Big Balls of Foam

Recently I purchased a new ultrabook laptop to replace my desktop computer. The laptop is great but I encountered one problem, the laptop fan. I am using the laptop with a docking station and had the laptop on top of the desk. After a while the fan kicks in and it is fairly noisy. It’s not too noisy that it is a major problem, but when I am recording modules for Pluralsight, the noise can be an issue as the laptop was near the mic.

I mitigated this a little but repositioning the dock under the desk. When the laptop is docked I use 2 HD screens, so I wasn’t concerned about using the laptop screen in this situation, and docking under the desk certainly reduced the noise to the Microphone. Whilst this was a big improvement, I was still picking up the fan noise in my recordings.

Kaotica Eyeball
Kaotica Eyeball

I asked on the Pluralsight authors mailing list how people deal with laptop noise as there are quite a few people who use Ultrabooks or Mac Books and there was a few solutions. One was doc the laptop on the other side of the room using a very long cable. I certainly wasn’t going to do that. The other was to buy a device that attaches to the microphone called the Kaotica Eyeball.

The Kaotica Eyeball is acoustic treatment that attaches to a condenser microphone and it is essentially a dense ball of foam with a fabric pop shield at the front. The idea is that it blocks out ambient room noise and focuses sound from the front of the eyeball onto the mic. I was sceptical at first, but after doing some research on-line I decided to buy it. It’s not cheap at $200 but I have to say the difference this has made to my recordings is remarkable. I recently started production on a new Pluralsight course and for the first module I used the eyeball attached to my Microphone. The clarity in the recordings in astounding, and my editor thought so too as the early feedback was that the audio quality was very good.

If you do voice recording work or even record vocals in a less than optimal room, then you should definitely get one of these. I do my recording in a spare bedroom, so treating the room with acoustic tiles is not an option, so this is a much better way of doing it.

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The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

In my post on Retaining Software Developers, I had a number of really good comments to the post. One of the comments made reference to a fantastic video about the Truth about what really motivates us.

This video is an animated short which summarises a longer video by Dan Pink. If you are a software developer or a lead of developers, then I really recommend watching this video.

Retaining Software Developers in Your Company

As a company owner or hiring manager, attracting software developers into your organisation is one challenge. You have to hook them in with a job specification and then sell your company to them in an interview as-well as gauge their technical abilities.

But once a developer starts at your company, you then have to retain them. The jobs market is quite vibrant at the moment and developers have a plentiful choice of companies to go to as a permanent or contractor developers.

Retaining Software Developers in Your Company
Retaining Software Developers in Your Company

On-boarding and training up a new developer is quite a large commitment to a company in terms of time and costs, so how do you keep a developer engaged and wanting to stay so they can be productive and give a return on your investment.

In this short article I want to share some of my thoughts and view on this, but what I would really like to happen is for you to comment on this article and give your opinion either as a developer or as a companies hiring manager.

Has your company done something else to retain staff, if so what and how well did it work? Did they try something and it didn’t work?

Cryptography in .NET talk at the Derbyshire.Net User Group

Cryptography in .NET talk at the Derbyshire Dot Net User Group
Cryptography in .NET talk at the Derbyshire Dot Net User Group

I will be doing a talk at the Derbyshire Dot Net user group on March 26th 2015 in Derby. The talk will be on Cryptography in .NET.  The talk will be at Sadler Bridge Studios in the City Centre and start at 7pm.

The talk synopsis is:

Data security is something that we as developers have to take seriously when developing solutions for our organizations. Cryptography can be a deeply complicated and mathematical subject but as developers we need to be pragmatic and use what is available to us to secure our data without disappearing down the mathematical rabbit hole.

In this talk Stephen Haunts will take you through what is available in the .NET framework for enterprise desktop and server developers to allow you to securely protect your data to achieve confidentiality, data integrity and non-repudiation of exchanged data. Stephen will cover the following:

  • Cryptographically secure random number generation.
  • Hashing and Authenticated Hashes.
  • Secure Password Storage
  • Symmetric Encryption with DES, TripleDES, and AES.
  • Asymmetric Encryption with RSA.
  • Hybrid Encryption by using Symmetric and Asymmetric encryption together.
  • Digital Signatures.

Stephen Haunts is a Development Manager working in the healthcare division at Boots and has been developing code since he was 10. Stephen is also an author with Pluralsight and a book author writing for the Syncfusion Succinctly series of books.