Help Me Improve My Office Environment

I am one of those unlucky people who work from a home office. Most times I do not mind this as having the ability to control my environment makes me much more productive than being in an office. On most fronts, I like how things are. My office is in a loft in my house. Once I am up in the office, I am isolated from the rest of the house. I do not hear the doorbell, the house phone, or any other distraction. I've got all my tech books up there and all the right office equipment so things are pretty much how I want them. Pretty much.

The one area I am not satisfied is in my computer management. As you can see in the photo below, I have 2 desktops and 2 laptops managed through 3 monitors, 3 mice and 3 keyboards. What I don't have is enough desk space and I feel a little cramped. Before you ask, yes, I need all of those computers. I don't, however think that the keyboards, mice and monitors are optimally set up and I do think there is room for improvement.

Dan Wilson

Since most of my readers are smarter than I, I'd like to ask how you have your office set up. Do you think it is configured for maximum productivity? Why or why not?

Feel free to email me your picture of your office setup. I'll post them here in this email along with your name.

Shannon Hicks:

Russ Johnson:

Dan Skaggs:

I Present to the Hartford CFUG on CFUniform

Tonight (9/17/2008) at 7:30 EST, I'll present to the Hartford Adobe User Group on how to use the CFUniform custom tag library to create awesome forms in record time. I am a big fan of the CFUniform library, written by Matt Quackenbush and use it lots of projects.

You might be interested in CFUniform if:

  • you would like to create awesome forms in record time without writing HTML
  • you would like to keep your form markup consistent and feature-rich without reinventing the wheel
  • you aren't the best designer, but you want the best design
  • you are in a hurry and need to get it done right and quick
  • you want to make sexy, accessible, XHTML compliant forms without endless typing
  • you like to add widgets like masks, date pickers, time pickers to your applications with ease
  • you like accessible, feature-rich forms built with no muss, no fuss

If you can't make it to Hartford, CT tonight, you are in luck! The hosts have graciously agreed to provide Adobe Connect Access for all interested parties. Come in about 7:30 EST and have some fun with us...

Update: You can download the PowerPoint and presentation files by visiting the Features pod on the top right of this page. Simply click on CFUniform Preso.

So how did BFusion and BFlex go, you ask?

I am back home now after a very lovely and stimulating weekend at the BFusion/BFlex conference. BFusion and BFlex are back to back 1 day training/conference events held in Bloomington Indiana on the grounds of Indiana University. While some poor misguided souls might think any conference in Indiana would be nothing more than a projector pointed at a sheet hanging in a cornfield, I assure you this was not the case. Far from it.

The BFusion/BFlex event was awesome. Hands Down. The hallmark of a good conference is good organization and the promoters of this conference really put a lot of time into sorting out details. The moment we checked into the hotel we were handed colour coded maps showing important town features like the nearest grocery store, local restaurants, local watering holes and of course, directions to the conference facilities. Registration was simple and efficient. All of us there as Presenters, Instructors and Assistants were given branded polo shirts to wear so students knew who to ask for help. Lunch choices were color coded with the name tag to make finding ones particular choice a little easier. It was clear that our hosts had thought of everything.

The presenters had all the latest equipment at their disposal from dual monster projection screens to the Crestron powered audio/video equipment. The training sessions were stocked with quality instructors and had plenty of helpful assistants floating around the room to help keep the pace. To facilitate the learning environment, each of the rooms had power ports and ethernet jacks available for every seat which means we avoided the typical conference double wammy of running low on batteries and cramming everyone on an overloaded wifi router. Not least to mention, the campus of Indiana University is just simply beautiful!

So frankly, the quality of the event was on par with some of the best run conferences in the business. I am still a little shocked that the crew was able to provide all of the coordination, service and giveaways for free. Oh, thats right, giveaways. I need to talk about the giveaways.

