I'm here today to relay two messages:

First: I'm still alive and well

I haven't posted anything of real substance in quite a while (and some of you in the back of the room are shouting "in a while...or ever!" I can hear you.) I'm not here to promise more frequent and meaty updates; instead, I'm here to say that you can expect a lot less from me, at least on this blog.

My growth-as-a-developer plan (I introduced it in detail here) is going full steam. While I'm not on track to hit all specific targets, the most important thing is that I'm seeing real growth. The bits that have been most helpful for me have been a) writing my own mini-project, and b) reading source code.

Lesson: read source code!

I'd like to emphasize how drastically this has changed my outlook. First, reading others source code gives me self-confidence. And yes that's somewhat mean, I know. But it's true, and I try to beat the "you are adequate" drum as often as possible--by reading others' bad source code, you'll better know where you stand. Sometimes you realize you've got a lot to learn; sometimes you realize that hey, you're not all that bad, relatively. Bad source code can be inspiring in its own way.

And let's pull this around to the positive--I've learned a ton reading others' source code. I've picked up lots of little nuggets like using params[] as a method argument, and bigger nuggets like the several different styles of context/specification-ish unit tests. I shouldn't have to explain this; it should be self-evident that one can learn by studying source code. Duh.

Lesson: have a side project!

But more helpful even than reading others' source code is simply getting out there and writing my own. And I don't mean the type of stuff I do at work...let's not go there today. I mean code that is almost 100% logic; data stored in List<T> and passed around as IEnumerable<T>. I don't have a database. I don't have a UI. My project is entirely useless at this point, and will remain useless maybe forever.

But I'm learning a ton! What's great about building my own project is that I'm able to focus on learning specific topics. My focus points for this project are:

  • OO (I'll flesh this out further when I know what it means)
  • Test driven development (not just unit tests, but actual test-first, drive-out-the-design via tests, TDD)
  • Context/specification-style tests

Along the way, as a kind of bonus, I've picked up:

  • LINQ to objects - replacing for loops and foreach loops with LINQ calls. Related and also learning: nuttiness featuring delegates.
  • Rhino Mocks AAA syntax - with the exception of method argument constraints. If someone wants to show me a good example of using constraints, I'd be ever so grateful--just a link to a project where someone's using RM constraints will work, I'll find it from there.
  • NUnit/XUnit/MSpec - in that order, and yes, I switched all my tests over, and yes, the process was ugly. Also you can't claim to know NUnit if all you know is the [Test] attribute and Assert.IsTrue().

What's most important about this whole 'writing my own side project' experience is that it is fun, and I had, and continue to have, the energy to keep at it. I'm never motivated to do self-directed learning, so this boost of energy is the biggest win. If you're one of those people who can't imagine this kind of thing could be fun, well, maybe it's time to try out a side project.

Everything else has suffered

Everything else has become unimportant. Learning the newest wave of MS technology isn't even a concern at this point; I'll pick it up when I need to, or when my side project calls for it. What's surprising to me is that even ASP.NET MVC, which I happen to like, is being shunned with the rest of them.

Also, blogging has suffered. Also, my book reading has suffered.

I've completely stopped reading those futile "here's 80 things you don't know" linkblog posts. Aside from the SharePoint one, which is golden, what are you getting out of your linkblogger? Do they read all the articles they link you to? Are the links relevant/do you intend to read any of them yourself? Are the links accurate/factual? See, I'd prefer a monthly linkblogger who had on average six or seven links, and all six or seven would be interesting. Then, every year or so, there'd appear one starred link. This link would be considered so important you couldn't ignore it, a "must-see" so to speak. ...Anyway, that's how I see proper linkblogging. Seven links a month, or so.

But who cares about all that, really. I'm learning a ton, and you can't stop me!

Everything in Balance

I should clarify: I'm coming to this concept as the podcast junkie/blog consumer/programming aggregator consumer person, who didn't have a side project. I've been at it (this side project) a few months now.

So if you're thinking my advice is unwise, that's fine--I'll take this space and make a disclaimer: I intend to use common sense, and re-evaluate my learning strategy from time to time. In particular, I  do intend to read books in the future, hopefully the near future.

Just not right now.

