David W Parker - Developer

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Back with a Vengeance

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It’s been more than a couple of months since my last real blog post, but I’m back, and I’m back with a vengeance.
I apologize in advance, but this blog post is going to have all sorts of personal life, rants, and then some, so if you’re here just for the technology stuff, then you will probably want to mark-as-read and move on.

So what’s been eating all of my time for the last several months? Everything.
books, video games, Netflix, movies, TV shows, Internet, blogs, programming, networking, board gaming, working out, travel, grad school

Warning to those who care: Amazon affiliate links ahead.

Books

Small Time Business Operator

This is probably one of the best book that I’ve read about business. It’s not just another inspirational book. Rather, its a book that deals with the real intricacies of forming a business, whether it’s a sole-proprietorship, partnership, LLC, or corporation. It goes into details of tax law, book keeping, home businesses, and more. If you don’t know what’s going on with business or you just want to find out a bit more specifics to business, then you should definitely pick up this book.

Four Hour Work Week (second time through)

This was the second time through that I read the Four Hour Work Week. It’s an excellent book with both broad generalizations and very specific details that an individual can implement.

Secrets of the JavaScript Ninja (MEAP)

As far as JavaScript is concerned, I would consider myself half-way decent. But John Resig takes JavaScript to a whole new level. A definite read for anyone who wants to expand their JavaScript skills.

The Ruby Programming Language

I’ve been reading this book for a good while. I didn’t want to rush through it. It’s definitely a Ruby Bible, and I’ll be using it regularly.

Django book

Django is something that I had been meaning to check out for quite some time. I read this book so I could learn the difference between Rails and Django. I think Django is an excellent framework and I plan on using it on my next project. Django Book is a great free way to check out the framework without having to look through a bunch of blogs.

Whiteout Graphic Novel

I bought the graphic novel about four years back. I didn’t see the movie, but the graphic novel was actually pretty good.

Husband After God’s Own Heart

This was a pretty good book. It reiterated a lot of things that I’ve read in other books, but it’s always a good reminder to read them again.

Hacker’s Diet

While technically not a “book”, this e-book/website was very good. I’m personally not overweight, but I really liked reading this and I thought that it did an excellent job in conveying why/how people get to be overweight and why they stay that way. It also had excellent charts/graphs/equations that were equally useful in tracking the important stuff. Definitely worth the read.

Video Games

Metroid Prime 2

I think that I’ve owned Metroid Prime 1, 2, and 3 for close to four years (well before Metroid Prime Trilogy was a thought). I played through Metroid Prime 1 about a year ago and absolutely loved it. This summer I finally played through the sequel and I thought it was equally as good. I look forward to when I have time to play through Metroid Prime 3.

Boom Blox Bash Party

Tyler and I never did own the original Boom Blox, but I borrowed it from friends a few times and it was a lot of fun to play. My mom bought this and Rock Band 2 for me for my birthday and they have been a lot of fun to play. My mom is really into Boom Blox… and she’s not bad at it either! I really enjoy playing games with people who would otherwise not want to play.

Paper Mario Wii

This was a fun game that I got last year (for Christmas?). I finally had time to sit down and play through it though. Overall it was pretty fun. A guy at my old work thought it was too hard… I can’t really say that. I thought it was too easy actually.

Rock Band 2

Rock Band games are pretty fun. I didn’t own the first one, but I’ve been having a lot of fun playing the second. I don’t plan on picking up The Beatles or Lego Rock Band.

