Posts filed under 'Schtuff'
The life of a technologist is rarely boring. If you’re a senior developer or architect, you’re expected to drop into a project situation and make sense of nebulous requirements, new and/or undetermined technology stacks, and unreasonable timelines (they’re always unreasonable – it’s a truism – partly because the requirements are nebulous, partly because you’re getting up to speed on the tech stack..) Your job is then to convince folks you know enough to get the job done, while knowing you don’t yet, and then paddle like crazy to figure out the right stuff to actually get the job done. If there’s a new technology out, you’re supposed to have an understanding and an opinion of where it fits in the ecosystem. To be effective, you have to know how to do all of the above, while keeping your conversations at the business impact level. Oh, and you have to find a way to lead folks who think they can all do things better than you. If you’re honest with yourself, for at least some areas, they can. Your job i to stitch it all together. Good luck.
December 4th, 2014
[Note: began this post a few weeks ago... to take "tonight" to mean, some evening in time..]
A few weeks ago, I suggested I’d be taking a look at how we/I use social media, and what it implies in terms of the digitization of information. Other than this blog, tonight I’ve looked up deviled egg recipes via Google, pulled up a particularly yummy-looking Bacon Cheddar Deviled Eggs one from AllRecipes, posted a comment about my enjoyment of my first pumpkin beer this year on Facebook, watched videos and submitted homework for a statistics course on Coursera, and added a goofy comment on Twitter.
That leaves behind a trail of both specific thoughts (my answers for the statistics homework and impressions of pumpkin beer) and sign posts to what things interest me (bacon cheddar deviled eggs, apparently). The rub for anyone digesting all of that is to determine which of those are core or repeatable insights into me, and which were insights into a particular moment. Even those momentary insights are pointers – the question is becomes how to interpret what they’re pointing to. I think of Netflix movie recommendations or Amazon movie recommendations – they’re always heavily tainted by what I’ve last seen, whether or not they were core items or momentary insights. Yes, I did watch a kids cartoon with my kids after they begged me. No, I don’t want my feed to be perpetually filled with My Little Ponies. But I also don’t care to point out which things are core versus which things are momentary. I’d rather the systems be wrong most of the time than spot-on right. Would rather not be quite that knowable. Particularly not by computer systems…
October 5th, 2014
Today was 1 day short of my duodecimal birthday – new word I hadn’t heard before my hubby announced it as upcoming yesterday. In short, it was one month after my (ahem)th birthday, and he wanted a chance to mark it. The actual day of my (ahem)th birthday was pretty low-key, and he decided he wanted a birthday “do-over”.
I woke up to a happy birthday message on the bathroom mirror in dry eraser. Came back from my gym workout to find breakfast on the table, all 3 kids up, and 2 presents next to my plate. Open the first wrapping paper to find a Galaxy S5 box. Open the box, very excited (I’d been contemplating the phone upgrade for a while!) to find no phone, but instead my engagement ring all nicely fixed up and shiny. Somehow about a year ago I’d bent the ring badly enough that it no longer fit on my finger. It had sat in my jewelry box forlornly – we hadn’t known who we could trust to fix it well. He’d tracked down a jeweler, got the original ring reshaped, and the gem setting fixed… And then he pulled my new phone out, separately wrapped up.
So this evening my ring finger is shiny again and I’m having fun getting my apps and settings over to my new phone. Samsung’s done a great job making it simple – I gave it my Samsung credentials and all (OK, make that many) of my apps started porting over to the new phone. I’ve deleted a few that were only useful for a one-time event kind of thing (conference agendas, anyone?), but otherwise am looking forward to a pretty smooth transition! Cameron will be able to bug me for Temple Run. One of the apps I haven’t seen make it over yet is the Furby fart and burp control app - I’ll have to work on building it on my new Android Kitkat 4.4.2 operating system.
September 11th, 2014
Today’s my birthday. As in, there are technically two hours left on the day that celebrates my birth. It was a big birthday – the 40 one, the actuarial midpoint in life, whether or not it’s my particular life’s midpoint. Genetically speaking, maybe. Who know what God has in mind, though.
