Current Events Tampa Bay

August episodes from Tampa Bay’s tech podcasts

I thought I’d try a new feature for the end of each month: A listing of the month’s episodes from Tampa Bay tech podcasts! Here are the ones I know about, listed from newest podcast on the block, to one that’s been around for years.

Friends That Code

Friends that Code is the newest podcast on this list, and it’s hosted by Mike Traverso, whom locals may know from the Tampa Bay Google Developers Group meetup and other Google-y events. In this podcast, he showcases…

…some amazing people I know that just happen to write code for a living. Whether they started off intending to code or just happened into it, we get to hear about the types of people you’ll meet, things you’ll get to do, jobs you’ll have along the way, and advice from some awesome coders along the way!

Here are the episodes from August:

The Mike Dominick Show

The Mike Dominick Show is the second-newest of the podcasts in this list, and it has an open source focus.

Here are the episodes from August:

The 6 Figure Developer

At the time I’m writing this, The 6 Figure Developer — hosted by John Callway, Clayton Hunt, and Jon Ash — has posted 158 episodes. It’s…

…a show dedicated to helping developers to grow their career. Topics include Test Driven Development, Clean Code, Professionalism, Entrepreneurship, as well as the latest and greatest programming languages and concepts.

Here are the episodes from August:

  • Episode 158 – Project Tye with Glenn Condron
    Glenn is a Program Manager on the Application Platform team at Microsoft, where he spends most of his time working on the ASP.NET 5 core runtime. Before joining Microsoft Glenn was a developer in Australia where he worked on software for various government departments.
  • Episode 157 – BlazorCMS & SpeakerMeet
    This week we’re going to talk about some of our personal projects. I have been working on a CMS in Blazor and John has a site for Technology Speakers.
  • Episode 156 – Data Engineer Role with Dwight Goins
    Dwight is an industry luminary focused on Artificial Intelligence, Computer Vision, Machine Learning, Augmented and Mixed Reality, IOT, and Emerging User Experiences. He is the Chief Algorithm Officer of Thoth Speed Engineers, Senior Adviser to NEDD Tech Inc. as well as an Application Delivery Manager at JM Family Enterprises.
  • Episode 155 – Burnout & Change Mgmt with Rob Bogue
    Rob is a speaker, author, and consultant. As owner of Thor Projects, a premiere consulting organization in Indianapolis (Indiana), he helps clients make the complicated simple.

Thunder Nerds

Of the podcasts in this roundup, Thunder Nerds — “A conversation with the people behind the technology, that love what they do… and do tech good” — has been around the longest, with 271 episodes over five seasons to date. You’ve probably seen the hosts at local meetups and conferences; they’re Sarrah Vesselov, Frederick Philip Von Weiss, and Brian Hinton.

Here are the episodes from August:

  • 271: Getting Into Tech & Being a Developer Advocate with Sam Julien
    In this episode, we get to talk with Sam Julien, Sr. Developer Advocate Engineer at Auth0. We discuss what it’s like to get into the technology industry and dive into Sam’s personal journey. We also explore what it’s like being a developer advocate in today’s remote world.
  • 270: A Conversation About Design with Pablo Stanley
    In this episode, we get to speak with Design Leader, YouTuber, and Co-founder & CEO at Blush Pablo Stanley. We discuss the fundamentals of design thinking, and how to improve your craft. We also talk about Blush, and how it allows you to customize every piece of an illustration to create your own compositions.



“My code isn’t working” is a great problems-and-solutions flowchart for Python programmers

Tap to view at full size.

Dr. Martin Jones, the author behind the book and site Python for Biologists, has come up with a chart to help Python programmers when their code doesn’t work and they can’t figure out why.

He writes:

A few times a year, I have the job of teaching a bunch of people who have never written code before how to program from scratch. The nature of programming being what it is, the same error crop up every time in a very predictable pattern. I usually encourage my students to go through a step-by-step troubleshooting process when trying to fix misbehaving code, in which we go through these common errors one by one and see if they could be causing the problem. Today, I decided to finally write this troubleshooting process down and turn it into a flowchart in non-threatening colours.

Behold, the “my code isn’t working” step-by-step troubleshooting guide! Follow the arrows to find the likely cause of your problem – if the first thing you reach doesn’t work, then back up and try again.

