Kieran Alexis

writer, engineer, developer, creator

I follow a wide variety of software / blockchain / ai related topics – for fintech, business and strategy, for education and knowledge as well as for creativity and expression.

The aims and goals of the original site remain writing about software, blockchain & computing with a wide remit. I only write about projects and topics of which I have direct knowledge. The site functions as a portfolio and a springboard for other ideas. I document my own journey into learning software and coding as well as infrastructure and development, and create helpful repositories of information as I go along. As much as anything, this helps me in my never ending learning. To talk about these subjects in a way that can be more easily understood – communication has always been a native component of my talent stack. The major projects I am involved with are Cardano, Zilliqa and Blockstack. I was aware of Bitcoin in 2009, but failed to act. Life had rather buried me for a few years, as it can, and it was only in very early 2018 that I realised I should have been paying more attention. However, I soon realised that coming into the space after the 2017 fomo was perhaps the very best thing.

Because of my affinity with Bockchain, I was able to cover the main overview topics and to start actually learning to code. I have an expanding collection of certificates and qualifications in the blockchain space, viewable in the gallery below. However, if you are needing to learn to code from the ground up, and have not had the experience of HTML, CSS & JS as your foundation, you will find that you need to really master the basics at some point. There is no way around this – and I think this is the reason there are so many script kiddies and not quite enough true coders. This is great news if you want to thrive in this space!



Stefan Mishook, Studioweb & learning the Full Stack

Full stack – as you can see, I’ve been busy working from the ground up with this great series of modular, foundational, full stack, front to back web developer package from Stefan Mishook.

It became clear to me that to move beyond my own self taught abilities, I would have to formalise the whole stack from front to back in order to be able to freelance in the space. You simply have to do the hard work and take it from the top, and this does take time. This is a daunting process, and there are so many avenues and teaching tools, and youtube channels – many of them free but offering deeper courses to buy.

What happened to me was that I was in at the deep end because of my understanding of blockchain, and I had got half way through Ivan’s JavaScript for blockchain course, and ground to a total halt. When the actual coding began, I knew I was out of my depth in terms of basic knowledge. The unavoidable truth of it was that I knew I had to start at the beginning, and although i had written my own websites in copy-paste HTML back in the late 1990s, I simply had massive holes in my knowledge that had to be filled by structured, slow, proper learning, This, I would not be able to do on my own. I looked at many courses, and Stefan’s was the clear stand out for me. Not only is is ridiculously cheap – partly because it’s a few years old [this is actually a very good thing] but also extremely detailed, modular, and includes a highly well thought out structure that allows you tofully comprehend what you are learning. It is all too easy to skim an understanding, only to forget it later. My goal is always to fully grok, and these courses really allow me to do that. Crucially, you get lifetime access to the courses and course materials, so you do not have to rush yourself. He also does many livestreams on youtube, which are great to watch – and a fantastic ongoing resource for both the beginner and advanced coder alike.

Haskell

Because of Cardano, now I want to learn Haskell in the long term.

My initial goal was to become familiar with the various native languages that different blockchain projects had created so that I would be able to work with smart contracts – Scilla by Zilliqa, Plutus from Cardano, Clarity from Blockstack (written in Rust). I am well on the way to being a specialist in this space – I have a couple of NFTs currently up for sale on Zilliqa chain, as well as. a detailed podcast Cardano Foundry exploring that ecosystem and it’s exciting launch into Goguen, which will be an important advance in blockchain tech in terms of on-chain assets – issuance and management and many other areas like mature stablecoins etc. Haskell allows precise mathematical contracts. JavaScript does not – and Ethereum’s Solidity, for example, has this flaw baked into it.

Learning To Code

I initially built simpatico crypto on the extremely limiting and rather disingenuous wordpress dot com platform [you have to start somewhere] and completed the migration to my own hosted space at SiteGround in mid 2020.

The site serves as a portfolio and a space to experiment with images, bespoke CSS, JS and PHP – customising templates etc.

The idea began with Simpatico.Crypto and Simpatico.Zil using Unstoppable Domains on IPFS – I wanted to build a brand for the crypto space that would allow me to write sense-making articles, which I was already doing on places like PublishOx, and as a way of starting my developer’s journey. As I progress in my Web Dev courses and various other explorations, and when I have something to say, I write it up in Signal To Noise.

New Podcast and Website

I’ve recently launched ‘Cardano Foundry – a website and monthly podcast. Because of my history in music technology, recording, editing and producing the audio is relatively easy – and with my new skills, I have been able to customise the classic TwentyTwentyOne WordPress theme into something that looks and feels a little different from the original. I intend to create templates myself, and as I work my way through the stack, I’m particularly looking forward to more PHP.

Code As A Whole

Seems to me that you’re not really interested in one code language unless you’re interested in them all. Of course, one needs to specialise to make a living, but I find that all the languages that we use to be fascinating. I did try and learn Basic in the early 80s on my ZX81, but although I did progress to a ZX Spectrum, and later used Atari 520ST and the 1040 for music sequencing, and then later in the 1990s using ClarisWorks to create and manage databases, writing my own websites in copy paste HTML before Dreamweaver was a thing, as well as all the industrial warehouse management software I’ve used in the many jobs I’ve had [not working in IT I stress, just as a lowly picker, packer or forklift or maintenance team in later years – I can mend anything tbh]. I remember computers ‘coming in’ in the mid 1980s in work environments, and in music promotions as typesetting went out and DTP came in – this was rare at first. People hated computers, so people like me were always put in front of them. Still, I never considered coding. I was too interested in music, which I did for way too many years.

I remember much later on [+/- 2015] having to clean and maintain various IT departments and chatting with those people and thinking if only I had time to learn all this stuff, because it’s easy to me. But it took me till 2020 to actually get the idea I really should be to learning to code, and Bitcoin Script was the first course I completed this year. Blockchain was the magnet that finally pulled me in.

I realised that I had to properly grasp the nettle when I found myself investigating, just for fun, how the machine code worked at the logic gate level back in 2017. From there, I could easily understand the basics of Boolean Logic, and how, in this way, many complex processes were boiled down to strings of 1 and 0 – and for me, this was a revelation.

Gates are an integral part of music technology – and I’ve always loved engineering – and if one already has the mindset of the engineer, software and hardware of all kinds is naturally attractive. It’s all the same, in a sense – figuring out how to mend a car, van or iPhone, or creating music with machines [or being a decorator, building, carpentry, 12 volt electrics etc etc etc] have more in common than you might think.

I’ve been taking things apart since I was a small child. And, later on in life, also putting them back together so they work. I came to realise [partly thanks to Scott Adams] that if I’d put a fraction of the effort I had put into music into learning to code, then I would have been far better off – but if I thought that way early on, I would never have been a techno rave party promoter and DJ – Generation X was never about the easy, safe path. But one system is like another, and the sprawling cambrian explosion of music technology was the perfect setup for the cambrian explosion of blockchain tech. I’m happiest when trying to get a vast sprawling system under control. I love that feeling and frustration of ‘not knowing’ as it turns, slowly, into mastery.

Reverse engineering is much of the battle. Why something does what it does can be revealed with enough effort of mind. Luckily I’ve been able to follow my heart and intellect into this vast computing landscape in which you never stop learning, and, tantalisingly, truth can be known.

Knowing truth is compelling. Art is nothing without craft. And craft is nothing without the slow grind of practice.


“Simpatico” – (of a person) – Having a compatible temperament or pleasing qualities. quotations ▼

From simpatia (“sympathy”)ultimately from Ancient Greek σῠμπᾰ́θειᾰ (sumpátheia, “sympathy”, literally “suffering together”).