Category Archives: Ramblings

Big Tech Purge – Alternatives

So if you’re a cord-cutter and want to get rid of YouTube.TV or Cable. Check this out. It will let you select your channels and show you the best options available for you to pick.

Today I canceled the following:

  • Apple Developer Program Renewal – My app “Thors Hammer” will go away, but I can do this via a website, if you recall I had huge problem getting this app “approved” anyway.
  • Amazon Music Unlimited – Might replace with Spotify.
  • Microsoft Game Pass – Will just buy games now.
  • YouTube.TV – Pending – Will substitute with Sling Blue & Maybe ESPN from Disney+ after the NCAA National Football Championship

Other Google services seem to be the easiest ones to cancel… Stay tuned for future updates.

Big Tech Purge – No More Ears…

A bunch of Echoes will now sit in this bag until which time I’m confident these recordings are not shared with Facebook, Instagram, Advertisers… I’ve had too many things happen recently mentioning a company only to see ads an hour or so later….

The Migration From Big Tech

I’ve not done much on my “blog” in the past several years. With FaceBook, Twitter & Instagram it’s been too easy to just post there, but given the censorship and potential Anti-Trust lawsuits I thought it best to get back to owning my own content and start blogging again.

So things to look forward to:

  • No More Images/Video on Facebook or Instagram. They will be post here about CNC, 3D Printing, Making In General and of course my Chevelle project.
  • No More Micro-Blogging on Twitter, though I’ll still keep my @scottpreston handle incase things normalize.
  • Articles on how to “disconnect” from Big Tech. My first will be to consolidate my cloud storage, maybe move everything to DropBox or OneDrive since Microsoft seems the least bad of the 3 (Apple, Google, Amazon). Secondly it will be disconnecting from Gmail, maybe moving to Outlook or just continuing to roll my own via another hosting provider.

All The Best!

3D Printing Filament

I’ve been using lots of different PLA filament, mainly Hatchbox PLA and Inland (From Microcenter).

The old Inland Filament was from eSun, but recently they changed to a new brand and it’s not held up as nice.

I definitely recommend Hatchbox PLA from Amazon.

You’re Doing Your Tech Interview Wrong – 21 Tips

Here are 21 tips I’ve used when interviewing/hiring hundreds of people over the past 5 years. I hope you find them useful.
  1. If you’re asking questions that can be Googled, you’re wasting everyone’s time or you’re lazy.
  2. If you’re not asking questions that indicate someone’s attitude, you’re missing about 80% of their ability to succeed.
  3. A small test of fundamentals is far more indicative of success than gotcha questions.
  4. Ask what they do for fun and outside of work, get them to talk about it.
  5. Have the interviewee pair-program with you for a simple problem or two using the answer from 4 above.
  6. Focus on communication, curiosity, and creativity when pairing vs. the right answers.
  7. Understand how they work. Headphones on and solo? Or are they happy chatting and talking at a large table of other developers?
  8. Challenge them beyond their level of expertise and see how they respond. How do they respond to failure?
  9. Do they smile or laugh at themselves? Not taking yourself too seriously is pivotal to team dynamics and flexibility as requirements and projects change focus.
  10. Do they work on their own stuff outside of work or do they play video games or engage in other passive activities?
  11. Do they share? Have a blog? Are they on GitHub?
  12. Don’t give a code test and ask interviewees to perform “test”. This is another waste of time and a lazy way of evaluating candidates.
  13. See tip #1, #12 and don’t give the impression you’re too busy to interview someone, you’ll only get desperate developers.
  14. Developers with computer science backgrounds do just as well as those without.
  15. Introverted developers are just as good as extroverted ones, don’t confuse personality with ability.
  16. The fit is more important than ability if you’re interviewing someone for a maintenance role that’s much different than a greenfield project.
  17. Your interviewee should interview you, it’s a two-way street if they don’t ask questions about the culture or project that’s a red flag.
  18. Why are they looking to change careers? This will give you insight into how they will fit into your company/culture.
  19. Read their resume and ask questions about the skills they say are their strongest, be to the point and if they say they are 8/10 on a skill, inquire on that, not on something they might know.
  20. Ask how they learn new things, some people are book learners, others are doers.
  21. Trust your gut, if you don’t have a good instinct for people, bring someone who does into the evaluation process.

As I said I’ve interviewed hundreds of candidate and learned a lot over the years when evaluating people for potential roles and these ones seem to work the best.

Upgrading The Thermostat Bot

The temperature bot a.k.a. the algorithm that controls the temperature in my house underwent a slight upgrade this week.


The old algorithm:

If (setTemperature > averageHouseTemperature) HEAT, otherwise COOL.

Simple right? Not so much.

