Category Archives: Link/News

The Bugle podcast

I just discovered this gem of a podcast. The Bugle is a podcast published by the Times Online. Better writing than the Onion, and funnier than the Daily Show. It’s basically two Brits being witty about the week’s news. I’ve only listened to episode one so far, but found myself laughing too hard to concentrate on anything else.


Check out my latest book, the essential, in-depth guide to performance for all .NET developers:

Writing High-Performance.NET Code, 2nd Edition by Ben Watson. Available for pre-order:

How to file good bug reports (from Frank Kelly)

This is an issue I run into constantly at my job.

Frank Kelly wrote up a good summary of some items. They’re simple, easy to understand, easy to follow, even for non-programmers. 😉

In fact, I’m sending this link out to everyone in my group here at work.

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Check out my latest book, the essential, in-depth guide to performance for all .NET developers:

Writing High-Performance.NET Code, 2nd Edition by Ben Watson. Available for pre-order:

5 Books to make you stupider

Well, after a week of investigation, I’ve settled on a social network for books: Shelfari. It’s attractive, easy-to-use, easy to manipulate many books at once, they have a mobile version, and I have one friend on it (who invited me).

 Goodreads.com also looked nice, and it almost won. bookwormr.com, the one I originally found was just too immature at this point. I’m also wondering what features are going to set it apart from the pack, especially when there are so many well-established sites that do the same thing.

Meanwhile, if you want to read some books that will definitely NOT make you smarter, check out 5 Books that can actually make you stupider.

Visit my Shelfari page.

 

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Check out my latest book, the essential, in-depth guide to performance for all .NET developers:

Writing High-Performance.NET Code, 2nd Edition by Ben Watson. Available for pre-order:

Online reading list – bookwormr

I found a great site I wanted to share with everybody: bookwormr.

To explain:

I’ve got 3 large books on my nightstand at the moment:

  • Scotland: The Story of a Nation – Magnus Magnusson – Much of my heritage is Scottish, and I got intensely interested in Scottish history during our trip to Edinburgh last year.
  • Code Complete – Steve McConnell – I’ve read this before, but it’s a good book to review every year or so and pick up new tips.
  • The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales – there are many variations on this book. I have a very old, out-of-print edition. I read a few of these a week–they’re mostly quite short.

Those are all fairly large books and I’ve been working on them simultaneously. Meanwhile, I keep getting book recommendations from various places (blogs, podcasts, family). It’s to the point where if I don’t write them down, I’ll forget. I’ve sort-of kept track of books I want to read on my shelf, in an Outlook note, in e-mails to myself, but I was in need of a central repository for this.

So I stumbled upon bookwormr, which is (almost) exactly what I want.

It’s still in its infancy stages, but I think it shows great promise. And it is usable now, despite some rough edges. The owner seems very amenable to suggestions via the blog.

How it works:

  • Search for books (it uses Amazon as its database)
  • Add them to one of your three lists (already read, reading, want to read)
  • You can tag, review, and rate the books.
  • See what others are reading.

The author also has a wordpress plug-in and a Facebook app to go along with it. I’m going to try out both.

Features I’d like to see:

  • Easier way to add multiple books at a time
  • Ability to sort lists according to a ranking system of my own (the author is planning on adding the ability to sort on author, title, book rating overall)

Update: here’s my bookwormr profile.

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Check out my latest book, the essential, in-depth guide to performance for all .NET developers:

Writing High-Performance.NET Code, 2nd Edition by Ben Watson. Available for pre-order:

Amazon Kindle + Audible = Killer-app?

My wife sent me a link to the Amazon Kindle the other day, and asked, “Have you heard of this? what do you think?” I think she wants one.

I have to admit that the thought of such a device is appealing. I have tried reading e-books on my PDA and BlackBerry occasionally, but other than a quick read now and then, it’s too painful–the screen was too small.

But the Kindle…this might work out. I’m seriously considering getting one.

With the news that Amazon is buying Audible, the story gets more interesting. Personally, I haven’t gotten much into audio books, but I know people who do and love them.

