For decades, I’ve been tackling this question.  Note that I’m not a professional programmer, but have done some level of coding as a professional for testing purposes, and various programs just for fun as a hobby.  My programming experience goes back to when I was in high school where I was introduced to BASIC and Z80 machine programming.  Then in college, I learned FORTRAN.  When I worked on my masters, I learned ADA and C.If you’ve seen the evolution of computers, you can probably guess my rough age. Along the way, I also learned PASCAL and JAVA on my own.  A couple of years ago I started playing around with web technology which introduced me to HTML, CSS, PHP, and JAVASCRIPT.  I also messed around with PYTHON.

As you can see, I’ve dabbled with several languages, but never really became very proficient in any of them.  Today, I started to look back into this and have decided that I wanted to go back to learning JAVA.

Without realizing it, JAVA turned out to be the most popular programming language out there (see TIOBE Index for May 2017).  As of May 2017, JAVA sits at #1 getting a popularity rating of 14.639%.  Second is C at 7.002%, and thirs is C++ at 4.751.  As you can see, JAVA is way out in front in terms of language popularity.  See table below which I extracted from the reference link.

JAVA is most popular

JAVA is most popular (reference:  TIOBE Index for May 2017)


I believe the reasons are as follows:

  1. Apps in Android are developed using JAVA.
  2. JAVA is platform independent, meaning if you write code on one platform, say Windows, you can run it on another, like Mac OS, or Linux.
  3. JAVA is also the language used to develop apps embedded in various network devices (like Amazon’s Fire stick).
  4. Lastly, it is a general purpose language that is used in various industries, and if you are looking to get employed as a software developer/engineer, you’ll have a higher chance at landing one if you are good in JAVA.

If you are trying to figure out which language to learn, check into JAVA.

I’ve recently found many books out there, but they are so old.  I did find one the is a suitable one for beginners or someone trying to get a refresher on it.  It is Java Programming 24-Hour Trainer by Yakov Fain.  It is set up like a workbook with exercises at the end, and its contents cover all aspect of JAVA from being a desktop application to being a server solution.  I was published in 2015 which is pretty recent considering a lot of books out there on JAVA are over a decade old.

If you have any opinions about this, please comment below.

May 2, 2017, Microsoft introduced their Google App for Education (GAFE) ecosystem killer–Windows 10S, Minecraft Edu, Insight, and Office 365 Teams.

Having seen how Microsoft missed the boat back in 2012 when GAFE in combination with inexpensive Chromebooks were on the verge of taking over the education market, I can honestly say that today’s announcement has put Microsoft ahead of Google in terms of their offerings–starting with Windows 10 S, on platforms with a base price of $189.

Nevertheless, Microsoft has a big challenge ahead of itself.  For the past 5 years, Google has grown its roots deep into the education market with the abundance of inexpensive Chromebook device alternatives.  That’s because many school districts in the US have adopted the Chromebook as their standard platform for assessment testing and web-based curricular programs.  At the district where I work, the number of Chromebook devices has skyrocketed to around 26,000 units with another 9,000 on order soon.  The teachers like them because they boot up in a matter of around 6 to 10 seconds compared to the older Windows-based laptops that would take around 30 seconds to 2 minutes to completely boot up.  Technicians like them because they are easy to re-image, and there isn’t much to fix.  Through Google’s management console, all these Chromebooks are easy to manage.

The solutions announced by Microsoft today has met and exceeded the capabilities of Google.  From what I see, the fact that Windows 10 S can boot up in 5 seconds is a major plus.  The base price of $189 is also a major plus.  Where they will beat google are in these areas:

  1. Availability of
  2. Applications that are mostly non-internet dependent
  3. Ease of image deployment in small scale environment–through the use of a flash drive.
  4. Ease of device management in large scale through Insight
  5. Free Windows 10 S on genuine Windows Pro PCs
  6. Integration with next generation technology like 3D and augmented reality applications
Windows 10 S

Windows 10 S

All these are supposed to be available to schools this summer.  Unfortunately and realistically, it may be two to three years before they make deep inroads into schools that are already using Chromebooks.  This is assuming that they are able to maintain their technological edge.

What say you Google?

There is a question on our student’s knowledge list that asks “What’s the most important tool in life?”

The simple answer is “goal setting.”

