My boys are now programmers… Proud Dad

With summer coming (and now here) I wanted something to keep the boy’s brains working. Knowing it will take a lot to keep them from video games, the pool, and general tomfoolery I wanted to get them each a programming book that would engross them and keep them going well into the summer.

With Noah (having just finished 5th grade and a huge fan of Minecraft) the decision was easy. My favorite technical book publisher, the Pragmatic Bookshelf, had recently put out a book that teaches Java programming with a focus on Minecraft. I bought him, “Learn to Program with Minecraft Plugins: Create Flying Creepers and Flaming Cows in Java“. I knew he would love it and figured I’d enjoy reading it too. ;)

Deciding what to buy Zach was a tougher decision. Zach just finished 3rd grade and is much different than Noah. He’s not really into video games. He’s an unique / strange / awesome combination of bookworm and athlete. He absolutely loves reading and sports. Considering how much he likes reading, I wanted to get him something that would really be fun to read, and didn’t have to be read in front of a computer.

I decided on something from my second favorite tech book publisher, the people behind the Head First series. Their books do an amazing job of teaching all kinds of highly technical subjects (e.g., Java, C#, Physics, etc.). I got Zach a new edition of a book I read probably 10 years ago, Head First HTML and CSS.

So now having had their books for a couple days, Zach keeps showing me “websites” he’s built and Noah is becoming a cmd-line guru and learning Java. I’m proud of these boys and can’t wait to see what they’ve done by the end of the summer.

Noah and Zach showing off their new programming books
Noah and Zach showing off their new programming books
Noah the Java guy
Noah is busy at work learning Java and having fun!

Test Driving zsh

I have finally decided to give zsh a thorough review. I’ve been hearing about it for a couple years in and around tech user group meetings, technical conferences and from people I follow on Twitter. I guess the proverbial “straw that…” got me to take a hard look was when I moved from Cygwin to Babun (which you should do right now). This was how I expressed my opinion of Babun on Twitter. I obviously am liking it. ;)

Anyhow, this is a post about Zsh, and I have some questions I’m hoping the Zsh users out there can help clear up.

  1. I’m assuming everyone is using Oh-My-Zsh?
  2. While using Oh-My-Zsh, because I’m also using it while test-driving zsh, where do I make edits to shell defaults? I would assume I can just make edits to .zshrc? I’d like to add stuff like (set -o vi, alias vi=vim, etc.). Nothing to advanced, just some minor edits I need before I can even get comfortable with the shell.
  3. Since I just mentioned an alias, where is the idiomatic place to add my personal aliases? I saw a handful added in the .zshrc as examples, I normally source a personal alias file from my .bashrc, is that common with zsh?
  4. Most of my questions come from when I change/customize something in .oh-my-zsh/ over the zsh config files? I’m struggling with when I add to a oh-my-zsh theme over creating my own, or just making the changes in .zshrc

Thanks in advance for any help…

Zach dared me to do this

My third grader (one week away from a 4th grader), Zach, has been talking about building a website. He was asking what he should call it, and various other questions. I told him to call it “Zach’s Website”. He said that doesn’t sound cool… I was like, hello, your dad’s site is called, Erik’s Hmm…, and I think that it’s a cool name. ;)

Anyhow, that led to him wanting to see Erik’s Hmm… and then he asked how long it’s been since I updated it. That led to the shame of me showing him Dec, 2013. He wanted to know why so long. That led to questions and me being busy, etc., etc. And finally him wanting me to show him how to update it. Hence this post…

More to come as I talk about the two beginner programming books I got the boys (Noah finishing 5th grade and Zach finishing 3rd).

Which version of Groovy am I using with this Grails version?

Two nights ago Jack Frosch gave a great summary of the new features in Grails 2.3 at the DFW Groovy – Grails User Group. At the end of the meeting somebody asked him what version of Groovy shipped with Grails 2.3. I could tell by the look on his face he wasn’t sure, so I came to the rescue.

Considering nobody else in the room could answer the question, I figured I would blog my answer. For starters, you have two easy options to get the version of Groovy used in your Grails distribution.

