The God Delusion

The God DelusionYes, yes, I know! I should be posting about things that I am doing in the development industry. I just keep finding these great books to read and can’t put them down long enough to play with any development in my spare time (plus i am usually all coded out after work).

I picked this book up at a bookstore in Calgary a couple months ago and finally decided to dig into it, and I am very happy that I did! While I could see how a lot of people could find that the contents either outraged them or was really breakthrough, I was a little bit different.

I found the God Delusion to be a very well written book with lots of solid arguments against religious belief. What was not groundbreaking for me was that I had formed a lot of these opinions on my own over the past while.

Growing up in Canada must be different than growing up in the United States. When I was a child I was put in a Roman Catholic school system and my family went to church every Sunday. As time went by we all started forming our own lives apart from each other and over time religion played a smaller role in our lives. I saw this as normal amongst my friends and their families despite most being raised Roman Catholic. From the sounds of the book there is a LOT more pressure in other countries to conform to religious beliefs from family, school and friends. I have no doubt that if I told my family I am an atheist they would think no less of me (but who knows).

There were some smaller pieces of this book, little tid-bits of information about different religions, which I had no idea about and was grateful to learn about. A great amount of time was dedicated to the theory of evolution, but what I found really intrigued me were the details regarding the Bible. I have never read the Bible and have only heard select passages from it. I had no idea how violent a book it actually it.

That is all for now! If you get the chance, I suggest reading this book no matter what your beliefs may be. It is always good to have some knowledge of what is going on outside of your personal beliefs. I am starting on Sophie’s World tonight. It is a book that has been recommended to me numerous times and I am finally going to find the time to read it. It is fairly easy to find time to read these days, having just moved to another country and being busy with work. Whenever I need a break I just sit back in a coffee shop and read for a bit, very relaxing.

Sync – Review

About a week ago I picked up a book called Sync (Steven Strogatz) and started slowly reading it (I am not the world’s fastest reader by any means). Over the course of the week I have been trying to get some work done and get a little bit organized in my new country of residence, but increasingly found that I was unable to put the book down.

Here is a little history as to why I decided to read this book. A couple months back I had read a book called Linked (Albert-Laszlo Barabasi) and found it interesting how so many things are interconnected and how I, someone in a different world than the author, was able to relate to and understand the material. After reading Linked I decided that I wanted to continue learning about connectedness in the world, partly as research for social online systems and partly out of personal interest that I have developed in the topic. That is when I decided that my next read would be Sync.

Through the first couple of chapters in Sync, I discovered my brain working in an interesting way. It was coming up with application and visualization ideas to represent what the author was talking about. Thanks to this, I think that I was really able to dive into the book and learn a lot. From extensive discussions of fireflies to explanations of the Circadian rhythm, I learned not only about the overall topic but have a new way to look at these sorts of things.

The latter part of the book was also quite interesting, it was quite parallel to the thoughts brought forth by Barabasi in his book Linked. Linked was actually referenced in a couple sections of Sync. Both books were similar in my mind because they kept most equations and math separate from their writings (Sync more so) and just focused on getting the ideas to the forefront.

Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone that is interested in learning a little bit about the physical world. I find that I look at things just a little bit differently when I finish a book like this one and I am greatful to the author for this.

Tonight we dine in Boulder!

Well, as some of you may know I recently decided to leave Critical Mass for an opportunity elsewhere.

My time (27 months) at Critical Mass as a Flash Developer was a wonderful rollercoaster of ups and downs. I had a great time there, working with brilliant individuals, under great leadership, working with some of the worlds best clients. I learned a lot during my stay with Critical Mass and the decision to leave was not an easy one. I had to leave behind friends, colleagues, comfort, and an all around fun working environment (not to mention leaving Canada generic cialis)!

Pearl Street Mall

I have now moved to Boulder, Colorado! To work with another monster agency (Crispin Porter + Bogusky) as an Interactive Developer. I look forward to this new role and hope to learn a lot an maybe contribute a little bit more to my blog as I learn to try and share some knowledge and insight that I gain in this new place.

I left Calgary for Boulder on Friday of last week and made the drive in two days. I drove day and night through Montana and Wyoming and finally into Colorado. This was a challenge for me because I have rarely ever travelled to the US (or anywhere for that matter). I drove through rainstorms, crazy fog at night which scared the hell out of me, and lots of gorgeous sunlight.

I arrived here on Saturday evening to a gorgeous night and a cold. I haven’t been able to truly enjoy the area yet because I have been fighting this pesky cold since arriving but I am working on it. Boulder appears to be a beautiful place in a country and seems very proud of its new president and political direction. I look forward to living here and absorbing all the I can in the process; both knowledge and culture alike.

Pixel Perfect – The Perfect Choice

Well, I know that I haven’t been writing anything for a while… has been busy times for me lately. But I felt that this deserved some of my time to write about. A couple friends of mine here in Calgary recently took it upon themselves to create a very useful plugin for Firefox; it is called Pixel Perfect.

This plugin allows users of FireBug to load images into the plugin and overlay them atop developed HTML. This is proving to be very useful for me, as a developer to get a perfect match to the designer’s comps.

I highly recommend checking it out at http://www.pixelperfectplugin.com/ . Good work guys !

Devigner / Deseloper Rant

For the past 6 months or so I have been hearing the term “Devigner” or “Hybrid” floating around the Flash industry. While having many talents may be a wonderful thing in small-scale agencies and freelance work, I don’t believe that the skills of a Designer and a Developer should be looked for in the same individual.

I started out in the industry as a graphic designer and web developer but quickly came to realize that the more code I wrote, the less design prowess I had. The trend in the industry to find a hybrid developer / designer is a good idea on the surface but has many flaws. I have always been a fan of the phrase “jack of all trades, master of none”. While it is a great asset to know a little bit about what is happening on the other side of the fence, it should stay on the other side of the fence.

Both designers and developers are creative and skillful in their own ways so why should they try to do it all? I have worked on countless projects where I have been put on a project that was “almost completed” by a designer. Upon getting the files, I am told that I just have to do a little bit of optimization and get the files delivered ASAP. More often than not, once I take a look at the files it is obvious that they need a LOT of work. The designers that I work with are spectacular at what they do, but when they try writing code I am given files that take hours just to understand.

If you would like to be a developer, take a course or two and practice. I didn’t learn to write code over night, nor do I try and create complex designs expecting a designer to pick it up and think it was a job well done. There is a lot more than just being able to write a frame script in Flash that goes into being a good developer, especially when you are creating international pieces.

When I am busy and on a tight deadline, I don’t want to (nor do I have the time to) spend hour after hour ripping apart a project just to re-write 90% of the code that went into the “almost completed” version.

An ideal situation for me is to be able to sit down with a designer as they are starting to work on a project and come up with boundaries and share ideas. I respect their skills and would like to utilize them as much as possible. Just as it isn’t efficient for me to rewrite an application from them, it isn’t efficient for them to spend days creating things that could have been automated with a little bit of code. It is also inefficient for them to realize that it can be done with code and try to do it on their own.

So next time you are thinking about becoming a hybrid or hiring one, take into account the fact that it isn’t as easy or productive as you might think.