Saturday, December 27, 2008

Education in Software Development

Computer Science just isn't hard enough.

Joel Spolsky of Joel on Software puts it plainly enough, but he isn't the only one who thinks CS courses need a change. Bjarne Stroustrup of C++ fame recently did an interview with Datamation discussing Educating Software Developers. As a student, I became very interested in how computer science courses could be changed along with different approaches that could be taken. Bjarne Stroustrup, unlike many in academia, has a strong background in commercial software development. Academia has been producing graduates who are unprepared to enter the world of a working software developer because computer science courses are not designed to help produce great software developers.

So how has my education affected me?

I graduated from Neumont University, a private, for-profit school that offers a Bacherlor of Science in Computer Science degree. Neumont's curriculum was created by Graham Doxey, Scott McKinley, and Marlow Einelund as a response to the growing demand for qualified CS graduates. Neumont attempts to fill the gap that many computer science courses create when a student graduates. New graduates often have little to no working knowledge of programming in the software development industry. Neumont's project-based curriculum teaches students early on how to work in teams to accomplish a goal.

The project-based teaching style at Neumont is what attracted me to the school.

So what did I like about Neumont's approach and what could be improved now that I've had some working experience with software development? Lets start out with what Neumont does right.

Project-based Learning

Serious programming is a team sport.

Bjarne Stroustrup emphasizes that serious programming is not done individually, it is done as a team, often working with other teams to accomplish a goal. Project-based learning helps teach students how to interact with other team members in an effective team dynamic.

Neumont's project-based curriculum works great in this aspect. From the very first quarter I started, I was working in at least one team to accomplish a programming goal. The course curriculum starts with small team projects and begins to add more and more responsibility to the teams as the students progress. By the time students are seniors, you are working most of your time in a group on projects. The Enterprise Project aspect places these groups inside real companies such as IBM, Novell, and EDS.

Business Skills

Project-based learning also helps Neumont emphasize the business side of software development. Working in teams allows us to learn how to communicate better among our our teams, other teams, and our teachers. Skills we need to learn how to function on a team come with experience. With each project we attempted, we learned how to work as a team and manage all the "soft" issues that come with teamwork.

There were teams that were great, and we learned how a well-gelled team comes together to produce great results. There were dysfunctional teams, where no one got along with each other and the project floundered. There was the prodigy programmer who obsessively controlled all their code and re-wrote any code he had to touch that wasn't written by him. There was the lazy teammate, the ever-late teammate, and your indecisive teammates. Each type I encountered helped me learn ways to work to keep my team as gelled as possible and ways to work with each type of teammate.

As Bjarne Stroustrup summarized, developers need to learn how to present clearly your projects, ideas, and the goals the project achieves. Neumont helped me improve my presentation skills dramatically from when I started school. Each quarter students do at least one presentation in front of their class. Most often it is at the end of a project class to present the project you worked on and attempt to 'sell' the product to the class.

Its easy to spot the difference between new students and those who have learned from a few bad presentations. As I learned more, my presentations sucked less and less and I was able to present a clear, concise idea of my teams project and what it could do.

Writing skills are also critically important as a student at Neumont. Email and IM are two major forms of communication between students, teams, and teachers. My time at Neumont quickly taught me how to keep my emails short and concise to keep the communication understandable. I also learned the importance of IM while going to Neumont. This has become very handy when I joined IBM since IM is now the preferred method of communication for many IBMers.


Probably the most important skill I learned from Nemont is also an important business skill that is can be very difficult to master. I have become a self-directed learner. I am by no means an expert at self-directed learning but by nature of the compressed course schedule at Neumont, I spent much of my time at Neumont teaching myself more about what we were learning in class.

I consider this the most valuable skill I learned from Neumont. It allows me to adapt to new changes in the workplace and to learn skills to stay ahead of the technology curve. At IBM, many of our teams are beginning to transition from the old-school waterfall method of software development to more agile practices. This transition seems to be a little more difficult for some of the developers who have been with IBM for a long time. Being a self-directed learner lets me cope with any transitions and learn how to work in new environments or programming languages more quickly.


Overall I feel that I received a great education from Neumont that allowed me to learn in a style that feels very comfortable to me. Neumont's project-based curriculum is what made me decide to even attend school in the first place. I feel that I graduated with a great working knowledge of the business and soft skills that I need to really become a great software developer.

