I thought my Google-fu was pretty damn good, but I've searched high and low for reviews of various bootcamps and training courses for software and web development, and I typically come up empty handed. So now here I am, and I'm trying to start a trend here: Publish a review when you attend a training course of any kind... Other developers would love to know which ones are high quality, and which are just out to give you the bare minimum for the maximum profit.
To kick things off, here we go:
The course itself is called "Building an HTML5 End-to-End Web Application with ASP.NET MVC 4, EF Code First and jQuery", and Dan Wahlin did an outstanding job teaching the class all week long. It is not a course for beginners... This is a course for software developers with some experience who are looking to level-up their capabilities and their understanding of the technologies they work with every day. You can even attend remotely with some pretty impressive looking technology to ensure remote students get just as much out of the course as those who attend the physical class.
The class is fast paced, but not at all brutal. You'll be there in the classroom from 9am to 4pm each day, with about an hour break for lunch in the middle. Dan was great with answering everyone's questions, and as one would expect with a reputation like his, he knew his stuff inside and out. Also noteworthy was that Dan would spend extra time on topics where it was clear the class had lots of interest or questions. He also made himself available for students to ask questions during breaks or after class whenever questions were highly specific to a student's situation, or too off-topic.
Overall, I found this training course to be of excellent quality, and it was an honor and a pleasure to get to meet Dan Wahlin and have him answer so many of my questions throughout the week. Almost none of the technologies we went over were brand new to me, but I know more about every single one of them now, and I have Dan and InterfaceTT to thank. I would definitely recommend this course to a friend or colleague, and I hope that I have the privilege of returning for further training at InterfaceTT in the future. It truly seems like a solid operation with quality instructors.
Ideapad Yoga: F U, Lenovo
I wouldn't go this far, but I kind of wanted to!
In the same vein as one of the funniest book covers I've ever seen in my life, "F U, Penguin", I'd like to hereby officially express the same sentiment to Lenovo, except I really mean only the F U part... None of the subtext or kidding around about how cute and cuddly Lenovo might truly be. Trust me... I tried... Lenovo and I are NOT on speaking terms, and there might be a restraining order in the works... I cannot comment one way or the other on that one.
For the masses of you following my blog with the feverish excitement of a Bruce Dickinson who just can't get enough cowbell, I know you've been dying to know what happened since my earlier post about purchasing that Windows 8 toting, flexibility wielding, touch-screen sporting Ideapad Yoga from the idea squashers over at Lenovo. The perceptive reader may already be able to deduce what my eventual conclusion was after working with the thing for a few weeks based on what I've already said, but I realize that I'm being quite subtle, and not in the least bit over-dramatic, so... Here we go.
The first, and one of the very biggest problems in my experience was the hard drive, a 128 GB SSD. Sure, it's not especially huge, but I was planning on using this as a secondary computer, not a primary. It was to be a super-portable tablet (with the bonus of being able to flip over into a laptop) that I would use for some very light development work on the go, but mostly for attending meetings, conferences, and doing a presentation or two. I did not need a huge hard drive, but I was blown away by what Lenovo did to that poor little SSD. When all was said and done, I wound up with approximately 40 GB of space left for me, as the end user. But... I'm a geek, so I figure this is all just a bunch of bloatware and trials and some other crud that I will just clear out, wipe the drive and start from scratch, freeing up a whole bunch of drive space. Right? Right.
WRONG! Ok, I'm a geek, but I'm not a Windows OS expert, and I should not HAVE to have a certification in the OS to do something as simple as wiping a drive clean and re-installing an operating system. First of all, Lenovo provides no recovery media. Everything is integrated into the drive itself, so there are two partitions, and then there are some other undisclosed number of hidden partitions. You don't know what any of them really do, because they have somewhat cryptic names which provide hints as to their functionality in some cases, and no clues whatsoever in others. Worse than that, since Lenovo provides no windows installation disc, you are stuck with installing all the junk they gave you to begin with, hogging up all the space on your drive. How does the average user go find a Windows 8 install disc? I have no idea. I found this article here, which provides some trickery to help you download it from Microsoft in a quasi-legitimate way, but holy-windows-guacamole, if there's no way to go download the OS, the computer should come with an install disc of some sort, not just a partition with the Lenovo-bloated version on a small SSD. Whining aside, you get no Windows install disc, and you don't even know your license key. I'm under the impression it is somehow stored in the machine's BIOS, but I'm not a BIOS Ninja by any stretch of the imagination, and I have no idea how to dig it out of there, and I have no idea if I will blow it away if I start mucking around with a bunch of the partitions Lenovo threw in there.
That there is the biggest problem. I was getting pop-ups from Lenovo's various trial-ware they had pre-installed. At one point, I got prompted to buy a PDF reader. Seriously? You're going to prompt your end users to buy something readily available for free and in a dozen different flavors for any OS you want?? No thanks. And this is why, Lenovo, you earned yourself the headline of this blog post. I'm not at all kidding: F U, Lenovo. I might be typing this from your IdeaPad right now if you hadn't loused up that hard drive so badly, and force all that junk on there that no one wants except for the companies giving you a few bucks for making sure that all of your customers have to deal with it.
The second problem, I am sad to say, was really Windows 8 itself. After using it for a few weeks as much as I could force myself to do so, I longed for a "classic" mode, where I could have the stupid 'Start' button on the normal desktop mode. Instead of a quick click on that Start button to launch any number of apps, I have to make several awkward clicks and/or gestures in order to get to my applications. It just makes navigating around more, not less cumbersome than it's ever been before, and it was already more cumbersome in previous versions of Windows compared to the experience I feel like you get in the Mac OS. This is purely opinion, however, I think you'll be hard-pressed to find a collection of reasonable individuals who are not on Microsoft's payroll who believe that the navigation is easier/faster in Windows 8 compared to Windows 7 and prior. In a quick search, I did find this guy who would vehemently disagree with me... But he cites a plethora of sources that disagree with him. I'll just rest my case. Mostly.
On the bright side, it's not ALL bad news... The IdeaPad felt like pretty solid hardware, and the machine worked well overall. There is a lot of coolness with all of the touch-screen gestures you use in Windows 8... However, it didn't feel well enough ironed out yet. Too often I had to make gestures multiple times in order to have the machine interpret them correctly. If you are more comfortable than myself with hard drive wiping, partition-joining, and have the know-how to make sure it's done without losing the embedded Windows license key, and without killing the machine in some other way with all of this hard drive manipulation and hopefully an OS re-install at the end of it all (provided you can find an installation disc/iso to use)... pant, pant, pant... With all that, maybe it would be no big deal, and you'd be up and running in short order with a more reasonable amount of drive space to work with.
I had been paying very close attention to my 30 day return policy, and ultimately brought it back to the store and handed it back over to them, and was delighted with my refund. I had no interest in keeping the blasted thing. I'd much rather forego all of the touch-screen fun for a nice little MacBook Air that would fit my personal tastes in computing far better. It's not a tablet, but the OS is easy to work with and easy to reinstall. For tablets, I'm sorry, but my fave still has to be the iPad!
Jon Bachelor: This geek goes all the way to 11.