Thursday, December 22, 2011

Techies. Gadgets. Oh No.

Christmas is one of the worst times for technology. Everything happens so fast, people are short on time, and purchases are driven by sales and social norms rather than careful consideration - like buying a $99 "tablet" for somebody because mom heard they're cool. Technology isn't a goal. It's a way to enjoy the journey a little more and get to where you really want to be: being a fulfilled person. Purchases, technology or otherwise, should be careful and personal. You are an amazing person and your journey is important. I'm guilty of straying from this path many times. We bought a GPS navigation system for my father and wife this Christmas. My goal for them was to enjoy the piece of mind and simplification of life that owning a GPS has given to me. I'm not sure if I accomplished that. At least initially, I think I may have filled their lives with one more piece of intimidating technology.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Apple Proves The Amiga Was Right

No, I don’t actually believe that. That was just my attempt at crafting a headline even more blatantly eyeball-grabbing than Is Apple Making More Advanced Chips Than Intel? 

Interesting article, though you know it isn’t exactly going to be the most interesting journalism in the world when it comes from a site called “Cult Of Mac.”

What I do enjoy is watching the eternal struggle between general-purpose chips and specialized chips that do a few things really well at the expense of everything else.  There’s no right or wrong there, of course – it’s just the tradeoff that has to be made when any hardware is designed. 

Modern smartphones are a pretty awesome demonstration of the potential of specialized chips, with lots of specialized little co-processors performing specific jobs real fast with very little power required.  As a kid, I remember wondering how a 3mhz Super Nintendo could do things that a 20mhz 386 PC couldn’t do – specialized chips, that’s how. 

Those old lumbering dinosaurs, though – the powerful general-purpose CPUs – that’s where computing moves forward.  That’s where code gets wrung out of brain cells.  The “app” you’re running on your handheld marvel was probably written by somebody sitting at one of these ancient beasts.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Windows People: Scott Hanselman's 2011 Tools List!

As far as I'm concerned, there are exactly two capital-letter Events in the world of development-related blogging.

The first, and most well-known, is the epic review that John Siracusa writes for Ars Technica when each new version of OSX is released. Here's his OSX Lion review. These reviews are so anticipated that people train in anticipation of them - via epic training montages.

The second - and my personal favorite, actually, despite my general move away from Windows - is the semiannual list of Windows power tools that Scott Hanselman posts. His 2011 list is now up.

If you do any sort of work on Windows, check it out. Hanselman is one of the most insanely productive and talented Windows developers on the planet. This list is full of battle-tested tools. No fluff. You are guaranteed to find at least one genuinely useful thing you didn't know about before.

At the very least, scan the list and file a few things away in the back of your mind. Even if you don't need anything today you'll know to check it out later when the need arises.

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