Archive for the ‘Rant about Life’ Category

Main Display fish tank set up

February 11, 2008

I’ve finally got my main tank to a point where I’m happy enough to show it off. Its a 350 Liter corner tank with a 1200L/H filter (it looks like an eheim but its not ūüôā ).

Its currently understocked, having only 3 cardinal fishies, 4 neon tetra ones and 1 little Golden Algae eater (the 3 pictures are stolen from the web, my fishies never stay still long enough for a quality snap).

neon cardinals   Neon tetra   Golden algae eaters

On my next trip to Auckland, i’m planning on going discus shopping. Phil (A fish breader in auckland) sells a good range of fancy coloured discus and has them on sale on trademe for a good price (usually around the $50 mark for some baby 45mm snake skin ones). i’ve been keeping an good eye on them and whenI get a chance,¬†i’ll snatch as many as my pocket can afford.

Main tank setup:
Main Fish Tank   filter   Temp

Golden Algae Eater   neon Tetra and Neon Cardinal   100_2029.jpg

To be or not to be? – Jack of all trades

February 8, 2008

jack_of_all_trades.jpgA few days back at the weekly mentoring session at work an interesting topic came up, To Specialize or not to specialize in the IT industry.

As a Microsoft partner, most products and solutions we sell is Microsoft based (CRM, MOSS, .Net etc) so to a degree as a company, we have already specialized. However, within this space, there’s a lot more to think about, for example, specializing in winforms, Web services, web apps or even specializing horizontal across these, for example, security, use of Application blocks such as policy injection, logging, enterprise search tools etc.

Towards the end of this, there was a vote, who would like to specialize and who wouldn’t. From recall, I think it was pretty close to 50/50 in each camp. It seemed that the idea of having dedicated people / group to call on in the time of need seemed very appealing, however, being a person known as an expert didn’t appeal to everyone .

A few quick things for consideration on this…

  • point.gifIt is always good to have help from people and leverage off others knowledge (everyone needs experts to climb on).
  • point.gif(Most) developers by nature want to learn and grow. When we get a chance to play with new technology, its like a little kid opening a up their¬†Christmas present.
  • point.gifBeing given the title ‚ÄėExpert‚Äô gives huge kudos amounts your work mates (including managers and PMs), which could help you land the next best project.
  • point.gifBeing an expert in old technology usually means that you end up supporting legacy systems and that the only way to get your hands on new toys is by leaving and finding a new job.
  • point.gifBeing the last expert in an old technology means you never get any work done as everyone else is asking you for help when they are digging into old systems.
  • point.gifWhen you feel you have reached as far as you can / want to, you would most likely want to dig into something different, therefore experts would be hard to keep.
  • point.gifWhen you are at the stage in life where you are happy to settle on stuff (maybe when you start having a family?) and sick of the would moving so darn fast, you might appreciate being the master of a technology no matter how old that technology is (Cobol anyone)?
  • point.gifThe time and investment required to be the first to discover, investigate and solve problems. This requires commitment from the company and also in many cases, the client. In most cases, Its not ideal to have tight deadlines and playing with new technology, you will only ever focus on the immediate goal and not the learning required to overcome a technology.
  • point.gifBeing an expert could mean the company is now dependent on you (pay rise anyone)?
  • point.gifBeing an expert could also mean the company forgets about you and loses visibility over all the things you do during a work day.

Anyway, a few thoughts…
I‚Äôm a keen advocate of the phrase ‚ÄúJack of all trades, master of none‚ÄĚ, though the phrase ‚ÄúJack of all trades, master of most‚ÄĚ does sound more appropriate in IT. In IT, It really does help if you can provide business solutions independently. It also helps if you have a basic understanding of a wide range of technology. With this basic knowledge, Google becomes a much better friend and the time you spend solving a complex problem becomes shorter. With technologies such as .Net and WCF abstracting complexity, it‚Äôs too easy for people to know how to plug things together without actually knowing the details around the underlying technology so when problems occurs, they are lost for how to begin solving them. For me, i think its best to have a breath of skills and do whatever you¬†are working on¬†well, that way, you may become natural experts in areas that you have worked on and still have broad knowledge.

Credit: Image shamelessly stolen from http://www.pjsinnam.com  (PJ Udo C.J. Fischer Р1975)

KiwiCon 2k7

November 21, 2007

Kiwicon 2k7 

Last weekend I had the chance to go to Kiwicon, a security / hacking conference held in wellington running over a 2 day period. It was presented by a bunch of locals and a few out of towners, including one Russian guy with a very strong ascent. Many of the presenters had been presenting at Defcon and obviously knew what they were talking about and once again, the keynote was very impressive.Although not all the content was relevant from a developers point of view, all speakers broaden my way of thinking and highlighted to some degree the illusion of security (which is of-course relevant to everyone).

