The Next Step

I recently blogged about my departure from MBition after a four year stint helping to build a software department within Mercedes Benz. Having contemplated various possible paths, I decided to leave my comfort zone and move away from automotive on-board software, which has been my life for the past 11 years.

Instead, I will help Autoliv Research’s ML/AI team to help them build awesome detection tools to help save more lives. This means working with a group of very smart people ranging from domain experts on things such as psychology, bio-mechanics, machine learning, embedded systems, mechatronics and more. I’m really really excited about this – so much fun to learn.

It is still early days and I still have a lot to learn, so I don’t know the details yet. I’ve been meeting people from all around the world for the past week and a half, and will continue to do so until Christmas, but the real fun starts in 2022.

The team is growing, so if you are interested in joining me in a quest to save lives and learning about real life applications of ML/AI in small embedded systems, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Moving on

In the autumn of 2017, me and my family moved down to Berlin for a month to start the infotainment software part of MBition. We were a handful of people at Mindspace in Mitte. I’ve never done so many interviews in my life – and I’ve never had the opportunity to get to know so many great people.

Fast forward to today, and we have grown to over 400 people in the project and are about to deliver an amazing product. The architecture team has grown from a one man team consisting of me, into one of the best groups of engineers I’ve ever worked with.

We wanted to change the world. We could not change everything, but I feel that we are bringing improvements to the project, as well as building a better foundation for future work at Mercedes Benz. I very much want to buy the first car with the MBient platform in it, as I know it will be an amazing product.

This has been a fantastic journey and one of the most challenging, but also rewarding, parts in my career. However, all things must come to an end. I’m sad to leave, but I’m also happy to say that I’m staying with the project as a part of the MBition Advisory Council. I’m happy not to go to Berlin twice a month, but I’m already missing the city, so I’m glad that I know that I will come back.

There are so many I’d like to thank and mention so I cannot begin to try to list you all – I’ll just forget someone. You know who you are! Keep up the great work and let’s meet the next time I’m in town!

Intense weeks

End of October turns out to be one of the highs when it comes to workload this year. Everything happens at once – there are two public events that I’d like to tell you about.

The first one is running lights. This is an annual running competition organized by AIF Friidrott, the sports club my kids are active in. This year, this means organized by me and postponed due to COVID-19, but the virtual races started this weekend and the arena race will take place on the 24th.

If anyone of you are in the Alingsås area and enjoy I highly recommend you to join. The weather looks nice, and we will light up the arena with live fire, so it will be a great evening.

The second one is the foss-north 2020 take II event. This spring, we decided to try to organize a physical foss-north event this fall, as obviously the pandemic must be over by November. This seems to not be the case. :-)

Instead we are running a single day event on November 1 with six handpicked speakers. The event is virtual and free for all.

I would like to tell you about the speakers one by one, because I’m very excited about each and everyone of them.

Andrew 'bunnie' Huang

In the morning we welcome Bunnie Huang who will talk about the precursor project. Precursor is an open hardware platform for secure, mobile communications and computations. The focus is on security aiming to create a trustable platform.

Simon Ser

Next up is Simon Ser. He will talk about how to get pixels onto the screen in a modern Linux stack. This means a deep dive in the Kernel Mode Setting (KMS) interface. How it exposes hardware blocks and how to use it to get images shown on the screen.

Ramón Soto Mathiesen

The morning session then ends with Ramón Soto Mathiesen taking us into the land of Domain Driven Design (DDD) using Algebraic Data Types (ADT). Ramón has a background in functional programming languages and brings this knowledge into the world of multi-paradigm languages such as C#, Rust, and Swift.

Carol Chen

The afternoon session starts with Carol Chen from Red Hat Ansible. She works as a community manager for Ansible. She will be talking about how they move have moved from collections to contributions to conferences.

Lars Brinkhoff

We then continue with Lars Brinkhoff who will talk about the Incompatible Timesharing System (ITS). Lars works with restoring ITS and recreating the history from these early days of computing. ITS is of particular interest at foss-north at is the platform where tools such as Lisp, Logo, Scheme, Emacs and Zork where developed. This is where the foundations for the free software movement where born – quite literally.

Tor-logo by Stanchenko on DeviantArt

The day then ends with Alexander and Georg who will talk about Tor, the anonymity network. They will discuss why diversity is essential for reaching security and anonymity.

So, the next days will be crazy hectic, but it is all for something good. First a cosy evening of running on an arena lit by live fire, and then a day of talks about various FOSS projects.

I hope to see you there!

