TDD Learning

For a while I have fooled myself that I practice TDD, only to realize over time that I quickly lose the discipline to follow strict TDD principles and go back to just striving ahead as fast as possible.  That is until I go to compile and nothing works the way I anticipated.

Enter Uncle Bob’s Bowling Kata, which I practiced several times to learn how to properly take advantage of TDD.  I still lack the discipline to follow the principle strictly every time, but more often than not it doesn’t end as well as it should have, which causes me to go crawling back to strict TDD practices.

If you are interested in TDD and haven’t checked out the Bowling Game Kata, I highly recommend it.  There are also many other good Kata’s here as well

While after every misstep I improve, there is still much to learn, as there always will be.

Never stop moving forward.

-Steve

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Web Development

Recently I have been learning and studying web development because it is interesting to me and I never get to do it at work. I must say, there is an even larger gap between practicing and actually implementing something on the web than in most domains. Even just my humble little homepage was quite challenging to get to work quite right ( it still isn’t perfect ) in all of the major browsers.

Kudos to all you web developers out there doing this day in and day out.

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Clockwork Angels

So the new Rush album, Clockwork Angels, released this past Tuesday in the United States.  I picked it up in the middle of the day and listened to it while at work.  The very first thing I noticed is that it is HEAVY.  Not like Slayer heavy, but just a thick wall of sound; listening to just about anything else after makes it seem hollow.

The first listen through the end caught me off guard because of how well all the songs mesh and work together.  After continually listening to it, and being able to devote more attention, I grew to notice the many subtleties within the composition.  Also that the  sound was fairly consistent throughout with only the mood and emotional conveyance changing throughout the album; presumably to accompany the moods conveyed within the story itself.

It is definitely growing on me and I have found myself humming several of the songs at different points.   While the album doesn’t have a Spirit of the Radio or a 2112, but all of the songs hold their own; there isn’t one that I am tempted to skip just to get the next good one.  While it seems odd to not have a single stand out song, this record has achieved creating a piece whose collection is greater than the sum of all the parts.  What more could an album look to accomplish?

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MetroBackup

Recently came across this great backup tool called MetroBackup. There are plenty of backup and sync tools out there, but most of the free ones are difficult to use or just plain get in the way because the UI isn’t well designed.

MetroBackup does its primary function of backing up and synchronizing very well, and it looks great while doing it!  I have already setup backup jobs for all the data I use on a daily basis on my laptop and it was a snap.

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Junipero Gin

I have been drinking martinis and trying to learn to perfect the art of making them for about 3 years now. This has led me to constantly be trying new liqours to use in my pursuit. My favorite type of martini is gin straight up, so of course I have tried all sorts of gins.

My current favorite is Junipero Gin. I stumbled upon it in my local liquor store and bought it on a whim: I was pleasantly surprised.

It has a good sharp flavor for the botanicals, but is also remarkably smooth for the amount of flavor it brings to the table. If you try this and don’t like it, than you don’t like gin.

This gin not only makes a great martini in itself, but it also has enough body to be mixed well in other drinks and easily makes the best Aviation cocktail I’ve ever had.

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Coffee Snobbery

I have steadily been becoming a coffee snob.

I own two french presses and rarely make coffee any other way. I grind my own coffee fresh everyday.

Until recently starbucks was my goto coffee supplier, however for the past couple months my work has brought me to Portsmouth NH. If you live in the Northeast and have never been it is highly recommended. Portsmouth is a well kept, friendly city with great restaurants and bars, and of course great Coffee.

There are two starbucks here and two independent roasters: Port City Roasters (http://www.portcitycoffee.com/) and Breaking New Grounds (http://www.yelp.com/biz/breaking-new-grounds-portsmouth).

Both of these roasters have great coffee. They both buy their beans direct from the coffee farmers, and they both roast these beans themselves in house. The availability of these great coffee shops is taking my coffee snobbery to unprecedented heights.

They both have slightly different roasters and roasting processes so if you got the same type of coffee at both places it would be different.

I have bought coffee in spurts from both places but I think that Breaking New Grounds is my favorite. Their coffees all have a very clean roasting taste that leaves a lot of the taste of the beans still intact. However Breaking New Grounds is also quite expensive.

Port City Roasters has a slightly smaller selection, but they always seem to have 1 or 2 types of beans that are unique and new to me. Currently I am drinking the Bali Blue Moon coffee from Port City and my favorite is probably their Organic Tanzanian coffee. Port City Roasters has great coffee and is moderately cheap considering the quality. They are a great value and frequently bring in new beans to change up their selection.

While I do miss not being able to be home as much because I am always up here, I certainly will miss the great coffee when my time here is up.

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Droid Bionic

After having a blackberry tour for 2 years and growing increasingly frustrated with it, I finally was able to ditch it and upgrade to an Android device.  Being an moderately well informed technologist, and therefore very picky with technology, I was hell-bent on getting the ‘perfect’ phone.  After lots of research I decided that the Droid Bionic was the phone for me, but that its release date wasn’t announced because Motorola was making some design modifications.

