Rachel Roumeliotis

Rachel is an Editor at O'Reilly Media, Inc. focusing on mobile and Microsoft technologies as well as Python, Perl, and PHP. She has been working in technical publishing for over seven years acquiring books in UX, computer security, and electrical engineering as well as several other computer topics.

A First Slice of Raspberry Pi

Tips on Getting Started with Simon Monk

Simon Monk @simonmonk2 is a full-time author who focuses his writing talents on open source hardware topics. He is currently writing the Raspberry Pi Cookbook which will be available in early release in July and in final release in the fall. Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Simon and we talked about one of the coolest things in open source hardware today, the Raspberry Pi.

Key highlights include:

  • Invest in a Raspberry Pi starter kit [Discussed at 0:29]
  • Python is probably the best bet for beginners [Discussed at 1:25]
  • Raspberry Pi and Arduino are both great but really excel in different ways [Discussed at 3:54]
  • How about when Raspberry Pi and Arduino are used together? [Discussed at 5:14]
  • Save time and avoid common mistakes like hardware compatibility issues [Discussed at 7:23]
  • Overclocking helps performance [Discussed at 8:47]

You can view the full interview here:

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The Future Is Graph Databases

A conversation with the founder of Neo4J, Emil Eifrem

Emil Eifrem @emileifrem is the Founder of Neo4j and CEO of Neo Technology. He is also one of the authors of Graph Databases. Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Emil and we talked about the current and future opportunities for graph databases.

Key highlights include:

  • Emil explains graph databases. [Discussed at 0:29]
  • Facebook Graph Search is a well-known example of a graph database. [Discussed at 3:28]
  • But really, graph databases can be used much more than social search. [Discussed at 4:50]
  • Neo4j is the original graph database. [Discussed at 5:25]
  • Graph databases “shape” data. [Discussed at 6:20]

You can view the full interview here:

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TechEd 2013: The ASP.NET Team, Surfaces at a Deep Discount, (and Google Glass?)

Humid, harmonious, and happy

People weren’t kidding when they told me New Orleans is humid, but the good news is the conference venue has great air conditioning. As expected TechEd is focused mainly on system administrator issues, but I’m feeling that even more so this year with BUILD right around the corner on June 26. However, that isn’t keeping the ASP.NET team from letting us in on what they’ve been working on these past few months.

I wrote a post a little more than a year ago on how Microsoft was starting to embrace open source. Well, it seems to be paying off with Web API 2: two of the new features, CORS and Attribute Routing, were initially contributed by community members and then perfected with the ASP.NET team. These two features are making writing code for your website more streamlined.

In other impressive updates, layout and styling are now based in Bootstrap and cross-browser testing is now much quicker with a tool codenamed “Artery.” We saw, Damian Edwards, Program Manager on the ASP.NET team, make a change in the code, rerun the program, and show us the updated website on local versions of Explorer and Chrome. In addition to upgrade announcements, a welcome change came in the form of a consistent toolset offering with Visual Studio 2013 that makes working across Web Forms and MVC much easier for developers. All new versions of these technologies, ASP.NET MVC 5, Web API 2, and Signal R2 will run only with .NET 4.5.

Sitting in the front of the packed room I kept thinking this is what Microsoft needs—an engaged audience that can work with a brilliant team to consistently update the technology and encourage change.

Oh, and Microsoft (in what I think is a smart move) is selling the Surface RT and Surface Pro, to full attendees, at deep, deep discounts, with the RT priced at $99 and the Pro at $399. The lines have been massive since the offer was announced. Hopefully this will provide Microsoft with more mindshare if not market share in the coming months.

And a note about Google Glass: I brought them to the conference in my continued social experiment to see how people would react. It has been a mixed bag of folks wanting to talk to me about them, those afraid I am recording them, and even a few that aren’t sure what it is. It continues to be good conversation starter as is the story of my eating my first crawdad—a New Orleans staple!

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Developing for Google Glass

Maximiliano Firtman talks about what developers need to know in order to start creating apps for Google glass. Right now, most apps fit the mold of cloud-based web apps that can be written in pretty much any language with the Mirror API. A forthcoming Java-based SDK will allow people to develop native Android apps, which will open up a world of as-yet-unknown virtual reality opportunities. The groundbreaking nature of this new device also means developers have to start to grapple with an entirely new user experience, not simply apps with a clear background, but a whole new way of navigating the world.

