Category Archives: Site News

The Sixth Anniversary

It’s been six years since Gigi Labs was launched. That’s a long time for any blog, and a third of my overall 18-year presence on the web.

In terms of content, Gigi Labs has slowed down but gone in some interesting directions. That’s mainly because of the way things generally turned out over the past year, including:

  • I spoke at a couple of conferences
  • I earned a couple of certifications
  • I gave up on Windows and have completely switched to using Linux at home
  • I’ve been doing more management and architecture than actual development
  • COVID19 means I have more time but less motivation to do development-related stuff in my spare time
  • I have continued writing long blog articles professionally in my free time
  • Getting really tired of WordPress as a blogging platform
  • Picking up a little gaming once again
My RedisGraph talk at RedisConf 2020

Here is a summary of some of the more interesting things I wrote over the past year:

Over the coming year, I’m not expecting to focus very much on writing new articles at Gigi Labs, for a number of reasons:

  • In most cases, anything I can write about software development, architecture or management is already covered somewhere on the web. I don’t want to contribute to information overload on the internet.
  • I don’t really want to write about management. There are far too many people blogging about management who think their particular experiences are universal wisdom that needs to be shared with the world.
  • Writing high-quality technical articles is very time-consuming and provides little reward.

I’ve always enjoyed sharing knowledge on the web – for free – and that’s not quite going to change. But just to make the best use of my own time, I’ll write some new content only when I feel it’s worth my time, i.e. when it’s something unique, fun, or even something existing that I can tell in a more concise and accessible manner (e.g. the C# Asynchronous Programming series). My old blog, Programmer’s Ranch, as well as Tania Rascia’s blog are good examples of the direction in which I’d like to take Gigi Labs.

Another thing that I think will change is Gigi Labs’ role as both my blog and my personal portfolio. I’m currently developing a new website which will keep track of my projects, websites, talks and other contributions, while Gigi Labs will go back to being just my creative outlet.

5 Years of Gigi Labs

Image generated using Name Birthday Cakes.

Yesterday, Gigi Labs turned five years old.

If you’ve been following Gigi Labs for a while, you’ve no doubt noticed that things have somewhat slowed down in the last couple of years. This is the result of a number of things, not least of which is having spent a year and a half living and working in Dublin, Ireland. I have also had the opportunity to write blog posts on a professional, freelance basis, and I continue to get involved in other things that allow me to keep learning.

One of the views from Killiney Hill Park, Dublin, Ireland on 10th February 2019. No, it’s not always raining in Dublin, and you can go on some really nice hikes even when it is.

More importantly, however, I’ve been trying to focus on writing quality articles using the little free time I have available, rather than simply blogging about whatever everyone else is talking about.

In fact, while the past couple of years have seen a mixture of content, I think they have included the publication of some of the most interesting articles on this blog to date, such as:

Also worth mentioning are some “Getting Started” articles, including a few on Microsoft Orleans 2.x, one on Angular 8, and another on Umbraco 8. I have a lot of such step-by-step beginner articles at Gigi Labs which often tend to be a good starting point for people wanting to start learning about new technologies.

I have had the fortune of learning a lot in these last two years, and I hope I will get the chance to share some of that. Even if articles might not be published very regularly, I hope that you will find that they’re worth the wait.

I also continue to be involved in the local tech community in Malta — in fact, I launched a new website in June called Teknologija to keep track of events across the various groups. I am also open to getting involved with and speaking at events abroad, so get in touch if you’re interested.

Thank you very much for your continued support!

Third Anniversary

It seems like it was yesterday since Gigi Labs was launched, and yet, that happened three years ago today.

In the past year, a lot of new articles were added, and there are now over 200 articles in this site. I’ve added pages under the Writings section for each of the more important series. In there, you’ll now find the progress of the Programmer’s Ranch migration, as well as two highly successful series launched this year: The Sorry State of the Web, and C# Asynchronous Programming.

