Is it too late for a 2011 goals post?

-   Jan 27, 2011 -   Development, Personal

Well, I have not been blogging much recently and it is something I've actually really been inspired to do recently.  Sadly, it has been tough for me to do so as I've been conflicted on what to write about. As one of the main developers of BlogEngine.NET for years, this blog came to be a lot of posts about it and other .NET adventures.  Recently though, I've been filling my spare time thinking about iOS development, App Stores, and other crazy things.  While I'd like to write about my thoughts and experiences here it has just seemed to be too much a shift. What better place to hint at this shift than my 2011 goals post? 2011 Goals 1. Release 3 new iPhone/iPad apps. (Updates don't count, but I expect these too.) 2. Release a Mac app in the Mac App Store. 3. Give my sites (this blog included) a fresh new look. 4. Find some quality time to work on an MVC3 app with Razor. 5. Blog more regularly on web development and mobile development topics. 6. Find more direct ways to work together with my kids on projects 7. Read through the Bible 8. Complete a Half Ironman 9. Drink more water, less junk. 10. Read at least one book a month to learn something different. The first month is almost gone, but I feel like I've got a good jump on the list.  Go me!

 CodeMash 2009

-   Jan 16, 2009 -   Personal -   ,

I spend most of last week at CodeMash 2009. CodeMash is a great 3 day developer event held every winter in Ohio at Kalahari Resort. It not a .NET focused conference and I went with an idea to take in some of the non .NET world and learn a bit about Ruby, Groovy, and whatever else hit me as interesting. PreCompiler I arrived Tuesday evening in preparation for the PreCompiler on Wednesday. The PreCompiler was a extra day of full day or half day sessions which focused on a variety of things. I found these sessions to be among the best of the conference as there was so much time to get in to the topic and I was very torn as to which sessions to go to. My first choice was the iPhone Development session, and I decided to hit the Ruby session in the morning as it was a full day session and I figured I'd be better off being there for the start then the last half. The Ruby session was different than I expected but very good none the less. We ended up downloading a series of tests and code and spent the morning fixing tests and learning Ruby. It was a self paced thing with the instructors just helping people as they got stuck. Since I had already played around with Ruby a little, I was able to quickly move through the exercises and got a good way through before lunch. After lunch was the iPhone session. It was taught by Chris Adamson, who is co-authoring an iPhone book I've already been reading, iPhone SDK Development. While I had covered most of what Chris went though, it was really good to be able to pick up some shortcuts and to get a better handle on some of the concepts. Sessions Thursday and Friday were filled with some great sessions. I heard a number of people saying there were just so many good opinions for each time slot they had no idea which one to go to. There were also some interesting open spaces conversations going on at the same time which made the choices tougher. A few of the highlights here for me were Mary Poppendieck's session on Thrashing (and a lunch table chat as well) and Venkat Subramaniam's talks. Venkat is a great speaker and very enjoyable to listen to. People It is hard to go to a conference like CodeMash and not meet a bunch of great people. I had a number of interesting conversations with people from all over and really had a nice time. CodeMash was so large that a few of the people I had hoped to meet, I never did run into or find again. Having to leave early on Friday didn't help matters in this area I'm sure. Overall I had a fantastic time at CodeMash 2009 and hopefully, I'll be able to attend again next year. I also hope my family can come as well as the Kalahari was awesome and the kids would have had an excellent time. If it all works out, I'll try to make sure I can stay until Saturday and have a relaxing day with the kids at the water park.

