In Which I Draw a Line in the Sand

Back in July I wrote about how the disk drive on my computer crashed. I replaced the drive and have been slowly restoring the software that I had installed on it before the crash. Today I finally got around to restoring the software that I use to write my book. It took several hours. One package, LaTeX, was so big that I had time to play my guitar while I waited for it to load.

I still have to restore my working files and check to make sure that they still produce the book like it was before the crash. This will mark a significant milestone for me. It will start the clock running again on my project to write a book. I have lost a month so I will push the goal back to the end of March. I’m not sure if that is a realistic goal but it will give me something to measure my progress against.

I wanted to go on record here in my blog about the deadline that I’ve set for myself. That way, I can look back and say that at this stage of the process I was this far along and I estimated that it would take seven more months to complete.

I am concerned about the amount of time that I’ve been able to allocate to work on the book. I am going to try to spend at least an hour a day on it during the week and five or six hours a day on the week end. I suspect that is overly ambitious but it is also what I based the March estimate on.

Sweet dreams, don’t forget to tell the people you love that you love them, and most important of all, be kind.

Of Stationary, Ebooks, and Writing Tools

Stationary has always been a weakness of mine. I love having notebooks of various sizes and weights of paper. I love the smell of printer’s ink. I love loose leaf binders and rulers, pens and pencils, and stencils like the flow chart template that used to be popular in college book stores. Do colleges even have book stores any more? I know they do but with so much of our information being delivered online, the advent of the electronic book, and the relentless competitiveness of online commerce, it is hard to believe that the campus book store will survive per se much longer.

My fetish for writing tools extends to computer programs as well. I have a huge collection of different text editors, word processors, outliners, mind mappers, and other programs for capturing ideas on a computer. Just this weekend, I installed a program called Instiki that allows me to easily create my own private Wikipedia-like hyper-linked collection of notes.

I still like the feel of physical books but I have to admit that I can store a whole lot more books on my iPad than I can in all the bookshelves in my two bedroom apartment. And so the trade-off has begun. I only buy my favorite author’s books in paper editions. The rest I buy ebook editions of. I sometimes buy the ebook edition of books that I also own the print editions of. That way I can carry it with me where ever I go without hauling around all that extra mass.

Physical books don’t take batteries. They survive power outages. That may be solved in the near future as we keep producing batteries with longer and longer lives. We may eventually build an ebook that can derive power from the environment without having to be explicitly charged.

Sweet dreams, don’t forget to tell the people you love that you love them, and most important of all, be kind.

I’ll Take a Cup of Cocoa┬« Please

I found a great book this weekend. It’s Cocoa┬« Programming Developer’s Handbook, Second Edition, by David Chisnall, published by Addison-Wesley Professional. It provides a very complete coverage of this broad subject but, unlike many of the other books I’ve read on the topic, it assumes that the reader is already a competent programmer. The author tells how Cocoa started life as NeXTStep on the NeXT computer and follows its evolution through a collaboration with Sun Microcomputers which resulted in OpenStep until Apple bought NeXT and adopted OpenStep as the heart of it’s development of OS X.

The book is wide, deep and fast paced. Don’t be frustrated if you find yourself having to read some sections more than once.  It includes an historical overview, a survey of the languages that have interfaces to Cocoa and why you might want to consider using each of them, an overview of the Developer Tools that Apple supplies to write applications with Cocoa, and of course, in depth discussions of how to use all of the various frameworks that comprise Cocoa (e.g. Core Framework, Core Graphics, Core Data, Core Audio, etc.) It also discusses the philosophy of Document-Driven Applications that was pioneered by Apple on the Mac. It frames these discussions with plenty of code examples that help place them in a practical context.