Fun Friday: Links, Tweets And More: 5/16/2014

Fun Experts
OK, folks, let’s leave the fun to the experts. I don’t want anyone getting hurt.

Image from Library Of Congress

Woo-Hoo! It’s Friday people!

I’m trying something new. Fun Friday sharing of the links and things.

Here’s a random sampling of things I thought were cool this week. Mostly tech related
or possibly shared by tech folk. Occassionally just random or funny.

Quote Of The Week

Just because you believe in your conspiracy theory, that does not make it any more
true than any other nut job conspiracy theory.

Wallace “Wally” McClure - @wbm

Yeah, Mulder.

must think of Twitter as a river. It flows by constantly. You cannot watch it
all. You must just stop by ever so often and watch it for a few minutes then
move on.

Granted he said it more eloquently than that, but I’m trying to remember
something from his podcast from 3-4 years ago.

Think of me as the guy who fishes tires, bits of wood and the occassional shiny thing out so you don’t have to.

Here’s some of what I’ve schlepped ashore this week.

FYI, you just might want to follow these folks. On Twitter that is. Don’t do that in real life. That’s creepy and illegal.

  1. 10 Articles Every Programmer Must Read. Shared by Joe Ingeno.

    A really good collection of articles ranging from memory to networking to SEO.

  2. Cordova In Visual Studio. Shared by Jeremy Likness
    Cordova is the open source underpinnings of PhoneGap. The next update for Visual Studio has tools to help you make
    mobile apps with HTML/CSS/JavaScript.

  3. All the .NET SDK Downloads in one place Speaking of Scott Hanselman, here’s one of his shares.

    Great big collection of links to SDKs you need for working with .Net, Windows, devices, and MS cloud offerings.

  4. The Open-Office Trap. Shared by Kevin Jones
    You know what people LOVE? It isn’t an open office floor plan.

  5. Killing Floor 2 Teaser Trailer. Shared by Tripwire Interactive

    It’s like Croydon on a Friday night!

    I frickin’ love Killing Floor. You know the kind of game that has an intricate, detailed plot and characters you
    grow to love? This ain’t that game.

    This is a full bore, online zombie killing romp.

    Blah, blah, Horzine. Blah, blah, Zombie Drug.

    You know what matters? Katanas, claymores and AA12s (Oh my!).

  6. SUSE Rules the Stack. By a mile. Shared by @SUSE
    OK, when it comes to Linux, I like OpenSUSE. I also like KDE. I’m not anti-Ubuntu, but I am a fan of the chameleon.

  7. Long Title With Many New Features In Visual Studio. Shared by S. Somasegar
    Plenty of good stuff in the next update to Visual Studio beyond the Cordova bits mentioned above.

  8. We are made of star-stuff
    National Geographic Channel

    If you haven’t been watching the new Cosmos series with Neil deGrasse Tyson, you are really missing something great.

  9. Beer Locker: Building a RESTful API With Node Shared by Dan Wahlin
    NODE.js love it or hate it, but you’ll have trouble ignoring it.

  10. Intro To Node With Microsoft Tools Presentation
    These are the slides of my presentation to the Gwinnett, Georgia, Microsoft User Group last week. I’m a
    Node noob, but here’s some stuff I’ve learned so far.

Intro To Node With Microsoft Tools Presentation

Intro To Node.js With Microsoft Tools
Intro To Node.js With Microsoft Tools

Microsoft has really ramped up their support for Node.js over the past couple of years.

With the introduction of Node.js Tools For Visual Studio they’ve turned their super fancy IDE into
a real contender in the Node development space.

Sure it has some rough edges (it is still in Beta after all), but it already makes the task
of debugging node apps much nicer.

I presented a talk at the
Gwinnett, Georgia, Microsoft User Group (GGMUG)
meeting for May, 2014 about using Microsoft tools for Node development.

Here’s a PDF of my slides.

The Blog-pocalypse 2014

Atomic Bomb Test
Boom! There goes my blog.
Bikini Attol test image via Library Of Congress

Back in February I moved my blog from WordPress to the spiffy new Ghost blog engine.

Since I’m hosting my blog using Azure’s Websites, WordPress was hobbled by the fact that
the free MySQL instance you get has only a few allowed connections. That means if you get
more than just a few visitors some get the dreaded “Can’t connect to the database” message.

That was ugly, so I decided to try Ghost.

Ghost worked great! I even helped my daughter set up a Ghost instance in another Azure Website
for a school project.

Everything was rolling along just swimmingly. I’ve posted more to the blog so far this year
than ever before. My visitor count has been creeping up too. What could possibly go wrong?

What indeed.

Last Wednesday at about 5 pm I decided to check the old Adsense account. I don’t like to brag, but
I’ve been making a few cents each day. That’s not a euphemism unfortunately. I’ve been literally
earning one or two cents per day most days.

Imagine my surprise when Google informed me that no one had visited my site that day. At all.

What? Surely something in Googleville must be broken!

I typed in my url and … and … and … waited.

Blank white page.

Where are my alligators?

I had to pop open Chrome’s developer tools and watch the network traffic to see the 500 error.

Oh, dear.

Checked my daughter’s site. Pristine white pixels as well.

I tried creating a Ghost blog from the Azure gallery. It worked! So I created another one and it
did not work. Uh oh. Something’s wrong here.

