Amazon.com Widgets Personal

I’m Speaking at EKON 17

By Nick at September 05, 2013 03:07
Filed Under: Delphi, Personal

Hey, I’d be delighted if you came to see me speak at the EKON 17 conference in Cologne, Germany the first week in November.

Ekon17_2013_fullsize_19917_v2

I’ll be giving two regular talks on Unit Testing and Dependency Injection, as well as an all day tutorial on advanced programming topics such as Generics, Anonymous Methods, RTTI, Virtual Interfaces, and more.  The conference will be a great time with such well-known and respected names as Ray Konopka, Cary Jensen, Jeroen Pluimers, Daniel Wischnewski and more.  Marco Cantu from Embarcadero will also be there.

I’m really looking forward to going.  You should go, too.

Produce More, Consume Less: A year and a half later

By Nick at July 28, 2013 07:31
Filed Under: Personal, Delphi, General

On January 1, 2012 – a year and a half ago – I wrote the this post called “Produce More, Consume Less”.  In it I discussed a bunch of stuff that I wanted to do in the coming year.  I thought it might be fun to review and see how I am doing on those things:

Write a substantive post on my blog once a week.

I did well with this for a while, but recently, I haven’t blogged much because I’ve been working on my book.  (See below).  In addition, 2012 ended up being a difficult year for the Hodges household, and so the blogging didn’t get done as much as I would have liked.  However, I think I have posted a pretty good chunk of content over the last year and a half.

Find an open source project and work on it.

Here I have fallen down.  I’ve wanted for a long time to write /// documentation for the Spring Framework, but I haven’t really done that.  I have created a good collection of Delphi code demos on BitBucket, but I’m not sure we can really call that an “open source project”.  I will put effort into the Spring for Delphi documentation moving forward, I promise.

I’m going to get off my butt and walk.

I did…okay here.  I walked a lot with my wife.  Recently, however, this has tapered off quite a bit, and I’m sorry to say that I’m as heavy as I’ve ever been.  However, in just the last two days, I’ve started a determined effort to start running again.  I ran track and cross-country in college (though you can tell it was a very, very long time ago just by looking at me) and I’d like to be a runner again.  I’m determined this time.  We’ll see.  Actually, I have to because if I don’t, I’m headed for a heart attack.  Seriously.   

I’m going to write a book on coding in Delphi.

Well, I didn’t get it done in 2012, but I’m currently working hard on it and hope to have it done this year instead.  I’m nearly done with all the chapters for the first draft, and am looking more closely into how to get a cover, get it ready for publishing, etc.  I’m setting my sites on publishing it by the end of the year.

I’m going to be deliberate and purposeful in what I read. 

I think I have done pretty well here.  I made a list of books that I wanted to read and have read them, both novels and technical books. (I got an Amazon Kindle Paperwhite for Christmas, and I’ve read my books on it almost exclusively)   I’ve read a lot, and have a good list of “to read” books.  On the Internet side, I’ve pared down my collection of RSS feeds quite a bit, and spend time reading only those that are really important (like the blog of my wife and proofreader, ipaintiwrite). By the way, with the demise of Google Reader, I’ve switched over to The Old Reader for tracking my RSS feeds.

I’m going to be deliberate and plan any [TV and Movie] watching I do. 

Here I’ve done very well.  I don’t watch much TV anymore at all, and when I do, I deliberately choose what to watch and do so.  For instance, I recently finished up “Orange is the New Black” on Netflix, having decided deliberately to watch it.  I also watched “House of Cards”.  I can’t remember the last time I just sat down and randomly picked something to watch on TV.  As for Movies, I’ve seen most of the blockbusters in the theatre and watched almost no movies on DVD, Netflix, etc.  I’m pleased with how this is going.

I’m going to remove FreeCell from my phone.

I did this, as well as removed all other games from my phone. Other than playing Words with Friends at lunch with my co-workers (we are pretty obsessive about it), I’ve done really well here. I have spent very little time playing games, and when I have, it’s  been with my son for some good bonding time.