Thanks to the awesome sponsors, there was an immense amount of giveaways. Everyone likes to get ColdFusion and Flex stickers, hats emblazoned with CF and technology themed t-shirts and those things were in good supply. More interesting were the tons of tech books, learning CDs, Lynda subscriptions and the like that were also raffled off to the attendees. The theme of this conference was learning and that means even the giveaways were there to help facilitate the learning. I brought my friend Tim Montgomery from Dayton, OH. He has been designing and implementing websites for many years now and wanted to get some good ColdFusion and Flex training. He left the conference with:

  • a CF hat
  • a new copy of John Farrar's book "ColdFusion 8 Developer Tutorial"
  • a really snazzy CF8 tag poster set
  • some free software
  • a new laptop bag
  • an Adobe Air with Ajax book
  • a Flex shirt
  • 16 new friends
...and 4 job offers. Everyone would have to agree that is some awesome conference loot!

All in all, the BFusion/BFlex series is impressive and of tremendous benefit to the community. Many people gained their first exposure to ColdFusion and Flex, others gained new skills and a good time was had by all. A big NoDans.com thank you to Bob Flynn, Prem Radhakrishnan, Michelle Buddie and the rest of the super cool staff for putting on a quality memorable show.

CFMeetup Presentation August 21 @ High Noon

Note: This post was updated. I am not speaking at noon, Ray is. I speak at 6:00PM.

August 21 at high noon, the illustrious Ray Camden will be speaking to the Online ColdFusion Meetup about CFC201. Hot on his heels, I'll present at 6:00. We'll be talking about ColdSpring, installation, Dependency Injection, Factories, Configuration, Dynamic Properties, Complex DI Strategies and also look at practical usage inside of production applications.

You are invited to join, all you need is a web browser and an Internet connection. More info here: http://coldfusion.meetup.com/17/calendar/8569952/

Oh, and if you haven't heard of the Online ColdFusion Meetup, it is the largest CFUG on the planet, with well over 1500 members. All Presentations are delivered online, often on Thursdays, at 12:00PM and at 6:00PM. You'll need to buy your own Pizza :)

Free ColdFusion and Flex Training Sept 6-7 at BFusion/BFlex

I don't know what they put in the water in Bloomington, Indiana, but the people there are CRAZY. The excellent leadership over at the Bloomington Flex User Group, the Indiana University Flash User Group, and the Indiana University Multimedia User Group have put together a 2 day training/conference event on Flex and ColdFusion for free. That's right, 200 lucky people will get their skills expanded on the hottest technology powering the web today, and won't pay a dime for it.

The event organizers booked leading experts in Flex and ColdFusion to run the sessions. And when they ran out of leading experts, they send me an email asking if I'd help out. I'll present 2 CF sessions and assist in the Flex Hands On. Here are the descriptions:

Refactoring In Coldfusion - From Procedural to OO

If you would like to know how to migrate an existing procedurally programmed application into an object oriented one, grab a chair and sit for a while. We'll discuss some sensible guidelines designed to help you make incremental changes towards OO nirvana.
We'll also look at lots of code samples, we all like code samples, right?

Fun With ColdSpring

The secret ingredient to modular and maintainable OO applications in ColdFusion is the ColdSpring framework. Efficient and practical use of ColdSpring is easy. In this source code based presentation, we'll cover installation, Dependency Injection, Factories, Configuration, Dynamic Properties, Complex DI Strategies and also look at practical usage inside of production applications.

So if you can make it to Bloomington, IN, Sept 6-7, and want targeted training on Flex and ColdFusion, Sign Up for BFusion/BFlex today!

Financing CFEclipse

I am a big fan of CFEclipse. I use it pretty much every day and using it opened up a whole new world for me. Before, I was a file editor, happily editing files. Now, I use an entire technology stack built on eclipse that make me productive, efficient, source-controlled and test-driven. Life is good.

One thing I really like about CFEclipse is I do not have to pay to install it. Thus, I have it on 5 computers. I don't often use all 5 at once, I'm no mutant, but I like the freedom to work on whatever I want, at whatever location I want. There's more, you know. I could gush all day long about the benefits of CFEclipse. But I have a point to make.

