Tuesday, March 31, 2015

2015-03-31 Tuesday - Preparation: Areas of Focus

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
Benjamin Franklin

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.”
Abraham Lincoln

I have some time between client engagements - and want to make the best use of this time to do some deep dives into areas to "sharpen the saw" and strengthen my hands-on technical skills. I've put together the following weekly schedule as a guideline for areas in which I want to focus my time:

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's Addison-Wesley Professional 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 stencils...free 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 thoughts...as 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.