New Build

It looks like I may be getting a new work machine.  I say looks as it may end up being a month before anything happens.

Anyway,  having a clean environment to build up I thought it might be an opportunity to look into using some new applications to see if I can improve my workflow and make my life easier.

The usual suspects currently include

Any suggestions for something else that's better then something I'm currently using?

I've also had the thought of sticking a bare git repo on our backup network share to keep track of changes to documents.  Hopefully that'll reduce the number of my_doc_v1/my_doc_v2 etc.  We'll see how that goes!

Books and Personal Development for 2012

During the last six months of 2011 I began picking up and reading more tech books then I think I had in the previous 3 years.

My interest in Javascript increased as I started playing around with Node.js, creating Google Chrome Extensions and in general trying to (hopefully) make myself a better dev. I then went back-to-basics and began looking at TDD before reading up and playing around with some of the loveliness that is HTML5.

I read through (and highly recommend):
I'm not one for making new years resolutions, but I'd like to keep up my tech reading with at least one book a month (dependant on size of course).  I get at least 1-2 hours of reading time a day commuting to and from work.  I find reading in the morning helps me get my brain up and running, reading on the way home helps me switch off from "work mode".

I'm not looking to pick up any new languages, but anything that demonstrates a new way of thinking, developments in .Net/Javascript/Node/HTML or toolkits which make life easier or more fulfilling for a developer would be of great interest.

I'm not restricting myself completely to physical books.  I do have a Kindle which allows me to make use of the wonderful Send to Kindle extension and Calibres fantastic RSS support to read web content that hasn't been published in either physical or ebook format.

My to-read list currently looks like:
  • Castle/IoC - I still consider myself a newbie with this.  There's plenty I do know, but not concrete enough to start from scratch without a reference at every step.
  • NHibernate/ORMs - I've toyed a little with NHibernate but again would like to get more knowledge in my head.
  • Node.js - I'm really enjoying tinkering with Node, it's time to make something a bit more complete and fully featured!
  • NoSQL - I've done some work with CouchDb but would like to see what other systems are on offer and how they fair.  A better understanding would also be appreciated when it comes to the IndexedDb API in HTML5
  • Android - I have an Android phone (and soon a shiny new tab) plus I am duty bound to deliver something to the inimitable @stringfellow that I have already started.
Finally I have just begun 20 Recipes for Programming MVC3 by Jamie Munro, so I'm sorted for this month.

If you've got a suggestion, I'd love to hear it.

(I've also signed up for the Software Engineering for Software as a Service course by Berkeley University, and by Codecademy both are free and look excellent.)

Gaming For The New Year

I'll admit, I'm a cheap gamer.

It's not often I'll buy things brand spanking new.  While I fully appreciate the time, effort and dedication it takes for a team of developers to create a gaming masterpiece, not all games are masterpieces.  Game prices continue to soar and as a lowly (greedy) consumer I can't afford to buy all the games I want as soon as they are released.  Nor do I always have the time I would like to dedicate to them!

Some games offer a vast amount of playability e.g. Skyrim, some games offer far less e.g. Portal 2.  Both these games are fantastic creations but I felt more comfortable handing over a healthy chunk of money buying Skyrim on release day than I did Portal 2.  I love Portal 2, absolutely love it, for it's design, character and genius.  But I couldn't justify £40+ for less then ten hours of gaming.  Skyrim at 100+ hours is acceptable.

So, being the cheap gamer that I am, I enjoy the January sales.  There has been a recent trend in the high street game stores to offer less interesting deals on pre-owned games.  Some old games such as Hitman and Oblivion have seen a price hike (I got Hitman for £2.50 2 years ago, today it was £7.99!).  With Skyrim being released I assume interest in Oblivion has raised, hence the price change.  But again, 2 years ago I purchased the GOTY edition for £9.99 brand new.  Today the original release (no DLC) pre-owned was £17.99.  Similar patterns can be observed with the Assassins Creed series, Call of Duty and many others.

Two brief shopping sprees have left me with a nice pile of games to get through over the next few months.  By the time I've finished this lot, Assassins Creed Revelations and a few others will have dropped in price!

  • Child Of Eden 
  • Rage
  • Dead Rising 2
  • Far Cry 2
  • Crysis 2
  • Metro 2033
  • Ninety Nine Nights
  • Dark Souls
  • Splinter Cell: Double Agent

Having just looked at the pile under the table I realise I still have this lot to start or play through properly!

  • Skyrim - The missus is currently playing this
  • Fable 2 - Which will undoubtedly lead to buying Fable 3
  • Halo 3 - All the Halo love seems to of skipped me by.
  • Left For Dead
  • Left For Dead 2 - I've only been playing multiplayer with these!
  • Star Wars: The Force Unleashed  - With which I suffered a rather annoying bug where I need to restart my game!

I'll check back at the end of the year and see how many I got through!