Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tweets for Today

  • 20:04 android app idea: watch for just connect access points and automagically submit the "click here to agree to the terms of service" type forms #
  • 20:06 @mikal at least it was three weeks of no shows three charges for home setup and no new cable box. #
  • 20:15 @mikal you twitters should go to your blather feed not the other way. i use loudtwitter for example #
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Monday, September 29, 2008

Tweets for Today

  • 18:51 they're playing "The Falcon" at a random bar in SF!!! #
  • 19:13 now they're playing alkaline trio #
  • 20:34 More Falcon! #
  • 20:50 android app idea. intercept twitter SMS and only alert about them. say every 2 hours, customizable and groupable of course. #
  • 14:56 @SayDiana I'm working on other projects though. Like the top secret project. #
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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Tweets for Today

  • 19:43 Have you ever asked yourself, "What is the difference between "Hunan Beef" and "Mongolian Beef?" #
  • 01:52 Mongolian Beef has more vegetables, but that is really up for debate. #
  • 12:24 Sitting around. Going to see comedy later today! #
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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Tweets for Today

  • 18:54 thinking about hiring a ux/graphic designer for a small project. #
  • 10:31 Fixing javascript I thought was fixed. #
  • 12:05 Fixed one of the two problems I thought I had fixed. javascript + same-origin is tough... #
  • 16:37 Stuck on javascript problem #2. #
  • 17:45 LAPTOP IS TOO HOT! WORSE THAN CORNBALLER! #
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Top Secret Project Update


I've spent another weekend hacking away at my top secret project and I feel that every day I work on it that I am getting closer to being able to use it. In fact, I'm just a few major-usability bugs away from using it day to day! After I spend a few weeks working on it, then a few more weeks fixing what I see as show stoppers I hope to be able to show it off to a couple of people.

Looking at what I've done so far this summer leaves me both depressed and excited. I'm a bit sad because I am so far away from what I hoped to have accomplished by this point. At the same time, I'm excited about what I have been able to do. I've learned a ton about Java and realized that it is a pretty awesome language. I feel it is a good way for me to stretch my brain. With python you can throw everything against a wall, 'import antigravity' and have the crap float away, leaving you with something usable. With Java, I feel I have to plan things out a bit better. I have to live with the consequences of my decisions and deal with every shortcut I inevitable take. As a result I'm much more careful about what I do. Even if I do take a shortcut, these days they don't tend to last very long as I get irritated with the way my code looks or interacts and I refactor until I'm happy.

One thing I haven't gotten around to learning is unit testing. I thought I would have more time to work on the project this summer and fully expected to be twice as far along as I am today, with solid unit testing coverage. Instead I'm not even at a usable point with my project and I've not written one Java unit test. The python side of my app has a few tests but still nothing worthy of being called "coverage."

Friday, September 26, 2008

Tweets for Today

  • 13:51 Laughing at saydiana #
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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Tweets for Today

  • 09:15 Boring Sunday... Avoiding writing peer reviews. #
  • 14:13 I lost all my friends to Warhammer. Damn you MMOs!!! #
  • 15:09 @awbassett If I had any power to stop them, I might... If just to say hello. #
  • 15:32 Hating on drying machines in Dublin. #
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Lonely Ramblings

I've spent most of the past few months alone. Most of it has been because I've been abroad, some of it has been because I needed to decompress when I got home. Now I'm out in Dublin again and I've done scarely a thing in a city that I enjoy being in. This weekend and last I spent cooped up in my apartment lazying around and playing on the internet. Now tomorrow starts my last work week in Dublin for a while. I head back to San Francisco on Thursday. When I get back I don't plan on working until around the 6th of October (possibly the 3rd if I feel guilty). Some of this time I'll be in San Francisco, where everyone I know will be at work, as a result I will have even more solitude and time to myself but I am begininng to grow tired of my anti-social behavoir. There comes a time in every person's life where they just want to party like rock starts with their closest friends. Unfortunately, a lot of my friends these days are past the days of rock star parties. As we all grow out of College it seems that the fun parts about rampant drunken hyjinks are replaced by the monotony of pretending you're back in school. Even your drinking habits become habits and its less likely that you have the chance to meet someone new. That, I think was the main reason we had parties back in the day but now even when we go out for drinks its hard to find a place as good as Josh's DeKalb place or Chris' Chicago flat. Now its just loud music and a handful of us drinking away our work sorrows.

I felt like at Gen Con I had the chance to be a rambunctous overly social dufus again but it didn't seem like people were really in the mood for that.  I don't always want to be the guy running through the fountain alone, I miss team driven hijynks!  Bring back

Geeze, I think I just want to hang out and waste time with my friends. Any time I get to see people from Chicago its a special event so I always feel so pressured to make something of it. I miss those kinda-lazy Sundays where we would all hang out by sitting in the same room as eachother doing (home)work. What is it now that makes that not possible? It was great to know that over there Josh was studying for some crazy selling stuff class and steve was over in the other corner trying to catch up on all the classes he didn't go to during the week, all the while I sat and struggled on Calculus. I don't mind doing work, heck I invented a top secret project so that I could treat something like a job but not really have to rely on it for any sort of money or real responsiblity. I know, I know, a paragraph ago I was talking about drowning work-sorrows in alcohol but there is something that is satisfying about it.

