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Colin Devroe

Reverse Engineer. Blogger.

Voyager’s 40th Anniversary

East coasters keep your lunchtime open on Tuesday as NASA is celebrating Voyager’s 40th Anniversary. Check out this description from APOD:

Launched in 1977 on a tour of the outer planets of the Solar System, Voyager 1 and 2 have become the longest operating and most distant spacecraft from Earth. Nearly 16 light-hours from the Sun, Voyager 2 has reached the edge of the heliosphere, the realm defined by the influence of the solar wind and the Sun’s magnetic field. Now humanity’s first ambassador to the Milky Way, Voyager 1 is over 19 light-hours away, beyond the heliosphere in interstellar space. Celebrate the Voyagers’ 40 year journey toward the stars with NASA on September 5.

Interstellar space. So cool.

I look at this achievement a number of ways. I laud the fact that this spacecraft was built over 40 years ago (as was its software) and it is out there still humming along. I’m awed at the distance it has traveled and how far out it currently is. However, I also think that 19-light hours is less “time” than it took me yesterday to get back from the Pacific coast in Mexico via bus, airplanes, and car.

In the future 19-light hours may very well seem like next door. I really hope so.

You know where I’ll be on Tuesday during lunch. Chewing on a sandwich and watching NASA TV.

Daring Fireball at 15

John Gruber:

15 years ago this week, I started Daring Fireball with this piece on a then-new lineup of PowerMac G4’s.

I’ve been subscribed to Daring Fireball since that first post. In fact, I’m a card-carrying member (when John was selling Memberships) and have more than one t-shirt. DF has set the standard for what blogging is on many fronts and I’ve linked to countless pieces from him.

Fifteen-years is a fantastic milestone to hit and I look forward to at least 30 more years of DF before John hangs up his clicky keyboard. Thanks John.

Tweeting for 10 years

Last week Jeremy Keith reminded me, yet again, of an anniversary I share with him. That is, we’ve now both been tweeting for 10 years. Here is my first tweet.

Jeremy beat me by 6 days and only 5,000 tweets. Can you believe that back then only 5,000 tweets were sent in 6 days? These days I’d guess that 5,000 tweets happen a few thousand times per second. And tomorrow, on Election Day, you can guarantee millions of tweets per second.

Jeremy reflects on the early days and also on some of the things that changed over time. Please, please go read his post. But I’ll expound slightly on what he’s written.

Most notably this bit:

The most obvious sign of change was the way that Twitter started treating third-party developers. Where they previously used to encourage and even promote third-party apps, the company began to crack down on anything that didn’t originate from Twitter itself. That change reflected the results of an internal struggle between the people at Twitter who wanted it to become an open protocol (like email), and those who wanted it to become a media company (like Yahoo). The media camp won.

If you listened to audio bit E8, wherein Danny and I chat about Twitter, one of my suggestions for Twitter is to go back to this. To go back to supporting third-party development. We chatted about the whacky uses of Twitter (like drawbridges, plants that need watering, etc.) but there are very, very practical uses too.

But now, just a few weeks later, I do not feel that would be enough to save Twitter. And I do mean save it. It is dying. It will go away. I do not see anyone coming in to rescue it at this point. In fact, if someone does step up to the plate to try to rescue it, it may be the wrong entity to do so and it may get worse.

Jeremy has a leg up on me that I do not have. He posts his “tweets” first at his site and syndicates to Twitter. Well, I do too. However, I don’t only post to my site. I tweet. A lot. It is a hard habit for me to break. I love tweeting during sporting events. I love even more tweeting during tech events like Apple’s Media and WWDC events or Microsoft’s Build events or rocket launches. In context they are fun, sometimes funny, sometimes informative to follow those conversations happening on Twitter. If I published those particular notes to my site first they’d be in a silo of sorts and out of context. Someone stumbling upon them would have no idea what I was talking about. So do I just not write those tweets any more?

Unlike Jeremy I will be sad if Twitter goes away. It has been part of my life for 10 years and I think it is the best social network we have going. But, like Jeremy, I’ll keep posting here. Because my site will be around for as long as possible.

Now I just need to break the habit of posting tweets to Twitter.

Eleven and six and twenty

Thanks to Jeremy for remarking how he forgot his blog’s 15th anniversary (congrats Jeremy!) it reminded me to check and, well, I missed my blog’s anniversary by nearly the same number of days as he did.

On Saturday October 1 this blog, my personal blog on my own domain name but not my first ever personal blog, turned 11 years old. This was the first post.

My blogging journey did not begin with this site. It started about 10 years before that. Prior to owning cdevroe.com – which was a gift from Josue Salazar (Thanks again Josue) – I had personal sites on Tripod (circa 2002), on a domain called colinspage.com (circa 2003 though it began in 1998 or 1999), I blogged on theubergeeks.net (circa 2003) and even had another blog in between that I wrote in ASP myself. My best guess is that I began blogging long before it was called blogging somewhere around 1995 when I was working at a computer store near my parent’s house.

