Clearwater Analytics Developer’s Conference 2018

On Friday, October 19, 2018 I had an incredible opportunity to attend Clearwater Analytics’ Developer’s Conference (DevCon). They allowed their employees to invite a friend and thankfully, I have a great friend who works there who invited me as his guest.

Keynote

The keynote speech was titled “Idaho Technology – Past, Present and Future.” It was a fantastic look at the big key players of technology in Idaho’s Treasure Valley. Simplot, Hewlett Packard (HP), Micron, T-Sheets, Metageek, Cradlepoint, and of course Clearwater were just a few of the companies I remember getting a mention. Coming from a company that was spun out from Hewlett Packard (I currently work for Perspecta), it was great to see our heritage on display. However, I couldn’t help but think: “How are we going to get Perspecta on the radar like HP is?”

I thought I would take a moment to write about a few of the seminars that I attended and what I took away from them.

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DiscountLinuxDVD.com

A couple of weeks ago my DVD burner decided to kick the bucket. I was wanting to download Fedora 8 and burn it to a DVD so I could install it onto my computer. Unfortunately, that wasn’t going to happen. I decided that I would seek out a website that sold pressed copies of Linux distributions. I found DiscountLinuxDVD.com and am very pleased with their services.

I was only going to buy Fedora 8 but I wound up purchasing several others because they were a good price and I have been wanting to play with some of the updated distributions. I also prefer carrying around a pressed copy of some of the live Linux distributions that I use. People get weary sometimes of you putting in a home burned CD or DVD. I ordered the following: CentOS 5 DVD, CentOS 5 Live CD, Feespire 2.0, Slax 5.1.8 Live CD, openSUSE 10.3 DVD (i386 32-bit), openSUSE 10.3 (DVD x86_64 64-bit), openSUSE 10.3 (DVD PPC), Mandriva One 2008 Live/Install CD (KDE), Mandriva Free 2008 DVD, Ubuntu Studio 7.10, Fedora 8 (DVD PPC), Fedora 8 (DVD x86_64 64-bit), Fedora 8 (DVD i386 32-bit). All of that for $25.12. I thought that was a great deal to have pressed copies of all those distributions and different versions.

The other reason I enjoyed making my purchase at this site instead of the other sites out there was the fact that I did not have to order with a credit card. I simply ordered with my PayPal account and the funds were automatically deducted from my balance on PayPal. That’s how I like it and I greatly appreciate any company that allows me to do that.

If you’re looking for a easy way to play around with Linux and see what all the fuss is about I would highly recommend going over to DiscountLinuxDVD.com and purchasing a live CD. Slax, Puppy or Damm Small Linux (DSL) are great for older machines.

When DRM Sucks

A couple of weeks ago my younger brother asked me to buy some songs for him from the iTunes store. So I thought this would be no big deal. Normally I buy, download and burn the songs to a CD and also put them onto his iPod shuffle for him. Well, that wasn’t the case this time. I had some issues and thought I would share them.

The music was bought and I transferred it over to my PC because the iBook doesn’t have a CD buner. No big deal. I get the tracks into iTunes on the PC and put them into a playlist and click on burn, no luck. There is an error that it can’t find a burner. The drive was being recognized by Windows as well as Nero. I got to thinking about it and I decided to disconnect the hard drive that was also on the same cable as the CD/DVD burner. Ok, first of all. I know it’s probably not wise to do that but I needed to connect the drive to the computer and it worked, so shush! Anyways. After taking my computer case apart, unplugging the hard drive and getting it all put back together again I turn the PC on and I still get the same error in iTunes. The drive is still being recognized by Windows and Nero but not iTunes.

I then realize that Nero is not displaying the drive as a CD or DVD Burner. I don’t know what the deal with that was. I’m still having issues copying CDs or DVDs. I’m thinking that I’m either needing to re-flash the optical drive, re-install Windows or buy a new DVD burner. But anyways. That’s not why I am writing.

Once I finally got the music over onto the PC and found out that I was not going to be able to burn the music using iTunes, I needed to try and burn it using Nero or something else. Of course you can’t do that without removing the DRM from the music! So I found myFairTunes, a Windows only application. DRM Dumpster does the same thing for Mac users but you’ll need a CD-RW drive and disc. Also, the software is not free. I removed the DRM, converted the tracks to MP3 format in iTunes and tried to burn the music using Nero. Of course I thought the music had burned succesfully because it went through the entire process and said it was successful. However, looking at the CD after it came out of the drive you can tell that there was nothing on the disc. When you put it into a CD player it makes the blank disc noise and when you put it back into a computer it says it is blank.

My point to this entire entry is that DRM is only making it harder for people who actually purchase music. We all know that. However the music industry still does not understand that fact. Thankfully, iTunes is now offering DRM free music. Also, fortunately, there are amazing companies like Magnatune who are against DRM. Magnatune allows you share the music you purchase with 3 people and they also let you license the music for videos, podcasts and other productions under a Creative Commons license.

The issue I had isn’t the only reason DRM needs to be sent to the dumpster. People want to buy music players and put their music on it. When a player is tied to one music store and one DRM format, you can’t do it. Maybe one of these days this will be a thing of the past and our descendants will look at us like we were crazy for using DRM (along with many, many other things).

Flash, A Little Dab Will Do Ya'!

I wish people would stop using Flash for their entire website design. First of all, Flash slows my computer down to the point where I have to force my browser to close just so I can start browsing the Internet again. I lose the tabs I had open and that doesn’t make me a happy camper! Not all sites do this, I realize that. But there are a lot that do. Secondly, Flash is still not very usable to blind people. I have blind friends, they tell me these things. Third, if you’ve got several layers to go through to get to a certain point in your website, everytime someone visits your website they have to go through the entire thing from the beginning. You can’t simply bookmark the page.

The other aggravation that I’ve got is that sites that use Flash for their entire presentation tend to force you to open a pop up window to view the site. Not only do most browsers block pop ups by default, most people, at least I, don’t think to look for a button that says “click here to open.” Also, stop using splash screens! That is seriously old and annoying. With fast Internet connections people do not want to wait on your stupid splash screen to load and transfer the user to your real homepage. It’s not good for search engine optimization. It also annoys me! So stop it!

I am not completely against Flash. For streaming video across the Internet, Flash is the best solution. You can play flash content on Windows, Mac and Linux. For advertisements (THAT AREN’T ANNOYING) flash can be very good at getting your message across because you are not confined to just text and images. My point to this rant is to use Flash sparingly. I think it’s a great tool but I seriously think people are overusing it.