Posted by: Spacehamster74 | 10/11/2010

Technical Books that I’m reading

I don't know about anybody else, but I'm reading an awful lot of computer books nowadays. According to this article, a typical programmer will read one technical book per year. Seriously?!!? When I look at the huge range of technologies that I have to master just to keep up, I find that very hard to believe.

Here's my list of books I'm currently reading –

Silverlight 4 in Action

Hello! Silverlight

Agile Development Practices


I'm Okay, You're Okay

The last one isn't a computing book per se', but I think it has some great insights into office politics and personal interdynamics. I've already ordered Steve Krug's Don't Make Me Think, which sounds like a great source of information on good user interface design.

I've really enjoyed reading all of the books in that list. They aren't just informative, I've found they're also interesting and fun to read. It's certainly a refreshing change from the dry and boring textbooks I used to read in University 15 years ago.

Posted by: Spacehamster74 | 08/22/2010

Unplug and drop out

I want to say right upfront that I've always been very careful never to post anything in this blog that I wouldn't say in public. I'm very aware that there may be family members, friends and even potential employers that might someday read this blog.

That being said, it's the morning after the end of the Federal Election 2010 and I don't think I've ever been as disillusioned about this country's leaders as I am right now. Bernard Keane wrote a terrific piece on Crikey that perfectly expressed what I'm feeling right now –

That, I suspect, accounts for much of why Labor now finds itself
about to be tossed out of power by even as clumsy and unfit an
opposition as this one. Tony Abbott and the Liberals retain enough basic
grasp of politics to outwit a party increasingly dominated by
apparatchiks, nurtured within the party since their teenage years, who
dispatched the only figure with experience of leading a successful
election campaign, Kevin Rudd, and have been driving the campaign of
Julia Gillard, once upon a time a formidable, dominating political
presence, with the finesse of someone driving a sports car into a wall
at high speed.

We've outsourced our Government to Professional Politicians and this is the result. A Political world in which spin and propaganda matter far more than real action and real results. The problem is, no amount of lies and spin can save the Professional Pollies come Election Day, if the people judge that those in power haven't fulfilled their promises.

And I think that's what happened yesterday evening. The Australian electorate have decided that neither side was worthy enough to rule outright, so neither side gained a majority. It'll be up to the Independents to decide who will rule Australia for the next 3 years. It is my fervent hope that the 5 people deciding Australia's political fate remain true to their principles (regardless whether they be left or right). I can respect people who remain true to their core principles and values. I cannot respect people for whom the opposite is true.

Posted by: Spacehamster74 | 07/27/2010


It's been a very long time since I last posted anything. I won't go into the reasons here, but the last month has been pretty awful, and I'm still recovering.

To cheer myself up, I've been watching W00tstock. Adam Savage (of Mythbusters fame), Wil Wheaton (of Big Bang Theory fame) and musical duo Paul & Storm came up with the idea. It's a 3-hour concert celebrating all things geeky and nerdy. Best of all, the concert is released under a Creative Commons License so anyone can record the concert so the rest of us can watch it later.

There are plenty of W00tstock videos on YouTube. The one I'm linking to is the Minneapolis concert, but there are plenty more available online.

Posted by: Spacehamster74 | 07/04/2010

I first heard of John Scalzi via Wil Wheaton's blog. I found his writing on both his blog and in his books to be very witty, approachable, thoughtful and amusing. His novel, Zoe's Tale, is one of my favourite books at the moment – I have reread it many times by now and I continue to enjoy it.

John Scalzi was recently voted President of the Science Fiction Writers Association (SFWA). In his blog he's posted 10 benefits to being the President –

You can decide for yourself whether all those perks are true.

Posted by: Spacehamster74 | 06/30/2010

David and Libby Koch wrote an article about how couples handle finances –

In articles about immigration, you'll see hundreds of comments. In an article on finance, thus far there's only been 1. This shows that either people aren't comfortable discussing their finances publicly, or that they're not interested in good financial strategies. That's disappointing either way.

Posted by: Spacehamster74 | 06/24/2010

Well, this was unexpected!

My parents told me last night that Julia Gillard was going to challenge Kevin Rudd for the Prime Ministership. Allegedly, this was due to the PM's Chief of Staff Alistair Jordan sounding out the Labor Caucus on whether they would still support the PM if Gillard challenged. As I understand it, Gillard had no intention of challenging until she found out that the PM had gone behind her back.

I'll state publicly that I'm pessimistic as to whether the Labor Party can win the Federal Election, even after they've replaced Kevin Rudd as PM. Forget Brendan Nelson. Forget Malcolm Turnbull. If this happens, this is the Leadership spill that will top them all. The Liberal Party can use this as political ammunition for the next several months. 

Speaking as an IT Professional, what I'd really like to see is the Government putting Kate Lundy as Telecommunications Minister.

There's been plenty of media attention focused on the Bill in the US to give the President the power to shutdown the entire internet. For the record, I think it is unwise to give any single country (or Government) the power to unilaterally shutdown the intertubes. This kind of initiative is widely open to abuse by some very unscrupulous and ambitious people.

What's interesting is that Obama is being associated with the bill. The Bill was actually proposed by Senator Joseph Lieberman, a politician with some very conservative viewpoints.

Senator Conroy's Internet Filter. Senator Lieberman's Internet Shutdown Switch. The one thing they both have in common is they show that Politicians are terrified of the power of the internet. I distinctly remember in the film 'Ghost in the Shell', it was said 'the net is vast and infinite'. It's pretty clear that most Politicians are terrified of that possibility.

Posted by: Spacehamster74 | 05/29/2010

The MVC Framework seems to be the cool new thing amongst programmers nowadays. I thought this explanation for newbs summarised the Model-View-Controller rather nicely –

Posted by: Spacehamster74 | 05/28/2010

My Upskilling List

I knew that 2010 was going to be a tough year, but I didn't realise it was going to be this tough. Thanks to the support of my friends and family, I think I've come through it okay thus far. Hopefully 2011 will be a different story. And hopefully we'll all be around to see 2012. :).

Despite the trials and tribulations of the last few months, there are a few positives that have arisen from these experiences. The most important change is that I have confidence in myself now. It's amazing what a huge difference having self-belief and confidence makes to…well…everything. From personal relationships to my professional life, it seems that everything has changed. I have one software project at work under my belt that I can point to and say "Yeah, I did that and I'm proud of the work that I did.". That's never happened before.

The other change, is that I feel enthusiastic about the IT Profession again. I'm actually very busy (after-hours) learning new skills. These include –

  • PHP
  • Concrete5/Drupal (Content Management Systems)
  • .NET 4.0 
  • SQL Server 2008 
  • Entity Spaces

And here's a list of things I'll eventually get around to:

  • Sharepoint
  • Windows Server 2003/2008 R2

I have to admit, it's nice to have goals to aim for. 

Posted by: Spacehamster74 | 05/24/2010

The geek websites are celebrating Empire Strikes Back turning 30. I remember watching that film in the cinema when I was a young stripling.
What's amazing is seeing modern geek websites present this as an historical event, rather than another filmic experience (which is the way I remember it). I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm starting to reach that point in my life where remembering seminal pop-culture events is starting to make me sound like an old codger.

A couple more years, and I'll be asking those damn kids to get off my lawn.

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