 Nothin But .NET Bootcamp – Philly Edition

-   Nov 22, 2008 -   Development, Personal -  

This past week I was very blessed to be able to attend JP Boodhoo’s Nothin But .NET Bootcamp in Philidelphia, PA.  It was an intense week of advanced coding that I’m not likely to forget anytime soon.  JP is a very upbeat and passionate developer with a deep understanding of .NET, OO design, and BDD.  He is also a great communicator, teacher, and individual, so you can’t ask for a better combination to bring you through an advanced .NET bootcamp experience. The bootcamp experience really started before the class even started.  JP sent out some material about a week before the course.  When was the last time you had a technical training that you need to do a bunch of prep work to even be ready to show up for the first day? He also sent out a warning about the hours that the course normally takes up to make sure everyone was expecting this to take up every ounce of time and energy they could give.  I had already heard about these things before, but just hearing about it is just not the same as experiencing it. The prep work consisted of a bunch of PC prep work (software setup and configuration) as well as a sample project that we were going to start the week with. The project simply had a bunch of failing unit tests.  We simply had to make the tests pass and refactor.  There was lots of refactoring that could have been done and after a few hours I stopped.  We started Monday with someone’s version of this project and it just took off.  I was shocked at how fast JP could take the project that look very similar to my version and transform it into a far superior project with concise code that read beautifully so quickly.  He immediately starting introducing new concepts to me and I knew what others had said about this week was going to be true. JP never really slowed down until day 4, but by then it was time for the students to drive the course to completion. The week was intense in every sense.  The hours were long. My days finished at about 11:15pm, 12:00am, 1:30am, 2:15am, and 9:30pm, and I left early on the last 2 nights. There wasn’t a lot of fluff time in there either.  Sure, we had some nice sized meal breaks but the group stayed together for the most part. It was a real test to be able to keep focused and concentrate. To be honest, I really failed that test at the end of the 3rd day, but JP tries to record screencasts of everything so I can go back and re-watch what I stared blankly at live in person. The material was deep and I didn’t find much of anything I didn’t have to follow carefully to understand.  Through the first 3 days, he mixed in a nice amount of coding with giving the class a chance to work through small bits.  This usually consisted of JP writing a test and having us make it pass or having us write the test and make it pass for the next small feature.  He gave us a few more lengthy to-do items but we worked in small teams and I was always surprised that we could start with 4 people who really had no idea where to start but each time complete the exercise without getting JP to do it for us.  These small exercises were easily the best part of the course for me.  Each time I worked with different people, interacted with different people and interesting ideas, and was encouraged to see how most everyone was able to contribute to make the team successful.  The short time slot of an 2 hours or so just seemed like a sweet spot to me. Starting on the 4th day, we were expected to just work with our team and complete the project we had been working through since Monday evening and make it special.  This was fun as well, but it felt different to me for some reason.  It was interesting to see how our team split up the work and how we attacked the problem.  We spent from Thursday after lunch until we quit early the next morning and then we continued with it on Friday after lunch until I left Friday night.  I really enjoyed working and talking with other developers with a hunger to improve their craft and build great software. The people who want to come to a course like this are really striving to improve and it makes for a great experience. I learned a lot through the course of the week and I left encouraged to continue to improve as a developer. I leave with a number of areas I now know I need to focus on and a good place to start that learning. Thanks to JP for a solid week, a great experience, and great foundation for continued work in my core .NET skills and testing practices. The only other from my class who I know of who has blogged about the course was Rob Reynolds.  Rob gets into much more of the actual content details in his posts if you are interested in the actual course content.

 October Happenings

-   Oct 02, 2008 -   Personal -  

Some exciting things going on in October for me and I wanted to share about them.  First, tomorrow, October 3rd, I’ll be making a trip to New York City to hang out with Mads Kristensen (founder of BlogEngine.NET).  It will be very cool to meet him in person finally.  He’s invited anyone interested in talking BlogEngine.NET to join us around noon tomorrow if you are interested.  It should be a good time. Also, on Monday, October 20th, I’ll be speaking at the Lehigh Valley .NET User Group.  I’ll be talking about the Provider Model, focusing on how to make your own custom providers while using BlogEngine.NET as the sample code.  (This will be very similar to the talk I gave earlier in the year at the Philly Code Camp.)  While the focus of the talk will be the provider model, we’ll be going through a lot of the BlogEngine core so you’ll learn a bit of how BlogEngine works through the evening.  I think it will be a fun evening.

