Sunday, 21 August 2016

Energy measurement with Domoticz and Grafana. Yes, it's easy!

A while ago I started tracking the power and gas consumption at home. To do this I read the meters every sunday afternoon and this gave me some insight in the power consumption. Unfortunately this also means that you have the measurement resolution of a week, so you can't really change your habits and see the effect on power/gas consumption.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

11 Months Later: About productivity and mental health as a software dev

Recently I was asked whether I could share the tips and tricks that I still implement from my post from about 11 months ago. At first, I wasn't even sure that I would be able to name things I've learned and managed to keep doing.

Then I started thinking: is it even important that I can name them? Do I have to be consciously aware of the improvements I've made? But maybe the more important thing to realise is: even if I gain a single improvement from reading a book, something tiny that I did not do before, it is a gain and it is worth it! On top of that, everyones situation is different. This is why the stuff that helped me might not necessarily work for you.

So in my opinion books like these should be used more like frameworks, toolboxes, but not as a manual or bible. Similar to how this post describes the concept of Scrum implementation:
The Scrum framework leaves different options and tactics to play the game, ways that are at any time adopted to the context and circumstances.
Even if you implement only a small subset of the possibilities that Scrum provides, you're still benefiting from it and you can choose to combine it with other tools within (or even outside) the Scrum framework to streamline (optimise, improve, whatever) your work(flow) even more. This is something that is explained based on examples and anecdotes in the book Scrum & XP from the trenches, which you can download for free!

In conclusion

While I don't want to sum up the things I do better because they might not work for you, I'll list the things I currently do and things that I wish I would be better at implementing. These are from Blueprint of a productive programmer as the other book (Becoming a better programmer) is basically a huge list of great advice that you should probably read every 4 weeks until you really think you're implementing > 10% of it :).

Things I have learned and am able to implement (at least partially):

  • Chapter 2 from Blueprint of a productive programmer: 
    • Minimise Distractions, Stay off Facebook (I actually uninstalled FB and WhatsApp from my phone)
    • Avoid meetings (unless it's REALLY clear what needs to be discussed for both parties and other means of communication will NOT suffice)
    • Commit to repository often (especially if you have trouble focussing because of stuff like A.D.D.)
Stuff that I really want to do better (but have forgotten to actually keep doing)
  • Chapter 5 from Blueprint of a productive programmer:
    • Eat the right food
    • Take regular breaks
    • Prevent or treat RSI
At the same time I found the book as a whole to give me a great insight in overall pitfalls in your daily routines as a programmer. If you're a programmer (and even if you're a pretty good programmer) I'm sure you will gain something from reading it :). Again, here are the books:

Becoming a better programmer by Pete Goodliffe:

O'Reilly StoreAmazon (Kindle)

The Blueprint for a Productive Programmer by Moshfegh Hamedani:

Amazon ebook

Monday, 8 August 2016

Tidying up the "server room"

I have a NAS, a UPS, a Powerline adapter, a Philips Hue Bridge, an OpenTherm Gateway, and an OpenPi (Raspberry Pi Compute Module breakout board) in the hallway closet. There also was a 2nd gen Airport Extreme, but it has been replaced with a less power-hungry and more performant alternative. But even then, it was an utter mess.

Unfortunately I have forgotten to make a 'before' picture, but I assure you, the empty space next to the NAS was filled with the items listed above. Wires everywhere. And even removing the Airport did not solve this.

Then I decided, everything with mounting holes has to hang on the wall. And sometimes it's these small things that make a big difference. Mounting a piece of wood to the wall and putting some screws in allowed me to reduce the cable clutter (most of the cables can now be tucked away behind the NAS) and because the devices aren't laying all across the place, power cables are now routed together in a bundle.

Now the only thing I have to do is wall mount the OpenPi. But I'll do that some other day. Even small improvements like this can make a great difference: it's so much easier to service a device without accidentally unplugging something else! Do yourself a favour and go after the low hanging fruit. You'll thank yourself later :)

A picture of my "server room", the top part of our hallway closet.