You can simply look at the Grails installation on your workstation. One of the benefits of Grails is that it ships with everything you need to build your webapp, including Groovy. Just drill down into the lib dir and look at the jar file.

Fri Dec 06 13:43 eweibust@RSNPLALT538 ~/dev/hello
$ ls $GRAILS_HOME/lib/org.codehaus.groovy/groovy-all/jars
groovy-all-2.1.6.jar          groovy-all-2.1.6-sources.jar
groovy-all-2.1.6-javadoc.jar

You can also get the version programatically with the following call:

println "groovy version: " + GroovySystem.getVersion()

Which prints:

groovy version: 2.1.6

Hey, Google, you should go ahead and crawl this one. Should be useful to others. ;)

Reading Machine…

I’m not sure what’s gotten into me, but I’ve been reading a lot more books then I normally do. I normally read technical blog posts, articles, whitepapers and too much garbage from twitter. Occasionally, taking the time to read a tech book from cover-to-cover.

Anyhow, not only am I reading more, but I’ve also got stuck in the middle of multiple books at one time. The brain isn’t multi-threaded, and juggling these books all at once is a challenge but I’m having fun with it. Reading some in the morning before work (the Bible), audio book on the way to/from work (Defending the Free Market). And the others in the evenings.

Here is the list:

And just for grins, for those keeping score. Here are the books I’ve just recently finished:

  • The Racketeer – 1/8/13 – I read all of Grisham’s books. Each one makes me wish I was a lawyer.
  • Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot – 1/6/13 – Great book. Learned a ton about Kennedy. He made Bill Clinton look like a saint. Repeatedly cheated on his wife. Got a lot of people killed over his bad decisions in the Bay of Pigs,  Cuba. Solid job getting us through the Cuban Missile Crisis… Lots of enemies.

Not making New Year’s Resolutions, but…

I am going to set some goals for the year. :)

The first thing I plan to do is cut another 10 pounds this year. Last year, with a very weak effort of eating/living the Paleo Diet I went from 210 down to 200 lbs. I figure with a bit more dedication I should be able to get down to 190 by end-of-year. If I don’t look better come December, please take some shots at me for being a bit pudgy.

Next up on the list is the generic, “Exercise more,” goal. I started working on this one on 12/30. I’m being a bit more serious on this one, getting a 2-day head-start. ;) Anyhow, I’ve logged 5 workouts over an 8 day period. Some a bit easier than others, but this is a plan for the year, not an overnight crash-course in health.

The third personal goal is running  a 10 K. Back in high school I ran the mile and 2-mile, among the other sports I did. I have run on and off since high school. And have run a few 10 milers, so a 10K isn’t a distance record for me. It’s a distance record since I was introduced to beer and rare steaks, and I’ve had a lot of both since I used to run a lot.

I began my training today by hauling-off and running a 5K around our neighborhood. I haven’t run a 5K in a few years. The longest distance I’ve jogged the last couple of years has been 2 miles. Anyhow, I took it really easy today and finished in 37 minutes (here is the proof).

Please feel free to keep me honest. Ask me if I’ve been exercising (I plan to do it before work a few days a week and once on the weekend). Ask how I’m progressing on the 10K. Ask if I’ve signed up for one (anyone interested?). And lastly, be nice about it, but ask if I’ve lost any weight. ;)

Dang You, Taunting Me Old Blog…

I catch a good amount of crap from good friends about this old, dusty blog of mine. One guy in particular, not naming names, but he sits right next to me at work ;) , likes to make fun of me when I say stuff like, “I need to write a blog post about that,” or even worse, “I am going to write a blog post about that” (because I never get around to it). For you history buffs, I’d like to brag that I “birthed” Erik’s Hmm… almost nine years ago with this gem of a post.