It’s intended for programmers who are new to Python, but even experienced Pythonistas sometimes get distracted and stuck on simple things. I’m keeping a copy handy.

You can tap on the image above to view it at full size, and there’s also a printable PDF version as well.

[ Thanks to my UC Baseline classmate Daniel Jimenez for the find! ]

Current Events Tampa Bay

What’s happening in the Tampa Bay tech/entrepreneur/nerd scene (Week of Monday, August 31, 2020)

Once again, here’s the weekly list of events for events for Tampa Bay techies, entrepreneurs, and nerds. Every week, on and on the mailing list, I scour the announcements for events that are interesting to or useful for those of you who are building the future here in “The Other Bay Area, on The Other West Coast”.

This list covers events from Monday, August 31 through Sunday, September 6, 2020.

I’ve opted to list only those events that I can confirm are happening online. I’m not yet listing in-person events, as we’re still in the middle of a pandemic in one of the hardest-hit states in one of the hardest-hit countries in the world. We’re also seeing the mandated return of students to schools, which will likely  exacerbate the situation.

Events — especially virtual, online ones — can pop up at the last minute. I add them to the list as I find out about them. Come back and check this article from time to time, as you might find a new listing that wasn’t there before!

This week’s events

Monday, August 31

Tuesday, September 1

Wednesday, September 2

Thursday, September 3

Friday, September 4

Saturday, September 5

No tech, entrepreneur, or nerd online events have been posted…yet!

Sunday, September 6

No tech, entrepreneur, or nerd online events have been posted…yet!

Do you have any events or announcements that you’d like to see on this list?

Let me know at!

Join the mailing list!

If you’d like to get this list in your email inbox every week, enter your email address below. You’ll only be emailed once a week, and the email will contain this list, plus links to any interesting news, upcoming events, and tech articles.

Join the Tampa Bay Tech Events list and always be informed of what’s coming up in Tampa Bay!

What I’m Up To

Interview number 2

Tap to see the article about the previous interview.

This time, it was on Zoom, so I had more than one reason to dress up.

I think it went pretty well.

Programming What I’m Up To

A more Pythonic approach to one of my “Capture the Flag” solutions

In my article about the Capture the Flag at The Undercroft in which I recently participated, I wrote about my solution to this particular challenge:

Your answer lies in the 1’s and 0’s…

0010111 00001111 00010111, 00011001 00001111 10101 00000001 00010010 00000101 00010010 00001001 00000111 00001000 00010100

(Make sure to use the comma, and spaces correctly)

The first part of my solution was turning those numbers into a list. Copy the numbers into a text editor, stick 0b in front of each one, and then turn the sequence into a Python list:

Paste the list into a Python REPL and then display its contents to see the numbers in decimal:

The next step is to convert those numbers into letters. Once again, the Unicode/ASCII value for “A” is 65, so the trick is to add 64 to each number and convert the resulting number into a character.

Here’s how I did that:

I could’ve gone super-functional and done it in one line:

Tap to find out more about lambda functions in Python.

Between lambda and map(), there’s a whole lot of functional programming concepts to solve a relatively simple problem.

I could write a whole article — and I probably should — based on just that single line of code, but in the meantime, I thought I’d post an easier, more Pythonic solution.

This simpler solution uses good ol’ list comprehensions:

Most programming languages don’t have list comprehensions. In those languages, if you want to perform some operation on every item in an array, you use a mapping function, typically named map(), but sometimes collect() or select().

Hence my original solution with lambda and map() — it’s force of habit from working in JavaScript, Kotlin, Ruby, and Swift, which don’t have Python’s nifty list comprehensions.

Humor Security

I’ll admit it: This Facebook trick question impressed me.

Look at that stat: 87,672 shares. I wonder how many people posted an answer.

I should come up with a list of the other common security questions, cleverly re-phrased.

Tampa Bay What I’m Up To

My time at The Undercroft’s Capture the Flag

Photo credit: The Undercroft.

The final event of UC Baseline, The Undercroft’s cybersecurity training program, was the Capture the Flag competition, which took place last Friday morning.

