Archive for October, 2008

I Guess Something Needed to Give…

October 30, 2008

…and it’s been 3MEW.

I’ve been working on-site for the past two and a half weeks on a hodgepodge of ASP.NET, CSS, and LINQ to SQL (all done in a tidy khaki and dress-shirty wrapper) that has really eaten into my writing time.

It’s been OK, and the stuff is challenging, but I really miss those late summer afternoons at the Blacksheep Cafe.

I’m on a two-month contract and not sure what will come at the end of it. More as it develops.

Twin Cities Code Camp: MVC good. SharePoint sent me packing.

October 12, 2008

I attended the bi-annual Twin Cities Code Camp yesterday for I believe the 4th time. It was decidedly less Ruby-ish as it has been in the past — which is good and bad. 

SharePoint is something I used to spend an awful lot of time thinking about early in the millennium. I wrote some courseware that got cancelled at the burst of the first internet bubble, and really knew the ins and outs of the first version and a half of the product. It was messy then — and messy now.

The SharePoint presentation that I attended was filled with all sorts of hacks just to get basic functionality working. Yuck. The presenter had all sorts of lines like, “Create your classes as text files and then change the extension. Not sure why, but you’ll get errors if you don’t.” I’m sorry, but eight years into a product lifecycle that shit needs to be fixed. It didn’t make me want to jump in with both feet again. Even BizTalk looks like a blast in comparison.

On the other hand, Chris Sutton gave a nice presentation into ASP.NET MVC and using it with jQuery and Yahoo! UI. This preview release, alternative to traditional ASP.NET web forms is clean and very attractive. I’ve been doing my own hybrid MVC for years with ASP and ASP.NET. I’m definitely interested in unpacking this and using it in a real-world project. 

All-in-all, it was worth going, but not enough to hang around for the end.

Of course the weather dudes blew the forecast too, so within an hour of leaving to enjoy the rest of what was promised as a “glorious fall day”, the thunder started — about a minute after I got the fire going in the fire pit out back.

I guess this is professional.

October 9, 2008

I’ve been spending more time digging through the online job sites with searches such as ASP.NET, C#, .NET, even (shudder) SharePoint. Decided to pop in “blogger” to see what was there — mostly as a follow-up to this post.

Came across this one:

Article Writer (From Home)

We are looking for a writers to bring our blog alive, to communicate and engage our visitors.

If you are interested in blogging about Massage, How to, benefits, commenting on new research or news about massage and related products or uses for products,we are interested in talking to you. A background in massage will be helpful. is the blog

Get exposure for your writing and opinion. We are looking for both a featured blogger and for guest bloggers. Our Featured blogger should write about 4 times a week, with a consistent posting schedule, and have a strong interest in massage, this role will pay $50 a month. If you have blogged before and have an interest in massage issues this might be the right role for you.

If you are familiar with blog promotion, writing with search engines in mind, linking to other sites to improve our search ranking and creating a buzz, there may be additional opportunities. 

$50. Apparently blogging for someone else pays less than sewing swooshes on Nike shoes in China.

They’re going to get some high-caliber stuff for their 50 cents an hour.

Touch Typing: Another benefit of blogging.

October 9, 2008

I realized in the past few months that I’m a touch typist. I took typing in high school so many years ago and “cheated” my way through looking at the keys. I was pretty quick as I knew where everything was, but had no confidence. I type for hours every day now and at some point the switch flipped.

My friend Robert used to say back at BigCharts, if this web thing didn’t work out, he could get a job as a secretary. He could type like the wind. I type like a stiff breeze now. So maybe some data-entry wouldn’t be out of the question if things got extreme.

Exercise While Working: My New DIY Walking Desk

October 8, 2008

The new "desk".

We were meant to walk, not sit.

So, I really dig working from the house and the coffee shop but the back and the waistline take a beating with this sedentarianism. I eat well. I have a food plan that I’ve followed more or less religiously for the past three or more years. I’m not a huge exercise fanatic, in that I absolutely don’t like exercise for the sake of exercise. There are few “activities” I enjoy — playing street hockey with the kids, getting out on the bike (I didn’t get to much of that this summer), and a few other things, but mostly I see it as taking away from my “earning time.” It’s a completely unhealthy situation.

A couple of weeks ago, someone I follow on Twitter (sorry, I forget who — but it was probably Kottke) pointed out a site that introduced me to this idea.

Thanks to being self-employed, fear has set my switch to “work” and barring a huge influx of cash or months of psychiatric care, this isn’t going to change. So this whole “walking desk” idea is a winner for me. I built it in the garage with a $7 piece of half-inch plywood, 2 feet of scrap 2×4, circular saw, jig saw and a few 1 1/2 inch screws in about 20 minutes. Of course the plywood sat in the basement, untouched (just like the treadmill) for almost two weeks. It’s attached to the treadmill with a bungie cord, and it’s really amazingly stable.

After finishing it, I tried it out with the ol’ Dell Craptop (just in case) and everything was at almost exactly the right height and nothing broke. I’ll modify the design so that Ang can use it to read her 2,200 page Nursing book as well.

The other nice thing is that there is room for most of the stuff I need. When I don’t want the laptop I close it. The iPhone sits up top in the treadmill’s book holder and I have space for coffee and pens and even a book or two.

New "use" for the chronically "un-unsed."

So now I get the exercise that I need and it takes up zero time. In fact, and this needs some longer-term vetting, it feels as if I’m more “in the zone” at 1 mph than sitting in the chair. Some of the brain cycles that usually get used up with all variety of things are being used to keep me upright, concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other.

It feels really natural.

I did 88 minutes last night and walked 2.06 miles. Today in the time it took to write this and answer a bunch of email, I’ve walked almost two more miles that I never would have.

What is the ongoing cost? At 1.5 kWh per hour on the treadmill (and I’d bet it’s much lower at my pace), and Dakota Electric’s winter rate of 7.25¢/kWh, I’ll be spending $.10 an hour. Extend that to 3 hours a day, 5 days a week and you get $1.50. Also, I’d burn about 2500 calories in that time, even at this slow pace.

But what about my carbon foortprint? I’m a vegetarian, who works at home. Also, I planted a few trees this summer. You’re welcome.

More to come?