Lane is a Senior Software Engineer for ThreeWill. He is a strong technology expert with a focus on programming, network and hardware design, and requirements and capacity planning. He has an exceptional combination of technical and communication skills.
Find this Podcast “3D Printing and Provisioning SharePoint Solutions” on the ThreeWill Soundcloud, Stitcher, and iTunes.
Danny: Hello, this is Danny Ryan and welcome to the ThreeWill podcast. Picking up with my conversation that I had with Tommy. Our topics are going to be on people, process, and technology. This specific episode we’re going to focus in on a certain person and that person is Lane Goolsby. Lane, thanks for joining me.
Lane: How you doing?
Danny: Doing great. Doing great. This one, we’re going to cover a couple of different topics. One sort of picking back up with some personal stuff, if you don’t mind.
Lane: Not at all.
Danny: Then, maybe a quick overview of some of the stuff you’ve been working on project wise and some of the things that you’ve been learning recently. We’ll call this one catching up with Lane.
Lane: I’m sure the world is thrilled.
Danny: Angela can listen to it and say, “Oh, what’s he been up to?” Well, let’s just get this kicked off. I know you had mentioned that you’re starting to do some stuff with 3D printing. With 3D printing. Give me a little bit of back story on that. How did you get into that? Where are you right now? What are u doing with 3D printing?
Lane: The 3D printing story started off with me coming outside one evening and catching somebody trying to break into my wife’s truck. I’m a bit of a paranoid kind of guy, so the idea of having a third party home monitoring alarm system just doesn’t do a whole lot for me. I decided that I was going to roll my own. I went off and picked up a couple Raspberry Pi with some no infrared filtered cameras and Bluetooth and WiFi adapters and things like that. I’ve built this up with a Linux machine that’s running mosquito and some other cool little technology. These Raspberry Pi, when they’re sitting and powered on they’re using motion detection to detect when anything is going on in the hour or outside the house eventually. They’re recording and sending things to the Linux NAS server.
Then, the NAS server is either just keeping the logs locally, or if we’re not home, it’s shipping those out to Dropbox or some equivalent cloud based service. I haven’t quite decided on which one yet. I got into 3D printing because I was looking for enclosures for these raspberry Pi. Most of the enclosures I was finding had open ports for the GPIO sockets and the HDMI cards and things like that. They’re not really conducive to being outside in the elements.
I got to look at what it would take to make my own 3D printed enclosure that met those specifications that I wanted. I found ways to design and things like that and then send it out to third parties for printing. Then, I got to looking at the cost. It was about a hundred dollars more expensive just to buy my own 3D printer, then I’d have my own printer. It’s like when I go into the car dealership. I walk in looking at the base model Civic and the next thing I know I’m walking out with a high end Acura, which is pretty much what I did.
Danny: You fell to the up-sell.
Lane: Yes. I managed to reel it back a little bit. I didn’t quite go for the nine thousand dollar filament. Base ones are based off of UV light and things like that.
Danny: I can just see you talking to Angela. Angela, it’s for your safety sweetheart. I’m doing this for you. This is how much I love you.
Lane: You can never argue safety.
Danny: I’m investing in your safety. That’s what I’m doing.
Lane: You can never argue against safety. That’s right.
Danny: It’s to keep your wife safe.
Danny: I love it. I love it. You must love her a lot.
Lane: I do. I do.
Danny: You ended up with, I guess, the higher end, not the highest end. The higher end model.
Lane: Yeah. It’s a MakerBot clone. The MakerBot, you know everybody knows the MakerBot 3D printing, they’re kind of like, I don’t want to quite say the highest end, but they’re pretty high up there, but all of their hardware and software, for the most part, is open sourced. They open up for other people to do cloning off of them. This is the one I’ve got. It’s basically a MakerBot clone. It’s from a company called Flash Forge. I’ve been really happy with the printer so far. Only about a week into so far and most of the stuff that I’ve been printing has actually been things for the printer itself.
Danny: How meta.
Lane: Exactly. It’s quite meta. Just little things that make it just print a little bit better, but have done a couple of fairly complicated prints. We did an articulated robot. The first thing one we tried, it didn’t quite work out so well. My wife and I have actually named him slumpy because he-
Danny: I’ve seen pictures of slumpy and slumpy does slump.
Lane: Yes, he’s a little special, but he’s worked his way into our hearts as far as a piece of ABS plastic can.
Danny: Nice. Nice. That’s such a heartwarming story about a piece of plastic.
Lane: On a cold day with snow it’s good to have heartwarming stories, isn’t it?
