccinated. Hoping that in 2022 we’ll see life get back to normal as the unvaccinated get sick and either die or develop antibodies the hard way while the vaccinated feel more comfortable with conditions. 

Hoping to find time to do some more VR programming.

Still working on bathrooom renovations. One down, one in progress and one pending. Going to be a busy winter after a busy summer in the yard.

Spring mostly and feeling optimistic

Spring has arrived along with hope that SARS COV 2 may be getting under control as vaccines roll out across the country.

Flowers blooming in the yard and snow is all melted.

Just about finished coding my file indexing tool…long time wrapping up. MongoDb is working pretty well on that front. Now to get things scanned in.

Looking at role playing games and other fun things. Picked up a copy of Mongoose Traveller and Call of Cthulhu to read through…perhaps one day soon I can try running something in one or the other. Playing a dwarf cleric in an online D&D 5e game that Sean is running. Picked up the 5e core books and Xanathar’s and Tasha’s. Nice to get back into things a bit.

Looking at doing some actual Unity coding for the Quest 2 headset. Just bought a Wacom Cintiq 16 drawing device to play with…hoping this will help me make my drawing skills better and perhaps even make my learning curve with blender less painful.

Spring soon ๐Ÿ™‚

Been a while since I’ve posted on here. Long year working from home. Need to migrate the site to a newer hosting as well (this one doesn’t support the current version of PHP) so I’ve been avoiding doing too much that might get lost (backed the whole site up in January or so).

Looking forward to getting vaccinated and being able to resume something like normal life. Got to get Unity talking to the Quest 2 headset and get some of that stuff going. Lots to get done as we head into spring 2021.

New Year, New President, Optimistic

Glad to see 2020 in the rear view mirror. Nasty bit of a year with cancelled vacations and shelter in place. Hoping that with a new, competent group in control at the national level and vaccines rolling out that we’ll see a better 2021.

I was very happy to see how well working remote went this year. I suspect that once things start returning to normal that I’ll revert to being in the office, but opens up options that weren’t really there before.

Work has been the expected sequence of steps forward and unexpected (or somewhat expected) issues. Dug into TLS-PSK rather than X.509 based TLS to address performance issues. Key rotation is an interesting challenge all around. This year we’ll tackle securing multicast communications. I inherited a partial solution but things have evolved since then and we’ll be working through those issues. Very interesting work and I’ve taken a passing interest in cybersecurity to a whole new level over the last year.

I’ve picked up an Oculus Quest 2 to supplement my HTC Vive headset. Haven’t had time yet to figure out how to build Unity things to deploy to the platform. New year goals.

Lots to look forward to this year and hoping it makes up for some of the mess that 2020 threw at us.

Cybersecurity and the Onset of Covid

It has been a strange stretch since the New Year. 

I’m well into the cybersecurity work that I became involved with as 2019 waned. Good things going on, challenges being surmounted. Getting ducks in rows ๐Ÿ™‚ Working for a company that cares very much about the well-being of its workers and in a role where I can work from home nearly as effectively as I can work in the office has been a wonderful thing.

I miss the in person brain storming that can happen with everyone in one location. We’ve been working around this with tele and video conferencing and that has worked pretty well. At this point I’m not inclined to make being back in the office full time a thing until we have this pandemic (at least mostly) behind us. We’ve reached the point where things are working quite well using the remote resources we have available.

The home front has been a bit choppier. We’ve cancelled all vacation time that we had planned this year. We lost the chance to see Alyssa in Orlando for some time as she’ll be on deployment next year. Florida has become a nightmare of pandemic denial and viral spread along with the problem of getting from here to there without getting on a plane with people who won’t wear PPE. At this point we’re staying home and staying safe until we get vaccinated (which needs a vaccine first).

Home projects have mostly ended up shelved. The craziness out there is pretty distracting and I haven’t gotten started on any more C# or Unity work since the year rolled over. I did have a failed Vive sensor box that needed to be replaced. The replacement worked fine. I’m hoping to get back to doing some coding in the near future. The blog will tell as that gets started…

Challenges and possibilities in a new year

Moving into a cyber-security development role at Drรคger. Picking up loose ends and trying to forge a design that is secure, easy to use and implementable on existing hardware. Interesting challenge (and challenge seems to be the theme at the moment).

Trying to get back up to speed on the VR work I’ve been doing after six months of leaving that aside to deal with other issues.

Blender is front and center with a return to the Cluster game once I’ve gotten blender to a point where I can do useful things with it. Thinking I may go after a simple single player implementation with a machine opponent first before looking at networked play. Still thinking that UI/UX is the biggest challenge here…making a complex game design playable and easy to use.