Neumont is not without faults, of course, there are many many things about the curriculum I feel need to be improved, but that will be the subject of another blog post soon enough. :-)

Image Attributions:

Image by: Sybren Stüvel
Image from:
Image by: inju
Image by: jisc_infonet

Monday, November 17, 2008

Alt+Drag for Windows

altdrag is a little utility that gives Windows users a feature Linux users have had for a long time  now, the ability to move a window by holding alt and clicking on a window anywhere to move it around. This is one feature I constantly try to do in Windows. Its light on the memory usage and is in a 10k 7z file so check it out.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Chrome SSL Certificate Fun

One warning that has become very annoying to me in Firefox and Chrome is the self-signed certificate warning. Many sites on IBM's intranet use self-signed certificates and I hate having to wade through this screen the first time. Chrome uses the the operating systems certificate store so you simply need to add the certificate to your trusted root certificate authorities to bypass the signed certificate problem in Chrome. I found a way to import the certificate using IE on the Chrome Google Group

To import the certificate:

    • Go to the site in IE
    • Go to the security report (View > Security Report) and click 'View certificates'
    • In the Certificate Import Wizard press 'Next' and select 'Place all certificates in the following store'
    • Then choose Trusted Root Certification Authorities
    After that, you simply finish up the wizard and you're all done! Chrome will now see the certificate in the Trusted Root Certification Authorities and will stop throwing up the Certificate Not Trusted screen on any pages that use that certificate. This is very handy for those of us who use many intranet sites that are self signed.
    I imagine there are other, probably better ways so please let me know in the comments if there is an easier way.

    *edit* For those of you wondering if that first picture is a screenshot from my computer, I assure you it is not . I have not updated to Vista nor do I plan on updating to Vista.

    Sunday, August 31, 2008

    My Coding Dojo

    After reading Jeff Atwood's post on code kata I decided that I was going to start a Coding Dojo at work so I could improve my coding skills and learn new tricks from other developers. Since this is an ongoing process, I'm going to document our experiences here on my blog.


    After reading Jeff Atwood's code kata post, I followed a few of his links and read about Coding Dojos and where the dojo got its start: Dave Thomas' 21 Code Katas. Pragmatic Dave's code kata really got me excited and interested in how I could continually become a better programmer through disciplied practice. Work alone is just not enough, you have to sit down and actively try something new and fail at it a few times to learn. Work does not allow you to do that often, if ever. Now that the seeds have been planted, I need to figure out where to go next. I thought it might be a good idea to look for local dojos.

    Nothing in my area and nothing I could find at work either.

    OK. Now what?

    New Dojo

    It was time I started my own dojo, but how was I going to do that? To help me figure that out, I wrote down some ideas I should look into while I started this dojo.
    1. What do I want from the dojo
    2. How will the dojo help others around me
    3. How will the meetings go
      1. What kata should we use
      2. Meeting styles e.g. Randori Kata, Prepared Kata
      3. Meeting length
    4. How often will we meet
    5. How many people is the best size for a dojo
    Using these guides I had written I began to piece together my concept for the an IBM code dojo on my team wiki. Piece by piece I began to assemble what a code dojo would mean to me and my fellow IBMers. Along the way, I came to the conclusion that when starting a coding dojo, there is one important idea to remember:

    Above all things, do what works best for you and your dojo.

    What works best for my dojo may not work best for your dojo so don't feel you have to work the dojo in any sort of prescribed way. The best part of a coding dojo is that it is flexible and adaptive to the needs and desires of the members of the dojo. If you don't like doing the kata, then do something else that helps you learn and grow as developers.

    First Meeting

    After working out what I wanted the coding dojo to be for me, it was time to invite some people to join the dojo. Starting out I got about five people to join, by keeping the numbers small I can work with the dojo better so we can work out any kinks in how our dojo will operate.

    Before our first meeting, I had come up with some points I'd like to bring up. These might help you to work out a first dojo meeting as well.
    1. What I'd like to get from our dojo
    2. A brief description of how kata might work for us
    3. What everyone else would like to get from the dojo
    4. How often we should meet
    5. Introduce a sample kata (see Code Kata for some ideas)
    6. Introduce the dojo wiki
    7. Plan next dojo meeting and kata topic
    8. Write up a meeting retrospective
      1. What went well
      2. What didn't go well
      3. What could we improve next time
    After going through this agenda with the dojo, we had some great feedback on what we would like to achieve individually and as a dojo. We also got much of the administrative sort of work (meeting times / location) out of the way quickly with little hassle

    The Future

    My dojo will be holding its second meeting in the next few days, and as we grow and learn as a dojo I am going to document our progress here on this blog. As I document our progress, I'm going to be writing in a way that  others wishing to start their own dojo have some insight and suggestions on how to go about that. So for now, farewell and I'll be writing about our dojo in the next couple of weeks.

