Thoughts on Google+

It’s been a couple of weeks now since Google+ burst onto the social networking scene with a mighty roar. Overall, I’m very impressed. There are a few wrinkles that need ironing, but for the most part, this seems to be a solid effort by the good folks at Google.

The Good

I think the biggest thing that Google+ has going for it right now is the concept of “circles”. In my social media landscape, I make an effort to keep a certain amount of segregation between services. Twitter is mainly used to stay in the loop in the programming world. LinkedIn is for networking, and Facebook is for friends, family, and posting items of a personal nature. I don’t like to cross the streams, but this leaves me having to maintain 3 separate accounts.

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Love Your Logs

Log files are an invaluable tool. They are snapshots in time of so many different components of your application and can be, or should be, key elements in debugging and evaluating the overall health of your app. And I’m here to admit that I haven’t relied on them nearly as much as I should have.

For the past few months (yes, months), I’ve had ongoing issues with my local development environment. I would rarely get through a day without having to restart Apache… usually more than once. What would happen is that I’d be working, reloading the site in a browser, and eventually my stylesheets wouldn’t load, or certain images on the page didn’t load. At that point, I knew I’d need to restart Apache. This “fix” worked, but was a band-aid as opposed to an actual cure.

My setup is OS X (10.6.8), Railo 3.2, Tomcat 6.0, and Apache 2.2. My boss was running the exact same setup, pulling from the same Git repository, but was not experiencing the same need to frequently restart Apache. I chalked it up to “something’s not right” (my wisdom knows no bounds), but was content to continue restarting Apache as needed.

Yesterday, my hand was forced.

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Google – It’s the Little Things

I love being pleasantly surprised when seeing that a company made that little extra effort in one of their products. In this case it was GMail, used through the browser (rather than an external email client).

I just needed to fire off a quick e-mail with a PDF attached. I started the e-mail off with, “Attached is…”, composed the remainder of the email, and hit “Send”. I was ready to go on about my business, but was unexpectedly prompted with the following:

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Proper Placement of the Increment Operator

I admit that there are certain nuances to programming that I’ve never fully been able to wrap my brain around. One in particular is the proper placement of the increment operator:

( for var i = 0; i < 10; i++ )

versus…

( for var i = 0; i < 10; ++i )

I was certainly aware that there’s a difference… but never fully comprehended what that difference was. And it never seemed to be a big deal, as placing the increment operator after the operand always seemed to work for me.

…until today, that is.

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Annual Update

As world renowned philosopher David Bowie once posited, “Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes”.

We’re Back in Arizona

It’s been a year now… I must have blogged this, have I not? *sigh* Ending (hopefully) what was a 5-year run of moving about the country, we landed back in Arizona (Phoenix) in June of 2010. We were living in San Ramon, which is an absolutely beautiful area with no shortage of things to do with the family… but it was expensive. Ridiculously expensive. I had started freelancing, and it looked like I might actually make a living at it… so it was time for my wife and I to make a “grown up” choice. Since I was now working out of the house, we could live anywhere. On one hand, we loved the area we were in… but as a single-income family of 5, it was a challenge. On the other hand, we both have friends and family in AZ, and it’s quite inexpensive. We preferred San Ramon to Phoenix, but in the end, did what we think was the right thing. A year later, we still miss the Bay Area, but we’ve been enjoying our time here, and it looks like we’ll stick around for a while.

Had a Job, Left a Job, Freelanced, Got a Job

In October of 2009, I left a full time position to become a full time freelancer. Through a combination of luck and having good friends in the community, I was able to keep myself busy and keep paychecks coming in.

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