I’m going to spend time selling stuff on eBay.

This has been average.  I have sold some items, as well as donated a lot of things to charity.  I still have stuff that I’d like to sell, but haven’t really made a big dent in the large amount of “stuff” that I own.  I’d like to have less stuff, and so I’ll have to get after this.

Overall, after a year and a half, it’s not bad, but not great.  Losing weight, getting in shape, and publishing my book are at the top of the list going forward. 

On the EULA and the Delphi Community

By Nick at September 02, 2012 13:24
Filed Under: Delphi, Leadership, Personal

I won’t rehash the details of the recent “EULA Incident”.  You can read about it for yourselves in the newsgroups or on various blogs and comments.

I want to talk, instead, about the reaction, response, and behavior of some of the community to the event.

First, I’m well aware that because on the internet no one knows you are a dog, people feel free to behave in ways they never would in person.  I have been as guilty as anyone of this over the years, though I daresay that I like to think that I’ve become self-aware about the issue and been a much  better online citizen over the past few years.  However, being on the internet isn’t an excuse to be rude, offensive, and, well, a jerk.

And frankly, the response to the EULA issue by the Delphi community was shameful.  Seriously.  It wasn’t a rational discussion, it was a witch hunt.  I’ll not weigh in on the issue at all other than to say that I was glad to see Embarcadero respond to the uproar by deciding not to make the change.  And when I expressed that sentiment, I was pretty aggressively attacked for apparently not participating in what I called the “public flogging”.  And then I was aggressively attacked for calling it a public flogging.

And it was a public flogging.  It couldn’t even remotely be described as a professional discussion.  I understand that the proposed but never adopted change would have had a rather profound effect on many people.  But even so, that is simply not an excuse for meanness and vitriol.

Why am I writing this? Well, because I consider David Intersimone one of the finest men I’ve ever known and a good friend.  He is kind, gentle, smart beyond reason, and very, very dedicated to the Delphi community.  And for the Delphi community – whom he has served so well for many, many years – to treat him so badly was, well, very, very painful for me to see.  DavidI didn’t even remotely deserve the treatment he got, and those of you who were so unpleasant to him should be ashamed of yourselves. 

They say “All’s well that ends well”.  The Delphi XE3 EULA controversy apparently is ending well. 

But the Delphi community’s treatment of its longest and dearest friend did not end well at all.

Honored to be an Embarcadero MVP

By Nick at August 26, 2012 05:35
Filed Under: Delphi, General, Personal

I am honored to be included amongst a rather large list of impressive developers as an Embarcadero MVP for Delphi.  The program is still young, and so I’m not entirely sure what it means to be part of it, but whatever it is, I’m honored and pleased to be included, and I’ll do my best to be worthy of that honor. 

There is already a nice perk to the position – the team at DevJet – about whom I can’t say enough nice things  – have given us free versions of all their products forever. That’s a long time!  This is very cool, as I am a big fan of Document Insight, including the new Enterprise version.

I’m looking forward to seeing where this all goes.  So my thanks to all of you and to Embarcadero.

Flotsam and Jetsam #56

By Nick at February 24, 2012 17:24
Filed Under: Delphi, Flotsam and Jetsam, Personal

What I've Been Reading

By Nick at January 28, 2012 01:34
Filed Under: Book Review, General, Personal

Why I Bought a Kindle Fire

By Nick at January 14, 2012 09:47
Filed Under: TechBiz, Tech Stuff, General, Personal

Last week I became the proud owner of a Kindle Fire.  I know that in my last post I spoke a few unkind words about Kindles, and so I wanted to write about why I decided to get a Kindle after all.