    Thursday, August 14, 2008

    Kicking Ass

    Creating Passionate Users was by far one of my favorite blogs I used to read, but unfortunately it has gone dark for now. Fortunately, Kathy Sierra has started microblogging over at Twitter and its great to read what she has to say again. Recently she tweeted something that really got my attention:

    We tell our authors: "Don't focus on making your BOOK better... focus on making the READER better." Often changes TOC (fewer topics) & tone

    This got me thinking... What am I doing on my blog to help you kick ass? When I thought about that, realized I wasn't doing anything to help readers kick ass. I had simply put up whatever idea comes to my head. Now I'd like to change my direction and write more on how I can help you, the reader, kick ass. Not only will this help you, but it helps me become a better writer, programmer, and technology enthusiast.

    Here's to helping each other kick ass.

    Wednesday, July 16, 2008

    Office Redesign

    Following a link from Stack Overflow's blog on Microsoft's new research lab got me thinking more about how important it is for developers and the rest of the business world really, to have offices designed to help them be more productive.

    I work for IBM and I can attest to how drab, corporate office designs can start to get to you after a while. While my office building is no Intel office layout, it was definitely designed with space efficiency in mind, not for those who are going to be working there.

    I first read about how important office design is from Peopleware back in school and it has really stuck with me. Peopleware suggests that its more important that offices are designed for the developers than for space efficiency. Programming is a creative effort and it is very important to create an environment that caters to the developers. After reading Peopleware I have become much more aware of the change major companies such as Google, Intel, and Microsoft have begun to take heed of their developers and actually design spaces to spur creativity and team building.

    A few changes I've begun to see in modern office designs:
    • Open Space
    • Individual Offices
    • Whiteboards everywhere
    • Reconfigurable spaces
    • Natural Lighting
    • Collaborative Spaces
    It is really exciting to see that large software companies begin to design offices with actual human being in mind instead of mindless corporate drones of years prior. This isn't just for crazy smaller sized companies with office fetishes anymore. I hope to see more design that focuses on attention to detail that Microsoft's new office design and Joel Spolsky's Fog Creek office design.

    After watching the Microsoft research office video, I feel like I might have some more energy talking about office layout. So this is it for now, but keep your eyes out for more articles on office layout and design in the future.

    Wednesday, June 04, 2008

    Office Design

    While I haven't worked in a real office for even a year yet, there are some things I've become acutely aware of regarding my office space. Office design and layout is incredibly important to everyone and can have a large impact on how I work. While I'm glad I'm not stuck in a cube farm and actually have an office where I can shut my door, there are still some things I think all offices should have. Here are just a few of the things I would like to see in my office.

    1. Ergonomic Chair

    Image by: Crouching Donkey

    I had the opportunity to use a nice ergonomic chair a few weeks ago and now I'm wondering how I still sit in a regular, barely adjustable chair. I was much more comfortable in the ergonomic chair and that allowed me to focus on my work better and for a longer period of time. My only problem with an ergonomic chair? They are pretty pricey, hopefully you can convince your work that you should be using an ergonomic chair.

    2. Adjustable Desk

    Biomorph Maxo

    I like having a nice big desk like I do at work, but what I don't like is that its one huge hunk of desk. My desk also lacks the under-desk keyboard and mouse tray, this has been making me keep my arms in a much more uncomfortable position and it has been making my shoulders ache. I've also been interested in sit-to-stand desks lately because I get tired of sitting all day at work and standing for a while would also help me make sure I'm taking regular breaks to reduce fatigue.

    3. Multiple Monitors

    Image by: Alastair Tse

    Right now I use my Lenovo T60p as my main computer, but I have two other desktops that are also being used. One of them runs without a monitor via VNC and the other uses a crappy old Dell CRT. As a developer, I would be so much more productive with at least two monitors, the studies, and developers using multiple monitors can't be wrong.

    Those for me, are the most important changes I would like to see in my office. Hopefully I can start working towards a more ergonomic, and productive office space.

