Personal Development

Hi Ho Silver! Away!

Remember the Lone Ranger? Believe it or not, I actually watched it as a kid. I don’t know why he was called the Lone Ranger, he always seemed to have Tonto - his Indian sidekick with him. Often, I code alone (I thought about rewriting the "I Drink Alone" song to "I Code Alone" but I had only had 1 small cup of coffee when I wrote this) and I’ve been thinking of some "tricks" to help me with my lonely quest.

Interactive Programming with the REPL

In this week’s post I’ll discuss the joys of interactive programming. For those who write only in compiled (or byte code compiled) languages this may be a foreign concept. There seems to be some level of this feature in most scripted languages. In Lisp interactive programming is supported by a feature known as the REPL, or read-eval-print-loop. It is also known as the top-level listener or simply the top level. Ruby has something similar called the IRB, or interactive ruby shell. In Python it’s just the interactive shell.

Basic Lisp Syntax (or Why Lisp Hurts My Brain)

This week I’ll be getting into some of the basics of the language. I’ll also explore some of the syntax differences that make Lisp look so funny. Rather than just listing all the features of the language, I’ll use some examples and explain how each works. Without further delay, let’s take a look at a basic piece of Lisp code.

Explorations into Lisp

After a long break from writing I’m ready to get back to work! Over the next few months I’ll be studying algorithms, AI, and Lisp. Given that this will be my focus, I’ve decided to write about the experience of learning Lisp as I progress. This is the first in a multipart series about Common Lisp and programming languages in general. I’ll be looking at different programming idioms and comparing specific constructs in Lisp, Ruby, C++, C# and whatever I feel like pulling out at the moment.

Dinner Tagging

I returned from vacation this past weekend. It was great, very relaxing and overall a good time. Monday morning I faced the reality of the dayjob. Have you ever returned from a nice vacation just to find that certain areas in the office have quite changed for the worse? An increased political charge? Work you had counted on being finished was not touched? Maybe the timeline for your Big Project was silently cut in half?

14 Lessons Learned from 2005

In Your Best Year Yet, Bob Walsh made a few suggestions for taking stock and trying to start the New Year in a stronger position. One of the ideas involved listing lessons learned in the year, and this is the list I came up with when I decided to give it a try.

What I’d like from 2006

Rather than looking back at 2005 again, or telling you my resolutions, I thought I’d use my first post of the New Year to outline what I hope to get out of 2006.

I should probably have taken the time to pin some of them down to something more measurable, but they are specific enough that I’ll know if they happen or not. This time next year, I’ll try to remember to reprint the list and explain what I did, or what went wrong.

Not Getting Things Done

So it’s the end of another year, and as is often the case, the looming of festivities, obligations and interruptions dragged my productivity into the gutter. I’ve had a very unproductive December, I managed to do plenty of thinking and planning, to keep up with support and enquiries, and even built a new site for one of my products, but actual development practically flat-lined.

This year I’ve become very aware of the weakest link in my motivation, and that’s the incapacitating effect of anything "looming". Any big distraction that’s just on the horizon, whether I know when it’s going to happen or not, if it’s coming soon and I know it’s going to impact on my productivity, my motivation takes a hit.

Starting it

A while ago, I found myself stubborningly exclaiming that I will not stop. That was more than two months ago. Time flys when you do not have much of it available. In this week's post I want to take a look back to see what happened since. In addition to that, I think it's a good idea (and the appropriate time) to offer some views (guesses) regarding future developments.

Where do your responsibilities end?

For those of you who don't know, I live in the Washington, DC Metro area.
For those of you who don't know, snow - ANY snow - completely terrifies and paralyzes the city.

While I was watching the news this morning, I caught an interesting quote. In DC and parts of Maryland, homeowners are *required* to shovel the sidewalks in front of their houses. If they fail to within a certain number of hours, they get a bill from the city for the shoveling along with a $25 fine. While this isn't huge, I thought it was fascinating that although you are allowed to exert no control over it, you are still responsible for the sidewalk's condition. Sounds quite a bit like programming against third-party systems, huh?