Second: I like reading my own Twitter feed

Way at the top I told you I had two things to say tonight. First was the message that everyone needs to start their own side project even just to help them learn.

Second is to tell you that I'm on twitter. Believe it, twitter.com/pseale. Subscribe! Do it!

Something I've found amusing is that I enjoy reading my own twitter feed. It's either a sign that my tweets are engaging and are chock-full of hilarity and insightful content...or that I like smelling my own aroma.  You be the judge!

Here's a sampling of my twitter bouquet:

Posted update to my SP unit testing blog entry: http://www.pseale.com/blog/SharePointNotUnitTesting.aspx - summary is "learn OO first"
Thu Mar 05 16:26:41 +0000 2009
I should point out I updated the post because @jopxtwits linked to it at http://tinyurl.com/af9tnc
Thu Mar 05 16:29:17 +0000 2009
TDD in SP projects is a gun rack: http://www.pseale.com/blog/SharePointNotUnitTesting.aspx - yes I just re-updated my own post
Fri Mar 06 03:29:57 +0000 2009
In most recent episode of my ongoing "My Tests Suck" series: just found out I forgot to wire up events, 'the hard way'. No test failed,oops
Fri Mar 06 03:56:11 +0000 2009
Just hit CTRL+SHIFT+B on my Firefox window, out of habit. In other news, I've hit the 50 test mark.
Fri Mar 06 05:43:10 +0000 2009
Oops another bug, not covered by tests. Hopefully I'm learning by experience, emphasis on the word "learning"
Fri Mar 06 06:10:58 +0000 2009
I'm dead serious when I say that using PowerShell to explore SP central admin/SSP is faster than using the browser, esp. w/ 30 sec compile
Fri Mar 06 21:19:18 +0000 2009
compare-object $updateJob ($addToSsp+$inSsp) | group sideindicator ---note it's comparing list of fields in $updateJob to UNION of 2 lists
Fri Mar 06 21:42:49 +0000 2009
New-WebServiceProxy - instant web service test harness.
Fri Mar 06 22:34:24 +0000 2009
Does anyone use structs in C# for value objects? Because, I don't.
Sun Mar 08 18:47:55 +0000 2009
Finally discovered what Func<T>/Action<T> are for, yes, I should know this; no, I didn't know this. Now I do.
Mon Mar 09 01:48:55 +0000 2009
Note to self: learn how to use Rhino Mocks constraints...later.
Mon Mar 09 05:42:09 +0000 2009
Ugh, Can't use WCF Service References in VS2005 without installing a never-updated CTP that just now failed install. And yes, I said VS2005.
Mon Mar 09 16:51:35 +0000 2009
In related news: how do you troubleshoot a ~misbehaving VS Web Reference? Is there a verbose mode I can try to see why it fails to map data?
Mon Mar 09 16:57:00 +0000 2009
Q: Where are some good development-related mailing lists in which I can lurk? For me mailing lists are out of sight, out of mind
Mon Mar 09 19:56:05 +0000 2009
RT @yourdon I've begun writing a 3rd edition of "Death March" as a collaborative blog. DM me with your email adr if you'd like to see it.
Tue Mar 10 01:55:55 +0000 2009
RT 2of2 @yourdon Re: "Death March" 3rd ed: emphasize I'm just *starting* it; it's not a finished draft. But you can influence its content...
Tue Mar 10 01:56:46 +0000 2009
This ugly state machine state base class MUST DIE! Rolling up sleeves; got protective eyewear, steel toed boots, lead cup. I'm prepared.
Tue Mar 10 04:05:25 +0000 2009
Interesting series of posts about high expectations set on SP admins: http://www.sharepointblogs.com/matt/
Tue Mar 10 18:41:39 +0000 2009
Someone needs to make a "Watermark Production Central Admin + SSP" branding Feature, so I can know at a glance I'm looking at a prod site
Tue Mar 10 19:26:31 +0000 2009
