Spinning Wheels

I don’t know if its because I’m now settled into the dad life or what, but I’ve been taking on more personal projects lately, working on them until I loose interest or find something else. Of course, leaving them in various states of completion, some times returning later. Sometimes its just lack of motivation, sometimes I hit a wall, a few cases are delays since continuing requires hardware or something that costs money. Sometimes its just lack of time. A big part of it is the problems I’m working on don’t hold my interest or seem of little point. I seem to be working on tutorials or guides, or very little that isn’t already well tread. I want to learn new skills, but I also want to solve real problems, or tangible improvments to something. I’d love to get involved in some real projects (but I can’t commit due to time), not run through a tutorial that gives me an example program to write that no one would actually use. That said, here is what I have in the hopper that I’ve slowly been trudging through.

First is, this site. I haven’t posted in months, not for lack of want but because I had not gotten far enough with anything to make it worth posting over. Plus, who knows, talking about my lack of progress, even if its to no one in particular, may help me gather my thoughts. Not every post has to be great. I realize most won’t interest anyone or have anything that hasn’t been said elsewhere. This place is for me to journal my attempts at improving myself and my skill set.

I recently stopped messing with Koding.com and got myself an instance or “droplet” with Digital Ocean. Been using that to have fun with Dockerdocker. If you don’t know what Docker is, and you work with Linux in production or development at all, get on that.

On the Matasano Crypto Challenge, I’m just stuck on exercise 6 of the first set, which is kind of pathetic, especially when I read about how everyone is stuck on the 3rd or 4th set. I have what I think is a 95% working solution, but something is off in my ability to find just the right algorithm to crack the message. My current solution returns something with a lot of, English letters, which fools my algorithm into thinking I’ve found a solution, but none of its readable. In either case, I have to be vague about it as one of the rules is I can’t post solutions. I have reached out for help or hints from both Matasano and someone I know whose completed it (actually the person I learned about it from). So far no response, which means their busy, but personal insecurity leaves me to think I’m so far off the mark I’m not worth bothering with. Right now, I’d just be happy to know I’m completely off or very warm. I personally just like learning the concepts and it gives me an interesting challenge or problem to solve with Python. The Cryto course I was taking online got too intense for me to keep up with, and knowing little math notation beyond some college algebra/trig, I couldn’t follow the lessons past the 3rd or 4th weeks. I might just lack the math knowledge and experience ultimately, even if I can work out an XOR or how some stream ciphers or block encryption work. All the same, even if I take much longer then average people, I still want to at least get as far as I can.

For my Hacker News indicator, I found out the Gtk indicator API could not redraw the menu, or clear the pre-existing menu items. You can add menu items but I have found little in the way to change them once its set. This
meant I could not refresh the list of items with an update. I tried switching to the Qt API, which I liked better, but could not get the links to load when I clicked on them. I really should just post on Stack Overflow to see what it is exactly I’m doing wrong, of course after I rebuild my dev virtualenv which kind of got trashed from recent updates to the latest release of Ubuntu.

I’ve also been porting or re-writing a game a I wrote in Pascal during my senior year of high school for a Computer Science AP final project, Welcome to Roxboro, for Android in Java. I’ve also thought about playing around with kivy.

Finally, I have been playing with Vagrant on my local machine and JBoss and Java Play application servers. This is more of a work thing, even if we’re not yet using any of it currently.

See also