    Wednesday, May 21, 2008

    Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 Test Run

    A while back I mentioned that I was leaving Windows for Linux, I have been very busy at work though so I hadn't had the time to actually install anything on my desktop at work until a few days ago. Because of my line of work, I was unable to use Ubuntu like I had originally planned and had a choice between RedHat Enterprise Linux or Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop. Taking the advice from my friend Sontek I decided to use Suse Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 over RedHat. After some asking around at work I found out where to get my hands on SLED 10 and got to downloading. Unfortunately the most recent version of SLED I found was version 10 ( although I might be able to get 10 SP 2 now).

    I had always heard how easy it was to install SLED 10 and how well most hardware was supported. It is actually pretty nice on the hardware support... if you are using the latest version (10 SP2). I, on the other hand was only using version 10.0. I popped in the 1st install CD and rebooted my machine. It booted onto the Suse installer where it stalled for a few seconds and dropped into the console installer saying it couldn't find CD1. I checked the md5 sum of the CD, it was fine, so the installer must not be recognizing the CD. I didn't have time to investigate until the next day so I went home without Suse installed.

    The next morning I did some research and discovered an issue with some motherboards not actually running a real PATA controller and instead handing the duty off to a host controller. Because of this, the default modules loaded up by the installer weren't enough. The fix was easy enough though, I just loaded a few pata modules and the CD recognized properly. After that, the install was a breeze albeit very slow.

    After about an hour and a half the install was finally complete and Gnome booted up... unfortunately the video wasn't recognized and was not displaying correctly at all. I squinted at the screen for a second and switched over to a virtual console and booted up Yast. Suse wasn't recognizing my video card correctly and had the color settings wrong so I fixed that and restarted Gnome. OK, no we are good. EXCEPT... now my Ethernet connection is not being recognized. Apparently the NIC I was using needed a module that wasn't in the 2.6.16 kernel that was installed. After some research I found out that I needed the e1000e module that was introduced in the 2.6.23 kernel!

    No big deal though, since I want to learn more about Linux I got my chance to try out compiling my own kernel! So I jumped onto my laptop and downloaded the kernel and went through the the how to at Howtoforge. I actually found the process to be very interesting and a great learning process for myself. Obviously I'm still a kernel noob but at least now I have some experience compiling my own kernel. After I compiled the kernel and got the GRUB settings right I restarted Suse into my brand new kernel! After a successful login I was ecstatic I actually got a working compiled kernel!

    That leads me to where I am today with Suse, my first install and a kernel compilation later everything seems to be working out well. There are some things I don't like about SLED so far, but I'll write those up later after I've had some time to use SLED and get used to it. This experience has been a good one for me though as it has taught me how to troubleshoot issues better and introduced me to compiling my own kernel. After all that I'm ready to install openSUSE 10.3 on my desktop at home!

    Saturday, May 10, 2008


    I've been an Eclipse user ever since I started programming in Java *way* back in 2006 and I've been very happy with Eclipse ever since then. I have to admit that I've used Netbeans a few times before, but I've always preferred Eclipse to Netbeans, mostly for the wide array of plugins available for Eclipse. Since Netbeans 6.1 has come out I've been tempted to jump over and compare the two yet again. This got me thinking about what I like about Eclipse and also what has been annoying the hell out of me the past couple weeks. So here are a few things that have been driving me crazy about Eclipse.

    1. Project Explorer Forgets

    Maybe this is an incorrect setting or something but why does my project explorer forget where it was when I restart Eclipse? If I have a project workspace setup and have tab open, I'd like to have the project explorer also remember where I was in the folder system. It gets really old to have to navigate back to the folder I was looking at when I restarted Eclipse to get a new plugin. This really drives me crazy since the projects I have are pretty large and it makes Eclipse lag a bit while it opens the folder tree.

    Update: Thanks to George's awesome comment, my problem has been solved! Eclipse has had the "link with editor" button for a while now and it keeps the navigator tree open to the files you have open. Thanks!

    2. Helpful Tips

    I love the fact that I can hover my mouse over a class and see the default Javadoc for that class, but I have one serious complaint about this tool tip. Why is it not HTML? Javadoc allows you to link to other classes' Javadoc using HTML tags as well as the {@link} tag. Why can I not click on it when I focus on the tool tip? I know I can ctrl+click on the class to go there, but you are ignoring all the HTML rendering that can be done with Javadoc! This is annoying as hell! Please Eclipse, take a hint from Netbeans and fix this!