Danny: Yeah. I know you guys can’t see this, but it’s snowing outside. I guess, in Atlanta, Georgia that’s a big deal. They haven’t shut down everything yet.
Lane: Not yet, but the day is early.
Danny: Yeah, the day is early, so who knows what’s going to happen from here.
Lane: That’s kind of where I am. Like I said, I’m only about a week into it right now, but I think this is one of those. You’ve heard about 3D printing for awhile now and a lot of people talked about it as the new wave. How everything is going to come to a point where instead of going to the store to buy something you’re going to just download a file, and send it to your printer, and it’s going to just print it right there. I don’t think the technology is quite there yet. I think it’s, the technology itself is pretty good. I’ve been impressed by how well it actually works right out of the box. I think it’s a matter of just finding ways to get the filaments. They’ve got filaments that have embedded stainless steel, and bronze, and wood. Even filaments that are like soft rubber, so you can take it. I’ve seen guys take them and squish them between their hands, so their hands are completely flat, and then open them back up and the thing just pops back into the same shape it was.
Lane: Really cool, but it’s still, I don’t want to say it’s in it’s infancy. It’s far from it’s infancy, but it’s definitely not quite prime time just yet, but as the filaments start to mature and they start to get more productive or versatile, absolutely. I think it’s going to be really slick what they can do with these someday.
Danny: You haven’t used it for your home brewing?
Lane: Not yet. I guess-
Danny: Do you see any places where it would help? I guess maybe spare parts.
Lane: Oh, absolutely. Things like clips for holding hoses in place or mounting sparge arms and things like that. Absolutely, I could use it. The ABS has a fairly high temperature range, but I don’t know how well it’s going to work standing over a the side of a boiling pot when you’re extruding the filaments. The ABS plastic, you’re extruding it somewhere around two hundred and thirty degrees Celsius, so it’s twice the boiling point, but I’m sure if it’s at over something hot enough long enough it would probably start to be more slumpy then.
Danny: Maybe slumpy can keep your beer cool or something. Make a little larger slumpy with his arms around in a hug and it can hug your beer.
Lane: There you go, there you go. Make like a little coozie out of him.
Danny: The slumpy coozie. It works. It works. Very cool. You said you don’t have any updates or you haven’t had any. You’ve been working on the 3D printer and nothing with the home brewing stuff recently.
Lane: Yeah, the 3D printer has kind of swirled me away from the home brewing now. I guess I’m now twelve weeks away from being complete.
Danny: Very nice. Give me an update. We’ll sort of switch over from the fun stuff to the not so fun stuff. No, to the project wise. What have you been working on recently? What’s, I guess, has been keeping you up at night recently? Just at a high level. What’s have you learned recently? Some of the things that you’re up to?
Lane: The project I’ve been working on recently, a company engaged us to take a product that they had been developing in SharePoint and find a way to package it so that it would be deploy-able in customer environments with the intention of using it like a product. Where you can download something, or get a CD from a company, click install and follow the bouncing ball. Then, it’s you got this product installed in SharePoint. I think one of the challenges that we’ve been facing with that is, and we’ve all fell trap to this. Every SharePoint developer has fallen trap to this at some point in their career if they’ve done it long enough. You got this rapid prototyping and rapid development model using SharePoint designer and tools like that, but then when it comes time to take it from a lower environment like a development environment or a QA environment, then trying to get that pushed through either just a company’s four stage environment of development staging QA development or like in a more complicated scenario, like with this customer, going through not only the lower stage environments to the point of getting to production, but also then having to deploy it in all the different customer environments.
That opens up for a lot of really unique challenges. You got to have a good solid process in place of doing the day to day development, and then getting that into some kind of environment where there’s source control or a TFS source control, or GitHub, or whatever the case, whatever your flavor of source control is, and getting that into a state from having it in that source controlled audited reputable environment. Then, getting it from there through the stages of testing and unit testing and whatnot. Then, getting it to also having it into a stage where you can deploy it in customer environments, which are completely different from what you’re local environments are going to be.
You can just count on that. You’ve got this particular service pack, with this particular cumulative update on your SharePoint forums. Then, you get to a customer environment and they may have something that’s drastically older or drastically newer. That causes additional issues. It causes heartburn. Then, you start talking about throwing into cloud environments, like Microsoft 365, or one of the many other third party hosting environments like, I’m not going to name names, but they’re using a cloud based services that specifies predominantly in project server, which is based on SharePoint. It does work, but it opens up unique challenges with trying to get that applied into the project server environment on top of the SharePoint stuff.
Lane: Oh, absolutely.
Danny: It seems like it could end up being a real mess.
