PeepCode as I mentioned previously is quite an inspiring idea, and quite useful for learning new things about software in a fairly straight forward easy way. I bought a few of these a couple years back and liked them. I have to admit I mostly forgot about PeepCode until recently when I visited their site and found a screen-cast on making screen-casts and the software they use. Since I have done a few myself I was hooked and had to know what they are doing.
I first heard about PeepCode sometime last spring. At the time I must admit I was not too keen on Ruby. Times have changed. I discovered for myself why Ruby (particularly Rails) is so cool this past summer. Recently, I actually went out to the PeepCode site and took a look at a few of their samples, then ultimately paid for a few tutorials. These guys do a nice job. This method of presenting tutorials on programming is probably the best I’ve encountered. The only way to learn faster would be to sit next to an expert and peek over their shoulder while they write code. I like this methodology so much that I’m working on using similar techniques in the introductory C# class I’m teaching this semester. Even if you are not interested in Ruby or Rails you should give this a look as it is a nice preview of the future of learning to program.
It isn’t something I think about much but today I was a little astonished when I realized the Mac mini has been running for about 18 months. Not continuously. I did shut it down for about six hours once when I upgraded the memory at a friends house. Another time it was down for about four hours when I moved my office. Other than those ten hours of rest the mini has been restarted when Apple released updates to the OS that insist on a restart.
About a week ago I realized that all the searching I do as part of my research is very repetitive. Rather than spend time executing the searches and checking web pages and PDFs and articles to see if they contain any new information, I would be much better off refining my search. It would be nice if I had a software agent that scoured the web and collected anything that seems important. No more waiting for large PDFs to download only to find they are not related to my work. It would be nice if that agent had a little intelligence built in. I’m not asking for anything like HAL. Just a little intelligent, maybe some clustering of the results, and maybe some filtering so that if I find an article I think is relevant it can show me everything it thinks is related. Yes, this would be nice. I decided last week that this tool was so important that I needed to write it. It would change the way I do research.