Links and Notes - April 7th 2021

Simple Rugged Programmable gaming devices

Although my son is old enough to play games on a Nintendo Switch, I don't want to get him one. It's expensive, and I'd rather wait a little longer till I buy him something like that. I have no issues with him gaming though and he'll occasionally sit at my PC, giant Xbox controller in hand, and play some, mostly platformer, games with me.

What I really want to get him is one of those more simple handheld gaming devices. Call it an appliance if you will since it does just one thing which is to run games. Those devices were a joy growing up. Tetris and a 100 other games loaded in. All incredibly fun to play. Most importantly, the ones that we had were physically tough. Rugged almost. They could and would take a beating regularly and they didn't break.

I can't seem to find something like that very easily today.

Now that I have started hunting though, I also want more. I want to have a shared experience with my son where we build games together. This doesn't mean that I want him to start programming or that I want him to program at all. He's free to choose whether or not he like the idea of that. But what I would love would be a way to create games for a small rugged handheld device that he can then play. I want him to come to me with suggestions and ideas which I can then jam on.

Right now I have some hopes on Microsoft MakeCode. I'm just waiting for the consoles to actually be available for purchase more easily. It's possible that I might actually grab an Xtron Pro. I can see that being a fun experiment to work on with the little one.

My dev environment setup

Dev environments are a tricky subject. There's no one size fits all and they are always a moving target. Each person has their "must have" requirements which might be a "nice to have" for the next person. I think about dev environments a lot. To me, portability and ease of setup are the most important things I can have.

How do I manage it? I carry my entire dev environment around on an SSD. It's a virtual machine, running Ubuntu Server. When I'm going some place I simply shut it down on one machine, and plug the SSD into the next machine when I need to. VirtualBox spins up and 💥! I'm in business.

As for coding with it, I use VS Code and its remote development feature to work on files inside of my VM (this was something I mentioned in yesterday's post too). Because plugins are installed in the VM itself, I don't ever have to worry about my developer tools being out of sync either. Everything just works.

It's a neat solution. I do wonder how it would work for others as well. I know portability is probably a nice to have for most people, but when I think of the other possibilities a system like this opens up... It starts to look a lot more appealing.

A feeling of shallowness

I was thinking about my knowledge while driving today. There are a lot of people who are subject experts. There are also a lot of people who may not be subject experts, but they know which area they really want to dig deep into. I am neither of those people. Which leaves me feeling quite... shallow.

This is different from impostor syndrome. I don't feel inadequate or that I don't belong. Those feelings come and go and I recognise them for what they are. No, this feels very different. I feel like I have a broad pool of knowledge and topics that I can have passionate conversations about. Provided the conversations don't dig in too deep. But there's nothing that I know of where I can say "yes! This is the subject matter I'd like to keep digging deeper and deeper into!". There's lots of options of course; the software world in particular has many deep and wonderful areas to lose myself in. But I find myself being completely unsure which one to be immersed in. I'm scared. I want to do so many things and keep having that broad knowledge. I'm scared that if I start selecting a single topic then I won't be able to be excited about so many different things each day.

Is this weird? I don't know. I just need to figure out how to let go of the negative feelings on this.

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Posted on April 07 2021 by Adnan Issadeen