Thursday, January 22, 2009

Do offices like these exist in Atlanta?

Most developers here in the US appear to be accustomed to gray cubicles and if you’re out of luck you even have to survive without daylight. I wonder whether means you have to take vitamin D pills daily. Joel on Software seems to have a more progressive opinion about developer office space. It is a NICE office. I was actually lucky enough to have my own office while working at the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts, which was nice.

Is Joel’s philosophy an anomaly in the American software development world? Do offices like his exist in Atlanta? I guess you can always abandon coding and just become a VP to get that fancy corner office…

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Doing some Marketing for DevNexus

Things are finally coming together for the DevNexus conference. Burr Sutter was sending out the first announcement messages to the group's mailing list last week.  Vincent Mayers setup a targeted ad campaign on LinkedIn. We had the first couple of registrations. Today, I saw the first out-of-state registration. 

Over the last couple of days we at AJUG crafted a press-release in order to not only raise awareness locally in the Atlanta area but also within the larger software development community nationally. Today I submitted press-releases to 2 press release submission sites. Let's see whether the press-release shows up in Google News. Furthermore, I submitted conference announcements to major software development news sites such as InfoQ and TheServerSide

By the way I came across an interesting blog that provides some tips in terms of press-release distribution. It also list many free press release distribution sites. Organizing a conference is certainly a neat learning experience.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Devnexus Conference in Atlanta March 10-11

The Devnexus developer conference will be held in Atlanta, Ga from March 10-11, 2009. It is organized by the Atlanta Java Users Group and is basically the continuation of AJUG’s DevCon events which were held in previous years and they were always very well-received.

Together with four other members, we are right now finalizing the list of speakers and presentations for the conference, finalizing the registration website and preparing some marketing material. Well, and most importantly between now and March we need to get word out.

To me this is the first time planning an event of this scale and it has been a fun learning experience. The conference has been over six months in the making and is organized entirely by volunteers in their respective spare time.

I certainly cannot wait for the actual conference itself. We have an extremely high-profile line-up of speakers covering a wide range of topics around the Java platform as well as dynamic languages and RIA. As we make the final push towards the conference I plan on posting additional information as soon as it gets available. Keep an eye, though, on the conference’s official website at http://www.devnexus .com/

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Mac is back

After I brought my Macbook Pro in for servicing yesterday, I was able to pick it up from the Apple store today. This was a surprisingly swift return. My keyboard keys are working again - Life is good again.

Monday, January 5, 2009

MacBook in the shop - Keyboard issue

I brought my MacBook Pro in for servicing today. Some of my keyboard keys got sticky. It started with the Tab-key 2 weeks ago. For several days I had to press the tab very hard in order for it to work. Then all of a sudden it worked again. However, over the weekend the T-key was aching up. Oh, and in between the J key was not always working either.

Looks like it is not an too uncommon problem:

http://www.cartoonbarry.com/2008/01/macbook_pro_keyboard_issues.html
http://www.wp-wordpress.com/macbook-pro-mbp-keyboard-problem-frozen-keys

And, I never spilled anything over the keyboard. The friendly person at the Apple Store asked that question real hard...Let's hope they fix it and I that I get my machine back sooon.

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Friday, January 2, 2009

Book Review - Slide:ology

If you ever need to give PowerPoint (Or Keynote) presentations, this book should be on your desk. Slide:ology, written by Nancy Duarte, is a well-designed and easily readable book that gives you an excellent overview on how to create great presentations. Hereby, the book focuses more on the generic concepts as slide:ology is not a dedicated step-by-step how-to book for using PowerPoint. Rather, it is more of a style book with highly inspirational qualities. In my opinion, the most valuable information gathered from the book is how it changed my way of thinking when preparing presentation slides.

I particularly liked the the chapter on color theory and typography; topics that are probably more often than not ignored by many professionals while preparing their slides. Another section that I thought was very good is ‘Classifying Diagrams’ starting on page 44. This section provides a library of graphical forms and shapes that give you a good starting point for designing your own illustrations.

The book is loaded with case-studies and examples that tie together all those theoretical pieces of information quite nicely. For example Nancy Duarte's company Duarte Design helped Al Gore with his influential presentation about global warming.

As mentioned above, the book is fairly neutral in terms of presentation software used. Occasionally it provides some tips for using e.g. PowerPoint, but Slide:ology is fairly high-level in that regard. If you are looking for a more hands-on guide to use PowerPoint, you may want to look elsewhere.

Slide:ology certainly emphasizes the creative aspects of creating presentations, which is a good thing. Notwithstanding, one recommendation for improvement would be to include a chapter for the time- and/or resource-constrained presenter. Let's face it - in many organizations/departments, it might be difficult to nearly impossible to get your hands on a first-class designer who churns out those nice looking graphics as shown in Nancy Duarte's book. In that regard it would have been nice to have a chapter that addresses that issue.

Lastly, slide:ology also has its own website at www.slideology.com, which is essentially Duarte's company blog. Nevertheless, it contains a wealth of additional information and it is certainly a good companion to the book. Overall, I highly recommend this book. May it help reduce the vast amount of mediocre presentations out there.

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