About This Site

There can be a lot of reasons to frequent a website, but I want to tell you why you should consider making this site a part of your online professional life. When I got started using LabVIEW many years ago there were no online resources for how to develop proper LabVIEW code – heck, back then LabVIEW applications generally weren’t considered to be “code” and “online” (in the modern sense of the word) didn’t exist! Consequently, I spent a lot of time looking up, photocopying and reading academic papers written by people who seemed to know what they were talking about. Over time, experience (sometimes painful) taught me what ideas were good and what ones were best left alone.

The point of this site is to pass along what I have learned. Over the coming weeks and months I will be rolling out features as I create them. Some will be free to all and some will not – after all a fellow’s got to eat… To flesh-out the site’s goal, and methods, let’s hear a little story about two friends, Marty and Phil (which is actually their names – sort of):

Getting started

The story starts with Marty. His father wanted him to be a lawyer, so being a good son, he went to law school. However, following graduation he had a life changing experience that sent him off in a new direction. To his credit, he pursued this new career with all the teutonic fervor he could muster — and he could muster a lot.

The problem was that he was a bit too earnest. His supervisors kept telling him, “Marty, chill. The boss isn’t mad at you.” But these statements, rather than consoling Marty, tended to produce a lot of confusion. Perhaps due to his legal background, Marty had read the organizational rules very carefully and couldn’t figure out why the boss wasn’t mad at him. In the end he bounced around from one job to another, until he finally ended up teaching at a university. But he was having more and more trouble with all the rules so one day he decided to make a list of all the questions he had (and he had nearly 100) and tacked it up the equivalent of the student union bulletin board.

Suddenly, everybody wanted to ask Marty about what he was thinking – and when I say everybody, I mean everybody. From national leaders to his own barber it seemed everyone had questions or comments about his list. So Marty started spending a lot of his time writing responding to questions people had and questions he imagined they might have.

Given the time he lived in, Marty used the technology that was available: pen, paper and, eventually, the printing press. But distinct from the technology used, this basic technique isn’t a bad place to start, so this site will follow Marty’s example and start with answering questions, but the technology has changed so here the discussion will be hosted on a blog. Some of the topics I have in mind at this point are:

  • Event-based message passing
  • Dynamic launching of processes
  • The importance of vision
  • Error management
  • Alternatives to tabs
  • Database-centric architectures
  • How to ask questions

And if you can think of others, let me know! The intent is that the posts will start a conversation where we can explore solutions together. Part of life is learning and I am perfectly willing to admit that there are still a lot of things out there for me to learn.

Getting Organized

Of course one of the problems with just answering questions is that it can be hard to put together a consistent narrative on a topic when all you have are a bunch of isolated pieces. Getting back to our story, this is where Phil makes his appearance. Phil was a colleague of Marty’s and he was a very ducks-in-a-row, B-follows-A kind of guy. Consequently, when people began clamoring for a complete, systematic explanation of what Marty was saying, Phil was the man to put it together because he had a real gift for “connecting the dots” and presenting large ideas in a systematic, organized way.

In the same way, Not A Tame Lion will soon begin to offer online, self-paced courses that cover larger topics, and to do so in a systematic way. Here are some of the things that will eventually be available:

  • Software Professionalism
  • Database Design and Utilization
  • Web-Based User Interfaces

As with the blog, I am open to ideas from you. In addition, I will be reaching out to colleagues and friends to offer them the opportunity to share what they have learned as well.

Getting Personal

So we will have a blog to discuss smaller, self-contained topics and online classes to show how these individual ideas string together to provide complete solutions. But there is still one thing missing.

Like professors long before him, and continuing on to today, Marty would often bring students home to supper. While the intent might have been to continue the conversation from class, the informal setting that was provided by sitting around a kitchen table changed the nature of the talk. The conversation would become more personal.

Even today, when working on a project it can be helpful to have someone that you can use as a sounding board for new ideas or to help you think through matters. That is the purpose of mentoring — which is the third service the site will offer: professional coaching and mentoring. And just to be clear, the point of this is not to advise companies as to how they should approach specific projects or address some problem they are having. While solutions may be found to such corporate concerns, those solutions will be, at best, a side effect. The emphasis of mentoring is always on the individual to, in essence, develop the developer.

Summing it up

So that is what Not a Tame Lion is up to. I hope you decide to hang around, participate and share.