Here at our house, we are in Debt Assassin mode, so I have very little leeway for discretionary purchases like a tablet.  I get a monthly allowance to spend on anything I want, so if I want a new tablet, I have to save up.   I decided that I wanted a tablet earlier in the year, and I originally set my eyes on a Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 which at the time was the Android tablet to get.  (I have a blog post coming up about why I prefer Android over iOS…)  It is still a very nice dual-core tablet, but as things go in the tech business – and since it took me a while to save up my pennies – technology marches ever forward and I soon switched to wanting the more powerful and more feature-rich ASUS Transformer Prime

The Transformer Prime is a really, really sweet tablet.  It’s a quad-core machine using the Tegra-3 chip, with an amazing 1280x800, ten finger multi-touch screen.  It  has a flexible, add-on keyboard that effectively turns it into a notebook computer.  It even had a fifth core which would do minor tasks like check email and other background tasks while the screen is asleep.  It was priced right at that sweet spot of $499.  Interest was very, very high in this device, and all the Android blogs and news sites were abuzz with anticipation. 

It was supposed to be available just before Christmas, but pre-ordering the device was troublesome.  Amazon, which has a very good policy of not taking pre-orders unless it is sure it can deliver them, stop taking pre-orders in late November.  Delivery dates for other vendors were unclear.  When Amazon did start taking orders again before Christmas, they listed fulfillment as 5-7 weeks out.  Clearly ASUS had that good problem you don’t want to have – demand far outstripping their ability to deliver on that demand.  As a result, I held off on placing my order. 

But then a few hiccups began to occur.  I suspect that because it was the first tablet to use the Tegra-3 Quad-core chip, they had some problems with the product.  While initial quick-looks were very encouraging, reports started to surface of problems with wireless receptivity and the GPS.  Apparently the actual physical design of the case was causing reception problems.  These reports didn’t seem to dim interest in the device, however, as it’s still hard to get a hold of one, and as of this writing, Amazon itself isn’t taking orders, instead is is fulfilling the order via a reseller – who currently is jacking up the prices to over $600.  FInally, though it was short lived and ASUS pretty quickly backed down, word came out that ASUS had locked the bootloader for the Transformer Prime. 

Okay, so given all that, I decided to hold off and see what would happen.  ASUS was actually pretty good about acknowledging and fixing the problems, but I decided to defer my gratification (I was pretty jacked up for getting a tablet, and it was hard to wait…..) and let things shake out.  But then again, I wanted a tablet now.  And of course, as I’m holding off, Google announces their “Google Tablet” and that catches my eye, because I have a Nexus S phone and I’m a big fan of the whole “pure Google” concept. However, that isn’t coming out until the fall.   What to do?

Well, I took the advice of one of my co-workers and decided to get the Kindle.  His advice was this:  Tablets actually can have an impact on your life – you don’t know how it will fit or what role it will play. $500 is a lot to spend to find out, so get the Kindle at $200, find out how tablets work for you, and then save up for the Google tablet or whatever tablet is the “must have” tablet to get when I’m ready to buy.  Plus, the Kindle will likely hold it’s value, and I’ll be able to easily sell it when I decide to make the move.  In a sense, the Kindle is a “Starter Tablet” for me, and a pretty inexpensive one at that. 

And so far, I really like my decision.  I still have a pretty good chunk of change in my “saved up allowance” envelope (no sense putting it in the bank with interest rates hovering a hairs-breath of 0.00%….), and I can save for my next tablet.  I’m finding that I like the Kindle a lot (I’ll write about that in a future blog post) and the notion of “finding out how I work with a tablet” is definitely playing out.  I can now keep an eye on the market, and make a good decision on a good, quad-core tablet when the time comes.   Overall, it was outstanding advice, and I’m really happy with how things are working out.

Produce More, Consume Less

By Nick at January 01, 2012 03:59
Filed Under: General, Personal, Delphi

The world seems to be bent more and more on input.  The internet company sells you almost exclusively on the download speed they provide, and couldn’t care less about the upload speed.  Heck, we don’t care about upload speed much.  We are migrating towards devices that don’t have physical keyboards.  The whole idea of tablets is as media consumption devices, designed to bring data to our fingertips, where ever our fingertips may be.  (My favorite place – more on this – seems to lying down somewhere….). 

