Hey Google, what happened to all the fun?

This is the story of how Google killed a 14 year old Android app overnight.

2008 was a time when the web had mostly become ubiquitous but still before most people carried it all with them in their pocket on a smartphone. For me, a high school student at the time without a smartphone, my programming classes were the only times during the school day where I could access the internet in a school computer lab. These short periods during the day were often filled with implementing various sorting algorithms or other computer science fundamentals. But of course there was also a healthy amount of screwing around on the heavily filtered internet we were allowed access to.

It was in one of these computer labs that a fellow student directed me to a website with quite literal domain, isittuesday.com. It was exactly what it sounded like, a large “Yes!” or “No.” displayed on the page if it was Tuesday and, well, that’s it. It was the sort of random website that you’d snicker at, send to your friends on AOL Instant Messenger for the next person to snicker at, and move on to the next thing that caught your brief interest.

For those of us that grew up during this time, the web was still a fairly decentralized place. Terms like “Web 2.0” and “the blogosphere” abounded. The social media giants we know today were becoming established, but the web did not revolve around them just yet. But I am hardly the first person to express nostalgia for this era. So what?

Debugging Ruby, The Hard Way

Normally when you encounter a bug with Ruby, or any other interpreted language for that matter, using the language’s provided debugging tools are all you need to diagnose the problem and find a solution. Indeed that works 99% of the time. But what about when it doesn’t? What about when your program is so hosed that the typical debugging tooling doesn’t yield any fruitful information?

This was the situation I found myself in recently while debugging a low-level bug with Ruby. I didn’t know it when I started, but the problem lie down in glibc and all the Ruby-land debugging tools in the world would not help me. So what’s one to do? Well, if you’re running the C implementation of Ruby, MRI, then it’s GDB to the rescue. However, figuring out how to access the data needed through GDB presents a host of new challenges. Armed with the proper knowledge though and it becomes entirely feasible to debug a Ruby program through GDB which is what this post aims to explore.

Five of the best fly-in camping airports in Washington

Airplane camping in Washington is a far cry from the meccas of Idaho, Utah, or Alaska. Despite all of the forested and mountainous terrain in Washington there are no true backcountry airports in the state. Nevertheless, there are a healthy amount of fly-in camping options on the more beaten path for pilots to enjoy. The tradeoff for this accessibility being, unlike the aforementioned backcountry playgrounds like Idaho, the best airport campgrounds in Washington don’t require planes capable of 500ft takeoff rolls and tundra tires.

The airports listed here are (arguably) the best camping spots in Washington. They are all public airports and have long and smooth enough runways for those flying trikes to operate from. All the while still being some incredible destinations that make flying GA worth all that time, effort, and money. Although if you’re looking for something marginally more challenging, take a look at my most accessible Idaho backcountry airports list.

The feasibility of electrifying Mt. Baker

On those rare clear winter days, waiting in the morning lift line for Chair 1 to open at Heather Meadows provides a beautiful view of Mt. Shuksan. Before opening time at 9am it’s common for the lift to start and stop multiple times as the lifties prepare for the day’s operations and ski patrol heads up the mountain to complete avalanche control. Each time the lift starts again the engine revs up providing a guilty reminder that, while other ski areas in the Washington Cascades are electrified, Mt. Baker’s are all powered by burning diesel fuel. The juxtaposition of a frozen Mt. Shuksan looming over the ski area with a diesel engine belching blackened exhaust into the air feels odd at best. Enough so that it made me wonder, what would it take to electrify Mt. Baker? Is it feasible? And should it be done?

Five of the most accessible Idaho backcountry airports

The Idaho backcountry is an intimidating place, and rightly so. Many of the destinations there are unforgiving airports with little to no margin for error. The reward for developing the needed skills to fly here is operating in one of the most scenic and remote areas in the continental US. The most challenging strips are generally not accessible to those without a STOL plane and a good amount of experience, but for pilots looking to dip their toe into the backcountry, there are some options that are accessible to your run of the mill GA plane in addition to a reasonable amount of mountain flying training.

The airports listed here (in no particular order) are some of the more accessible airports in the Idaho backcountry. This means those with longer runways and more forgiving approaches that you don’t need tundra tires and a 500ft takeoff roll to land at. All while still being some incredible destinations that makes flying GA worth it.