    Update: Eclipse 3.4 Ganymede fixed this problem. Go get Ganymede and enjoy all the new features. (I like the new update system)


    Off the top of my head those are my most annying complaints, but as I run into more issues with Eclipse I'll post my issues here.

    Tuesday, May 06, 2008

    Hasta la Vista, Windows

    Dear Windows,

    You are a long time pal of mine, we've been friends since you were just 3.1. I've grown up with you on my computer and we have many fond memories together (except during your ME years), but I have to tell you something old pal. I've found someone else. I know, I know, this may come as a shock to you, but ever since you grew out of XP and into your new Vista body things just haven't been the same. Its not you, its me... ok its you too, but you just don't have the tools and stability that I need. Plus I'm tired of telling you that I'm your Genuine® friend all the time. Why are you so insecure about that?

    Now I know who you think I've found, but you're wrong. They may have better looks then you (sorry) and seem to be cooler than you (again, sorry) but they are even more controlling than you are. I just can't be with an operating system that is so willing to lock me down in both hardware and software. Instead, I've found someone else, and they aren't afraid of a little choice. And not just between Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, or Ultimate (what do they all mean anyway?).

    I'm sorry Windows, but I will not be installing another version at home again and I will avoid you as much as I can at work as well. Of course, we'll see each other from time to time since I have to make sure my code works with you, but thats all it will be. Linux is my new best friend and we are happy to have superior tools and the freedom to use and modify them how we choose. Its been fun Windows, but your day has passed.

    Monday, May 05, 2008

    Peer Review Your Tests

    Software review has been around since the 70's, but one place I see it skipped over often is in the test world. Why would anyone want to peer review your test cases? The answer to that is, why wouldn't you?

    It seems to me that many testers don't have their code reviewed because it often does not intermix with anyone else's code. This is one problem that leads you to owning "your" parts of the code and ignoring "someone else's" code. This creates a sort of hands off environment where people begin to guard their code and resent when someone else is prodding at its inner workings. This is where a culture of voluntary peer reviews can help bring the test teams together into a more cohesive, and open unit.

    I say voluntary because formal reviews do not sit well with developers (or anyone else involved for that matter), because of the stiff formality and time spent reviewing. The best way to get a team of developers reviewing each other's code is to introduce it and start using it yourself first. Once the benefits become clear, the stragglers will be interested. Also, by keeping the code reviews informal and voluntary, the reviewee's attitude is much different than if they were being forced to do a review.

    So what benefits does a test team gain from using a peer review system? Just the same as they have been argued for developers. A good peer review setup will help keep your test cases consistent and readable among the differing 'silos' of tests in your suite. Also, by showing your code to your other teammates they can save you time debugging if they spot a problem with your testcase. This, to me, is one of the most valuable assets to a code review system. If someone can point out a problem before I waste time on it, I'm eternally grateful. The second most useful aspect of code reviews have absolutely nothing to do with finding bugs. The side effect of doing a peer review comes in the form of skill transfer. If I'm working on some web service tests and I'm reviewing tests for web services security, I'm going to pick up how their tests work as well as how the web services security works. This can also help foster another important and very useful activity within the team, mentoring.

    While there are many more reasons why you should implement an informal peer review system, I'm going to leave what I have at this and open up to discussion on peer reviews. How have they worked for you and how did you implement a code review system? Let me know in the comments.

    Sunday, May 04, 2008

    Follow Your Users

    Thanks to a tweet on Twitter I came across an interesting article on why companies should pay more attention to their customers complaints. But it doesn't stop just at companies keeping track of their brand reputation among their customers, this can (and should) be done much more often than it is today. Here are a couple people and groups that I think should be interested in what complaints they are receiving.

    Open Source Projects:
    If you run an open source project, you should be keeping track of what people are complaining about. Many open source projects get lulled into believing that if their users have a problem they will fix it and submit a patch for it. While this definitely happens, there are many more users out there that either just don't have the time or skills to fix it, or they may not even know that they can fix it themselves. This also leads me to another issue many open source projects have, it seems that many projects think that if someone has a complaint but is unable to fix it, they will go to the forums and start a discussion about this. Again, many people will simply post their complaint to their blog or Twitter and leave it at that. This isn't a bad thing, it just means that we need to go out there and actively be looking for what people are complaining about.

