Archive for April, 2012

During a recent and very insightful talk from Black Marble the speakers highlighted the importance of being familiar with your IDE.

This resulted in a bonus point for me and another blog post for you. This time though, I’m going to talk about a feature of an extension to Visual Studio called Power Productivity Tools. It’s free and supported by Microsoft. Power Productivity Tools is a customisable set of tools that is meant to make you more productive. It features all sorts of things but I’m going to talk about just one aspect of Power Productivity Tools, and that is the enhanced scrollbar.

The Enhanced Scrollbar - it's really useful

The enhanced scrollbar gives you an extra thick scrollbar with a visualisation of the entire code file embedded in it. It should you how your code is laid out, anything that is that same as the text that is currently select, open and closed regions, comments, errors (The are no errors in my code, at least not in the screen shot 😉 ). I can even hover over code on the toolbar and have it pop up in a box next to the toolbar, right there in your window. It’s really useful for navigating code, finding out where a particular method is used, or just looking over your code to spot areas you might want to refactor.

It’s also just one part of the Power Productivity Tools extension. It’s probably the most obvious part, but there are a host of other features you can use, like a web link style Ctrl+Click function to jump the the definition of a method or variable, a more useful Solution Navigator and a whole host of options to change the way your tabs behave.

I thoroughly recommend checking it out.

There’s also another reason why it’s good to use extensions like this. Before Productivity Power Tools there were a host of similar add ins that people found useful. Now Microsoft has adopted these add ins as an extension, but chances are the most popular and most useful add ins may make it into future versions of visual studio as standard, so in some ways you’re future proofing yourself by learning this stuff now.

Of course there’s always the risk that your favourite tool won’t be adopted, leaving you bitter and twisted, and moaning about the good old days!

NFL Draft 2012!

Every year NFL teams get to select their rookies from a class of players leaving college football. They take turns through seven rounds selecting in order based on their performance the previous year. Last year the 49ers did pretty well, so they were selecting towards the end of the rounds. I was hoping that the 49ers would fill needs in the offensive line and add some more depth to the defensive line.

Just some thoughts on their picks:

Drafted two offensive linemen; Joe Looney in the fourth round and Jason Slowey in the sixth round. Hopefully they will add depth, but I doubt either can contribute a great deal right away. The departure of Guard Adam Snyder leaves a need that hasn’t been filled.

I wonder how much influence the 49ers last game had on their picks. The 49ers lost in the conference final due in part to inexperience at the return position. Ted Ginn Junior was injured and mistakes by his back up pretty much cost the 49ers the game. The 49ers drafted speedy Wide Reciever A.J. Jenkins in the first round and Running Back LaMichael James in the second. Both could contribute to the return game.

A.J. Jenkins also adds depth to a deep position at Wide Receiver. It seems that competition in training camp could be fierce. Even more so for Running Backs. Bruising Running Back Brandon Jacobs has already been added to the 49ers backfield in the off season, so rookie LaMichael James joins him along with Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and Anthony Dixon. The 49ers also signed Running Back Rock Cartwright in the off season, but I expect his main contribution to be on special teams. That means right now the 49ers have six Running Backs on their roster. I’d be surprised if they didn’t cut at least one and probably two of them before the season starts.

Frank Gore is staying, but he’s getting older and injuries are becoming more of a concern. Kendall Hunter showed flashes of brilliance last year and I can’t see them immediately cutting a second round pick. I expect there to be competition between the big backs (Anthony Dixon, 6’1″, 233lbs and Brandon Jacobs, 6’4″, 264lbs) so at least one of them will be packing their bags. I expect that Rock Cartwright will have to be a hell of a contributor on special teams to justify his roster spot too.

In the seventh round the 49ers drafted Defensive End Cam Johnson. It’s encouraging that he was predicted to be taken higher than the seventh. This guy could add the depth needed on the defensive line. The 49ers also drafted another Linebacker, adding depth to what I consider to be the best group of linebackers in the league.

Roll on preseason!

Back in the dark ages when everything was trying to eat you, there was probably some merit to the phrase “Curiousity killed the cat”, but it’s the 21st century now. Times have changed, and these days if curiousity kills the cat then the cat’s next of kin sue curiousity, to avoid setting a legal precedence curiousity settles out of court for a tidy sum, but that still opens the doors to a slew of copy cats (yes, I’m milking this one [Oh Noes, I did it again!]).

In the 21st Century, the curious cat gets the cream.

Curious cat gets the cream

Curious cat gets the cream

These days it really pays to be curious. The people who get ahead are the guys who wonder what happens if… or I wonder if this is possible… or I wonder what I can do with this new technology… or wouldn’t it be cool if we tried merging this thing with that thing… They’re the people who find something that they love, and are inspired by. They specialize in something, get on the internet and learn all about it and just go for it, and not because they want any other reward that the reward of going through the process, learning about a thing and mastering something that they’re enthusiastic about. The rise of the internet provides access to all of the resources a curious cat needs to fuel their curiosity.

Some curious cats

Here are some curious cats. They started from an early age, and invested their time in what they were passionate about. They also happen to have made a bob or two along the way, and they all rejected mainstream education in one way or another in favour of following their heart.

There are whole host of resources I could recommend to support this post, but I’ll recommend just two. If you only have a little time, and no money read Bill Gates’s notes on education. If you have a little more time and a little money buy The Element, Sir Ken Robinson’s book on the benefits of following your heart.