It’s never been easier to dial up a TV show or movie and watch it.  Shoot, you can even pick specific episodes for your viewing pleasure.  You can track the every move of your favorite celebrity.  You can buy almost anything to want without getting up off the couch.  You can watch replays of ever game and every highlight. You can read the thoughts of millions of 14 year old girls.  Advertising is customized to your specific interests.  It all comes at you in a slickly packaged, conveniently laid out format. 

And all you have to do is (as the airlines seem to be required to say) sit back, relax, and enjoy the flight. 

So this gets me to my New Years Resolution:  To produce more and consume less.  First, I have to give full credit to Scott Hanselman for inspiring me.  He posted this on Google Plus last night: “#1 Productivity Tip: Spend 10% of your time consuming and 90% of your time producing. Make more stuff. Watch less. Read less. Do.”

And it hit me that this was exactly what I needed to do.  I spend a lot of time consuming. A lot of time.  I watch a lot of TV shows on Netflix that I don’t need to watch. I  read a lot of RSS feeds that I don’t really need to read. I poke around on the internet way too much. Along side of all that consumption, I feel like to don’t do a lot of the things I want to do.  I have a million ideas for blog posts, but I never seem to write them.  I have a ton of ideas for writing code, but I don’t write it. I have a lot of ideas for trainings and presentations, but I don’t prepare and give them.  I sit on my butt instead of walking the dog.  Generally, I just consume and I don’t produce nearly as much as I could be. 

So that is my resolution for this year.  To produce more and consume less.  That means, specifically, I’m going to:

  • Write a substantive post on my blog once a week.  At least.  Probably more.  I want to get my “Blog Post Ideas” list down to zero and keep it there.  This blog post is the first of hopefully more.  No one might care what I have to say, but hey, at least I said it.  Winking smile
  • Find an open source project and work on it.  I’ve made some furtive efforts to support the Delphi Spring Framework project, and I intent to renew that effort at producing value for the Delphi community.
  • I’m going to get off my butt and walk.  Once I lose weight, I’m going to start running again.  I’m going to produce some better health for myself.  And my dog, too.  Winking smile
  • I’m going to write a book on coding in Delphi.  I’ve got it outlined, and I’m going to write it.  I think it will be good.  It’s been hard to get started, but that is the “big goal” for the year.  If I can produce a book in 2012, that will be a big win. 
  • I’m going to be deliberate and purposeful in what I read.  I’m going to read less (I have a lot of writing to do!) but I’m going to get more bang out of the time I do spend reading.  I’m going to focus on business books and development books.
  • The same is true for movies and TV shows.  I’m going to be deliberate and plan any watching I do.  No more just dialing something up on Netflix because I am bored.  I will be purposeful in managing my Netflix queue.
  • I’m going to remove FreeCell from my phone.  We all have that app that we use when we are – ahem – “indisposed”, and I’m going to replace FreeCell with my Bible Reading plan.  A little thing, but hey. Out with the bad and in with the good, right?  (Sorry, couldn’t resist….)
  • I’m going to spend time selling stuff on eBay.  I have a lot of stuff I don’t need but that is still valuable to somebody.  I can produce a little wealth for myself and my buyers by selling on eBay.  Last month, my awesome wife turned a bunch of stuff in our basement into over $1000 cash.  This is a productive endeavor. 

That should keep me busy this year, and that is sort of the point, right? I’d love to hear from you guys about what you are doing to produce more and consume less. 

I’ve gotten lazier over the last few years as I’ve gotten older, and it is time to reverse that trend.  It’s a gorgeous day here today in Pennsylvania, so I’m going to post this and go walk the dog. 

How Nice of Them to put an Extra Teabag in the Box!

