Bose QC35 Noise Canceling Headphones

I do a lot of traveling for my work both on the train and by air. Whenever I used to travel, I always used to get quite bad headaches once I got to my destination. I was discussing this with a colleague once and he recommended the Bose QC35 noise canceling headphones. The idea is that when you are wearing them, they listen to the sound around you and generates a canceling sound wave that is played in the headphones. This means noise around you like a train engine or the engines of an aircraft are significantly reduced.

On his recommendation, I purchased a pair last year and I now use them daily as my main headphones. Since wearing them for travel, I no longer get headaches as my travel is now much quieter. Also, for a set of headphones the sound quality when listening to music is also pretty good. They are not the best quality sounding compared to other high-end headphones, but they sound pretty decent, and the noise canceling also means that you do not need to play music as loud when out and about.

Bose QC35 Noise Canceling Headphones
Bose QC35 Noise Canceling Headphones

The build quality of these headphones is exceptional. They are light in weight and very sturdy. I think I will get many years of use out of them. The headphones are also Bluetooth which means I pair them with my IPhone, IPad, and laptop, so I never need a cable. Saying that though, they do come with a standard audio cable in case you want to use them with a device that doesn’t support Bluetooth.

To use the noise canceling you must charge up the headphones and I have found that the battery lasts a whole week with moderate use every day, and they charge pretty quickly. If you use the included cable, they act more like a traditional set of headphones, which means they do not require battery power. This has been useful on the one occasion where the battery ran out and I didn’t have a means of charging them, so I just switched to the cable.

Bose QC35 Noise Canceling Headphones
Bose QC35 Noise Canceling Headphones

The Bose QC35’s also come in a very handy and tough carry case which means I can keep them protected when I put them in my laptop bag. I never leave the house without them now. They have become an essential part of my daily life. They are not the cheapest headphone on the market, so they are most likely outside the impulse purchase bracket, but I have to say, the price is definitely worth it, especially when traveling to reduce the headaches I used to get.

Focusing on Your Work with Noizio

In today’s busy lifestyle with the many distractions, I constantly find it hard to focus and concentrate on a task so like most developers I reach for my headphones and try to drown out the world around me with music. But sometimes I find music can itself become distracting and what I want is something else to drown out the world to let me focus.

Recently I discovered a fantastic app on the Mac called Noizio. Noizio is an app that has many different sound effects like thunderstorms, campfires, wind, water etc. that you can enable and mix together to create your own background noise effects.

Noizio : Sound Effects to Help Promote a State of Flow in Your Work
Noizio : Sound Effects to Help Promote a State of Flow in Your Work

The sounds that are mixed together are then played in your headphones and they create just enough distraction to block out the real world but is not distracting that you can’t concentrate. I love the fact you an create your own mixes in this application. I was recently on holiday in Lanzarote with my family, and I really miss being there, so I have created a nice mix in Noizio that has the sound of waves lapping at the shore with a little breeze and the crackle of a campfire on the beach. I have been using this recently and it has helped me get in the zone with work several times.

I also have another favorite mix that is the sound of rain, wind and a thunderstorm. There is just something about a thunderstorm that I find really relaxing which helps with my flow when trying to concentrate on tasks.

Noizio : Sound Effects to Help Promote a State of Flow in Your Work
Noizio : Sound Effects to Help Promote a State of Flow in Your Work

I use this app on my Mac laptop and it is available from the Mac App store as well as the 3r party app store called SetApp. Noizio is also available on IOS from the IOS App store. I don’t think there is an android version, but I am sure there is something similar for Android users on their platform.

If you are wanting a way to easily focus without being distracted then I highly recommend trying this app out, it has made a big difference to my productivity.

Speaking at Techorama in Antwerp

In the week of the 22nd May 2017, I had the good fortune to speak again at the Techorama Tech conference in Belgium. This year the conference moved from its original venue in Mechelen to the city of Antwerp. I spoke at Techorama last year and really enjoyed the experience. For the venue, they hire out a huge cinema, which means you are presenting on stage with huge cinema screens behind you. This is perfect as a venue because a cinema is perfectly equipped for audio and visual projection.

