This week our church hosted ‘winter relief emergency shelter’. Arundel House of Hope organizes a safety net of housing during the winter for our local homeless population – our church was one of many who took a week to open its doors at night to provide housing so that folks weren’t stuck sleeping in the cold. The accommodations aren’t amazing: they’re camp cots lined up in a large room. Because our church hosted both men and women, there was a divider wall in the middle of the room to separate the men’s sleeping quarters from the women. But these aren’t glamorous or even private bunks. We manage to provide hot showers 3 nights of the 7, and offer breakfast and dinner each day. In the morning, volunteers drive our guests back to Arundel House of Hope (or sometimes to the light rail or to a methadone clinic) – everyone’s up and out by 7am, not to return again until 4:30pm when they’re driven back from the House of Hope.

To pull off this week requires an enormous amount of volunteer manpower. There are three shifts of volunteers: 4-8, 8-11, and 11-8. Yep, 11-8 – to provide a safe place for our guests to sleep, we have two volunteers on site and at least one of them awake round the ‘clock. Beyond the on-site volunteers, the list of people needs includes drivers, cooks, folks to act as hosts for the shower nights, setup, teardown, prayer team, … For our small-ish church, it’s a lot of hands in.

For the past few years, I’ve worked at least one overnight shift, and often had other reasons to come visit whilst folks were more awake. Each year, we see some new faces and some familiar ones. This year, I met a mom and her high school senior son. The son attends a local public charter school and has plans to join the Coast Guard when he graduates in a few months. He likes comic books, and he and his mom spent some time playing cards together. I met a gentleman who I ended up needing to call an ambulance for, as he was in a significant amount of abdominal pain due to his stage 4 pancreatic cancer. I met another guy who showed me the business proposal estimate he was putting together on behalf of a client of his electrician business. Another guy came down the hall in his shirt and tie each morning, after shaving and prepping in the mens’ restroom. Yet another guy had us wake him up at 3am each morning so he could catch the light rail and go to its farthest stop, and then walk another 3 miles to get to his job.

Sadly, that last guy I’d met before. He was here last year, and the year before. I don’t understand why, in his particular case. There were a few others I recognize from years’ past – some who I realize face mental or other challenges that will likely keep them coming back year after year. If we (and other churches) can give them a safe warm place to be and a welcoming environment, I hope they recognize us as bearers of God’s message of love. Others give me hope that they won’t be rejoining us next year as shelter guests, but will instead keep coming ’round “only” as members of our congregation, maybe even joining the ranks of us putting out the welcome mat again in 2019.

If you’ve gotten to the end here and want to learn more, I’d encourage you to check out Arundel House of Hope’s site. They work in a number of ways with the local homeless community, so I sent you to their front page. The direct page for the winter relief program, along with reports of how things have gone in previous years and contact info for getting involved, is here. It’s an amazing program, which enables the volunteer efforts of many to unite into a safety net for those whom society often overlooks. Arundel House of Hope puts their mission to our guests as ‘To keep those experiencing homelessness in the Baltimore/Annapolis corridor from freezing to death during the Winter months and to show them the Divine’s love in simple practical ways during our time together.’ I’m pretty convinced that both of those are pursuits worthy of time and energy.

A friend / previous co-worker of mine sent out an intriguing tweet:

George is an agile coach, among many other things.  (I believe him also to be a sailor and a grandfather, and someone whose tweets I enjoy.)  I assume his book proposal has something to with agile development or coaching of agile teams.  I’ll be looking to see when he announces that someone’s accepted it!  In the meantime, I’ve offered my services for review. 

George’s book would make #3 of book reviews for me.  He’d be in the esteemed company of Steve McConnell (‘Software Estimation’) and Karl Fogel (‘Producing Open Source Software’, 2nd edition).  I’d forgotten the McConnell book until George mentioned it recently, and Karl’s finished up his second edition fairly recently (November).  In Mr. Fogel’s case, I was spear-heading an interesting project in an interesting space and so had some experiences to offer; in Mr. McConnell’s case, I believe my pitch for reviewing was my relative lack of experience at the time – could his material speak to a neophyte software project manager?  (This was years and years ago – I’m now much older and much less neophyte.)  Both spectrums were useful for the authors: in the one case, could I offer a new insight?  In the second case, does the insights the author shares come through to the audience they intend?

I find it interesting that both ranges of experience are useful.  I find that to be the case in my projects, as well, both software and otherwise.  Seek to contribute whether you’re the expert or the newbie.  The value you offer is different, but valuable on both ends!

I’m in a beach house in North Carolina, relaxing on the computer with some homework after a busy day at the beach and boardwalk. There are 10 of us in a massive beach house that’s only a few hundred feet from a beach that’s private to the community. It’s my 3 kids and hubby, his parents, his brother and wife and niece. We’ve just been chilling here since Tuesday, enjoying the beach, the house pool, the whirlpool, and an amazing amount of space and comfort.