    Product Managers:
    Every product manager (software and non-software) should be keeping track of what people are saying about your product. While most products spend a load of money on doing customer research and analysis, it really doesn't cover you. While many people may fill out a survey about your product, they don't get to express their true feelings about it unless they get to say it in their own words. Product research will only get you so far, let your customers tell you what they think of it for free!

    Specification Leads:
    You definitely need to be listening to what users are saying about your previous specification revision or similar specification if its a new spec. It seems to me that most specifications written seem very out of touch with how people are working with the last revision. It took the EJB specification 3 revisions to begin to even remotely come close to what users wanted. If the spec leads had been listening to what users were saying about the EJB specification we could have avoided much of the hassle that was EJB2.

    While there are more places listening to customer/user feedback is important, I'm going to leave it at these three. What's most important to remember is that you should be listening to what people are saying about your product, project, or whatever else it is. You need to listen to what they are saying and actually do something about it. You also should not be afraid to talk with your users and let them know that you do care and that you do know they exist. What other places could you find this helpful in? Leave some comments and let me know what you think.

    Tuesday, April 29, 2008

    Tee'd off

    Recently I was trying to figure out how to output text from a command to both a text file and the console. My twitter friends weren't sure how to do this but fortunately a friend of mine reminded me of a handy little tool named tee.

    from the tee man file:
    tee - read from standard input and write to standard output and files

    A simple example of using tee:
    `cat somefile.txt | tee output.txt`

    So next time you need to write to both the console and a text file don't get so Tee'd off! (cheesy I know)

    Wednesday, April 23, 2008


    I don't know what super fuel Nine Inch Nails has been running on lately, but it sure seems like they have found a new creative well to tap. They keep coming out with more of everything in less time. Definitely not the typical four-to-five-years-between-albums Nine Inch Nails we have been used to. I just Downloaded their new song Discipline and its amazing! It gets me wondering what they are up to now that Robin Finck has joined the Nine Inch Nails fold yet again.

    Oh yeah, and they are going on tour.... soon.

    If you haven't clicked the link earlier, go download Discipline now. If you are musically inclined, you should go to and get the multitracks of Discipline in the Mix section.

    Monday, April 21, 2008

    Git on Cygwin

    Lately I've been trying out Git and I have been very impressed so far. I enjoy how Git doesn't impose any set method on how to do things, instead it lets me write code how I want to and forget about my version control. I did run into one annoying problem with Git on Cygwin though. Apparently, the default install for Git enables _all_ the pre-commit hooks for Git. The Linux version, on the other hand, *disables* all the pre-commit hooks. This kept me running into an annoying problem where Git wouldn't let me commit files because of bad whitespace in a couple files.

    Fortunately I found a solution to the problem here. Its a simple 'chmod a-x .git/hooks/pre-commit'.

    Now that I have that out of the way, I'm going to try Git some more and compare it to my experiences with Mercurial (which I think is another great version control system).

    Saturday, March 15, 2008

    Ghosts Film Festival

    Trent Reznor and Nine Inch Nails keep the punches rolling with his newest album Ghosts I-IV. From my last post about Ghosts, I talked about how Trent Reznor has an amazing grasp of how to use the internet as an artist in our age of "piracy." After previously feeling "disheartened" about his experience releasing Saul Williams amazing album The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust, Trent has a renewed faith in us:
    First of all, a sincere THANK YOU for the response to Ghosts. We are all amazed at the reaction for what we assumed would be a quiet curiosity in the NIN catalog. My faith in all of you has been restored - let's all go have coffee somewhere (my treat)!

    He has taken the remix culture and Creative Commons idea one step further and is actively encouraging participation in Nine Inch Nails art.
    it's meant to be an experiment in collaboration and a chance for us to interact beyond the typical one-way artist-to-fan relationship.

    I'm very happy to see that he has learned from his experiences with Saul Williams and is experimenting with how an artist can make a living in this growing world of music post-RIAA. His call to the community to participate and become involved in the creative process puts Nine Inch Nails in a much more intimate and rewarding environment. Nine Inch Nails is taking fans who were once content on passively watching and putting them into a whole new world of participation with Nine Inch Nails.

    Not only is it taking fans from being observers to participants, it is also changing peoples views on music and its worth as art. The current music industry has taken the art of making music and turned it into a cold, mechanical world of commodity. By asking for fan participation it reinforces the value of music as a piece of artwork. When people have personally invested time and creative effort into a piece, it is much more important and valuable to them.

