Friday, October 23, 2009

Ninite – Application Installer

Just ran across this cool application installer tool called Ninite. (Thanks to a tweet from Scott Hanselman) This tool will download and install applications for you. This should make getting your machine setup after a repave much easier. In looking at the categories and software currently being offered, this appears to cover about 80% of the applications that I want/need to install.

The following categories are currently being offered:

  • Web Browsers
  • Messaging
  • Media
  • Imaging
  • Documents
  • Anti-Virus
  • Runtimes
  • File Sharing
  • Other
  • Utilities
  • Compression
  • Developer Tools

I would encourage you to go check out the list and see what essential applications you use are listed. And if you do not see one of your applications listed, there is even a form at the bottom of the list where you can request that your application be added.

With a lot of folks moving to Windows 7 now that it is officially released, this tool looks to be a great time saver. I know I trying it out when I move from the Windows 7 RC to RTM in the near future.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Video on the Web

Found this really good overview of Video on the Web.  Being that my only real use/knowledge of video on the web is YouTube, I found this information to be very enlightening and useful. I currently work for a media company and should probably be more familiar with the use of video on the web, but I must confess that I am not. So reading this was hopefully the starting point for me to broaden my understanding of video on the web.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The power in reading source code

Scott Hanselman has been posting a series for a while now called the Weekly Source Code where he is pointing folks to good source code to check out. Scott makes the following comment at the end of this post “Nothing makes me realize what a crap programmer I am like reading a good programmer's code.” And I have to agree with him completely. Unless you are looking at someone else’s code you will never realize that what you believe to be great code, maybe really is not. It is not until we compare what we have done with someone else, that we realize

I have always liked the analogy of programming being art and therefore a programmer is an artist. Every programmer brings their own style and flair to the design and creating of code. This is evident when you give 5 different programmers the same problem to solve. They will most likely all arrive at the same solution, but how they got there will be completely different. In my opinion that is a very good thing, you want to have diversity, not robots! And a great way to learn and grow your programming skills is by looking at the code that other people have written. You may be surprised at some of the things that you see and what you can learn. Plus I enjoying getting some insight into how a programmer approached a solution to a problem by looking at the code they employed.

So I strongly encourage all developers to make it a habit of checking out source code. There are lots of places to get source code from… other projects where you work, it can be from open source projects, third-party tools you have licensed, etc. Just go get some and start reading, learning and maybe even be inspired!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Sharpening the Saw – Project Euler

I recently ran across the Project Euler site. Here is the synopsis from the site’s About page.

“Project Euler is a series of challenging mathematical/computer programming problems that will require more than just mathematical insights to solve. Although mathematics will help you arrive at elegant and efficient methods, the use of a computer and programming skills will be required to solve most problems.

The motivation for starting Project Euler, and its continuation, is to provide a platform for the inquiring mind to delve into unfamiliar areas and learn new concepts in a fun and recreational context.”

If you are unfamiliar with the term Sharpening the Saw it is from Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. In a nutshell it is the practice of continually improving your skills and your knowledge – taking time off from the daily grind and getting motivation and encouragement. It could be reading a book, attending a conference, etc. But just recognizing that you need a break once in a while and that you need to improve your continually.

So I started working through the 250+ Project Euler problems this week. I have completed the first few and already I have learned a lot about some of the cooler LINQ extension methods in C# as well as math in general. Mathematics has always been a struggle for me and I think a lot of it has been that I never truly applied myself as well as I could have when I was in school. So these problems are not only challenging me from a programming perspective, but they are also providing me an opportunity to improve my overall Mathematics knowledge.

It may take me a very long time to complete all the problems that are out there, but I am excited and looking forward the challenge. Also, I think there is a great opportunity here to use these programming challenges as a way to learn another programming language as well. As you will see on the Project Euler site, there is a wide variety of languages that other people are using.