Anyhow, the reason I don’t write those posts that I want to, even plan to, is simple. It’s Twitter. I love Twitter. It lets me say what I want, quickly and easily. It forces me to be concise, 140 short characters, concise. Which is definitely one of my biggest struggles when trying to make a point. So Twitter is perfect for me. I can quickly say something, or retweet somebody else that has said what I want to say. I get my point “out there”. You know what I think, what stance I’m taking (Obama sucks, the Aggies will dominate the SEC, the Cubs are pathetic, Grails is the one web framework to rule them all, etc.). It’s why I went as far as posting my tweets on this blog. The tweets were replacing my posts so I wanted them here.

Well, the urge to blog has been too strong lately and the 140 char wall has been to limiting. I’m gonna try to be more regular here. However, I’m going to be raw and unpolished. I’m just gonna type an entry and publish. Plan on lots of grammar issues, misspellings, half-baked thoughts, but best of all you will get my hand-crafted, hot-sports opinions, which is why the four of you line up to read this. :)

2012 NCAA Tourney Picks… Family Style

Well, it’s one of my favorite times of the year… March Madness. I’m on a 20+ year streak of sitting on my couch for the Thursday Tourney Tip-off. If you are a past high-school or college teacher…. I’m sorry, I wasn’t sick. If you are a past boss…. I’m sorry, I wasn’t sick…… However, if you are my current boss…. I am home sick with a terrible stomach bug. You don’t want to catch this. ;) Just kidding… I’ve actually taken the day off and am enjoying the action.

So this is the first year I’ve included my boys in the fun of filling out brackets. I took the time to explain the four regions, and how they are like four mini-tournaments. We talked about how all won-loss records aren’t equal, as some teams play in easier conferences. And we talked about each teams seed, and how normally the higher seed wins. You would think with that “crash course” in bracketology the boys would have filled in their brackets in a logical way. Nope…  :) Here is what the they went with.

Zachary (1st grader)

Elite Eight:

Kentucky vs Baylor, Michigan St vs Murray St

Syracuse vs Florida St, Michigan vs Purdue

Final Four:

Kentucky vs Murray St and Syracuse vs Purdue

Final:

Kentucky beating Purdue

Noah (3rd grader)

Elite Eight:

Kentucky vs Baylor, Louisville vs Missouri

Vanderbilt vs Ohio St, North Carolina vs Georgetown

Final Four:

Kentucky vs Missouri and Ohio State vs North Carolina

Final:

Ohio State beating Kentucky

And for my picks I’ll start with the final 16….

Sweet 16:

Kentucky vs UI, Baylor vs Duke

Michigan St vs Louisville, Marquette vs Missouri

Syracuse vs Vanderbilt, Florida St vs Ohio St

North Carolina vs Michigan, Georgetown vs Kansas

Elite Eight:

Kentucky vs Baylor, Louisville vs Missouri

Vanderbilt vs Ohio St, North Carolina vs Kansas

Final Four:

Kentucky vs Missouri and Ohio St vs North Carolina

Final:

Kentucky beating UNC

Of the three of us, who do you think made the best picks?

Book Review: Murach’s Java Programming

I was contacted by the people at Murach Books inquiring if I would like to start reviewing their books. Being a geek, and an avid tech reader, of course I said yes. This will be my first review, and it’s my favorite language, so I was excited with what they sent….

Murach’s Java Programming 4th Edition

This book is great for people with some programming experience, that are new to Java. Murach goes from the basics of Java, starting with primitive datatypes, through the fundamentals of Object-Oriented programming, and into GUI programming (probably could have left this out). That was the first 17 chapters. This is no short book, definitely not a quick read.

Starting with chapter 18, the book moves past beginner-level topics. Murach gives a solid review of data access in Java. First with reading and writing from/to XML files. Then their is a chapter on database theory and working with the Derby database. From there you learn how to use JDBC to read and write to a database. The book wraps up by tackling Threading.

The only negative thing I can say about this book as I’m confused as to why the author chose to use the Netbeans IDE as his IDE of choice. Murach does a great job covering the ins and outs of working with Netbeans. Going as deep as how to use the debugger to step through code and fix bugs. I just feel that Eclipse / STS have such a massive share of the market the reader would be better served learning Eclipse alongside Java.

If you only plan to buy one book on Java SE, this is the book for you. Murach’s Java Programming covers it all.