There were a few guys from Security-Assessment  presenting on how they do some of there job, what they lookout for and some examples of where things have really gone wrong (extremely useful from a developers view, especially because we deal with them a lot as they check some of the software / web applications we produce).

All and all, very worth while event, no regrets <william hung style> on spending a sunny wellington weekend inside listening to computer related security stuff.

I’m still completely wasted after¬†the conference¬†combined with the amount of overtime I’m pitching in at work, so not such a big write up for¬†now but over the next few days¬†I plan to post a few notes on some of the talks <watch this space??? ūüôā >

Tech Ed New Zealand 2007

August 15, 2007

Well its been a real busy 3 days up in Auckland’s Tech Ed.There were 18 intergenites all up and as work had it, we all showed up in bright yellow cammo army style gear which after the original shock, really looked impressive. We did manage to really enforce our presence there as you could amagine, 18 guys (and girls) dressed up in bright yellow army style pants would do. It was also very impressive seeing the social aspect/effect¬†of this¬†when walking out side of tech Ed and seeing the people of auckland taking double looks at us :-).

Moving on, there were some real highlights to Tech Ed (outside of the Tech fest party of course), they where

key note The key note was largely delivered by Lou Carbone, unfortunately I wasnt taking any notes as this was really worthy of it. Lou Carbone talked heaps about user experience, emphesising, you can have ultimetely crap service (or product) but still walk away with a great experience.One example (out of the many great examples he gave) was around him getting his hair cut during a trip to Canada. Story goes along the lines of this great looking barber shop that he went to to get his hair cut. He used strong visual words and pictures to describe the triditional nature of this shop, having native wood, fragerences etc. The barber himself was dressed in a white outfit as opposed to the more common jeans and t-shirt. So he goes in for a hair cut, gets the whole treatment, shampoo / conditioner, the massaging of his hair as this is all happening, soothing music playing in the background and gentel smell of aftershave. Infact, he was so happy from this that he also got his beard trimmed. As an added bonus, he also got his ear lobes genetly massaged (and how great that was). So when he looked into the mirror after the cut, he was supprised to see a less then average cut. Anyway, based on his experience there, he just couldnt help but keep going back, infact he started planning his hair cuts around his trips to Canada. Anyway, I really cant express this in such powerful words as he could but the underlying idea is around the experience and not always the quality (though I wouldnt think this is a good excuse for crap software, there really must be a point where the quality impacts the actual experience???).

Another example to this was based around staying at a dark motel where you might be too afraid to close your eyes at night vs a 5star hotel where the toilet paper gets folded in triangles to indicate the room has been cleaned and where your bath towels are foled into shapes, pockets or even swans.

One other important aspect to the experience puzzle is the wording, it is too easy to get the wrong message accross with small changes in words and the flip side is that it is also easy to get the right message accross using good words

I think this relates directly to the software industry as Its virtually impossible to create bug free software, however, if customers feel listened to and that the software provider understands their business / goals and believes in the support they are getting, chances are, they will keep coming back.

Software + services: microsoft’s vision for SOA, Saas and Web 2.0 (Michael Platt)

This session was a great introduction into some of the movements in the software industry and what is driving web 2.0.

The main drivers mentioned being mainly Business drivers (Mentioning both Google using the advertising model and amazon using virtual marketing with the focus on specilist books) and social drivers (myspace, beebo and facebook being prime examples). One interesting spin off to this was the fact that different “brands” of social networks had very different uptake levels from country to country. Another interesting point that he had mentioned and that has been in the spot light is the protection of peoples tention data (privacy and identitys over these social networks). He mentions Tim’s Blog article “7 rules of identity” for further readings.

Out side of this, He makes comparasons between Service Oriented Architecture(SOA) and Software as a Service, with strong emphesis on their charastics and the audience which ends up using them (SOA = loosely coupled, mainly used by enterprise, SaaS being picked up / targetted at Independent Software Vendor ).

His talk on the general web 2.0 aspect covered the strong uptake on mashup systems, user experience, architecture consideration and again, the security concerns.

