Join me and several guests, on several different days to get into particulars about programming, coding, hacking, ops, devops, or whatever comes up. Ask questions, inquire, infer, or inform we’re here for the conversation. Join my guests and I!
I’ve been doing a lot more coding, thanks largely to the discipline that Twitch has brought to my day. It seems almost surprising to me at this point because Twitch started similarly to the way Twitter did for me. You see, I thought at first Twitter was the dumbest thing that had happened in ages. Arguably, it’s come full circle and I kind of feel the same thing about Twitter now, but during the middle decade in between that (yes, Twitter is over 10 years old!) Twitter has brought me connection, opportunities, and so much more. I couldn’t have imagined a lot of what I’ve been able to pull together because of Twitter. It’s still useful in many ways for this, albeit I like all of us are at risk of suffering the idiocy of today’s politics and political cronies, and the dog piling trash pile that follows them onto Twitter.
I’m not leaving Twitter any time soon but I’ve definitely put in on a very short leash, and limited what impact it does or doesn’t have in my day to day flow.
Amazingly however a new social and productive tool, not that it intended both, has come into being. Coding on Twitch. Don’t get me wrong I game, I just don’t game socially or on Twitch, what I do is code on Twitch. With a fair dose of hacking, breaking things, and then figuring out how to make them work. All at the same time I along with others have created a pretty excellent developers community there on Twitch. It seems to be growing all the time too. Twitch, at this point has become a focal point that has the benefits without all the annoying garbage that Twitter does these days, while adding the vast and hugely important fact that I can do things, be productive, chit chat, and generally get shit done all while I’m Twitch streaming.
With that, let’s talk about some of the recent notes and information I’ve been working on putting together to make Twitch even more useful. My first motive with this was to keep track of all the things I was doing, hardware I was putting together, and related things, but then another purpose grew out of all this note taking. It became obvious that this repository of information could be useful for other people. Here’s a survey of the things that I’ve added so far, hope they’re helpful to those of you digging into streaming out there!
I added some badges to identify various elements of information about the repo in the README.md.
Is it maintained, yup, contributors, so far just me, zero issues filed but please feel free to add an issue or two, markdown yup, and there is indeed a Trello Board! The Trello Board is a key to insight, inspection, and what I’ve got going on in a number of my repositories. It’s where I’m keeping track of all the projects, what’s next, and what’s up in queue for the blog (this one right here). At least, in the context of the big code heavy or video reviews of sessions with code, extra commentary, and related content. If you want to get involved in any of the repos just let me know and I’m happy to walk through whatever and even get you added to the Trello board so we can work together on code.
My main machine is now a Dell XPS 15, which I fought through to get Linux running on it, and now that I have it’s been an absolutely stellar machine. I’ve also added additional monitor & port replicator/docking station gear to get it even more usable. The actual page I’ve got the details listed on are in the repo on the Dell XPS 15 item on the hardware page.
Along with the XPS 15 I wrote up coverage of the unboxing via video and blog entry. After a few weeks I also wrote up the conflict I had getting Linux running and removing Windows 10. In addition to the XPS 15 though I do use a MacBook from 2015 as my primary Mac machine, with an iMac from 2013 available as backup. Both machines are still resoundingly solid and performant enough to get the job done. Rounding out my fleet of machines is a Dell XPS 13 (covered here and here with the re-review).
For screens I have one at my office and one at home. They’re almost the same thing, ultra-widescreen monitors, curved displays, running 3880-1440 resolution from LG. These make keeping an eye on chat, OBS, and all sorts of other monitoring while coding, gaming, or whatever a breeze!
The docking stations and/or port replicators, whatever one calls these things these days also bring all of this tech together for me. There’s a couple I have tried and retired already (unfortunately, cuz dammit that cost some money!) and others that I use in some scenarios and others I use in others.
My main docking station contraption, shout out to James & others suggestion the Caldigit TS3. I got to this docking station through the Dell TB16 which for Linux, and kind of for Windows, is an unstable mess. Awesome potential if it worked, but it doesn’t so I tried out this USB-C pluggable option (in the tweet) which had HDMI that was unfortunately limited in resolution. Having a wide screen made this – albeit it being super compatible with Linux – unusable too. So I finally upgraded to the Caldigit TS3 and WOW, the Caldigit is super seriously wickedly bad ass. Extra USB-C ports, USB 2/3 ports, power, and more all rolled into one. It even supplies some power to the laptop, however I keep it plugged in since it’s kind of a power hog when the processor start chomping!
I’ve replaced it with this. Much smaller, lighter, and slightly easier to use. Albeit the USB-C can’t power the laptop. pic.twitter.com/sy3L1fbUnH
After trying out this USB-C pluggable (the tweet) I got the CalDigit into play. It’s really really good, here’s a shot of that from various angles with the extensive cables that I don’t have to plug into my laptop anymore. Out of this also runs a 28 port USB powered hub too, no picture, but just know I’ve got a crazy number of devices I routinely like to use!
