Jason Mauss' Blog Cabin

Because someone's got to do the dirty work




June 2004 - Posts

What Is DevCampus?

When I talk with people about my DevCampus project, the question I get the most is undoubtedly, “So, what is it?”. Without further ado...

About DevCampus

When the site goes live on the web, I will have an FAQ page and a Site Features page in addition to an About page with the content behind that link. Feel free to leave feedback though if something about the concept of the site still doesn't make sense to you. I'd like to know whether what I've written so far conveys the message well or not.

Invention is not an only child

It has been said that “Necessity is the mother of invention.”

If that's true then I think invention has some siblings. Namely determination, enthusiasm, and fear. Actually, I imagine it's quite a large family, but I'm just going to talk about those three.

Since DevCampus contributers have still been few and far between, I've resigned myself to thinking that I am going to be doing quite a bit of writing in order to meet my personal goal of having 50 articles posted when DevCampus goes live on the web. Definitely not an unattainable goal, but definitely not easy for someone with my writing experience. You see, it's not the technical knowledge or technical experience I lack. It's the writing knowledge and writing experience. Sure, I've written dozens of technical articles for a few different magazines and websites. However, with the DevCampus content I feel that my own name and reputation are on the line and will be out for the Internet to examine. And in most cases, I'd have no problem with that. I'm a real life hermit and an Internet socialite.

As I began working on a few articles, something just wasn't right. I had enough content to write about and I was making progress. It definitely wasn't writer's block. It was something about the flow or organization of the articles that bothered me. Likewise, I didn't like the wording of many of the sentences I had written. I went to bed and slept on it, letting the thoughts weigh on my mind.

The conclusion I came to was that as a writer, technical or otherwise, my own personal standards of what I consider good writing have changed. I'm no longer happy with what I usually write. It doesn't cut the mustard for me anymore. I feel it is necessary that I write better. My thoughts need to be conveyed more clearly in what I write. I need to consider different approaches to saying the same thing and choosing the best fit. In many ways, I feel this is analogous to the stages I've gone through in my coding career. As time passes and I gain experience, I'm no longer happy with the designs I came up with or the code I wrote. In the end, I think this is a good thing. I hope it is a sign of some growth and maturity in me as a writer.

So, in keeping with that I said before; In the past week, my determination to be a better writer has grown much stronger, and I'm committed to doing a better job. My enthusiasm for writing has also risen to new levels, which I'm thankful for. On the other side of the fence, my fear of failure has increased beyond the amount I normally feel. I attribute the majority of this fear to sticking my neck out there with DevCampus. I do find some comfort in thinking, “time will tell”. It's too bad foresight isn't 20/20.

This had led me to want to ask other writers, have any of you gone through something similar to this? As Queen asked, “Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?”

I thought I'd share some links with those of you reading this that might feel like learning a little more about writing. (Feel free to post your own favorite writing links to in my comments section)
Mike Gunderloy's Advice For Writers Series
Melanie Spiller's Blog (via Mike G)
The Elements of Style - William Strunk Jr.

AOL: So Slow

My wife and I went to see the movie “The Stepford Wives” tonight since I decided to let her choose which movie we'd see. It definitely fell into the “chick flick“ category in my mind, but there was this one moment that made me glad I had sat through it.

During one scene, in which the Stepford husbands reveal that they are all former employees at major technology companies, the camera pans around the room as you hear, “Microsoft...NASA...Disney...AOL...”

just then Nicole Kidman's character interrupts to ask, “AOL? Is that why these women are so slow?”

I thought to myself, “Now there's a joke you just couldn't come up with without experiencing AOL.”

Kudos to whoever put that into the script.

Posted: Jun 19 2004, 11:49 PM by jamauss | with 6 comment(s)
Filed under:
Joel expresses my frustration for me...
Joel has once again said it best - if you have about 15 minutes (it's a lengthy article by Joel On Software standards) - go read his article on “How Microsoft Lost the API War”. One of the best articles he's written in quite a while, in my opinion.
Offering a GMail invite for DevCampus editors

Since participation for DevCampus has still been pretty light so far, I'm offering a GMail invite to anyone willing to help me write content for DevCampus. Scott Reynolds is also helping me out and offering a GMail account for the same purpose. So, if you'd like to sign up to write lesson material for DevCampus, please let me know. By “sign up” I mean I will add your name to a list of people and then you can choose from the list of courses what you would like to write about. By the end of the week I plan to update the list of courses to include the names of those who are going to be writing content for those courses.

The GMail accounts are offered pretty much on a first come first serve basis - for people that are serious about being willing to help. I don't in any way want to sound mean or harsh here but, please don't offer to help for a GMail account and then flake out on me. As they say on Ebay, “serious bidders only please”.

Having said that, I'm looking foward to working with anyone that wants to help shape the way we learn software development. If you would like to learn more about DevCampus before signing up to help (which I would fully understand - and almost kinda expect) please feel free to contact me - (jason dot mauss at gmail dot com) or check out the DevCampus related entries on my blog. Thank you.

One punctuation mark is enough!

This is just a quick rant so that I can vent some frustration. Why do people feel it is necessary to put more than one question mark or exclamation point after a question or comment?

Seriously, why?

I keep getting emails and attachments that have stuff like "I did this a while ago and now it's different???? Why isn't it like it used to be??? Shouldn't it be doing x, y, and z??!?!?!?!!?!???!?!?" good grief people, I get it already, you're asking a question.

Should I start responding like this: "It because we spec changed,,,,,,,,,, and said to do it a different way............... If you would read the spec then you would know that already!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" ?

I swear, it's driving me nucking futs. If you're doing this, please, for the love, stop it.

Posted: Jun 14 2004, 02:47 PM by jamauss | with 5 comment(s)
Filed under:
Thank you Marcie...

To my total shock and amazement, Marcie awarded me one of the GMail invites she had put up for pseudo-auction.

All I can really think to say, is thank you. Actually, wait, no, I can think of more to say than that...

When I saw Marcie's GMail blog contest,
I sent in my entry hoping for the best

I emailed her with some inspired rhymes,
hoping this would be one of those lucky times

Then just last night as I was catching some rest,
I dreamed that I had won the contest

Then later awoke to check my email
to find an invite from Marcie to GMail!

Now before I lose any more of those reading,
I'll end this nonsense and finish my greeting

Thanks again Marcie, I look forward to GSpamming you with more silly/goofy/dorky poems. Look what you've started!! bwahahahah! No really, I'm perfectly sane...don't worry, no restraining order is necessary.

DevCampus update - interested in contributing?

Judging by the membership numbers over at the Orkut community (10 members so far), I haven't stirred up enough interest in this yet. Despite that, I'm trudging along.

I'm now collecting names and contact information for those that are interested in helping me create content and becoming editors.

Click here for all the details...

Your daily cup of WTF
I'm already really enjoying Alex Papadimoulis' The Daily WTF site. I just submitted a story to him last night that he posted this morning. If you ever need some reassurance that you're not the only one that has to maintain really ugly code or help support really incompetent people, take a look.
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