Neil Kandalgaonkar

hacker, maker of things

Explainer

I love explaining things. One day, after all this computer madness is over, I’m going to have to make that part of what I do.

In the meantime I content myself with explaining things to myself. Seriously, when I’m learning things, I am continually crafting little rhetorical tricks to explain and re-explain something.

Luckily I have a girlfriend who thinks this is kind of sexy. She’s an actress and administers a local theatre, so for her, algorithms are exotic spices from the Orient.

When she came over last night to take care of me (I’ve been sick) she thought the whiteboard looked really cool, and demanded to know what it was. So….

Stories

I’ve been thinking about the idea of the Minimum Viable Product a lot over the past six months. Particularly the notion of validation.

It’s rapidly become the new dogma for people doing technology startups. And yet, I’ve been privileged to know the founders of a lot of successful startups, or people who’ve created similarly impressive things. None of them did anything like the MVP, and it doesn’t seem to be the philosophy that guides their actions.

Dr. Sketchy’s

Dr Sketchy Vancouver Lola Frost 11 by Neil

I tried Dr. Sketchy’s for the first time. I expected it to be hipstery and ironic, but I found it to be intense. Lots of pro or semi-pro artists in attendance, and despite being in a bar where drinks were served it was quiet. I wore my crappy colored pencils down to nubs by the end. The performer, Lola Frost, has such presence - I’ve never seen anyone like her. She also did a strip-tease at half-time - sexy, artful, generous, and powerful.

I want to do this again. I’m generally a digital guy, and in some more flippant moods I might dismiss sketching as an obsolete skill.

But there is a value to it – one I didn’t expect – of staring, intently, with permission, for hours, at one person. It was like a kind of meditation.

SF neighborhoods

Happily busy

No Vacancy by taberandrew
There has not been the slightest bit of vacancy for upwards of six months. Not because there are tourists or anything, but really just because I think they like the sign to say that.

Brandywine WV

I took down the sidebar that says I’m looking for contracts or other work - I am happily all booked up, if not overbooked.

I should update the resume, but here’s what I’ve been doing:

Shame tactics

My friend Ari Lacenski just wrote a short piece on some tactics she saw developing in the reaction to sexism in the tech industry. Go read it - “Shaming, Doxxing, and Making Culture”, but if you’re impatient, the conclusion is:

I see that at least three Double Union participants believe that shaming and doxxing are good ways to get men to work with, sympathize with, and value women. I dissent, and believe that culture can only really be changed with kindness.

First of all, I want to recognize how much courage it takes to dissent with fellow dissenters, on principle, and in public. I had a similar test in my past, and I didn’t do so well. And maybe that incident will be illuminating for people who think that having a shame-fest is going to bring about change.

How to debug Node.js from within Vagrant

If you’re like me, and you’re running Node.js within a Vagrant-managed VM, sooner or later you’re going to want to debug a running application. Due to some networking oddities this is harder than you might expect.

Basically, you need something that will handle the v8 debugging protocol and present you with a nice interface for debugging.

Here are your options:

Who are you again?

I sign up for a lot of new services. I get a lot of mail like this - name redacted:

Hi,

First of all, I’d like to thank all of you for signing up to try our beta version.

Since our initial launch last month, we have changed a host of things to make REDACTED faster, more stable, and more intuitive.

I’m really excited about this new version for a few reasons:

a) REDACTED now supports more computers

Our previous version was 64-bit dependent, which caused problems for some users. […]

Hello my name is by gillicious
Inigo Montoya name tag
I had no idea who REDACTED was or what they did. Their product name is one of those snappy but meaningless agglomerations of syllables, which have been compared to names of Star Wars characters.

It turns out I probably signed up for this less than a month ago, so perhaps they are surprised I am so scatterbrained as to forget what their project does. But that’s just the way things are. Your first signups are often curious technophiles like myself.

SaaS services, especially startups - please, in every communication, include some sort of very short tagline or header explaining what you are. Or work it into the opening sentence.

You can drop that when you are Facebook or Dropbox, but until then it’s necessary.