Adventures in (Dyn)DNS

So, I made the silly move to rely on my hardware supplier to provide me with a dynamic DNS service. Naturally, this offer expired, and I could no longer reach my home server. Because of Murphy, this naturally took place when I was away from home with no access to anything.

So – how does one find the way back home?

Luckily, I have a VPS that I log in to now and then. After a quick duck-ing (duckduckgo is my friend), I found the last command which was the first piece of the puzzle. Now I had a list of potential IPs.

Did I mention that I travel a lot?

There were quite a few IPs there. Pre-COVID-19, it would have been worse. Still, I found a few likely candidates based on frequency of use. Then I found this handy list of IP blocks in Sweden. Now I could tell my mobile data provider (Telenor) from my fibre data provider (Bahnhof).

Quickly adding my home domain and the suspected IP to /etc/hosts on my laptop allowed me to confirm my suspicions. Once in, I could setup duckdns for dynamic DNS, change the CNAME record of my domain, and now all is operational again.

I learned two things from this:

  1. Don’t rely on the time limited offers of hardware vendors for even the most trivial service. They are all trying to convert you into a as-a-Service deal and make you pay an annual fee. (i.e. read the fine print).
  2. I was really happy to use a CNAME record to redirect a subdomain of mine to my home server, so even when using a dynamic DNS service, I could switch to another dynamic DNS service. (this was pure luck – no foresight from my side was involved).

Also, while on the the topics of experiences. If you have the possibility, you should use bahnhof as your ISP. They have a track record of opposing surveilance laws and work to protect the privacy of their customers. Also – I’ve had zero issues with them since switching some 15 years ago, so I can recommend them from that perspective as well ;-)

Planning

A new year and a new decade means time for reflection. I try to do this more often than every ten years, but this seems to be a good time to discuss in public.

I’ve split this into three phases. Short-term is what I’d like to do in the coming month or so. This year is my goals for roughly a year, while decade really just means long-term.

Short-Term

Promote an ensure that foss-north 2020 is as successful as last year. You can help by submitting your paper. We’re also looking for sponsors and projects for the community day.

There is also some short-term work for foss-north, i.e. getting tickets sales up and running via our own infrastructure instead of using Eventbrite.

While planning foss-north, I’d also like to keep foss-gbg and gbgcpp active during the spring. Here, the travel part of my work means that I’m seriously short on time. The ambition would be ~10 meetups, but realistically it will be ~5-6.

A part from organizing events, I’m also attending. The next big one is fosdem, which I’m really looking forward to.

Then we have this blog. My goal is to write more, and I’ve been at it for a few months. I’ll try to keep this up.

When it comes to personal health, I try to run regularly. Since my little health dip last autumn, I’ve been fighing to get back and the current goal is to do 5km rounds every week.

This Year

For foss-north, my aim is to do at least one themed event, much like the cancelled foss-north Iot and Security Day planned for October last year. This event will be in the Øresund region or in Stockholm. Feel free to reach out to me if you want to help out.

On a 12 month time frame, I have some professional goals. I’m working with Mbition together with an amazing group of people. We are building a platform for future in-car software. There my goal is to be more focused in what I’m doing – to do more of what I do well better, and less of what I do badly.

Kuro Studio is also in an interesting phase, having a couple of start-ups underway and a constructive partnership in an interesting phase. Again, my personal goal here is to focus more.

Finally, I have my little one-man-box, Koderize, where I do smaller assignments. Here, my goal is to do a few more articles for various magazines, and possibly to find some small development project. Let’s see what I bump into.

Then we come to actual coding. A while ago I came to the conclusion that I need to down-size my projects a bit to actually finish them. Hence Mattemonster an app to teach basic maths for Android created using Godot. It started as a way to get my son to enjoy practicing maths, but this time I polished it just a little bit more and published it on the Play Store. I still have some features on my todo list, as well as publishing it to f-droid.

I also want to spend some time writing a proper Qt desktop application as well. I’ve got some basic ideas, but nothing crisp enough. I’ll probably not have time to dive into this unless I get a really good idea.

My health target this year is to do 5km under 30 minutes, and comfortably do 10km. The stretch goal is to do 10km under the hour.

Next Decade

When looking at a longer time-frame than a year, the goals become fuzzier. This might seem like speculation, but I embrace the fuzziness and use them to prioritize my short-term goal. If I run into something that seems fun, I map it to my long term goals to determine if I should do it or not.

On this time scale, I’d like for foss-north and foss-gbg, I want them to be more independent of me as an individual. To create more a role based setup and stable economical environment (currently the margins are super slim). If I can enjoy a foss-north conference as a visitor in 2030, I’ve achieved this.

