Web Development

Learn Ruby with the help of an utter head case

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I never thought I'd find something like this, a (online) book that is both informative and utterly, utterly insane at the same time. Instead of the usual dry language that tecnical books tend to be written in, this book just oozes with oddness, from cartoon strips of foxes to discussions of dogs, there's something here to utterly confuse everyone as to the point of the anecdotes. That's not to say that it doesn't explain the technology at hand, it does and does so quite well, it's just strange. Go give it a shot, if you can look past the oddness it might be worth spending a little time on.

Read & learn one tech book every six months

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I was recently reading a technical blog from some knowledgeable geek or other and he mentioned that it recommended learning one new language every year. The benefits are two fold - you both learn a new tool, but more importantly, every new language you learn furthers your understanding of the ones you already know. Its the same with spoken languages, if you learn three or four of them you become more fluent in them all as you can see how they all fit together, how nuances are shared between them, etc.

So I've given myself a mini quest - to read and understand one technical book every six months. I'm planning that one will be a programming language (Python, Java, etc) while the second would be a general theory book (OOP, design patterns, etc). My first goal is the Ruby on Rails book I just mentioned, and after that I intend delving into some more application development theory, probably with either Refactoring: Improving the Design of Existing Code, which is supposed to be pretty darn awesome, or maybe I'll see if I have any already on hand.

My reasons for doing this are fairly straight forward - I need to both keep up with current changes in the industry, and it's good to know how to use more than one tool (you can't build a house with just a hammer). The primary reason, though, is that I have very little understanding and usable knowledge of advanced programming theory - object oriented development, design patterns, etc, and short of going back to college the only way I have of learning these things is to take the time to do so.

Web development made fun again? Ruby on Rails

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Today I ordered the book Agile Web Development with Rails, a book that explains how to use the Ruby on Rails (aka RoR) web development system based around the Ruby programming language. I've been keeping an eye on it for the past few months as its been getting more and more media coverage (ok, geek media coverage) and this past week I finally started looking at it. What I saw struck me as pretty awesome. The whole premise of Ruby on Rails (RoR) is to make web application development easy especially the initial stages of creating a basic set of pages to insert & update your database, and from there it expands quite gracefully.

One of the really neat things about RoR is that it forces you to adhere to good programming standards, to do everything in a clean MVC structure, which will ultimately make it easier to manage long term. One of the reasons I'm getting into it is the simple fact that learning it will help me learn object oriented programming, something I've had a hard time grasping so far - RoR builds the framework using OOP methodologies so I can see where verything goes as I'm building something, thus start to see how things should be done.

RoR is a very new technology that was launched only about a year ago and in fact has not fully reached the wonderful "version 1.0" point (should be any day now), so this book which was published in July will only take me so far, once I learn the knowledge it has I'll be able to branch out to the latest updates and continue from there. If you're interested in taking a look yourself there's lots of good stuff on the main RoR site including a 15 minute introductory video that shows in the 15 minutes how to build a basic database driven website, itself an awesome feat!

Getting Windows XP-N banned?

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Would this work? Microsoft have a version of Windows called Windows XP-N for sale in Europe where they were ordered to sell a version without Windows Media Player. Fairy nuff. The thing is that if you say "Windows XP-N" it sounds like "Windows ehX Pee Nee", which sounds amazingly humorous to me right now. Anyway, string the P and N together too fast and you have a childish name for a male reproductive organ... Ok, still with me? Good. Then separate the X from the P and it'll look even more naughty. Lastly, start writing lots of web pages mentioning this fact and all of a sudden you'll have Windows showing up with some very strange keywords in the search engines. The fun part then is that because of the naughty keywords it could start getting added to those web filter programs used in some schools, by some parents and many companies, and all of a sudden people won't be able to view Microsoft's Windows website anymore. Well, I can dream, can't I?

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