Best of All

I’m doing a lot of ramping up on Windows 8 these days, and it’s really exciting. I have some experience with HTML, CSS, JavaScript, XAML, C#, and even C++. And with Windows 8, I’ll have the chance to take my pick. Metro-style apps as they’re called on Windows 8 are usually going to be either A) HTML5/CSS3/JavaScript, B) XAML/C#, or C) XAML/C++.


This route would be a good choice if you already have web development skills and perhaps have an app already developed in these web technologies. I imagine the process will be to grab all of the markup and script from your existing app, paste it into your new Windows 8 app, likely convert the styles to be more “metro”, and then convert the aspects of your app that can use the underlying OS and device features. That’s not nearly as bad as a complete rearchitecture. Even though the languages are compatible, however, the style of a Windows 8 app is rather unique and I don’t know that the application sharing will be quite as cross-platform as some may think.


This is exciting route in my opinion. I have a ton of web design and development experience, but even HTML5/CSS3 can’t compete with the rich offerings of XAML. And I’ve authored a lot of JavaScript and jQuery, but I would still way rather be in C# writing LINQs and lambdas and interfaces and such.


And finally, the uber performant, low-level route going with XAML and C++. I don’t personally enjoy writing C++. It’s been too long since college, and for how seldom I need the miniscule performance boost, it’s not worth the productivity hit. I don’t like writing assembly code or machine code either by the way.

So I’m pretty pumped about Windows 8 development. Now get your copy of the developer preview (or the beta before too long!) and start making apps.

Courage is Critical

I was standing on the edge of a cliff overlooking Crescent Lake on Orcas Island with three friends. Just a few moments earlier we were watching other people jump off and into the water far below. It looked fun and we were all excited about it. I can honestly say that I didn’t have the slightest reservation… until I got to the cliff’s edge that is. Sixty feet hadn’t sounded like that great a height a few minutes before, but as I looked over the edge, suddenly it looked so asinine. The survival parts of the brain do their best to talk a person out of things like this, and they were threatening to work on me. I was genuinely scared.

Matt had volunteered to jump first. He was talking big. He was ready to jump - so said Matt, but after a few paces and a few glances over the edge he said, “I’m not ready.” It was very disheartening. His former assuredness was about to convince me that it could be done, and his turn-about was deflating.

Jeremy (not me… another Jeremy) was watching the scene unfold. I don’t know if he was feeling deflated like me, but if he was he didn’t let it interfere with with what he did next - he made a subtle pronouncement, ran to the edge, and shoved off. We watched him hang for some time in the air and hit hard below. We also watching long enough for him to resurface and haloo like an animal. Exhiliration.

What happened in those few seconds was pretty big for me. Jeremy may not have felt courage, but he certainly acted courageously. And whether he meant to or not, he encouraged the rest of us - in the true sense of the word. He didn’t sit us down and fill our ears with a bunch of “you can do it”, “believe in yourself”, and “blah blah blah”. He just jumped.

So I jumped too. It was a long way to the water… long enough to think about the fact that I was still airborn… and then once more. Finally, I hit. It was no big deal really and I let out an involuntary shout after resurfacing too - partly because of the exhiliration and partly because my shin struck the bottom.

Then Matt jumped. And then Scotty jumped too.

That display of courage has been an inspiration to me ever since and my mind has applied it to many a situation - some much like jumping off a cliff and some not at all.

Education, Experience, Inspiration

In my opinion, there are three elements to a balanced and effective professional in whatever field: education, experience, and inspiration. The combination of these elements are essential if a person is going to be a producer - that is - they are going to produce results. I’m a software developer so my mind goes first to the production of software, but the concept is universal.

Think for a bit about a mouse in a maze. You know, the one that learns by trial and error. He runs into decisions and dead ends and each time adds this information to memory to as to eventually rule out all of the ways he should not go. Imagine now that he were able to read an instruction manual or study a map for his maze before he embarks.

The instruction manual is the education and the trial and error is the experience.

Staunch academics will decry the need for experience, claiming that what there is to be known can be read in a book, committed to the brain, and recalled when required. In the other camp, the non-academics - the ones that were all to happy to be finished with school - make opposite claims about the worthlessness of book knowledge. Their claim of “street smarts” is that experience is not only a much better teacher than education, but can almost entirely replace it.

Neither is correct, of course, but the battle will surely rage on.

But I want to talk briefly about a third dynamic - inspiration. Inspiration is the cheese at the end of the maze and perhaps even the intrinsic joy of laying tracks! With education we know how. With experience, we know how not. With inspiration we finally have why.

But it doesn’t always make sense on paper or in our cerebral analysis. We might scan a prospective’s resume like a robot taking in data about schooling and work experience, but we might overlook the passions and objectives. None of the elements in the trifecta should be diminished, but most certainly not inspiration. Without education or experience a person will be behind but without inspiration I submit that he will be lost.

So how do we inspire? The questions on how to impart education and experience have easy answers, but not as much with inspiration. Inspiration is seed tossed into the soil. It requires some receptive soil, some time, and some faith. It’s a tough process. It’s tough because it’s hard to put words to any right method and no one actor is entirely in control.

I’ve always been interested in a concept I call general inspiration. I’ll explain.

I do not play guitar. I wish I did, but I have never loved it quite enough to practice everyday and learn how… which is obviously what is required. But when I hear someone play the guitar I can become rather inspired - not just inspired to play the guitar mind you because I’ve given up on that, but just inspired. I might redirect that inspiration into software or computer graphics or cooking or conversation. But what was given to me via the medium of a the instrument, I give back in another form. Inspiration was, then, the common currency of the transaction.