This past weekend, I found a tutorial which unwrapped the mystery of one of the more dogmatic (to me) tools in Photoshop: Curves adjustment layers. Now that I understand them better, I can use them more effectively for photo editing and other stuff.
Like book covers.
My wife says I’ll be ready to write a book soon. Don’t think I haven’t considered it. For one thing, Photoshop is an incredibly rich experience, and beginners can easily be daunted by its vast array of tools and adjustments, filters and settings. It’s pretty amazing; about the only thing it won’t do is make dinner, but that’s probably in the works for a future version.
I think writing a book about Photoshop would be one of the best things I could do to learn it, but that’s a long, steep curve to climb. And it’s a slippery slope; my tech book publisher wants everything within 90 days and they pay slow. I’ve bellyached about it enough they might not want to work with me anymore, but fair is fair – both parties signed, and are bound by, the contract. Still, I’d be willing to pitch it to them if I thought I had the time to carry it off.
So at some point, I have to set PS aside and get back to my Visual Basic learning too. I did that this past weekend, with a new focus in mind: Windows Communication Foundation. I’m investigating use of this technology to provide access to the databases we use to store our data. If I can make this work, I can use it instead of the Data Access Layer I’ve talked about before. If (when) our databases change over to SQL Server or some other enterprise database system and Microsoft Access is dropped, I can adjust only the service which accesses them. As long as I don’t change the name or the structure of the stuff the client applications need, the job is done. Voila! Instant ease of maintenance.
And in thinking about this, I realized how poor a decision it was to build the dumb system the way it was built. I don’t know whether that means I’m becoming a better programmer, or whether it means I’m just opening up to new possibilities, but it sure means something. And I like it, because as I continue to hack and peck at this monolith, I continue to find better ways to do things, and envision new paths we can take as a business group to make this easier, better, faster, more scalable, more stable, etc. Very exciting stuff, actually.
Well…for me, that is.
So this web service/WCF service concept will mean I can write a single program – or a series of them as needed – and take any requests for data from clients, process them and return the data, and then go back to listening. While that’s not new by any means, the way it does what it does might facilitate things like easier download of data to Excel, or transporting over extra-company wires for outside use, should that ever be a consideration.
The beginning of a web portal, for our customers to get to our data so they analyze it themselves? Hm. The possibilities are endless.
(We already have a way for customers to see their data to our company as a whole; this would be strictly isolated to our business group and might be frowned upon.)
So anyway, the more I learn about Photoshop, the easier it becomes to understand the programming stuff…somehow. I don’t know why that might be, but so far, as I dive deeper into Photoshop, the Lord continues to answer my prayer of becoming a computer programmer, and I bless Him for it.
I also learned about using code snippets in Visual Studio from those videos. That’s not a designed outcome of the class, but boy oh boy, is it sexy to be able to type in a single set of six characters and have it put in lines and lines of code for you! No more repetitive data access code pecked into each application or page! Woo-hoo!
Ah, learning. I love the thrill of discovery.
So, how was your weekend?