Pragmatic Programming and craftsmanship

I finished reading through the first Pragmatic Programmer book this weekend. It is quite an inspiring read if you are a programmer and have a passion for what you do for a living. If you are a project manager, it can provide a few pointers as well as a great deal of insight as to what you should expect and encourage in the developers on your team.

I plan to implement a number of the Agile/Pragmatic methodologies on my current project at work. I will journal the results of them here.

Nanosaur II: Hatchling, neat game

I was on the .Mac site several days ago, trying to see what freebies might help defray the $100 they received from me last September. It doesn’t look very hopeful. There was this puzzle game that was free, so I downloaded it. Luckily, my wife loves jigsaw puzzles, so that was a hit with her. There was also this demo of Nanosaur II: Hatching, from Pangea Software.

It was a fun demo, and there is a discount for .Mac members. So, I figured what the heck and went for it. I think they have me figured out; I will end up spending hundreds of dollars to get discounts that will only partially defray the cost of the .Mac service.

This is a pretty cool game. The graphics are really impressive. It can apparently be played in 3D, though I think my Lasik surgery has forever ruined my capacity for this, just like binoculars and microscopes. I am a gaming novice at best, but I can say that the quality of the graphics and the accuracy of the flight motions is pretty impressive.

Of course, this also means that I am nowhere near as far in my books as I had hoped for the week… 8^)

Pragmatic Programming, Day 1

My Pragmatic Programmer books came in the mail today. Since I have the next week off from the J2EE study group, I decided to make my first pass through at least the original book. I am behind on EJB and design patterns, but these books hold so much promise for rubber-meets-the-road applicability that I can’t wait.

Just the first few chapters are great. It’s the kind of material that makes you wish you had come across it years ago. As each section is stepped through, an experienced developer with enough history on projects will find themselves identifying with every point, whether good or bad.

I think Dave and Andy have much to offer anyone involved with software development. Never before have I seen so much insight distilled into such a compact form. I am sure I will be writing about these books more as I progress.

Java Connector Architecture – mostly for vendors

So I am reading through my study group material for Java Connector Architecture, learning about all the things you can do with it. At the end of the material, I basically find out that it is so laborious that it mostly pays off only for vendors who are going to provide a JCA adapter for their enterprise information system and resell it to many customers. Somewhat of a let-down, really.

A memorable evening with Bob Edwards

Once in a while you have those experiences that you know you are going to remember forever and probably tell your kids about, if you have kids. If you end up not having kids, that’s not the end of the world. Tell somebody else’s kids; you get to tell them cool things (to you, at least) and then you don’t have to deal with them outside of that. Anyway, I was able to attend Bob Edwards’ visit to the Conant Arts Center at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta tonight.

Perhaps the name Bob Edwards doesn’t ring a bell for you right away. That’s OK, I have the same feeling every time someone asks me what I thought of the game last night. Bob Edwards has been the voice of Morning Edition on National Public Radio (NPR) for about 30 years. My memories of Bob’s voice go back to my early teens.
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AJUG DevCon 2004

Today was the first-ever conference for the Atlanta Java Users Group (AJUG), titled DevCon 2004. It was great; our president Burr Sutter lined up a pretty impressive array of speakers, including Andy Hunt of Pragmatic Programmer fame and Neal Ford, author of the recent Manning title The Art of Java Web Development. In case the term Pragmatic Programmer rings a bell, you may recall one of my earliest blog entries referring to Dave Thomas. He and Andy are the co-founders of the Pragmatic Programmer line of books. The stuff is wonderful; check it out.

We also had several of our local Java gurus who gave great sessions as well. A big thanks to the AJUG sponsors and all the speakers as well as the AJUG folks who pulled it all together.

If you want to see something really cool, keep an eye out for “Looking Glass”, a 3D Java desktop from Sun. I saw demos of it today, and a cross between XWindows, Mac OS X Quartz with Expos?, and Minority Report came to mind.

Zelda Classic – a study in simultaneous elation and dread

Hey, those of you who ever got hooked on Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda, question: did you know there was a Windows port of that game? Yeah, it’s called Zelda Classic and it is freeware from Armageddon Games. I stumbled upon it while reading links from a Slashdot story. I downloaded it and installed it onto a Windows 2000 instance in Virtual PC on my PowerBook. It is quite true to the original; I had a blast playing it.

The trouble is that I blew a quick six hours doing that when I should have been going through my Java material. Now I am sucking wind for Monday night’s J2EE study group.

Bruce Tate’s Bitter Java – a new favorite

I had a couple of Borders coupons to burn, so I spent Friday afternoon checking out books. Rarely do I read a whole first chapter of a book before deciding to buy it. When I picked up Bitter Java, I was into the second chapter before I realized it. If you haven’t seen this book, check it out.

When you have intermediate to advanced skill in one application development platform, switching to another one can be frustrating. Many books exist for both the novice and the guru, but few exist for the “yeah, I have the separation of concerns thing down, so how is it done in this environment?” type of individual.

Enter Bitter Java. The book has been around for a couple of years. The follow-up title, Bitter EJB, has been a huge success. Bitter Java starts with a poorly-authored BBS app and walks through refactoring the solution, using the app as a case study for antipatterns. I would think that even Java developers with a few years under their belt could stand to benefit from the book. Bruce’s interspersing of outdoor adventure excerpts also make the volume an even better read.