10 Awesome Fantasy Series That Are Not Potter or LoTR

In my literature related internet journeys I’ve seen the same scenario time and time again. People have finished reading “Harry Potter” or “Lord of the Rings” or are simply just getting into fantasy and are looking for something interesting, asking for advice from the more experienced fantasy readers. Unfortunately the names they are given are always the same:

  • Jordan (“The Wheel of Time”)
  • Martin (“The Song of Ice and Fire”)
  • Goodkind (“The Sword of Truth”)

Don’t get me wrong those are all great authors and great series, but there are many other series and authors that get overlooked when august names such as those start getting thrown around. I love reading fantasy and science fiction I’ve read dozens of different series and hundreds (or possibly even thousands) of individual books. So, I thought I’d make a small list of series’ that never seem to make it into other top 10 lists despite being well written, entertaining, different and in some cases no less epic than “Lord of The Rings”, “Wheel of Time” and others. So, strap yourself in for my list of less well known and under appreciated fantasy series’. Some commentary is included to whet your appetite :).

How To Retain Your IT Employees For Longer

The IT industry is notorious for its high turnover rate of employees. In fact it has gotten to the point that most companies don’t expect to keep IT personnel for a longer than around 18 months when they hire them. If you’ve ever worked in software or IT you would certainly be familiar with phrases such as “… none of us are gonna be here 2 years from now …” or something along those lines. I believe it has almost become a self-fulfilling prophesy, since no-one expects IT people to hang around for long, most of them don’t.

Of course the industry itself is partly to blame. It is still a very young industry and growing rapidly, which creates a lot of new opportunities and being by nature a fast-paced field it creates perfect conditions for people to “jump ship” whenever the fancy strikes them.

Despite all of this I believe there are many things you as an employer can do to keep your staff for longer and it is certainly in your best interest to do so. The hiring process is expensive and time consuming and you still don’t really know what you’re getting. Most importantly however, domain knowledge is not something you can easily replace. It takes years to acquire business and technical domain knowledge and it should certainly be high on your list of priorities to not loose the employees who already have this knowledge. Especially not to your competitors!

Does Everybody Hate George Bush

I have met probably dozens of Americans over the last couple of years or so, and out of all of them I only remember about 2 of them admitting that they voted for Bush. This got me thinking, just how did Bush become president of the US in the first place and how was he able to remain for 2 terms.

Thinking back over the last few years, I simply can’t recall reading a news story that was praising George W. Bush for anything. I certainly can’t recall a conversation with anyone – American or not – where Bush was mentioned with respect and admiration. Surely those are how a leader should be perceived by his people and possibly even by the international community. Admittedly I am not American, so maybe I am missing some pieces of the puzzle, or something is lost in translation I don’t know, but I find the situation extremely curious.

3 Things They Should Have Taught In My Computer Science Degree

That’s right only 3 things. Oh, there are plenty of things that I wish I would have learned about at university, but I am well aware that no degree will give you an exhaustive education in your field. A degree is meant to teach you the basics and equip you with skills so that you can learn the rest yourself. However, as I get more experience as a software developer, I find that I am increasingly frustrated about not having been exposed to these three things before I entered the workforce.

I believe that any Computer Science degree can be made a lot more relevant simply by paying more attention to these three points. Had I had more exposure to these things before starting my working life, I believe it would have given me some real world skills that I could have applied straight away, rather than having to scramble to learn everything I needed to know on the job. It would have made me better able to deal with the requirements of my work and would also have made me a better citizen of the IT community.

Why Web 2.0 Sucks

No Web 2.0

Ok, I have no problem with the concept, but does every man and his dog have to buy into using the acronym and especially the 2.0 suffix. Everything is 2.0 these days from the iPhone to grandmas corner cookie store (Cookies 2.0 – Dey Da Shznit).

Seriously the guy who invented the term should be roasted slowly over an open fire and just so it can be done properly, by experts, I condemn him to the deepest darkest pits of the 7th circle of hell. He’ll probably meet the guy who coined SOA there, I am sure they’ll have loads to talk about and become great friends.

