Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Doing a little remodeling here.

Just a quick post to let you know I will be revising some of the of the pages I have links to such as the "Interesting employment opportunities" plus adding a few more. I'll also be adding a list of my skill if for any other reason, so that I can keep track of them (a little self-promotion doesn't hurt).

As for for the holiday funk I was in, I am getting over that. I am definitely looking forward to 2009, and the potential for some great new opportunities. Whether those opportunities mean I stay in the Seattle area or not is still up in the air.

I'll try and post more of my thoughts over the next few days, but for now I want to wish everyone out there a "Happy New Year" and best of luck to you all.

Psst! It's all right to leave a comment now and then too :-)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Lessons from the resilience of bamboo.

The Puget Sound region has been hit with snow for over a week now, and this has impacted everyone's travel including mine. Being unemployed I really don't have any where to go, but it is nice to get out now and then and being stuck at home has contributed to the funk I have been in lately.

Staying positive while being unemployed during the holidays is hard, and it's really hard when there is nothing but bad news and you are stuck at home. I have tried to avoid letting the news get to me, but I'm sort of isolated and without much of a support network, so my funk hit me hard during the last week.

During the last week I did make one observation though that has given me a new outlook, and I would like to share that observation here.

Each time it snowed, the bamboo in my backyard would bend over due to the weight of the snow and then as the snow would start to melt the bamboo would start to spring back. The bamboo went through this process several times over the week, and now that the snow is starting to completely melt the bamboo is standing tall again.

The resilience of my bamboo gave me inspiration to spring up every time the weight of all the negativity starts to lessen, and keep on growing.

I know there is a really bad analogy to my bamboo being bent over, and my being unemployed, but I am not going to go there (Sorry I needed to throw in a little humor there :-)

With determination and a little humor to fertilize my inspiration I plan to keep springing up and stand tall just like my bamboo.

(I added this image to this entry several days after I originally published it. I wish I had taken a picture of the bamboo when it was snowing to accompany this one, but as it is this image stands on it's own)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Going slow, just getting by.

Over the last few days I've been sick and out of sorts, but I am getting back up to speed. Right now my major challenge is not letting others negativity get to me.

It's hard, but I am finding that if I involve myself in projects I find I am not so down. It's hard to stay motivated, but it's preferable to getting in a funk. Hopefully the employment picture improves after the start of the year.

Recently I've been learning more about Visual Studio 2008 Express, and moving forward with my reading. I have also been cleaning up my other blogs, so that there is a common appearance.

Maybe the end of the week, I'll have some news of more progress with the Lego NXT bot.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Diving into C#

I finished the fist chapter of Head First C#, and I must say it was prettying interesting and fun. I was able to build a contact list application that used a SQL database in just a few hours.

I use the term "build" instead of "write" because it appears that with C# there is a lot going under the hood that the developer does not have to worry about like with C or C++. Never the less I think this will be a fun programming language to work with, and I am looking forward to diving in even more.

Other than that, I am still plugging away with the other studies, and working on strategies to find a new job.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Trying to stay on track

As I stated in a previous post, getting laid off sucks, especially if it happens twice in three months time.

To be honest I haven't been all the productive since getting laid off the day before Thanksgiving, and this being the holiday season hasn't helped my morale all that much. But this morning I woke up, and apparently was pissed off enough about the situation that I decided to give myself a good swift kick in the butt and get going again.

While it's not great progress, I have started reading Head First HTML with CSS & XHTML again. To be honest I should have finished this book several months ago. I am also cracking the pages of Head First C#, and setting up Visual Studio on a new system that someone gave me.

I am hoping that just burying myself in coding for a couple weeks will help me get over the funk and past the holidays. Playing with the NXT bot should help too.

I'll also be adding to the blog and updating some of the links I have, especially the Interesting employement links, and web development links.

That's it for now. Feel free to comment because it would be nice to know if somene actually reads this blog.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Just a ramble on being technology agnostic.

I have previously posted here before about the need to avoid being biased towards or against certain technologies such as browsers, and I would like to now expand upon my thoughts about technology agnosticism.

What brought this about is that now that I am looking for work again I have recently had several people tell me that I should get rid of my GMail account if I am thinking about applying at Microsoft, and in the past I have had recruiters tell me that I shouldn't list my UNIX or Linux experience on my resume if I want to work at Microsoft.

I find this kind of amusing since the people telling me to ditch GMail don't even work at Microsoft, and I know quite a few people working at Microsoft who use GMail, Yahoo email, or other non-Microsoft email services. Some people at Microsoft have told me that they could care less if I have UNIX or Linux experience listed on my resume. As a matter of fact, depending on the work, listing my UNIX and Linux experience may even help me find a job there.

I think a lot of this has to do with the mythology and misinformation that has been built up around Microsoft culture, and while I haven't had anyone tell me to ditch my Hotmail account if I plan to apply at Google, I am certain there are people out there telling potential Google applicants to do just that. Personally I don't plan to make any drastic changes either way.

To be honest I think it is in the nature of every good geek to try different technologies, and it's always a good idea to check out the competition. Focusing exclusively on one type or brand of technology can only limit ones experience. Broadening your horizons can only help, not hurt you.

It's like the ridiculous OS wars, or Vi vs. Emacs debate. Getting all worked up over which technology is best is a waste of time. Technology is a tool, nothing more, and people should use what tool works for them.

Hey, if I could afford it and if I had the time, I would be playing with every OS out there. I still work with Windows 98 for some legacy projects, and I will continue to do so. As a matter of fact I have plans to put Windows 95 on an older system (when I have time :) Eventually I will have a NAS using FreeNAS, and possibly a Open BSD firewall on my network too. As for what distro of Linux is best, again it's a matter of what works for each person, and I plan to play with several.

In the prevoius post on browsers, I admitted that I was biased and that I needed to work with IE, as well as other browsers. While people may not alway have the time, energy, or finances, to play around with different technologies, they should at least be willing to try new technologies should the opportunity present itself, so take the opportunity when you can.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Bots and blogs

Here are a couple shots of the Lego NXT robot I built over the last few days. Right now I am using the canned programs that came with the kit, but over time I hope to learn C# and then use the Microsoft Robotics Studio to create new routines for the robot.

It's not a bad little bot, and the motors have more than enough power to send it flying right off the table. The robot seemed a little flimsy while I was building it, but it was sturdy enough once I finished. My one complaint is that it requires 6 AA batteries, so I need to pick up some more AA Ni-MH if I am going to get serious about working with the bot.

On other fronts I have been updating my resume, reading Head First HTML with CSS & XHTML, and updating my other blogs. I'm hoping to get some feedback on both the Cloudymidnights, and Urbanspelunkers blogs. If you have a moment, check out the blogs and let me know what you think.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Working on a new plan and trying to stay positive.

I was able to get in a little decompression in over the holiday weekend along with quiet time to think about where I go from here. Getting laid off sucks, especially twice in one year, and getting laid off sucks even more if it's during the holidays.

I cannot let myself get down, nor am I blaming anyone, it's just a fact of life given the economy. I just have to focus on staying positive, and I know I can do this if I focus on my studies and several creative projects I have had in the back of my head for some time. This will help me get past the holidays, and I can move forward.

I have been expanding scope of the Urbanspelunkers blog, and will start reworking of the site this week. There are articles planned for the Cloudymidnights blog, several of which are focused on resources for visually impaired astronomers.

As for the studies, I need to finish up Head First HTML with CSS & XHTML, then move forward with some more advanced web design books, along with starting up C# studies.

I am still flushing out my long term plans, but regardless of where I finally decide to go, I know it will the right move for me.