For my Mbition work, I want us to reach multiple releases. The reason for the automotive industry to take on more responsibility for software is to increase the reusability. That is why it is key for Mbition to do multiple releases. Then we have proven that our existence makes sense.

For Kuro Studio, we want to continue doing start-ups, more partnerships, building a larger team, meeting more people, and doing more awesome stuff. Getting Kuro properly off the ground is very high on my list of priorities.

Another professional goal I have is to speak more at conferences and speak more about how open source is the way to do software. Transparency is the only way to ensure proper quality, maintainability, and trust – and what better way than open source is there to be transparent.

Since we’re on the really long-term goals part of this post, I’d also like to write another book. I’m not sure about the topic, nor when, but I would not consider myself a proper writer with only one title to my name.

Health wise, it is harder to set a more clear goal than staying healthy, which is what I intend to do. I’ll try to keep running and staying in reasonable shape. If I can still do 10km at a reasonable pace in 2029, when I turn 50, I’m happy.

Next Up

At the end of the day, these are goals and ambitions, not a roadmap for my life. Next up is fosdem. I hope to see you there!

Advent of Code 2019

My work does not involve that much coding any more. I probably spend more time doing email, attending meetings, and preparing presentations than anything else these days. Still, my fingers itch if I don’t get to write some code now and then.

This has resulted in small apps such as Mattemonster, where I pushed myself to get it into a presentable state so that I could publish it to Google Play. Any one with kids starting with maths should try the app – my son loves it!

It also results in me doing the Advent of Code for a third time in a row. It is a nice exercise in problem solving, basic data structures, and algorithms – something that I have way too few excuses to exercise with. I’m still frustrated with day 15 from last year. I also remember day 16 fondly.

This year I considered doing the AoC in Rust, to learn. But I ended up with Python to save time instead.

MX records…

As you might know, I’m a fan of federated services. I tried to promote this during foss-north with conf.tube and mastodon on the list (I’m @e8johan@mastodon.technology). I also got my own nextcloud instance up after much procrastination.

Now I decided to start shifting away from gmail. And I’ve been a gmail user since uni’. That is 15+ years, probably closer to 20.

I’ve also been a fond user of the send-as-another-email setup, basically living of mail forwards from various domains and using gmail as the all mighty source and destination for all mails (which enables great confusion when you pick the wrong identity). Well – no more of this (once my alternative setup is in place).

I’ve chosen to use fripost‘s services. The allow all that I want – custom domains, aliases, and so on, while doing this in a privacy based setup. The organization is an association rather than a normal company. This means that most of the work is done on voluntary basis. But, man, they are a helpful, friendly and skilled bunch. Right now we’re discussing SPF and DKIM setup, while I’m uncomfortably am fumbling around with DNS records. It will be great once I’m done.

And if I don’t reply to mail – I’m on vacation for a week, while moving to a new mail provides, so do resend that mail if I missed it ;-)

Change of Plans

TL;DR; foss-north IoT and Security Day has been cancelled, or at least indefinitely postponed, due to health reasons.

For the past three weeks (from August 11, to be exact) I have had a fever that I couldn’t really shake. At the same time my wife had pneumonia for which she was successfully treated. Antibiotics is treated with care in Sweden, so I basically waited for my CRP tests to return a high enough value for my doctor to be convinced that I had an infection.

On Friday 24th I got my first round of antibiotics. They did not help, so on the morning of the 27th I returned and got another, stronger, antibiotics. I was also told to go directly to ER if I got any worse. I did. On Thursday morning I landed in ER.

It turns out it was not pneumonia at all, but blood clots throughout my lungs – way too close to a proper game over for comfort. It took me four days to stop degrading, and six days before I could leave the hospital. Right now I’m on ordered rest for at least two weeks. Something I apparently need, as I’m super tired as soon as I do the smallest thing. Right now my exercise consists of walking around the block, ~400m, twice a day.

Hence, there is no way I can arrange the foss-north event planned in the end of October. I’d like to thank all the sponsors who signed up, and those which whom I postponed the meetings. I would also like to thank everyone who submitted talks – the line-up would have been amazing. Finally, I’d like to thank the friendly people who helped cancel everything – it really took a heavy load of my chest.

This is a hugely frustrating situation to me as an individual – I want to work and I want to run, but I guess it is time to slow down for a while and then come back stronger. There will be another foss-north, and I will run 10km trail under the hour. Just not this year.