Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Things that caught my attention, v 8.28

All right, so I'm back at RPI. With my junior year underway and a set schedule, hopefully we'll see more regular postings.

First, a succinct, yet very informative post on computer workstation ergonomics by Jeff Atwood. Got me thinking about investing in a decent chair... These school provided wooden chairs can't be very healthy, and they're not very comfortable either.

Then Scott Dorman gave a nice distinction of the different meanings of the 'using' keyword in C#.

Scott Hanselman continues his series on LINQ to SQL. I hadn't payed much attention to LINQ to SQL but I am taking a Database Systems course this semester, so this popped out at me.

And completely unrelated, we have the completion of how email really works, as told by gmail users.

Now for something not from the web. In one of my classes, the professor was giving us a quick list of what programming languages he saw as important for varied reasons. Among many others, two that came up were Java and C#. He made the comment, half-jokingly, that Java was Sun's attempt to get programs working on any platform and operating system, while .NET was Microsoft's attempt to get programs working on any Windows platform and operating system. I say 'half-jokingly' because even though he did not mean to really be taken seriously, you could still understand that he was somewhat dismissive of C# for being so similar to Java, and the closed approach of .NET solely for Windows. Is this the common view of .NET?

And so starts Wednesday...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Things that caught my attention, v 8.21

So, I'm back and (kinda) settled at home in NY. Only until Saturday though, then it's back to RPI.
Where to begin?

So, a great post/reminder on the importance of automating tasks. As well as a quick list of command-line utilities to help automating.

A neat operator that has gone unnoticed by me. Should make things simpler.

A bit of an explanation of C# 3.0 extension methods. Definitely enjoy hearing about these new features.

An insight into the differences between throw and throw ex in C#. Good to know.

And talking about automating/GUI v command line, a channel9 video on PowerGUI, a GUI console to write and execute PowerShell scripts. Sweet!

Now, on to packing for college, yet again

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Things that caught my attention, v 8.16

A little more on new .NET features coming up. A few days ago, (yeah i know, I'm kinda behind...) Scott Dorman talked about object initializers in C# 3.0 That's a pretty cool thing. I really like the case that he gave of being able to do away with multiple overloaded constructors. I find it a nuisance to have to create multiple constructors just to have different properties getting initialized. This will definitely make my code a lot neater.

Scott also pointed out a cool Visual Studio add in that integrates The Code Project right into the IDE, sweet! Among other things, what i really like is the fact that it can keep track of projects you have downloaded. Now I'll be able to keep organized and actually put to use the stuff i learn instead of just putting it in my "Programming Stuff" folder and forgetting about it...

Speaking of Visual Studio, Sarah Ford has a couple new tips. The one i really liked is how to turn on word wrap. That''ll save me time on trying to keep my comments readable.

And finally a good reminder from Leon Bambrick to not go crazy and attempt to learn everything about everything.

Actually, this post wouldn't be complete without an undeniably unrelated topic, so here goes. Apparently, 20,000 passengers were stranded over at LAX on Saturday. Why? Well, it was all due to "a single network interface card." Just one! That's some great design right there...
The reason why I bring this up is because I am supposed to fly back to NY
this Saturday. (after a summer internship at National Instruments here in Austin, a topic for a future blog post) I do not want to be stranded!


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Things that caught my attention, v 8.15

Rather few things to talk about today...

First off, a congrats to the work of fellow RPI researchers (and yeah, i guess MIT too :-P) for creating a thin, flexible, and even biodegradable battery. Sweet!

Then we have a cool funny article on what text editors say about you. I have started to use Vim, and yeah, that sounds about right...

Well, what else would you do while compiling?

And finally, a cool video on the awesomeness of MS Paint... Favorite moment: 1:10 - 1:22

Monday, August 13, 2007

Things that caught my attention, v 8.13

Top 10 Tips for Comp Sci students was, for obvious reasons, of particular interest to me. It has some great advice. Some tips are good reminders of what should be obvious, while others are things that I, as plenty others I'm sure, might not be aware of. A good example of this is: Flowcharting Early and Often. I haven't really been paying much attention to flowcharting while at school, yet this summer, I learned the hard way, that I should make it a more frequent practice. And by the hard way, I mean on occasion finding myself going in circles trying to figure out what to do next. But, live and learn, right?...

A cool post I came across is one at secretGeek on argument modifiers. Leon Bambrick pointed out the existence of four argument modifiers, and I have to admit, I had never heard of the params modifier... so I looked it up, and mind-blowing indeed. I had recently come to a point where I needed this functionality, but being unaware of it, i had put it off to do some research on it. Well, now I know!

