Finishing Things

Nearly without exception have I used Title Case in my post titles. This time though, it’s more appropriate than ever. The “Things” I speak of are my “open” Projects. Unfinished things that feel Big, but that can either be small, or at least be done in small pieces.

Yes, you’ve guessed correctly, I’ve made my choice: I’m going to finish and/or wrap up loose ends.

You know what? I’ve already started. In fact, I’ve already wrapped up the first project, which probably means that I’ll write (after months of silence) a third post in one week.

Projects to Wrap Up

But let’s not get ahead of myself. The set of projects I want to wrap up is this subset of projects you can find on my www:

  • BattleTop. My RPG initiative app. Reached fully-functional beta status. However, with less and less Table Top RPG sessions, it’s hard to fully test and further develop the app. Gonna Wrap It Up!
  • TimeLine. An app to visualize grouped timelines, though in honesty a personal playground for new html5 semantic elements. Did not get past prototype status. Gonna Wrap It Up!
  • DotaGrid. A pragmatic tool hacked together to customize the Dota 2 hero picker. Reached beta status, but wasn’t really meant to go beyond that anyways: heck, the code is grouped in a file called “MyMonolithicApp.js”. Gonna Wrap It Up, though I might update it occasionally with new heroes if I feel like it.
  • Bieb. A somewhat bigger project to create a website showcasing books you have in your own library. Not even in alpha status yet, will have to see how I will Wrap It Up…

That’s it! I’m looking forward to wrapping those projects up. Hopefully it’ll give me some closure, and by side effect some energy to start new projects!

Stay tuned for the first wrap-up-post.

Starting a New Series

It’s been a while since my last post. I miss writing though, so here’s my plan to get back on track. I’ll do it similar to last time I needed to “reboot”, only I haven’t decided on a topic yet. Here are my current ideas:

  • Infographic katas. This would be a nice opportunity to refresh my Photoshop skills.
  • Finishing my projects. I’ve got several smallish OSS projects, I’d love to be finishing them; or, if not finishing, then at least wrapping them up. Writing about it may be what’s needed to get me started.
  • Graphs.  I love to find weird correlations and graph them, not much unlike an XKCD copycat. Perhaps such a series could be fun.
  • Review OSS codebases. I’ve been meaning to do that more structurally anyway, to get a better grasp of how some of them work. I may as well use it as content for my blog.

I’m not sure which one I’ll pick, if any of them. But at least I’m back on my feet thinking about writing again!

The Cost of Buying a House

Buying (and moving into) a house will cost you some downtime in blogging. Some 127 days of downtime, to be precise. But, for me, it was worth it!

Now to get back into the game. For a few weeks now I’ve been trying, but haven’t been able to do so. Why? Not sure. How will I solve it? By doing what I do best: dissect the situation into a well organized overview.

Here’s a list of all the topics I feel I may write about.

Metaphors & Analogies

I love metaphors and analogies, especially when it comes to explaining IT stuff to non-technical folk. This includes but is not limited to the subtype “explanations for x year old” (here’s a great example with Dependency Injection). Some specific topics I enjoy:

  • The difference between Stubs, Fakes, and Mocks, possibly using Santa Clause in the explanation.
  • Differences between types of software testing.
  • Finding appropriate titles for bug tickets that appeal to non-technical folk.
  • A concise description of what I do at work.

Tools of 2013

Maybe I should write about some the tools I started using (more) in 2013:

  • KnockoutJS, a client (JavaScript) MVVM library.
  • Jenkins (CI software) and/or PowerShell scripting.
  • Browser charting libraries.
  • CSS extensions like SASS and LESS.
  • Twitter Bootstrap.

Tools of 2014

Some things I may want to get into some more this coming year:

  • Even though I sometimes hate it: Java. But only if I can get my hands on a Glass.
  • Check out the competition for KnockoutJS.
  • Some of the Apache projects like SOLR, Hadoop, etc.
  • Differences between various DI Containers.