Good point to take stock and see what I’d like to keep and what I’d like to change in whatever time is left. Sort of been on this earth long enough to get a sense of how it works and how I work.
What I want to keep: my kids, my husband, the friendships we have which seem to grow a bit stronger as we get older… a desire to experience and adventure, some of which I hope I’ve been able to share with my kids of late.
What I want to lose a bit of:
* my work goal focus – I want to do good work, but I think I’m past the point where I’m willing to put in over and above for long periods of time. I still have the habit ingrained in me, but every time I do it, I’m less proud and more frustrated with myself. I’m proud of myself for saying ‘no’ to a recent opportunity: to do it well, I’d have had to be prepared to go ‘all-in’, and I just don’t want to trade away all of the other things I could do or be to be ‘all-in’ on a work project. There are so many other things I’d find more worthy, in the end, I think.
* my impatience. If something doesn’t happen now, or exactly the way I have in my mind, it may happen in the future, or it may happen in a better or worse way than I thought. But being frustrated with it loses any enjoyment in what is available now.
So, things worthy of attention:
* taking care of my health… it’ll only get harder, I hear. I don’t need to do the big ‘prove it’ kinds of marathons or fitness events (though I wouldn’t mind notching another half). I want to set a good baseline of fitness and strength, as well as just a general good habit. Oh, and do those pull-ups!
* Spending time with my kids really focusing on hearing their interests and thoughts, and sharing my own. The girls and I just took a trip to New Orleans which expanded all of our horizons, and let us spend time sharing new adventures and memories. Cora can now say she’s eaten a bug (and so can I!).
* Finding opportunities to use my talents or at least energies in ways that benefit the world, particularly “the least of these”. Our church does a few things, I’ve seen other opportunities to use my technical skills, and I’m ready to be surprised by some new angle. Now’s the time, while I have energy and health and my kids have growing independence, to find the things God’s already prepared for me to do.
I remember when I turned twenty, and thus when my mom turned forty. I have a better relationship now with my kids at my forty mark, and I intend to keep that and grow it. Maybe my relationship with my folks will improve or maybe it won’t (see that losing the impatience goal). In the meantime, I focus on what I can directly impact and tend… my relationships with kids, my husband, others we know now and those we may yet come to know.
No mid-life crisis… I think my motorcycle may always remain more of an image rather than a reality. No desire to retire early and go do something crazy… maybe cut back hours at some point to get to dedicate more time to something I find meaningful, but since I don’t yet have that effort identified, it’s still the time to keep looking and doing with what comes in front of me.
So, perhaps that’s my midpoint resolution: keep looking and on the watch and be ready to dedicate effort to those things that come in front of me. Ready for 40 and onward.
August 12th, 2014
I’ll be in Tampa next week for a conference. The conference has arranged free streetcar rides and discounts at local vendors – much appreciated. A tattoo parlor is on the list. I’m traveling with my CTO and CEO. Hmmm… Is it less unprofessional to sneak off to get a tattoo if you convince your bosses to get them, too?
April 10th, 2014
Avoiding tax preparation, figured I could spare 3 minutes for the next TED talk in the TED in 3 minutes playlist. The ‘How to tie your shoes’ talk is apparently the first 3 minute session TED had done – noted. I admire the bravery of a guy who opted to show an audience of luminaries and thought leaders.. how to tie their shoes. In fact, showed them how they’d been doing it wrong, and then showed them how to do it right. Gives me hope that I, too, can give a decent speech on an inane topic. But otherwise, skip it.
April 9th, 2014
In 2010, I went to OSCON. GREAT conference, very few women. For the GREAT, I wanted to go back. To help grow the set of women speakers, I needed to go back.
In 2011, I proposed a topic: W3C widgets and OpenAjax. (Don’t look them up..) Technical topic, in which I had great interest at the time, and which showed promise for a R&D effort. No dice.
In 2012, I proposed a topic: OWF, GOSS(?), FOSS?!.. The idea was to go to the biggest open-source conference, talking about a forthcoming open-source project out of one of the country’s less open government agencies. Not accepted.