What happened to the days when people coined grand and dignified terms for concepts they wanted to describe (like ‘cyberspace’ for example), the days you could look upon the acronym you’ve coined and know that it was good and would make you proud in the wild. No, now it’s all airy fairy concepts and trendy sounding punch lines, appealing to the youth market and all, makes me sick.

Fitness for Software Developers (and Other IT Professionals)

Exercises

A software developer these days is almost certain to engage in some kind of activity to maintain their fitness. Well, I may be stretching things a little :), but there are certainly more than a few developers who exercise pretty regularly; fitness is the “in” thing to do after all. I however found that many developers are either doing the “wrong” kind of exercise or focusing too much on some muscle groups to the neglect of others.

Every profession puts different kinds of stress on different parts of the body, this means that some exercise is very beneficial in some occupations while being almost harmful in others. Here, I will attempt to give some pointers on the types of exercises and muscle groups it would be best to focus on if you’re a software developer (or indeed any other IT professional).

If Software Development Was Like Medicine: Part 1

Software development often gets criticized for various reasons, overrunning budgets, failing to meet expectations, producing a buggy product, the list is pretty long. Inevitably when this kind of criticism is levelled at the software development profession, someone will try to compare building software to some other field, most often construction. You all know the analogy I am talking about, it often starts like this, “If we built houses the way we build software…”, and then goes on to describe in great detail how misshapen and barely functional the houses would be. Well, I’ve always had a bone to pick with that analogy, so I decided to come up with a new analogy, and I picked a completely different industry, Medicine.

Having become a lot better acquainted with the medical profession than I ever wanted to be, over the last few years, I feel that I am qualified to make this comparison :). I also decided to look at the whole thing from another perspective, rather than comparing medicine to software development, I decided to do it the other way around – here is the story I came up with.

Will We Keep Breaking Olympic Records Forever?

With the Olympics drawing to a close shortly, I couldn’t help noticing the tremendously high number of Olympic and world records that have been broken. According to the official site 36 world records and 74 Olympic records have been broken as of August 19th. It certainly makes for an entertaining Olympic games, but this started me wondering about the future of sport in general and the Olympics in particular. The question I ask myself is, just how close are we to the limit of human potential as far sporting endeavours go?

Where are we now…?

I would say that if we haven’t passed that limit already, then we are surely very close to what humans with no technological assistance are capable of. And this of course raises the point, just how much of a role is science and technology currently playing in sport?

It is clear that sport has become more professional over the last several decades. Just about all athletes now competing at the games do their sport professionally and certainly training techniques have improved tremendously as well (sport is big business now after all). However, no-one can say that technology isn’t playing a major role:

Top Indie Games You Wouldn’t Mind Paying For

A couple of years ago I found that I was completely sick of the bland and derivative games that were being released by the top publishers (Fifa 200X indeed :)). So, I went looking around the web for something better, games that could draw me in with innovative and immersive gameplay. This is how I became acquainted with the indie gaming scene. Since that time I’ve compiled a small list of indie games that have really stood out from the crowd for me, games that I felt were more than worth the price I payed for them.

I thought I would share these games with the world in one convenient list. None of the games here are what I would term ‘casual games’ (no puzzlers, tetris clones or tower defense types), also none of these are multiplayer. However, just about all of these are innovative games that will keep you busy for hours on end at a fraction of the price you would normally pay for commercial games (they have certainly kept me entertained for longer than most commercial titles).

Well, without further ado, here is the list, in no.

Java and .Net Taking On Contenders And Winning

Ever since I joined the software industry I’ve been hearing, from my older and more experienced colleagues how fluid the software industry is, how quickly languages and frameworks come and go. Older developers would fondly (or, more often, not so fondly :)) remember the days when they were programming in C, then C++, then Smalltalk or Delphi or whatever, languages that have since been essentially superseded by Java and .Net (mostly C#, VB.NET), at least as far as enterprise software development is concerned. The lesson that we the ‘young guns’ were meant to take away from this was that in the software industry, languages are in the spotlight for only a short while and are then eclipsed by newer and arguably better languages that, everyone who is anyone, begins to use.

Well, I am going to put my futurist hat on and make a prediction. We are in uncharted territory with Java and .Net and the trend that I am talking about is not going to repeat itself at least not in the same way. Java and .Net are going to be with us for a long time to come and here is why.