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I write about programming and don't take myself too seriously. Read my standard disclaimer. Follow me on Twitter at @pseale and be inspired.
Saturday, May 16, 2009 11:18:50 PM UTC #

In the past I've questioned the viability of linkblogs—does anyone (including, and perhaps especially the linkblog author) have time to read all these articles?

The short answer is no. They couldn't possibly have time to read and evaluate all those articles.

I think it's become something of a cultural expectation that we scan each of the 50+ links in a daily linkblog post as a way of discovering something interesting, without having the expectation of, you know, reading anything. Inevitably the quality of the links degrade, because nobody's reading the articles. As for me, I'm batting .000 on following linkblog links this year…I'm in a kind of "linkblog hitting slump." Maybe it's just me.

This also goes for programming-related aggregators. First we had Slashdot, then briefly, Digg, then Reddit, then the front page of Reddit became something of a wasteland, so we moved to, then there was that thing called Hacker News. Somewhere along this timeline DotNetKicks reached critical mass, before slipping into the doldrums of all-ignorance-all-the-time .NET op-ed pieces; ugh. For the record I still think the aggregators do a good job, it's just that they could do better.

Where were we? Ah yes, links.

I've found the following links fascinating for some reason or other, and I personally vouch for them. If I haven't looked at the link, I'll point it out right there (which I do a lot in the "Books" section.)


Podcast series (AKA Super Podcast Roundup Turbo HD Remix)
Podcasts are roughly ordered by how much I like them…but note that if they're listed here, I like them. My first podcast roundup was in 2006.

  • Stack Overflow podcast - having read both CodingHorror and Joel On Software, this one's a lot of fun. Revisit old topics, get their unfiltered take on newer topics. It's good to get the unfiltered opinion, even if they're uninformed from time to time.
  • Deep Fried Bytes - I like their rusty washers segment. Maybe that's the pessimist in me, but hey, I'd prefer risking listening to an over-critical rusty washers segment over over-exuberant marketing talk.
  • Herding Code - when there are four co-hosts, you get better questions, and the guest isn't allowed to spout FUD/ignorance for an entire episode like sometimes happens on DotNetRocks.
  • Hanselminutes - I like the recent trend of doing "follow-up" shows to correct inaccuracies on other podcast series.
  • DotNetRocks - classic, still going, and like the rest of 'em, DotNetRocks has both good and bad episodes.
  • Software Engineering Radio - in theory I like this show, but I'll be honest and say I haven't listened in a long while.  My commute dropped from an hour to just 8 minutes, what can I say.
  • Irregularly updated podcasts I enjoy:
    • OOPSLA podcast 2008 and OOPSLA podcast 2007 - some of the best episodes/talks come from this podcast series. Hopefully we'll get the equivalent shows for their 2009 conference.
    • Polymorphic Podcast - Craig's still going, several years later. ASP.NET/web development/object-oriented development topics.
    • Elegant Code - I don't remember the last time they published something, but, hey, we're in the "irregular" section for a reason.
    • ALT.NET podcast - just switched hosts, so we'll see where this goes.
    • Rubiverse podcast - run by the former ALT.NET/now-Ruby guy. His shows are infrequent, but good.


Career-oriented (whether the career is freelancing, entrepreneurial, independent consulting, or even working as an employee)

  • Daniel James - Building an Indie MMO (Puzzle Pirates) - this is (believe it or not) not much about making games, as it is about building a product. He explicitly mentions that you have to be extraordinarily productive. I'm not selling this well, but trust me, you'll want to check this out. Also, he wears a pirate hat.
  • Archaeopteryx by Giles Bowkett - wherein he describes that he'd like to someday have Archaeopteryx (the open source app he built and loves) be his main job. Sometime late in the presentation Giles also says he'd like to describe himself as a "musician who happens to know how to program." It's an engaging laser show, fog machine and all, and as the InfoQ page says, "slides edited directly into the video since there were 500 of them." I don't agree with everything he says, but the career aspect of his presentation is something to think about.
  • DHH (creator of Ruby on Rails; 37signals) at Startup School - apparently his talk immediately followed a VC who spent an hour describing how to get VC money. One of the first thing he says is "you don't need VC money" and explains why working in a VC-funded startup is like playing the lottery, instead explaining that you should follow his revolutionary advice and "charge money for your product." Engaging/entertaining, and a lot of straightforward wisdom.
  • Do the Hustle, by Obie Fernandez - straightforward talk on the business aspects of independent consulting for Rails folk. Most of this applies to the rest of us.
  • ajmoir's description of a hyperproductive software team - this is a Reddit conversation with multiple threads, so for the full story you've got to read all his replies. I think this is important for everyone to read because you need to believe software development can be done, for lack of a better term, "way better." The promise of hyper-productivity is fascinating. Also: Lisp.
  • Mark Cuban on Success and Motivation (long, mostly storytelling)
  • How to become a famous Rails Developer, Ruby Rockstar or Code Ninja - I haven't watched the presentation, but I did read his transcript. Also you may be interested in the RailsConf video feed…I haven't found anything else I'd recommend.