Techorama Conference in Antwep
Techorama Conference in Antwerp

Once I arrived at Brussels airport, I had to get the train to Antwerp. This journey took about an hour and once I reached Antwerp, I was greeted by the most amazing train station that was architecturally fascinating, as you can see in the photo above. All the speakers this year were staying at the Lindner hotel just behind Antwerp Central station. The hotel was about a 15-minute drive from the conference venue, so the organizers arranged transportation to take us all to and from the venue.

Techorama Conference in Antwerp
Techorama Conference in Antwerp

The stage setup, as you can see in the photo above, is excellent. Easily the best stage I have ever presented from. This year I was presenting my Rollercoasters fun talk. This talk is about software design patterns and abstractions, but instead of just reeling through design patterns and boring the audience, I picked another industry to talk about which is Steel Rollercoaster design. In this talk, I break a rollercoaster down into a series of abstractions and design patterns. Ultimately the talk is about the importance of abstractions, patterns and shared terminology in a team. It is a good fun talk and is ideal for the last day of a conference where everyone’s brains have turned to mush from all the great technical content.

Techorama Conference in Antwerp
Techorama Conference in Antwerp

The talk seemed to go down well and I got quite a few laughs from the audience at all the right places. What was really cool was the talk I show a couple of First Person Perspective rollercoaster videos and they looked AMAZING on the large cinema screen. So much so, as they were playing I said to the audience that I need to come and sit in the front row to watch it. So I sat there with the audience whilst I narrated what was going on. It was all really good fun.

Techorama Conference in Antwerp
Techorama Conference in Antwerp

I had an amazing time here again at Techorama. It is a very well organized and run conference and having spoken here last year, it was as consistently good as last year. I hope I am lucky enough to get to speak here again, as I will definitely be applying again.

Speaking at SDD Conference in London

The summer has so far been very busy for me with speaking at many great conferences.  On the 15th May, I headed down to London to talk at the SDD Conference hosted at the Barbican Centre. It is the first time that I have spoken at SDD, so it is great to get to experience a new conference setup.

SDD Conference
SDD Conference

We were staying at a hotel called the Hoxton in Shoreditch, which I have to say is the most hipster place I have ever seen in my life, and this is a good thing.  The hotel had loads and loads of character and it was good that all the speakers were staying there so I got me meet up with lots of old friends and make many new ones.

I was doing 2 talks at this conference. First was my talk on what product manufacturing can teach us about software development. Essentially it is a talk about Lean Software development and it seemed to go down well. My second talk was more of a fun talk about Rollercoasters. This talk is about software design patterns and abstractions, but instead of just reeling through design patterns and boring the audience, I picked another industry to talk about which is Steel Rollercoaster design. In this talk, I break a rollercoaster down into a series of abstractions and design patterns.  Ultimately the talk is about the importance of abstractions, patterns and shared terminology in a team. It is a good fun talk and is ideal for the last day of a conference where everyone’s brains have turned to mush from all the great technical content.

SDD Conference
SDD Conference

 

Whilst I was there I also got to see some other talks in between having to work from the speaker’s lounge. Two of my favorite talks were actually by Jeremy Clarke. The first was on Async and Await, and the 2nd was a soft skill talk about being introverted and how to interact with people as a developer.

SDD Conference
SDD Conference

Overall I was very impressed with this conference. It was well organized and well run. I will certainly be applying to speak there again next year. I feel very fortunate with the events that I get to speak at as they are a great way to meet new people and interacting with the audience after a talk is always so much fun.

SDD Conference
SDD Conference

What was really cool, was that some new speakers that I met were also speaking the following week at Techorama in Antwerp, which I was also speaking at, so a lot of the speakers tend to go to similar events, so some conversations were picked up the following week. How cool is that…

Speaking at Code Europe in Krakow Poland

Last week I had the pleasure of being invited to Krakow in Poland to present at the Code Europe conference. The conference organizers first got in touch with me a few months ago to ask me to speak, and I was invited to present my cryptography talk,.NET Data Security – Hope is Not a Strategy. This has been a popular talk of mine over the last 18months, so I was delighted to travel to Poland to deliver the speech.

