Arcane Fun Fridays–More Music to Code By

Last week I listed a few of my favorite soundtracks to program to. This week I’d like to present a few more. These aren’t soundtracks exactly, but sure do sound like them. Very fast paced, orchestral pieces that sound like they were taken right from an action/adventure movie.

Unlike some movie soundtracks, which have a mix of both fast paced and slower interlude style music, there’s not a slow song in the bunch. Every track is fast paced adrenaline pumping code inducing music.

It’s not a single album but a series, called “Position Music”. Right now I have Volumes 1-4, there’s a fifth one of Christmas music that’s on my wish list, it’s totally unlike any holiday album you ever listened to. So without further comment here’s the list, hope you enjoy as much as I do!

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Position Music – Orchestral Series – Volume 1

 

 

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Position Music – Orchestral Series – Volume 2

 

 

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Position Music – Orchestral Series – Volume 3

 

 

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Position Music – Orchestral Series – Volume 4

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer – While I’m working on some self published Kindle books, I have no affiliation with them when it comes to music, feel free to purchase where you will.

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Life Balance

In my post a few days ago, one of my resolutions for 2011 is a better work – life balance. I am working on ways to still produce as much as ever but still give more time to my family. I’ve got a few ideas that I wanted to share, and am hopeful you’ll leave comments with your ideas.

Lunch time – I’m lucky enough to work from home quite a bit. On those days I make it a point to emerge from my home office which is down in our basement and eat lunch with my family. True, it’s a brief time, 20 to 30 minutes, but we still get to enjoy each others company. When I’m in the office for several days in a row, they come in to meet me at least once a week where we eat out together.

Date time – I have two daughters, so every couple of weeks my wife and I have “dates” with them. We let the girls plan what they want to do, and each of us takes a kid and goes on a “date”. That gives each of us one on one time with a kid, as well as giving the kids time apart from each other. My oldest daughter and I usually go to the local Doctor Who fan club meetings (she’s a huge Doctor Who fanatic, has her own sonic screwdriver and life size TARDIS). The other daughter loves ice skating and playing video games with me.

Remote working – Living room to dungeon. At the start of the year my wife and I redid our living room. We tossed our old sofa and each got a new recliner and end tables. I took an old laptop and ran the power cord through the drawer and out the back. Now I can sit in my comfy chair, pull out my laptop and remote control my two computers down in the dungeon (aka my home office). When I’m done, I simply close the lid, slide it back in the drawer and close it. It’s hidden out of sight, nice and neat. But now I can easily sit with the family and work on things that don’t require a lot of brain power, setting up virtual machines for example.

The “TO DO” list – Like many people I have a “to do” list apart from my work related tasks, stuff that needs doing around the house, car maintenance, yard work, etc. I’m trying to make a point to accomplish at least one thing on our to do list each week.

Portable Learning – Between my Kindle and Zune it’s now very easy to take my content consumption on the road. While I wait for the family to shop in some ladies clothing store, for example, I can sit and read or catch up on podcasts.

There’s a few ideas, hope they help you too, and please leave comments with your ideas!

T-SQL Tuesdays–Resolutions

There’s a new meme going around the SQL Server blogosphere called T-SQL Tuesdays. A bunch of SQL Bloggers all post about the same SQL related topic on the same day. Back at the beginning of January fellow MVP Jen McGown (blog | twitter) wrote a blog post about resolutions for the new year. Granted I’m way too late to be included in that round of SQL Server related Tuesdays, but thought it was a great idea and wanted to put up my resolutions. Since it’s February it’s a little late for new years, maybe we can call them Ground Hogs’ day resolutions?

Produce more variety – I’ve been doing a lot of content for Pluralsight, I want to continue putting out good content for them, but want to put out other content as well. I want to try and blog more, and hope to self publish a few books on the Kindle platform.

Consume more – As much as I love to produce content, I recognize that I need to do a better job of consuming more. My Kindle has been a big help with that, having a huge library available all the time has made it easy to switch between the subjects I want or need to learn about.

Balance my consumption – While I love technical books, I realize to be a true professional I need a good balance. I’ve started reading a lot of what I call “professional” books. Books that give me insights into things like business, community, time management, and teamwork.

Better balance of family life – Let’s face it, us really aggressive type A folks work a lot. When we’re not doing our 9 to 5 job we’re producing content like blog posts, books, videos, or are off at some user group meeting or weekend event presenting. This has a definite impact on the family. While my family is incredibly understanding, we still miss each other. So I’m working on some creative solutions to this issue.

Get my next certification – Last year I earned my MCTS for SQL Server 2008 Business Intelligence. This year my goal is to advance that and earn my MCITP also in SQL Server BI.

More Beta work – The CTP for the next version of SQL Server is now out. I want to spend more time working with it so when the final version is ready I’ll be well up to speed, plus better able to share the new features with the community.

I suppose this list is identical to the list of many people. but if I put it in writing I’ll be able to both measure it and hold myself accountable.

Arcane Fun Fridays–Music to Code By

I love music, it’s great to listen to when I read or program. I do find music with a lot of lyrics distracting when I’m trying to concentrate, thus action/adventure soundtracks are one of my favorite genera’s. Some surprisingly good music can be found from video game soundtracks. I thought I’d share a few of my favorites with you.

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Call of Duty – Modern Warfare 2 – This is an awesome score. I love the game, and love the music even more. It’s fast paced and will really keep your energy flowing.

 

 

 

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Call of Duty – Black Ops – Another great game, and another great soundtrack.

