Category Archives: musings

My current reading list

After a really long time, I just took a break from constant coding and read The Kingkiller Chronicles Day 1 (The Name of the Wind) and Day 2 (The Wise Man’s Fear) back to back. Enjoyed it although felt both were rushed toward the end as if the author wanted to finish the book under 900 pages. Local library is a great place to borrow books and now with Kindle lending this should be even better.

Here is the list of books in the queue

1. Sencha Touch in Action by Jesus Garcia and Anthony DeMoss

2. Node.js in Action by Mike Cantelon and TJ Holowaychuk

3. HTML5: Up and Running by Mark Pilgrim

4. Programming Razor by Jess Chadwick

5. jQuery Mobile: Up and Running by Maximiliano Firtman

6. Pragmatic guide to Sass by Hampton Catlin and Michael Lintorn Catlin

7. CoffeeScript Accelerated Javascript Development by Tervor Burnham

8. Meaningful Use and Beyond A Guide to IT Staff in Health Care by Fred Trotter and David Uhlman

9. The Way of Shadows (The Night Angel Trilogy) by Brent Weeks

10. Wired by Douglas E. Richards

11. The Frozen Sky by Jeff Carlson

WOW! not sure how I am going to find time to read them all.


Will stackoverflow.com make you lazy?

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE stackoverflow.com. I have my beta badge. The very first question I posted was answered in under 40 seconds. You cannot beat that! stackoverflow is a GREAT tool that will help you learn and work better. I wish we had something like this a long time ago. And I am EVER grateful to Jeff Atwood for granting me permission to use his excellent blog posts in my podcast.

My question stems from my interest in the workings of the human brain and human nature. Early in my career, often times when I ran into a programming roadblock, I would run to the senior developers and they would help me resolve the issue. On one such run-to-senior occasion, none of the seniors devs was available. Came back to my desk and 10 minutes later I resolved the issue. That lack of easy access to a ready solution forced me to “think-out-of-the-box” and solve the problem.

Will easy access to stackoverflow.com which has no barrier to entry (no logins to create, no registration, just ask away) make you lazy? Instead of spending that extra 10 minutes, will you just post a question and wait for answers? Granted you have to know when to stop endlessly spinning the wheel and ask for help, but you also have to realize that it is better to learn to fish than just go get the fish. But then, you also use google to search for a solution to a problem. Often I have pasted the error message in the search box and gotten a good solution. Does that make you lazy? Not really. But stackoverflow is different. There are these answer trolls sitting around answering questions. At least that’s what it looks like. The number of unanswered questions, whenever I have looked, has stayed below 100. The goal of stackoverflow is to eventually have the answers popup via a google search for the question.

Good developers will always know when to stop and ask for help. I think the voting feature built into stackoverflow, especially the ability to down vote a question, will eventually weed out silly questions. And, as developers wishing to move beyond 5:01 one should resist the urge to post every question on stackoverflow. You may argue that you are learning from others’ answers but answering a question is a better way to learn and will help you build your reputation.

To answer my own question, No stackoverflow will not make you lazy. The lazy, average 5:01 devs will always be lazy. Let’s make stackoverflow a great resource.

Now, go answer those few unanswered questions.

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A Super Flop on Super Tuesday

Today, February 5th 2008 is “Super Tuesday”. A day where more than 20 states vote in both the Republican and Democratic primaries to try and choose the next potential leader of the free world. February 4th 2008 11:59, well, almost Super Tuesday was the last day of my second fundraiser. After failing to elicit *any* interest for my first fundraiser, where I tried to raise money to send a Christmas gift to Nikhil Kothari, the creator of WebDevelopment Helper, I tried again. This time it was to sponsor the 100th episode of Hanselminutes, a weekly podcast hosted by super developer Scott Hanselman and Carl Franklin. Again, I falied. The fundable fundraiser had just 1 $20 pledge from, surprise, surprise, me.

Fundraising is not easy, especially if you are just another guy with a blog. (Note to self: Just because Scott Hanselman takes the trouble of posting a comment on your blog, you don’t become famous). What if I am a scamster? Who knows. Well, I tried. I failed. So where do we go from here? Setup another one? What? Are you nuts?

Anyways, thanks to everyone who visited my blog and checked out my appeal on Fundable.com.


Keep it simple stoopid

Atlanta is feeling the effects of global warming! Last week was fantastic. Back to shorts. Upper 70s. This week its back to “normal”. Freezing. Last Friday was warm and we had the a/c turned on at work. The last guy out forgot about the temperature drop over the weekend.

Monday morning, the office is freezing. I walk over to M’s office

M: Its soooo cold in here

I: Yeah, I guess we need to bring in space heaters. Those things can be dangerous!!

M: I  got one @ home that switches itself off if it falls over

I: Cool! Does it have some kind of gyroscopic sensors?

M: Nooo…. there is this switch at the bottom….