Guitar Hero: Metallica

I’d say 90% of the time when I play a rhythm game, I end up playing it alone (sad, I know). Anyway, if I just want to work on my GH chops, then Metallica is the way to go. It’s a lot harder than RB2, GH3, etc, and it’s a lot of fun.

mini rant 1: Guitar Hero versus Rock Band

I don’t know what it is, and maybe I need to stop reading certain blogs, but these “Rock Band is better than Guitar Hero” people get pretty annoying. For me, it all boils down to what song I’m playing and who I’m playing with. Yes, I know Harmonix made Guitar Hero 1 and 2, and that Activision took over starting at GH3 when Harmonix went to work on Rock Band. But Harmonix is under EA, which is just as “bad” as Activision. Either way, if I want some awesome Guitar action, then I’ll be hitting up GH:Metallica, as nothing even comes close on RB. If I want to play with my friends, I’m more inclined to play RB.

mini rant 2: Hardcore gamers

Maybe I’m just too old now (yeah right), but I think the complaints behind the lack of hardcore games on the Wii are misplaced. Maybe to others, hardcore means the craziest HD with the same ol’ first person shooter behind it, but to me, it’s more about innovative games. For example, Okami (which first came out on the PS2, then the Wii) is a hardcore game. It takes hours to play through, you can play it in long sittings, has an excellent control scheme (for the Wii, anyway), has an excellent storyline, and it’s graphics aren’t HD pristine. There’s many other games on the Wii that are equally hardcore, but I won’t go into them all. Instead I’ll defer to this recent list (of ‘mature’ games) via slashdot.

Netflix

Tyler and I decided that we weren’t going to join Netflix when she was in grad school because we knew that we would be too distracted to really use it as much as we would like to use it. Well, since she graduated in May, once we moved and found our apartment, we decided that we could join it. Since then, it has been both excellent as well as a huge time sink.

Movies

So far, Tyler and I have watched between 30 and 40 movies via Netflix (streaming and DVDs).

TV Shows

Additionally, we’ve watched a ton of TV episodes/series. I have a running list of ~50 TV shows that I have watched, am watching, or want to watch, and Netflix has provided a pretty affordable way to watch them.
So far, we’ve watched:

Jeremiah

Started and finished the series (two seasons). Of all the apocalyptic-type TV shows, this one has the best premise. Ultimately, I really enjoyed the series, but I think it flopped for a few reasons: 1) it was on Showtime. It had cussing/nudity that wasn’t really necessary and it would have done better on network TV. 2) Luke Perry needs to learn to act. It was a pretty good series, but I’ll probably never watch it again.

Jericho

Started and finished the series (two seasons). I can’t believe that this series didn’t stay around longer. This show had an excellent premise, a great plot, good actors, and good writing. This was one of those shows that should have done a lot better. At times I like it better than Lost (almost blasphemy, I know). Definitely worth watching if you get a chance.

Ugly Betty (S01)

Watched the first five disks of season 1 so far. This was one of my wife’s picks, but I’ve enjoyed watching it with her.

The Office (S01-S05)

So far, we’ve watched seasons 1, 2, 3, and 4, and just started season 5. First season was “meh” but after that it exploded with awesomeness. It really did hit me by surprise. I thought it would be good, but I didn’t expect it to be as great as it is.

Lost (S04)

I owned the first three seasons on DVD already, and I’ve been using Netflix to catch up by watching season 4. Maybe it was overhyped by my friends, but I don’t think it was as good as the other seasons… I’m sure I just passed into blasphemy for some people though. Lost is probably one of the best written TV series’ out there though, so I still have hope for seasons 5 and 6. As far as dramas go, it’s number one.

Entourage

I Borrowed seasons 1-3 from friends. The first season was okay, and it’s just gotten better and better. I used Netflix to watch seasons 4 and 5. Jeremy Piven’s character is pure Gold (pun intended). Looking forward to getting season 6 via Netflix when it’s out. It’s an excellent Dramedy.

via Hulu:

Heroes (S04)

I know a lot of people have given up on Heroes (including my wife), and for certain episodes I can totally agree. But the overall plot and enjoyment of the characters and actors keeps it going for me. There are some absolutely terrible episodes of Lost, but people still love it (I know I do). Same goes for Heroes. Either way, it’s fun to watch completely obscure scenarios and just ‘enjoy it’.

Dollhouse (S02)

I think Dollhouse is finally coming into its own, but Fox isn’t showing anymore episodes until December. I enjoy it a good bit though.

