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Activity list for 2007

Learn Chinese. It was the Unicode book that made me do it. I ordered a copy of Yong Ho's Beginners Chinese. Back in the days of secondary school, I found learning natural languages the hardest; we'll see how it goes.

Probability. It seems I've forgotten large chunks of my secondary and undergrad math. More directly, I'm getting interested in using probability for software planning and testing purposes. And it's a fun subject.

Touch typing. I say this to myself every year. Never happens!

Atom Protocol. I'm starting to feel bad for Tim :) After having to step back for a while, the first thing is a sweep of draft12 along with an editorial bug list which Joe has started. I also want to look at how to use it to publish batch or tree-based content - both are common in my line of work, e.g. publishing mass content from a CMS into a site, but aren't directly supported by the protocol. I'd like to add support for APP for Django, but haven't figured whether to do it just for entries or embrace/extend the ORM to accept models as serialised entries.

Migrate from Movable Type. MT has been a wonderful app to use for the last four years. But without the original MTBlacklist I'm getting spammed just over once a minute on comments and trackback - and I'm not prolific at the moment. I'm thinking about Wordpress+Askimet. Or just rolling my own on Django with Askimet or Spambayes middleware (and taking a hard look at OpenID). Mostly what;s holding me back is preserving the exisiting URLs.

Improve a Programming Language. They say you should learn a new language every year. Instead of learning a new language, I'd like to become fully fluent in one I already 'know'. Javascript ECMAScript probably, or maybe Ruby.

Microformats and JSON. I'm sold on these guys, and want to do some more exploring.

'Relational metadata'. I'm interested in this for all kinds of reasons. If you've worked with RDF or OODB systems like Zope/Plone, you'll appreciate how flexible they can be for managing content compared to an RDBMS. You'll also understand perhaps how difficult it can be to get anything that isn't an RDBMS past procurement and departmental IT. What with the rise of tagging and Atom Protocol being able to store arbitrary extensions efficiently will become important (for example any hi-flex solutions I've seen for tagging break with relational idiom). I suspect putting metadata stores alongside or on top of existing relational systems as augments will be a better approach than expecting people to retool (or in some cases using the right tool in the first place). APIs like JCR and SDO implicitly support this decoupling in Java, as do Zope2 Archetypes via their ability to declare storage at the field level. As well as all that, I've also been looking at Maven repository metadata and how applications are coming to depend on it being accurate.

More Django. For building web sites, Django is the framework I keep coming back to. I think it will become dominant in the Python space*. It's just a joy to work with.

More Java. Java's about to get interesting again. I kind of had enough of it (and all the typing) 3 years ago, but there's lots of cool stuff going on now - the JDK going OSS, better support for concurrency , generics, Eclipse maturing, Jini relocating to ASF, JEE bloat on the wane. And there's real commercial interest in running dynamic languages on the JVM.

More tech writing. The posts that invariably impress me are technically focused, deep, and crisp. There should be more of that around here. The long essays pontificating on this and that seem to be more popular in terms of hits are fun to write, but I have a feeling the tech posts and howtos are more valuable.

Development processes. One thing I'm interested in figuring out is to do with aligning modern development processes with traditional project commercials and organisations - there's all this great Agile and lightweight RUP material out there, but very little said on how to fit it inside either existing payment and engagement models (namely fixed price and T&M), or deployed services (such as operations and support).

Open Source. I have to get my act together on contributions. Really.

Staying focused. I'm geared towards systematic analysis and spotting patterns and relationships in things - things to me tend to be secondary to how they interact with other things. The downside of that is that I can off on tangents and get distracted (Look! Shiny!). Staying focused is one of the main reason to do this list. I guess part of this will involve allocating blocks of extracurricular time properly.

Other Lists

Danny Ayers

Niklas Gustavsson

Some people will know I like Plone a lot, despite Zope2's innate complexity under the hood, but Plone is a CMS product, not a web framework - think of ASP.NET and Sharepoint to get a sense of the difference.

January 3, 2007 04:05 AM


Ryan Tomayko
(January 3, 2007 04:57 AM #)

Why don't you pester Simon for his Django code? I'd like to to take a look at it myself.

(January 3, 2007 05:16 AM #)

I'd like to second the request for a Django weblog engine - I'd start one up myself, but don't really have time to manage a project. Perhaps it could be your Open Source contribution.

stephen o'grady
(January 3, 2007 06:11 AM #)

"Mostly what;s holding me back is preserving the exisiting URLs."

I'm assuming you know this, but just in case Alex's Movable Type template (here, bottom of the page) will allow you to migrate from MT to WP while transparently redirecting your URL's. Quite handy.

The code would seem to be fairly simple to port to Python if you intend to roll your own, as well.

(January 3, 2007 07:13 AM #)

Everything sounds cool, and +1 for more tech posts.

On WP: it uses the same URL structure by default, so not risk of losing those.

On OpenID: I just enabled it on my WP blog, relatively easy affair. Still a bit cautious about the future, given the new technology adoption curve: geeks -> early adopters -> spambots -> the masses.

(January 3, 2007 08:58 AM #)

If you can find a copy, I recommend "Typing of the Dead" as a fun way to improve your typing.

Aristotle Pagaltzis
(January 3, 2007 10:09 AM #)

Whatever happened to HTTPLR?

(Are you missing a bullet point? :))

James Corbett
(January 3, 2007 12:32 PM #)

Learning to touch type was the single best investment in time I ever made. And Chinese is another investment I expect to make soon. I did two years of Japanese in college so I'd like to leverage some of the time I spent learning to write Kanji.

Bill Higgins
(January 3, 2007 01:12 PM #)

Re: Learning Chinese

How I did it:

1) Bought the Pimsleur CDs
2) Married a Chinese woman (admittedly not for the language help :-) )

Scott Mark
(January 4, 2007 12:33 AM #)

Bill - let's start a virtual study group! I'm learning Chinese, too. You should check out chinesepod.com for free podcasts, they are awesome.

Paul Browne - TIPE
(January 4, 2007 12:50 PM #)

Wordpress and Askimet I'd definitely recommend.

Touchtyping is going to be 2 weeks of learning , than a further 2 months of frustration before you're back up to your current speed. After that it's all payback.

Good to hear Java is cool again - my main area of focus is JRuby (Java + Ruby)

(January 6, 2007 02:12 PM #)

I would be glad to help if you have problem learning Chinese ;)

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