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The GeekWithin

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Blog Ministry Post - A Life Of Prayer

Quicklink to my post at Blog Ministry discussing our prayer life and providing some practical techniques for improving it.

Blog Ministry Post - Slumbering

Quicklink to my post at Blog Ministry dealing with issues raised while reading Ted Dekker's book "The Slumbering of Christianity."

Extendability and Blog Ministry

An awesome opportunity has been granted me recently - I am now a guest blogger at Blog Ministry.

What does this mean?

Well, for one thing, I will now have an opportunity to reach more people. Blog Ministry has created a following that I have not achieved yet.

Another thing is that while I have focused this blog on technology and software development, my new opportunity will be more ministry with technology based postings.

Anyway, I will be posting links to Blog Ministry as I contribute.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Web 2.0 Takes A Hit

Everyday I see examples as to how the U.S. patent process is broken, and today is no different. It seems a company has gone and received a patent for "rich-media applications via the internet".

Uh, is there any intelligent life at the patent office?

This means most of the Web 2.0 is in trouble while even well known technologies could be affected, such as Flash, Flex, Java, AJAX, and XAML. Not to worry though, the company with this newly minted patent, Balthaser Online, is generously offering to provide licenses.

Borland's Bad Idea Becoming Permanent

Sigh. In my previous post I mentioned how Borland is getting out of the development IDE business. This means goodbye to JBuilder and Delphi. I lamented that this is an idea that should be corrected much like their failed name change.

According to the Reg Developer it looking final. Now Sun and REAL are fighting over developers who used Borland tools and want them using theirs.

The end of an era is at hand.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Microsoft Office 2007

Have you heard about the new version breakout? Here are the three low-end packages:

Microsoft Office Basic 2007 ($ N/A)
Includes:
- Microsoft Office Excel 2007
- Microsoft Office Outlook 2007
- Microsoft Office Word 2007

Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007 ($149)
Includes:
- Microsoft Office Excel 2007
- Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007
- Microsoft Office Word 2007
- Microsoft Office OneNote 2007

Microsoft Office Standard 2007 ($399)
Includes:
- Microsoft Office Excel 2007
- Microsoft Office Outlook 2007
- Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007
- Microsoft Office Word 2007


Do you see it?!? Both the lowest package (Basic) and the Standard addition include Outlook, but the Home edition does not! This, to me, is outragious as Outlook is my tool of choice for email. To make matters worse, you can't just buy the Basic edition, it is intended to be OEM distributed.

I know many of you are anti-MS and probably don't care, but I have found Outlook to be a suprisingly stable mail client. The built-in security is fairly decent and the add-ons I have installed make it easy to manage junk mail. Why would they do this? Does anyone know the reasoning behind this decision? To buy Outlook seperately it will cost $109, which would bring the combination up to $258.

On top of all this, there isn't even an upgrade price available for the lower packages. Sheesh.


Borland's Folly

Have you heard about the recent announcement made by Borland? They have decided to drop all involvement in IDE production and focus more as a provider of tools that will help optimize code. Why is this important? It means that Borland Delphi is going away, and is a sad day for the faithful who have stuck it out.

I am a Delphi programmer and find it superior to almost all other IDE's I have used. They have always been at the top of the stack and they have legions of developers who love their product. Their compiler has always been the fastest on the market, and their forward thinking caused them to move to Object Oriented Design well before products like Visual Basic.

Let's just hope this is a bad idea that will be corrected.

Get It Done Yesterday

As I was writing my last post, it occurred to me that some businesses have come up with solutions to the so called "development timeline creep" - they require it to be done yesterday.

I ran into this at my last job where we had to produce a software build weekly. It didn't matter if the add-on or new feature might require more meetings to define it, in the end we were expected to provide a solution yesterday. Not.

There are other things that suffer in that sort of environment, such as: documentation, object reuse, code redundancy, and bugs. We had an one entire person dedicated to fixing bugs and they were busy!

I am sure there has to be a happy medium out there. It is important to be able to properly design software as well as new features. Additionally, it is important to provide value for each dollar a customer commits to a project. Truly, as professionals our job should be to make the customers happy and hopefully gain additional work due to our ability to get the job done, not because we never finished or embedded too many bugs.

