Archive for October, 2013

30-year Progress

October 30, 2013

I’ve been reflecting over the last several days about how things have changed over the last 20 – 30 years. With the turn of the Millinenum, it’s difficult to trhack these changes. 30 years ago was 1983. 20 years ago was 1993 and 10 years ago was 2003. The last 10 years were “post dot-com”, which is remarkable to me that so much time has gone by  since I had to “start over” — like a lot of other people too!

In terms of my professional interests in technology, speficially, software engineering project management, a lot hasn’t changed. No matter what the latest platforms are: web 2.0, ruby on rails, open source, . net, cloud computing, youtube, facebook, twitter, managing a software project aka technology endeavour is esseetially the same: envision, develop, execute and iterate.

My personal (career) strategy is to start over with focusing on just the “nuts and bolts” of programming, i.e. getting a computer to do most of the work for you within a command shell / scripting environment. I may be pursuing the most mundane technology topic, but I’m happy to be alone on this enlightening journey. (I know I’m not totally alone, as I’ve found a hand full of books on scripting, prefaced by “Wicked Cool”, so I tell myself I’m “pretty good” if not “wicked cool”.

I’ve actually been on hiatus from serious software engineer over the last decade. Sometimes I feel as if I’ve missed the boat on getting up-to-speed on the Microsoft .net technology platform. My skills in the VBA (Visual Basic for Applications) is still pretty good, I consider myself an Excel and Access power user, but I also believe I have a strong software engineering background — albeit self-taught.

So, here I am, trying to focus on what I need to do to sustain employment until “retirement”. I’m actually hoping not to retire in the traditional sense. I would just like have more control over my schedule so I can play golf and still get paid for my knowledge and skills. We’ll see. So next up, I’m learning how to “live in a command line world”. I’m still trying to figure out the difference between Linux and BSD, and all of the different shells you can choose from. For now, I’m just going to call it all “command line” and go from there.

“Digital Vampire Watch” is my blog, which focuses on avoiding the things that waste your time.  My plan is to try to stay away from the web browser, and “run in the dark” of the terminal prompt!

BTW — I’ve adopted a hybrid approach.  Type and edit in vi, and copy and paste into WordPress  through the browser.


Tools and Accelerators

October 25, 2013

I recently made a comment to a work colleague, that if he could understand metaphors, he could understand technology. What I was trying to impress upon him, is that programming is a process of designing tools which accelerate the completion of tasks within a system. I’m not sure if software engineering has ever been described this way, but I’ve been thinking a little about the topic of algorithms, and how they are tools which accelerate a calculation process using inputs and computing them into outputs.

It brings me to the point of this post, which is that “technology” relies on both hardware and software to achieve its objectives. Sofware doesn’t usually get a lot of attention because it’s something that you don’t physically touch. Rather, it’s an experience you feel, or an interaction you think about and focus upon.

I’ve been trying to use the simple tool of the text editor in a command line environment to improve both my programming skills and ability to focus. There are things that I’m used to doing in a GUI environment, that I need to learn to do in a command line environment, such as cutting and pasting, and file manipulation and management.

Even though I’m working slower to figure things out and undo mistakes, I feel a sense of accomplishment which doesn’t happen very much in a point-and-click windows environment. I think it may have to do with the number of objects that are in front of me at a single time. I really enjoy the simplity of seeing a blank screen, and finding the results of my efforts to synthesize my thoughts in front of me.

So, it’s onward with the command line and BSD / Linux, and the bliss of simplicity!