Screencasts/webcasts/watching presentations on your computer

  • Ten Ways to Screw Up with Agile and XP - this presentation is a kind of response to the "post-agile" idea. Like the "post-agile"stuff we're beginning to hear about, he talks about how Agile projects and teams can fail. Unlike "post-agile," he doesn't blame Agile, instead focusing on solutions for the ten common problems he encounters. Highly recommended, especially for those not sold on Agile. Ben sent me this link some time ago.
  • Virtual ALT.NET meetings (ongoing) - these are the in-depth presentations I've been looking for.  You can listen in live to any meeting…just plug in a working headset, go to … and that's it. Also, they record sessions! Awesome! On my queue of sorts:
  • ├średev 2008 videos - I'm digging through these presently. Unlike most conferences, ├średev has provided videos for each track (i.e. "the breakout sessions")! Awesome! Find the videos either
  • Haven't watched - Lang.NET symposium talks. I think I'll check out the two PowerShell videos and then bail, I mean, hey—I've got plenty to check out without delving into programming language design. But, enough about me: you may find some of the other talks interesting. Big ups to Microsoft for publishing the videos.

Books (.NET development-related)

Code camps/Saturday developer events (Houston area, sorry everybody else)

  • Austin Code Camp - May 30th, 2009 (soon!) - check out the hot hot hot session proposals! Hot!
  • FOSS in Healthcare unconference - July 31st - August 2nd, 2009 - costs money, but maybe it's worth it to you.
  • Houston Techfest 2009 - September 26th, 2009. This is the day of the Texas Tech at University of Houston game, on the University of Houston campus. Techfest: est. 600 attendees. Football game: ~30,000 (it's a small stadium). I think we'll have a crowded campus that Saturday!

Everything else

  • Using Photos to Enhance Videos - this is one of those jaw-dropping demos. Click click click click click click click.
  • Fred Trotter on the "VA VistA Underground Railroad" and how our US government should spend its Healthcare IT money on open source - Healthcare IT has a problem, and I hope an open source ecosystem is a solution. This article is long and gives a lot of history, so you'll get something out of it even if not interested in the politics. Also the links to the VA VistA Underground Railroad were fascinating; folks interested in Behavior Driven Development would be interested by the stories about how "a programmer sits down with a clinician" to write the app. Fascinating for a lot of reasons.
  • While we're talking about BDD, you might be interested in the David Parnas' keynote at OOPSLA, wherein he lays out eerily similar goals (see the section on Documentation.)
  • The underhanded C contest - 2007's underhandedly-weak encryption contest: "Your challenge: write the code so that some small fraction of the time (between 1% and 0.01% of files, on average) the encrypted file is weak and can be cracked by an adversary without the password." Make sure to look at the criteria for bonus points, and of course, the winning submissions.
  • "Is anyone else here worried that they've spent so long looking briefly at everything, that they've still good at absolutely nothing?" - you don't have to click the link, just acknowledge the point. This reddit post has 1000 upvotes.
  • Scott Berkun's Project management for beginners (post is short!) - because, aren't we all beginners? You don't see this kind of straightforward talk from the PMBOK (if you do, it's sandwiched between "effectively denying reality" and "having long status meetings." In other news, I think I have a rebellious attitude towards the PMI, judge for yourself.
  • Abstract architecture-y type discussion - Design and Develop Versatilities, Not Applications - focus on the idea of what he calls "versatilities," and not so much on the specific technology involved (i.e. SharePoint.) I think it's a noble goal, but no, SharePoint in its current form can't realize the lofty goal he sets forth. Sorry, no. As I said elsewhere, you'll get far more mileage by training your power users to build their own SQL queries and how to use pivot tables in Excel. But the ideal is good.
  • Programming Sucks! Or At Least, It Ought To - Alex (the author) runs I don't know what to say about this. Every programmer needs to find the balance between getting real work done the ugly way, and spending time learning new techniques that make the ugliness go away. I haven't found this balance. This goes in hand with Alex's other classic article, Pounding a Nail: Old Shoe or Glass Bottle? - and carries the same assumption that you must live with your (bad) programming environment.
  • All this SharePoint Stuff is Going to be Normal Soon - a lot of people see SharePoint as the next "Microsoft Web OS," i.e. that the SharePoint trend will accelerate, and that we'll start to see every future web-based product from Microsoft (and products from other vendors!) run on top of SharePoint. As it is today, the easy answer is "no that's not going to happen," because the cost of running your complex app on SharePoint can't be justified. And for tomorrow the answer still looks to be "no that's not going to happen," because I don't see any fundamental changes taking place. Non-trivial add-ons today write their data to their own database, making their "SharePoint integration" more lip service than truth. I've thought about what I'd like to see in an application framework, and if I could summarize, the one thing SharePoint doesn't support that it needs to: it would be nice if it allowed deep customizations that the product team did not anticipate. I think this is the fundamental problem which at this point is unsolvable for SharePoint. Solving this problem would require re-inventing SharePoint into something that doesn't resemble the SharePoint of today.
    But, who knows, I could be horribly wrong about all this.
  • Discussion about Microsoft Gold Partners, titled "Why Your Vendor Screwed Up Your SharePoint Project" - wherein the author (gently, ever so gently) points out that Microsoft needs to change its partner ecosystem.
  • How to call BS on a guru - again Scott Berkun. He writes books by the way :)
  • The DailyWTF programming contest entry (a calc.exe replacement) which is built entirely in C++ templates. I can't tell you what kind of respect I have for that kind of compiler abuse.
  • News: Clojure 1.0 - dismiss this at your own peril. Related: ClojureCLR alpha up.
  • Is mutation testing useful in practice [StackOverflow question]? I'm reading through Kent Beck's TDD By Example, and he mentions mutation testing. Years later, it seems like no one's talking about mutation testing. Are we doing something else to test our unit tests? Is this too much overhead? Have we adopted a new mental framework that eliminates the need for mutation testing? Anyway, there's your new-old idea for the day: mutation testing.
Saturday, May 16, 2009 11:18:50 PM UTC  #     |  Comments [0]
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