Internet

Paul Graham Essays

I’ve been taking the time to read through most of Paul Graham’s essays. I’m probably about 2/3rd through all of them and they have been a great read. As a mostly-technical person with interest in business, they provide invaluable information. One of the only disappointing things that I commonly read (on slashdot or ycombinator) is that tech people can’t get along with/or be interested in business. I’m very interested in both topics and it surprises me that this misconception still remains today.

Blogs

I attended 2008’s Ruby Hoedown. I really enjoyed Chris Wanstrath’s keynote. In particular, I liked when he said to stop reading (ha! just said how I’ve been reading a lot) and do more. I’ve applied this strategy to blogs in particular, where I use Google Reader. I subscribe to about 100 blogs or so and I’ve added a new category “mread” for “mark these as read”. I don’t necessarily need to read anything in those blogs, but if I ever want to search a particular topic, I can load up Google Reader and search just within those blogs. Works out great without being such a time-killer.

Programming

Surprisingly or not, I’ve actually been doing a lot of coding too (though my Github commit logs would probably disagree!). Particularly, I’ve been playing with Django a lot, as well as Sinatra. Of course, I’m still quite enamored with jQuery so I’ve been playing there as well. The main reason I’ve been doing a lot of Django and Sinatra rather than Rails is two-fold: 1) I just started to get into Merb when it was announced that the teams would be joining forces, and 2) I really like the idea of micro-apps. They’re fantastic in Django and they work excellent for Sinatra as well. It will be nice when Rails picks up the idea behind the Merb “Slices”. Once that’s committed, I’ll probably get back into Rails. I pay attention to the changes that have been taking place for Rails 3, but it’s a breathe of fresh air to check out something different.

I’ve also been playing with full server-installation scripts too. I have my old slicehost scripts, but I wanted something more. I ended up checking out Sprinkle, Puppet, and Chef. Ultimately, I think that I’m going to go with Chef.

Networking

Derailed

After Tyler and I moved here, I decided that I wanted to get involved in the local Ruby User’s group. In Montgomery, I was one of two people in the “Ruby Community”. I’m glad to see that there are ~20-40 people who show up to the User’s group on any given month.

Broomfield Gamers

Even though Tyler and I didn’t game regularly in Alabama, we gamed pretty often at a friend’s place. When we moved here, I wanted to make sure that I found a pretty good gaming group that we could go to continue to learn new games and play. I found the Broomfield Gamers and the people have been nice. Win.

Board Gaming

I finally broke down and got a boardgamegeek account. I’ve been playing:

Dominion

Dominion is an excellent card game that plays like a Collectible Card Game (CCG) without the collecting part.
Seaside and Intrigue are two expansions for Dominion that provide greater replay value.

Power Grid

Power Grid is probably my third favorite game right now, with Puerto Rico being number one and Dominion being number two. It’s an excellent economy/resource-based game.

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is my favorite game. It’s a role/economy-based game and it involves a lot of strategy.

Long Shot

Long Shot is a cute, gambling game involving horse races.

Race for the Galaxy

I’ve only played one game of RftG so far, but I can see this quickly becoming one of my favorite games. It’s mechanics are very similar to Puerto Rico.

Working Out

P90X

Tyler and I had been going to our apartment’s gym for most of the summer. We tend to work out either 5 or 6 days a week. I recently picked up P90X on Craigslist new for $45. What a deal! I’m loving it so far. If you have the chance to pick this up, then I’d go for it. Personally, I wouldn’t pick it up for the list price ($100+), but I’d probably pay up to $70 for it.

Travel

Aspen and Winter Park

Tyler and I have been up to the mountains twice since being here, once to Aspen and once to Winter Park. Both trips were excellent. Ruggerfest, an annual rugby tournament, was taking place in Aspen when we went and it was an added bonus. The weather at both places was excellent too.

Grad School

I’ve also been prepping to start grad school next fall. I’m applying to CU Boulder’s MBA program. I may also apply to their MS in Computer Science program too, though I’m undecided. This will probably be taking the next few weeks of my time us I get my paperwork together.