Pluralsight Reviews: Android For .NET Developers, Parts 1 & 2

I’m getting started with Android development in my scarce spare time.  In order to get me past the “Java is scary and stupid and I hate it and it’s stupid” part of this, I decided to watch Jim Wilson’s Android for .NET Developers series.  So far, I’ve watched Part 1 and Part 2.

I think Part 1 is a little hit or miss.  Wilson starts off great, showing how to install the Android SDK.  I’d recommend ignoring the Eclipse part and just download Android Studio and watch section 6 on Android Studio.  The product has matured a good bit since Wilson did his course, so you won’t have to do the same workarounds that Wilson showed.

I think Part 1 started to slip once Wilson started to talk about Dalvik Debug Monitor Server.  Debugging and monitoring is vital, but honestly, I think that would have been better-suited for part 2 or part 3.  I get that you want to get people off the ground quickly, but until I have code that I could reasonably debug, it’s hard for me to get excited about a debugger.

Part 2 was fantastic.  Wilson walked through a few basic applications.  If you follow along in the code, you’ll have some basic applications which can make use of external resources like the camera, and which can also span several activities.  Wilson’s depiction of the activity lifecycle is also excellent and really helped me understand what happens behind the scenes on my Android phone.

I haven’t gone through parts 3 and 4 yet, but when I get a little bit of time, I want to jump back into this topic.  Once I complete the next two parts, I’ll have a separate review for those.

Pluralsight Review: Building NoSQL Apps With Redis

Not too long ago, I decided to learn a bit about Redis in preparation for using Azure Redis Cache.  I checked out a few links and also watched John Sonmez’s course entitled Building NoSQL Apps With Redis.  Sonmez did an outstanding job of walking through how Redis works, how to set it up, how to connect to it, how to work with cache keys, and even how to chain together Redis nodes.  The last hour of his course handled building an MVC project with Redis as the back-end store.  Honestly, I don’t think I ever would want to use Redis as a source of record, but it’s easy to think of scenarios in which I’d use the decorator pattern and wrap a Redis call around SQL Server or a web service call.

If you need to learn about Redis, Sonmez’s course is a fantastic place to start.

Here are the picks!

Here’s what Cleveland’s draft picks look like, courtesy of ESPN.

First round: 12th overall selection

First round: 19th overall selection

Second round: 43rd overall selection

Third round: 77th overall selection

Fourth round: 111th overall selection

Fourth round: 115th overall selection

Fifth round: 147th overall selection

Sixth round: 188th overall selection

Sixth round: 201st overall selections

Seventh round: 229th overall selection

That is a pretty solid collection of picks. Reportedly, Cleveland’s supposed to lose a pick because of TextGate (but as of February, we’ve heard nothing.)

My ideal scenario is picking up a wide receiver/tight end and either an interior offensive lineman or a nose tackle in the first round. Alex Mack can (and probably will) opt out of his deal after next season, and assuming he doesn’t re-sign, we need more depth at the position. We need a playmaking receiver/tight end as well.

Other positions we could use: pass rusher, more DBs, depth at the offensive and defensive lines, a scatback who can catch passes (I’m thinking Brian Westbrook or Darren Sproles type). The weird thing is that Cleveland has a lot of talented players, and I’m not sure the draft offers much in the way of desperate needs other than the lines and wide receiver/tight end. If the Browns drafted a project QB with, say, a 4th rounder, I suppose I could live with that. I’m also curious to see if Cleveland (seriously) drafts a kicker in the 6th round. Last year’s experiment was a dismal failure and we can use some upgrades there.

Pluralsight Review: Unit Testing T-SQL Code With tSQLt

I recently completed Dave Green’s Pluralsight course entitled Unit Testing T-SQL Code with tSQLt.  I think the material was solid and Green does a good job presenting it, as well as Red Gate’s add-on tool called SQL Test.

I did learn a lot about tSQLt from this course.  I had played with tSQLt a little bit a few years back, and it looks like the product has matured since then.  One of the big reasons I was interested in checking out this course is to see how tSQLt handles isolating dependencies, and Green has an entire section on the topic.