We are now in the middle of the first month of the year–January 2016.  By this time you should have 1 to 3 goals already set for the year.

Here are some thoughts about setting goals:

  1. Set no more than 3 goals for the year–anymore and you will be out of focus.
  2. Set goals that are realistic.
  3. When making a goal statement, it is best to state something that you are going to do versus something you aren’t.  For example, you might say that this year, I will stop drinking soda.  Instead, state that you will drink more water.  This replaces the bad habit of drinking soda, which is what you really want.
  4. Make sure to pick worthwhile goals.

Why is goal setting important?

Without a goal, a person can go through the year without direction or purpose.  Without direction, it is difficult to achieve anything.  Goals help us focus.  If you keep you goals in mind, it will help you take action towards achieving them.

How to Use the Internet

How to Use the Internet

For the longest time, one of my life goals is to write a book.  Well, just last Friday, I published my first book!  It seemed that long ago, getting a book published would take a lot of work and money.  But in today’s web-connected society and just-in-time printing capability, self-publishing is within easy grasp of anybody.  I made that leap last Friday.  I published my book.  It was really a very easy and stress free process.  If you wish to publish your own book, please read on.  I’ll keep this article as lean as possible, so that you can get to the meat of the subject matter.

The image and link on the right is for my book titled “How to Use the Internet:  Seven Essential Internet Tools and Skills Anyone Can Learn to Use.”  This is the book I published on Friday.  Below are the top level steps I took to get this done.

  1. Figure out a topic to write about.
  2. Write it.
  3. Sign up for an account at CreateSpace.
  4. Sign in to CreateSpace and follow publishing instructions.
  5. Done
CreateSpace Steps

CreateSpace Steps

Figure Out A Topic To Write About

The second toughest part about writing a book these days is figuring out a topic to write about.  Whether you are going to do this for fun or profit, you need to figure out what to write about.  Here are some ideas you can use to help with this:

  1. Pick a topic that you are good at.
  2. If you’ve solved a problem and you think others can benefit from it, that would be a good topic to write about.
  3. If there is a subject matter you are very interested in, and you are willing to seriously learn about it,  that too could be a potential topic.

Regardless of what topic you pick, you need to pick one that you really enjoy, like, or really knowledgeable about.  Otherwise, you will quickly lose interest, and never finish.

Write It

As noted in the previous section, the second toughest part about writing a book is picking the topic to write about.  The toughest part about writing a book is the act of writing and editing the book.  This part takes time, effort, and a lot of perseverance.  It also ideally needs another set of eyes for editing, at the very least.

Depending on the subject matter and whether you are already a subject matter expert and the amount of time you have available daily to put into it, the writing efforts could take up to several months to do.  In my case, I took some of my weekends and early hours of the working day to complete it.  I completed it within six months.

Signup for a CreateSpace Account

This is the easiest part of the process–signing up for a CreateSpace account.  It’s free, and you just need to provide them enough information about you so they can pay you royalties and be able to report your income to the IRS.  To signup for a CreateSpace account, just go to

Sign in to CreateSpace and Follow Instructions

The third toughest part of the process is going through the CreateSpace process.  The steps involved here are relatively easy.  You can even download a MS Word file template so that you can setup your content according to the proper book format that would fit the dimensions of the book you selected.  Things you need to keep in mind is a good bio and picture so that you’ll have something to put on the back of the book regarding you as the author.

You also need to worry about the images you place in your book.  CreateSpaces recommends images with 300 dpi resolution.  As for a book cover, if you already have something you prefer, make sure you have an image ready; otherwise, you can pick from several stock photos and images available from CreateSpace.


Once you’ve published your book, it becomes immediately available from  They become available at other distribution channels from 3 to 5 days.  The good thing about all this is that no one has to maintain any inventory.  CreateSpace prints them as they are ordered.  The entire process is completely free; although you can use some of their services to help you with various aspects of publishing a book.

If you have any comments about this, please post below.

I do a lot of writing for various blogs.  One of the biggest challenges in writing is coming up with topics or subtopics to write.  Sometimes you just run out of ideas.  And aside from doing some brute force brainstorming, what else can you do?  You can always read news about the subject matter you wish to write about and comment on it; you can see what everyone else is talking about and give your opinion; or you can mind map.

