I'm trying to get my personal site in order, and I've decided to launch this new blog to get things under way. The site's been neglected for quite awhile now, so now I'm hoping to give it the attention it deserves and have a little fun in the meantime. [more]
All in all, things have been going very well at home. Jamilya and I still aren't sure of a wedding date, although we're tentatively shooting for the first half of next year (need to get on the ball about this one). However, we're still a very happy couple I'd say (and hopefully she would too), and I think she's learned to put up with my geeky quirkitudes very well.
I sold my motorcycle. It was sad to see her go, and she was a great bike, but I just wasn't riding enough lately. Riding on the streets became less and less appealing, and although track days are great, they can be a little pricey. Maybe I can manage to get a dedicated track bike in the future and ride just there (where there are no cars, trees, or fence posts and everyone is going in the same direction).
Having sold my bike, with extra cash in hand, and with an expiring Verizon contract, wasn't it only natural that I get an iPhone? I won't bore with too many details (as I think enough... has... already... been... written about one of the most highly-anticipated consumer electronics devices in history). It was funny, however, when I called Verizon to cancel my contract and port my phone number -- The operator asked me why I was leaving Verizon and if there was anything they could do for me to make me stay. I simply said "iPhone", and the lady excitedly asked me how I liked it and told me that, in this case, she totally didn't blame me for leaving Verizon (true story!). The thing has been great so far, and is a real joy to use.
I'm still pursuing my masters at Auburn (in software engineering), and I'm slowly but surely fulfilling my 33 required hours (my just-completed summer class made my total 17). I'm taking it at the relaxed pace of one class per semester, and this, with work, gives me ample time to concentrate on each individual class. Even though it's tiring to come home and watch streaming video courses, then keep up with homework and assignments after a brain sapping day at work, I'm thankful for them, as they keep my neurons firing about exciting areas of software engineering. It's also been interesting to see how I've been able to apply my, albeit limited, work experience to courses in ways that I was too ignorant to do while I was an undergraduate student.
In my last class (on software environments), I was able to experiment with creating a custom plug-in for the Eclipse development environment. For this, I created a stripped-down duplicate of this plugin from scratch (with the teacher's approval of course - the idea was to get an overview of Eclipse's architecture), which calls the Google Code Search web service to search for relevant source code within the development environment. The Fall semester just started, and I'm taking a class on formal methods for software engineering, where I'll be learning the Z specification language.
I'm still enjoying my job at ASI, and am still working on back-end web development using ASP.NET. On my current project, we've been able to explore several interesting areas of AJAX development, as well delve into some intersting data acess patterns using Visual Studio 2005. I've been there for a little over a year now, and it's turned out to be a great environment where I've learned a lot.
Site Technical Background
Since I stopped using Blogger many months ago, I've had several ideas for using different blog platforms to create a new blog and personal site. Since I work with Microsoft technologies and ASP.NET, I wanted to stay close to home, so I investigated a few .Net blogging platforms (SubText and DasBlog). In fact, the previous version of the site was made using SubText as a prototype. While these are very established and capable projects, I was looking for something a little more stripped down and easier for me to get my head around.
I also experimented with creating a custom web application that used the web solely for data storage, with a private Blogger account storing my blog entries (as, I think, William Gibson's blog does), and my other bits of information (blogroll, amazon wish lists, videos, music lists) stored somehow online too. I went down this path for awhile, but then an up and coming .Net blog engine called BlogEngine.Net caught my eye. It's aimed towards simplicity, and I delving into the source doesn't seem, to me at least, as intimidating as other .Net blogging platforms.
I have a few major purposes that I hope this site will serve as:
- A place to share my personal info (personal blog entries, pictures, movies and music lists)
- A place to share professional or technological bits
- A test area for experimenting with new technologies (VS 2008, AJAX, BlogEngine.Net customizations, Silverlight, etc)
- A playground for experimenting with web design
- A way for me to work on writing skills
- Not a system that makes me feel pressure to write necessarily lengthy (or even frequent) entries.
Things I have planned for the immediate future are:
- Create a custom theme that uses the blog's standard functionality using this theme (maintaining complete compatibility with BlogEngine .Net's theming mechanism).
- Fork development on this custom theme and create a site that I can more heavily customize.
- Integrate custom parts into the site (such as a Flickr badge, del.icio.us list, and last.fm list).