I have no idea if or how Amazon will integrate Audible into the Kindle’s experience, but I have a feature request. For a killer feature:

Sell the audio version of a book at a discount (or free, or + $1)when someone buys the e-book format (or vice-versa). Then, synchronize the bookmarks between the two formats. That way, I can plug the Kindle into my car’s stereo on the way home to listen to my current selection, and at night I can pull it out and continue reading from where the audio left off.

That’s my prediction for a killer app. My wife and I do a LOT of reading (we JUST ordered our first TV, and it’s only for NetFlix, and we will not be hooking it up for any broadcast or cable). I think someday soon we’ll both have our own Kindle–it would save a lot of bookshelf space.

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Check out my latest book, the essential, in-depth guide to performance for all .NET developers:

Writing High-Performance.NET Code, 2nd Edition by Ben Watson. Available for pre-order:

Updated my favorite podcasts

I’ve updated my list of podcasts with some that I forgot and some new ones I discovered while finding the links to the first ones. I also slightly reorganized the list (Added a business section)


Check out my latest book, the essential, in-depth guide to performance for all .NET developers:

Writing High-Performance.NET Code, 2nd Edition by Ben Watson. Available for pre-order:

Podcasts I listen to

I got a 4 MB blue iPod Nano 2nd Genfor my birthday last June, and while I do have a few music playlists, I almost exclusively listen to podcasts. I can’t believe I went so long without one of these. Putting together the list below led me to some others that I might give a try, but for now here’s my list:

Education

  • In Our Time – A weekly BBC production discussing various events, people, or ideas in history (recent or ancient). Always interesting. About 45 minutes long.
  • Philosophy Bites –  A weekly interview with someone about a specific philosophical topic. About 15 minutes long.
  • Talk of the Nation: Science Friday – Weekly show about all sorts of issues relating to science. It’s in a very easy-to-listen-to format. Broken into segments. About 1hr per week.
  • Science Talk from Scientific American – I don’t think I like it as much as Science Friday, but it’s still very interesting. It’s usually focused on one or two topics per episode, sometimes recording of lectures by prominent scientists. Weekly, about 30 minutes.
  • Grammar Girl – Nice and short, answers to tricky grammar questions. Often plays off current events. Weekly. 5 minutes.
  • Get-It-Done Guy – I’m a fan of Getting Things Done, as I kind of discussed in my entry on Outlook. This is a nice, short podcast with simple ideas for efficiency in your life. Weekly. 5 minutes.
  • Legal Lad – Answers to interesting legal questions. Weekly. 5 minutes.
  • Fundamentals of Piano Practice – really just somebody reading out loud the online book of the same name. I play piano, and I’m learning a ton of fundamental principles from this book that help. The hands-separate method? I’ve played for 8 years and never had it explained to me so clearly. It’s obvious in retrospect, but that’s the kind of good thing you learn in this book. Unfortunately, new readings haven’t been added since October. Varying length and frequency.
  • Learn Jazz Piano – I haven’t listened to any of these yet, but I’ve always wanted to play jazz. Infrequent (but still being updated!). 30m.
  • WordNerds – Interesting discussion of words and language. I always learn something interesting. Every three weeks. 30-60 minutes.

Business

  • MarketPlace – I like to follow the business news, and their format is really good. Entertaining, informative. Daily. 30 minutes.
  • MarketPlace Money – Their weekly show that goes into more depth on topics, discusses more “timeless” issues, answers questions. I really like this one. Weekly. 1hr.
  • Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders – Forums at Stanford with lecture and questions by famous entrepreneurs. These are frequently interesting, especially if you want to start a business someday. Weekly. 1hr.

Fun

  • Car Talk – how can you not have this on the list? They’re hilarious. And I do learn something about cars. Mostly, just fun, though. Weekly. 60 minutes.
  • LAMLradio: LEGO Talk Podcast – Interviews with LEGO builders, and others in the online LEGO community. I like it, but you probably have to be familiar with the community to follow it. Weekly 15 minutes.
  • MunchCast – A weekly show about junk food! I’ve only listened to the first episode, but I’m hooked. It’s more interesting than it sounds. Weekly. 30m.

