A Blog by Scott Isaacs

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Vizualize Me – A Visual Resume

The other day I signed up for Vizualize.me.  Once I got over the fact that they misspelled “visualize”, it looks like a pretty nifty little service.  They make a graphical resume for you, like the one to the right.  I’d always wanted my very own personal infographic, and now I have one.

If you are a LinkedIn member, they can optionally pull your work history, education, recommendations, skills, etc. from there so you don’t have to enter all of that again.  This was the choice I made and it had the additional benefit of making me update my LinkedIn profile so that there was good data to pull.

They have a number of different themes available, and you can customize colors and fonts, too.  You can include a bunch of different data, such as work experience, education, LinkedIn recommendations and various personal statistics.

Do you have a visual resume to share?

Math Truck, Math Wiz

Back when I was around 18 or so, I used to have a truck much like this one (65 Chevy).

Mine was very similar but a little different.  Some interesting facts about my truck:

  • Mine had more rust.
  • It appeared to have been painted with house paint.  By brush.
  • After each rain stopped, there was a white rectangle on the ground where some of the paint washed off.  Kind of like a truck-sized chalk outline.
  • The wooden bed had rotted through and about 3/4 of the bed of the truck was covered with plywood.  The remaining 1/4 was open to the ground below.
  • The muffler was held on by a coat hanger until it fell off one day driving down the road.  I dragged it for 1/4 mile before I could stop.  It was too hot to pick up so I had to wait for it to cool.
  • The rear view mirror would not stay attached to the window so I kept in on the seat next to me and held it up when I needed to use it.
  • The defroster did not work, so I kept a “defroster” (a towel) on the seat next to my rear view mirror.
  • The horn only worked if you took the 4″ diameter cover off and shorted a bolt in the center of the steering wheel to a contact a couple inches away.  Fortunately the cover was conductive, so I kept it on the seat next to my defroster and rear view mirror so I could pick it up and use it to short the circuit and beep the horn.
  • The hood was secured with a piece of chain and a padlock.  Otherwise anyone could open the hood from the outside.  Someone did this once and stole my battery.  So I bought chain and a padlock.
  • Only about half of the space under the hood was used.  The rest was just open to the ground.  Just like the bed of the truck.
  • It passed California emissions tests miraculously.
  • Sometimes, you had to slam the door about 20 times to get it to stay closed.
  • It was a manual transmission.  When I got it, it was “3 on the tree”.  Once the clutch went out and I had to drive a few days with no clutch.  I had to start the truck in first gear and be ready to go as soon as I turned the key.  I had to learn to shift without a clutch.  (Believe it or not, this story probably doesn’t make the “Top 10 Ways Scott Should Have Died Before Age 25” list.)  When I finally got it fixed, it was then “3 on the floor” which doesn’t sound as cool.  Also, the old gear shifter was left on the steering column for good measure, even though it didn’t do anything.
I only had the truck for a short time (less than 2 years I think).  As hilarious as this truck was (I’m not doing it justice here), I liked it.
In fact, I had plans to restore it.  Well, maybe not plans, but at least a passing desire.  I was pursuing a physics or math degree at the time (I switched from physics to math somewhere along the way), so I wanted to get it painted white and cover it with various equations (∫cos(x) dx = sin(x) + C, e^(iπ) + 1 = 0, etc.).  I wanted to get a vanity license plate that said “MATH TRK”.
That was half my life ago.  Literally.  I finally finished my math degree, although I never use it.  I’ve forgotten 10 times more math than most people ever bother to learn.  I gave up on studying physics, although I often regret that choice.  I never got my “Math Truck”.  (I moved on to the Black Pearl, but that’s another story.)
No, I never got my Math Truck, but that’s OK.  Instead I have my very own Math Wiz.

Charlie is in kindergarten now and is doing really well.  We couldn’t be more proud of her.  Watch out, Hawking.  She’s coming to get you in 20 years!

There She Goes

It’s been almost 5 years ago to the day since my daughter was born.  In many ways it seems like yesterday, yet I can hardly remember a time without her.

In just a few hours, she’s going to be starting kindergarten.  She was so excited she jumped into bed with her clothes on.


Evolving .NET

Jason Bock will be speaking at this week’s WI .NET Users Group meeting.  

Evolutionary programming and computation have been used in the past to produce amazing and unexpected designs, yet a lot people don’t know how powerful these concepts are. This session will describe these principles and show how you can use them as you develop .NET code by using LINQ expressions.

The meeting is on a special night this week: Thursday, August 11.  More info and registration is at the link above.

What Would Happen

So I was wondering something tonight.  

What would happen if the worst 10% of people in any given profession found a new line of work?  Would there suddenly be a shortage of programmers, for example, if the worst 10% of all programmers quit their jobs?  Perhaps, but I’d bet that most would not be replaced.

So what would happen if the best 10% of people in any given profession mentored someone?

Visual Studio Command Prompt Here

I’m rebuilding my computer after a hard drive failure, and I keep running into issues where things I’ve taken for granted are missing – things such as the "VS Command Prompt Here" Windows Explorer context menu items.