Scenario 1:

Let’s say I set the temperature to 70, and it’s currently 71 in the house. According to the bot, the AC would go on, this would be fine if it was 80 degrees outside but not if it’s 55. I’d rather just open the windows, and furthermore, I want it to just stay off until I close the windows.

Scenario 2:

Let’s say I set the temperature to 72, and it’s currently 70 in the house. According to the Bot, the HEAT would go on, this would be fine if it was 55 degrees outside, but not if it’s 80. I’d rather just let it heat up naturally, then if it gets above 72, I want it the AC to come on.

Let’s look at these scenarios in more detail.

In Scenario 1, the set temp is LOWER than the average house temperature, rather than the AC turning on, I want to open the windows and I want the HEAT/AC to stay OFF.

In Scenario 2, the set temp is HIGHER than the average house temperature, rather than the HEAT turning on, I want the house to just heat up naturally but I want AC to kick on if it gets too HOT.

The new LOGIC.

return (outdoorTemp < 62 || outdoorTemp < 67 && setTemp > indoorTemp) 
   ? 'heat' : 'cool';

The final piece of the puzzle is I need to call this on an interval since the indoor and outdoor temperature will fluctuate throughout the day.

(Updated 4/18/2018)

Alexa / Voice / AI Chat

Screen Shot 2017-06-27 at 7.29.21 AM

What does user experience look like without a mouse & keyboard or easy to enter form fields? How do people talk to AI systems to solve problems? These systems can be through devices like Alexa or virtual systems like automated chatbots. Understanding psychology and human behavior become just as valuable as business knowledge when designing these systems. Because of this we will see new software architectures come into play that deal with these variations and have multiple and guided user flows.

There are two main components of developing an apps for Alexa, intent schemas and utterances.

  • Intents: An intent represents an action that fulfills a users spoken request.
  • Utterances: A likely set of spoken phrases that are mapped to intents.

Here’s a sample intent for a few commands I’ve used to control my house.

  "intents": [
      "slots": [
          "name": "Command",
          "type": "LIST_OF_COMMANDS"
          "name": "OnOff",
          "type": "LIST_OF_ONOFFS"
      "intent": "SendJarvisCommand"
      "intent": "AMAZON.HelpIntent"

Intents also have slots. For example:

LIST_OF_COMMANDS --> lights | porch | yard | backyard | frontroom | hallway | garage | basement | workbench | wemo | bedroom | tv room	
LIST_OF_ONOFFS --> on | off | dim

The list of utterances, or ways users can interact with this data might look like:

SendJarvisCommand turn the {Command} {OnOff}
SendJarvisCommand switch the {Command} {OnOff}
SendJarvisCommand {Command} {OnOff}

This text is then passed to a lambda function where it needs parsed and then returns a response.

So your traditional web form is converted like this.

  • Form Target – Becomes Intent (SendJarvisCommand) which is mapped to code.
  • Droplist & form fields – Becomes Slots
  • Utterances – not in traditional apps.

Because utterances don’t match up to anything in existing form fields most businesses and user experiences have holes that need filled. You can also chain intents to one another creating user flows that are out of order.

So whether it’s voice or AI chat you need architectures that deal with this dynamic workflow, getting some of the data at unexpected points during a conversation, then re-prompting the user in a dynamic way to solicit input required to complete the task.

Whether it’s retail for a shopping assistant or a chatbot to help you reset your password it’s really fun time because we need to invent something new!

Simple React Example

So I’ve been trying to find a simple React example, one that uses a flux implementation that works out of the box in a browser without any compilation or node stuff. I couldn’t find one so I built one. Here it is:

This requires, RefluxJS, ReactJS, React-Dom and a Browser. You can use node to run it if you want, but that’s not required. Enjoy! (Copy-Paste & ES5 Compatible)

    // the action, nothing special
    var myAction = Reflux.createAction();

    // the store, holds state and listens to action.
    var myStore = Reflux.createStore({
        times: 0,
        init: function () {
            this.listenTo(myAction, this.actionCallback);
        actionCallback: function () {

    // the react component, which subscribtes to the store and updates it's state via listen
    var CountBox = React.createClass({
        displayName: 'CountBox',
        getInitialState: function () {
            return {count: 0};
        componentDidMount: function () {
            var self = this;
            myStore.listen(function (data) {
                self.setState({count: data});
        render: function () {
            return (
                // the component in plain old JS no JSX
                    React.createElement('div', {className: "countBox"},
                            "Count Value =  " + this.state.count

            React.createElement(CountBox, {count: 0}),

    document.querySelector("#test").addEventListener("click", function() {

Created A Chevelle Blog

I decided to create a blog for my chevelle because there was so many things I was learning about it and thought I should help out some other folks working on their car.

I’ve researched a lot on YouTub and the internet as well as Chevelles.Com, but making a post there about what I learned just didn’t seem right.

To learn more visit: