The cost of non-compete agreements

This story in the New York Times makes pretty horrible reading. In my optimism I thought that non-competes were on their way to oblivion but apparently that is not the case. States that fail to implement laws banning non-competes will eventually suffer the economic consequences – they need to wake up and fix this.

Here’s another piece from the NYT on the same subject.

Obtaining high quality Unity textures from image files

The default settings for image import in Unity produce poor quality textures, especially when the image contains text that needs to look good in the scene. To fix this, click on the image file (not the generated material file) to get the Import Settings inspector. Deselect Generate Mip Map and change Filter mode to Point (no filter). The result should look like that in the screen capture below and the material will update automatically.

Smart spaces and IoT data – the challenge is what to do with it

A while back I built some add-on cards for Raspberry Pis to do some environmental monitoring around the house. This is one of them.

The project starting collecting dust when I couldn’t really think of good ways of using the data, beyond triggering an alarm under some conditions or something. However, it’s often interesting just to see what’s going on around the place so I have revived the sensors (a good use for old first generation Pis). The screen capture shows a simple but actually quite effective way of using the data that’s being generated, providing a display that’s adjacent to the camera feed from a webcam on the same Pi. Between the two streams, you can get good confidence on what’s happening in the smart space.

One day, I’d like to get the HoloLens integrated with this so that I can see the data when I am in the smart space. That would be even more fun.

Speeding up Apache NiFi compilation

The normal way to build Apache NiFi from source on Linux is to use:

mvn -T C2.0 clean install

More info is here incidentally. One issue with this is that it also runs all the tests which gives rise to a couple of problems. One is that some of the tests take a while and slow down the build process. The other is that, should some arcane test in code that isn’t interesting fail, the build aborts. To avoid this, build with tests turned off:

mvn -T C2.0 clean install -Dmaven.test.skip=true

Saves quite a bit of time!

Developing Electron apps with Visual Studio Code

I have been trying out Electron as a way of developing some WebRTC apps to work with the Janus gateway. In the end I decided that Visual Studio Code was a good route to take for Javascript code development. One thing that wasn’t at all obvious though was how to get breakpoints to work. I found this blog entry that had the answer – no way I would have been able to work it out myself so go to that link for the original source (reproduced here for my convenience).

First thing is to install the Debugger for Chrome extension for VS Code – instructions are here. Then, the .vscode/launch.json file should look something like this:

  // Use IntelliSense to learn about possible Node.js debug attributes.
  // Hover to view descriptions of existing attributes.
  // For more information, visit:
  "version": "0.2.0",
  "configurations": [
      "type": "node",
      "request": "launch",
      "name": "Main Debug",
      "runtimeExecutable": "${workspaceRoot}/node_modules/.bin/electron",
      "windows": {
        "runtimeExecutable": "${workspaceRoot}/node_modules/.bin/electron.cmd"
      "program": "${workspaceRoot}/main.js",
      "protocol": "legacy"
      "name": "Renderer Debug",
      "type": "chrome",
      "request": "launch",
      "runtimeExecutable": "${workspaceRoot}/node_modules/.bin/electron",
      "runtimeArgs": [
      "sourceMaps": false

Using this launch file, to debug in the main process use Main Debug, to debug in the renderer process use Renderer Debug.

Interesting story about EMC and non-competes

It’s fun to Google “EMC non-competes” or something similar. EMC were well known for their scorched earth policy regarding non-competes as described in this old Fortune piece. I am curious to know how things are now that Dell owns EMC. Massachusetts seems in a complete mess with regards to non-competes, probably not helped by EMC’s influence. Apparently they have been trying for many years to come up with something that is still appalling for the victims…oops, employees (sorry 🙂 ). Don’t worry, there’s always California.