Vista impressions

A while back I wrote about how I was disappointed with Windows Vista. I was prepared to go back on that statement — I’m beginning to like this thing regardless of the occasional Cancel/Allow dialog. However, one thing still manages to annoy the hell out of me: instability.

Every few days I manage to do something that doesn’t sit well with Vista. Today it was messing around with Emacs — I clicked on a menu item that was supposed to open a dialog. Instead, Emacs froze. I figured it’d be temporary, and tried switching to Firefox, at which point the task bar froze, then Firefox froze and finally the only thing that was working was the ever-reliable mouse pointer.

This really bugs me. For the most part I really like the way things are integrated, and a lot of the changes make a lot of sense to me. But this is something like the fourth total system lockdown I’ve had in just over a week. That’s a bit much.

Quoted for truth

Found in a Reddit comment thread:

I moved to a bigger city in the hopes of joining a team of dedicated and talented developers. I’m finding myself at the top of this crew, which has kind of bummed me out. I’m not that good. I’m persistent, which gives me an edge, but I know I need to work with some people with experience to help take me to the next level.

C# in depth

In the last post I referred to an entry at Girl Developer. Reading the recent comments I noticed that Jon Skeet, the author of C# in depth, had chimed in when I mentioned I’ve recently read the book.

This has got to be the definition of awesome. You read a really cool book about a subject close to your heart, and you get to talk to the author! How cool is that? What did we have when we didn’t have blogs?

Obligatory endorsement: if you call yourself a C# programmer, go read the book. It focuses on the language, not the framework, and that’s what makes it special. C# is a great language, every C# dev owes it to themselves to learn its ins and outs.

Strengths, weaknesses and dealing with them

A blog post at Girl Developer asks an excellent question:

what are your strengths/weaknesses as a developer? What do you do about them?

Let’s see. I’m not too strong in Computer Science. I’ve done this long enough to not entirely suck, but the further I go the more I keep bumping against walls I can’t scale because the tools required are the stuff people learn in CS.

So what am I doing about it? Getting a CS degree. Going to the university to try and get a foundation, so I can keep on improving.

What else? Well, my exposure to doing anything real with the more current tools is rather limited. And I can’t force myself to play with tools just for the sake of playing, not for long anyway — I need a practical goal. So I’m switching jobs, hopefully the next one will provide ample opportunity to cover more ground, especially in the .NET realm.

This is not to say I quit just because we’re not using the latest MS tools, mind you, there’s no causal relationship, but the action I’m taking does seem to be leading me towards a solution nonetheless. 🙂

As for strengths — well, Google is my second brain, I’m very good at finding information and filtering to get the relevant bits. I’m one of those guys with a proven track record of ramping up fast (sadly, as I’ve written before, that puts me closer to Salieri than Mozart).

I think the key is to move out of your comfort zone often enough so you don’t get stuck in place. From that point of view, I should have moved on two years ago — not that I could have known, of course, and the time between then and now was definitely not a waste.

Last work day at $CURRENT_EMPLOYER

Seven years is a long time. I’ve met a lot of wonderful people, been in interesting situations, made a lot of mistakes and had a lot of fun. And now, for something not quite completely different — time to tackle different problems with different people.

I’m going to miss all the people I worked with. 🙂

(Especially given that they bought me not one bottle, but a box of whiskey as a going away gift. Bob bless their hearts!)

I love shiny things

And as far as shiny things go, what could be shinier than a brand new Lenovo Thinkpad T61p, top-of-the-line laptop intended for Serious Business. As evidenced by the fact that this thing came with Vista Ultimate preinstalled, but with an option for a Windows XP downgrade. 🙂

This is the first time I’m really using Vista, and I have to say a lot of things disappoint me — I was hoping to like this thing. However, the new Explorer really is nicer than the old one, and I find Aero Glass rather neat. (Imagine that… I have a laptop that’s powerful enough to run Aero Glass!)

The highlights of the laptop (which I’ve named “Orbiter”, a companion to my desktop “Reactor”):

  • 2.5GHz Core 2 Duo
  • 2GB RAM
  • nVidia Quadro M570 display adapter

I want to carry this thing everywhere. I just wish it wasn’t so damn heavy. 🙂

To celebrate, I’m moving my Visual Studio and related goodies from the XP VM to this machine. Really looking forward to trying the other shiny new thing, ReSharper 4.0!

Oh, right!

I just realized I forgot to write about it: couple of weeks back I received a letter stating that I had been accepted into the CS dept. at the University of Helsinki. Woo!

This makes the math class even more important. Speaking of which, I’ve been really embarrassed for three weeks straight. About 70% of the stuff that comes up instantly rings the “I should know this” bell, and yet I keep failing — things like quadratic polynomials, basic trigonometry and what have you. But at least there’s no risk that I’ll become complacent with regards to math. That, and apart from the bit where I feel lost, I’ve been enjoying this.