If you’ve emailed me or posted comments in the last two weeks… this is why I haven’t replied. I’ll do my best to catch up.
Two weeks ago, on June 17th, I stated I was off onto a two week vacation. The plan was to hit my wife’s family reunion at High Hampton, North Carolina at a little resort… well the High Hampton Inn & Country Club, for 3.5 days (Saturday – Tuesday), where we ate, visited with family, and played some golf. Then, after lunch on Tuesday, we’d head up to my family’s (not immediate, but grandparents & cousins) property in western North Carolina about 50 minutes away (between Waynesville & Sylvia, NC) for a week and a half. For over a week, it was just Meredith, Steven, the dogs, and I on top of our (no, not the whole thing) mountain with a spectacular deck and view. The rest of my family joined us the Thursday before July 4th. We (Meredith, Steven, dogs) headed back to Jacksonville on the 4th.
I’d been looking forward to this for a LONG time. After spending quite a bit of time in the office & at home working… either on my full time job or on the book, I was looking forward to spending time away from it all… no deadlines, no commitments, no requirement to monitor email or blogs, etc, and just have quiet, quality, family time. I was also looking forward to catching up on some books I’ve been meaning to read (both for professional development and pleasure), work on some personal projects, and do some professional soul searching. Oh, I was also looking forward to escaping from the 90+ degree heat in Jacksonville. I think it topped out around 80 on top of the mountain a few days… lows in the 50’s-60’s… just what a Floridian wants in late June/July!
I got a lot sorted out in my head professionally. I absorbed so much in Orlando at TechEd USA that I needed to sort through… things I wanted to focus on professionally, etc.. Feel pretty good about the plan I had for myself this year, and got a few other things sorted out upstairs.
I did try to stay in touch… to a point. Used my backup dialup on my home DSL account (had to call long distance) to download my blog feeds and check my email on occasion (my Treo actually was better with the email… but it only worked when I was in Asheville, NC or Waynesville, NC… which we only hit to either get out of the house or visit the grocery store). I’m ~NEVER~ going back to dialup… arg… that was horrible… and just another reason to stay disconnected.
There were five professional books I read that I wanted to mention (one will get it’s own post). Listed in the order I read them:
- eXtreme .NET by Dr. Niel Roodyn (Addison Wesley, ISBN 0321303636) : I learned about this book from a TDD Birds of a Feather session I attended at TechEd USA. Dr. Niel was there and after a quick chat with Darrell Norton afterwards, I figured I needed to open myself up more to Extreme Programming. I’m still not “sold” on paired programming (it wouldn’t work in my organisation where my dev team is VERY isolated as many are virtual workers), but the rest of it really intrigued me… heck I’d like to give paired programming a shot just to see what it’s like! I plan to give it a shot on a few projects and even discuss it with some co-workers and our manager on my team to see if they’d be up for kicking the tires for a month or so. It was a VERY easy and fast read… great job Dr. Niel!
- Introducing Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Team System by Richard Hundhausen (MS Press, not for resale). This was given out for free at TechEd and is basically a book explaining what all the parts of the new VSTS are and how they work together. Easy read to fill in all the holes from the various blog posts and articles I’ve read the last few months. Wish it was on the shelves so I could recommend it… but if you got it at TechEd, it’s worth reading.
- Tech Yourself Regular Expressions in 10 Minutes by Ben Forta (SAMS, ISBN 0672325667). I’ve been actively using regular expressions for a few months, but never spent the time to dig in an learn about conditionals, forward and back lookups, etc. This cheap ($15… -25% thanks to a last day buy at TechEd) and short book gave me everything I needed. Highly recommended.
- Building Websites with Microsoft Content Management Server by Stefan Gossner, Joel Ward, and Mei Ying Lim (Packt Publishing, ISBN 1904811167). I’ve read it before, but seem to learn something new everytime I read it. Sense the book I’m working on builds on this one, I felt it was good to have it fresh in my mind as we move into the final stages of the authoring/publishing process. Are you a MCMS developer? This one should be on your desk. Then, you should go buy our book!!!
- Code Complete 2nd Edition by Steve McConnell (MSPress, ISBN 0735619670). WOW… A MUST for any developer (web/windows/C#/VB.NET/C++/Java… you name it). Adding this to my “recommended reading” page ASAP. I’ll post more about this one in it’s own post!
And the two pleasure books:
- First In: An Insider’s Account of How the CIA Spearheaded the War on Terror in Afghanistan by Gary C. Schoroen (Ballantine Books, ISBN 0891418725). I’m a CIA/military strategy/military history buff. Great read written by the first CIA officer insertted into Afghanistan in the days after September 11, 2001. Couldn’t put this one down!
- Ghost Wars : The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invation to September 10, 2001 by Steve Coll (Penguin Books, ISBN 0143034669). There have been quite a few CIA/Special Forces books I’ve read in the last few years that keep receiving quotes by Coll. After reading a review, I thought I’d like this. Still in the early stages of it (hey, I had a baby to take care of).