Oh Swype, Where Have You Been All My Life?

Originally published at Blind, Not Dumb. You can comment here or there.

For years my Android using friends have been revving about Swype.

When tablets and smartphones first appeared on the scene, many of us were so awash in the glow of our shiny new toys that we overlooked a glaring weak point – text input.

In a stunning display of uncreative design, the keyboards for these devices were simply ‘virtualized’ versions of their mechanical counterparts.

The result seems like a regular keyboard, but bereft of the comparative elegance and efficiency of touch typing we are left in an incredibly unsatisfying state of perpetual hunt and peck. To add insult to injury, this ethereal target we’re eternally stabbing at changes underneath us to suit the whim of the author of whichever app we’re using.

With Swype, one simply glides one’s finger from letter to letter spelling our words. Swype handles tedious details like putting spaces between words or after periods.

I could keep babbling, but suffice it to say it has been a life changer for me. Paired with Blogsy, my iPad blogging ttyl of choice, you may be hearing from me more often!





The Chrome Conundrum

Originally published at Blind, Not Dumb. You can comment here or there.

I Love/Hate Chrome!

Having used the Chrome browser regularly for a couple of years now, I really love quite a number of things about it.

  • It’s fast
  • The developer tools are superb
  • It has a vibrant user community, including a number of very smart people whose opinions I respect who are also huge fans

However, its implementation under Mac OS X, my operating system of choice, is rather flawed in a number of respects that drive me crazy:

  • Its external monitor support is awful.  If I have Chrome open on my Macbook Pro, then disconnect my external monitor and go to a meeting, all my windows have vanished into la-la land, and no amount of killing and restarting Chrome will bring them back.  Also, creating new windows fails silently as well, I presume Chrome thinks the windows are going to the external monitor which is no longer connected.
  • No easy, native Java support! I know, I know, I can just about hear the hipster geeks rolling their eyes at this, but face it kiddos, Java was running mission critical systems while you were in diapers.  It’s not dead, it’s not going away, and it’s an incredibly useful tool – for Chrome on OS X to not natively support Java in the browser is unforgivable.
  • Unresponsive developers – Check out the Chromium bug list and you’ll see droves of OS X users screaming for Java support – and dead silence from the developers.

I haven’t yet made the decision to switch back to Firefox full-time, but they’re certainly driving me in that direction.  I loved Firefox for years until I fell in love with Chrome’s speed, sleek design and awesome devtools.


The Joy of DevOps (Or, Return of the Living Generalist!)

Originally published at Blind, Not Dumb. You can comment here or there.

One of the things I have always enjoyed about what I do is that I have, from pretty much day 1 in the technology industry, worn many hats.

No matter what my job title said, I have always done pretty much whatever needs doing whether or not it crosses into what others might consider a discipline that’s not in my job description.

I like it that way. I enjoy picking up new skills, flexing my mental muscles in new ways and exploring the uncharted territory that is every new technology to rise out of the primordial ooze of Github (Or Sourceforge before it).

Way back in 1992 when I got my first job in the technology industry, I met a very wise man named Dale Dougherty (I hope I’m not mangling the spelling, it’s been over two decades! (If you’re out there Dale, give me a holler will you? I’d love to get back in touch) and when he asked what it was that had driven me into technology, and after I told him in the naescent, halting terms I could form at the time he smiled and said “Ah! You’re a generalist. Unfortunately, those are undervalued these days. It’s a great shame” or something to that effect.

Boy was he right. For the next 20 years I would end up doing tech support, sysadmin work, software development, and finally release engineering.

The industry began throwing up high walls and fences around places and processes we all used to take for granted.  ”You can’t do that, you’re not a developer!” “Only sysadmins get root and access to production machines!” “You’re a release engineer, not a developer!” Ad infinitum.

Fast forward to 2009 when folks came up with the DevOps manifesto, in which a positively radical idea is proposed: All these distinctions are useless. They do nothing to make organizations more efficient, and instead bottleneck and pigeon hole good people, keeping them from feeding their passion.

Needless to say, I love it here. I get to bring all the experience I’ve accumulated in 20 years hard labor in the code mines to bear, and it feels really good.

I’m building infrastructure in the cloud, learning about load balancing, high availability and I’ve just barely begun.

As much as the layoff I just went through was painful as they always are, that moment of dislocation pales in comparison to the satisfaction I feel in what I have accomplished in the few short months I’ve been doing this, and the incredible excitement I feel as my horizons have been exponentially broadened.

As I write this, I’m several thousand feet up, bouncing along over the clouds on my way to Santa Clara, California for the annual Velocity conference.

It’s an incredible meeting where some of the best and brightest in our industry come together to make the web go faster and more reliably, and I can’t wait to dive in and start learning :)

[Update: I'm posting this weeks later, because things get hectic. Such is life. Velocity was amazing.  Look for another post on that coming soon.]


Are you planning on moving off LiveJournal?

So for the last couple of years I've mostly been posting at my blog - http://www.feoh.org - and hadn't realized that recently my LJ cross poster had stopped working.

I've seen a lot of press about the decline of LiveJournal lately, do you have any plans to move your blog away from LiveJournal and onto some other community like Tumblr where all the kids are blogging these days? :)

Just curious.