    Fans want art, not crap. We want to see real artwork both musically and visually. We also want to see the art treated with respect as Nine Inch Nails has done with the multiple formats Ghosts is available in. When the art is respected, we are more than happy to pay $300 for an amazing boxed set of artwork. Thank you Trent and Nine Inch Nails for opening up this new and exciting world of creativity.

    Wednesday, March 12, 2008

    Google Profiles

    While messing with Google Reader today I decided to update my Google profile information and got to thinking. When is Google going to show us the different ways they are going to integrate the Google profile? Right now, your profile information is being used in Google Reader, Google Shared Stuff, and Google Maps. So when are they going to integrate with Blogger and the rest of their applications? I'm interested to see how Google plans on consolidating their applications in a more social way like they are doing in Google Maps.

    Currently, there is a very minimal amount of profile information that is actually being shared between Google Reader, Google Shared Stuff, and Google maps. Here is what I get to consolidate between those three apps:

    Step it up Google! I want to see what you are planning on doing with the social integration sooner than later! Give me a dedicated profile page that can link all my apps and make it easier to navigate to. No more ?id=12312312 junk in the url. Make it easy like Hopefully we will soon be seeing the fruits of Googles social labor.

    Monday, March 03, 2008

    Nine Inch Nails Carries the Radiohead Torch to New Heights

    This Sunday, Trent Reznor and crew quietly released Nine Inch Nail's newest album (actually a 4 volume set, so far) Ghosts I - IV. Trent Reznor's growing grasp of the Internet and how to harness the large Nine Inch Nails community continues to astound me. Nine Inch Nails relevance in the music world continues to become more and more important as he is pioneering new ways for artists to distribute their music independently and use the internet to their advantage.

    Not only has Trent Reznor released Ghosts as a free download, it is also licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike license! This is probably one of the best moves I have seen in the music industry. Trent Reznor has been cultivating a remix society around his work through his Remix portion of, and it was only a matter of time before he took the final leap and released his creative works into the wild for us to enjoy and be inspired by.

    I salute you Trent Reznor, please keep up the amazing work you are doing and stay in inspiration for all musicians out there. Hopefully more will follow in your footsteps.

    Sunday, March 02, 2008


    Yes, I know. I'm not one of the early adopters or "alpha geeks" that adopted Twitter as soon as it came out, but I just recently signed up for Twitter mainly to maintain my online reputation as Lifehacker suggested and I actually find that Twitter could come in handy in many different ways.

    Wednesday, February 27, 2008

    My Top 15 Commands

    After some searching I found the command to list your top 10 (or any other number you wanted) commands in the terminal. So here is the command:

    history | awk '{print $2}' | awk 'BEGIN {FS="|"} {print $1}'|sort|uniq -c | sort -n | tail -n 15 | sort -nr

    and here are my top 15 commands:

    85 ls
    36 vim
    34 hg
    32 find
    30 cd
    16 java
    14 pd
    14 hist
    10 stat
    8 zip
    8 rm
    7 screen
    7 scp
    6 history
    6 echo

    Saturday, February 23, 2008

    Writing Commitments

    It has been a long time since my last actual post here and I have been on and off with my blogs since I started. Today I've decided I want to renew my commitment to writing and improving my skills as a writer. One problem I had imposed upon myself with this blog was that of a format. Being a programmer, I had decided that this blog's format was going to be focused on programming and related thoughts. Obviously, this hasn't been working out so well since I haven't had the time/energy/willpower to write a good technology related post.

    So, I have decided that I'm going to remove my self-imposed format and write about whatever I feel is worth writing about. Since this is a new/mostly inactive blog I don't have anyone to upset with this so that won't be a problem. And as I improve my writing skills and learn what I like to write about, I imagine that my posts will become more focused over time.

    So with that, I hope to start writing at least weekly about whatever comes to my mind. Hopefully anyone who comes across my writing will find some value out of it and I'll find plenty of value in simply writing anything.

    What's in your PS1?

    My friend John found an interesting discussion on Reddit about PS1. His PS1 can be found here.

    Mine is:
    PS1='\[\033[34m\]\u@\h (\t) \[\033[36m\]\w\[\033[37m\]\n\$ '

    Which looks like:
    samerrel@ravenholm (12:00:47) ~

    and colorized: