Teaching a Teen to Drive – Urban Driving, Part 1

There is a progression that I go through when I teach a teen to drive. Basic vehicle operations are the first principle. Then I move on to open road driving which helps build self-confidence in their ability to handle a car. Next comes canyon drives that teach the new driver how to handle and respond to the car. And then I teach freeway driving.

Once we’re through all of those, I move onto to one of the tougher concepts – urban driving. Urban driving entails driving on crowded city streets and freeways. One has to deal with distractions, pedestrians, cyclists, unprotected turns, and erratic, impatient city drivers. I wait to teach this skill because it can be unsettling for a new driver and rattle them. If done too soon, it can kill their self-confidence and make them want to quit. I’ve seen it happen. It’s why having a plan that progressively builds the driver’s skills and confidence is important.

Continue reading

Book review: The Business Blockchain

Book cover for The Business Blockchain by William MougayarIn addition to working in technology, I enjoy observing trends and watching up-and-coming technologies. Blockchain is one of those new technologies that I’ve been watching closely over the last couple of years. General, as well as my interest in blockchain has risen due to cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. While I’m not a fan of cryptocurrencies (a rant I’ll post some other time), I am fascinated and keenly interested in blockchain. So much so that I felt it was worth the effort to read a book on the subject, which led me to The Business Blockchain: Promise, Practice, and Application of the Next Internet Technology by William Mougayar.

A lot of people mistakenly think that blockchain is just another name for cryptocurrency. In reality, crytpocurrencies are just one application that is made possible because of blockchain technology. Blockchain enables cryptocurrencies. So if I’m not a fan of cryptocurrencies, why am I interested in blockchain?

Continue reading

Custom (aka Lambda) Authorizer for Verifying Client Authorization Tokens Generated by Firebase

In one of my current projects, I am using a serverless setup in AWS for the API. The project uses API Gateway and Lambda functions. For deployment to AWS, I’m using the serverless framework, which helps to streamline the process.

One of the issues I ran into was verifying the client authorization tokens generated by Firebase in the serverless environment. The brute force approach would have been to verify the token in the Lambda function for each API microservice I created, but this seemed inefficient. I also found that adding the Firebase Admin SDK added a lot of heft to the lambda function. It seemed like there should be a better way, and there is.

Continue reading

Book review: Summer Frost

Book cover for Summer Frost by Blake CrouchI have a love-hate relationship with the Amazon recommendation engine. There are times when I get email recommendations that leave me scratching my head, saying “What the…?” And then there are other times when I feel like it knows me better than I do.

For example, I love the short story genre and feel it is underrepresented in books these days. It feels like so many authors and publishers are focused on prolonged series. Now it could be my ADHD speaking, but there’s something to be said for a captivating short story. So when I got an email from Amazon saying they created a new short story series focused on science fiction by the genre’s up and coming authors, called Forward, I was intrigued.

Favorite genre? Check.

Favorite authors? Check.

Short stories? Check.

Available to Prime members for free (via borrowing)? Double check.

Count me in. Since Blake Crouch has become one of my favorite authors as of late, I decided I would start with his contribution to the series, Summer Frost.

Continue reading

Book review: The 80/20 Principle – The Secret to Achieving More with Less

Bokk cover of The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with LessI’ve written about this before, but I’m always amazed at how deep you can go into any one genre or subject when reading. Here’s a case in point. I like to read personal improvement books, especially those that help me set priorities, get things done, and, on the whole, manage myself better. I’d have to go pretty far back to find the first book I read on the topic, but the genre only seems to get deeper and wider the more books I read in it. Whether it’s exploring other books by the same author, references to other books embedded in the ones I’m reading, recommendations by friends, families, or blogs I follow, or my ultimate nemesis, the Amazon recommendation engine, the quantity of books that I can read on the subject never ends.

It should be no surprise then that I happened upon The 80/20 Principle: The Secret to Achieving More with Less by Richard Koch. I added the book to my reading list after I saw it referenced in Ninja Selling by Larry Kendall. I’ve found that when a book you really like makes reference to other books, you generally can’t go wrong reading them.

Continue reading

Teaching a Teen to Drive – Freeway and Canyon Driving, Part 2

Route map for Freeway and Canyon Driving, Part 2Teaching a teen driver how to handle a car on narrow roads and around tight corners is a foundation driving skill in my opinion. It gives the new driver a good feel for how the car responds in demanding driving conditions. It’s why I like to spend a lot of time in the canyons of Southern California during my longer teaching drives.

For this drive, we are going to explore a canyon drive that is a little longer, and a bit tighter. I would recommend that the teen driver has some canyon driving experience before embarking on this drive. You may want to complete the drive outlined in Canyon Driving, Part 1, or an equivalent drive first.

Freeway driving makes up a significant portion of this drive as well. Both the canyon and freeway driving will be important skill for later drives in this series.

Continue reading

Book review: Zero Hour

Book cover for Zero Hour by Eamon AmbroseMy favorite reading genre is science fiction. I especially like the stories that use current technology as the basis for the plot, or build off current technology trends. Stories based on hard science fiction both engage and captivate my imagination. Zero Hour by Eamon Ambrose fits into that category.

Zero Hour is a post apocalyptic glimpse into the future. It examines the consequences of an artificial general intelligence that goes into a runaway improvement state, meaning it becomes smarter at a faster and faster rate. It’s a condition often referred to as the technical singularity – the point at which machines become smarter than humans.

Continue reading

Urban Hiking in San Francisco: The Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge from the Post Card Viewpoint

The Golden Gate Bridge is San Francisco’s most iconic landmark. On a clear day, there are many places where you can catch a glimpse of it including Land’s End, Fisherman’s Wharf, The Presidio, and from areas across the Bay in Oakland. You can also experience the Bridge first hand by driving across it. But in my opinion, the best way to experience the Golden Gate Bridge is to walk on it.

There are many ways that you can get to the Golden Gate Bridge on foot. I’m going to document the way I went, which involves a little extra hiking because, well, it’s what I like to do. It also includes a detour to Fort Point, which is worth the extra effort.

Continue reading

Book review: Pandemic

Book cover for Pandemic by A.G. RiddleAs part of my reading, I like coming back to my favorite authors, of which A.G. Riddle is one. I’ve read and enjoyed his trilogy The Origin Mystery and his stand-alone novel Departure. Both were well written, action-packed, and contained enough near-term, hard science fiction concepts to keep my imagination engaged. Pandemic was the next A.G. Riddle work to make its way onto my reading list.

Continue reading

Teaching a Teen to Drive – Canyon Driving, Part 1

When teaching a teen to drive, I like to spend a lot of time driving the canyons of Southern California. These roads tend to be narrow, two lane roads where the driver has to work on setting up the car and controlling it through the corners. It also requires the driver to stay alert since these are not simple, straight roads where you can slip into auto-pilot mode.

In the first drive, we mixed a little bit of everything into the drive – freeways, canyons, two and four lane roads, and urban driving. In this second drive, we’re going to focus primarily on canyons, with some urban driving and open 2-lane road portions mixed in.

Continue reading