Switch at the bottom. Here I am conjuring images of gyroscopic sensors and the simple solution is to just put a switch at the bottom!! Clever. No wonder they call it KISS.


So what is it?

We have this ongoing Puzzle fest at work. Someone puts up a puzzle on the whiteboard and we all try to solve it whenever we get a chance between busy sessions of cranking code. Lends excitement, fosters debate, sometimes fierce and helps build camaraderie. Our CEO who sits in an office couple of doors away from mine, is simply amazing at solving these incredibly fast. He solved this Mensa puzzle in under 3 minutes while my office-mate and I were still trying to understand what the puzzle was all about.

Recently, I put up this one.

What is pronounced the same in ALL languages?

This “puzzle” is kind of “invented”. Googling hasn’t come up, yet, with any reference to the question, so for now, I’m taking credit for “inventing” it.

Anyways, what is the answer you ask. The answer I thought was suitable is “Your Name”. My argument is, your name is the sound your parents deemed to represent your name. Most times this is usually in your native tongue. Jim, our CEO took issue and said it’s not the case. The case in the point is Jesus. In English it is pronounced as Jee-sus. However, ask a Mexican and he will say its Hey-soos. The “J” pronounced like the English “H”. But I argued that Jesus is an English name and its still Jesus in any language. The J is an English character and Spanish just happens to use the same character to represent the sound made by English “H”. I argued that “Jim” is “Jim” in any language and if a Mexican called him Mr. Him he would take exception.

 But then you can argue that some languages do not have certain sounds. Take my name. Ramesh. The English characters R-A-M-E-S-H DO NOT represent the true sound of my name in Sanskrit or my native language Kannada. It’s just an approximation. English does not have the “Ra” sound, at least as for as I know. The “R” is rolled like the “R” sound in burrito. So is my name pronounced the same in English and Sanskrit based languages? I think my argument breaks downs and I have to concede that Jim is right.

My office-mate, Greg, has an answer that I think is way better than mine and close to ideal.

Music.

Music is the “pronounced” the same in all languages. Music theory may be different in different cultures, but the sounds that represent music in one language is the same in another.

So, dear reader, what do YOU think is pronounced the same in ALL languages? Or does this question not have a good answer?


A Microsoft Conspiracy

This is *MY* theory. Enjoy.

The term ALT.Net has been gaining a lot of momentum. There is even a conference. A while back Scott Hanselman raised the question Is Microsoft losing the Alpha Geeks? This generated lot of debate. If you have been listening to Hanselminutes regularly, you know that Scott is a pragmatic guy. He criticizes when criticism is due but never bashes anything. He is not a zealot. In recent episodes he has raised the issue of ALT.Net more than once and also, as a part of the “Be a Better Developer in 6 months” program, will be teaching himself Ruby and Ruby on Rails. So you get a feeling that Scott, the alpha developer he is, was slowly drifting away from Microsoft.

Now, if you listen to this episode of Hanselminutes, where Scott interviews David Heinemeier Hansson (DHH) and Martin Fowler at the Rails Conference, you hear the passionate voice of DHH and the mature voice of Martin. Couple of times DHH expresses his displeasure at the way Microsoft is doing things. Mind you, he does not bash anything. That is a great trait. You talk about the shortcomings, have opinions, but don’t just dismiss anything and everything MS as BS.

If you listen carefully, you can sense Scott being very cautious when talking about Microsoft. He says Microsoft has been, indirectly paying his mortgage. I identify myself as a .Net Web Developer and I don’t apologize for that. Like Scott, I too have benefited from using Microsoft Technologies. Yes, there are short comings, things can be better, but then I am not a basher. I am looking at and trying to indulge in alternatives. But then I am just another 5:01 Developer.

Back to the conspiracy. The ALT.Net movement is kinda a like a rebellion against Microsoft. How do you quell a rebellion? You take out the leaders. You convince them to come into your fold. As a first step, Microsoft decided to directly pay Scott’s mortgage and scooped him up as divulged here. Hmmm. I am happy for Scott. And wish him the best and hope he can still continue to be the independent voice and champion he has been.

All seemed to well until this was revealed. Now, now, now. I think I am on to something here. I considered Phil Haack to be a first class rebel. Maybe it’s the last name. Maybe it’s his Gravatar. Phil and friends created SubText when DasBlog was available. Then they went on to create SubSonic with NHibernate, LLBLGen and a host of other tools around. If you have not checked out Subsonic, stop everything now and check it out. It’s a cool toolset created by a bunch of smart people. I have written code generators in the past and am looking for a good DAL tool. I dug the code, discovered a few issues, submitted work items on codeplex and the fixes where rolled in by the end of the week. Wow!! Great job guys.

There you have it. First Scott, now Phil. So who’s next? All you Alt.Net folks, you have been forewarned. Watch out. Here comes Microsoft.