Category Archives: Personal – Software and IT

Save a Technical Speaker – Bring a Presenter Pack!

I’ve been a technical speaker for more than ten years and have had my share of successes, failures, and oh crap moments. Over the past few years, my job has moved me into a position where I help to plan the content for several major technical conferences and I support the folks presenting at my events.  This week, my friend Kendra asked me for advice regarding what to bring to support speakers at the first event she is managing and I thought it would be great to share those tips with everyone so that we all can have successful events. Continue reading

The finished look

Mechanical Keyboards, I Just Got One, and Why You Need One Too

Confession:  I use a laptop all the time.  I use my laptops a LOT.  If you watch my live stream on Twitch, you may know that I use three laptops to assemble and present that content.  It’s a lot of work, and my hands have been in laptop keyboards, and laptop keyboards only for the last 5-6 years.  I haven’t used a desktop machine as a daily-driver, or even an external keyboard on a regular basis in that time.

I’ve learned to deal with all of the nonsense with “Fn” keys and the function keys on laptops not immediately accessible.  As a programmer who is always using the function keys and the arrow keys, its really annoying to have to use an extra keystroke to access these keys that I use on a regular basis.  These are the keyboards that I was using regularly:

Lenovo Yoga 910

Macbook Air 13

SurfaceBook 2 15

… and they’re all flat and I have those stupid Fn keys in order to use the F1-F12 keys, which I use regularly as a developer.

Enter the Vortex Race 3

I stepped up to the plate, and got the Vortex Race 3 with Cherry Blue switches and a USB connection.  Yes, link to Amazon attached to the pic:

Ok, Cherry Blue is a nice full click sound and just feels like the right amount of pressure to type.  I love the extra colored keys and the size of the keyboard is just perfect for me.  I don’t need the numeric keypad and I love the location of the Page Up and Page Down buttons on the right.

Gratuitous Unboxing Pics

I was so happy when the Vortex Race 3 arrived, and took pictures of the entire process.

The unopened box

Sliding open, and peeking out

Sliding open, and peeking out

The standard keyboard in the box

The standard keyboard in the box

More keyboard parts under here

More keyboard parts under here

Spare Colored Keys

Spare Colored Keys

Minor surgery, swapping out keys

Minor surgery, swapping out keys

The finished look

The finished look

Summary

I’ve been using the Race 3 all the time, and absolutely love the feel and the sound as I type.  When I’m on the road and typing on the laptop keyboards, it just feels… non-responsive.  I feel like I’m typing on a dead fish.  I’ve also seen the communities out there that make custom key caps, and considered getting a few cool ones made.  I’m thinking of replacing my C key with a C# logo key and the A key with an Azure logo key.

Are  you using a mechanical keyboard?  What has been your experience?  What would you recommend for new folks looking to get something a little less ‘stock’?

My Amazon Account was Hacked and How I Made it More Secure

My Amazon account was recently hacked, and I was NOT thrilled when I discovered this unfortunate problem.  I’m going to share how I discovered my account was hacked, what I did about it, how it was resolved, and what you can do to secure your personal accounts.  I will write another article about making our systems more secure for our customers.

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Muggles Don’t Understand Your Release Notes

Hey software friends, we need to talk.  In 2016, 61% of Americans are carrying smart phones and that means they’ve also got an app store on a device in their pocket.  My iPhone reports to me when I have updates to applications that need to be installed.  Many times, I see a screen that looks like this on my phone:

Release Notes Gone Bad

Release Notes Gone Bad

I’ve hidden the application names and icons in an effort to protect the innocent.  The problem with this approach is easy to identify when your non-technical friends and family members ask about the update notifications like this on their phones or tablets.  The conversation sounds something like:

“What are these updates my phone wants me to install?”

“There are some bug fixes for the applications you have installed that the author of those apps wants you to install”

“Will it fix that issue that I’m having and I’ve been calling you about?”

“I don’t know, the update just indicates, ‘various improvements and bug fixes'”

“Then I’m not installing it, it will probably just make my problem worse”

This is not a drill… Everyone is reading your release notes!

Seriously tech friends – when you publish software updates, people want to know what you are changing.  Other tech workers may stomach a “fixes and updates” release note every now and again, but in a world where the non-technical are seeing your notes, this is an opportunity for customer service engagement and you’re doing a TERRIBLE JOB at it.

When I used to publish release notes for NuGet, an open source project, I would give a one or two sentence description of the issue addressed and a link to the original issue on GitHub that discusses the reported issue and links to the software that fixed it.

Some of my NuGet Release Notes

Some of my NuGet Release Notes

Do you need to be this in-depth?  No… but give us a reason to install your update.  If you don’t have space in the minimal field size allocated on your app store or package management service, provide a link for more details.  You can list more in a blog post, a release notes part of your docs, and even include images to show off your cool updates.

Please software authors – start telling us a little more about what work you’ve accomplished in each release.  Its the right thing for your customers to show them that you are fixing things that they care about and gives credit to your development team for their accomplishments.

WebForms – How do I Unit Test Thee?

I’m a huge fan of unit testing… its my safety net, allowing me to make changes to an application without fear that I’ve broken core functionality. With my favorite web development framework, ASP.NET, its been very difficult to build unit tests for the server-side code that you write for the Web Forms UI framework.

I decided to do some research and start doing something about that.

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