Growing up, vacations were at best an over the weekend camping trip with my mom and grandpa. Dad would usually stay home to take care of the pooches. We didn’t go out of state, much less do the out of the country thing we plan for our vacation next year. I don’t have many memories of those vacations, though am hoping for grander ones in my kids’ brains from this one and the other ones we’ve taken. These opportunities to hang out as a family, particularly with the larger family, are things I love to give them, and memories I love to make for myself.

We’re here courtesy of the generosity of my employer. She owns this house and allows employees to have a week’s stay for the cost of the house cleaning and a fee for pool cleaning/electricity/water, etc. All a heck of lot less expensive than renting something down here in the summer. My hubby and I have at various points thought about purchasing a vacation home to let us do a similar thing, albeit with less employee motivation motives. We’ve assumed that if we bought a vacation home, it’d have a significant usage for friends, family, church members, etc… On our walk yesterday, we talked about it a bit more. I’m not sure we’d ever get more than two weeks, max, of use on a vacation property. And the idea of tying ourselves down to another property beyond our primary home doesn’t make sense to us. So, we’ll have to let the vacation home idea pass by and enjoy the largesse of my employer. And/or, work with the vacation resorts of the world to craft our vacation. Send us your deals! We’ll have to find ways to extend hospitality and generosity through means other than loaning out our vacation home. The Coleman’s have vacation memories to make!

“It really seems like everyone is turning 25 this summer.” So said a former youth group teen of mine on the occasion of her birthday. My first reaction was “I wish!”. I turn 43 later this week, and 25 is a full adult-sized gap behind me. But then I rethought that.

At 25, I had been married a year, but we didn’t yet have kids. We had just bought a house, and saw the long tail of debt that that involved. At 43, we’re still in that house, but the mortgage no longer seems so large nor so long – by shortly after 46, it’ll in fact be paid. And it doesn’t hurt that the salary of the 43 year old me beats tail the salary of the 25 year old me.

At 25, I wanted to run a marathon. In my 30s, I did it. And then did it again. And ran some half marathons in there, as well.

At 25, I think I had given up playing rugby. I’d played in college and played after college, but just couldn’t make it all fit in schedule wise. In my late 30s, I took up rugby again (oldest player on the team by far) and went to the national championships twice. I hung up my cleats for good just shy of my 40th birthday, and now I’m amused at the players on my previous team who retire in their late 20s because they feel “too old” to keep playing. (For the record, the recent Olympics had rugby, and one of my former teammates played in it. I think she was the second oldest player on the team, which put her in her 30s when she went to Rio.)

At 25, I wanted a motorcycle. For my 41st birthday, I took the motorcycle safety class, and then crashed the bike on the course, failing the test. Later that week I screwed up my courage and went and retook the test, got my license, and a few weeks later, bought my motorcycle.

In my twenties, I quit my software development career and contemplated potential careers as a financial planner, a decorative furniture painter, a children’s clown, or a full-time volunteer. I returned to software development fairly quickly, but just a year ago, began clowning for fun after the encouragement I received at a Christian retreat.

So, I’m not turning 25 this summer. I’m having a heck of a lot more fun than that!

Realized my last post was almost two months ago! It’s been a bit of a busy period.

Clementine shared balloons and fun with kids at a community festival, marched in a parade, and served as a entertainment on the midway. Oh, and got herself a new pair of polka dotted oversize Converse sneakers!

I bought, built, and directed the decorations for vacation bible school, led games for vacation bible school, and went with a group of youth (including both of my daughters) on a week long mission trip. I even got to use one of my clown magic tricks for the VBS kids… that was my excuse to buy the requisite parts, so good to use it at least once or twice.

In between, I’ve also been working my way through a Coursera multi-class specialization on strategic leadership, and gotten to help bring a few candidates into our company. A bit more learning on Kubernetes, Gitlab, and ELK as part of the day job, too.

Oh, and we got a kitten! Strategy suggests I should keep up with my daily allergy pills. Miso (kitten’s name) is cute, but he makes ‘me so’ sneezy

A friend just posted her ‘movie list’ results on Facebook – how many of some 150+ movies she’d seen. She commented that the quiz oughta be: ‘how many of these movies have you seen more than once’. Wow, I’d score really badly. I’m not a movie person. I like to go see the occasional movie, but I have no problem at all letting them pass by. And once they’ve passed by, no amount of shaming ‘you haven’t seen? You gotta see!!’ will make it change.

My hubby (to be at the time) kept a list of movies that he thought I oughta see. The guys at work keep mentioning movies that I’ve gotta see. Hey, they’re available on Netflix or Amazon or … just sit down and watch it. It’s a classic.

A movie’s 1-2 hours or more. Even if I sit there with my laptop or iPad and multi-task, that’s still a few hours on my rear. I work a desk job. I don’t need more hours on my rear. If I’m going to spend multiple hours on my rear, it’ll be listening to a great live concert. Or reading a great book. Or writing a blog post or two with a beer in my hand…

Passwords seem to me to mostly be a muscle memory thing.  I’m reminded of this every time I’m at a keypad with a different layout, or whenever I have to enter in a password into my phone or iPad.  My head knows the phrase that generated the password.  But my hands know which elements are numbers, which are capitalized, and whether there are any punctuation symbols in the mix.  They only know it, though, when they’re on a QWERTY keyboard.  Working through a touch screen interface just doesn’t cut it.  Half the time, to enter a password on a mobile device, I first have to turn to a computer, log out of whatever it is I’m seeking a password for, and then log in and see where my fingers “talked”.  In light of this, I’ve completely switched over to fingerprint and pin codes on my phone for getting into the device itself, but that doesn’t help me a whit when it comes to accessing other sites.

