Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Books, Books, Books

Just received a new book - an oldie I wanted to read for a long time "Patterns of Enterprise Application Architecture" - starting the first chapter, we'll see how long it takes me to digest it. I'm mostly familiar with the patterns mentioned, but want to get it more formalized in my head, and for me reading a book is the way to go - I mostly "speed" read when viewing data on the internet, and I have more patience when I hold a physical book.

I bought this book, following some glowing reviews, and seeing that it covers some of my current interests in programming, large scale systems - this book is more enterprise systems in the big corporate software sense than large website (which is what I'm doing) - but I think since much is similar and these are basic concepts and ideas - I have a lot to gain from reading it.

Also in the upcoming order (haven't arrived yet), in no specific order, and going into my reading queue as soon as they arrive (shipping from the USA to Israel take time - but for books it is surprisingly in-expensive):

Yes, no mistake there, the last books are not exactly about programming, there is a cook (or rather a bake) book, a one from a Sci-Fi author I like Ursula K. Le Guin a lot (this is part of some Fantasy work she did) and a Finance book (I need to take care of my future as well - I'm not sure it is a book for me, but it is highly recommended, and there is a lot for me to learn about investing and managing assets).

Just finished the following books:
  • Coalescent - Not an original concept (first encountered in Frank Herbert's - Hellstrom's Hive) the story is very slow paced, and stretches a lot, the ancient Rome part is nicely done, along with classes and culture, but I was not much inspired - let's just say I could stop reading at any point. Character interaction especially is not developed - dialogs and scenes are highly simplistic and even boring. This was one of my tries to find new (for me) Sci-Fi authors so that I can read some more books - but I won't be buying more of his books, I think.
  • New York - not highly impressed, the history part is fairly interesting, but the plot and characters are not well developed in my opinion, and some plot lines seem to be just inserted for no good reason or effect (the Indian family and motif is not used quite enough, and 9/11 is a lame ending). I was much more impressed by the books of James Clavell -  a little less historical correct but way better in the writing and story... Again, not a keeper.
  • CLR via C# - highly technical, highly interesting, I enjoyed this book very much! learned a lot of things and enforced some previous knowledge. Author keeps it professional but lets his private opinions show (and makes sure you can see :-)) - Some of his statements could have created nice flame-wars in cyberspace, but in a book they are fun to read. Good tips on writing high-performance code, and lots of details for the geeks among us :-)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Re: Views on SEO Pseudoscience

Shaun Anderson (Hobo) Writes on Views on SEO Pseudoscience (good read) and I agree with him.
I was always of the mind I don’t need to understand the maths to get a view on the human idea behind what a Google engineer might want to do. I don’t know the maths behind somebody punching me in the face either but I can observe the cause and effect, note the implications and weigh up the pros and cons of it.

I think building links, creating lots of decent content and learning how to monitise that content better (whilst not breaking any major TOS of Google) would have been a more worthwhile use of my time. Getting better and faster at doing all that would be nice too.

What can I say, the same feeling when I see these SEO "schools" offer a "course" on "SEO" for $4000 - I always wonder what kind of knowledge I would gain from such a course - what is there to teach? especially if one considers that a competent SEO/Link Builder/Content Creator should already be Internet savvy - there is really nothing anybody can teach that is not freely available on the Net, and even more so available for a lesser price by buying some tools to simplify and speed up your work.

I always explain to my clients that it is about hard work, real work - putting up content, links and so on. I DON'T work with tricks, there are no long living tricks (what "they" call "techniques") tricks are a very short term solution until they get discovered or dealt with. Google and the Others are too smart to let these slip by - they KNOW that people use them because they get good results for their queries - and they are not about to give that trust up - they will only try to improve the results...

In the future, a new way might be found to consume/get/find content that is not through search or maybe a major technology breakthrough will change search altogether and make all of my work redundant, but when that comes - it probably won't matter anyway, what is sure to come sooner is a more discerning algorithm that will detect attempts at SEO "techniques", so real content, real links and real page/site improvements will prove valuable while links spamming, garbage data and on site tricks will be ignored or penalized (more likely - although this is not always the case)

I don't do much SEO, but what I do, I try to do good - this technique has proved itself quite a few times for me in the past.