My main problem with the course has nothing to do with Green or the way he presented the topic; rather, I think it’s a flaw in the product itself.  It seems like a lot of the tests that Green walked through did more testing of tSQLt than actual business or procedure logic.  For example, to test a check constraint, the tests weren’t really checking the constraint, but rather a mocked constraint.  This seems like an artificial attempt to force unit testing in a place where integration testing is appropriate.  Again, I don’t blame Green for this; rather, I think it’s a disagreement I have with the product itself.

Terry Pluto continues to be the best Cleveland writer by far

Terry Pluto on the panoply of receivers Cleveland’s collected:

Can we start with this fact? You can’t re-do the 2014 draft. We can moan about how the Browns had a chance to draft several talented receivers, but didn’t.

We can talk about how General Manager Ray Farmer appears to have taken two big swings and missed in the first round with Justin Gilbert and Johnny Manziel. We can fall into the usual “Let’s eat dirt and die” thinking about the Browns.

But how can there be any serious criticism of adding Bowe and Hartline?

They cost the Browns nothing in terms of talent or draft choices. The final guaranteed numbers on the two-year deals signed by Hartline and Bowe have not been madepublic. Hartline’s overall deal is $6 million for two years.

The contracts are modest for a team with massive salary cap room.

Word, Terry. Word.

In which Cleveland sports media proves they’ve learned nothing

Johnny Manziel. Heard of him, right? He of the seven quarters of suck? Well, many people have decided seven quarters are seven too many and want Cleveland to trade up and draft Marcus Mariota of Oregon.

Here is my two word response: Fuck. No.

Cleveland is not a Super Bowl team which lacks a QB. It is a decent team that is still a year away from, in my estimation, legitimate contention. I don’t know that we’d go 8-8 this year, since our schedule seems much tougher. But, it’s possible.

Of all people, Jeremy Fowler on ESPN is the voice of reason.

4. Do the best you can with Josh McCown, Johnny Manziel, and possibly Bryce Petty while loading up for 2016.

That last option won’t be attractive for Browns fans, but it enables the team to the complete the roster overhaul then comb what’s considered a good 2016 quarterback stable. Michigan State’s Connor Cook, Penn State’s Christian Hackenberg and Ohio State’s Cardale Jones should be available. This gives the Browns one more chance to see the Manziel project through.

Please, Cleveland. Listen to Jeremy Fowler.

Welcome to Cleveland, Dwayne Bowe

Dwayne Bowe has signed with Cleveland on a two year deal. I wrote about Bowe a few days ago, when I said:

In his entire career, Bowe has had one outstanding season (2010), two good ones (2011 and 2008), and the rest have been mediocre to decent. Bowe isn’t a number one guy and hasn’t been for three years. He’d be a nice depth signing, but he’s not the playmaker everyone makes him out to be.

My opinion on that hasn’t changed, but I do think the Browns are better off having him on the team. They could still use a clear #1, with Josh Gordon being suspended, and I’d love to see a first rounder go to one, but I feel a little better about our offense now.

Pluralsight Review: Communications

About a month ago, I listened to Paul Randal’s Pluralsight course entitled Communications:  How to Talk, Write, Present, and Get Ahead!  I consider Randal a top-notch communicator, and so I was definitely interested in hearing what he has to say.  This is a short series at just 2 1/2 hours, but definitely worthwhile.

My biggest take-aways from this were:

  1. Keep e-mails short and succinct.  Have one or two questions and make it clear if you expect an answer.  I used to be terrible about writing novellas to co-workers, but I eventually realized (before this course reinforced the habit) that I need to write concisely.
  2. Do not have a meeting without an agenda, and stick to your agenda.  Don’t waste time in meetings, and don’t be afraid to move a topic to its own meeting if necessary.
  3. Practice for presentations and expect anything to happen.  I’ve had my PC reboot in the middle of a presentation.  This is a talk that I’d given a couple of times, so I was able to continue with my “lecture” portion, and by the time the machine was back up (thank goodness for solid state drives!) I could pick right back up where I’d left off.  Whatever happens, don’t panic.