In other news, the presence of a trailing slash (/) in my URL bombed out a stsadm -o createsite operation. Encourages my paranoia
Tue Mar 10 19:42:15 +0000 2009
I'm using this quick PowerShell script to compile my SharePoint Search scopes on demand: http://poshcode.org/925
Tue Mar 10 20:33:41 +0000 2009
I don't think Folder rules on custom Scopes work. I assume they work on doc libs, but not my custom list. Ugh
Tue Mar 10 20:48:04 +0000 2009
1) Write down concrete next action-style tasks. Failing that, 2) break them up into tiny actions. Failing that, 3) go home. See you tomorrow
Wed Mar 11 00:12:24 +0000 2009
Had thought: "hmm, how am I going to test this? Requires a lot of mocking." Answer: duh, move it out of the class. Trying for 0 static mthds
Wed Mar 11 03:08:54 +0000 2009
Not that I'm saying static methods are totally bad, I'm saying I'm trying to do this entire little project without them. I.e. to try it out.
Wed Mar 11 03:09:44 +0000 2009
In other news, I have test code duplication, and it's painful. But, I'm not sure how best to change tests, need to look around some
Wed Mar 11 03:11:30 +0000 2009
As an added bonus of doing my tests the hard way, JP's BDD framework ( http://is.gd/m3G0 ) makes sense to me now. Well, almost :)
Wed Mar 11 03:14:08 +0000 2009
IEnumerable shouldn't hate on null values as much as it does. Live and let null
Wed Mar 11 04:43:51 +0000 2009
1of#:"Since 2001, 23 TDD studies were published...13 reported improvements...4 were inconclusive, 4 reported no discernable difference. 1...
Wed Mar 11 16:30:22 +0000 2009
2of#:"...Only one study reported a quality penalty for TDD." http://bit.ly/13F8g - SKIP the article, go straight to Hakan Erdogmus comment
Wed Mar 11 16:31:41 +0000 2009
3of#: Meanwhile, this article (http://bit.ly/mHqZL) is fascinating. Found link via @raganwald's RSS feed.
Wed Mar 11 16:34:29 +0000 2009
1of#: For the record people: learn how to do your dayjob better first, THEN look to the shiny new GUI toolkit. If it doesn't help...
Wed Mar 11 19:21:43 +0000 2009
2of#:...doesn't help you be better in some way, than why are you learning it? Also, there's a lot of room for improvement with what we ...
Wed Mar 11 19:23:05 +0000 2009
3of#:...have now. No need to wait for Azure on Silverlight + WF + WPF + jQuery to solve our problems for tomorrow; instead, learn how to...
Wed Mar 11 19:23:54 +0000 2009
4of#:...how to build web apps TODAY. People are so far behind, and then they read an article that casually says "learn WPF." LEARN WPF...
Wed Mar 11 19:24:28 +0000 2009
5of5: I'm done. Lesson: if anyone tells you to learn a framework/technology, ask them if they've learned it. Because they haven't.
Wed Mar 11 19:25:05 +0000 2009
Link that started my rant: "6 Things *EVERY* ASP.NET Developer should know by 2010" http://blog.saviantllc.com/archive/2009/03/09/4.aspx
Wed Mar 11 19:25:34 +0000 2009
RT @yourdon: I need lots of new examples, war stories, etc about today's death-march projects. If you've got one, DM me or email
Wed Mar 11 21:21:13 +0000 2009
Someone just said "Shame on you" on my "SP Wikis" post, I need to update the post body itself to be more accurate: http://bit.ly/VihV3
Wed Mar 11 21:27:59 +0000 2009
Also I'll point out I'm highly bemused by the "shame on you" comment :) He's right, but it's still a little funny, esp. the way it's worded
Wed Mar 11 21:29:48 +0000 2009
Q: How many off-hours technical learning would you say is COMMENDABLE? 4 hours a week? 2 hours? Please do reply, I'm curious. I say 4hrs
Wed Mar 11 21:48:20 +0000 2009
PHP is its own reward
Thu Mar 12 18:26:17 +0000 2009