In addition to my own personal online journal at the time we began plugging away on TheHutt.net (circa 1999) – which I helped develop alongside friends Chris Coleman and Chris Kuruts. We used the site to mark the upcoming Star Wars prequels. What a mistake! (The films, not our site.)

Six years ago I started curating The Watercolor Gallery – a site I take great pride in. That site recently had an anniversary as well that I failed to mark. I’ve been working on a brand-new version of the site too.

So I’ve been blogging for somewhere around 20 years. And my personal blog has taken many forms before finally settling here on cdevroe.com. And, as I sit here writing this post with nearly 20 years of writing on the web under my belt I am incredibly excited to continue writing on my blog.

Thanks to Jeremy for both the reminder and the constant inspiration from his blog.

Observations from the first two years of kayaking

I’ve been kayaking for two years and one month.

Colin in Sandbridge VA

My first post about kayaking is a sprawling post about my first two paddles but one that I’m really happy I wrote and published. In it I show exactly the types of things a new paddler worries about; falling in, being cold, getting in and out of the boat, etc. In a recent post you see what a paddler thinks about after they’ve gotten over those things; where go to, what to see, and missing opportunities to catch snakes.

A bridge in Keenlake Campground

Kayaking may have saved my sanity. For the last two years I’ve been attempting to create a new company and I completely failed. Most start up companies fail. I knew that going in. But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t have an immense amount of stress living the ups and downs every day. Kayaking was my way to decompress. (More on this story in future posts.)

I’ve paddled in tons of local areas and even some a few hundred miles away from home. I have mentioned my goal of kayaking in Scotland once or twice here on my blog. Two years into my kayaking hobby and I still have that as a goal to do some day.

Tide is out in Back Bay Sandbridge Virginia

Here are some random observations I’ve made after two years of kayaking:

  • Anyone can do it. If you think you can’t for some reason, you’re likely wrong. Start off simple and slow with no expectations and you’ll likely be surprised.
  • More people should do it. Kayaking sounds like a great hobby to everyone I talk to and yet not as many people have kayaks as I think should. Especially here in Pennsylvania with thousands of bodies of water to explore.
  • It is less expensive than you think. A used kayak will set you back a few hundred dollars at most. The rest of the gear you need; paddle, life jacket, etc. is maybe $100 for a brand-new set. A rack for your roof may cost up to $100 too (unless your car already has them). After that kayaking is generally free and you can likely do it for years on your first set of gear.
  • It is very good for you. Exercise, fresh air, sun. All great things.
  • It is the most relaxing thing I’ve ever done. Some like to read a book to relax, some like to nap. I like to paddle. I like to be active yet my brain can simply forget the cares of the day and focus on moving forward or finding critters or enjoying the sounds of nature.
  • You don’t fall in often. In fact, I would say a more cautious paddler than me would almost never fall in. I’d even go one step further and say you could, if you wanted to, plan to never even get wet. I’ve paddled in jeans before. Getting in and out of the water using a dock you may never get any water on you at all.
  • You won’t be cold. Your body heat in a kayak creates a really nice insulated spot. Bundle up a little, you won’t be cold even in winter.
  • Pay attention to wind more than any other weather factor. Kayaking in rain is fun and adds no difficulty to your paddling. Even in a downpour it’d be a long time before your kayak gets enough water in it to make a difference. (And, you could cover your hull with a skirt if it is that bad). However, wind is a huge factor in how difficult your paddle will be. Take a minute to read this post I wrote after kayaking in Back Bay, Sandbridge, Virginia in 2015.
  • Tell someone where you are going and what time you expect to return. Even very rough estimates of either of those things help a lot should anything happen.

Here are some, quite literally, random photos from the last two years.

Snapping Turtle in Lackawanna State Park

Oru Kayak in Back Bay Sandbridge VA

Crab claws in Sandbridge Virginia

Eliza and I in Lackawanna State Park

Eric and I in Quaker Lake

Dunn Pond

Sunset over Lackawanna State Park

A colorful Oru in Prompton State Park

A painted turtle in Prompton State Park

Oru Kayak in Prompton State Park

Snake in Back Bay Virginia

Colin and Justin in Sandbridge Virginia

Kayaking in the rain in Back Bay

Kayaking with Eliza, Kim, Jackie in Lackawanna State Park

Kayaking and rafting down the Delaware

A Beaver Dam in Dunn Pond

Eric and Jackie in Merli-Sarnoski County Park

Painted turtle in Merli-Sarnoski County Park

A peaceful paddle in Lackawanna State Park

My next kayaking goals are to get onto a few rivers, to paddle a two-day trip where I camp on the side of the river or lake, and to maybe fish from my kayak. I haven’t done any of those things yet.