Building rich Web experiences Using Silverlight and Javascript for developers (Joe Stegman)

This Session went through some of the basics steps around setting up a basic silverlight Project. It introduces silverlight as a kind of flash alternative (even though I dont think i ever heard flash mentioned). A few things mentioned which lead to this conclusion but yet for the life of me, I cant think of any one strong case which lead me down thgis path . There was also a lot around hooking up events to selverlight and alot of demos around the actual javascript involved. There was also afair bit of talk about the actual XAML. All and all, even though I dont thhink it was as techkie for the many c# developers, It was a great introduction to silverlight from a high level and it also highlighted many features to look out for with silverlight 1.1 (all demos were based on the current 1.0 release).

Fronde Debate – Agile? just another word for hacking!

Nothing to do at lunch time? why not show up to a light hearted debate on agile vs waterfull developement? This debate was a very humours debate, most of teh debate was focus more on personality and personal aspects of the actual debaters, however there were quite afew very good points that were brought out from both sides that at one point I was almost (i do emphesise the ALMOST) convinbced that the waterfall methology coukd work in quite afew situations, mainly, smaller applications that for what ever reasons, the application must be delivered within a short time frame that changes just can not happen… Anyway, It was a good debate and the debater from Mainfareight? did manage to put some good arguments through in favor of waterfull ( without too many personal attacks). The agile team did win in the end by audience vote but i think (as did the presenter), the Waterfall team did put a beter argument though. The ending few words came from the mainfreight debater who did confess that he was a agile man at heart and that they do infact work using agile techniques.

Lack of Xbox light gun games

July 18, 2007

Last weekend I was at cash converters in town looking at bargins, Amazingly I saw an xbox 360 with wireless controllers, hard drive (which is required for playing older xbox games on the 360) and the dvd remote for the extremely low price of $360. Now at the time of writing, the cheapest xbox deal on trademe is well over $400 and thats for the core system only, so Im really kicking myself at the moment (I obviously didnt buy it). The only game at the moment which to me would justify spending that money on an xbox would be Guitar Hero 2¬†which I have been playing heavly with Jo and Blair on the xbox 360 at work. The options to upgrade to the upcomming “Rock Bands” (Which combine the guitars, some drums and singstar style singing into the one game)¬†also helps make this a worth while investment, but allast, I missed out ūüė¶

Anyway, the other bargin I spotted was a Xbox light gun for $12 which I thought was pretty darn good so swiped my card and went home with my new toy to search on the internet for what game titles¬†are avaliable. To my amazement, I found very few.¬† The 2 that I did find were the “Silent scope” series, which reminds me¬†of the old sega game virtua cop but with the twist of having a scope function,¬†and “The house of the dead” series which is more of your typical shoot as many zombies as you can and as fast as you can!!!.

After a huge hunt online and around town I managed to track down a old copy of “The house of the dead 3” which United Video was selling as a resurfaced ex rental for $20. The back cover talks about it also having the 2nd of the series avaliable as a unlock (I’ll post the save game which allows for the unlock once I find one or once I’ve clocked/unlocked¬†it myself). At the same united video (Courtney Place) they were renting out “Silent scope Complete” which is a 4 in one game containing all 3 of the arcade versions and the original console game (a grand price of $3.50 for 8 days). Short of this, I couldnt find any others.

So huge Disapointment, more so knowing that Silent scope is only a 1 player game!!!.

All is not lost however as I have read on the net in a few places that a lot of these light guns on the xbox work with MAME games so if you have a modded xbox, a MAME emulator installed¬†and some “legal” mame games around (I dont endorse piracy on my blog ūüôā ), you should be able to hook these up.

Moral of the post (and a note to Microsoft Xbox Team), Please please please, if you plan to release peripherals for the Xbox (360), make sure there are enough people out there to support development of games using these cool toys. A great example would be Guitar hero, which has been rumored that the guitar would be reusable for the upcomming games Activision releases in this series (Rock Bands).

If anyone out there knows of any other xbox games which support the Light Gun, I would greatly appreciate if you could post a comment with their names.

List so far:

  • point.gif¬†Silent Scope Complete (contains 4 slient scope games on the one dvd)
              1 Player Game
              tn_silentscopedvdcd98_jpg.jpg
  • point.gif¬†The house of the dead 3 (contains The house of the dead 2 as an unlock)
              1- 2 Player Game
               house-of-the-dead3.jpg
  • point.gif¬†Starsky & Hutch¬†
              1- 2 Player Game
              646521_140.jpg

Update:

A list of Light gun games has been found on wikipedia, dont know why I didnt find this before…. Anyway, confirms there are only 3 games for the xbox using light guns, totally guttered…