Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Weekend full of Learning

Where do you find people who willingly spend their entire weekend learning about things like Java class loaders, Groovy, Java Server Faces, Google Web Toolkit, Test Driven Development, Alternative languages for the JVM, and other similar topics? Well, last weekend you’d have found about two hundred of them at the 2008 Greater Atlanta Software Symposium put on by No Fluff Just Stuff.

The conference started Friday at 1PM and ended Sunday at 6PM, with breaks for food and sleep. The primary draw was twelve 90-minute opportunities to learn about one of 72 topics being presented by some of the best speakers out there including people like David Geary, Scott Davis, Neal Ford, and Ted Neward.

And if that weren’t enough (Is it ever?), each day had an extra goody; on Friday Jared Richardson presented a potentially life-changing keynote titled "Career 2.0" (keep an eye out for the book), Saturday ended with a choice of BOFs, and Sunday's lunch was followed by an hour-long “expert panel” featuring seven of the speakers holding forth on topics like architecture, testing and SOA.

If you’ve never heard of No Fluff Just Stuff then you’re in for a treat. It’s kind of like a traveling, three-day long, JavaOne. I recommend checking out their web site for a time and place when they’re either someplace near you or someplace you want to visit, then sign up and get ready to learn. It's good for your career.

Friday, October 24, 2008

What's in a name?

Listening to Jared Richardson speak, I knew I had to make a change and I needed to do it tonight. Jared was tonight's key note speaker at the "Greater Atlanta Software Symposium" aka No Fluff Just Stuff. His talk was titled "Career 2.0," and it got me thinking (again) about my career and what I want to do and be.

Jared made a lot of suggestions, and I intend to give some of them a try. One of the many things he suggested was to become a blogger because it's an easy way to share the things we learn with others. He said it's easy to create a blog. In fact, he claimed that it is so easy to get started that on previous occasions some people had actually fired up their laptops and created a blogging account during the second part of his speech.

After I got home I decided to take part of Jared's advice and enter the blogosphere. I went to's home page and, since it only required three steps to get started; create an account, name the blog, and pick a template. I have to admit that it did look pretty easy.

I created an account, but then I had to wonder about the folks Jared spoke about. Creating the account was easy, but picking a name was definitely not. I'll admit that it took me a while, partly because all the names I initially wanted were taken; but it's also because I believe names are more important than you may think.

I suggest to you that names conjure images in our minds and can affect both our expectations and behaviors. Let me give you an example.

Many years ago my neighbors had a dog named "Rambo." Care to guess what kind of dog it was? If you've seen the "Rambo" movies, starring Sylvester Stallone, you'd probably thinking that Rambo was a powerful dog with a serious attitude; something like a Rottweiler; and you'd be partly right.

Rambo did have an attitude, but he wasn't big at all. You see, Rambo was a toy poodle. (Yes, I asked about the name. It turns out that when they decided to get a dog, my neighbors had a tough time deciding, so they compromised. She got to pick the dog, but he got to name it.) The point is that we often have preconceived ideas about people and things based on their name, and I wanted to pick a name that would help people get in the right frame of mind for what I was expecting to post here.

The first name I picked that hadn't already been used was "Musashi Flex" and I wrote much of this post for that blog's initial posting. But the next day I found that explaining what the Musashi Flex was, and how it applied to my blog,was more work than it was worth; though fans of Steve Perry's Matador series, it might have grokked it.

So I went back to thinking up a meaningful name and, after sleeping on it, the phrase "mind like a sword" is what I've come up with. It's not the perfect title, but I like it and I like the idea of equating mental sharpness with a sword's effectiveness in battle. (Yes. I am familiar with the phrase "Just like a(n) X to bring a knife to a gunfight", where X is some group you don't want to ba associated with; but "Mind like a bullet" just isn't me.)

I expect to do a few things with this blog:
  • Share my ideas on software development.
  • Share issues and solutions I run into while working as a software architect and developer.
  • Provide a place to discuss and review some of the many of the books I read - most, but not all, related to software design and development.
Well, this seems like a reasonable length for my first post. Thank you for your time and attention.

May you live long and prosper!