That’s my main configuration when using the ultra widescreens and all. Good setup there, very usable, and the 32GB of memory in the laptop really get put to use in this regard. As for storage, that’s another thing. I’ve got 1 TB in my laptop but another 1 TB in a USB-C Thunderbolt Samsung Drive which is practically as fast for most things. So much so I attach it via the TS3 via USB-C and it’s screaming fast and adds that extra storage. So far, primarily I’ve been using it to store all of my virtual machines or use it as video storage while I do edits.
There’s other gear too, check out the list, like the Rode Podcoster and other things. But that gear I’ll elaborate on some other time.
Another effort I’ve undertaken is recording meetups. To do this one needs to be able to stream things with several screens combined – i.e. picture in picture and all. To do this, one needs a camera that can focus on the speaker, ideally at least 1080p with at least some ability to work in less than ideal light. Then next to that, a splitter and capture card to get the slides! Once all those pieces come together, with a little OBS finesse one can get a pretty solid single pass recording of a meetup. An example of one of my better attempts was the last meetup “Does the Cloud Kill Open Source” with Richard Seroter. If you take a look at past talks in the Meetups Playlist you can see my iterative progress from one meetup to another!
Here’s the specific gear I’m using to get this done. At least, so far, and if and when it becomes financially reasonable I might upgrade some of the gear. It largely depends on what I can get more use out of beyond just streaming meetups.
Cords and Splitter – I picked up a selection of lengths and types so that I’d have wiring options for the particular environments the meetups would be located in. Generally speaking 25ft seems to be a safe maximum for HDMI. I’ve been meaning to check out the actual specifications on it but for now it’s more than enough regardless.
The splitter wasn’t expensive at all ($16.99), and kind of surprised me considering the costs of the cables. Picture to the right, or above, or somewhere depending on mobile layout.
I needed capture cards for this, one for the line out of the splitter that would capture the slides. The first I had picked up based on suggestions focusing around quality and that was the Avermedia Extreme Cap HDMI to USB 3 Capture Card. It’s really solid for higher resolution and related capabilities. For the USB 3.0 HDMI HD Game Video Capture Card I picked it up based on price (it’s almost a 1/3rd of the price) but not particular focused on quality. However, now that I’ve used both they are capable and seem fine, so I might have been able to just buy two of the cheaper options.
The camera, ideally, I’d have a much higher quality one but the Canon VIXIA HF R800 Camcorder has actually worked excellently. A little less feature rich for audio out and related things, but it zooms in good and can record at the same time I’m getting the cam feed into the stream. So it’s always a nice way to have a backup of the talk.
At first thought, I made the mistake that just the gear would be enough but holy smokes there were about a million other things I needed to write. I created meetup.md to get the list going.
Jazz Influence Amidst the Heaviness!
As promised. Some music, not actually jazz, but heavily influenced by some jazz, progressive instrumentation, and esoteric, expansive, exquisite playing skills by the band. As always, be prepared. My music referrals aren’t always gentle! Happy code streaming!
Goal: Grow our follower count and reach, entertain, laugh, make hot takes – as one does on Twitter, educate, and get value out of it ourselves.
Don’t buy followers (i.e. don’t pay anybody that promises X followers, market share, or whatever it is they’re selling). We can’t trust this method as it’s often just a pile of Russian bots or other garbage followers. This does nothing to increase visibility and penetration to those that want, are interested in, or need to communicate with us (i.e. customers and fans).
Do not just repost things via RT or use tooling to just post arbitrary things. People notice this and won’t follow or will unfollow you. It’s a sure fire way to be blacklisted as *marketing* which will involve going to zero eyeballs, even when the account statistics keep showing people see it.
Do not post identical or similar content one tweet after another. i.e. Don’t post a marketing blurb with one image, then post another marketing blurb with another image that’s exactly the same size, theme, and fill up the entire tweet stream this way. The followers you get will not be active, will not be who you actually want to speak with or interact with, and don’t really add value over time if this is all that is done. It’s similar to those blog theft sites that just re-post the exact RSS stream and then, by proxy, get blacklisted and erased from Google/search results.
Just make it about you. Grow your personal brand first and foremost. Such as “Dern this is a wicked awesome band.” or “Wow, best burger in the world” and add pictures, content, and other interesting things for people. It doesn’t have to be “I just cured all diseases yo, check me out!” you can, and people will follow based on honesty, integrity, taking a stance, being informative, and providing useful information of all sorts. But more than anything they’ll follow the person not any specific *thing* you’re selling, pushing or what not. So be yourself, share, and be involved with the network you create.
Build things you’re interested in, especially when they’re related in some way to products and services you like to use and find interesting – i.e. Apache Cassandra, DSE, Databases, Application Development, etc. Build on these things via threading, via initiating discussion with others that are discussing these things, and among all this find valuable fellow Twitterers that you want to be connected to. This helps all involved, you, your network, the company, the people and companies you connect to, and more. Bringing the network wide with an on point effort around topics will dramatically increase your collective opportunity but also anything and everybody around you.