Professionals Wanted

Recently I read an article on Reg Developer that I completely agree with.

David Putman starts out by describing a process I have used many times: a Kanban system. This is where you break your project down in to small segments, write it on index cards, and post on a wall. As developers work through the project they take the index cards and move them from a waiting section to an in progress section, and finally to a finished section. This not only provides you an "at a glance" project update, but it also ensures you have not missed anything.

Mr. Putman's issue is in getting developers to break the project down and use the system. His experience is that developers rebel and cry "but I'm a professional" and state they do not need to be "micro" managed. He then exposes the unsavory side of software development: no one knows or is willing to commit to a specified timeline, unless of course it provides twice the amount of time it may need. I have seen this as both a customer and a consultant. It is why the cost of custom development is so expensive.

An arguement Mr. Putman puts forth in the article is that other professions are required to provide time and cost estimates up front, so why not those who are completing a development project? I must admit, this is an area that is not given any thought and one that developers would benefit some training in.

Belated Valentines

If you don't already read the d3 Ministries blog, then you missed an awesome post on Geek Romance. Give it a read and you'll wonder if he was reading your mind.

I'm Back!

Sorry for the break in posts. I decided to take time out to take my mid-terms, play with the kids, and do Valentine's Day right. Priorities are important.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Prayer Tips and Helps

Previous two posts help lay a history for this one, not needed but helpful

I have been blessed with a God fearing wife who has followed the plans He has laid out for her. Sure she is nervous and unsure (aren't we all when we step out on faith?) but she has been obedient. One of the results of this was her call to be the prayer coordinator for the national board of Protestant Women of the Chapel, a womens ministry within the military chapel system. This lead to her being recorded teaching a class on effective group prayer, ways to enhance your prayer ministry, and other tips.

I am excited to provide a link to the MP3 of that class. While it was recorded in 2002, the information is just as relevant today and I pray it is a blessing to you.

My Wife - Part II

So now that you know how we met and all, let me tell you how awesome this woman is in her love and zest for the Lord. Please believe me, this isn't bragging or an attempt to elevate her in any way.

Her love for the Lord has gotten her involved in many ministries. After we were married she dived right in to an organization name the Protestant Women of the Chapel (PWOC) at a local level. Over the years she has helped in many capacities from bible study leader, retreat planning, board member, and even local level president. Her love for God and concern for His will have made her a very effective leader and provided her many opportunities to trust in Him to help her do the job.

The biggest example of this was when she was asked to become the national level prayer coordinator for PWOC. Wow. She was stunned and took some time to pray for God's will. You see, prayer was not really more than a casual thing to her at the time, no more or no less than other aspects of christian life. This request has become a major turning point in her and my life. Her acceptance of the call has lead our life on a journey only God could have planned. It is through that call she set out to learn all there is to know about ever aspect of prayer and has in the years since become an authority of sorts. She wouldn't admit or put it that way, but the respect she has received is well deserved.

It is through the ministry of prayer that we both find ourselves serving our current church, her as the prayer coordinator and myself trying to reach out to men. What a challenge and a privilege to do God's work. I can only say that we are weak and He is strong and all things happen because of a willingess to see where God is working and joining Him in the work.

Next Up - A Treat For You All

My Wife - Part I

As you can tell from the post title, I'm a married man. I don't post about her mostly due to her reluctance to be mentioned and my respect for her concern. I guess today is a day to go against the grain due to how proud I am of her. But first let me give you some background information to set the context.

My wife, Christina, and I met while still in High School. Our fathers were both in the Air Force and happen to be stationed at Cannon AFB in New Mexico at the same time. While I had been at the school for a few years, remember that military families move frequently, she did not arrive until mid way through our senior year. Anyway, since the base was a good distance from the town we all had to ride a bus or drive. Seeing as I didn't own a car I had the wonderful experience of bus riding.

It just so happened that on one of those often boring bus rides that I spotted a pair of girls sitting together near the front of the bus. They looked new and one happened to be where a letter jacket from Spangdalem, Germany.

