Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Weekend Redux and Book Report

The long weekend proved quite educational. I didn’t have any ‘homework’ per se, but I decided that it was time to delve into some of my pet projects again. I didn’t get out to take any pictures, but it was nice to just let life slow down a little bit.

I finally got around to seeing Narnia, and though I was skeptical about how The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe could be turned into a worthwhile feature length movie, I ended up being proved quite wrong. Disney did a great job, the cinematography was amazing, the CG was seamless, and the soundtrack was beautifully and tastefully orchestrated. I left the theater feeling uplifted, and that is something that you can’t always say about the movies.

I read this book on Subversion, a source control system that my school group will be using to manage our source. The group project looks like it will be interesting. Though the details are still quite vague, it sounds like we will be writing some software for the PDA that is location aware. I remember reading an article about that sort of thing a while ago, and it sounded like a lot of fun. Anyway, the Subversion source control system was a piece of cake to get up and running thanks to the great folks at Dreamhost. It was one less thing that I had to stress about. The book was also quite informative as far as configuring and using the software.

I also read another two books on DHTML + CSS. The more I read about these “dynamic” browser effects, the less mystical all of this stuff becomes. Ok, so that last sentence was somewhat vacuous, but I felt for the longest time that all of this browser magic that we were witnessing from flickr, Google and the like was just that, magic. As I learn and read more, I am just amazed that people have spent the time and effort to make it all happen. At the same time, I am convinced that people need to take JavaScript more seriously. With some sound software development practices, a sound understanding of HTML, the Document Object Model (DOM), JavaScript, and how the latter three work in different browsers, all of the magical “AJAX” tricks are brought to light. The real game is getting comfortable with that bag of tricks, and then having some sense of design to bring it all together into a nice package.

I am certainly not on the inside in the web-application industry, but I would posit that we need some better tools for creating browser applications, the first of which is a better tool set for working with JavaScript. When I talk about JavaScript with my classmates, many of them don’t even consider it a legitimate “language”, yet if you are going to do things in the browser in a greater than IE scope, it is really the only answer. It seems to me that to the designer, JavaScript is too much of a programming language, and to the programmer, it is too little. Maybe some with the right set of tools, some happy ground could be found in the middle. Then again, maybe we will re-invent the whole distributed application model again before we get around to a reasonable set of browser JavaScript files, and everyone will be developing ClickOnce .NET apps, though I am not sure how that works in the Mac world.

Time will tell.

Friday, February 17, 2006

From Spring Back to Winter

Forgive the quality of the pictures, they have been coming from my cell phone. The great thing about cell phone cameras is that they are always with you. The downside is, most of them aren't too hot on quality (mine included). Anyway, I took this picture for the blog, but am just now getting around to posting.

Just as I thought things were warming up, this is what presented its self on Thursday morning. It snowed all day Wednesday, and most of that night. Needless to day, the heavy coat is out again.

This weeking is shaping up to be a great one. Though it is cold outside, the snow does make for some interesting photo opportunities. I am hoping to spend some time with the camera over the next couple of days. For the first time in weeks, there isn't a pressing school project. It is really quite amazing. Usually the CS professors use long weekends to give large assignments. This time it will actually be a break, though I am sure that it is the calm before the storm.

I will probably end up at work on Monday, but between now and then I have time. Taking some pictures is a must. Reading a book would also be great. My sister also says I need to go see "Narnia". When the weekend pans out, I'll let you know what happened.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Great Day

Today reminded me that Spring is just around the corner. I actually didn't drive with the heater on when I made my mid-day trip from work to school and back to work It probably sounds insignificant, but it is nice to remember that the days are slowly warming up and before any of us is aware, the grass will be green and the sun will be shining.

In other great news, my gmail account was enabled with the GoogleTalk functionality. It is seriously like magic, no kidding, think Disneyland excitement. I was able to talk with my school friends from within gmail while at work... something heretofore unheard of because of the corporate fire wall. That probably means I shouldn't be doing it anyway, but it was fun to see how the application worked. Google certainly has out-done themselves with this one. I was telling a friend today that I may have to start evangelizing for Gmail and GoogleTalk again. It is just so convenient!

So, today really was great. Sunshine and GoogleChat in the browser, pretty awesome if you ask me.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The Whitmore Show is Up

My sister, aunt and I met with Robert Hall and his wife, Tiffany, this morning to hang my photo show at the Salt Lake County Whitmore Library. It was an exciting experience for me as I have never taken any of my photographic work all the way to presentation before. Seeing the pictures mounted, matted, framed, and hanging on the wall in a public place really is cool. The show will be there for the next six weeks so if you are near the Cottonwood area of Salt Lake and happen to have a few minutes, you should stop by and take a look.

I had never planned on doing a show with my photos. For me, photography is one of the ways that I ground myself in reality. It is a way to express feelings, and to remind myself how I saw the world at a given moment in time. Each photo has a story. I can remember how I felt, what I was thinking, and why I took each one. For me photography is a tremendously personal experience, each photo has meaning to me. If a photo I take happens to be appealing to another person, that is even better, but it certainly isn't the primary goal.

I learned a lot getting this show ready. There is quite a bit that goes into getting a print from where you are happy with it in photoshop to seeing it mounted, matted and framed. I find that as I have 'finished' some of these photos, that I have grown to love them even more than when I first shot them.

Thanks to my aunt, Tiffany, and Robert for making this happen. I am glad that you three saw some potential, and decided to give me a chance.

Monday, February 06, 2006

It's Alive

It may not look like much, but I can promise you that a lot went into getting those two windows running. The black one represents my "server" which was really just a layer of complexity that the professor added to the assignment so that we would have to learn how to write socket code. The gray window is the game client which talks to the server. It was a pretty fun project. There are a few things that still need to be done that could make it nicer, but I am happy for tonight.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

C# and SOAP and Sockets, Oh My!

There is something wonderful and horrible about learning a new language. Especially a language as powerful and expressive as C#. This is a diagram that I put on one of the whiteboards at school yesterday, as me and a few friends were trying to figure out how exactly our "who wants to pretend to be a millionaire" game would work. No, the title wasn't ours, it came with the assignment. This is my first go with sockets communication between clients and servers, and my first experience with SOAP as a protocol for web services. There is a lot of ground to cover, but it will be a fun process, and the end result will be somewhat entertaining. I'll finally have something that my family members can look at and maybe play with.

Here's the quick rundown.

  • I finished my implementation of a MAXMIN heap this evening.

  • The project that goes with the picture above is due next Wednesday, and it really has to do a lot of stuff. It will be a fun project, but finding the time to do it will be a challenge.

  • The parser phase of our compiler is also due on Wednesday. We have the grammar done, but we have still have a lot to do with regard to building the Abstract Syntax Tree

  • I have just about finished building my first web application at work. It will be ready for QA testing when I go home tomorrow. It has been a really fun project, and I have learned a lot.

  • I am supposed to go hang my photo show... Though I really don't know when that is going to happen. I know they wanted it to be up this week. Maybe Saturday.