Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Go faster!

Recently, a development group came to us and wanted to know how they could "go faster". Their users were demanding more and more changes, and they were having trouble keeping up. "Go faster", an interesting choice of words. Immediately I thought of a race car driver.

If I wanted to drive a car fast, what would I need? The first thing I thought of was a fast car. If I want to go fast, I'm going to need a car that can do it. What are some of the fastest cars out there? Indy cars are pretty fast, but I wouldn't have a clue how to drive one of them. So I guess I need to have knowledge to drive the car fast. I'm also going to need experience. The first time I drove a car, I wasn't driving on the highway during rush hour. I worked up to it. Alright, I got a fast car, I know how to drive it, and I have the experience to drive it fast. What else do I need? A race track would be good. I'm not going to go 200 mph around my neighborhood, nor would I want to go that fast on a dirt road.

So Car + Knowledge + Experience + Road = Fast.

What does that have to do with software development? A car is essentially a tool. When developing software, we use an IDE, build scripts, source control, and all sorts of other tools. We need to understand the problem that needs to be solved and the language we are going to use to solve it. Having a good understanding of development best practices and good software design comes with experience. Having a good process (path to follow) makes getting high quality code out the door so much easier.

So Toolset + Knowledge + Experience + Process = Fast.

There are some other interesting things to note about this analogy. You need all four things; otherwise, this equation does not work. I could be the most experienced driver on a race track, but my go kart just isn't going to win the race. I could have the fastest car, but without the knowledge and experience to drive it, I'm going to crash and burn. Likewise, if I have the car and the know-how, but I'm trying to go fast on a road littered with potholes, I'm going to have to slow down or I'll lose control.

This is true for software development, too. Not having the best toolset can really slow down even the most seasoned developer. If a newbie is handed the best development tools in the most organized environment, the lack of knowledge and experience is going to slow them down. Finally, a poor process is either going to slow down a project or completely derail it.

Happy driving.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

All My Eggs Are Securely in One Basket

All hail Google, the new supreme overlord.

So, I've been using Gmail for a while and I've really enjoyed it. My preferred window navigator is avant-window-navigator. I use Google Reader and Google Calender for my RSSing and calendering. This blog is hosted by Blogger. I'm creating a website using Google Sites. I love playing with Google Earth and SketchUp. I've experimented with Chrome. I belong to Google Groups. I use Google Maps for my directions, and YouTube for my distractions. And just this weekend, I got a phone with android installed on it.

All of the above is created/owned/developed/maintained by Google. Well I guess I'm going to have to use Picasa for managing my photos now.

So am I a Google fanboy, or has Google just managed to infiltrate all aspects of my tech life? I do think they put out some quality applications, but is it a good idea to rely on one company for so much? Is Google the new Microsoft? The answer to these questions are as follows:

Both; I willingly drank the kool-aid.
Probably not, but it's Google, and they don't do anything evil.
Yes, and I don't care as long as I get to keep using android.

So bow down now. Resistence is futile.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


This is a chart of my comic collection by publisher.

Friday, July 3, 2009


Happy Forth of July everyone. Here's my top 4 reason I love the USA.
  1. Melting Pot. In my life, I have met people from all over the world, and I have eaten all types of food, and the only foreign country I've been to is Canada. That's right. Michigan has a lot of diversity, and I can't imagine what places like LA or New York or like. It's a great thing that I have the opportunity to experience so much so close to my home.
  2. Freedom of Speech. Let's just say I like to speak my mind. I love that I don't have to fear speaking out, or up, or down ;)
  3. Freedom of Religion. My views may be different than yours, but that's cool. We can all tolerate each other beliefs, right? I sure hope so, and everyone I hang around with is cool with it.
  4. Voting. I've got a say in what goes on. That's awesome.
Happy birthday USA.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Congrats John and Chrissy

Anna, Kristen, and I drove up to Port Huron for John and Chrissy's Wedding. The car ride there was nice. I love long car rides where the conversation hides the static from the radio station that you no longer get, and you never really notice. With good company and conversation, car rides (my least favorite thing about vacations) seem so much shorter.

We got to the reception about an hour early, and we had time to check out a local brew pub. I tried eight different beers, but nothing too special. One of the eight was a Miabock. I never had that style before. It was probably my favorite out of the bunch. Good thing Anna and Kristen were there to help me through the eight "samples".

We got to the reception right on time. I sat with a bunch of co-workers. It was fun to hang around all of them, and we never even talked shop. It's nice to hang around friends and not talk about work, especially when you're out of town.

The reception was so much fun. I cannot remember when I danced that much. I'm not sure how good I was. My dancing philosophy is just don't stop moving. Well, I didn't stop moving; I think I hurt myself. Besides dancing, the night included good food, one incredibly good pepper (that's right Pete, it was delicious), fireworks, a bunch of boats, and a lot of comics talk.

We were not planning on spending the night, but we were having so much fun that we lost track of time. It was about 1:00 am when we left the reception. We thought about driving home, but decided that we were all too tired to drive. Got up the next morning, ate at Bob Evan's, and drove back to home.

Later that day, Anna surprised me and took me to Potter's Park Zoo. The red panda was my favorite. With all the traveling, late night partying, and walking at the zoo, I can't believe I wasn't that tired come Monday morning. All in all, this was the best weekend I've had in a long time.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


I recently read this article about lists. It seems funny to get excited about lists, but I do. Lists help you to not forget. Lists help you free up the mind so you can focus on other other tasks.

My traditional list medium of choice is the much loved Post-it note, but I have also been making digital lists for some time using one of my favorite applications, Tomboy. When I used to write a lot of music, I would carry a small pad of paper around at all times to list lyrics I thought of throughout the day (some of these eventually became songs -- most went through the washing machine and were lost forever, my best works I'm sure). Heck! Most people never use a spreadsheet for its original purpose (to calculate financial invoices), but they use it to make all sorts of lists.