Pet Peeves

Here are some things that keep coming back:

Hmm, surely I have more pet problems? Maybe I should retrofit any I think of into this list.

Gaming

Two things come to mind for this category:

  • An overview of my favorite / most played games;
  • Something about my latest “addiction”: DOTA 2.

Miscellaneous

Making lists is one of the things I’m good at, but still I always end up with this category. Oh well, some final thoughts I may (or may not) write about:

  • Things about The House.
  • Choosing and/or building a home entertainment solution.
  • An update about my Book List.
  • Anything that can serve as a vehicle to practice making Infographics.

In any case: stay tuned!

Stack Exchange Challenge: Half-time

Almost one year ago I started my own Stack Exchange Challenge: evaluating Stack Exchange sites while trying to contribute. Progress has been slow but semi-steady, and there are currently 6 episodes in the SE Challenge tag.

Wanting to finish this “challenge” somewhere in 2013 I’ve decided it’s time to make a plan. Here it is:

Done:

  1. Episode 1: Cooking Stack Exchange Challenge
  2. Episode 2: Programming Stack Exchange Challenge
  3. Episode 3: Gaming Stack Exchange Challenge
  4. Episode 4: Android Stack Exchange Challenge
  5. Episode 5: User Experience Stack Exchange Challenge
  6. Episode 6: DBA Stack Exchange Challenge

To do:

  1. Episode 7: Area 51 Stack Exchange Challenge
  2. Episode 8: Area 51 Discuss Stack Exchange Challenge
  3. Episode 9: Meta Stack Overflow Stack Exchange Challenge
  4. Episode 10: Stack Overflow Stack Exchange Challenge

So there you have it: I’ll be finishing up the coming weeks (possibly months) with the “special” Stack Exchange sites. I’ll update this post with links as I move on.

Boy, I love finishing projects!


Update September 2013: added links to the finished second half.

So much to do

So much to do, yet so little time.  Three weeks of vacation have come and gone. Two weeks of work have come and gone. One of those work weeks was even a week #OffsiteCoding, where we went to a great (I’d dare even say luxuruous) location with the whole IT team, to work (dedicated) on a new part of our product.

New computer desk at homeAfter those five summer weeks I’m still full of inspiration, and deep into several projects and new hobbies. If I fail to post on my blog, rest easy knowing I’ll be enjoying myself with:

  • Guild Wars 2, also known as World of Warcraft 2.0;
  • The Mists of Pandaria expansion for World of Warcraft;
  • Our brand new Open Source project Bieb (on CodePlex), which is now public (yay!), but still needs a release (boo!);
  • Studying for my 70-513 exam on WCF;
  • Cranking up my skills with WPF, which I’ll be using at work a bit more the coming months.

Much of my inspiration for new projects comes from finishing other projects. Have a look at the picture for the most recently finished project: a custom (home) made desk for two workplaces at home.

Problem with this approach for getting inspired: every finished project gives me inspiration for two more! Like I said: so much to do, yet so little time. A luxury problem, I suppose.

Book List

Okay, I’ll admit it: I love making lists. The Pragmatic ProgrammerI’m one of those people that can make a list of things to do, and add one or two things I’ve already done, just so I can enjoy that feeling you get when you check something off the to-do-list. Do you recognize that feeling?

For books I know there’s wildly popular sites like Goodreads, to keep a list of things to read, get suggestions, and so on. I wanted something simpler, and something I have control over. So I decided to put it up on my blog as a page, just like all the (other?) hipsters with blogs. Not so much a reading list to tell others what they should read, but more a track record where I can quickly look up things I’ve read before.

The book that inspired me for this reading list (shown in the image) is The Pragmatic Programmer, amongst others. Who knows; perhaps this post will inspire others to (re)start a reading list as well?

Want to know what I have been reading? Check out my book list.

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!