Drones are hot right now, as a programmer which one should you buy?

The hottest “toy” on the market right now are drones and quadcopters but they are more than a toy to some people, they are a passion and a hobby. The technology has come a long way for the best quadcopters like those at DronJedi.com but what does that mean for us programmers?

The Parrot AR Drone is a RC Quadcopter with cameras that has the ability to be programmed any number of different ways. These amazing works of technology are enjoyed by hobbyists, tech lovers, and programmers alike. They even have competitions for people who program the Parrot AR Drone to show off against other teams of three. However, there are plenty of people who just enjoy the Parrot AR Drone just for the enjoyment of an outdoor activity.

How to Program a Parrot AR Drone

One way you can program a Parrot AR Drone is over Wi-Fi using AT commands. These commands are sent to the Parrot AR Drone as UDP or TCP packets. A UDP (User Datagram Protocol) is used to send one or more complete commands, if more than one command is contained within a packet, a new line byte is used to separate the commands. Strings are encoded in 8-bit ASCII characters and the maximum command length is 1024 characters.

Robot Apps

There are also apps that can be used to pilot and program the Parrot AR Drone. These apps include ARDroid which pilots your Parrot AR Drone using your Android phone, and AR.Drone AutoPylot from Python (or Matlab or C) which contains he source code for building stubbed AR.Drones allowing you to auto-pilot your Parrot AR Drone. There is also ARDrone Flight which is an application for Android which not only allows you to control your Parrot AR Drone, but also record video using the FFmpeg project. Another app is AR.Drone SDK for .NET which is an application for windows using complete SDK for AR.Drone for Microsoft.Net. This application is used for flying your Parrot AR Drone in Windows. There are of course many other applications that you can use for programming and flying your Parrot AR Drone.

SDK and Manuals

You can find many different SDK (Software Development Kits) and manuals for your Parrot AR Drone both online for download as well as in hobby shops and book stores. These SDKs and manuals will teach you how to personally program your Parrot AR Drone however you like without premade commands. This allows you to learn more about your Parrot AR Drone and also teaches you about the programming process and different commands. If you love technology and learning new things, this may be a route you will be interested in.

Conclusion

With many of the different programmable drones out there, there are numerous different ways for you to program your drone. Each drone programs differently and may use a different type of code. It is recommended that before buying your drone, you read as much information about it as possible and learn about the type of code it will take for you to personalize the programming. There are an endless number of SDKs and manuals available online for each drone that will provide you with vital programming information as well as information you may not know about your specific drone.

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Most Computer Projects are Built on Caffeine and Broken Dreams

broken-dreamsAs a computer programmer, I can tell you that there are two things that lay down the foundation for all major computer projects.

Caffeine and broken dreams.

Any program that has been in the business for any amount of time will tell you the exact same thing.

Sure, programming takes a lot of insider knowledge, experience, and a bit of understanding as to how computers communicate with one another and what code will and will not do. But don’t let anyone trick you into thinking that there’s anything more important to programming then caffeine and broken dreams.

How broken dreams led me to computer programming in the first place

When I first got into computer programming, it wasn’t because I had dreams of creating the “next big thing” that would change the face of technology forever.

Heck, I didn’t even want to have to learn how to code!

In fact, I had always had aspirations of becoming a big-time finance guru, some businessman sitting up in an office somewhere delegating tasks and making wheelbarrows full of money before lunchtime.

But that career trajectory changed when I finally got fed up and frustrated with a program that I was using, program that was supposed to behave a certain way and just flat out refused to.

I tried absolutely everything I could to get that program to behave the way I wanted it to, but it fought me every single step of the way. I thought about how if it would only do one thing differently, the entire program would be a completely set of tools that everyone could take advantage of – and then I thought, why don’t I make that change?

Well, I learned how to code and made the change and released the program to the world at large – and it promptly fell flat on its face. Apparently, not everyone was as excited or as enthused as I was about the fix I had made.

That broken dream push me deeper and deeper into the world of programming and then I could have ever imagined, and made me want to fix real problems that people all over the world are dealing with – problems that only programming could solve!

Bad coffee is still coffee…which means it’s good coffee!

Caffeine (usually in the form of the nastiest, sludgiest, blackest coffee you’ve ever seen) is the only way that I can get through major programming projects.

Without high quality caffeine pumped directly into my system on a half hour basis, I’d never be able to slam through the sheer volume of code I need to if I have any plans of getting a project in under a deadline.

I’ve tried just about everything else imaginable to get this kind of stuff done without having to result to that black liquid goddess, but time after time everything else falls well short while she keeps bringing the “good stuff” night in and night out.

I prefer mine just as jet black as it gets, but if you decide to full around with a little bit of cream and an even smaller amount of sugar nobody would begrudge you.

But if your backs against the wall on a project, reach for a familiar cup of Joe and see what miracles you can pull off.

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How computer programming can kill you – and what I do to prevent that

computer-programmerAs a computer programmer, I have a little bit of a tendency to look at the “tiny little details” of things probably much more than I should.

When I’m working on a project that’s not such a bad thing, as I’m able to fly through chunks and chunks of code without missing a beat and correcting almost all of the errors and issues on just a couple of passes.

When I’m researching things about how to improve my health, or whether or not my job as a computer programmer is killing me, it’s not so handy. I usually up as a researching absolutely everything and become a borderline hypochondriac and start to freak out about implementing new habits and routines to protect myself and improve my health.