Thu Mar 12 20:53:26 +0000 2009
Yes, I'm saying that codebehind in InfoPath forms is exactly like The One Ring: turns good intentions into GREAT EVIL
Fri Mar 13 20:47:59 +0000 2009
"Krikey,the things these artists are doing while everyone else is rewording their unit tests and staring at the TIOBE index." -http://is.gd/nfE2
Fri Mar 13 22:58:09 +0000 2009
META: when your new follower follows 10000+ people, block them; they won't miss you. Also, blatant ads. Block.
Sat Mar 14 00:14:04 +0000 2009
Whatever happened to Blossom? The TV show. Yeah, now you're remembering, that one.
Mon Mar 16 03:16:54 +0000 2009
On keeping up: http://bit.ly/5km3k - this is the #1 reason I've stopped SP-targeted learning--focus on fun! Link from @jpboodhoo
Mon Mar 16 17:59:25 +0000 2009
"SharePoint 14 to public beta in 2 or 3 months" - tweeted 26 days ago - http://twitter.com/rmaclean/statuses/1222833833
Mon Mar 16 20:31:18 +0000 2009
Neat, this is what a psake script looks like: http://is.gd/nDSD
Tue Mar 17 03:09:15 +0000 2009
Botched AnkhSVN file move => "Microsoft Visual Studio (2008) is Busy" dialog
Tue Mar 17 03:21:03 +0000 2009
Ugh, NBehave / NSpec examples (from src) are trivial=>not useful. JP's sample is scary, but is believable
Tue Mar 17 03:48:34 +0000 2009
The MachineSpecifications NUnit extensions are certainly neat: http://bit.ly/MSpecNUnitLove - also, CollectionAssert...it exists.
Tue Mar 17 04:26:57 +0000 2009
DL'ed files are "blocked" for my own safety. Downloaded "streams" from sysinternals to remove blocks en masse. Irony: streams.exe is blocked
Tue Mar 17 04:53:07 +0000 2009
RT @subdigital: 36* seats open for #altnethouston, please help spread the word! http://houston.altnetconf.com
Tue Mar 17 16:23:24 +0000 2009
Ok there are a lot of great PowerShell + SharePoint scripts at http://sharepointpsscripts.codeplex.com/ - common tasks, automated, easy
Tue Mar 17 22:30:42 +0000 2009
YEEAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh no-index attribute
Wed Mar 18 00:50:52 +0000 2009
~ ~ ~~ ~ ~~ ~ ~~ ~ ~~ ~ ~~ ~ ~~ ~ ~~ ~ ~~ ~ ~~ ~ ~~ ~ ~~ ~ ~~ ~ ~~ ~ ~~ ~ ~~ ~ ~~ ~ ~~ ~ ~~ ~ ~~ ~ ~~ ~ ~~ ~ ~~ ~ ~~ ~ ~~ ~ ~~ ~ ~~ ~ ~~ ~ ~
Wed Mar 18 02:27:52 +0000 2009
SharePoint 14 upgrade details via MS KB articles: http://tinyurl.com/clv8ku
Wed Mar 18 13:47:50 +0000 2009
I've got to unsubscribe from dotnetkicks.com. I keep succumbing to the "someone wrong on the INTERNET" bug
Thu Mar 19 05:25:40 +0000 2009
Most recent post I "couldn't let go": http://tinyurl.com/d6vvx9
Thu Mar 19 05:27:31 +0000 2009
Fellow developers: you can BOTH a) acknowledge your dev skill shortcomings, AND b) feel adequate. SEE: http://secretgeek.net/inadequate.asp
Thu Mar 19 17:54:13 +0000 2009
Run one test =>pass. Run all tests=>same test fails. Lesson: I'm misusing the test framework
Fri Mar 20 02:45:37 +0000 2009
In related news, I'm still looking for how others do "rowtest"-style tests while adhering to the AAA convention. Examples?
Fri Mar 20 02:55:30 +0000 2009
Halfway done switching tests over to MSpec, and just read the output (which shows all specs formatted nicely). It's surprisingly readable.
Fri Mar 20 04:14:42 +0000 2009
Ok I just deleted 2 tests that were dumb. Who's the jerk that wrote them in the first place! Jerk! Oh, that's me, I wrote them, my bad.
Fri Mar 20 04:28:00 +0000 2009
#followfriday @CobraCommander - proving that everyone succumbs to the inanity of Twitter
Fri Mar 20 15:54:27 +0000 2009
Do the SHIFT key! ~ ! @ # $ % ^ & * ( ) _ + ~ ! @ # $ % ^ & * ( ) _ + ~ ! @ # $ % ^ & * ( ) _ + ~ ! @ # $ % ^ & * ( ) _ +
Fri Mar 20 17:50:31 +0000 2009
