My Secret Life as a Spaghetti Coder
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Since the gift buying season is officially upon us, I thought I'd pitch in to the rampant consumerism and list some of the toys I've had a chance to play with this year that would mean fun and learning for the programmer in your life. Plus, the thought of it sounded fun. Here they are, in no particular order other than the one in which I thought of them this morning:

  1. JetBrains' IntelliJ IDEA: An awesome IDE for Java. So great, I don't mind spending the $249 (US) and using it over the free Eclipse. The Ruby plugin is not too shabby either, the license for your copy is good for your OSX and Windows installations, and you can try it free for 30 days. Martin Fowler thinks IntelliJ changed the IDE landscape. If you work in .NET, they also have ReSharper, which I plan to purchase very soon. Now if only we could get a ColdFusion plugin for IntelliJ, I'd love it even more.

  2. Programming Ruby, Second Edition: What many in the Ruby community consider to be Ruby's Bible. You can lower the barrier of entry for your favorite programmer to using Ruby, certainly one of the funner languages a lot of people are loving to program in lately. Sometimes, I sit and think about things to program just so I can do it in Ruby.

    If they've already got that, I always like books as gifts. Some of my favorites from this year have been: Code Complete 2, Agile Software Development: Principles, Patterns, and Practices which has a great section on object oriented design principles, and of course, My Job Went to India. I have a slew of books I've yet to read this year that I got from last Christmas (and birthday), so I'll have to list those next year.

  3. Xbox 360 and a subscription to XNA Creator's Club (through Xbox Live Marketplace - $99 anually) so they can deploy their games to their new Xbox. This is without a doubt the thing I'd want most, since I got into this whole programming thing because I was interested in making games. You can point them to the getting started page, and they could make games for the PC for free, using XNA (they'll need that page to get started anyway, even if you get them the 360 and Creator's Club membership to deploy to the Xbox).

  4. MacBook Pro and pay for the extra pixels. I love mine - so much so, that I intend to marry it. (Ok, not that much, but I have been enjoying it.) The extra pixels make the screen almost as wide as two, and if you can get them an extra monitor I'd do that too. I've moved over to using this as my sole computer for development, and don't bother with the desktops at work or home anymore, except on rare occasions. You can run Windows on it, and the virtual machines are getting really good so that you ought not have to even reboot to use either operating system.

    Even if you don't want to get them the MacBook, a second or third monitor should be met with enthusiasm.

  5. A Vacation: Programmers are notoriously working long hours and suffering burnout, so we often need to take a little break from the computer screen. I like SkyAuction because all the vacations are package deals, there's often a good variety to choose from (many different countries), most of the time you can find a very good price, and usually the dates are flexible within a certain time frame, so you don't have to commit right away to a certain date.
Happy Thanksgiving to those celebrating it, and thanks to all you who read and comment and set me straight when I'm wrong - not just here but in the community at large. I do appreciate it.

Do you have any ideas you'd like to share (or ones you'd like to strike from this list)?

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Happy Thanksgiving, brother! See you soon.


Posted by Grant on Nov 22, 2007 at 12:31 PM UTC - 5 hrs

And the same to you, Granty boy! Dr. Emilio may be joining us for a beer over the holidays as well. I spoke to him the other night and he says he'll be in town for about a week, so it will be a tight squeeze. My guitar will be tuned and ready to go.

Posted by Sammy Larbi on Nov 22, 2007 at 11:06 PM UTC - 5 hrs

Hell yes, my friend! Count me in! And Barry has been back-and-forth between Houston and LA a lot lately, trying to figure out what's happening with Blanco's and the rest of his Dad's things. I bet he'll be in town for a bit over Christmas, too, so we've all got to get together. I'll be ready with random pieces of a drumset... :)

Posted by Grant on Nov 23, 2007 at 03:04 PM UTC - 5 hrs

Awesome - I'm looking forward to it!

Posted by Sammy Larbi on Nov 23, 2007 at 08:40 PM UTC - 5 hrs

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