I'm sure I've spent several hours in the past few weeks clickin refresh on Facebook and my Google reader shared feeds. I want to know what people are doing these days. Even the mundane is better than me reading another story on Tech Crunch about random tech company Q. I troll people's pictures hoping that I'll see something new going on that I can pretend to have been there.

To my friends who post on Twitter, update their status on Facebook or blag-o-blog about whatever, please keep doing it, its almost-but-not-even-close to those fantastic Sundays where we sat around together and did nothing together.

PS. This is my 500th post.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Tweets for Today

  • 12:38 Debugging a Null Pointer Exception in the Android Emulator #
  • 17:26 Heading to bed after a successful day of Android-ing #
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Sunday, September 14, 2008

Tweets for Today

  • 17:45 Worried that I'm getting old -- its 2AM and I'm not sleepy! #
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Traveling with a Project

This summer I spent most of my time on the road for work. Somehow, I still managed to find some time to work on my project. While I didn't work on it as much as I did while I was home (probably 2-3 hours a week instead of 8) I was nevertheless able to make valuable progress on it. One of the things that helped was an obligation to my teammate to finish and another was that I kep in contact with my teammate. One of the best things you can do to keep interested in your project is to discuss it with someone who really cares. In my case I called my teammate at midnight (with Skype) a few times to discuss recent changes and code checkins. This allowed me to keep the project at the top of my mind and when an opportunity came around where I wasn't running around a new city drunk off my ass I knew that I should pull out my laptop and get working. It was successful. I was also lucky enough to have great flights both to and from Europe in which to get work done. I've always said that an airplane is one of the best places to concentrate. Even a crying child can be ignored with a decent pair of headphones. There is no internet, no where to walk, nobody to talk to, no toys/tech/games to distract and nothing but your laptop and the carefully prepared contents of its hard drive.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

New Facebook UI

I like the little help "stickies" that are floating around... they help quite a bit. But, I didn't even realize that the app toolbar was ever there, I only noticed the "Online Friends" bit.

Also, the UI really reminds me of windows and I don't think that is a good pattern to follow.

Monday, September 8, 2008

How to work on a Project

This comes from a conversation I was having with my friend Chris the other day
about how you can keep yourself and friends working on a project.

So this is what worked for me... Something that has allowed my project to not die after a day of working on it -- what usually happens to projects that i start.

First and foremost: Get everyone to set aside a specific time each week to work on the project. Ideally it would be everyone at the same time at the same place, but thats not likely to be possible. At the very least you should have pairs of people.  Most of my friends are already highly motivated but having someone to bounce ideas off of is invaluable. If you have to wait until the next time someone is online that idea will probably bounce away instead of back. There are other reasons for this that I will come to shortly.

Because you're working on a personal project, the only initial rewards are going to be the feeling of satisfaction of having produced a good idea or from helping another person on your team.

Make sure everyone shares their ideas, and document those ideas. You'll need some reference material later when you thing "Well, why didn't we do this in the first place?" This is the second reason for having pairs or groups of people working at the same time. At the end of each session you can suggest people show their work with an example or through some documentation. This not only keeps people concentrating on goals but it establishes that each person on the team is working for someone else -- the most important part of this plan is to make sure people are vested in the work everyone is doing. It is vital that each member of the team takes as much or more pride in the work each of their teammates than their own.

Next, spend some time planning what the team is going to focus on. Even if you don't have a clear idea of what the project will be, give people focus area to lead. Have someone investigate javascript frameworks while you have someone else analyze some patterns for the client-server interaction. Or have someone start writing up use cases for how they expect the project to be used. If you immediately jump into writing code you might leave your teammates who have less a clear idea of waht to do in the lurch. Know that each person has some series of talents that nobody else does so be sure to spend the time upfront to realize what those are.

Do not expect the same quantity of work from each person, but do expect each person to make progress, even if that progress is a discussion about how they had to re-write some system for a third time. If someone is not completing any work you can expect that attitude to be more influential than that of the other people completing some tasks. Even if someone's time is spent researching, a short summary to another teammate or in a document will help spread some knowledge and capture some progress.

As the project moves along, the tasks people will be doing will tend to be more tightly coupled with the work from different people. By this point your team is probably working well together and because you've already encouraged people to help each other being a dependency or or dependent on someone else is not a new feeling.

Finally and most importantly, make sure everyone is having fun. The best way to kill a personal project it to treat your teammates poorly. The second best way is to make the work people are doing boring so be sure that people find something they enjoy to work on.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Tweets for Today

  • 08:28 A cold and an upset stomach. #
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Google Chrome

Go get Google Chrome. Its fast like LIGHTNING!

Scaring Roommates

From Mark:
I walk into the kitchen and she's looking at me like "who the hell are you and why are you in my house"
I promptly asked her to lock me out, so I figure it was ok

Monday, September 1, 2008

Fancy ice cream

Tweets for Today

  • 19:34 Too many computers: 2 work desktops, 4 work laptops (returning 3 of them soon), 1 mac-min, 1 old laptop, 1 old desktop, 1 pink laptop. #
  • 00:36 Eight coffees today. Still twitching hours later. Can't fall asleep yet. #
  • 01:36 Americano Caffine can kill. Be careful. Courses through my veins. #
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