I’ll try to shorten a long, ugly story.

Back in February I had debated using Ghost or DocPad for my blog.

Ghost is an actual blog engine with lots of helpful features and DocPad, well, isn’t.

I love the idea of DocPad, but in practice it is a bit fiddly for an active blog.

So I went with Ghost.

Until it died.

I can’t blame Ghost, since nothing changed there.

A couple of evenings spent poring through log files with nothing to show but the vague
feeling that iisnode can’t access certain files (or else the user running the site can’t
access the iisnode DLLs) convinced me to try one of two things:

1) Move to a VM that I manage myself and set up Ghost
2) Create a static site via DocPad and stick with the Azure Website

Neither prospect seemed too darned appealing, but my blog was reduced to a static page saying,
“Hello, I’m stoopid and can’t make my website work.”

I’ll blog more details later, but basically I

  • Wrote a Node command line app to read in the Ghost export file
  • Did some simple processing of the posts to join up with the tags
  • Spit out Markdown files with DocPad metadata
  • Set up Docpad
  • Add a few plugins (CleanUrls and Paged)
  • Adapt the HTML structure and CSS from the Ghost blog to the DocPad blog
  • Create a Git repo of the static output
  • Store the repo on BitBucket
  • Disconnect the Website from the Ghost BitBucket repo
  • Delete all the files from the site
  • Connect the site to the new, static repo at BitBucket
  • Wash, rinse, repeat pretty much all weekend…

At this point the site pretty much looks the same as before.

I’m writing this post in Vim as an experiment to see how easy it will be to post
in DocPad. It is definitely not as convenient as Ghost or WordPress, but I will
soldier on for a bit to see how it goes.

I love the idea of a static site deployed via Git from BitBucket.

The only thing I really need to work out is the tag system. I currently don’t have
a way to update the Posts By Tag page or the Tag Cloud. I plan to play around with
it a bit to see if I can get a solution for that. Frankly Ghost is lacking in that
department as well (it is an alpha or beta product, after all).

Would I recommend DocPad as a blogging tool? No, not really. At least not to someone
who doesn’t have time to spare with the fiddly bits.

Am I going to stay with DocPad? Go back to Ghost? Go back to WordPress? Quit blogging and
live in a cave?

I don’t know yet, but the cave is sounding pretty good.

The Bluetooth Keyboard You Want

Logitech K810 Bluetooth Keyboard

Logitech K810 Bluetooth Keyboard

I have a hard time thinking of this as a review.

Technically it is, but I love this product so much I feel guilty referring to this post as a review.

I live on a keyboard.

I work as a programmer, so all day long I’m on a keyboard. I write this blog on a keyboard. I play games with a keyboard and mouse. In short, I spend more time on a keyboard than off.

You know what I hate? On screen keyboards.

You can’t touch type on them, they take up a big chunk of the screen, and generally speaking, my thumbs are about the size of at least 4 of their keys.

Since I want to try this year to post more frequently to this blog (hopefully at least once a week), and since I don’t want to always write at my desk, I bought a Bluetooth keyboard.

After considerable research I opted for the Logitech K810.

Note: There are TWO keyboards in this lineup, one for PC/Android and one for Mac/iOS.

Top 10 Reasons I Chose K810

I chose the K810 because:

  • I use Windows and Android
  • I’ve had good luck with Logitech in the past
  • It can pair to 3 devices
  • Has 3 buttons for choosing device
  • Has backlit keys for typing in the dark
  • Rechargable batteries
  • Large enough to touch type
  • Small enough to carry
  • Very light weight
  • Snazzy looking brushed aluminum finish

Since I’ve only used the K810, I can’t really say if the K811 works equally well. I would assume so, but have not tried it myself.

What I can say is that the K810 has been perfect for me.

It’s paired to my Kindle Fire HD and my Samsung Galaxy S4. I can switch between them with a quick press of their dedicated buttons.

It slips easily into my backpack. Paired with the Kindle it can replace my notebook for many trips. That saves my back lugging many pounds…

Simply having arrow keys to navigate a line of text is a HUGE improvement on a device.

Night Writer

The backlit keys mean I can lie in bed in the dark and write.

I’ve written blog posts on both the Kindle and the phone using this keyboard. The Kindle is obviously the better choice there, but both work.

For serious geek-coolness I can fire up a VM instance of Windows Server and Remote Desktop in for a full Windows experience on my Kindle. Check out my post Windows Touch UI On Azure VM for details.

That would have been practically impossible without my trusty Bluetooth keyboard.

I’d Buy It Again

There is no doubt. If I had it to do over again I’d buy this keyboard in a heart beat.

The only possible negative I can think of is that there are different models for Windows/Android and Mac/iOS.

Most folks I know are invested in one ecosystem or the other, not both, so it’s probably not a big deal.

Bottom Line: I’d buy it again and completely recommend it to a friend or family member looking for a top quality Bluetooth keyboard. There are cheaper options out there, but I didn’t find any better.

Note: if you follow the links above and buy one, I’ll get something like 4% referral fee from Amazon. If you do decide to buy one, I’d appreciate it if you go this route. Your cost is the same either way so if you find my blog useful or interesting, consider throwing me a bone.

Happy Birthday, Pluralsight!

Happy Birthday, Pluralsight!

Pluralsight is ten years old. Doesn’t look a day over nine, either.