Finished conversion of my tests to mspec. Now to fix the ugliness that reared it's head during the conversion. "Now"=>"later"
Sat Mar 21 07:28:03 +0000 2009
Seriously considering changing my avatar to this:(http://is.gd/ou6J) - Related: http://qwitter.com isn't owned by qwitter
Mon Mar 23 03:24:50 +0000 2009
Do the UNICODE! Õ??????¦?n?????
Mon Mar 23 19:06:10 +0000 2009
New favorite word: "roughage" - http://tinyurl.com/dltl2g
Mon Mar 23 21:22:25 +0000 2009
In other news, I like Neal Ford's arguments against workflow designers: http://bit.ly/ILTZq
Mon Mar 23 21:27:40 +0000 2009
New thought: someone needs to write another twitter client...specifically, a gopher twitter client. Believe it, gopher.
Mon Mar 23 22:28:15 +0000 2009
RT @doctorlinguist: @pseale gopher://gopher.floodgap.com/1/fun/twitpher
Mon Mar 23 22:49:03 +0000 2009
Nothing encourages me to learn keyboard shortcuts more than my laptop touchpad. Tonight's find: CTRL+W, CTRL+E gives focus to Error List
Tue Mar 24 02:40:58 +0000 2009
Found my pre-LINQ code that attempted to count items in an IEnumerable. Thankfully today's me is smarter; ~5 lines replaced with .Count()
Tue Mar 24 02:52:39 +0000 2009
SharePoint's search engine can go die. Forget any nice things I've said about it in the past.
Tue Mar 24 13:41:41 +0000 2009
Or, it's my fault I sacrificed the chicken BEFORE the goat, not AFTER as clearly laid out on MSDN.
Tue Mar 24 13:42:34 +0000 2009
And by "chicken"I mean "ran full crawl" and by "goat" I mean "updated the search scopes." Also forgot to do macarena and sprinkle fairy dust
Tue Mar 24 13:43:48 +0000 2009
And by "macararena" I mean "include displaytitle AS WELL AS ows_Title in the managed property mapping."
Tue Mar 24 13:48:18 +0000 2009
Issue is resolved, I did the macarena and sacrificed a chicken, in that order. See previous tweets to see what I mean, that's the real sol.
Tue Mar 24 14:09:16 +0000 2009
jQuery eliminates crapola JavaScript. I HAVE PROOF
Wed Mar 25 00:00:54 +0000 2009
Another example of how the real-world Internet surpasses imaginations of any fictional cyberspace: http://bit.ly/tCKU - home router worms
Wed Mar 25 12:43:30 +0000 2009
SP as app dev platform: 1) do your app dev the old way, ASP.NET/SQL, but deploy to _layouts/ folder. Declare SUCCESS
Wed Mar 25 21:36:52 +0000 2009
SP as app dev platform 2): 80/20 rule, pretend remaining 20% is "impossible." no project longer than a week
Wed Mar 25 21:42:05 +0000 2009
... 3) extenuating circumstances require you do app dev in SP.
Wed Mar 25 21:45:18 +0000 2009
There is no fourth option. You're doing 1-3 or it's (in my opinion of course) a bad idea.
Wed Mar 25 21:46:39 +0000 2009
The example demonstrating spec failures from thrown exceptions is hilarious: http://bit.ly/HSLYMY - just click the link
Thu Mar 26 03:47:32 +0000 2009
Also note in MSpec that Catch.Exception( ()=>stuff() ) is the syntax. For example see: http://bit.ly/18tVh8
Thu Mar 26 03:55:18 +0000 2009
Cloud computing appreciation manifesto! http://cloudappreciationsociety.org/manifesto/ CLICK! Click it! You won't be disappointed
Thu Mar 26 18:07:33 +0000 2009
Is it just me or should I NOT feel dirty using an image submit button in HTML? http://tinyurl.com/df76nm (<input type="image"/>)
Thu Mar 26 18:12:43 +0000 2009
I call this code pattern "choosing to suppress disgust:" http://img205.imageshack.us/img205/8726/choosingtosuppressdisgu.png
Thu Mar 26 18:59:16 +0000 2009


There wasn't really a point to listing all these out. Well, no reason besides blatantly advertising twitter.com/pseale. Subscribe! Do it!