The Best and Worst of 2009


On the eve of the last day of the penultimate year of the first decade of the third millennium and continuing a tradition I started in 2005, here’s a quick summary of 2009 – ignoring everything between the peaks and troughs.

Best Moment

Aside from every 3 months when Red Hat announces another knockout quarter 😉

My eight-year old daughter is absolutely racing through the Harry Potter books. She’s finished the first three and is just over half way through the forth (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire). After she’s finished with each book we watch the movie version. I’ve always been a big Sci-fi and Fantasy fan and it’s good to have an excuse to watch the Harry Potter movies and fantastic to see my daughter see the magic of books despite the lure of on-demand cable, movies, video games, the internet, etc.

Biggest Disappointment

This is a tough one – it’s a toss up between the right wing nut cases who maintain that this country’s problems only started the day Obama took office; and the TSA who are still punishing millions of innocent travelers every day with their ill-conceived knee-jerk reactions because they have consistently failed to improve air travel security. I can easily ignore the right wing nut cases – but I have to travel and comply with the TSA’s pointless and ineffective rules. So the TSA wins.

Best Application

My utilitarian ThinkPad semi-failed me over the summer so I used that as an excuse to flip back to using a Mac. I still use the ThinkPad as a desktop in my home office running Fedora but it is no longer portable. I’ve been using multiple machines for years (typically running OS/X and one or more flavours of Linux) and never found a nice simple way to share files until I found Dropbox. I use it all the time and now find it invaluable. [note to self – I should probably post some tips and ideas of how I use it at some point]. So Dropbox gets the top-spot. Runners up are MindNode (mind mapping) and Evernote (lists, notes, etc.). Note to personal productivity software developers – it’s no accident that all these apps. integrate with my iPhone.

I should also add; or repeat, as I’ve said it before – AR is going to be *big* – maybe this year enough people will be carrying a powerful smartphone to make 2010 the year of AR.

Best Book

I had high hopes for “And Another Thing”, Eoin Colfer – Book 6 of the HHGTTG “trilogy” but I think it was a mistake to try and replicate Douglas Adam’s style – that’s too high a bar for any author in my opinion. I’m currently wading through “Too Big to Fail”, Andrew Sorkin – an epic and well researched saga of the financial grey goo but I can’t count that as I won’t be finished with it this year. So I’d have to choose the “Omnivore’s Dilemma : A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan. The book didn’t change my life in a major way but it has made me a bit more selective about what I am wiling to put in my stomach.

Anyway, enjoy the Blue Moon tonight and have a healthy, prosperous and happy New Year.

2 Days in Provence


Last week I spent a couple of days in Provence visting a (potential) customer. I stayed in the little village of Cassis to be precise; which is a pleasant little place though a bit of a tourist trap (ie. expensive but only half-decent food). If I’d been a bit more prepared I would have taken a real camera but unfortunately only had my iPhone (pictures on Flickr).

Among the things I learned on this trip i) never transit through Philly again; ii) if you want medium-rare in Provence you have to insist on “burnt to a crisp” anything below that is just raw meat; iii) raw meat doesn’t agree with me; nor me with it; iv) The Mediteranean has Fjords; only they’re made from limestone and called Calanques.

The best $1200 you could spend this year

Unsurprisingly and from what I’ve seen personally – tech. conference attendance is a little light this year. But if you have some budget for attending tech. conferences – I think the combined JBoss World / Red Hat Summit (Chicago, Sept 1st-4th) could be just about the best investment you make this year.

You’ll learn about all the great tech. that Red Hat and JBoss will be shipping as well as some of the technology still in the labs. But most of all you’ll learn how Red Hat can save you and your organization money – and right now that’s got to be a smart investment.

* travel and accomodation extra