Monthly Archives: December, 2016

2016 Wrap Up and New Year’s Resolutions

2016 has been quite a year. I’ve continued progress on my Masters Degree in EE, covering classes on inertial, satellite, and integrated navigation, as well as digital signal processing and state space control systems. I started a new job in February at the coolest place in town which has given me the chance to write software and teach software classes. I’ve worked on a multitude of web applications in everything from .NET to MEAN stack. I’ve played around with a variety of side projects, including my Arc Reactor, BB-8, and File Encryption. And now I’m working on my first Virtual Reality application, a secret project for my company that I can’t wait to share! And if that’s not enough, I’ve put together a team that has been working on the NASA Space Robotics Challenge where we have been programming a virtual version of NASA’s R5 Valkyrie robot! I’ll be able to share more on that next month.

Moving forward, 2017 is going to be a blast. At the start of January I’ll be moving off of development work and begin leading a Cohort (team of interns). I’ve very excited for a chance to flex my project management and teaching muscles! I’ve only got 3 courses left for my Masters, which will wrap up in August. So close! I’m also taking on some extra work, web app development for a local company that needs some extra .NET skills. So I’ll be as busy as ever, but I wouldn’t be me if I said that was enough. No, I have to keep moving forward on my personal side projects as well, of course! So to that end, I’m setting myself up with a New Year’s Resolution for the first time in my life.

That resolution is to complete 4 robotics project in the year 2017. Those projects are as follows:

  • Complete BB-8
  • Finish putting together my mega 3D printer
  • Build a motion simulator (for racing games and such)
  • Construct a fully functioning Wrench outfit and mask, including Wrench Jr. robot
Wrench and Wrench Jr from Watch Dogs 2

Wrench and Wrench Jr from Watch Dogs 2

If I can knock those out, I’ll fell very accomplished for 2017 and I’ll have plenty of content to share on here. Here’s to making it happen.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to eat, drink, and be merry.

Happy New Year! See you in 2017!

NASA's R5 Valkyrie, New Year hat is my addition.

NASA’s R5 Valkyrie. New Year hat is my addition.

File Encryption/Decryption Anywhere

Imagine you need to transfer some sensitive material or confidential documents between computers. To make the scenario even more fun, lets say you are transferring between different operating systems as well. You throw those documents on a USB drive and off you go. Well what happens if you lose that drive? SOL, right? And you could encrypt the drive, but then it’s only accessible on the same machine that encrypted it.

This was a general scenario that I wanted find a solution to, and it gave me the opportunity to delve into the world of encryption. The result of my time on this is Mighty Encryptor (github link). It’s a small app that you store on the USB drive or other media, along side your sensitive data. The app will ingest your files or folder tree, compress and encrypt them into a single file, and require a password to reverse the process.

The final output of Mighty Encryptor is a single compressed and fully encrypted file. My goal was to have complete obfuscation and security of the original data, giving no possible hint as to what is contained within the secure file.

I have a bit more work to do on the app, but the base features are there. I’m writing the app in .NET Core so that it can be built for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Hopefully soon I’ll be able to wrap up a 1.0 release of Mighty Encryptor.

I plan to support compressing files either individually or using block level storage, which combines many files into a single stream of data and then compresses that block of data. This type of compression is more efficient when you have lots of small files, especially text documents. In fact, I’m even going to add the ability for the application to intelligently decide which compression method to choose for best compression.

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