Lane: This particular one, it had five different components. Three of those components have a little over, I think they’re a little over thirteen hundred files each.
Lane: We’re using the office dev PNP provisioning engine for the bulk of the provisioning work. The template file that has all five different site templates on it has just under sixty-five thousand lines of XML, so it’s massive. It is huge. Trying to keep all of that straight and trying to keep all of that in line and in the proper paths and everything else by hand is, it’s a super human task. I mean, there’s no way a single person or a team of people can keep all of that straight on a day to day basis. That’s why having, and this kind of goes with the people, process, technology. You can have all the technology you want, but if you don’t have a good process in place, you’re going to have a lot of heartburn and you’re going to have to buy stock in Tylenol because you’re going to take a lot of Aspirin.
Danny: Yeah, yeah.
Lane: That’s kind of the situation that this customer was in. They’ve got this big, massive application that, it’s well contained, but within it’s container it’s got a fair amount of sprawl to it and it’s got a lot of one off cases. It’s been a challenge to try to get the process defined around it that’s conducive to a day to day development using a SharePoint designer or whatever tool that they’re actually using. Then, trying to get all of that integrated into a pattern that’s repeatable and follows patterns and practices within the SharePoint world because we all know SharePoint’s got it idiosyncrasies. A lot of these guys on these teams are pure web developers. Some of them have only seen SharePoint. This is the first time they’ve used SharePoint. That’s been a challenge as well, is trying to get them to understand that when you work in the SharePoint world, for the most part it’s translatable, but there are definite idiosyncrasies that do not translate to the stage of web development world at all. It’s been eye opening I think for some of them just how the SharePoint world is unique and works.
Danny: Is this your first experience with the PNP stuff, or is this … Bad host. Bad host. Now, watch this, all of them. You got to listen to that. Everybody’s going, “What is that?” Okay, cut. All right. I’m going to slap my hand. Should’ve turned that off. Is it a first experience with PNP?
Lane: This is my second in depth experience with PNP. I think I’ve probably pushed it to the boundaries of what it can do.
Danny: You’ve seen the cliffs of the PNP.
Lane: I have seen the cliffs and I’ve actually had to scale a couple of them and fix them. There’s a couple of minor commits that I made out on the GitHub project to fix some of the bugs that I found.
Danny: Giving back.
Lane: Yeah. Sharing is caring.
Danny: Sharing is caring.
Lane: It’s been, like I said, it’s a sixty-five thousand line XML file that’s the template. Its got a ton of stuff in there. For the most part it’s just files that we’re uploading in there, but we’re doing other things with page layouts. We’re doing other things with activating features. One of the sites uses the publishing feature. That’s proved to be a bit problematic because the PNP engine doesn’t support publishing pages, at least not the version that I have. I’ve seen that it is coming. I’ve been watching the GitHub repository and I’ve seen that some of the work has been done on that within the last couple weeks. It wasn’t quite there yet. Since I’m still using the forked version of the core because of those bugs that I’ve faced I haven’t had a chance to go back and get it back onto the nougat latest stable yet. My bugs haven’t rolled into the main branch. I could if I had time.
Danny: If you weren’t doing podcasts with me you would have plenty of time to do it.
Lane: If I wasn’t doing podcasts and making malformed pieces of ABS plastic.
Danny: Yes. That’s also something else slowing you down. Hopefully the weather won’t slow you down today either.
Lane: Hopefully not.
Danny: You won’t be stuck in some place.
Lane: Luckily, I’ll be in a hotel room that’s about a block from here. I’ve got four wheel drive now, so I should be okay.
Danny: You should be just fine. Just fine.
Lane: After making it through a Michigan blizzard a couple months back, I think I can handle this.
Danny: Well, I’ll stop slowing you down now. I appreciate you taking the time just to share what’s going on. It’s always interesting to find out what your latest explorations are into. We’ll see what’s next.
Lane: Sounds good.
Danny: We’ll see what’s next. You almost have to have a, this is our quarterly update of what Lane is up to. What’s he got his hands into?
Lane: What kind of squirrel is Lane chasing up a tree now?
Danny: Okay, and you have to send me you’re, the picture of what’s it, squishy?
Danny: Slumpy. You’ll have to send me a picture of slumpy and I’ll put it up on the blog so people can actually see a picture of slumpy. Well, that’s it for now. I’m done slowing the man down. Folks want to come to ThreeWill.com, we’ll have the full transcript, and some show notes, and pictures of slumpy. Drop by there. Thank you everyone. Thank you Lane for taking the time to do this.
Lane: You’re welcome.
Danny: Thank you everybody for listening. Have a great day. Thanks so much. Bye bye.