Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas is the time for wishes to come true ...

    Today, a decision was made for me. Well, that is to say, a solution presented itself. Just in time for Christmas too. First a word about using the word Christmas.

    I am not Walmart. I am not Amazon. I do not even call myself "Christian" and my beliefs are my own. I do, however, say "Merry Christmas." Christmas is more than a religious holiday, it is an American Cultural holiday and has been for a very long time. So, I will not say things like: Merry XMas or Happy Holidays or any other such nonsense. If this offends you, then that is your problem. Deal with it.

    Ok, back to the subject at hand, programing for osX.

    Back in a previous post ( amazons apples and google oh my ), I was trying to find a way to work efficiently while trying to learn programing on the Apple Macintosh platform. While at a Christmas party I received the gift that keeps on giving, a cash value gift card. Shortly after getting home, I ordered the Sabrent USB-DH88. This is a USB video output device and was my first option for a solution to my work flow problem.

    You see, as I am sort of a gadget geek at heart, I have (more than) a few extra PC components tucked away in various closet's and storage areas. I even had enough to put together a linux PC that I have on the network to function as a Plex Media Server. Since I used it as a server, a monitor is not required. Thus I have an extra.

    The Monitor I will be using is a venerable Sceptre X9W. It will only display a maximum resolution of 1440x900. Putting it on a USB video adapter will reduce its already less than stellar performance to around 30 to 50 frames per second. Why would I do such a thing?

    The purpose of doing this is, in fact, its intended purpose. I will not be playing hi-def video, or any video for that matter on this screen. I will also not be playing games on it, nor will be doing any heavy web surfing. This screen has only one purpose: to display documents.

    Unfortunately I do not have a stand for it other than the one it came with, so for now it will remain in the default landscape mode. Which is fine, for now. I do plan on rotating it to portrait mode as my budget allows, but for the time being this will have to do.

    My current external display is an Acer AL2216W. It is a 22" wide screen job set to the maximum of 1680x1050. Not quite 1080p, but it is close enough to work for me. The screen is still larger and higher resolution than my MacBook Pros' built-in 15" display (which is gorgeous all on its own by the way). When docked my laptops' display is not available and I have been using this as my "Docked Display" happily for a while now.

    Once I get the USB Video adapter in the mail (four or five days), and I have a day or so for testing I will write up a review.

    I did manage to also get two Kindle eBooks for this project 'o mine. I purchased "Mastering Xcode 4: Develop and Design" by Jashua Nozzi and "Programming in Objective-C" by Stephen G. Kochan. Both of these are great books, at least the first few chapters of each anyway. These are also the books I will be using to test my hypothesis: Given a person of at least average intelligence, said person can be self-taught in the art and science of computer programming.

    Try as I might however, I just could not get any real work done from these books while trying to constantly flip back forth between active windows, desktops or even viewing them on my tiny smart phone display. I spent way to much time trying to memorize a line or two then put that into action. It just wasn't working for me. Once I am setup and ready for some "real" work, and I will start with chapter one all over again from each book and start this journey properly.

    I can' stay enough for "workspace layout." Having a layout that just doesn't work will drive you mad. Making due will work for most things, but not for anything really meaningful. This is especially true if you need a lot of information that you need to view at the same time. Of course, this could have been avoided by just buying the actual paper version of the book. Then again, as I have stated in previous posts, I am running out of space for paper books. I am actually trying to get my household 100% paperless. That is of course another issue entirely.

    This then, is the new beginning.