Technology

  • .Net Rocks – Very well put-together show about .Net development, upcoming technology, interviews with industry pros. Twice weekly. 1hr+
  • This Week in Tech – Casual discussion of the week’s computing news with Leo Laporte. Highly entertaining. Has the cranky John C. Dvorak on often, but the panel rotates. Weekly. 60-90m.
  • Windows Weekly – Covers Windows-specific news (mostly) with Paul Thurrott and Leo Laporte. Also interesting stuff. Weekly. 1hr
  • Security Now – With Steve Gibson and Leo Laporte. They talk about all sorts of security-related topics. Very interesting, very well done. They have a knack for explaining difficult concepts in a way that’s easy to grasp. One of my favorites. I am not a security guru, but this is fascinating stuff. Weekly. 1hr.
  • HanselMinutes – with Scott Hanselman who now works at Microsoft. Discusses various technical topics, usually related to programming. To be honest I don’t like this one as much very often, but I still listen to it occasionally. Don’t know why…a little dry?
  • NPR Technology News – stories culled from various NPR programs into a 20-30 minute collage. Weekly.
  • The Tech Guy – another Leo Laporte show, in a longer format, with interviews, callers, and more.

Honorable Mentions

  • The Restaurant Guys – Discusses “food, wine, and the finer things in life.” If you like food, you’ll probably enjoy this podcast. I was probably interested in about half of their shows but something about them bugged me so I’ve dropped them for now in favor of other things. I may add them back soon. Daily. 1hr.

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Check out my latest book, the essential, in-depth guide to performance for all .NET developers:

Writing High-Performance.NET Code, 2nd Edition by Ben Watson. Available for pre-order:

HostForWeb – best hosting company ever

Ok, I have to give a quick shout out to my hosting company, HostForWeb. I’ve had my web-sites and e-mail hosted by them for about…5 years now? I can’t remember when I started, but a while ago.

Today, I noticed that my e-mail was not going out through my domain via smtp. I quickly determined that the server was up (I could ssh in, and locally telnet to port 25), but I couldn’t reach it from my home. Laptop didn’t work either.

First, I called Comcast. They were less than helpful, claiming not to notice anything wrong with my account. I didn’t push the issue, because I figured I should check my hosting company as well. Also, we’re moving in two weeks and Comcast isn’t coming with us.

Well, I went to HostForWeb’s live chat support, and within 30 seconds Greg answered, and asked what I needed. I explained the situation, telling him I thought it possible that my IP was being blocked. He did some checking and tweaking and asked me to try again. Still didn’t work. I didn’t really think the problem was on their end, but I had to check anyway. In the end, he gave me a new port to access the smtp server, and I was on my way. In less than 5 minutes.

Comcast, try to beat that.

I should also mention, that I have had a few other occasions to contact HostForWeb tech support (I screwed up my DNS; my home IP really was banned at one point for something; etc.). Each time, even via e-mail, the problem was resolved incredibly quickly. I think the longest I ever waited was 30 minutes until resolution.

So if you’re in the market, these people are great. The support is phenomenal.

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Check out my latest book, the essential, in-depth guide to performance for all .NET developers:

Writing High-Performance.NET Code, 2nd Edition by Ben Watson. Available for pre-order:

Word Count Plugin for Windows Live Writer

I’ve fixed one of the biggest holes in functionality in Windows Live Writer. It’s simple, but essential: the ability to count words (and characters and paragraphs) in  your posts before publishing.

Windows Live Writer doesn’t really offer a way to extend the menu system itself, but you can create an “Insert…” plugin that just analyzes content instead of creates it, so it works pretty well.

Go get it from Windows Live Gallery. Let me know what you think!

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Check out my latest book, the essential, in-depth guide to performance for all .NET developers:

Writing High-Performance.NET Code, 2nd Edition by Ben Watson. Available for pre-order:

Will someone please stop these people! (RIAA)

Washington Post story. You can no longer put the CDs you BOUGHT onto your iPod.

 Update: ok, apparently the story is wrong. Still, the RIAA is evil…

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Check out my latest book, the essential, in-depth guide to performance for all .NET developers:

Writing High-Performance.NET Code, 2nd Edition by Ben Watson. Available for pre-order: