Why should I specialize? Why should you specialize?

Was asked over a company coffee thing.
"Oh you are interested in WPF"
"What are you planning to do with it?"
"What is your next step?"

I was caught unprepared.  I've always seen myself as expert in anything I want to do.  Why not?  Why limit yourself to one technology tree?  What happens when that technology is a dead-end?
I've done Java, and now I'm sold on .NET.
I've done both Windows Forms and Web Forms.
I've done SQL Server 2000, 2008...
Part of the reason I've never been convinced of SharePoint.  Initially it was this portal system.  Then it seemed to compete with ASP.NET 2.0.  After a while... it got bundled into everything: Microsoft Office SharePoint.
Perhaps there is someone really high up in Microsoft that refuses to let it die.

There always seem to be these people (Evangelists) that seemed to know everything there is to know, about everything.
How do you go about becoming one of those?

Anyway, I can see the company's point of view.  Master of One Trade is easier to sell (and train) than Jack of All Trades.

But I still feel if I had to abandon any one of my many interests, it'd be like cutting my arm off :-(


Heaps and heaps of updates

Ok, heaps of update, stay with me.
(This is what happens when you don't blog for a while - but you ain't getting no apologies from me!)
  • .NET stuff
    • Having done .NET 2.0 for nearly a year, I can't remember what it was like without generics, or anonymous delegates...
    • Spring.NET is cool.
    • ASP.NET AJAX is cool.
    • NHibernate is somewhat cool (but I'm not sold).
    • DB2, the database that's used here sucks really bad.  Like a vacuum combined with a blackhole.  People should use a real, up-to-date database system, like SQL Server or failing that at least Oracle...
  • Work stuff
    • People come and go, I haven't decided whether I want to stay here or get moved to a different project.
    • Oh ya, did so much javascript (in particular, JQuery), I think I can dream in JQuery now.
  • Gaming stuff
    • Following quitting WoW, I played LOTRO initially to help me quit Warcraft.
    • LOTRO turned out to be a bit of a dead-end game at end game.  So we quit that.
    • Got into Tabula Rasa for a while.  That was a dead-end too.  Beta had too many issues and not many impressive moments.
    • Got an XBox 360, just for Halo 3 - that is one good game - probably as good as the hype.
    • Got into Bio Shock which I actually finished (got the good ending).
    • Got into Viva Pineda which was quite fun but I feel not much replay value.
    • Really got into Puzzle Quest - that is the cheapest $12 I've ever spent on a game.  Everyone loved it.
    • Got into Hellgate London - fun but not much things to do - it turns repetitive quite quickly.
    • Got back into World of Warcraft.  There's just nothing on the market that can compete with it for now.
    • Wish List: Mass Effect (will get this possibly after Chrismas)
  • Personal stuff
    • Wifey is pregnant (yay!), we're expecting in May 2008.  All signs are currently normal, which is the best I can wish for.
    • Going to have our last holiday together (since I heard after the baby is born I won't be going anywhere) to New Zealand, where I grew up but haven't returned for over a decade.

What is hakia and why should I care

I was reading my web ad's again (because I turned adblock off - I'll talk about that some other time).
There's this ad that hits me again and again.

"Can't find what you're searching for on Google?  Try Hakia"

My first impression is great another startup throwing money away...  you are 10 years behind Google.  Give up!

Curiosity got the better of me, so I searched on Google with this exact phrase:
"What is hakia and why should I care"

Google didn't have an answer for me, but it pointed me to a few Hakia websites which I didn't want to go read (after all it's just marketing rubbish written to suck venture capitalists' blood and money dry!).  I also found a link on readwriteweb.  What other people think, now that's far more juicier.

I didn't manage to get past the first sentence when my imagination ran wild.  The magic word?  Semantic Web.

Back in my university days, there was all this talk about the semantic web.  Idea is simple really.
  • Web (http) is designed for people
  • Web will become overloaded with information
  • Machine agents will be necessary to search our results for human queries
  • Web is hard for machines to understand
  • For this to happen, we need either:
    • A really powerful/fast natural language processing system to translate web information on the fly
    • Or someone bored enough to go around tagging all the web data with xml-based RDF's
Of course, Google happened, and people realized they didn't need semantic web... for another 10 years.  There's always the problem of finding answers to really obscure queries that you might have.  Usually, we just blame ourselves for not knowing how to type the Google query.

Try this one.

"who is the first man on the moon"

Hakia at this stage feels REALLY limited.  It doesn't seem to understand a lot of stuff or have answers to many things.  I imagine this is because it hasn't indexed/parsed enough content - what I would like to see is this:
  1. Don't fight Google head on - I don't think this can be won in 10 years.  I think they need some big guys behind their back to go directly against Google...  Ask Jeeves... I think isn't big enough.
  2. Open up the RDF data to machine queries - sell them to volume users like Google, MS, Yahoo, etc.  I'm sure lots of people will be very interested.  Hey Yahoo bought their search from Google for a long time!
  3. Stay relevant enough and long enough so that semantic web might actually take off.

Haha anyway, my love is for the semantic web, not necessarily for Hakia.  But good luck to them for pulling this off.  The web depends on somebody getting down and do this stuff.

Here's what wikipedia has to say about Semantic Web

A really nice background picture


This is a NASA image of the world at night, I'm guessing since you can't take the picture in one go, it's probably super-imposed a few times.

I love how the busy cities/places light up!  (ha I made a pun!)

It's a very nice picture for desktop background too -  it's a bit big and if you use the Stretch option it should fit any desktop size.

A scare

My wife told me something scary.

We were cooking some eggs on our gas stove last night to add to our dinner.  We had the fire on the smallest setting.

Apparently we both forgot to turn it off.

When she woke up and went to the kitchen, she was surprised the kitchen is somewhat warm (usually it's freezing cold in the morning).  To her horror, the flame was still going on the stove.  She quickly turn it off.

We give thanks to the Lord that nothing had happened to us during the evening.  It was very scary.

We do have a smoke alarm, but the gas-stove was going on the smallest setting and gives off no smoke, so the alarm didn't go off.  The window was also slighly open so that the kitchen had fresh air.