By Nick at September 03, 2011 03:59
Filed Under: Personal, General

Anyone who knows me knows that I am, well, pretty much of a knucklehead.  And this little story just proves it once again.

So I drink a lot of ice tea.  And absurd amount, really.  Lots and lots of it.  A gallon a day kind of a lot.  And  naturally I have one of those simple, cheap, yet hopelessly useful ice tea makers.  I then buy boxes of Luzianne Tea in the “Ice Tea Bag” size.  Each of these boxes has 24 bags in it – says so right on the box --  and I use three of these bags every time I brew up a batch of that  magic elixir.  So that is eight batches per box, with no teabags left over, right?

But no, it’s not that simple.  I always end up with *one bag left over* when I get to the last batch.  Every time!  Huh?  I stand there and ponder it -- “Is this like a ‘Baker’s Dozen’ thing going on here with my tea bags?”

And then I take this mysterious “extra” bag, grab two out of the new box, and make the next batch.  And in a week, I’m wondering again.

See, I told you I’m a knucklehead.

My New Laptop Backpack

By Nick at August 14, 2011 08:37
Filed Under: General, Personal

More older content that I'm reclaiming from my Embarcadero blog. By the way, I still use the backpack every day, and it is still in as good a condition as the day I bought it.  I can and still do strongly recommend a backpack from Tom Bihn.


Sometimes you buy something and it just feels so good to use it.  Usually, something like that is a relatively expensive purchase.   Maybe you went ahead and spent the extra money for the nicer version or model, and you ended up getting more than your money’s worth.  Or you went ahead and bought from the vendor who has an FAQ page with questions like "Why are your products so much more expensive than the competition", and they have answers like "Well, we think the products are worth the extra price".  And very often they are, because if they weren’t, the company wouldn’t stay in business for very long.

My recent purchase like that was a Tom Bihn backpack.  I’ve long carried my laptop in a backpack, even before it was common.  I remember buying a nice one about eight years ago, and one of the selling points was that "no one will know  you are carrying a laptop in there!".   (I don’t think that would be the case anymore.)  I’ve never been a big fan of the briefcase or the over-the-shoulder strap.  Backpacks have always been the way to go for me.  So when my crappy, cheap Targus backback — that I never really liked anyway — started going bad ("started" is kind — in about two weeks every zipper on the thing basically went bad, I decided to make a move. 

A few of the guys around here have Tom Bihn bags, and they’ve raved about them.  John Kaster has had the same bag for as long as I’ve known him.  So I trekked on over to the website to poke around.  The first thing I noticed was that they weren’t cheap, to say the least.  It was clear that to get what I wanted was easily going to approach $200.  But as I looked around, it became clear that I was going to get what I paid for.

First, I noticed that they clearly had strong attention to detail.  Tom Bihn doesn’t sell laptop backpacks, they sell backpacks that comfortably and carefully integrate laptop carrying cases.  To get a "laptop backpack", you actually have to buy two things from them:  the backpack and what they call a "Brain Cell".  The latter is a very well designed, snug-fitting, and heavily padded and constructed cocoon for your laptop.  The Brain Cell integrates  perfectly into almost any of their backpacks, quickly becoming part of the backpack itself.  And it is clear when your laptop is nestled tightly in the Brain Cell that not much is going to happen to it in there. 

And here’s where the attention to detail comes in — they must have like 20 different sized Brain Cells, all fitting different kinds and sizes of laptops.  I have a Latitude D820, so I ended up going with a Size 1 Vertical Brain Cell.  (Yes, they have both Horizontal for briefcases and Vertical Brain Cells for backpacks).  It was pretty easy to find the rigth one on their website. 

