Eye love you

At work I spend most of my time looking at a computer screen. At home I also spend most of my time looking at a computer screen. Basically: I spend a lot of time looking at a computer screen. Recently I’ve been looking for ways to make this as pleasant as possible. So far I’ve come up with the following:

  • I’ve installed bias lighting after reading this.
  • From the same article I found out Windows 7 has a built-in screen setup procedure in the media center app (it turns out LCD factory settings are on “eye scorching brightness”).
  • Work in progress: getting a new set of hi-res screens at work. See point 9 on The Joel Test.
  • Changing my monospace font to one in this top 10 list. Courier New is apparently almost as bad as Comic Sans.
  • I’m also experimenting with inverted color schemes for my programming tools: C# and JavaScript disguised as Ruby!

In the next few months there will be more changes to my setup, most likely. First up would be a second LCD, although I can’t seem to decide if I want the exact same monitor twice, or perhaps a different one next to my HD one. Either way, so far these changes were more than welcome: can’t imagine how I got along without them.

Interested? Go for it! Show your eyes some love!

Programming music

Lying is useless: I’m addicted… to music. Just about whatever I do, I will have music in the background. Especially when I’m working on the computer: programming, photo-shopping, video-editing, gaming all require music.

Different activities and varying times of day require different types of music for me. Luckily, I enjoy just about all kinds of music. The growing popularity of Spotify has driven both di.fm and last.fm radio from my favorites, and allows me to pick just about anything I want to hear.

This brings us back to the topic of this post then (hope no-one was expecting a guide on how to program music on some device), music for programming duties! I realized I put on certain types of music whenever I’m in a certain type of zone. So here’s a go at my music choice per programming task.

Task Music Genre
Creating C# interfaces, designing server side code Dubstep or Classical Music
C# code (or any server side code, for that matter) Any album that’s very familiar, e.g. Homework
Database design & SQL queries (SELECTs) Electro, Hardstyle, or even some old Gabber tunes
SQL UPDATEs and DELETEs Ambient or downbeat
CSS and HTML (skinning and the like) 90s dance or dirty house
Debugging a difficult problem Classical music or Gregorian chants
Creating wireframes More dubstep
Excel formulas and VBA macros Death Metal or Industrial Powernoise
Footnote: recently ghettofunk has been a great fallback for any programming task. Stickybuds!

Hopefully I’ll be able to look back at this post some time in the future and create an updated overview. Perhaps this will even inspire someone to up a music-programming cross table of their own. If you do: let me know!

Re-discovering JavaScript

Around 1995 I started creating web pages. HTML was my friend, and analogous to the story of Adam and Eve, a companion called CSS was created. I considered HTML to be the robust male of the relationship, and CSS giving the beautiful female touch to my web pages.

Then Darkness came.

A brand new player invaded my perfect little web world and tried to make it into a love triangle. Enter JavaScript. At first this new technique looked awesome to me. I knew Turbo C++ 3.0  (with a nice DOS look and feel) as well as Visual Basic, and was eager to add some dynamic features to my web pages.

Oh how I underestimated the complexity. I knew no patterns, none of my code had ever been reviewed by others, and I tried to figure out everything with trial and error. Plus: I didn’t understand the DOM at all. So I ended up writing stuff like this:

The above snippet must have cost me a week to figure out. I was so frustrated I wanted to ban JavaScript from my pages as much as possible, which is exactly what I did when I learned to use Perl to add dynamic features to web sites.

More than a decade passed, but Darkness was still looming. I tried to stay in the Light with my happy couple HTML and CSS (only tolerating incidental guest appearances by JavaScript). I even turned to WinForms programming in .NET so I wouldn’t have to face the Darkness.

But then my ASP.NET days came, and it turned out: JavaScript was here to stay. However, my second encounter with JavaScript was mediated by jQuery, which had powers rivaling those of Dr. Phil himself. That library makes JavaScript feel like the love child of HTML and CSS, with a dynamic twist.

And so, JavaScript is getting a second chance. Any leftover JavaScript frustrations were explained in this presentation: I started to use JavaScript without ever learning it. So I picked up the corresponding book by Douglas Crockford, which shall be followed by The Definitive Guide. Hopefully this will allow me to Learn to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

Foot note: at the time of writing, the piece of JavaScript code in this post is still running in production, in a Web Shop created in the 90’s, using Perl 5, HTML4, CSS2, and a hint of JavaScript…

Content is King

After having several months of fun with various Social Media, I found Twitter to be the best one for me. Took me a while before I understood why. It’s the quick fire-and-forget blogging “flavor” that I enjoy. Not only is it fun to fire some thoughts onto the web myself, but also to see other people’s thoughts, jokes, and other random goodness.

At the same time I was trying out Twitter I also took up a blogging project, using my World of Warcraft addiction to generate content. Because it’s true:

Content is king!

So after finishing that blogging project with my final episode (an Interactive Youtube Adventure), I sort of landed in a void. Without any more content: what was I to blog about? Besides: who’d want to read what I have to say?

The answer is: who cares!? You can also just blog for your own pleasure (or to overcome your fear of writing). So that’s exactly what I’ll do!