 

 

 

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Army of Two – After finding the Call of Duty soundtracks, I began to explore the soundtracks from other video games. This is the first one that I thought was in the same class as the Call of Duty games. Good stuff.

The Presenters Packing List

In my previous post I mentioned a packing list. I use this list prior to heading out to speaking engagements. I thought others might find it useful so I thought I’d put it here, along with a short explanation when needed.

Laptop – Pretty obvious

Backup Laptop – I bring my netbook along, as a backup computer. Just in case the main one dies.

External Hard Drive – I also bring along an external drive that has all my presentations, necessary ISOs, etc. This way in a real crisis I can borrow another presenters laptop to do my presentation. This actually happened at a SQL Saturday, only it was my laptop that got borrowed when a fellow presenters laptop failed to boot. Fortunately he had everything on a thumb drive.

Extension cord – I have been in a few venues where the power plug was almost out of reach. I keep a 12 foot extension cord in my bag that has three, three prong outlets on it. Even if you don’t need it for your presentation, it’s quite handy in the hotel room, and especially so if you’re flying. Often waiting areas have few outlets, most of which are usually occupied. I’ve never been turned down though when I whip out my handy extension cord and ask if we could both plug into it.

CAT-5 Network Cable – I keep a 12 foot network cable in my backpack, I’ve been to several places that had no wireless but did have wired. Heck, even going to business meetings it’s come in hand on more than one occasion. Also great in the hotel room as you can run the cord a distance and relax in bed.

Spare Mouse – Normally I like a trackball, but it’s easy enough to forget, so I keep a small travel mouse in my bag all the time.

Presenters Mouse – Please, please, please my fellow presenters! If you are going to present and have more than 3 slides in your presentation invest in a decent presenters mouse. It’s very distracting when you stand by the screen, then have to keep running back to your laptop to advance to the next slide.

Zune – True, I don’t use it during the presentation, but I keep it handy when I travel.

Kindle – Again, not used during presentation, but a great way to make the trip go by quickly, or to look up an answer to something you’ve been asked.

Cell phone – OK, I admit it, I once went to a week long convention and left my cell phone sitting in my desk charger at home.

USB Cords – Check to make sure you have all the cords you need for all the toys you are bringing. You will need at least one for each device, so you can interface with and also recharge.

Powered USB Hub – If you have more than a few devices, you might also wish to bring along a powered USB hub. Even if you don’t plug it into your laptop you can still use it to charge all your stuff.

Spare Batteries – I use rechargeable batteries in everything, a great investment and good for the environment. Before I leave I swap out batteries in everything I’m bringing for fresh ones, and make sure to bring enough spares to resupply everything at least once. If you are going to be gone a long time, you might also bring along your battery charger.

USB Thumbdrives – I keep a few thumbdrives in my bag, usually ones I picked up at some conference for free. I’m often asked by attendees if they can get a copy of my demos/slides, but then they don’t have a drive. Sometimes I even have the foresight to put the material on them in advance.

Business Cards – I bring along a big stack of business cards, they are easy to hand out (put a pile by the door and near or on the podium). Let’s face it, while business may not be your main motivation for being there, you wouldn’t want to turn any potential new customers down either.

Pen/paper – Keep a small notepad and paper handy, it’s great for writing down contact info, or “to do’s” that arise during an event.

Mouse pad – Sometimes your mouse just won’t work where you need it to, maybe the surface is too reflective, or not reflective enough. A spare mouse pad fixes that quickly.

Laptop cable locks – If I’m going to a multi-day conference, I might only need my big laptop for the day of my presentation. For the other days my netbook will do fine. To make sure my big laptop is safe in my room I use a cable lock to secure it to my desk or some other fixed object. Also handy if you want to leave it in a speakers lounge for a while, sadly there have been incidents where laptops have gone missing.

Penlight – I keep an inexpensive penlight in my bag, sometimes I have to get down low to run my power cord / video cable, or perhaps dig deep in my bag for something. A little extra light never hurts.

Swiss Army Knife – I have a collection of Swiss Army Knives, but by far my favorite is the CyberTool. It’s made for working on computers, I’ve found it extremely useful. Warning, you can’t take this on the airplane with you thanks to TSA rules, but you can put it in your suitcase so you have it while you are at your destination.

Swag – If you plan to give away anything, don’t forget to bring it along.

Cash – Keep a small amount of money in your bag. Maybe $20 (or the equivalent in your local currency). Keep it in small bills, plus a few dollars in coins. One late Sunday night I was caught in an airport with no open restaurants. Naturally there’s been no meal service on the plane and I was hungry. Fortunately I had quite a few ones and some change on me, so I was able to grab some food from the vending machines. Not fine cuisine, but kept me alive and my stomach from rumbling. Also handy if you have a car and need to stay in a parking deck or feed a curbside parking meter.

Power Supplies – Don’t forget them.

The “Extras”

Sometimes when I travel, if I’m going by my own vehicle and I’ll be there for several days, or if I’m helping to host an event, I’ll grab my “extras” bag. It’s a spare laptop bag, one of a bunch I’ve gotten from attending various conferences. In it I toss in things I might need. Among some of the contents are:

Extra CAT5 network cables; Extension VGA cables; A power bar with multiple outlets; small network hub; a variety of USB cables; Extra earbuds for my Zune;

Start Packing

Well there’s my list. Use it and adapt it as you see fit. Feel free to leave a comment with your own ideas of things in your laptop travel bag.

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