Friday, August 20, 2010

Refocusing after having time to think

The past year and a half has been a bit tumultuous to say the least. I say that because its very true. During the events of the last couple of weeks I have had a fair amount of time to think about some things and I have to say that clarity is an interesting thing.

I am not going to recap the events of last year as they can be read about in past posts. The past is the past and there is no use dwelling on things that cannot be changed, as continued venting will not be productive.

During my stint of recent thinking sessions, it occurred to me that its been quite a while since I have done any serious coding. Sure I have done a bit of scripting and one offs, but that doesn't exactly keep one's skills up where they should be.

Once I became re-employed last October at the company that I resigned from in 2007 (to be a developer), I stopped doing most coding and development in order to concentrate on my new job. When I left I was an SME (Subject Matter Expert) on the platform that I was heading the Implementations team on. My return to the company last year has me now supporting that same platform. In the time since I left they have done some reworking and changes to the platform and I needed to concentrate on picking up the little intricacies so that I can efficiently do my job to my fullest capacity. I am quite happy in this job and love what I am doing so I really needed to apply my time wisely and get back up to speed. I am sure you can understand that.

Don't get me wrong though. While I am not a developer for my day job, I still have a love for coding as a whole and love learning new languages and techniques. Becoming a better, more skilled coder is still a part of me and I want to get back to doing it.

See, while I was job hunting last year for almost 7 1/2 months, I realized that being a full time developer with my couple of languages just was not enough. Employers these days want a developer that is extremely efficient in several popular languages, which is something I did/do not have. I knew Perl quite well, at a high Intermediate/very low Advanced level, had a brief realization of PHP (which is to say I trouble shot a couple of minor things) and an advanced knowledge of Bash/Ksh scripting in a Unix environment.

Because of the above fact I resolved that being a full time developer just wasn't in my cards. Instead I am going to continue being a developer, but on the side where I can work my own hours and at my own pace. I don't really consider it settling as I absolutely love what I do for my day job. I love it and the company so much that I plan on retiring from this company.

I have become addicted to this beautiful site called Reddit. I have a need to go through the newly posted articles in the topics I subscribe to, on a daily basis. I have found almost as much through it as I have through StumbleUpon (Another addiction of mine).

In reading Reddit yesterday I found a newly posted article called, "How To Become A JavaScript Badass". I had made a list of the languages that I am highly interested in learning and JavaScript is up there on the list (with jQuery and Ajax), so this article truly peaked my interest.

The article started strong, going quickly into the tips the author had on how to go about becoming the JavaScript Badass the author mentioned in the title. But as I kept reading it was as if the author veered slightly off the JavaScript specific path and ventured down a path of tips that are meant to guide one into bettering themselves as a developer in general. It was almost as if it was a mantra. That article left me empowered and driven and I cannot thank the author enough.

After reading it (three times now) I have started to get myself together and more on a straight path toward learning the languages I want to and becoming an even better developer than I was before. Its like a much needed pep talk and I really recommend that developers read it. Granted its not the be all, end all, but its truly inspiring in my opinion.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Privacy or no privacy.... its your choice believe it or not.

Today Facebook has released its newest feature, Facebook Places. This is quite similar to FourSquare, if you have ever used that service. The idea is that when you are out and about, you "check in" at the location where you are. There are locations for millions of places and if you can't find it, you add it and check in. You can earn badges for checking in so many times and for many other things. Its just another way to be social on the net.

Facebook's newest feature is quite like that except it is integrated into the whole of Facebook itself. In other words, when you check in, your friends will all know. As with anything that Facebook does though, the privacy 'activists' that are out there are already screaming about this add-on because, as stated in the Facebook blog posting on the topic, "Your friends will be able to share your check-ins with the applications they use to help create new social experiences with location."

Now, for all of you who are privacy concerned out there, here is what the above article states if you don't like your friends sharing your location information: "If you don't want to share your check-ins with your friends' applications, just uncheck the new box in your Privacy Settings under 'Applications and Websites.'"

Yes, Facebook has had just a few issues with privacy concerns in the past and some of them, especially in the beginning, were completely justified. But they implemented it so that each user is responsible for the information that gets shared. You can control this under your Privacy Settings in your Facebook account. The rule of thumb that everyone should remember though is, "If you don't want it known, don't put it out there!". Remember, putting it on the Internet once means it lives forever.

I remember an article from a couple months ago stating that if you went to a link in your front page called "Phonebook", that it would list all of the phone numbers for all of your friends that it could find them for. This was raised as a "huge privacy issue" by the activists and articles were written. I am not defending Facebook, but those numbers were pulled from the profile "Info" page for each of your friends. If they provided it, then it was displayed. Facebook was simply using readily availble info to show you your friends phone info. I heard it worked on all users, but didn't investigate that far. I notice now though that the link is gone from Facebook. This again goes to "Don't share it if you don't want it known".

People have to be wary of what they share on the net. Unfortunately, too many people aren't. I am quite skeptical and generally thoroughly investigate what I am entering and why and how it will be used before giving it. You have too. There are too many unscrupulous people out there.

Ok, off my soap box for now. Go forth and be "social", but be careful with your information. Its yours and is your sole responsibility if it gets out because YOU provided it.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.