Good Example of Bad UX (In Hebrew)

A post about user experience on the El-Al express check-in by Amir Dotan.
I had the exact same experience, and so this resonated well with me - good read (Hebrew only, the form itself can be viewed in English as well - it has the same problems).

A small comment, the instructions do appear but not on the form itself, and way below the "start" button - which in practice makes them invisible...

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sql Stripes 2010

Going through my LinkedIn updates, I noticed that a former colleague of mine updated his profile, so I jumped in to check it out, and saw that in addition to the minor update - he added at some point in the past that he developed an new  SQL Server management tool.

Thinking back, I remembered that he was always into developing these types of tools, and that he always had a touch for GUI (being a DBA that is not a given :-( ), so I jumped right in and downloaded the tool from his website http://www.sqlstripes.com (fully functional version).

I have quite a few SQL Server databases that I need to manage/monitor on a regular basis, some are production some are dev/qa and all need to be monitored (especially the Dev ones) to see problems as they occur, usually I would connect via Remote Desktop and look at the activity monitor... In the past and also currently I have been reviewing monitoring tools by red gate and others, but they all work on an event concept (i.e. when a configured situation happens we will send you a notification) - and that always seemed not enough (although powerful and helpful).

This tool is something else, yes it can send alerts (and apparently even speak them out, though I suspect this feature isn't much used, although in a NOC scenario it has a potential). Here everything is graphical, green and red lights, numbers, pie charts and more - you can actually see the state of the server or database, all in one screen (for as many servers/databases as you'd like). The information displayed is the stuff you need... Not only that, but to collect this data by yourself you'd need to go through multiple scripts and remember tons of commands - and then parse out the useful data - this tool does this for you, and nicely.

A sample screen shot
Just a quick (and not complete) list of nice data you get with this:
Per server: status (green/red) of Ping, Agent,Jobs,Service,Locks, Memory, diskspace, cpu, OS, SQL Server version...
Per Database: Sizes, quick log trunacate, object counts
Quick view of job list, failed jobs

So, I just downloaded and started playing with it today, I haven't checked for "bad things" such as faulty data or unwanted load on the servers (in short how good this really is). Just to clarify, this review wasn't invited, just a spur of the moment - since I saw it and decided to give it a go. 

The price is not cheap, but when I consider medium/large organizations or even small if you have more than 5 servers to manage, this tools can save a lot of man hours wasted on connecting/disconnecting to servers all day to check what's going on - gives you a live monitor of the system (like a pulse monitor)

Adi, if you read this - good job! 

Mini Measure Shot Glass

One of other hobbies is the kitchen, cooking, baking, whatever and like all geeks I love gadgets! however in the kitchen my focus is usable gadgets and not toys - so this is one I am going to have soon!

Kolder Original Mini Measure, Multi-Purpose Measuring Glass

The measuring shot glass or in another even cuter version

I like it because it doesn't take a lot of space, and replaces the standard measuring spoon set you usually have in one tool (and I can buy several for not mixing wet and dry ingredients). Another use for this is giving children medicine - in their own neat glass (instead of forcing a spoon down their throat).

Original Via: Cool Tools, found the other while searching for a cheaper version

Sunday, September 5, 2010

MongoDB is Web Scale

This is way funny not to share with you, obviously highly geek content, and web developer geek content at that - I loved it. Reminded me of some people I'd rather not know... but I do.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Daniel in the lions' den draws fangs; Muslims deny flotilla lynch-mob- t...

How Islam loves freedom of speech, so much that all they cared about was taking down another person trying to express his opinions. Way to go! put 1000 extermist Islamists who want to protest - put 1 Jewish kid in front of them - they will immediately focus just on hurting him (humanity and compassion forgotten on the spot...). This just goes to show!