Any of you old enough to remember Ed Sullivan and his show, it seemed that about once a month, he'd have a guy on that would spin plates on the ends of long, thin sticks. The guy would get maybe a couple dozen of these things going, then have to start running around trying to keep them all going -- which was a losing proposition; eventually, all of the damn plates ended up on the floor.
Well, I've been kinda like that guy: every time I thought about posting something that came into my head, one of the other things that I had going on would distract me. Stuff like:
- Installing and testing the Jeebus out of Sun's Open Solaris operating system (free for the downloading). [Informal review: not quite ready for desktop usage yet, but definitely worth considering for server usage.]
- Taking a Tonka "RC" (remote- [not radio-] controlled) frontend loader (similar to this truck, from Radio Shack) and modifying it for use as the base for an Arduino-based robotics platform, with the plan to keep building on it until I either overload the Arduino or the toy :-)
- Getting my webserver (the original TwoOfEverything.org system) repaired/replaced, the operating system installed, and back online.
- Performing all manner of bizarre and unnatural experiments on/with my Arduino.
- Building myself an electronics workbench (surplus countertop, outlets, on/off switch, lighting, etc).
- Sorting through all my assorted salvaged electronic/computer parts (motors, connectors, heatsinks, cables, power supplies, gears, sensors, etc) and getting them organized so I can find shit again.
- Writing a couple of programs to learn Java through the 'total immersion' system: read how to do something I want to do, try it, then keep hacking at it until I get it right. Lather, rinse, repeat...
- Doing the occasional bit of computer service for friend-of-a-friend or referrals -- something that makes me realize more and more just how seriously fucked up MS Windows(tm) is, and just how incredibly naive, stupid, thoughtless, or just plain ignorant some people can be.
- Designing, building, and debugging a couple of not-too-large electronics projects for myself. If you're interested, they are a logic analyzer, a computer-based oscilloscope interface, and a small instrumentation and control system (home automation).
- Continuing to write monthly Science & Technology articles for a local weekly newspaper.
Just read your older post about your "spinning plates". I've a similar background; I was an "ET" in the Nav from '79 to '90. I've mostly gone over to the software side as I'm now a programmer in my day job. I'm also 53.
Anyways, I wanted to suggest that you check out ruby and ruby on rails as opposed to java. We just spent a few months evaluating both java and ruby at work when we decided to move away from Microsoft's platforms. We chose ruby for several reasons, not the least of which was ease of learning/quicker path to productivity. We're using netbeans as an ide, and just completed our first major project for not only my company, but our parent company and it's other subsidiaries.
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