Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Kanban by David J Anderson

I've been in and around IT/software development for 10 years, and familiar with the Waterfall, Agile, Scrum and Kanban (or so I thought) methods. This was a very in-depth book on Kanban, opening me eyes to a much wider world than just being a task board. First 3/4 or so is focused on Kanban specifically, with good implementation ideas, and then the rest brings in quality practices and other areas of software development and how they connect or work within a Kanban environment.

My one gripe (besides the book's price) would be that this book is primarily for managers with the authority to implement serious change, which is ironic given the focus on the employee-empowering benefits of the discipline. Would have been nice to have some thoughts on how to introduce it without the WIP limits and negotiations with other teams; a way for line employees to push for change and prove the concept of task visibility, flow, throughput and bottlenecks w/o having to make externally visible changes right off the bat.

The way it's presented in this book, seems to be targeted at groups that are really struggling with their existing processes or already have a continuous improvement culture. I think the folks kind of muddling through with an existing process might find the "switching costs" to be pretty high.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Why My Server Is Still Offline!

It's been almost 5 months now since I took my server offline. A lot has happened since then: moved home, changed work and google has updated their algo. This has been the longest time that my server has been offline. The few times I previously took it down was when I had a new hardware and was struggling to migrate vital sensitive data across; then a few days later, it was back up.

But this time, after moving city and home, I decided to give it while before powering back up, during this offline period, I have been loosing revenue ofcourse. The server had 12 sites hosted in it and it had thousands  of pages indexed. These are the pages I worked hard to create and promote. So having them offline not only deny people great content and resources, it also costs me some nice and decent income as well.

The main reason why I have not brought it online since has been because of time and upto date hardware. The current hardware is a bit dated and showing its age...some weird sound come through now and again. So, I plan to get a much newer hardware before I can dust it off again.

Another reason is that I run a VOIP server as well, and that requires constant monitoring - which I can't afford at the moment. As you can see, there's a lot of work before it can be running again. But hopefully things should be back to normal before the middle of the year.

The only consolation I have is that most of the previously indexed pages are still online, all the backlinks are still there ageing and getting juiced up; but the only thing left now is when the server comes back online.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Free Python Programming Books

One of the things new programmers find very hard is where and what books can be recommended. I spend some of my free time mostly on the Python Tutor list helping out there to answer questions; and sometimes help these new Python programmers deal with anything they happen to be having trouble with like some Python gotchas and cryptic error messages they can't understand.

By far the most common question we see is more about what free books and websites we could point them to. For some people, these online resources can be a great help because they don't have to pay for them. So, they can use them as reference as well as study material to master the language. I use them myself - in fact, I've had them in my bookmark for a very long time - going back to check up on one thing or another now and again.

So, with that in mind, I thought I would post here some of the free Python Programming Books I use myself in hopes that others might find it useful.

  1. Invent Your Own Computer Games with Python
  2. The Django Book
  3. Building Skills in Python
  4. Data Structures and Algorithms with Object-Oriented Design Patterns in Python
  5. The Pylons Book
  6. Dive into Python
  7. An Introduction to Tkinter
There are more out there - as I discover them, I will make sure to update this list. Of course some of you have bookmarks of your favourite Python books - would be great if you could share them here as well.

For those who are lucky enough to have one of those Amazon Kinde 3G, you could also consider downloading free ebooks to your device for free. See here for details and links 

Update: Andre has sent us a link to Learn Python The Hard Way -  You can take the online course as well as download the free copy of this book to your computer..Great for absolute beginners - complete with exercises at the end of each topic.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

New Panasonic VIERA TC-P50GT25 50-inch 1080p 3D Plasma HDTV

I bought this TV at Fry's Electronics, the price was $899.00 I could not believe my good fortune. A few years ago I tested a tcp-50g25 with very similar specifications at Paul's TV at the time the price was $1500, and I would have paid it if had I had the money. I spoke to a Panasonic technician as to what the difference between this TV and the more expensive tc-p50vt25, and he said not much other than 24hz frame rate handling, and some minor issues, IE. 1 less hdmi input, no 3d glasses.

This TV is without peer at this price range for having both 3d and just superb 1080p picture quality!
If you are buying a TV do not allow yourself to view any TV unless you see this, or any TV in both Blue Ray 1080p, and Digital Broadcast 1080i, If not do not conclude the TV is good or bad, or any TV that you are evaluating.

You can not tell what the quality of the TV is! Standard Def. will not tell you, it will not be quite as good, nor will a DVD be very good either, so beware this pitfall.  3d on this TV is good, but not as good as 2d in brightness and because of the yellow tint, but is still very satisfying. This TV likely dissipates 350 watts of power but that still is not terrible for this size a TV.
The sound is not very impressive, connect the tv to at least a 5.1 system. For some reason the TV does not send 5.1 out its optical port so you have to use a new amp with 7.1 or use your blu-ray players output to a 5.1 amp or 5.1 decoder amp combo.

Utube is good on the TV, the TV does not decode Divx when smart media is inserted into the smart media port. The DLNA does not recognize a lot of media on a computer, but a HDMI ported computer easily connect to it so this is not a huge issue.

View this TV in "Vivid" mode only or make sure your are in a completely dark room. In a show room make they put the TV in "Vivid" mode other wise the TV will look dull. The TV is not designed to be in a bright environment.

Also beware of Fry's "special financing", they neglected to put it on our receipt, so we had to fight to get the 0% interest for a year deal because of their mistake. So if you are smart wait for a sale and buy this TV for $900 and make sure you is buying at Fry's Electronics get the "special financing" in writing.

You could in fact pick one up right now on Amazon - there's a special deal going right now.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Inexpensive and worth every penny

I live in a converted warehouse loft and 90% of my floor space is old pine and maple hardwood flooring (sealed). Given that the amount of floor space is easily 1000+ sq. feet, mopping has been a huge chore and one that I don't enjoy doing - mostly because it never seems to really get the floor that clean and it seems to take forever.

After reading the reviews online and shopping around, I came across the Eureka 313A Enviro Hard-Surface Floor Steamer. It was well liked by the people who own it and use it, and at around $65, I couldn't say no. The 313A arrived within a few days, was well packaged and the assembly and instructions were simple and straightforward (seriously, if you can put water in a tea kettle, you can use the Eureka 313A). Within minutes of receiving the steamer, I was putting it to the test on the kitchen section of the floor (easily the area of the loft that gets the most traffic and builds up the most dirt).

The Eureka 313A Enviro Hard-Surface Floor Steamer heats up quickly and does a FANTASTIC job of cleaning and the fact that it doesn't use ANY chemicals in the process makes the air I breathe safer and healthier. Remember the first time you used a Swiffer instead of a broom, and you were totally disgusted and amazed at how much garbage your broom was leaving behind?? Well, that's what using the Eureka instead of a mop was like - the floor was visibly cleaner than it had ever been with a mop, sanitized, didn't smell like any cleaning chemicals and had a nice, natural sheen.

After steam cleaning all of the floors and leaving the house for a while, upon returning home and opening the door, the air in the apartment even smelled a little fresher, cleaner. You're going to be amazed (and probably pretty grossed out) by what this thing will pick up off your floors.
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