When retweeting, intersperse it among other things, and happily add content to RT’s. In other words don’t just make it endless retweets, but just throw in a few retweets for things you’re interested in or support, and then have your regular stream of tweets, links, and other content.
Use emoticons, use pictures, and definitely blurt memes out there. Aim to have fun with Twitter.
Examples of good Twitterers that really provide high value to followers, but also back to the Twitterer themselves in the way of speaking opportunities and all sorts of other things:
Goal: Build an extensive professional network and return value to the LinkedIn Network of connections you have.
Don’t use LinkedIn like Facebook. This is obvious but for some reason much the world doesn’t seem to get this, so it feels like it needs stated for the LOL’s. i.e. Don’t hit on people, don’t ask people out on dates, just talk business. Ideally leave politics out of it too.
Ideally, don’t send droves of InMail messages to people unless that’s specifically the game being played on LinkedIn. For more grassroots and non-marketing community focus, just interact with people directly, that you know, and don’t arbitrary chase down people you do NOT actually know. This is another thing that decreases authenticity, and makes an individual – even if not – appear like they’re shilling for something.
Post content regularly about what you’re working on, provide links, and provide respective researched content for other mediums you might have like Medium, a blog, Twitter, and all that jazz.
Talk about your professional achievements and whatever else that might come up related to your work, hobbies (pending some business relation or something you do/did professional, i.e. like the music you play, or other hobby of sorts). Sometimes hobbies count too, so put that content into rotation now and again too. But do remember, if it fits better on Facebook than LinkedIn, just don’t post it on LinkedIn.
Reach out if there is legitimate business that you are both involved in. Start that as a simple conversation, not a sale, not something pushy, just simple, friendly, curious conversation.
Examples of good LinkedIn Accounts, that use their accounts for benefit for themselves but also provide benefit directly or indirectly for all of us:
Goal: Grow our follower count and increase our collective content and work material to show, teach, work, and hang out with viewers to build tomorrow’s best, most kick ass, wicked awesome applications, data science analysis, and more!
Not a whole lot here yet. Twitch is kind of wide open and not a lot of no no’s here. Don’t do illegal things is all I’ve got at the moment.
Setup your OBS or streaming process so that you have chat on screen, chat somewhere you can monitor it, code is clear and fonts are readable, you add all the interaction content you can for new follows (alerts), subscribes (alerts), and whatever else comes up.
When on stream, take your time, interact with people that follow, subscribe, or chat/whisper with you.
Don’t worry about making mistakes, just work through them, let the audience help if they offer it. Even if you know that they’re wrong, work through things with them and let them get involved. Then lead into the correct fix, etc. This is a great way to teach and build involvement on stream so that everybody gets a win, and you get an advocate to your own advocacy.
If you’re going to heavily curse or do anything even slightly liberal/conservative/religious/ideological etc it’s probably best to mark one’s stream as 13 or older (I think that’s the setting).
Some excellent Twitch streamers to reference for their involvement, OBS setup, configuration, and general awesomeness in the community.
This post I’m making just to outline, and provide future reference, of a few things I’ve realized between this post about what you dear readers want and things that would make my video streams more useful, plus what content would be more useful. I’ve taken this survey (which you can still fill out your two cents) and what I’ve learned form it, combined that with what I’ve learned with doing some Twitch and YouTube streaming and prepared to introduce better content, with more details and related samples, along with the streaming I’ve been doing. With that, here’s an outline of the basic collateral I’m going to produce for every single streaming session I do from now on.
Per Stream Per Video Collateral
I’ll post updates with content and objectives overview for each session well before the actual session that I schedule. So that there’s a blog entry with the next dozen or so sessions, plus the events will be listed on Twitch here. So subscribe to my Twitch channel @adronhall if you want to get updates when I go live!
The full unedited video will be on Youtube here. Subscribe to get updates when the stream goes live on Youtube and to be notified when they post. With each video after it is recorded I will provide a timeline of topics covered for each video that goes live on Youtube. Similar to the timeline in this session or this session.
I’ll post a post-stream blog post with the stream link on Youtube, the timeline, and a write up of the code, repositories, and any other collateral that goes along with the stream session. That way everybody will have access to a quick way of getting caught back up, review streams they’ve watched, and reuse or refer to the material after the stream is over for implementation or other use.
I’ll also endeavor to cut out slices of the video into smaller multiple minute segments for specific how-to videos on how I’ve put together certain things, written certain pieces of code, configured things, or otherwise useful little segments. These segments, which I don’t have an example just yet, will be somewhere around 30 seconds to less than 5 minutes. Hopefully quickly watchable and useful.
I’m looking forward to these new sessions and the collateral I’m planning to put together. It ought to be good material and I hope you find it useful. Cheers! \m/