 Fitness, pushups, and the Nike+ Sportband

-   Aug 09, 2008 -   Hardware, Personal -   , ,

I guess it all started this spring when I realized that I was old, slow, flabby, and incomprehensibly out of shape.  After dealing with the denial of such a development in my life, I decided to do something about it.  At first, it was all great.  I was running a bit and not feeling too bad.  Developer legend, Justice Gray made his fitness proclamation to the masses and I was encouraged that I was on the right track.  It was around this time I picked up the Nike+ Sportband to track my running progress.  However, not long after all this, Justice Gray fell off the fitness train and I injured my leg playing some ultimate frisbee. A few weeks back however, I felt sufficiently healed to begin my training again.  I picked up the running, added in the 100 pushups program, and scheduled a 5 mile road race with some college friends.  I've been thinking about writing it a bit, and was encouraged to see Rob Conery write about his fitness revelation earlier today.  So here is my post with a few thoughts on these programs. Running with the Nike+ Sportband The Nike+ system is excellent for the geek.  We get a usb device to wear on our wrist while we run.  I'm not sure a gadget guy could ask for anything more.  After my run, I can plug it into my PC and have it update my progress.  It is nice enough to tell me how slow I ran and to let me know that even though it felt like I must have ran 5 miles, it was only 3.5.  It tracks estimated calories if you care about such things, but mainly just gives chart of your running and it is a encouragement to see the mileage increase. The Nike+ web site is not all it could be but not too horrible.  It is all flash based and while it does make nice looking charts, it is a slow.  I wish it was more ajax, less flash, but Nike has not hired me to clean it up so I'll have to deal with it.  One thing I wish it had is an easy way to make a note about the run I made.  I run some a jogging stroller sometime and I'd like to mark which days I use it.  (When you have 4 kids ages 6 and down, you usually take at least one with you when you leave the house.) The Nike+ Sportband device is good overall.  It is simply a usb device with a plastic wristband to hold it.  The wristband is fine.  It is a flexible plastic that can be easily cleaned up and it is sturdy enough to hold up.  The usb device has a simple monochrome display with 2 buttons.  The display is heard to read unless the lighting is right.  At night, you can't see it at all.  It reminds me of the old digital watch display.  It could really use a light button. The kit also comes with the shoe insert.  I don't have the right Nike running shoes for the device, but my wife made me a little bag to attach it to the laces of my sneaker.  It works great. The functionality is simple enough.  Hold the main button for 3 seconds, it will tell you to walk (and it will sync with the little shoe attachment) and then it will flash at 0:00.  You press the button once when you start running.  You press it again when you stop.  When you are all done, you hold the button for 3 seconds to tell it to stop tracking your running shoes.  The secondary button just move the display from time, pace, etc.  It is useless while I'm running as I rarely have the light or desire to know the time, pace, or anything it could tell me.  Maybe in the race next month, I'll check the pace or something. I put one of the lame Nike+ widgets on a running page on my blog.  I've found that the widget works only about half the time I check it.  If you are interested in my world class running stats or more likely want to see what the widget looks like, check it out.  There are many widget options, but they all look the same, just showing different data. 100 pushups? Now, on to the pushups.  I started the "6 week" plan, 3 weeks back and I can safely say that after my first progress test last week, I see no way I'll be done with the program in 6 weeks.  To be honest, I could care less about being able to actually do 100 push ups, but I could really use the upper body exercise and I just don't have the time to get to the gym.  I'd much prefer to be home with my kids than make an extra stop away from home.  Push ups seem like an ideal fit to my lifestyle. The program focuses on 5 sets of pushups 3 times a week.  I think it is a bit optimistic overall, but the principles of sets of pushups seems good.  The numbers just might need to be tweaked or certain weeks might need to be done over to build up the strength for the next level.  Since I really don't have the same end goal, I don't mind the program.  If you are hoping to be doing 100 pushups in 6 weeks, I hope you can knock out a bunch to start with.  If all goes well for me, I'll be able to keep doing some push ups through the fall and winter and make it a regular part of my home exercise program and someday along the way, I'll be able to hit 100 push ups. I'm not going to go so far to report my push ups has Rob has done, but my mileage and runs will be on my running page if you desire to check in on my progress.