What is Mind Mapping

The visual way of mapping ideas has been around since the 3rd century (according to I learned about it over twenty years ago when I was going through my graduate studies at the Air Force  Institute of Technology or AFIT for short.  It’s primary use is the mapping of ideas starting with one central idea.  From there, other related ideas radially branch out.

You can apply mind mapping in various ways.  Here’s how I’ve used it in recent past:

  • Document Complex Processes:  I used it to document how Apple’s educational volume licensing works.  Believe me, their volume licensing for educational institutions is complex.
  • Non-Linear Outlining:  I created the foundation for an outline of a book I’m writing–I actually finished the outline, and have started to write portions of it in another blog–
  • Create a Task List:  Sometimes getting a good picture of a challenge can be better visualized using a mind map.  This was the case when I used it to determine the various tasks that would be needed to improve the computer and network security of a K-12 educational organization.
  • Topic Generation.  Creating a list of topic ideas can sometimes be difficult using traditional means.  When I started with an experimental niche site several months ago, I use mind mapping to figure out various writing topics.  It was one way to figure out if I had enough content to write.
  • New Way to Take Notes.  I used it to take notes on a recent webinar I attended.  The good thing about it is that I can update my notes without really worrying about sequence.  Remember, traditional note taking is linear and sequential in nature; get out of order and your notes start to look very messy.

Tools For Mind Mapping

You can always mind map with pencil and paper.  However, there are computer programs to do it.  There are several awesome programs available out there for people to use, and most of them can run on any computing platform–including tablet computers.

  •  FreeMind – a free mind mapping application written in JAVA.  It is licensed under the GNU General Public License.  It has extensive export capabilities and works with Windows, Linux, and Mac OS.  I use this one on my Windows 7 computer at home and at work.  It exceeds my expectatios for a free product.
  • Mindjet for Android (previously known as Thinking Space) – This is a free Android app available via the Android market or  It works with cloud storage like DropBox, and it compatible with the FreeMind file format.
  • Thinking Space Pro ($4.88) – Paid version of Thinking Space; allows for attachments and sharing of mind maps.  Available on Android devices.
There are many others out there, just do a search.  Make sure to get one that is compatible with the file format of FreeMind.  If you do, you can save your mind map in the cloud (like DropBox) and work on them no matter which computing device you have with you–including your smart phone!

Example Mind Map

This is an example of a mind map I started to build for a section of a writing project.  I was trying to figure out why social networking skill is important in today’s world, and mapping it out really helped me organize ideas that revolved around this topic.

Mind Map Example

Mind Map: Central Topic is Social Networking

For the above example, I used FreeMind.


When you find yourself out of ideas, try mind mapping.  There are some great tools out there to make this easy.  FreeMind is my favorite; it’s free and it more than does the job.

How have you used mind mapping tools?

What's this? A Strawberry Spider?

Most people have a difficulty thinking out-of-the-box when trying to solve problems or just coming up with fresh ideas.  I, like most people, have difficulty doing this because of ideas, concepts, principles, and philosophies which have been ingrained in my way of thinking over my lifetime.  How can we get over this limitation?  The answer is quite simple.  Look to the young.

The young I refer to are those children who can communicate ideas verbally, but are still too young to be affected by prejudices and biases.  They can be anywhere from 2 to 4 years of age.  If you pay attention to them, you will see what I mean.

Here’s an example.  My grandson is 3 years old.  He is starting to doodle.  Most recently he drew what looked to be in the shape of a strawberry with lines coming out of it.  His mom asked what it was.  He said “strawberry spider”.  I’ve never heard of a strawberry spider, but it does look like one if I ever saw one–this from a kid who is still too young to have any bias in thinking.

One of the things he seems to do very well is to combine ideas or things that don’t seem to have any connection.  We as adults think there are no connections, but kids don’t know any better, and as such aren’t restricted in anyway to make any connections.

So the next time you are in need of some out-of-the box thinking or ideas, check with a kid who is too young to be affected by adult prejudices or biases.

I realize what the spirit of Tae Kwon Do represents, and I will obey the instruction of the teachers placed above me.

I will demonstrate the spirit of Tae Kwon Do within my daily life and will have a strong sense of justice.

I will, to the best of my ability, try to develop my mind and body and will keep faith in my fellow students.

I will obey my parents, volunteer dedicated service to my country, and will strive to be a productive member of society.