Free Technical Books for Download

Flipflops
A quick list of free technical book resources online:

  • Comprehensive list of free technical books.
  • PHP 5 Power Programming – OOP in the latest version of PHP. Right click the link to download as a PDF from the publisher’s site.
  • Wiki Books – Community publishing
  • ChangeThis – Sometimes technical, sometimes business related, almost always relevant and thought provoking.
  • Free Java Books – More on Java than one person could read in a lifetime.

iPod Shuffle

ShuffleToday I got an iPod Shuffle :). I’ve been eyeing them since they came out, but I’m not a fan of “3-4 weeks” shipping times like Apple had, or “get in line” shipping like Amazon had, so today when Circuit City had them online (through Amazon) for pickup I jumped at it.

So far it’s great. I found some great advice for creating playlists from a site dedicated to… playlists (what a niche!) and it’s ready to go.
The biggest reason I got it though was actually not the music–it’s more to use it as a USB jump drive to easily bring my to-do list with me. I realize I could have gotten one for cheaper, but it sure wouldn’t have looked as nice or played music.

On another note… last Friday morning I took and passed the Flash MX 2004 Developer certification test. It was a pretty rough test, but fair. I enjoyed the challenge of studying for it and it’s always a good feeling to pass a test.

Getting Things Done The Last Two Months

Is it wrong to want to write a blog entry just because the software you write the entry in is so nice? I haven’t written for a couple months and every so often I’ll remember just how nice Ecto is and want to write again. Aside from that, a lot has happened.

I’ve finally started reading Getting Things Done by David Allen. I got two other co-workers reading it at my recommendation (before I even started reading it) and when they they really liked it, I figured I had better have a taste of my own medicine. It lives up to the hype.

GTD has inspired me to find a better way to get everything out of my mind and on “paper.” I really feel his philosophy that you have to have it all out of your mind (which doesn’t know how to manage tasks based on the best time to do them) before you can really become productive and relaxed is right on.

I’ve looked at a few options for doing this and haven’t really ruled any out yet. These are the choices so far:

  • A Wiki – I’d probably just use my install of PmWiki which has been great (it’s moved now because of all the wiki spam).
  • Entourage X 2004 – Theoretically this would be nice, but it has been super buggy for me and I can’t stand the instability.
  • PlannerMode (planner.el) in Emacs. This looks like a powerful way to manage tasks/projects etc. but requires learning Emacs. That might not be such a bad thing, but I haven’t decided for sure if I’m up to it. This is an article with a screenshot of what to expect.
  • PocketInformant – Pocket PC software that does it all.
  • Tracks – a Ruby on Rails application that looks great. I, however, have not had much luck getting it installed.
  • A Paper planner
  • Text files
  • Something else.

I don’t think anything is going to be ideal. In order to do that, it would need to:

  1. Be accessible from work and home. At work they block every port but port 80 so I have no access to SSH or port 3000 (what Tracks seems to like to use) or anything else.
  2. Be accessible from both my Mac and my Pocket PC
  3. Be intuitive and quick. If I’m going to enter everything I need to do, it needs to be fast.
  4. and it should obviously allow for the basic GTD philosophy

So that’s where I am with that. I still haven’t even finished the book, but I’m sold on the idea.

I’ve also been working a lot more in Flash, programming in ActionScript. It goes in cycles, I program for a couple months then spend awhile in production. I definitely like the programming (and design) part of the cycles much better.

This time around I found TextMate and it also lives up to the hype. It’s a text editor with a very OS X feel and all the features I need to keep me happy while coding.

Since last time I wrote I’ve been to Florida to visit family, enjoyed a couple good snow storms (including one that’s going on at this very moment), redesigned Silverfish Longboarding, started work on a Masters in Instructional Design and Technology at Old Dominion University and ordered an iPod shuffle (which unfortunately won’t be here for another month).

I’ve also gotten 4782 blogspams which were blocked by MT-Blacklist as well as 634 that were moderated. I’m seriously considering switching to WordPress which my wife uses and I get jealous of every so often. I need to check to see if image uploading is supported by Ecto for WordPress now.

Over the past few months I’ve read less on Bloglines (the best aggregator available IMO) have been unsubscribing to blogs at a rapid pace. I’m no less enthusiastic about weblogs, I’ve just become a little more picky about which ones I read. I continue to be amazed at how much Rui Carmo manages to post on the Tao of Mac.

That’s about it for now. Best Tool for the Job is back (again) from vacation.

Dell Desktop Design

Dell DimensionI’ve often wondered if any of Dell’s computer case designers have actually used the USB ports on the front of the computers they designed. Not only are they totally out of sight if your case is sitting on the floor when you lift up that stylish cover on the front, but the ports are also at a strange angle, making it very hard to plug anything in without getting down on the floor and looking up under the panel. Once you finally manage to get something plugged in, wires have to come up and around the front of the panel. Not only that, you almost have to unplug anything that’s plugged into the front of the computer every time you are done because there’s no way to close the cover with anything plugged in and it’s very awkward sticking out. The same thing goes for the CD case. Every time you need to insert or remove a CD you have to open a door on the front of the case. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t actually own a Dell desktop (I do have a Dell laptop however) but I’m always baffled by this when I have to use one. Maybe someone who owns one could clarify this design decision for me.

The Last Thing You Need…

is more aimless browsing. Well, Firefox makes it that much easier. Combine RSS bookmarking capabilities with the bookmarks bar and you have new, instant links from techies (mostly) anytime you feel the need to take a short (?) break from productivity and explore the unknown.

Just browse to del.icio.us click the orange RSS link at the bottom of the screen, click subscribe, add the subscription to your Bookmarks Toolbar Folder and presto! Every time you click that tempting little button you’ll be presented with links you’ve never seen but are interested in… it’s guaranteed 100%.

Here’s a random sampling (click to enlarge):

Bookmarks Del

Quick DNS Propagation for New Domains

Domains now propagate QUICK! What before could take from 12 to 24 hours now takes 3 minutes. I purchased besttoolforthejob.com this morning and it was live minutes later.

With this improvement and how quickly word travels by weblogs, I’m sure we’ll see tons of sites popping up in response to events almost before they’re done happening. Very cool.

Also… if you’re interested in free .info domains, check dotster.com. They’re giving away 25 free domains per person. I’m not sure what the price will be per year afterwards.