My contract with the blackberry was already over… how long would I have to wait to get the Bionic?

Well folks, it was well worth the wait.  While it is running Gingerbread which many Android devices have had for a while, and it came out right on the cusp of the release of Ice Cream Sandwich, the hardware for this phone is fantastic.  The screen is very good, and it is fast fast fast.  Not to mention that because I live in the Boston area and it is a 4G device that now I get to use it on Verizon’s 4G network, which is the real deal.

Yesterday on the outskirts of Boston I did a speed test and got 20MB down, 10MB up.  Unfortunately where I live its only 12 down and 2 up.  But I won’t complain, that’s still great considering it is rare to download large files to a mobile device.

My one gripe with the Bionic is that Motorola has baked in functionality, which I am vehemently against.  They have however committed to releasing Ice Cream Sandwich.

I don’t know exactly what these hardware manufacturers are modifying, but I wish Google could come up with a way to make those components modular like most of the phone so you could press a button and switch to Vanilla Android if/when your manufacturer has ended their support.

I must say all in all that I am very pleased with this device, and now that I have joined the Google eco-system with my phone, I am not sure I can ever leave…

Still looking for the tablet to end all tablets though, I expect to see one next year.  But now the question becomes Android or Windows 8 with Metro?

 

-Steve

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Windows 8 Developer Preview

I know I am pretty late to join the party about the developer preview. But I must say I am enjoying this.

Browsing on IE10 with the Metro UI is very nice, however switching between tabs (are there even tabs???) and other common browser tasks seem clumsy. Though it could just be that it is new? But the actual web browsing experience is very good.

I am still not sure how this will fair in the real test ( trying to do work), but I do think that this is a step in the right direction and am looking forward to many more steps to come.

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Jamming

Well typically I am opposed to sharing jam sessions and things, mostly because I am a perfectionist and only want my best to be out there.  Though I don’t think I will have the chance to refine the good parts in this to the extent that they deserve, so I will share it exactly how it came out of my fingers.

 

Jam session record at 10:30 PM March 21st 2011: synthness

To anyone that listens to it, its pretty loud, and bare in mind it was a jam.  Some parts are pretty good, some parts are plain crap.

-Steve

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daskeyboard

So after years of typing considerable amounts everyday and over a year working at a job doing programming, I decided it was time to get a terrific keyboard.  If you enjoy good keyboards or type a lot you probably has heard of it: daskeyboard.

The daskeyboard has no multimedia button, no programmable keys, and no lights (except for num, caps, and scroll lock).  Just all the keys in their clickety clackity glory.  For those of you that haven’t heard of the daskeyboard, the first thing you will be told about these is they are LOUD, like really loud.  Well how loud can a keyboard be right?

Well when I was looking into getting one I saw they had a silent edition. “Hmm I like quiter things…”.  Not to mention I would prefer the people in the cubicle next door not taking a sledgehammer to my nice new clickety clackety keyboard.  So I did a little research and read that there was a difference in noise but not as much a difference in the keyboards themselves.  The long and the short of it is that I got the silent edition.

AND I LOVE IT!  First day back to work I emailed the IT supervisor and said I wanted one for the office because I didn’t want to take it back and forth with me everyday (all other keyboards feel like typing quicksand in comparison).  Of course my counterpart at the company (there are two of us performing similar tasks) also wanted one.

Well we were told he would give it his best shot if we sent him the information to order them.  I decided to get the silent edition again and my counterpart got the standard daskeyboard.

After having compared them…. there is quite a difference, not surprisingly the standard model is more responsive.  Now before you laugh at me because I am the fool who ended up with two lesser quality keyboards (which are 5 bucks more too), I actually DON’T LIKE IT AS MUCH, though I recognize it is more responsive.  They don’t feel good.

For the past 6 years I have used one of the saitek eclipse model keyboards, which in my opinion are among the best typing keyboards in their class (that is the gaming / multimedia class of keyboards littered with fodder from logitech and razor ).  Saitek keyboards have keys with very smooth strokes.  That is what I have always liked about them, and I was pleased that the silent daskeyboard was even smoother and also incredibly responsive.

Well the problem I have with the standard daskeyboard is it does not feel very smooth when you type.  It feels as though the plastic part of the key travels a few millimeters before it hits the plunger and travels further.  This feel very odd and cumbersome to me, not to mention the plunger requires more pressure than originally felt.

Fortunately I made out with the keyboard I liked better, even if I do admit it is the ever so slightly inferior keyboard.

So to those of you (or I should say ‘if any of you are’) reading this that might want a daskeyboard keep in mind that while the standard, original keyboard is ‘better’, it is different enough that you actually may not like it.  Since the keyboards are sold online you are allowed to return them within 30 days of purchase, however I am still pleased with my choice and will continue to type with pride on my slightly quiter, slightly less responsive, daskeyboard silent edition.

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