And in other news, I’ve now got a Samsung S8, hence my futzing with passwords this evening.  Discovery: the S8 uses a nano SIM, whereas the S5 used a larger form factor.  Ergo, a trip to the TMobile store or a session on the phone with TMobile is in my near future to resolve a phone number conversion onto the new SIM card.

I’m at OSCON 2016 in Austin. As opposed (ahem) to the last time I did this, I have a slide deck ahead of the day of, as well as working hardware. Realized earlier today, though, that working hardware is only practically useful if the audience can see it… Since the video is trained on the stage, rather than on me, unless I do something, it doesn’t practically matter whether my schtuff works. Problem, particularly given the amount of time I’ve spent making sure schtuff works…

To resolve it, I’m experimenting with live streaming. From my phone, I can send out a Periscope stream, which I can then pull up from my browser to make it visible on the screen to those in the audience. Depending upon lighting, maybe this’ll be valuable and maybe it won’t, but at least it’ll be cool!

Thing just realized… a GitHub gist is its own repository. I’ve treated it as a place to drop notes, mostly, and only edited them via the Github interface. Tonight I tried cloning my gist, and discovered that worked nicely – I had my notes file handily on my local computer. Better, though, I realized I could add more items to my gist… Could set up separate files, all within the same gist context. Each shows up as a separate block containing content.

I next tried to setup a directory, just to see how it’d be conveyed in the interface. Added a directory, added a file within the directory, pushed it up. Went to the interface – nothing changed. Went back and looked: my branch now shows itself as 1 commit ahead of origin/master, and the push of the directory shows that it was rejected by the remote, with a pre-receive hook which indicates that ‘Gist does not support directories’.

Interestingly, gits do support branches. As I listened to my daughters sing some very odd version of Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer (who had a very advantageous nose…), I created a ‘weirdChildren’ branch. Git says it pushes up to origin, but the Gists don’t actually show me there’s a branch. I deleted my local branch, and then repulled from remote – got the changes that were unique to that branch.

Now, gists do offer a handy ’embed’ artifact, such as the following: . Whether the gist is secret or not, if that URL is given out, the contents of the Gist can be displayed. However, the URL doesn’t at least directly expose a way to browse the branches of a Gist. In GitHub.com, a branch would be exposed by using username/project/tree/branchName. E.g., colemanserious/gobot/tree/bmp180. That same /tree/branchName suffix doesn’t work on Gist, though: you end up on the GitHub’s well done 404 page. TLDR: if you use a branch for a Gist, you can futz with keeping versions hidden from all view, whether through gist searches or through those who’ve got a copy of your gist’s URL.

I recently got a request to submit a headshot photo to go along with my conference talk abstract. I’ve declined to respond, so far. I think I declined to respond the last time I gave a talk, as well. Were I a somewhat famous speaker, perhaps it might make sense to let folks say, oh yeah, I saw that person before – they were a good speaker. I suspect there are better ways to handle even that angle, like citing previous speaking engagements or linking to a video of the person’s previous talks. For the rest of us, it seems more like a way to let folks prejudge you before coming aboard. ‘Hmmm, that person looks friendly. Looks like me / doesn’t look me. Looks like they belong / doesn’t look like they belong.’

Conferences aren’t the only places that want pictures, though. LinkedIn strongly encourages a photo to increase your profile’s score. There’s a bit more logic to that – if someone’s scanning through a list of similar names, the picture lets you recognize the ‘Tina’ that you know, as opposed to the list of Tinas that you don’t.

Small company websites seem to take the headshot even a bit further. It’s a common meme to have a list of folks at the company, indicating their name (sometimes just first, sometimes full) and role within the company. I’ve seen several sites where the headshots are taken just a bit further – rolling over the picture shows another picture of the person, typically in some pose meant to highlight their fun-loving side interacting with the logo or brand image in some way. Perhaps this is meant to highlight their staff as well-rounded or engaging. Unless my role directly requires me to be an entertainer, whether I’m fun-loving or eye-appealing have nothing to do with how well I help the company satisfy its mission.

In my day job as a software engineer, I have used gravatars to help folks identify my work in a list of GitHub commit entries or other social network feeds. The one I use there is a cartoon Monopoly Man holding a pick axe… I thought it might help articulate my willingness to dig in and do the hard work. It happens to scale reasonably well to various sizes, always an advantage in having a consistent branding image. It also happens to look nothing like me. (I’m not male, elderly, or nearly that well-dressed.)

I’d like to encourage others to refrain from the headshot pressure. Or comment on this post and help me better understand why a picture is good supporting information for a conference speaker’s session description. For now, my OSCON bio will still be missing a head shot…