Posted on Thu 14 July 2016

The RootRanger Purpose

Professionally speaking, the last few years have been a wild ride. I suppose I haven’t been professional for very long, so maybe wild is all I know! I went from a Computer Science undergrad degree to a job that was supposed to be technical but wasn’t really fulfilling at all to a job that was not technical at all but was very challenging and awesome, both physically and mentally, but not related in any way to computers. I worked in this field for 8-ish years and really loved it but couldn't turn down the opportunity to pursue my graduate degree in Computer Science.

Whilst pursuing my undergraduate degree, I convinced myself that I hated computers. Following college, for the better part of ten years, I had little concern for the pursuit of computer science related things. I'm not sure what changed, I probably developed a little discipline somewhere along the way, but I found that I was really interested in this field while getting my graduate degree. It turned from something I was doing purely because of opportunity to something that I really enjoy learning about.

My recent academic focus

I have been in school for a long time, way too long. Recently I have been doing a lot of work in networking in a practical and theoretical sense. I’ve been working on a really practically based radio project for the last year. I’m going to write about it later on because it has given me the opportunity to do some really cool Python programming.

I’m not going to write about a ton of academic or professional stuff here though. I intend for this blog to be fun and simple. Maybe I'll throw the random interesting tidbit in here every once in a while. BUT I by no means intend for this to be my primary focus....

One thing I do want to take away from academia is the content format of this blog. I was recently listening to a podcast I like, "Talk Python to Me", and the guest made some interesting comments. It was all pretty intense, but his basic thought was that a technical type blog ought to be more like a white paper and less like the reporting of the recent celebrity happening. Rather than being super frequent, I am going to try and be more well thought out, structured and approachable for the layman. Which brings me to…

Ranging? and Why We Are All Here...

I want to produce something cool. I want to produce a lot of things at a rapid pace. Maybe that’s what bothered me the most about my undergrad experience. Don’t get me wrong, I loved could I not? I was a student at the finest educational institution in all the land. However, when I finished my degree I didn’t feel like I could create anything or do anything really useful (that's definitely my fault by the way). But now that I enjoy this stuff I feel like I've really had my head up in the theory clouds and I don’t find that super enjoyable either.

My wife began blogging in support of her small business endeavors and my eyes were opened to all of these awesome platforms on the web and how interesting it all was. I think web production is a really interesting collision of technical and artistic pursuits. There are so many platforms, capabilities, and ways to express one's self. Diving in is overwhelming! I have a pretty solid background in this stuff and I get overwhelmed. I feel that every single time I jump into a platform intending to learn it, I find something I like better and want to learn.

In colonial times, small units of men set about the wilderness to observe the untamed areas around settlements. These men "ranged" these areas to gain information and relay it back to the larger settlements for their benefit. For me, the web is my untamed, unknown and ever-changing frontier. I intend to wonder around, semi-aimlessly, gathering information and relaying it in a digestible manner right HERE! The goal is to try out some platforms and write about them in a simple way. I want to talk about their practicality, usefulness, security, and approachability and make this information understandable to a wide audience. I doubt there are many people out there who find this stuff as interesting as I do, but maybe you are thinking about starting a blog for your small business or project and something I do here can help you choose a direction. I think that’d be pretty awesome.

Near-Term Plans

Maybe it’s a little hard to tell but I have kind of been working on this particular site for a little while. Not too long, I get distracted easily, but its tough to be ready to throw something out to the world (even when you don’t have high hopes for its mass consumption). Eventually I had to decide to not let perfect be the enemy of good enough. So here it is Version 1 of this blog made using a platform called Python.

My next post is going to talk about this process, how I set it up, and why I chose a static site generator. Wordpress is a really popular platform right now, and I think its pretty cool, but is it perfect for everybody? I am not sure that it is. My next blog is going to talk about why I think this is the case and I am going to go over how simple it was to use Pelican to make a blog. Just a side note, I’m really big on using open source software, I think a lot of people will find the solutions I propose easy on the pocket book and pretty awesome.

After that I really want to post about the project I am working on with White Space radios. That one is a little bit of a deviation from the web focus, but not really. Its just a little lower level. Really though it’s the future. The spectrum we utilize to communicate is becoming crowded and White Space products seek to alleviate some of that congestion. If you live in a populated area and have trouble with your Wi-Fi connection you are already suffering from this problem.

After all of that things are only going to get wilder! I intend on constantly shaking up the look and functionality of this blog as I explore new things. I feel like this current incantation is super simple so I have a lot of room to explore. It’s a big world out there…lots of room for RootRanging!