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Buy, don't build vs. Build, don't buy

Engineers might be tempted to build when they can buy

Howdy 👋 

Welcome to the 2 new subscribers!

Last time I introduced the BAT 🦇 or “Bocce Analysis Tool” that I’m working on with Gina. I’ve made some progress learning Kivy, a Python GUI toolkit based on OpenGL (Open Source Graphics Library).

Today’s update includes:

  • 📺️ Bocce Broadcast Network updates

  • 🇺🇸 USBF Nationals at Highwood Bocce Club

  • 💵 Buy, don’t build vs. Build, don’t buy

  • 📈 New hobby to pay for hobbies

That third bullet has been floating in my mind for the past two years ever since a discussion with my brother in law, Ben.

📺️ Bocce Broadcast Network

BBN-MW (the MW is “midwest”) has taken significant time to get off the ground. I’ve probably put in 15-25 hours per week on the following tasks:

  • Ordering equipment & tracking expenses

  • Corralling commentators and button pushers via emails and texts

  • Planning and hosting a training session

  • Checking WiFi, power, and lighting at various locations

  • Communicating with expert, Michael, who started the BBN

  • Livestreaming at Third Space Brewing in Milwaukee, WI

  • Livestreaming at Pizza Lobo in Andersonville, Chicago, IL

  • Troubleshooting

  • Installing the livestream setup at Highwood Bocce Club

It’s been fun, but it has been a lot of work. My ultimate goal is to have 5-10 folks that are super jazzed about it that know all the ins and outs of the system so that I’m not the only one hooking up equipment and getting the software going.

One huge learning is that the 🍎 is rotten. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Macintosh that I’ve had since 2017 and the better one I have for work. But OBS (Open Broadcaster Software) works better on 🪟 Windows. The Mac really screwed the broadcast at Third Space Brewing (I had a setting wrong, but how was I to know that “hardware acceleration” would slow things down?). More on OBS (free app) in the 💵 section below — basically, you get what you pay for.

This leads into USBF Nationals.

🇺🇸 USBF Nationals at Highwood Bocce Club

A camera doing a pole dance

The USBF Nationals are from June 19th - June 24th and are hosted in Chicago at Highwood Bocce Club north of the city.

I’m playing on the “open B” day which is an open invite and USBF Open rules tournament. George, Sergio, Kurt, and I hope to kick some ass but we haven’t been practicing together so placement might be a miracle.

BBN Electronics

I took on installing the BBN setup at Highwood. There are 4 courts and in-between the center two courts are about 5 structural poles. My idea was to mount cameras on those poles and run the cables through the ceiling so it looks nice and pretty for Nationals. Secondly, I thought that the BBN-MW would be streaming at Highwood in the future, so it would be nice if the cables for the cameras are semi-permanent.

Knowing that running cables through the ceiling isn’t my area of expertise, I reached out to Tom H. at Highwood. Tom put me in contact with member Lou S. of media-designers.com. Lou was very generous and donated time to run the cables on Friday June 9th.

That was perfect timing for me to take time on Tuesday June 13th to mount cameras, hook up all the equipment, and do a dry run. Milan joined me partway through the day and we set up his system for streaming to the Highwood channel too.

On Sunday, June 18th, Michael will join me and we’ll get everything finalized for the week.

Here’s a small taste of the setup (video quality is degraded because I converted to a GIF).

Tom pointing one in

Subscribe to these channels on YouTube and plan to tune in:

💵 Buy, don’t build vs. Build, don’t buy

As an engineer, I love to build things. But as someone with limited time, I often wonder if my time is well spent.

I was contemplating this and chatting with my bro-in-law, Ben, about his thoughts. He’s a Solution Architect at Salesforce. His thought:

  • If you’re a startup with limited money to pay engineers to create something that doesn’t exist you should focus on the business itself and: Buy, don’t build

  • If you’re a large corporation with plenty of money need a product that does or does not already exist: Buy, don’t build

  • If you have the resources (engineers & money) and you really, really want to create something yourself: Build, don’t buy

Of course it isn’t a one-size-all approach. Ben was essentially encouraging me to buy technology and focus on the business side of things.

I don’t need to buy anything from Salesforce, but I’d never build my own CRM for example.

When it comes to bocce computer vision technology, I often wonder if I’d be better off raising cash and outsourcing the development to an overseas team that can make my dreams come true. I could specify the requirements and design, hold engineers / contractors accountable (I hope) and one day out would pop an automated scoring and stats system.

As counter to my engineering mindset as that seems, it might be what is best since my time is so limited and I’d actually rather play bocce than engineer stuff for bocce.

This came up recently at Third Space Brewing in Milwaukee, WI when I was [attempting] to make a quality livestream. We used OBS (Open Broadcaster Software), a free and open source software for interacting with video/audio sources and streaming to the internet.

The software didn’t have the proper default settings recognized for my Macbook. The stream looked choppy and was virtually impossible to watch. We took it down and I made an audio montage of Libby / Dustin’s “Sean woo counter” available here on YouTube.

Had we paid for professional streaming software, maybe we wouldn’t have run into this issue. I’m going to evaluate professional paid streaming software over the next few months and see what options might be better than OBS. Buy, don’t…use free software.

When we use the iPad streaming setup (fewer cables, faster to setup, etc.), we pay for Switcher Studio. The $25.99 is well worth it for a week’s access to the app. Buy, don’t…use free software.

Anyways, I’d never build my own streaming software. Maybe I shouldn’t build the BAT or computer vision software for bocce. You get what you pay for.

📈 New hobby to pay for hobbies

(and it’s relation to building and buying)

Hobby expenses are adding up. I need a hobby that makes money instead of costs money. Therefore, I’ve gotten into algorithmic stock trading because I’m always looking for a way to level up my finances.

At first, I used a broker’s Python API to code a strategy and place trades. Paper trading (virtual trading) led me to discover a number of bugs and edge cases. I wasn’t especially confident using real cash with the trading bot that I had coded.

I was building too much custom code. Is there anything I can buy?

I learned on Reddit that folks use TradingView charting app coupled with SignalStack to route orders to a broker. I was already using TradingView, so this seemed like a natural progression.

All you need is: TradingView → SignalStack → Broker

The nice thing about TradingView is that you can backtest your strategy with 10 years of data right in your web browser. And while SignalStack doesn’t have all the features I want, it is cheap per signal and it is reliable.

I paper traded a Trend Following Momentum strategy using these tools for a week on a short timeframe and it was super reliable.

I’ve now been running a bot on a longer timeframe with success for over half a month. The success is partly due to TSLA’s monstrous climb recently; my bot is playing that trend. I plan to stick with the strategy as tempting as it is to cash out before the bot does it for me.

If you are interested in chatting about this, please reach out. I’ve found it to be fun to learn with a good risk/reward profile.

That’s it folks. I hope to see you at USBF Nationals or I hope you see us on YouTube.

~Digital Dave

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