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Archive for the day “February 29, 2008”

All the Small Things – The Restroom

Last time I talked about ways to increase your learning in the car. Today I will cover some vary nifty ways to digest information when you can’t have podcasts playing.

My nifty way? Reading!  I know that’s not really that nifty, but there is some technology to help you out.

First of all, if you downloaded FeedDemon as I suggested previously – start adding blogs to it.  The next highly useful step it to sign up for a NewsGator account.

FeedDemon and NewsGator will sync up what you have and haven’t read – so when you are at your desk you can use the nice responsive interface of FeedDemon to read articles, and when you are away from your desk you can log into NewsGator and use their online interface.  NewsGator even has a mobile version of the site for reading from your cell phone.  It’s very analogous to using Outlook to check your gmail account over IMAP.

I realize I’ve yet to talk about the restroom in this post, and I know how your all eagerly anticipating my mention of it: well here it goes.

Unfortunately for me I really only get a chance to read in the restroom.  This leaves me without a screen to read on.  Sure I won’t lie and say I’ve never taken my laptop in with me, but for the most part I try not to do that.  I definitely can’t do that at work.

This is where FeedJournal comes in handy for me.  FeedJournal is a blog aggregator which puts all your new articles into a multi-column newspaper view, and generates a PDF file for you to print out. 

feedJournal

FeedJournal includes images used in the posts and everything.  It really is a great experience.  Now when I know I will be “away for a little while” I can quickly print my queue of articles to read and away I go.  I fold up the printout and put it in my pocket – nobody even knows what is going on.

To make the experience a tad nicer, check out BookletCreator.  BookletCreator is a simple service that takes any PDF and converts it into a book that can be simply folded in half.  By default the pages sizes are 17 x 11, but your can tell you new PDF to resize it to 11 x 8.5.

bookletCreator

I run my FeedJournal PDF through BookletCreator and print that out.  Just fold your personalized newspaper in half and your good to go. 

I printed out Coding Horror and it really did feel like Jeff Atwood in the Wall Street Journal or New York Times.

Also, just to let you know, this tip can come in handy in many other places.  Print out a few pages before a doctors appointment so you don’t have to read those old issues of Golf Digest.  A few more pages can get your through a plane flight.

All the Small Things – The Car

Sometimes people ask me how I stay up to date with all the “goings-on” of the development world.

I have a simple trick to stay on top of the deluge of information coming from the community: use the small, inefficient parts of your day to catch up.stopSign

I have found a few different times to inject with some learning: driving, mowing the lawn, exercising and, as much as I’d like not to bring it up, using the restroom.

Today I will focus on how I maximize my time in the car.

Basically I burn a few CD’s every weekend of the podcasts I like to listen to and listen to them as I drive.  (I really wish my car had an auxiliary port – but that’s another topic.)  I’m in my car a good hour a day just driving to and from work and running the miscellaneous errands I have.  Listening to the podcasts actually makes traffic less of a pain.

If you’re unsure what podcasts are good, here’s my developer oriented recommendations:

  1. zune Dot Net Rocks (Pwop Productions) – Obviously this podcast covers .Net and Microsoft related technologies.  It has the best production value I’ve heard out of a podcast and they record two shows a week!
  2. HanselMinutes (Pwop Productions) – Microsoft employee Scott Hanselman is a beast!  This man just oozes information.  He covers all different topics and his employer does not affect his opinion.  This is my “if you only listen to one” podcast.
  3. Run As Radio (Pwop Productions) – At my work I am constantly surrounded by IT Pros.  This show helps me keep up to date with what’s new in their world and helps me understand how to make their lives easier.  Sometimes it even gives me an edge over them!
  4. Security Now (TWIT Network) – Security guru Steve Gibson and ex Screen Savers host Leo Laporte discuss what’s new in the world of computer security.  Very interestingipod stuff!
  5. Windows Weekly (TWIT Network) – Leo Laporte again discussing the world of Windows and Microsoft with Paul Thurrot.  There is also a version of this show for the Apple faithful – Mac Break Weekly.
  6. Diggnation (Revision3) – This is the Wayne’s World of the internet.  Two guys on their couch talking about what hot on the web.  They are very funny, but can be NSFW sometimes.
  7. The GigaOm Show (Revision3) – Om Malik interviews the luminaries of Silicon Valley.   It’s neat to hear what is going on in that space.

I’ve found that the easiest way to manage my CD burning is to use FeedDemon.  It will automatically download any podcast you add to it, and once the podcast has finished downloading it will add it to a playlist of your choice.  (Windows Media Player and ITunes are both supported.)

This works out really well for me because I have a playlist of all my new podcasts in WMP, which I drag to the burn pane and away it goes!  No mess, no fuss.

Stay tuned to this blog for more info on how I maximize my time in the restroom!

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