Saturday, March 28, 2015

2015-03-28 Saturday - Dev Lab Updates

This weekend I'm going through and updating a number of tools in my Dev Lab environment (Windows 7):

I've also added a few new things:

Friday, March 27, 2015

2015-03-27 Friday - Book Review: Learn Ruby the Hard Way, Third Edition

The good folks at Pearson Educational have provided me a copy of Zed Shaw's book to review - that came out in December, Learn Ruby the Hard Way, Third Edition.

I'm enjoying working my way through the book - and particularly liked the subtitle: "A Simple and Idiomatic Introduction to the Imaginative World of Computational Thinking with Code"

The book is __jammed!__ with hands-on exercises (count'em: 52 exercises) - that are brief, direct, succinct - and move the ball constantly forward in terms of raising the readers technical skill with Ruby.

Often a reader will focus solely on the chapters of a book, and ignore the Appendix. That would be a mistake with this book.  Zed has provided some very useful exercises to guide the reader through learning the Command Line tools - with a good reinforcing teaching pattern of "Do this...You Learned This...Do more...")

Zed's writing is direct, pragmatic, and focuses on transferring working knowledge of the Ruby language.

Friday, March 13, 2015

2015-03-13 Friday - Omnigraffle Stencils for Software/Architecture Design

Some useful resources I've found:
...some useful stencils, worth checking back on this query from time-to-time
..some useful membership limits you to downloading one stencil per month
...not quite as robust/diverse a collection as I had hoped

Saturday, March 07, 2015

2015-03-07 Saturday - 10 Ways Windows is Better Than OS X

For the last 7 weeks I've been working on a very nice new Apple  MacBook Air, loaded with OS X (Yosemite) on a new client engagement.  Although I've been a long-time user of Microsoft Windows (since 1.0) - I do feel equally comfortable working in desktop variants of Linux.

The move to OS X was bumpy for a few days - as I got acclimated to the navigation differences, learning new keyboard shortcuts for frequently performed actions, and learning the various tools available in OS X.

Two possible books (both by David Pogue) that I would suggest for anyone making a move from a Microsoft Windows machine to an   OS X environment:

I am mostly neutral when it comes to any given technology - and as a consultant - I must adapt quickly to any client's environment. I am also motivated to learn new technologies and tools - as that makes me more valuable to my clients - and it is an ingrained part of my geek DNA.

Having said all of that, I have come to the conclusion that there are some things that Microsoft Windows just does better, and this post is place for me to collect and organize those they come to me over time...perhaps I will have less than 10 entries in this list...or perhaps more...time will tell.  

[For the rabid zealot pedantic Apple fan-boy extremist reading this, I would invite you to enable the humor chip in your brain as you continue from this point onward...]

Let's begin....

  • #1 - Screen Dragging: I love the painless way that I can simply drag an application's window in Microsoft Windows from one monitor to another.  Windows simply stays out of my way - and allows me to do what I want to do. The user experience in OS X is as if the designer had an ulterior motive of making life difficult for the user.  The phrase, "Three Questions" came to mind as I explored this bit of OS trickery.  Perhaps the designer was angry (perhaps had an argument with their spouse before coming to work?) the day they were designing the restrictions on how you can (or can not) move windows between screens...or they simply hated their boss. One might even wonder if it was a possible agent-saboteur intentional design flaw? One may never know...
  • #2 - File Explorer: In OS X, Finder is like an emotionally damaged version of Windows Explorer (with latent passive-aggressive tendencies).  One never truly appreciates and realizes the sweeping joy that is Windows File Explorer, until forced to embrace the 5 Stages of Grief that Finder inflicts upon you. Whose bright idea was it to think that  a semantically meaningful cue to renaming a file was the [enter key]? It is the least intuitive thing I've encountered in the world of OS X. 
  • #3 Screen Lock: Good Lord! What a simple, common, and easy task in Windows ([Windows Logo Key] + L).  I'm still looking for an equivalently easy way to lock the screen in OS X.
  • #4 File Deletion. Oh Windows Delete Key, let me sing thy joyful praises! OS X? Not so much (more like "weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth"). There seems to have been some seriously schizophrenic breakdowns in the concept of how to consistently implement the file deletion metaphor - depending on what application you are using within OS X...and whether the designer was on (or off) their meds.
  • #5 Browser Tab Relocation. In Windows, I can easily grab a browser tab and drag it to a different monitor. Enough said.

I would note for the benefit of the gentle reader that I am now comfortable working in OS X - and my productivity level is probably close to 90% of my productivity working in the more familiar Microsoft Windows environment.  I'm keeping an open mind as my "experiment" continues...but I have not yet had any major epiphany that would induce me to personally buy an Apple OS X laptop to replace my primary Windows machine. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

2015-02-24 Tuesday - Seattle AWS Architects and Engineers meetup

Tonight I attended a presentation organized by the Seattle AWS Architects and Engineers meetup group:

Rob Cummings (Operations Group Manager, with Nordstrom) discussed the AWS adoption within the Nordstrom enterprise - and the organizational change management and cultural shifts involved.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

2015-02-15 Sunday - Sony VAIO VPCF23BFX/B SSD Upgrade

Last night I decided to bite the bullet and upgrade my Sony VAIO VPCF23BFX/B laptop with an SSD.  The Sony support site was less than useless...

As part of my research, I relied on the SSD section of Tom's Guide - and in particular, the recent article: Best SSDs for the Money, January 2015

My existing OEM HDD was a 640GB, 7200 RPM, Toshiba HDD2E81 MK6461GSY

I decided to go with a Patriot Ignite 480GB SATA 3 2.5 (7mm height) Solid State Drive-With Transfer Speeds of Up-To 560 MB/s read, 545 MB/s write. For simple convenience, I decided to get my unit at a local Fry's Electronics...although Amazon's price today would have been a bit better ($199.99).

The Patriot 960GB SSD was also a consideration ($547.99) - but as this laptop may become a secondary machine later this year - I'm looking at this as an interim experiment.

For cloning the original HDD, I decided to go with the Corsair SSD Hard Drive Cloning Kit (listed for $22.69 on Amazon today)

Removing the HDD was a simple process of removing the 8 screws:

  • [2] screws securing the HDD drive bay plate (on the bottom of the laptop)
  • [2] securing the HDD caddy
  • [4] securing the HDD to the caddy

For those unsure of just how to replace the HDD in their laptop, these two articles [link #1, link #2] may be of interest.

During the cloning process, I selected the advanced option to perform verification - which may have significantly increased the time it took to clone the HDD drive (~2.5 hours).

Overall, this was a painless exercise, and I am very pleased with the speed improvements. Booting Windows now seems to take about 25 seconds, and after login - my system is ready for work within 3-5 seconds (previously, with the HDD, this start-up phase... might take several minutes).

Another option I may consider in the future - a 2nd HDD SSD caddy using the laptop's optical drive bay

Sunday, February 01, 2015

2015-02-01 Sunday - Microservices

The Seattle Java Users Group (Seajug) mailing list recently included a link that may be of interest to folks who wish to learn more about microservices...

And, you may be interested in reading the article by Martin Fowler and James Lewis (from March 25, 2014)

While attending QCon and Strange Loop conferences last year, I noted microservices were certainly garnering a large percentage of mind-share in the various scheduled sessions...

In my own consulting work, I have recently started working with a new client that uses RESTful services exclusively in their architecture (no classical Service Bus) - and most of which I would certainly consider classifying as microservices. This is quite a change from my last two client engagements (over the last 5 years) - who were strong adopters of the classical Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) - with heavyweight canonical message models.