Into the fall and new challenges…

Ended my time at KMC Systems this summer and moved on to a new role at Draeger. Pulling myself out of a slow summer and trying to get some Unity and other related work going as we roll into fall. Need to get my SLR serviced and get back to some serious photography along the way. Alyssa is doing well on the west coast and will soon be a Petty Officer Second Class…proud of her.

Headed into summer

We’ve reached summer weather and are on the cusp of the fourth of July. Still plenty of photography work to get to, but the recent vacation is complete. I do still need to upload many of the photos as I’m having trouble getting my web hosting to reliably pull in batches of pictures.

Slow going on the VR game cluster as I’m in the dull but necessary part of the work building PHP code and SQL schemas to handle the server side processing and the storage of game state for the multi-player aspect. Once I have this fully sketched out I’ll post the details on my career site (technical bits) and some overview on pandamallet (fun stuff). 

Post-processing of photos is ongoing

Vacation is over and I’m working my way through photos from vacation. I’ve done the (small) first day and the first cruise day at this point. I’ll get back to the boat tour and zoo days sometime soon, but this stuff takes time (always more than I expect). I’m hoping to get to some of the boat tour shots before the end of this week…

Vacation is over

Vacation is just about over. Had a great time at Cocoa Beach and on the Disney Dream. It is going to take some time to post-process my photos from the trip, but I will get that rolling as soon as I can and provide links here once I have pictures up

Had a great time on the Island Boat Lines tour around the islands at Cocoa Beach. Captain Norm and Rochelle were amazing at seeing and pointing out manatees, dolphins and birds as we passed through. Lots of fun (and just Lorna and I on the boat this time around). Got lots of photos to share once I have a bit more time for post processing. I’ll post a link here on the landing page when the time comes.

Wonderful four days on the Disney Dream to wrap up vacation. Particular shout out to our server at Palo, Ricardo from Portugal. Wonderful service, good conversation and an amazing surprise dessert (chocolate souffle) for Lorna at the end of brunch. He made a wonderful pair of meals even more enjoyable.

I will also be posting shots from our days on the Dream as they are ready. I’ve been previewing some on facebook to our cruise group and my main feed over the weekend, but sharing them here and linking down provides access to a wider audience so I expect to shift over that way shortly. I’ll provide a link from here when I get started and likely link the chain of posts together as well.

Lots of things to get back to now that vacation is over. I’m going to get back to VR focused work and some simple motion capture tracking soon and work on broadening my scope with some PHP work to allow games to network and blender and unity step up to make things look better along the way…

We’re into the spring. Work around the yard competes with sandbox software efforts. The VR coding is on hold a bit (along with the mo-cap stuff) as I build out a few software tools I need for more prosaic purposes. WPF and MongoDB are on the slate. Expecting to do some PHP/MySQL coding when I get back to the VR side to get the web connections for the VR code framed out.

Alyssa is back in touch for the moment with her deployment well past half over. Looking forward to having her back on land and in regular contact. Missing her as she does her duty and spans the globe.

Work is pretty quiet. I’m mostly wrapping up defects and tying off loose ends on things. Hoping that a new program with more complex work spins up soon or something else comes along to present some more interesting challenges to tackle. For now I’ll be finding my challenges in sandbox projects here at home.

Heading towards the end of winter I’m moving towards getting some more creatively oriented sandbox projects moving forward. I’m playing with the Unity toolkit on flat screens, DayDream VR and my Vive. Early days yet, but the tools look pretty capable and progress is reasonable. Look for updates on the career blog and pandamallet.

I’m probably going to shift things a bit going forward with the page being more of a personal blog and shifting more creative content over to It it likely to take a little while to get that done…I do expect to keep the photography on with appropriate filters though. Once the new section is ready, I’ll add an entry to the navigation page above here that will get you there…

Working on the house and yard, cleaning out the basement and trying to move various technical sandbox projects forward. Work is getting busy again. It looks as if it is going to be a very busy fall and winter tying up all of the loose ends. Looking forward to Alyssa coming home for a visit before she’s off on deployment. Currently far more ‘hunker down and keep things moving’ than ‘exciting and optimistic’ but sometimes that’s what is needed to make progress.

Tonight while waiting for the Magic Kingdom fireworks and castle light show we chatted with Rudy, the honorary eighth dwarf and a Disney legacy employee. It was great talking with him and my wife became his latest ‘victim’ getting photographed with him before the show…More shots from the castle light show and fireworks to come after we get home…flying home tonight.

Many more pictures from the fireworks and castle show to post-process but it is around midnight and I’m not likely to get to them until I’m home (and there I’ll have better monitors and faster computer hardware to boot).

Post-processing pictures from a local boat tour today. Still digging through but will post them once I’m done…Published here for now and more here.