Friday, January 11, 2013

Must Remember to Write, Even If I Don't Think It's Worth It

Since I haven't post an entry in a bit I thought I would throw something up.

My first Coursera class of the year starts next week and I'm looking forward to it. It should give me a change to reinforce the budding FP skills that the Scala class started me on since the class will be a comparative look at programming languages with the languages in use being ML, Racket and Ruby. Should be an interesting.

I am still loving the new RC helicopter hobby. In an unexpected twist I think I get as much pleasure out of repairing the little sucker when I crash it as I do actually flying it. Definitely not what I was expecting on several levels. I am guessing that this will balance out once my flying skills start to catch up with my repair skills. Although, to be fair, I have only had to make three repairs. On the other hand, I have screwed around and made two sets of training gear, taken a stab at leveling the swashplate by eyeball (I really need a swashplate level to do it properly) and I'm about to try my luck at setting up the blade tracking and blade balancing.
Which reminds me, I should go by HobbyTown and pick up some tracking tape and a blade balance. One of the guys that got me started on this new hobby is convinced I'm going to wind up getting a quad flyer at some point in the sooner-rather-than-later future. I have to admit, those things are *FUN*. Although he says he finds it more difficult to handle the quad, I personally think its a dream to fly. Goofy easy to control compared to my mCPx heli and almost as maneuverable. It also has a much larger battery for longer flight times and is still capable of doing loops (I haven't checked but I think it should be able to do rolls as well).

I may pick one up just because some of the motor skills should be transferable to my heli and it will give me confidence when I get discouraged at my progress on the mCPx that if I can do it on the quad, I can do it on the heli. As a bonus, I would be pretty confident flying it around the house and torturing the animals with it!

OK, I do feel better about posting since it's part of my plan to improve fundamental skills and obviously, I do need it.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The New Year Has Begun

It's clearly been a while since I put up a post. This has been due as much to the holidays as much as it has been caused by distractions, lack of laziness and procrastination.

I've was busy with a production deployment in early December and have been on vacation enjoying the holidays with family and friends after that. Today is my first day back at the office in a couple of weeks and while it's good to be back, I'm still sorta glad it's a short week. It was hard getting up this morning and making the ride in with the temp at 37 degrees and my wife still warm in bed.

It was nice to see a couple of good clean blog entries by Uncle Bob giving a great introduction into Functional Programming and why it's supposed to be, "The Next Big Thing". I personally thing it's past that point already, it's just that the majority of people don't necessarily realize it is or why everyone is saying that. The relevant posts are FP Basics E1 and FP Basics E2.

Also on my radar this month will be another Coursera class. It doesn't look like it will be particularly challenging but it's an introduction to a range of different programming languages functional as well as OO, most of which I have spent little, if any, time doing anything more significant than the old standby, "Hello World!" I look forward to learning how to make a program say that in a few more languages and with a little luck and some work, I can get a solid handle on some new tools that I will be able to use effectively and appropriately.

I've also picked up RC helicopter flying. As in most things I do, I kind of jumped in over my head and while I didn't spend a ton of money, what I did do is overestimate my skills (again) and get a heli that is, in all honesty, not something I should be trying to learn on as a beginner. I cheer myself up with the knowledge that if I can conquer this bird, I will have made a significant achievement (well, to me anyway) and that I actually love just practicing ground exercises, much less the low hover stuff that I occasionally use to remind myself why I don't get the bird in the air until I've mastered other skills first.

I also have at least a couple of interesting tasks at the office to work on in addition to the dreary crap that normally makes up a work day. Neither are really sophisticated but one of them will afford me the opportunity to learn and explore some new tools and frameworks. For a guy who has been a die hard OSS and the POSIX-style OS, this is extremely important now that I have gone to the Dark Side and work as a perm at a Windows based company.
As an aside, I have been very impressed over the last few years with how Microsoft has started opening up their software but also started to adopt and promote things that I have considered industry standard since the early 2000's but MS refused to acknowledge.

I will try to organize my thoughts and present some cogent observations on my introduction into the universe of C# web application frameworks and, if I'm lucky, maybe a little bit about how F# plays within them.