Out of the nine lists the author talked about, I found I was already keeping six of them:

1. Things I Want - thanks wish list
2. Gift Ideas - thanks Tomboy
3. “Got a Minute?” - thanks ReadItLater
4. “Watch, Read, Listen” - thanks Netflix
5. Great Ideas - thanks Tomboy
6. Grocery List - thanks Magnetic Christmas Penguin Pad

The most beneficial list I keep is my Great Ideas list. Not only do I not forget an idea I have, but this usually turns into a goal of some sort. A program to code, a blog entry to post, a story to write - when I have the need to be creative, I have a place to look to get me started.

So what I'm trying to say is give lists a try. You might like them.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Vader is Now Receiving 87 Channels

Or perhaps a more nerdy title, The Rebels Have Won.

Vader was chasing rabbits in the back yard. I'm sure she was only trying to introduce herself to her fuzzy neighbors, but she got a little too excited. She jumped up on a fence and *squeamish readers go to next paragraph* ripped off one of her toe nails.

So she has to wear this funnel on her head until Saturday. Poor, ridiculous looking dog :(

It's OK to laugh -- we have, both out of hilarity and pity. She can't tell where she's going or how much space her facial region takes up know, so she runs into a lot of things and managed to get herself stuck on a corner of the wall.

Now that you're all incredibly sad, here is a less embarrassing picture of Vader:

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Batman Returns

I would have to say that the vast majority of my numerous (cough, cough, five, cough) readers do not follow comics, so I'll keep this brief.

Batman 687 hit the shelves today. For those not it the know, Bruce is dead (sort of - stupid DC), and Dick Grayson (the first Robin/Nightwing) is filling in for the Detective (permanently?). That's right boys and girls, Robin/Nightwing is Batman. How did this happen? Let me explain.

Batman died, I cried, Dick said no, Jason said yes, Tim said if not Dick then me, Jason beat Tim, Dick got mad, Dick beat Jason, and then Tim quit.

Good. You're all caught up.

So does Dick have enough guts to warrant a utility belt to hold up the tights? So far, I would say yes. I only have two complaints:
  1. This book came out after Batman and Robin. This book should have definitely came out first. Read Batman and Robin #1 after this one. It will make more sense.
  2. This book showed the "Battle for the Cowl" better than any book in the Battle for the Cowl story arc, but it's not part of the Battle for the Cowl story arc. I'm glad I read Battle for the Cowl, but this book is what I wanted Battle for the Cowl to be.
That's right! My complaints are not about this book at all. Go read it!

Sunday, June 7, 2009


Today was my 27th birthday. It was nice. I got up, drank some coffee, then got ready to go fishing. My mom called me and sang me Happy Birthday, and then my two nieces sang me Happy Birthday also; although, Cora said I looked like a monkey and smelled like one too. I chuckled.

I went to Lake Ovid. I've never been there before. It was a lot bigger than I expected. I talked politics and technology with my bud Travis. I caught a few gills, and I was totally out-fishing Travis, but then he caught a six pound catfish. Technically I caught more fish than him, but nothing close to the size of that. We were there until 6:30. On the way home, a truck with a trailer was passing me, and the trailer's ramp fell off and almost hit me. It was crazy.

I came home to find Anna had made me a birthday cake. It had candles on it and everything. I can't remember the last time I had to blow out candles. I got them all in one blow! The cake said, "My Geek, Happy Birthday!" She knows how to make me smile.

Now I'm going to relax.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Force is Strong with this One

As some of you may know, I have three cats. They are all named after Star Trek characters. We have Dax, Data and Hue (10 bonus points to anyone who actually knows who these characters are). Well, this weekend, we got a new addition to the I mean family. We got a black lab mix.

I've been asked numerous times, if my cats are named after Star Trek, what would my dogs be named after. The logical (Vulcan) choice was Star Wars; however, Anna and I are not that into Star Wars. We don't know nearly as many Star Wars characters as we do Star Trek (most likely due to the supremacy of Star Trek over Star Wars...yeah that's right - eat it George Lucus).

Well, we were a bit rushed; we had to decide on a name because we were getting her licensed. The dog is a black lab, and what is the nerdiest thing I could think of that is black? No, not Lamar from Revenge of the Nerds, but the Sith Lord himself. And that is how we ended up with Vader. Now all of our dogs will be named after Star Wars characters. I can't wait to meet Mace Windu, or Boba Fett.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Sterotypical First Post

What is this experiment I am conducting? I have gone many years with no desire to have a presence on the web, and now I am on facebook, twitter, and blogger. What will come of all of this? Why now? Well, let this first post explain some of my reasons. Explain to whom? Anyone who cares, I guess.

There are many reason why I am embracing the web now. First, I am a web developer. The Internet is not going away anytime soon, and you cannot deny the power of social networking. How, as a professional, can I call myself a web developer and not keep up with emerging trends and technologies?

Second, and more personal, I feel that I have lost contact with many of my friends. I miss you all, and the web is a tool to help me reestablish these friendships.

Third, and most personal, I want to write. I have always wanted to be a writer. I am taking this opportunity to establish a writing habit. If anyone reads my stuff, that's great! But I cannot become a good writer with out practice. Well, I'm practicing.

Last, I want to share my thoughts with everyone. Why? I don't know. Maybe you'll find what I have to say interesting. Let me know. Maybe you'll disagree with me. Let me know. I would love to hear any type of feedback. The mere fact that someone may be reading this makes me happy.

Stay tuned!