Noel Volk

The Headmaster for my last years at Immanuel College recently passed on from a short illness. (previous references here and here)

Contrary to popular memes, I have nothing but fond memories of Mr Volk, or Noel as he preferred I called him in 2005.

Mr Volk was one of those highly influential people in my life. He was one of a small handful of people made an impact on my persona, from an intellectual perspective. A learned man, he daily demonstrated that geeky people mattered in the world. A great man.

Ave, Mr Volk. Noel.

Thoughts are with the Volk family.

Update: November 2008: I have a scanned copy of the obit from The Advertiser

(thanks Mum for the sad info)

Our Descendants will be the Pets of a Future Singularity

Man-Machine Merger Arriving Sooner Than You Think on the Singularity. Mind expanding stuff. Vernor Vinge and Cory Doctorow. Originally posted on BoingBoing Vernor Vinge and Cory on the Singularity on NPR

This stuff gets my mind going in different directions. Augmented humans, instant access to information. Our children’s lives will be shaped by how to access, not having to burden themselves with having to immediately know.

When in society has this been different anyway? The young ones always know more than the oldies. My adage is simple: There is always someone younger and smarter than you. However, youth is no match for experience

A Half-Day with Microsoft WPF and a Rainbow

As the bus travelled over the Sydney Harbour Bridge, we trundled through a rainbow to the pot-of-gold called Sydney Financial District: The CBD. Still looking for the leprechauns.

Microsoft WPF (Windows Presentation Foundation), a key part of Microsoft .Net 3.0 presents a mechanism for building interfaces in XAML, and code against this in a CLR language. In Joseph’s and Deepak’s course, we had a choice of language. Having never used C# before, I decided to deep end myself with C#. So much like Java; takes me back to 1998.

Thanks to Joseph and Deepak for their time. Positioning WPF, or in normal-speak: what problem does WPF solve need to be clearly articulated. Especially when you compare Win32 Forms vs. Managed vs. WPF vs. XHTML via ASP.NET – WPF has yet to hit its sweet spot. The separation of Design to Development is interesting; writing the specs/contracts to get the wiring correct is going to be critical.
There was some homework, and I have a project in mind for Uncle Mike built with WPF. However, Mike is a renegade Mac user. Oops, no Firefox or Mac until WPF/E comes around. Might have to go Flex.

The rich user experiences, connected to the internet are starting to appear in all sorts of places.

How do you build them? How complex is the developer experience: setup, debugging, maintenance and deployment?

Time to start that “Do Something“. Maybe that’s what the rainbow was telling me.

Our Brain Wiring is Evolving

Talking to the great Michael Stoddart (Stod) around the proverbial water cooler, he stated that under-25’s don’t learn the same way as us Generation-X and cusp-Baby Boomers.

Rather than learn by rote the ins-and-outs of a “new thing”, the Generation-Y’s remember the tags and “where to access” the information – knowing that if they ever need the information in the future, they’ll use the “tags” to grab the info.

Also, Generation-Y are experienced with the media-savvy breadth of info, and know how to “filter” out the noise.

Last week, Uncle Mike asked about my “take” on tags.

Now I get it – “tags” are a memory access method, a digital mnemonic.

Rote learning just doesn’t work in a stream-of-media world.

I’d love to get into the understanding of Learning; time doesn’t permit so I’ll tag it, and move on.

Taking Time To Reboot

On January 6th this year, I had a small personal celebration: my twentieth (20th) year of full-time work. Whilst I am at my third employer, I’ve never had more than a day between jobs. ( Profile: Nick Hodge) The longest holiday I’ve had in last 20 years has been the month the Hodge family went to Europe (70 Days, 7 Countries). Apart from that refresh, its been a week or two here and there.

Here I am, in my late thirties. A potentially jeopardous time for men. They do silly things like buy fast red sports cars (Scarlett Comes out in Style). The body doesn’t look, feel and work the same old way. And they start to look ahead a little, and drive a little slower.

We are all bound by the decisions we make: what cars we drive, what houses to buy; what job to do; and further bound by expectations: what do people expect from me? Why do I have to get up every morning and go to work? It leads a difficult decision: “Can I get off this merry-go-round?”.

After weighing up these conundrums, I’ve decided to spend the next 5-6 months “rebooting”, “reseting” and “reloading”, prepapring for the next 20 years. Slow down, smell the roses. Look back and look ahead. Read some books, learn some new things. Return to Adobe in a different role. Calm down and get stuff done that matters. And as Carl Sagan said to his students: “Do Something” (Carl Sagan)

After a busy, full and fun 20 years – that “something” remains equally as ethereal, but I’ll be ready to tackle it head on.