[Quick aside -- I spent most of my schooling, to include the first year and a half of high school, in Germany at Bitburg HS - a sister school to Spangdalem]

As any confident young man would do, I approached the girls and proceeded to do my best to make a good impression. To make a longer story only long, Christina and I realized we had been in the same band class in 8th grade and started a friendship. I did do my best to impress her with my great dating skills, they had worked on many girls before, but it seems I was doomed to failure with her - our first couple dates landed flat.

So, as many will, I moved on to other opportunities but remained friends. At the time something about her struck me and I just couldn't figure it out. It is easier with the benefit of time to understand what I saw then - a geniune lover of God. Her faith was the basis for all other things in her life and it truly made her desirable. But friends it would be.

Fast forward to the year after graduation and I had just finished basic training after enlisting in the Air Force. I decided to contact Christina and see how things had been going for her. After HS she struck out for Lincoln Christian College in Illinios so I hadn't seen or heard from her in quite a while. That contact turned into deeper friendship that I would come to rely on in the days ahead.

You see, before joining the service I had a fairly good idea about God and had indeed been saved as a teenager. But somewhere along the way church become more of a chore than a joy. Once in the service I was free to do whatever I pleased and unfortunately that included women and booze. It is not a time that I am overly proud of outside of serving my country but within that cloud of darkness there always remained one beam of sunlight - my friendship with Christina. I could not help but be attracted to her and her faith. I called her frequently, the $400 to $500 phone bills showed me that (its only money), and while deployed to Turkey/Iraq I wrote more letters than I have written in the whole rest of my life.

So, two years passed and Christina and I were pretty good friends by this point. When it came time for me to move to California (next duty assignment), I called her up and we worked out a deal where I would pick her up in Illinios and take her to New Mexico (my parents place) for her spring break. Wow. If God had ever planned anything in my life it would have been that week. We laughed, drove, and talked of old times. It was the most amazing time and at the end of the week I took her back to school and said goodbye.

At this point you may be thinking the same things my parents actually said when I got back to New Mexico - what a fool!! I did the best thing I could at that point and asked her father for his daughters hand in marriage, and when he approved called her next. Yeah, I know. Not the most romantic way to propose but who was I to argue with God's will!

Next Up - Part II - Her Service in Ministry

One... Two... Three... Maybe Four

I have never been "tagged" before but it seems my time has come courtesy of Dan Lee at Blog Ministry.

Four jobs I have had in my life
  • McDonalds
  • Instructor for Learning Tree
  • US Air Force (law enforcement and computer networking)
  • Government Contractor (software development)
Four movies I can watch over and over
  • Better Off Dead
  • Star Wars (any of them)
  • Incredibles
  • Lord of the Rings - Return of the King
Four places I have lived
  • Upper Heyford, UK (near Oxford)
  • Incirlik, Turkey
  • Bitburg, Germany
  • Washington D.C
Four places I have been on vacation
  • London, UK
  • Capadocia, Turkey (christian region due to crusades)
  • Orlando, Florida (can anyone say Disney)
  • Upper Peninsula, Michigan (not much there but bugs)
Four TV shows I like to watch
  • Alias
  • Lost
  • Monk
  • House
Four websites I visit daily
Four favorite foods
  • Spaghetti
  • Steak
  • Potatoes
  • Popcorn
Four places I would rather be right now
  • Home with my wife (at work)
  • London, UK (my favorite city)
  • Heaven (not in a "I want to die" way)
  • Any beach with warm weather
Four people I am tagging with this meme
  • WDRP (friend who started to blog but stopped)
  • Cory Isakson (You Are The Church)
  • Everyone else has been tagged... need more friends

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

IE 7 BETA 2 - Isn't it done yet?

Well, it seems Microsoft has finally entered Beta 2 for Internet Explorer. Of course that just means they are done and taking the time to let us see what bugs it will have before we install it for "real".

I have to admit that I do like the changes but that is probably more because I already like FireFox and Opera and all the new features are mirrors of what has been done already. I do like the Quick Tab view which shows a thumbnail of all webpages you have open - very slick.

Say what you will, but they do still have over 80% of the browser market.

Links:


 

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