An update on our plans to cut the Satellite TV cord:

I contacted Dish to cancel their service. Their web site doesn’t have a link for doing this, so I e-mailed them. They replied, asking me to speak with a customer service rep to, “finalize the cancellation request.”

This was a little bothersome.

I called and got the, “Why are you canceling?” routine. I explained nicely that we watch only five or six channels. “Which channels do you watch?” I deflected that line of questioning, and asked again to cancel the service. She offered a discount on our monthly bill. I said no thanks. She then had to speak to her manager.

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As part of setting up a home office for my work for Solinea, I needed a large display.

My go-to display has been Apple’s Thunderbolt Display. It’s got Thunderbolt integration, (somewhat dated) Apple design esthetics, and the right pixel count. But other aspects of this three and one-half year old display aren’t so good. It’s $1K, heavier and bulkier than other (newer) displays, and the dated panels and electronics have some attributes (like response time, meh color saturation, visual reflections, and an immobile stand) that compare unfavorably to new monitors.

I looked around, and the tl;dr is that I selected a Dell U2751H 27″ monitor. Dell sells a boatload of monitors with different specs, and if you need superb color accuracy for graphics work, or a gaming display, or a 4K display, it’ll cost ya.  For run of the mill coding, this monitor is just what the doctor ordered!

A crisp display, swivel base, great ports (five USB 3.0, two HDMI, DisplayPorts, Mini DisplayPort, and no space wasted for VGA!). Its specs are great, with crisp 2560 x 1440 at 60Hz resolution. The price? $600 list. I bought it new for $555 from B & H Foto.

This is a better monitor than the Thunderbolt Display for 45% less cost.

Some fine print:

It took two weeks to arrive, vs. the four days it would have taken the Thunderbolt Display to arrive.

The packaging was OK, but not as slick as Apple’s packaging. Nobody does packaging like Apple.

The installation instructions weren’t as painless as those of the Thunderbolt Display. But they were OK.

It puts a DELL logo front and center. But this is easily fixed by a strip of black electrical tape. :-)

Buy this display!


Here’s an update to my plans to cut the cord from our satellite (cable) TV habit.

The Channel Master equipment arrived a week after I ordered it. The installation was easy. The connection instructions for the antenna and DVR+ weren’t like Apple’s “It just works,” but they weren’t bad. (For example, I needing a Phillips screwdriver to attach the antenna’s four feet.) The DVR+ has a sleek profile — nicer than I expected. Ditto for the antenna. Read More


This is my second week at Solinea, and I’m loving it! A position just opened up on our development team for a backend developer, and I wanted to share the love. :-)

The company supports remote employees. Its headquarters is in Berkeley, CA, and I’m in Seattle, and I feel more connected now than, well, I did at some other companies I’ve worked for.

If you’re in Seattle, I’d be happy to meet for coffee to talk at length about the job.

To apply for this job, you can contact me at john@seeknuance.com, or click the “Apply for this position” button at the bottom of the job’s Recruiterbox page.

Senior Backend Engineer (Python, Django, Elasticsearch)

Location

Berkeley, CA, US, or remote

This position is only open to candidates based in and eligible to work in the United States.

Responsibilities

As a backend developer at Solinea, you will be primarily working on our flagship product from the API back, as well as committing to the OpenStack codebase.

You will work in a sprint-based agile development team, and will participate in the full cycle including release/sprint planning, feature design, story definition, daily standups, development, testing, code review, and release packaging. You will also work on the automated build, test, and package environment, as well as participate in maintenance of the development lab. Most of all, you will have the opportunity to have fun, be challenged, and grow as a developer while creating a game-changing product to help our fellow cloud operators.

Requirements

The ideal person to fill the role will have a solid track record of cloud, open source, virtualization, real-time data, and API development. You should have the ‘play all fields’ mentality required to be successful in a startup environment. Bring your passion for solving large problems, exploring new technology frontiers, and helping to bootstrap a development organization.

The goldstone backend technology stack primarily consists of Python, Django, Celery, Redis, Logstash, and Elasticsearch. You should be an expert-level developer in the Python/Django ecosystem, and hands-on experience with OpenStack or some other cloud management framework.

In addition to the core skills, things like systems automation, machine learning, data visualization, and prior startup experience are definitely relevant to the position.

The ideal candidate will have at least a BS degree in CS or related field along with relevant work experience.

Benefits

Solinea offers comprehensive benefits including:

  • Medical, dental, vision, life, disability insurance, 401k plan
  • Flexible spending accounts
  • Pre-tax commuter benefits
  • Free coffee/tea in offices
  • 20 days of PTO/yr
  • Flexible working environment
  • Joel Test score: 8 out of 12

The Joel Test is a twelve-question measure of a software team’s quality.

Do you use source control? Yes
Can you make a build in one step? Yes
Do you make daily builds? Yes
Do you have a bug database? Yes
Do you fix bugs before writing new code? Depends on severity
Do you have an up-to-date schedule? No
Do you have a spec? Yes
Do programmers have quiet working conditions? Yes
Do you use the best tools money can buy? Yes
Do you have testers? No
Do new candidates write code during their interview? Yes
Do you do hallway usability testing? No


We have DISH for “cable” (satellite) television. It’s a reliable service with good equipment, and we’ve been happy with it. But in the last year, DISH’s price started gnawing at us. After some online research and talking to friends, we agreed to consider giving up satellite/cable broadcast TV altogether.

We researched our alternatives. Here’s what we plan to do.

The DISH status quo

We have DISH’s Top 200 package, HBO, Starz, and HD channels; and two DISH Hopper HD DVRs. We have two Hoppers for odd reasons that I won’t go into here — when we cut the cord, we’ll return to using just one receiver.

The “Top 200″ package was the smallest one that gave us the channels we wanted. Thank you, cable channel bundling! We wanted HBO, and Starz came with it for free but we never watch it.

For all this, we pay DISH $125.13 monthly, including all fees and taxes. $12.00 of that is for the second Hopper, so for a fair comparison to the cord-cutting alternative, our service with only one receiver would cost us $113.13 monthly.
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I started my search for a new job on September 29 2014, when my employer (IP Street) implemented some organizational changes, and I concluded it was time for me to move on. I accepted an offer on December 22. My search took 12 weeks.

My parameters, and some unease, at the outset

I was still gainfully employed, which paradoxically helps when you’re looking for a new job. The changes that were the proximate cause of my leaving would be implemented in the November — January timeframe, so I wasn’t worried about future unemployment. For IP Street, this was as good a time as any to leave: The product was stable, there wasn’t a big product initiative in progress, and the impending business changes would cause a blip in the company’s pace anyway.

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