I was recently asked about who I learn from, so I threw together this list of goodplaces to get new ideas. Most of these are the RSS Links, not the web sites. I useGoogle Reader to make sure I keep up.
Test-Driven Learning Games and Tests
In my first and second poston the idea of learning Ruby through writing tests, I showed the basics of learninga language using the TDD tools. Since that start, I’ve found some great work othershave done along these lines that you can use to play with the skills you’re learningand test yourself against some real problems.
First, the Ruby Koans byJim Weirich are a comprehensive set of ‘learning tests’ that can teach you or quizyou on what you’ve learned of Ruby so far. Each time you pass a test, it points youto the next thing you need to fix. Truly TDD learning!
I was a bit put off when I first found this set, since it seems so much like a shortcut,but there’s no reason I can’t play with Jim’s tests as well as writemy own, now is there?
Second, there’s the Ruby Quiz, whichlooks to be a great place to get a graduate education in your Ruby skills. The quizisn’t being added to anymore, but the challenges are just awesome and they have referencesolutions from people who have solved them before you. Once you’ve solved one, youcan find so many ways of learning a better way. Talk about erudition!
Rob James writes Eightthings I wish I had been told before doing my start-up. There’s some good thoughtsthere for anyone who’s looking at making a company big enough for investment. #1 Investin People is the one that rings true for me, since I’ve spent years pursuing a modelthat requires more people…on a budget that can’t afford more people.
Rob Secretlastname has a post on the Buildor Buy Decision when starting a small ISV. I found this one personally interesting,since I’ve bought the software from him! It’s also worth noting that the initial effortof getting a product online is probably more costly than it’s really worth. If youcan capitalize it…and if there’s a market, it’s probably better to pay someone else.
“I’vegot an IDEA!” Who hasn’t said that. Who hasn’t heard that. Of course the ideais the easy part. Mitch Denny shares some thoughts on getting started with SAAS asa business (SAASAAB?)
Are Microsoft Certifications Irrelevant?
As of now theyare for me. Apparently Microsoft has been developing heuristics to detect people whouse inexpensive practice tests and study materials. They threaten to ban you fromany further Certification or membership in their training program if you are ‘caught’studying for their tests.
I’ve always thought the certification exams were meaningless collections of arcane–usuallymarketing-centered–trivia. However, in the past, I’ve succumbed to one pressure oranother to getting a certification. I’m done now. I don’t need to give Microsoft moneyfor useless training, or for certificates that have never helped my income one bit.Especially if they plan on threatening me.
Two Factor Authentication with your Cellular Phone
The whole two-factor authentication system is a fantastic idea. However the idea ofgiving a new device to every person who needs to login to my site? Well, that justseems expensive. And given the fact that I’ve thrown out all of my grocery membershipcards and refuse to shop at those places because it makes my wallet too heavy…Idoubt that people really want to carry that stuff around.
The solution? Use the device we all have with us: our cellular phone. PhoneFactor hasa platform that does just that. It’s also free to use for an application of your choice.You can set it up for RDP, VPN, or program your web app against it. When your userslog in, they get a call on their cell phone and have to press #. If you want to tryit out without setting anything up, try getting a free MyOpenId andusing PhoneFactor as your authentication mechanism.
Personally, I still think the barrier to entry is too high, what with configurationand licensing and user training and edge cases where it doesn’t work…but hopefullygood technology options like this will push out the absurd technology options likeRSA keys and press the pricing down to the point where it really is everywhere andeveryone accessable. Then if we could just get Microsoft and Apple to build it intothe OS so that we really can authorize everywhere using easy tools from any provider.