Tuesday, December 8, 2009

To Blog, or Not To Blog

It’s been a while since I’ve done a blog post.   Sometimes I wonder if I should even bother.   In my profession, which is computer programming, they say you ought to do a blog to get your thoughts and ideas out there, be visible and searchable on the web.   In the same breath, they say to be careful of what you post on the Internet because a prospective employer might search on you and you don’t want them to find anything questionable.    Kinda takes the fun out the Internet to have to worry about stuff like that, lol.

I would do a professional blog except that my most recent experience in the profession was with antiques, VMS, BASIC, COBOL and Visual Basic 6.0 (which, if you know anything about it, was replaced by VB.NET long ago).   Not much motivation there to blog about that stuff.    Besides which, I recently “outsourced” and no longer have a job, even one working with old languages such as those.  

I suppose I could rail on about outsourcing in general and my situation in particular, but the severance agreement was conditional on not badmouthing the company, nor do I really wish to do so.   They made their choice, whether I agree with the merits of it or not.

Being unemployed in a down economy is no fun.   Add to that, the profession that I have my years of experience in is by and large being off-shored and outsourced, making jobs harder still to find.   And there’s the relative obsolescence of my skills, technology changes so fast and one big drawback to staying with the same company for 7 years is a lack of opportunity to learn the latest and greatest.   In retrospect, I should have found a new job years ago, one that would have given me the chance to get experience in the technology I need to know to get and keep a job in my profession.  

So, here I am with years of experience, the natural abilities to learn and excel in my job, but without the experience necessary to get a job that would allow me to do that.     Even in an up economy the likelihood of getting a job where they’d take a risk and give me a chance to prove myself is slim, I don’t expect to find such a job now.    

Maybe if I were more of an A type personality, things would have turned out differently, I don’t know.   If I had it to do over again, I’d never have become a computer programmer.    Always wanted to be an engineer, should have done that.  

I suppose everyone gets to a point in their lives where they see every life decision as a misstep, wish they could change things, and struggle to convince themselves that they can change things from here on out.   I’m there, now, and it’s hard.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

My Top 10 Technology Related Blogs/Podcasts

I’ve always been into technology, it’s always fascinated me and though I don’t get into it as much as I’d like, I try to keep up with the latest things.   Because I have a really long commute I listen to a  lot of podcasts, so that is primarily how I keep up with the technology news.    Here are my top 10 sources of technology related news and information, roughly ordered by how much I personally value them.

1.  Bwana McCall – number one on my list is Bwana who does technology and gaming news and reviews, he has both an audio podcast at http://radio.bwana.org/ and a video podcast as well as live streaming at http://www.bwana.tv/.    He’s a very engaging personality and entertains at the same time as he informs.    If I could only listen to one tech podcast, this would probably be it.

2.  DL.TV – a video tech show with Robert Heron of PCMag.com, this is another extremely entertaining and informative show on technology and gaming news and reviews.    Currently on hiatus according to the web site, I really hope this show comes back soon and continues with it’s great content.    You can find past shows at http://dl.tv/

3.  ExtremeTech – Extreme tech is just that, extreme, this website/podcast gets into the nitty gritty details of technology.   If you really want to learn about technology, this is one you’ve got to listen to.     And perhaps surprisingly, I find it entertaining as well.   You can find it at http://www.extremetech.com/, and the direct RSS feed for the podcast is http://feeds.ziffdavis.com/ziffdavis/extremetech

4.  CrankyGeeks – John C. Dvorak has been a figure in the technology world for as long as I can remember, he was doing articles for PC Magazine when I became interested in computer technology back in the 80’s.    CrankyGeeks is an irreverent commentary on things going on in the world of technology.   Find it at http://www.crankygeeks.com/ and Dvorak’s personal blog is at http://www.dvorak.org/blog/.

5.  Hanselminutes – Scott Hanselman is a web developer, technologist and evangelist for Microsoft with a very good podcast on development that leans primarily toward the Microsoft technologies, notably .Net.   If you’re a programmer this is well worth your while to listen to, even if you’re not developing in .Net, you can find it at http://hanselminutes.com/.   Also check out his blog at http://www.hanselman.com/blog/

6.  DotNet Rocks – The premier podcast for .Net programmers, this show is another one that’s worth while to listen to, even if you not involved in .Net development.   Anyone who developed in Visual Basic back in the old days should know the host Carl Franklin, the Carl from the Carl and Gary’s website which was *the* website back in the day for VB programmers.   With co-host Richard Campbell, they put out shows twice a week that cover a variety of development topics.   You can find them at http://dotnetrocks.com/, and also checkout http://dnrtv.com/ for video tutorials that cover .Net technologies.

