Category Archives: Technology

Where I talk about anything technology-related stuff that non-technical readers may become lost and disinterested in.

This is embarrassing…

Ok.  So, I just signed up for a Twitter account the other day… finally.  I feel like such a noob.

Just to clear my tech credibility, I’ve known about Twitter for a long time now; I just haven’t had a need for my own Twitter account.  My friends are mostly on the Facebook wagon, and the only reason I now have a Twitter account is because I’m finding more and more conference and event notifications being posted on Twitter instead of their web site blogs / RSS feeds.  Oh well, it was about time.

However, this small activity gave me pause in my life…

Seriously, I’m starting to feel like I’ve passed my prime in terms of technology trends.  I don’t do the 300+ texts per month; I just now got on the Twitter bandwagon; My Facebook page is not littered with ever little app that I find (I’m selective like that); and I still read books on printed paper.

Maybe I’m just getting a little cynical in my “old age”.  After all, In my day, we didn’t have this obesity problem with kids playing video games all the time.  We enjoyed our 16-bit goodness and savored in the knowledge that we could beat our games in just a few hours and then have the rest of the day to go outside.

HDC ’08

Last week was the Heartland Developer Conference in Omaha and, as usual, it did not disappoint.  This was my fourth year attending the conference and I always enjoy the sessions that happen.  Also at the event was a demo Microsoft Surface table that I got to play around with; and the Microsoft booth had Rock Band 2 set up. I was able to get in one quick jam during the conference; thanks to whoever sat in on the drums…

Some of the more interesting sessions I attended this year include:

  • Rod Paddock on “AJAXing Your .NET Applications”: Very good presentation, especially for the more novice AJAX developers, like myself.  The biggest payback was seeing his demo of the Fiddler tool.  Very cool stuff!
  • Dennis Kirlin on “Estimating in the Abstract”: This was one of my favorites.  Dennis’ presentation was unique in that he presented a number of agile concepts and practices without using any of the associated buzzwords. By doing so, the presentation sounded refreshingly new, even to those already familiar with the concepts.
  • Javier Lozano on “The Zen of ASP.NET and MVC”: I attended a presentation with the IADNUG earlier in the year over this same topic, and it’s amazing the number of changes that have occurred between the earlier CTP and the recent beta release of the MVC framework.  I was unimpressed with the former, but Javier’s presentation won me back.  Now if only they could get the thing out of beta…
  • Clint Edminton on “Modeling in Visual Studio Codename Rosario”: This demo was cool until he told us that these features were for the Architect Edition of Visual Studio Team System.  Does Microsoft not think that developers use UML?  At least they now acknowledge that developers do interact with databases.

The other interesting thing to note was the increase in agile-specific topics, including sessions on using Scrum with Team Foundation Server, and the aforementioned Agile Estimating session.  I’m looking forward to what is to come in 2009.

iTunes 8 – Thanks but No Thanks

I fired up iTunes this morning and received a message asking if I wanted to upgrade to iTunes 8.  Ever since, oh iTunes 7.2, I’ve always clicked no and then done some additional research to see if anything in this update would break my system. Some would say that’s just due diligence, but I think it’s becoming a serious problem.

In all honesty, I really shouldn’t have to be distrustful of getting software updates.  Sure, upgrading major releases, like from iTunes 7.x to iTunes 8, may warrant some additional research. But what about minor patches?

I’m definitely started to lose faith in Apple’s iTunes sofware, and here’s why:

  • Lack of transparency: Have you ever tried to search for iTunes release notes? Here, try it. It’s always strange that Apple’s own web site is never top of the list (or anywhere that I can see it).  But even when I find some sort of release notes, they are vague at best.  “Fixes to improve stability and performance” seems to be the cut-and-paste phrase for every release.  That’s great, but what does that mean exactly?
  • Lack of Disclosure: Ed Bott’s arcticle from ZDNet gives a pretty solid example of this. In it, he talks about all of the “extras” that iTunes secretly includes in its software updates.  MobileMe anyone?  Yea, that might be useful if I owned an iPhone/iPod Touch and wanted to use that service. But I don’t… and I don’t.  So why should I have to install it on my computer?  Unfortunately, that software sneaked onto my computer with the iTunes 7.7 update and it didn’t come with a way to uninstall it (and I haven’t yet found a way that the internet community can agree works without also breaking anything else). Though it sounds like iTunes 8 does allow you to uninstall the MobileMe software… but maybe it’s just a trick to get other software on my computer… (lack of trust, anyone??)
  • Lack of Trust in Quality: Ed’s arcticle also points out the gap in QA that Apple has on the WIndows side.  It’s been a while since I’ve seen the BSOD and I’m leery of any software that would potential raise this issue.

All in all, Apple really needs to shore up its efforts in the software that it pushes out to people.  Otherwise, it’s going to start seeing people jumping off the iTunes bandwagon. After all, it’s not the only fish in the sea anymore.

The Podcast Bug, Part II

iPod WheelBack in January, I posted on getting into the world of (listening to) Podcasts. I said I would discuss some good podcasts once I had sampled a few, and now I am… three months later…

.NET Rocks: This weekly Microsoft-oriented webcast can be a bit overly technical at times, but is a good listen for Microsoft software developers wanting to stay on top of the next big technology.

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The Podcast Bug

Move over music, with your crazy rhythms and sassy lyrics. I’ve been bit by the Podcast bug.

Ok, a little backstory. I got an iPod Nano for Christmas and it has probably been my most-used present thus far. And I’ve been using iTunes as a medium to interact with, and load songs to, my iPod. I had never used iTunes before, so it was a little bit of effort to warm up to it. But now, I’m getting the hang of using it as a way to load up my iPod with music.

Anyway, I met up with an old friend last weekend, who brought me up to speed on Podcasts. Since then, I’ve been scouring the internet for ’em. I really like TWiT – which talks about the latest buzz words in the tech industry. I also have a handful of others loaded in my iPod, waiting for a listen. But nothing I want to promote yet in case they just plain suck.