Recently on the CFEclipse mailing list, someone started a discussion on Let's Pay for CFEclipse. Some good points were brought up during the discussion and I also found out about the SuperCoolApparel available at http://www.cafepress.com/cfeclipse. However, the best way to show gratitude is by cutting a check. So today I made my first monetary donation to CFEclipse and I feel great about it.

I'd often thought of making a donation but just never actually clicked the CFEclipse Paypal Button (at the bottom of that page, if you are looking for it). So a big thanks to Rick Faircloth for starting the Let's Pay for CFEclipse thread. It was a great motivator for me to donate to a project that has really provided me with significant benefits over the last 3 years.

How to Make CF Blog Reading Even Easier

I read a lot of technical blogs because I benefit in knowing more about the thoughts and positions of others. Whether I agree with them, or disagree, the thought process is something that helps me sharpen my technical skills.

So it is of great anticipation that a new blog, The Argument Collection, just had her maiden voyage.

Consisting of some of the more thought provoking minds on the CF landscape, this blog promises to deliver timely information on how to solve problems. Sean, Ray, Joe, Brian and Nicolas all are accomplished programmers, thinkers and have great ability to convey highly technical matters in ways that simple minds like me can grasp the concepts.

I've added The Argument Collection blog to my feed reader, you should as well.

I Need Advice On Teaching My 11 Year Old Nephew To Program

My 11 year old nephew Cole, is really good with computers. He is a smart kid in general, actually, being in the top 2% in the USA for mathematics. He's even been to Space Camp. He is also a surfer, and you know how I like surfing!

He knows what I do for a living and I asked him if he was interested in learning some programming. When he said he was interested in learning, I began to think on how to get him up to speed.

Here are the criteria I've come up with:

  • Dynamic, Loosely Typed (Dereferencing Pointers? Blech!)
  • Low hardware requirements
  • Free IDE
  • High Impact (should be easy to make it do visible stuff)
  • Lots of tutorials (self-learning is good)

Putting on my unbiased hat,I think the language that fits the bill is Javascript. Javascript is fairly forgiving and can be debugged with Firebug fairly easy. Environmentally speaking, pretty much any computer comes with an environment that runs Javascript. This gets us out of a lot of annoying environmental issues. I don't live near Cole so this is in our best interest.

We can get him TextPad or Crimson Editor or another lightweight Javascript IDE that has syntax highlighting so that should take care of the IDE. For high impact, what could be easier to code and more visually impacting than:

view plain print about
1alert('Hi Cole!');

Finally, there are billions of tutorials on Javascript on the web so Cole would have plenty of opportunities for self-learning. This means he can work at his own pace.

But Javascript isn't perfect. To do any of the really cool stuff, you would need to know HTML and CSS, which is a bit of indirection. You would probably also need to know one of the Javascript frameworks too. Not to mention, browser/platform inconsistencies are frustrating enough to a professional programing for his/her livelihood, how much more for an 11 year old?!

Since I am not the first person to think of this problem, I'd like to hear what others are doing about teaching kids programming...thoughts?

I Present Fun With ColdSpring to TACFUG Tonight

Just a friendly reminder, tonight I am giving a presentation on ColdSpring to the Best Darned ColdFusion User Group out there!

We'll cover installation, Dependency Injection, Factories, Configuration, Dynamic Properties, Complex DI Strategies and also look at some practical usage.

As usual, Pizza and refreshments for all. We're going to have a good time tonight.

More info on the July Meeting Page at TACFUG.org

The zip containing the code files reviewed in the application is attached to this post. Click the download link for Fun With ColdSpring Files.

Download Download

More than you wanted to know about Flex and 360Flex

I recently interviewed John Wilker. We talked about a variety of topics, his long ColdFusion career. His migration to Flex, His migration to Conference Co-Superstar... Snoop Dogg even gets a mention somewhere in there.

We even go behind the scenes at the 360Conferences series and hear some of the funnier things that go on in producing a top-notch technical conference. Even though he is busy preparing for the 360|Flex conference in San Jose, CA (August 18 - 20). John made time to talk with us. John is really fun to talk to and makes for a great interviewee. Listen to the John Wilker CFConversations Interview and let us know what you think.