Because, believe it or not, becoming a computer programmer can actually kill you – and it’s entirely your own fault.

Sitting down can be just as bad as smoking

People (including me) were understandably shocked, upset, and at the same time absolutely blown away when the recent research published by number of leading universities stated that sitting down for extended periods of time each and every day can be at least as dangerous to our long term health as smoking multiple packs of cigarettes every week.

Think about that for a second.

Sitting down on your hind end for hours and hours at a stretch (you know, maybe like, when you’re writing code or something?) can be WORSE for your body and your long term health then sucking down a box of cancer sticks every couple of days.

But it’s true.

At the very least you should invest in something like an electronic massage chair in order to keep your muscles and body active whilst sitting down. Some of the best massage chairs are truly fantastic pieces of equipment, check out specialtymassagechairs.

“You sit that close to the screen and you’ll burn your eyes out”

And as if that wasn’t enough to completely freak you out (and it probably should be), your mother or grandmother may have been right when they told you that sitting that close to a screen is going to burn your eyes out.

Now, your eyes probably aren’t going to start leaking out of your head like that scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark – but you never know.

What we do know is that long-term exposure to computer monitors, computer screens, and other modern devices can do some very real and serious damage to our eyesight.

There are a couple of different things we can do to make sure that we manage and mitigate these issues as computer programmers without throwing our computer out the window and sticking to typewriters.

Here’s what my daily routine looks like now

Now I spent a couple of hours in front of a computer screen programming away, but I break those hours into major project chunks (say an hour or so of work) followed by a quick hike.

Whether that means I pile into my car and head out onto a trail with my brand-new hiking boots or just strap those bad boys to my feet and head out on an adventure in the neighbourhood makes little difference – it’s getting up and moving around instead of planting my rear on a seat that’s important.

On top of that, I’ve learned to use a couple of eyesight exercises that I picked up online to make sure that I don’t fry my eyeballs out while working.

So far, so good!

I’d encourage you to try at least both of these different tactics out if you are a computer programmer, and especially tell you that you need to spend some time hiking out in nature. Grab yourself a great pair of boots (you can find reviews online) and get lost for a little while – you’ll come back to each project with more energy than you could believe and you’ll be saving your life in the process!

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How I Use DJ Software to Play at Parties

dj-softwareAs a computer programmer, a lot of people naturally assume I’m an introvert. Of course, this is often the case with people in my profession. At times, it can really pay to have the ability to focus solely on the job at hand and not get distracted by the outside world. But the truth is that I’m actually a DJ who uses software and my laptop to play at parties all over my city.

iTunes

I got started DJing at my own party. It just seemed like a natural solution to the dilemma that I needed someone to stay in charge of the music. So I hooked my Apple laptop up to some JBL speakers and simply played music through my iTunes.

It became my entry point into DJing when people would approach me about playing their favorite songs. If I didn’t already own it, I had to go on YouTube to find their tunes. After all, it was my party and I wanted to keep the guests happy.

Toward the end of the night, I was actually really enjoying myself. In fact, maybe I am a bit of introvert after all, because I began enjoying the time behind my computer more than being in front of my guests.

Mixcraft 6 Home Studio

After that first experience, I began looking into software I could download that would give me a better handle on the actual production of the music at my parties. There are a lot of options out there, let me tell you.

Fortunately, I found Mixcraft 6 Home Studio. This piece of software had enough positive reviews that I felt I could trust its quality. At the same time, the price tag was only like $30, so worst case scenario, I wouldn’t be breaking the bank.

Mixcraft is great because it allows you to play any songs you like, just like through iTunes. However, you can do different things to mess with their tempo, the bass, etc., just like a real DJ would.

You can also record your own tracks as Mixcraft will store up to 16 of them at once. So for that first party, I made six of my own. With over 2,000 loops and effects to choose from, it became pretty easy to customize any track I wanted too.

Fruityloops

Now that I’m a little more experienced with DJing and making music, I spend a lot more time working with a software called Fruityloops. It may sound like a funny name, but this is the same software that professional DJs use all over the world. Plus, it’s been around for well over a decade.

With Fruityloops, you can build any track you want from the ground up. Furthermore, there is countless software out there that works in tandem with it, so you never run out of options in terms of sound.

I have to say that my experience as a computer programmer makes it easier to learn a lot of these softwares, but they’re also made to be user-friendly. So if you want to DJ too, I’d just follow the path I laid out for you here. Be patient and you’ll see results.

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Kodak to Sell Most of its Consumer Printing Business

color photosThe once dominant and worldwide photography firm Kodak hopes to sell most of its consumer and document imaging businesses that made it so famous many years ago. The company is desperately trying to emerge from bankruptcy and needs to raise as much as $700million in order to pay off its creditors.

Kodak hoped that its patent sale would cover the figure however this has not materialised which has led to it sacrificing the consumer part of its business. This will be a sad thing to see but is all too common in the declining consumer printing industry. The emergence of social networks such as Facebook has led to more and more people sharing their photos online rather than utilising firms such as Kodak to print them off.

These sales would mean big changes for Kodak with much less focus on consumer and retail and more attention to commercial printing. Kodak believes the commercial printing industry is strong and by investing more in this area they can emerge from bankruptcy.

Chief Executive Antonio Perez will not reveal the value of the businesses to be sold however it is expected to be a sizeable amount and would almost certainly save the struggling firm from liquidation.

Article by Larry Osburn of www.cheapcolorcopies.org and www.colorlabelprinter.org

Image(s): FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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