This blog has been modified to accommodate postings by my right hand tech companion of over 13 years, Brandon Abshire. Brandon has always been a part of NetNerds but only recently has decided to become more visible. Brandon has been working primarily at Qualcomm Inc for the past 7 years but starting this month, will begin a new endeavor as a SQL Server DBA at Sharp Healthcare in San Diego.
Brandon's posts are initially likely to focus around Android application development, SQL Server and SharePoint. You can view Brandon's resume here.
I found a link to this site on Facebook's SQL Server Magazine fanpage. Free Fundamental CDs for IT Pros and Developers While you can order the CDs, I just went ahead and downloaded the zip files. The SQL Server CD is pretty basic, but I still managed to learn something from it =)
I don't usually make a habit of posting about my favorite WordPress plugins but this WPtouch is worth the mention. I was looking to make my blog more iPhone friendly, without making any adjustments to my normal theme and WPtouch gave me exactly what I wanted. To quote their website:
More than just a plugin, WPtouch is an entire theme package for your WordPress website. Modeled after Apple's app store design specs, WPtouch makes your WordPress website load lightning fast on touch mobile devices, show your content beautifully, all while not interfering with your regular theme.
Here's what my blog looks like on my iPhone.
Perhaps I am in the mindset of paying for iPhone apps, but I was surprised that such a useful plugin was free; free as in beer and free as in speech. It's GPL'd. Work it, Ice, Yeahhh.
Thanks to everyone who has written to me about the name conflict between my WordPress plugin, Quick Code, and David Gwyer's plugin, Quick Code.
I created the Quick Code plugin three and a half years ago so I'm not sure how the conflict happened but I decided to just rename my plugin to Dirty Code. I chose the name primarily because I wasn't feeling very creative this morning and the plugin's code is quick and dirty. Actually, it was originally written in ASP and converted into PHP using asp2php.exe; that's just how nasty it is.
In addition to renaming the plugin, I also cleaned it up a bit and updated it to work with WordPress 2.8. This version has been tested on WordPress versions 2.3-2.8.4. (UPDATE: JULY 4, 2010: it works with 3.0 too)
In case you aren't familiar with the plugin, it was written primarily for bloggers who include a lot of code in their posts. It transforms any code (SQL, CSS, PHP, ASP, etc) between the tags <dirtycode> and </dirtycode> into a good looking div which can disappear or reappear with a click. You can around my blog for examples, or just head to the plugin page @ http://blog.netnerds.net/dirtycode.
It's been 5 years, since I pulled this very geeky and very successful April Fools prank on my then girlfriend and it still makes me laugh.
If you haven't read about the HOSTS prank yet, click on the picture above for a few good chuckles.
OK, I realize this is my fifth blog post in two days after a seven month blog posting deficit. Is it obvious I'm procrastinating? Well, I am, but writing blog entries is way easier than studying. Apparently, my brain is fed up with learning what Microsoft recommends I do with SQL Server 2005. So until it decides to cooperate, I'll just write about SQL Server, or related topics thereof.
So.. on September 1, 2001 I just submitted my resignation to the CEO at Trellion Technologies because I no longer felt challenged and thought it was time for me to move on. The dotcom was still sorta going on and numerous calls from Microsoft recruiters left me confident I'd be able to immediately find a job or contract. Then September 11th happened.
For months, my phone didn't ring. My resume was out there on Monster and the jobs were there (sorta) but nobody seemed to need a 2 year DBA with no degree and no certifications. I didn't want to just sit on my hands so I started self-studying for the MCDBA in late October. I studied a ton and fortunately, I learned a whole lot. My study time in Tahoe was especially nice; I'd snowboard during the day and study for my certification at the coffee house at night. I felt totally West Coast.
I finished my MCDBA sometime in early January 2002 and updated my resume on Monster and around the web. The calls started coming in immediately. Within three weeks, I had two job offers. One of which was from Luce Forward, my very amazing employer whom I'm so fortunate to still be with, ~7 years and one cross-country relocation later.
I found what I learned while studying immediately useful both on my side projects and at Luce. Remembering this, I've worked to obtain my BS in Information Systems and upgrade my MCDBA to an MCITP-DBA, even though my employer did not request I do so. I love the challenge of getting certified and I appreciate how much I learn while studying. Just recently, I finished up the SQL Server 2005 Administrator's Pocket Consultant and oddly enough (or not), I thoroughly enjoyed almost the entire book! Wrox's Professional SQL Server 2005 Administration is also pretty good, as well as the Microsoft Press Training Kit for exam 70-431. Those books, coupled with nearly 10 years of experience as a DBA, helped me pass my first SQL Server 2005 exam with relative ease.
I'm currently studying for the last two of the SQL Server 2005 certs and hope I find the next exams as easy as I did the first.
So to answer the question posed in the subject of this post, I recommend getting a college degree to everyone and I recommend obtaining certifications to techies aiming to work for Corporate America. Geeks who specialize in working for or creating start-ups (like many of my friends in Silicon Valley) probably won't benefit much from certifications, but I do believe they will benefit greatly from CS and CE degrees, and to a lesser extent, IS degrees. But that's just my two cents. For reasons deeper than "it works for me," check out these posts from other bloggers about this topic.