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Thinking in Code

Multithreading for your brain

Allen Downey, is a Professor of Computer Science at Olin College of Engineering. He has written three books for us, so far, Think Python, Think Stats, and Think Complexity. I recently got the chance to sit down with him to talk about how writing good code can and should actually change the way you think—and make you a better programmer.

  • Think differently when dealing with natural language, math, and code [Discussed at 0:38]
  • Better code equals a better brain [Discussed at 2:05]
  • Look to Python for a jumpstart [Discussed at 4:43]
  • Manage the complexity of code for long lasting programs [Discussed at 7:12]
  • Dealing with legacy programs? Try to see the big picture. [Discussed at 8:40]

You can view the entire interview in the following video.

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TurboGears2

Alessandro Molina, is CTO at Axant.it and a member of the TurboGears web framework development team. I recently got the chance to sit down with him to talk about the exciting opportunities TurboGears offers users, how being open source has affected the proejct, and what we should expect next.

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Google Glass: From Google I/O to Maker Faire

Could technology be bringing people closer together?

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I had quite an experience at Maker Faire this weekend. So instead of a follow up on Google I/O today I’m going talk about how wearables, specifically Google Glass, seem to be bringing people closer together rather than farther apart. So, more on Google I/O later in the week.

A Tale of Two Events
I first broke out my Google Glass at Google I/O where Glass Explorers and Googlers filled the Moscone West sporting the device. Glass Explorers are those that pre-ordered the I/O last year and winners of the #IfIHadGlass contest. The mood towards Glass at I/O was, generally, split into the have’s and have not’s. Those with them proudly showed them off while others fell into the following camps: carefully measured excitement, cool intrigue, and those who were over it. I think for the most part the subdued reaction was a reflection of attendees wanting to be able to get into the action immediately. It was a shame that Glass wasn’t available for purchase to those at I/O this year.

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In stark contrast to that reaction was the response I received from attendees of this past weekend’s Maker Faire. My first inkling of what was ahead were the whispers. I would hear excitedly, “Is that the Google Glass?” which made me smile. However, when I met up with my 11:30 a.m. appointment at his booth and started talking about and sharing the Glass with him and his colleagues a mob quickly formed. Frankly, I got scared for a moment as a mass of people forced inward towards me, and then thought what if someone just takes off with these? But, no one did. These mini-mobs happened to me twice, both times in the Electronics area (not surprisingly). The outcome of these Glass flash mobs, however, was quite simply lovely. Individuals were polite, asked me questions, wanted to take pictures of themselves with it and that was it. Throughout the day people would comment on them, stop me to talk, but it was always a pleasure with people smiling ear to ear when I had them play with the device.

What will wearables really mean to society?
The quick answer for now—who knows? I have to say I was a bit overwhelmed by all of this social engagement. I had anticipated some notice, but this? Now, granted, the attendees of a Maker Faire might skew towards being interested in new gadgets and devices but my experience was unexpected—and wonderful. I talked to more random, happy people at this event than I have in a long while. It has given me a new perspective on recent issues that have come up regarding the Glass, such as invasion of privacy and the idea that we are disconnecting with the world more and more via personal devices, when in fact I was finding just the opposite. Maybe in time everyone will have a Glass or have seen one and it won’t be a big deal. But for now, it is generating interaction and discussion about technology with young and old alike.

Oh, and here you can see what it is like to be attacked by a T-Rex from my POV via the Glass, scary stuff. Click here to see the T-Rex Attack.

This will be the first post in a series on my journey through the world with Glass.

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Hypermedia APIs

Mike Amundsen explains why developers should explore hypermedia possibilities as they develop RESTful applications.

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Google I/O 2013: Android Studio, Google Play Music: All Access, and New Advances in Search

My day one experience

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While there was no skydiving this year to show off Google’s new wearable Glass, there were plenty of attendees wearing them proudly including me. This year hardware, however, didn’t take center stage. The focus was on new tools and upgrades to existing products and platforms.

Android developers were thrilled to see new APIs and tools. The biggest cheers, at least in my section, were for Android Studio built on IntelliJ which from what I can tell is way better than Eclipse but notably not open source. The Developer Console got a substantial update with integrated translation services, user metrics, and revenue graphs, but what really made a big splash the beta testing and staged rollout facilitation. These along with new location and gaming APIs rounded out the new offering for the Android development crowd.

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User-Centered Design

Travis Lowdermilk (@tlowdermilk) is a software developer who recently joined Microsoft as UX Designer for Visual Studio. He hosts the Windows Developer Show and advocates for User-Centered Design (UCD). Travis is the author of User-Centered Design: A Developer’s Guide to Building User-Friendly Applications.

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