My Workstation Setup

I recently put a little bit of time into my computer, which I have been neglecting for a while. When your career is based around using a computer it makes sense to have a nice setup that is easy to use and incorporates great software. Plus you have to have a couple nerdy desk ornaments that you can play with!

The Hardware

My main computer is an Intel I7 based Windows pc with 16GB ram and 2TB of randomly assorted hard drives, one solid state, one velociraptor, and the rest all standard platter drives. My video card is an old GTX 560 which should probably be upgraded. As always, I am using an Asus motherboard. The case is a Corsair Obsidian 800D. The secondary computer is a Mac Mini that I shamelessly took from my fiance. ūüėõ

How Many Monitors?

Currently I have two Asus VE248H monitors and an old Hannspree HF259h that I got at Best Buy when I used to work there, which was like 7 years ago( wowzers). I actually have several monitors that I still need to set up for various smaller devices including a laptop with Kali Linux and my Raspberry Pi.  The two Asus monitors are connected to my Windows PC and the Hannspree is connected to the Mac Mini.

More monitors means more screens to look at more things at the same time.

Work Environment

Since I do a wide range of computer magic, I like having as many options at my disposal as possible. That is why I have a Mac, Windows, and Linux computer all ready to go. Currently I am using Synergy¬†to work between the Mac and Windows PC using only one keyboard and mouse. If you haven’t used that software, you absolutely should check it out. I realized in the end that I didn’t need three monitors on one computer, especially if I was going to have multiple computers.

Even though at work I probably wont be able to get away with using it (yet) Sublime Text 2 is the IDE that I am growing to love.  You absolutely cannot beat all of the keyboard commands and functionality that program has.

I’ve finally started to use version control as well. ¬†Thanks to my buddy Issa, I can now fumble my way through making commits and keeping track of the terrible mess that is WordPress development. The GitHub desktop app failed me on Windows so I’m just using the command line which isn’t bad at all.

Now that I am using a VCS the next issue would obviously be deployment. There is where my trusty buddy Beanstalk comes in. It acts as repository to store all of my version control, but it also has the power to do deployments. ¬†So now instead of having to use git only to go FTP commando I can now just push the files, and then deploy to the site remotely. ¬†There’s even a phone app! All in all I am very impressed with it.

Another aspect of my work environment I’ve started working on is developing locally. ¬†For the longest time I was guilty of using the FTP feature in most of the popular IDE programs (I’m looking at you UEStudio/DW). At first I couldn’t see the point in working that way, it seemed like a hassle. The reality is that when you are working on a website you should never EVER be working on the files directly in a production environment, especially if it is something that can impact the user experience or potentially break the site.

That is where XAMPP comes in. It makes setting up my computer as a web-server extremely easy, clicking a few buttons easy. I really wish I could use MAMP but sadly they only have a beta on windows, which works great but only lets you work on one site at the moment.

A Post A Week

What I want to do

I don’t use this website as nearly as much as I should. I have decided that I want to start posting at least once a week, and then hopefully trying a blog a day challenge for the month of June. ¬†I’m sure this is probably going to be harder than what I think but whatever, I’ll find a way to make it happen.

How I plan to do it

My plan is to focus each week on a different topic. ¬†I’ll probably start off with a post about some cool new technology, then post about something I am working on. Maybe after those two posts I’ll try my hand at writing a How-To. For the final post I will talk about all the challenges I faced in doing this.

Isn’t one a week sort of…lame?

Well yes it is actually! However, I really do need to start writing more and if I have learned anything it is that you have to set realistic goals and with as busy as I have been, this is probably the most real I can get.


A Whole Electronic Family!

Recently I decided to get back into playing around with smaller electronics, and soldering things. I went to a Hack RVA meetup and took the soldering class there and relearned how to do a lot of things. The whole experience was really fun, and I went home and put together a Mintduino that night!

There was also a Raspberry Pi coming in the mail, along with an awesome all wood case that I couldn’t wait to put together. When it finally got here I was literally jumping with joy. The case is amazing and having all these smaller electronics to work with really gives me something to look forward to.

I Realized That There Aren’t Enough Flappy Bird Clones..

…So I decided to make myself another one! Using Phaserjs and a mix of regular jquery to fill in the gaps when I was frustrated and feeling lazy, I was able to make a halfway decent flappy bird imitation. ¬†Currently I have a for loop creating the tubes as little square blocks, but I will probably update them sometime soon to be actual pipes now that I have figured out how to do that.

This goes to show you how easy it is to grab a javascript framework and get to work writing some really cool things.  Hopefully these simply libraries will open up the door for the next generation of developers. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for browser based gaming.

Obviously I have a lot of things I still need to work on with this version such as making it fit better on mobile devices, and a few performance tweaks to do as well, plus the sound of the cat hitting the wall is a little too terrifying, at least to the few people who have played it.

Try it here

IDE Fonts – Something I Never Considered


The other day I was reading an article on SpeckyBoy that really got me thinking about fonts. I’m not talking about the usual battle over which font to use on a website or in an application but rather the fonts that we use on a day to day basis in our wysiwyg editors.

We put so much time into gathering our code snippets, setting up our workflows, using git, that we overlook one thing that can really make a difference in our day to day approach to writing code; the fonts that we use in the ide itself.  They are something almost no one really considers touching. For some reason we are locked in to using whatever the default is.

I made the switch to using the Ubuntu font in WeBuilder yesterday and I can honestly say that it has made a decent impact in readibility of the code that I write.

Nagios – What A Pain in the Pi!

nagios1 nagios2
Working in the IT world you deal with a lot of servers (unless you are lucky and virtualize most of what you have). With all of that power comes great responsibility…and the need to monitor everything. ¬†Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to know about problems BEFORE they happened? Luckily there are a lot of solutions out there. ¬†Being that I work in a SMB my buget is small, as in $0 small. ¬†That leaves me with a lot of issues when it comes to implementing worthwhile solutions. ¬†That is where Nagios comes in.

Nagios is a free unless you pay for more network and server monitoring solution. ¬†Therefore it is great for people in situations like mine, so long as you understand Linux enough to set it up and get it running. Since I have no problem working in Linux that normally isn’t an issue. However since we didn’t have the money or spare hardware for a server to run Nagios on, we opted to use a spare Raspberry Pi my boss had laying around.

Being the super tech savvy Nix nerd I am, I opted to do a simple sudo apt-get install Nagios3, not realizing what I was getting myself into.  I thought I would be avoiding a whole messy compile of the program for a clean and easy install.  Instead I got one messy Pi to clean up after.

After the install completed I tried to long in to the web interface, no luck. I tried to start the service again, and that is when I started seeing errors about missing .cfg files. ¬†Apparently when you install Nagios on Raspbian most of the .cfg files are commented out and you have to uncomment them. ¬†I’m not going to go into detail about fixing the issue, as this is more of a rant/vent than a How-To and besides it was a fun experience learning how to get it all to work.

Once I finally had all the config files loading correctly, as well as a few plugins for SQL server I wanted to try out, I installed a new theme and called it a day. ¬†I’m still currently setting up Nagios but so far I have learned a lot more about Linux than I ever knew before. ¬†This is a great example of why you should never give up on a project just because it doesn’t work at first.