Ben Soyka

Making new places more fun

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Photo: Groundspeak Inc. (dba Geocaching)
Full Disclosure: The author is not partnered with or sponsored by any business mentioned in this article.

Moving to or visiting a new place in the world can be really difficult, especially since you won’t really know your way around. Even if you’ve lived somewhere for years, it’s still a great idea to get out of the house and explore your community!

Find a geocache or two

In case you’ve never heard of it, I like to describe Geocaching as a worldwide treasure hunt. There are millions of containers called geocaches hidden around the world, waiting to be found. All you need to do is download the free Geocaching app and go find them. …


A sneak peek at the new GitHub Codespaces beta

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Animation by GitHub.

Earlier this year, GitHub announced a few new features during its Satellite 2020 event to help developers across the globe. One of these new features is Codespaces, which GitHub calls “your instant dev environment.”

The goal of Codespaces is to allow anyone to instantly start up a dev environment so they can contribute to any project right away, with all the necessary tools and dependencies set up and ready to use.

“Codespaces is an online development environment, hosted by GitHub and powered by Visual Studio Code, that allows you to develop entirely in the cloud.” — GitHub

After recently receiving access to the limited beta, I’ve tested out this fun new way to code and I’m happy to say it works wonderfully. …


It takes some effort but it’s totally worth it

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Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng on Unsplash

Starting a completely new open-source project is a lot of work, but it’s much easier once you know the basics, and it’s 100% worth the effort.

This article aims to teach you everything there is to know about starting and maintaining an open-source project, but it is not focused on the programming aspect. Rather, you will learn everything from getting contributors for your project to maintaining it over time.

Why Open Source?

First of all, why should you even share your project’s source code in the first place? There are many benefits to open-sourcing your project!

Working together

Great minds think alike, and the only way to attract those great minds is to share your work rather than keeping it under lock and key. …


Using Python, ngrok, and a batch file to wrap everything up

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Photo: Florian Krumm

When I’m developing a website on my PC, I like to be able to test out the design on multiple devices — occasionally sharing it live with people around the world.

Recently, I developed a simple batch script to do two things: start an HTTP server and open up a tunnel to the server so anyone on the internet can access it.

Prerequisites

There are a few things you’ll need to have set up before starting your HTTP server:

Windows PC

The main code in this article is made in a DOS batch (.bat) file, which is only available on PCs.

Python 2 or 3

Python will be used to start the server on your localhost. You can use either Python 2.x or Python 3.x. You’ll also need to make sure it’s added to your PATH when you install it. …


Easy-to-follow instructions

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Photo: Alice Donovan Rouse

As a Windows user, you’ll often find the need to add executables and other files to your system PATH. This means you can access them from any location in the command prompt.

Often, program installers will do this for you. For example, the Python installer has a checkbox to add Python to your PATH variable automatically.

In the case you need to manually add to your PATH, here are some simple instructions:

Make/find a folder

You can’t directly add files to the PATH variable, only folders. So, start off by finding the folder where your file is located.

If you simply downloaded the file, it’s recommended that you make a folder in another location such as your Documents folder. …


Exciting announcements from the first virtual GitHub Satellite event

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Photo by Caleb White on Unsplash.

Just recently, GitHub ran its first-ever virtual GitHub Satellite event. Thousands of people tuned in for the day of live-streaming that featured a keynote, live-coded music, and more.

At the start of the day, GitHub announced a few new features coming soon to the platform, including a live web-based development environment. These new features are sure to change the way we make open-source happen in the future.

Codespaces

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Codespaces environment in a web browser — Photo from GitHub Blog.

Setting up a development environment is often difficult, but GitHub is testing out a solution. …


You don’t have to be a programmer to know

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Photo by Matthew T Rader on Unsplash

Open source software is software that anyone can inspect, change, and share with others.

Code is the part of a program that most users don’t have to see. It shows how the program functions, like a recipe.

When someone makes their code open source, they are letting anyone take a look at it and make changes.

What’s the difference from other types of software?

Some other software is more restricted. This is typically called proprietary or closed-source software.

A couple examples of this are Microsoft Word and Adobe Photoshop. …


What gives the famous popping candy its signature pop?

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Photo by Evan-Amos on Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

Pop Rocks (a common brand of popping candy) are a unique candy that pops when you put them in your mouth. They taste great and they’re pretty fun to eat.

The interesting candy was first offered to the public in 1975, and people of all ages have been popping them into their mouths ever since.

How Pop Rocks work

Pop Rocks are made with an interesting patented process developed by William A. Mitchell, who also played a part in creating other food/drink brands such as Cool-Whip, quick-set Jell-O, and Tang.

The candy starts off almost like any other hard candy — a mixture of sugar, lactose, corn syrup, water, and colors/flavoring. …


We use touchscreens almost every single day, but what makes them work?

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Photo: James Baldwin / Unsplash

In 2019 alone, an estimated 4.1 billion people used the Internet. That means at least that many people used a screen last year. Not everyone used a touchscreen to do it, but many did.

There are two main types of touch screens: resistive touchscreens and capacitive touchscreens.

Resistive touchscreens

This kind of screen uses two different layers. The top layer is made of plastic with many thin horizontal strips of a conductive material. The bottom layer is mostly the same, except it has vertical strips of conductive material.

When you press down on the screen, the two layers touch, causing some strips on each layer to meet each other. This allows electricity to flow between them. …


In fact, now’s the perfect time

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Photo: Free-Photos/Pixabay/Pixabay License

Only knowing one or two programming languages or skills can get pretty boring after a while. Maybe you should consider learning something new, especially if you’re stuck at home due to COVID-19.

For example, if you only know and love Python, maybe you should try out some HTML and CSS. If you’ve never even tried coding before, try it! It’s always good to learn something new.

Why?

You’re probably asking, “Why should I take the time to learn another language?” Or maybe, “Why is this even important?”

A better-looking resume

Another programming language will always look good on a resume, especially if you’re fluent in it. …

About

Ben Soyka

A technology-loving student writing Medium articles and computer programs. See more at bsoyka.me and fb.me/bsoykawrites

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