In computing “Capture the Flag” events, the flag isn’t a physical one, but some kind of challenge. Sometimes, it’s something you need to retrieve from a program, website, or even a piece of hardware with an intentionally built-in vulnerability that you must exploit. Sometimes it’s a problem or puzzle you must solve. It may also be a trivia challenge.

Solving each challenge earns you a specified number of points, with the tougher challenges being worth more points. The player with the most points wins.

Since it wasn’t scheduled as a day of actual class — the last day of class was on Wednesday — I’d booked a doctor’s appointment for that morning. A plumbing problem also required me to be at home for a little bit.

By the bye, if you’re looking for a great plumber in Tampa, I highly recommend Joshua Tree Plumbing.

The challenges

Still, since most of the challenges were posted online and since I’d never participated in a CTF before, I decided to try anyway. I decided to treat my schedule as if it was a golfer’s handicap. Since some of the challenges were just questions where you’d either select an answer or type one in, I did them on my phone while waiting for the doctor.

In between a couple of car trips, I managed to eke out a little over an hour and a half of time in the CTF, so I think I placed rather well, all things considered:

Here’s a sampling of some of the challenges:

  • Who’s on 80? (300 points):
    Scan the host at (IP= and enumerate the service running on open port, 80.Use the following syntax for your answer: nmap [scan type] [ options] [target]
  • The Big Kahuna, part 1 (1200 points):
    Using the Linux OS and boot method of your choice (VM or live boot):Add the “Kali Linux Headless” Repository to your repository list. Download and install the Kali Tools Headless package to your Linux operating system. Get the Metasploit Framework running. Show one of the staff when you’re finished.
  • Don’t cross the streams! (500 points):
    An attacker got onto a machine and created a rogue user. Dig through the attached PCAP file and identify the rogue user.The flag is the user name. This flag IS case sensitive.
  • Execution is everything! (400 points):
    What are the four different execution policies for Powershell?

    • Restricted, Unrestricted, AllSigned, RemoteSigned
    • Unrestricted, Restricted, AllSigned, PartiallySigned
    • Restricted, Unrestricted, PartiallySigned, RemoteSigned
    • Unrestricted, Restricted, PartiallySigned, UnSigned
  • Pick these locks (a buttload of points):

A couple of Python solutions

I solved a couple of the challenges with Python, and I’m sharing them here (with the permission of the instructors, of course):

Are you sure? (200 points)

Your answer lies in the 1’s and 0’s…

0010111 00001111 00010111, 00011001 00001111 10101 00000001 00010010 00000101 00010010 00001001 00000111 00001000 00010100

(Make sure to use the comma, and spaces correctly)

My first instinct was to copy these numbers, into a text editor, stick 0b in front of each one, and then turn the sequence into a Python list:

I pasted the list into a Python REPL and then displayed its contents, to see the numbers in decimal:

All the numbers were between 1 and 26 inclusive, suggesting letters of the alphabet.

The ASCII/Unicode value for “A” is 65. If you offset the numbers by adding 64 to each, and then convert each number to a character, you should get the message:

Remembering the instructions to “use the comma, and spaces correctly,” the answer is:


The big kahuna part 2 (700 points)

Using the Linux OS and boot method of your choice (VM or live boot):

Create a folder. In that folder, create 100 directories that are uniquely named incrementally (ergo directory1, directory2, etc.). Inside each of those 100 directories, create 100 directories that are uniquely named incrementally. Inside each of those 100 directories, create 100 files named incrementally (file1, file2, file3, etc.). The contents of each file should include the lyrics to the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” by Julia Ward Howe.

When complete, show a staff member.

Cochise (artist’s conception).

This challenge is phrased in such a way that it could only have been written by our Linux instructor Cochise (pictured to the right).

Creating those 100 directories in Linux is a one-liner:

The rest of the task calls for some scripting.

I’m terrible at shell scripting. I’m perfectly comfortable with using the shell interactively, in that classic enter-a-line/get-a-response fashion. However, once I have to deal with those half-baked control structures, I tend to walk away and say “Forget this — I’m doing it in Python.”

Here’s a cleaned-up, easier to read version of my solution to the challenge. It assumes that there’s a file called battle.txt in the same directory, and that the file contains the lyrics to the Battle Hymn of the Republic:

I had a lot of fun on my first CTF, even if I got to take part in a fraction of it. I’ll have to join The Undercroft’s next one!