Code Europe Conference in Poland
Code Europe Conference in Poland

The conference itself was hosted at the Krakow ICE Congress Centre, which was a fantastic venue. The building is less than 3 years old, and it looks very modern and new. I am a big fan of architecture, and this building didn’t disappoint. Before being invited to Code Europe, I had not heard of this conference, but I must say it was very well organized and as speakers we were all well looked after. Our hotel was next to the arena, so it was very convenient to get to the event. This particular event was a 1-day show, with 2 following days in Warsaw later in May.  Even though it was 1 day, I decided to stay out an extra day so that I could see a bit of the city.

Code Europe Conference in Poland
Code Europe Conference in Poland

My talk was at 11.30am and seemed to be well received and I had a full room, which I estimated to be around 150 people. Once I had finished my talk and had a walk around the conference, I did a bit of sightseeing with my good friend Filip Ekberg from Sweden. Krakow is a beautiful city and I spent a fair bit of time walking around the old town. The weather wasn’t the best as it was raining a lot, but I made do and still got a lot of sightseeing done.

Code Europe Conference in Poland
Code Europe Conference in Poland

Overall Code Europe was a great experience and I hope I get the opportunity to speak at this event again. The conference was well organized, everyone was very friendly and helpful and Krakow is a really nice city to look around.

Hacking Humans : A Talk About Social Engineering

Back in January I did a talk at NDC London about Social Engineering. This was a new talk and I very much enjoyed doing it to an almost full room. The conference organisers have now published all the videos from the conference. You can see this talk in the video below.

Here is the official talk description:

Social engineering is one of the biggest threats to our organisations as attackers use manipulation techniques to coerce people into revealing secrets about our companies to allow attackers to gain access to critical systems.
In this talk we will look at some of the techniques used in social engineering and look at how to guard yourself against them. We will cover subjects like pre-texting, elicitation and body language as techniques for manipulating people.

Play by Play: Enterprise Data Encryption with Azure Revealed

I am pleased to announce that my latest course has been released by Pluralsight, called Play by Play: Enterprise Data Encryption with Azure Revealed. This course is a bit different to my previous courses as a Play by Play course is recorded live with 2 people. In this case, myself and my good friend Lars Klint.

Play by Play: Enterprise Data Encryption with Azure Revealed with Stephen Haunts and Lars Klint
Play by Play: Enterprise Data Encryption with Azure Revealed with Stephen Haunts and Lars Klint

I first hinted at this course back in January after attending NDC London, as this Play by Play was recorded at the conference. It is the first time I have done anything like this and I really enjoyed the whole experience. The subject we discussed in the course is about protecting your data in a multi-tenant environment in the cloud (Azure for example) using Azure Key Vault. This is a subject that is vital for organisations to get right, which is why we thought it would make a good Play by Play.

Here is the course description:

Play by play is a series in which top technologists work through a problem in real time, unrehearsed and unscripted. In this course, Play by Play: Enterprise Data Encryption with Azure Revealed, Stephen Haunts and Lars Klint look at the different ways in which enterprises can protect their data, especially in a cloud-first, multi-tenant world. You’ll learn concepts around encrypting enterprise data, look at what you should encrypt, and cover robust patterns and practices you can follow in your organizations. By the end of this course, you’ll have a better understanding of enterprise data encryption methods and how to apply them to your organization.

As the description states these courses are unrehearsed and unscripted, which is true. We have an idea of the demos and a list of bullet points of things we want to cover but apart from that the course is done as a conversation between me and Lars.

Stephen Haunts at NDC {London} 2017
Stephen Haunts at NDC {London} 2017

These courses are designed to be deliberately short, around an hour, because we pick one narrow subject and discuss that in detail. These are not full subject, in depth courses, but they give you enough knowledge to be practical and useful with tips for further research. This means that the courses are very easy to watch in a short space of time. This course is about an hour in length, so is the length of a normal podcast or conference talk.

If you watch this course and then want to go into much more depth, then this course compliments my other course called Practical Cryptography in .NET which goes into much more detail on the AES and RSA cryptographic algorithms. What this Play by Play features is how to securely protect any encryption keys you use to protect your data.

The Play by Play is quite practical and I run through several code demos. The source code for all these demos are included with the course.

I hope you like the course. Thanks for watching.