Continuing my questioning of the 'Google knows best" take on life, we have this. So fine, one of Google's ideas didn't take off. Who can blame them? I mean, they still have like a bajillion awesome ideas out there; one didn't work out, no big deal. But to take away the ability for users to play the content they bought?! Now that's just mean. What's going on Google?

On a brief note, here's something else to think about, the facebook source code leaked. Well, I’m not really even sure what to think of that…

And finally, a bit on the funny side of the web: xkcd's take on names of new people you meet. The caption of the image, if you hover over it, is exactly how I feel...

And now, Monday...

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Things that caught my attention, v 8.9

Continuing the talk of .NET 3.5, Scott Hanselman posted about changes in the Base Class Library from 2.0 to 3.5 He has a report of his findings filled with details on what has been added or removed from the public interface to the BCL.

Then, Channel9 has a video on new features in WPF 3.5. I haven't had time to watch it yet, but it seems like an interesting watch.

Oh and as if we hadn't had enough lego's this week. I wonder what lego set he came from... I want that set...

I love Google, who doesn't? But their new proposed feature that allows those, and only those, involved in a news story to comment alongside... not so sure about that. A Read/Write Web article makes the good point that this feels very "web 1.0" They are closing the opportunity for everyone to participate, and instead leaving us to watch what could potentially be a debate. I mean, if the story presents two sides with conflicting interests, the only ones who'll go through the hassle of proving their involvement in it are the ones who obviously won't have any unbiased information to add. Perhaps in other kinds of stories this might be okay, but I'm not too convinced about that either. And, will Google be able to keep up with the incoming requests for identity verification in a timely manner? This is an interesting move for Google...

And how do you prove your identity anyways? I mean, i always figured banks and other agencies that need to prove your identity have access to super-secure-triple-checked information of you (kidding about that last bit...), but is Google really planning on calling every number and asking for verification? Seems like a system that could be easily fooled.

That's all I have. Now go and enjoy the day, because it's Friday!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Tuesday's findings

Before I begin let me go on a little rant. Microsoft Word has made my typing of the self-decribing pronoun 'I' a pain. Why? Because it auto corrects lower case 'i' to correct case 'I' Now, why is that bad? Well, because when you type 'i' in other text editors, (currently the blogger editor I'm using to post this) they don't correct it, and I'm so used to it that I don't even notice it anymore. And since 'i' is a perfectly correct character, it won't be underlined by Firefox's spell checking. So I have to manually go over all the mis-cased i's and fix them. Not fun. I apologize for any 'i' I might have missed... Now unto better things...

Ahh, the wonderful world of WPF. And when I say wonderful, I really mean, wonderfully looking, as I have not had the chance to fully play with it myself. From the bits and pieces i know about it, it seems to bring many cool features, including the ability to design really good looking interfaces. That is of particular interest to me, since my ability to design UI's is, well, almost non-existant.
So how do you show off WPF UI design features? Well, one way is to replicate a really neat existing UI, in 4 hrs none the less. An impressive feat if you ask me.

Continuing the talk about 'up and coming technologies which I have not fully explored, but am really excited about', Scott Guthrie posted a bit about using the new System.Xml.Linq namespace in .NET 3.5. Now this is exciting! I've done some work with XML and this definitely seems to make things a lot simpler. And then he goes on to make use of another really cool feature, anonymous types. Man, this all makes me really want to get a new computer to enjoy all the Orcas goodness, since unfortunately my laptop is currently too preoccupied with storing data for other, less cool, programs...

Oh look at all this talk about Microsoft stuff. Well, to balance that, Mike Gunderloy posted his report on his 7 months going away from all things Microsoft. Reading about it got me thinking, is my current borderline obsession on .NET things bad? Should i perhaps broaden my look at other development platforms? But in the end, won't the strong focus on .NET make me better at it and hopefully give me an advantage in the job market? After all, that is what i'm after. So perhaps later on in life might be a better time to explore these things...

And a last thing, on a completely unrelated topic. I've always wondered whether my consumer habits can really have any meaningful impact. You know, purchasing goods we see as less 'harmful' based on either the nature in which they are produced, or the effects they might have. Well, I came across this, and I have to admit i do agree with his view, to some extent, that "In the absence of political action it is a form of passivity." How much impact can I really have against multi-billion dollar corporations? This is not to take away from all those who choose what they buy carefully, I think that their intention is noble at heart, but perhaps i won't dwell on it as much.