Second, it was clear that a lot of thought had gone into the ergonomics of their products.  The zippers were all easily accessible and clearly heavy duty.  The pockets on the back of the bag make for easy access.  The bag has straps on the side that allow for expansion, keeping the bag "just the right size" while allowing for a lot of stuff to be put into it.  Overall, it was clear that this was a really, really nice product.  Add in the really nice website that made it easy to see exactly what I was getting, and it was a no-brainer to slap down the money for a Brain Bag with a Vertical Brain Cell. For those of you so desperately concerned about what colors I choose :-)  I got the Sapphire bag with the Crimson brain cell.  (I figure I can ask for the Snake Charmer or the Freudian slip for Christmas. ;-)

The backpack came in two days, and I instantly knew that it was money well spent, despite the $197 price tag.  This is a fine piece of gear, and one that clearly will last for years to come.  Highly recommended.

Added: Hey, the folks at Tom Bihn were kind enough to post a link to my blog.

Things I've been Watching, Reading, and Listening to Lately #1

By Nick at August 10, 2011 15:52
Filed Under: General, Personal

What I've been reading

By Nick at June 16, 2011 08:41
Filed Under: General, Personal

Flotsam and Jetsam #26

By Nick at February 25, 2011 08:39
Filed Under: Delphi, Flotsam and Jetsam, Personal
  • Reader Paul Vandermyd kindly pointed out something that I had missed – that the individual downloads on GoogleCode download pages have download counts – and it seems 102 of you have kindly downloaded THTMLWriter 1,0 release.  But come on, people – don’t download it – pull it from the repository using Mercurial!  Anyway, now I have to figure out how to automate the uploading of the ZIP files with a 1.0 or 2.0 label on them, depending.
  • If you have Delphi XE then you have Version Insight – the feature that integrates Subversion (and potentially other SCM systems) right into the IDE.  I did a lot of work on that feature when I was at EMBT (well, actually, I did a lot of listening and suggesting; Dave Wilhelm did all the work….). The feature itself is derived from the MPL-based DelphiSVN project, and thus is itself an open source project.  As such , Uwe Schuster (who was actually involved in the pre-release development) has been updating the project, including starting in on support for git and Mercurial.  Sweet.  You can follow Uwe’s progress on his blog.
  • Sadly, if you go to my old Embarcadero blog you see this message: “This user has elected to delete their account and the content is no longer available.”  There was (if I do say so myself) a lot of good content there, and suffice it to say that despite the message, I didn’t choose to delete my blog.  Happily, much of the content lives on in the Google cache.  I’ll be trying to capture and republish as much of the good stuff as I can.
  • I’m beginning to wonder whether Simon Stuart is really a human being and not some sort of super-alien sent here from the planet Code-a-thon.  They guy is amazing -- “prolific” comes to mind.   If he’s not making Kinect work with Delphi he’s wrapping up the Twitter API in a Delphi component.   His latest project is one after my own heart – RADPlates.  I’m a strong believer that the Live Templates feature of the IDE is easily the most underappreciated and underutilized of the many features in RAD Studio.  Live Templates are really XML files, and RADPlates makes it easy to create Live Templates without the hassle of the XML stuff.  Highly recommended. 

1000 Tweets

By Nick at January 15, 2011 20:45
Filed Under: Delphi, General, Personal

Hard to believe that it has been 1000 tweets for me.  Here’s my first one.

1000tweets

This Wild Year of 2010

By Nick at December 26, 2010 04:28
Filed Under: General, Personal

This year of 2010 ended up pretty dang good, considering I got fired from my job about half way through it.   For that, I am very thankful.  I’m really quite happy in my new job, my new house, and  my new state.  Things are going well all around. This wasn’t something I fully expected, and so it is an especially nice place to find myself.

In addition, many of you sent words of encouragement and support throughout the year, and for that I’m grateful. 

So all in all, 2010 was a pretty good year. Here’s hoping that 2011 is an even better year for all of us.

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The views I express here are entirely my own and not necessarily those of any other rational person or organization.  However, I strongly recommend that you agree with pretty much everything I say because, well, I'm right.  Most of the time. Except when I'm not, in which case, you shouldn't agree with me.