I can't believe I forgot about this! I blame it on my crazy school schedule back in the day. In December of 2006, I was asked to contribute a recipe to the Simple-Talk Cookbook. Of course, I gladly obliged. The editor, Claire Brooking, published the very professional-looking cookbook to the opinion section of simple-talk. where she stated:
With over ten contributing chefs, all MVPs and experts from the SQL Server and .NET community, the cookbook is written by geeks for geeks. To get cooking, simply download the cookbook by clicking on the zip file in the top right-hand corner of this article or on the link below.
Happy cooking from the editorial team at Simple-Talk and all the starring chefs!
I won't lie, it made me feel great being addressed as an "expert" in my community. Thank you, simple-talk! Sorry for saying Phil Factor's anonymity kinda freaked me out
Anyway, to download the cookbook which has my recipe titled "Chrissy's Favorite Bread Pudding," visit the article on on simple-talk.com. Alternatively, you can see the recipe here on RealCajunRecipes.com, or buy our Real Cajun Cookbook for yourself or a friend
When I first moved back to Louisiana, I bought a car that fulfilled a few of my childhood dreams. It's an Audi A4 2.0T with rims, tint, sport suspension, BOOM and a Pioneer touch-screen iPod-compatible/GPS-enabled stereo system. I'm such a teenage kid. Haha. Anyway, what's even better is that I'm able to have a dedicated "iPod" for my car at no cost because I was able to recycle my friend's broken iPhone. After she dropped her iPhone in a drink at the bar and broke the touch screen, she got a Blackberry Curve and gave me her iPhone. I didn't need to use the screen (my stereo navigates through it via it's interface), so I was able to just wipe all of her data and load the disabled phone with my tunes.
It was at this time that I began to use iTunes extensively. Its speed was decent initially, but just recently, as my library grew, the load up time became unbearable. I didn't think I could find an alternative, however, because I didn't want to give up my iTunes store access and I figured all other media managers would be incompatible. So I was even looking for love when I found Songbird via a blog posting on audiojungle.net.
The first thing that caught my attention was Songbird's tabbed browsing. Then the add-ons. Then the mega-integration with one of my favorite sites, last.fm, which pretty much sold me on trying it.
During the install, I learned that Songbird stays in sync with my iTunes library/playlists so I can continue using iTunes when necessary (such as when I want to buy an album, though recently, I began buying more from Amazon MP3 [which my genius friend Ross helped to build ]). Once Songbird was up and running, I went load up on some add-ons. There's quite a few, some useful and some not so much. Here are the ones I used to pimp my Songbird:
One of my favorite features! Songbird automatically gets Lyrics and displays them, plain text, in a selected pane.
Kinda boring but totally important.
Pops up the name/artist of song near the system tray.
Ohhh, this would have been more useful when I lived in San Francisco. Takes the artists in your library and let's you know where they are playing in a given city or region. Apparently, not a lot of my favorites are playing in New Orleans/Baton Rouge or Lafayette anytime soon.
Awesome! Although I wish there was an option to just have last.fm's album art fill in the gaps and show the file's picture if there's one embedded.
Powered by Last.fm. Love the Dykeenies? You might like Little Man Tate, too (I totally do!)
This helps fill in the gap for one of the features I miss most in iTunes -- its built-in Windows Toolbar. But I can't have that right now, so at least I can minimize to tray and have Song Notifier tell me what's playing.
Click to see the prodigiousness up close.
Songbird 1.0 is totally my favorite app of 08. If you haven't tried it yet and you are iffy about your current media manager, I suggest giving it a shot. It works on Windows, Mac and Linux.
I'm kinda late on this but arstechnica reports that "Microsoft has opened the source code to the .NET Framework libraries under a read-only reference license. Developers who want to check out the source code need only upgrade to the newly released Visual Studio 2008 to gain access to it."
This is something I've always dreamed about -- learning by a large software firm's example. I can remember how disappointed I was during the first dotcom when companies would go down and take their source code and website designs with them. Woudln't it have been amazing if they would have donated their site templates to OSWD.org? As for the code, I realized the other year after looking at my own dotcom code, that the styles were probably pretty bad and not so good to learn from.
Check out Scott Gu's blog entry for more information on the libraries that are being opened.
For those of you who dropped out of college and want to finish your undergrad degree, you may want to consider the online university, Western Governors University. I'm sharing this on my blog because I actually shared the URL with many of my tech friends who dropped out. I found an ad for WGU in some tech magazine (maybe TechNet?) and it made me curious. Here's what I found:
- Its accredited by the same org that accredits traditional universities (such as BYU), Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. It also earned some other national accreditation and was the first online and first non-traditional program to do so.
- Members of Sun and HP are on the board of trustees and a ton of big companies are listed as corporate collaborators including AT&T, Cisco, Dell, Microsoft, Google, Oracle, Qwest, Sun and HP.
- It's only about $5,000 or $6000 a year
- The CEO of Google said: "Google has pioneered the idea of access to information. The reason Google thinks WGU is such a good idea is because WGU has pioneered the concept of competency- based education whenever you want it."
- You get a bunch of certifications while you are at it.
WGU offers undergrad and graduate degrees in IS, teaching, nursing and business.
Another alternative for those wanting a Masters in IS is Carnegie Mellon's Distance Learning program. It seems pretty awesome.