7.  Podnutz – a podcast about computer repair done by Steve Cherubino, this podcast goes over basic computer repairs from the viewpoint of an independent computer repair shop.   There is a “daily” show that comes out a couple times a week where Steve goes over the repair issues encountered in the shop that week, and a monthly show that covers a specific computer repair topic, usually with a guest.   A good show if you are in the computer repair business or just want to pick up a few tips, he can be a bit disorganized at times on the daily show but all in all a good and informative show.    You can find these and some other podcasts that Steve participates in at http://podnutz.com/.

8.  Chris Pirillo aka the Lockergnome – I first became aware of Chris Pirillo many, many years ago when he started Lockergnome and started sending out tips by e-mail.  Those e-mails contained a wealth of useful things and to this day I think I still have some in my e-mail archives.    These days Chris as built up a big web presence in the technology arena with http://chris.pirillo.com/ and http://www.lockergnome.com/.   Streaming live video 24/7/365 at http://chris.pirillo.com/live/, he’s there most of the time recording videos and interacting with the chat room.   He generates a prodigious number of short videos, answering questions he gets about a variety of technology related topics.    He does an annual conference called Gnomdex that you can get more information about at  http://www.gnomedex.com/ and his latest endeavor is http://geeks.pirillo.com/ an online community for geeks.  If I have one thing I don’t like about Chris these days it’s that he seems to be more focused on building and monetizing his web presence than the technology itself, at least that’s the impression comes through to me.   I have to admit he does a good job of it and if that’s what you want to learn, he’s a good one to look to for tips.    Still, he’s one of the better resources on the web for tech information in an entertaining format.

9.  TWiT – Leo Laporte is probably the most prolific tech guys out there, he’s got numerous tech related shows and a large following.    Found at http://twit.tv/, the main show I listen to is this WEEK in TECH which is a bit of a long listen at 1 1/2 hours but is an entertaining tech roundtable discussion with various guests.   It’s a good one to listen to while driving, but still being something you can skip if you don’t have the time.  

10.   Make Magazine – Finally, we have the Make Magazine video podcasts.    If you are a tinkerer and like to take things apart and use the bits to make things, this is the magazine and podcast for you.    The magazine is a bit pricy, but is very high quality.   The podcast is free, however, and covers articles that are in the magazine.  You can find it at http://blog.makezine.com/podcast/

Those are my current top 10 podcasts/blogs/sources for technology news, reviews and commentary. 

What are your favorites?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Putting the Stuffing Back In

Like a lot of people, I tend to avoid going to the doctor unless I’m really sick.   Unfortunately, this bad habit has prevented me from taking care of a few medical conditions that ought to have been dealt with years ago.   One of my “resolutions” recently has been to take care of one such condition, namely the umbilical hernia that I’ve been living with for the past 10 years or so.   So last Friday I went in for surgery to have it repaired.  

It was the first real surgery I’ve ever had, so I was a bit nervous when I went in there but everyone was nice and that helped a lot.    They wheeled me into the operating room and started getting me situated, the anesthesiologist asked me a few questions and the nurse put was getting me situated on the table, the next thing I knew I was waking up in the recovery room and my stomach hurt some.    Was as simple as that, not really a big deal at all.    Spent a while in the recovery room while they kept an eye on me and made sure I was ok.   After a bit, a nurse helped me get dressed and after a bit of a wait for my ride, I left and it was over.

My belly was pretty sore until I got my prescription filled, then the pain medication helped a bit, spent most of the afternoon/evening just watching the TV and napping.   Getting up and down was a bit of a challenge, but after the first night it’s gotten easier.    As I write this it’s Sunday night and while it’s still painful, it’s bearable.    The pain medication helps.  

It’ll be about 4-6 weeks before I’ll be completely healed, but it’ll be worth the pain and aggravation to have this taken care of, while it was something that you can live with, it’s an ugly, annoying and sometimes painful thing to carry around with you, especially for 10 years.   Should have gotten it fixed sooner.   

People, you’ve got to take care of yourselves.   Putting things off out of fear, or laziness, is just plain silly.   Whether it be having a surgery to take care of something like this or starting an exercise plan to stay fit or changing some other aspect of your life that is unsatisfying, you have to get off your butt and do it.   Don’t let fear or lethargy rule your life.