The Sorry State of the Web started as a result of my frustration with so-called professional websites, including major US airlines. In time I ran into so many issues that I published one or two articles a month for six months. While this was entertaining sport, the web didn’t get any better as a result, and I figured I could use my time more wisely elsewhere. For instance, by writing high-quality articles to help people write good software.

And so, this month, I decided to write about C# Asynchronous Programming. I observed over the years that this was a topic that .NET developers found particularly difficult to grasp, and I decided to put in writing what I had been explaining over and over again to different people. While there was too much to say for a single article, the series that resulted from this effort was phenomenally successful. In fact, this month has been Gigi Labs’ best month ever in terms of traffic, by a huge stretch.

Other articles of note in the past year include my article On Daily Standups (which, as I expected, was quite controversial), various articles on Mirosoft Orleans (including those on Persistence, parts of which were contributed to the official Microsoft Orleans documentation), and articles on .NET Core / .NET Standard which helped to alleviate a lot of the confusion that many people had with what is now a family of frameworks.

In the meantime, I have removed the page that served as a quick reference to interest rates offered by Maltese banks. Since I had no more time to maintain this anyway, removing it helped Gigi Labs keep its focus.

I wish I could give some kind of idea of what’s in store for Gigi Labs in the coming year, but the truth is that I don’t know. For one thing, I would like to get back to game development – both because that is where my heart has always been, and because I feel that making games is really the best way to teach a lot of programming concepts. But I’m not making promises at this stage – we’ll see how things play out (pun not intended) in the coming months.

Once again, thanks for your support over the past 3 years!

Second Anniversary

Gigi Labs is 2 years old today! To date, over 150 articles have been published here, mainly on software development.

Something around 30 articles of these have been migrated from Gigi Labs’ predecessor, Programmer’s Ranch. This constitutes around one third of the Ranch’s content. Some might think that I’m merely reposting the old articles, but I am going through a lot of effort to bring them up to date and provide all my content on a single website.

Regular readers of Gigi Labs probably noticed that I am posting articles a lot less regularly than I used to, and this trend is expected to continue. The reasons for that are (1) that I am occupied with other things, especially travelling, and (2) I am learning a lot of new tech, and that takes a lot of time. But this means I’ll be able to write articles that are more useful and unique.

Gigi Labs is about quality, not quantity. I’d much rather write a unique and well-researched article once in a while than a stream of basic tutorials that you can find elsewhere on the web.

I would like to thank those who have provided comments and corrections to my articles in these 2 years. My knowledge is limited and I am more than happy to learn new things from other people’s experiences. So keep them coming!

First Anniversary

A year has passed since Gigi Labs was launched as a successor to Programmer’s Ranch, my previous blog based on the Blogger platform which featured exclusively technical articles.

Gigi Labs is instead based on the more mature WordPress platform, and this has made it a whole lot easier to write technical articles and include code samples. In fact, a total of 85 articles have been published at Gigi Labs to date (compared to 91 in the 18 months of operation of Programmer’s Ranch).

The vast majority of articles here have been on Software Development. Some topics of note include C# 6 and Visual Studio 2015 (articles written while these were still in development and little information was available), Redis (articles featured in leading Redis newsletters), SignalR and RabbitMQ. Many other articles deal with a range of interesting and obscure topics.

Recently, I began migrating some of the more popular articles from Programmer’s Ranch to Gigi Labs. This is expected to continue, especially for the SDL2 articles which were among the first of their kind and were quite a hit around the time SDL2 became available.

Aside from technical articles, Gigi Labs has also seen posts published on a range of topics varying from guitar tabs to observations about life. The fact that WordPress allows neat categorization of articles is another of its strong points.

Finally, while many articles have been published at Gigi Labs, a number of static pages have also emerged since its launch: Projects, Websites, Writings and Public Talks show what I’ve been up to.  There are a few other pages with miscellaneous information that doesn’t really fit anywhere else.

I just wanted to thank all the people who have been following Gigi Labs over the past year, and hope they will continue doing that for years to come. You can get updates easily by subscribing via email, following me on Twitter, or liking the Gigi Labs Facebook page.