Years ago, Scott Hanselman posted INF files to add VS 2005 to the context menu. Using that as inspiration, I’ve created a version of the file for VS 2008 and another for VS 2010. For what it’s worth, I tweaked his VS 2005 file because my copy of VS is installed in "Program Files (x86)" and on older versions of Windows, such as when he posted, it wasn’t.

So enough with the intro; here are the download links:

Right-click to save your file of choice, then right-click on the saved file and choose Install.

Disclaimer-ish stuff: These modify your registry. You should open the files in Notepad first to understand what is happening. Use at your own risk. I’m sure you’re not reading this part anyway.

Good luck.

These Are Mine

Kelly and me

Charlize Brytan

The four of us

What are yours?

Happy Thanksgiving!

RTLB #5: Do Not Withhold Good to Spite Evil

This is the fifth in my “Rules to Live By” series.  Like every other professional, in every other field, over the years I’ve picked up a lot of things that make my life easier, or better, both professionally and personally.  Most of these things can be summarized in a sentence or two, and I’ve decided to call them “Rules to Live By”.  As much as any other reason, they are here to remind myself of things that I’ve decided to believe in, even if I don’t feel like it one day.

RTLB #5:

Do not withhold good to spite evil.

This is a tough one — for me at least. Have you ever had someone be rude to you? Or had a conversation with someone in a bad mood? Or found out that someone said something about you behind your back? Or conspired against you? No doubt you have had all of these things happen to you.

I don’t know about you but my instinct is to pop off and say something sarcastic in return or to be a smart aleck. Clearly this will rarely calm the situation.

I think everyone knows, though, deep down, that you should not return “evil” for “evil”. Sure, there are times that I must take a stand on something, and even be aggressive, but rarely should that be my instinct. This is a hard struggle for me personally, especially regarding people with whom I have a history. I struggle with it weekly, if not daily.

But I think I should be taking it even a step further.

Have you ever been just about to compliment someone when they said something rude? Have you ever started to slow down to let another driver merge only to have him cut you off and give you the finger? Have you ever approached an employee of a store and politely started with “Excuse me, ma’am” and received rude service in response? Did it make you want to give that compliment, be courteous to another driver or say “thank you” to the clerk? Probably not. But that is probably exactly what we should do in those situations.

It is one of my personal goals to make sure I do not withhold good to spite evil. It’s so easy to let one interaction change who I am. If I have made a commitment to myself to be a kind person — a commitment I feel everyone should make — what does it say about me that another person has enough control over me to cause me to fail at this? Am I not in control of my own actions?

No. I am in control of my own actions and that means that I am capable of giving good even if I have received only evil.

I’m working on this everyday and have found that the more I remember to be kind (which is different than acting kind, but that’s an entirely different conversation, but is possibly the single most important thing to note in everything I have said) the more I find myself wanting to be kind. To everybody. To family. To friends. To strangers. Even to the person who hurt me.

My challenge to you is the same as my personal challenge to myself. Give good in return for bad. Be kind first, and then act kindly. Remember that the person on the other side of the evil is a person and they may be struggling with the same thing, acting badly because they themselves have been offended.

Give it a shot and let me know how it goes.


In case you haven’t noticed, I haven’t been a very faithful blogger over the last several months.  I wouldn’t say that I’ve abandoned it, because I haven’t, but other things have definitely taken priority.

Aside from the typical “family and work distractions”, one thing in particular that has disrupted my blogging is Twitter.  I am much more active on Twitter, and you should follow me there.

In the meantime, don’t unsubscribe from the blog just yet.  I have a few posts in mind for the next several weeks.  🙂

Meeting Cost Calculator

Main Screen - After RunHave you ever been in one of those meetings where it seems that everyone in the company is there, even though they don’t need to be?  I think everyone has and it is especially frustrating when you are one of the ones that doesn’t really need to be there.

Well, based on a web site I saw a few weeks ago (the link escapes me at the moment), I wrote a little Windows Mobile app that will calculate just how much any given meeting is costing you and your clients.

It’s a pretty simple application.  You press Start, the dollars add up.  You press Stop, and they stop adding up.  You can specify the number of attendees at any given meeting.  You can also specify the default estimated billing rate and estimated cost to your company (for example, estimated average wage + benefits).

You can toggle back and forth between the client cost and the cost to your own company by either clicking on the appropriate region (current is highlighted) or by using the context menu on the Total Cost.  You can also reset the calculator from the context menu of the Total Cost.

Here are a few more screenshots.

Main Screen - After Reset Configuration Screen  Main Screen - Context Menu

You can download this directly to your Windows Mobile phone by going to one of the following links:

I am running WM6 with a touch screen, but it should work on WM5 and later.  I have only tested this on my phone, so your mileage may vary.  Download and run at your own risk.  Feel free to report any issues, comments or suggestions via the contact form below.

Update 1: This program requires the Microsoft .NET Compact Framework version 3.5.

Update 2: I’ve uploaded a new version with the following changes:

  • FIXED: Bug in highlighting currently selected cost
  • FIXED: Bug that always shows total for default number of attendees instead of currently selected number of attendees
  • CHANGED: Continues to run even if device is put into suspended mode
  • CHANGED: Configuration screen allows for higher ($500/hour) and more precise ($5 increments) for cost fields

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