In 2013, I decided to get a bit smarter. 3 proposals went in to better my odds. One on the now open-source OWF and how it got there (hey, who doesn’t want the in’s on what’s going on in a previously government-internal project?), one giving a tutorial on OWF itself, and one on how we were intending to extend the use of or patterns of use of OSGi to provide dynamic client modules. All good, in-depth geek topics. Not accepted. Geek in-depth just wasn’t getting me in.
By this point, I was more than a bit discouraged. However, discouragement != giving up. The end goals were still of value – I just needed to figure out how to be more viable as a presenter.
Cut to the chase: 2014, I _finally_ got the success. Decided to look at my topics from the catch-your-eye perspective. One topic compared open source communities to sharks – both need to keep moving to survive. Promised many Jaws and Nemo references. Technical topic, audience appealing-spin. One topic made folks aware of government’s efforts in the open-source world, with the intent of encouraging participation. Drier topic, but hits OSCON’s sweet spots. Last topic, and of course the ringer that got accepted, was the crazy what the heck idea – daughter’s Furby is annoying, where would annoying be useful – hey, hooking it up to a build system turns annoying bad into annoying good. Meaning, wanting to fix something quick to shut off the thing is a great use of an otherwise inane annoyance. Not only was the topic, “Arduino + Furby Broken Build Notification – Oh, You’ll Want to Fix it Quick!” accepted, it’s scheduled for the Main Stage (“There are some talks that are just too interesting to limit the audience. Join us in the Main Stage for a collection of jaw dropping talks across all topics”). That it’s scheduled as the last session of the full conference is both an honor (wow, closing out the conference) and a humbling note – folks start petering out by the last day…
Takeaway: marketing appeal matters.
Now to write a kick-tail presentation. By the way, we’ll preflight Furby + software with my company’s Women In Computing Day in June. The kids (young women from 9-14) won’t be seeing a Furby hooked up to a Jenkins server, but we’ll make use of Furby and its audio protocol to help show them robotics in action…
April 9th, 2014
My Twitter feed includes TED talk announcements. The one that caught my eye this afternoon was ‘9 thought-provoking talks in four minutes or less‘. Whatever the topic, I appreciate someone working to express something well in a short period of time – thought it was worth a few minutes to hear a talk or two.
The first talk in my stream was Matt Cutts ‘Try something new for 30 days‘ The idea is that anyone can try something out for 30 days : it’s long enough to let you form a habit, and not so long that it’s too overwhelming to begin or make it through. It’s also long enough to actually let you achieve something.
I think I’ve read the idea in other magazines and such before, and can’t state whether Matt is its originator or just a good person at expressing it. That said, he did get me thinking – what are good 30 day goals for me?
Quick run-down of ideas:
- read the Bible every day (that oughta already have stuck, but I fall off the wagon and have to get myself back on)
- some sort of fitness activity : squats, pushups, … These aren’t new, but I could get to a new level. Beats aiming at new levels on Temple Run 2
- a software activity: code in a particular language every day for, well, 30 days.
- a more specific software goal: build a mobile game. Doesn’t have to be great – just a game. Frankly, copy an idea, so the idea itself isn’t the blocker. Since the goal isn’t to make money/copyright, just try to get a simple game working.
- unicycle… As in, I can’t now, but I want to. I have two unicycles – warm them up.
- garden. An odd thirty day goal, perhaps, but maybe week 1 is planning, week 2 is seeding/planting, and by week 3 I’m weeding/watering? [Highly optimistic timeline, but I'd love to get in a gardening habit that doesn't die out in weed-choked, low yield apathy.]
… more inspiration / ideas to come. Putting it out there here helps me catch the idea and inspiration, and then see it again later and do a ‘hey, I wanted to do this’ thing that’ll nudge me forward.
Feeling a bit inspired now, and only did 1 of the “9 thought-provoking talks.
February 27th, 2014
Just saw an image of a woman giving CPR to an infant, and it reminded me of a few things I need to act upon.
Learning CPR is important – being ready for the emergency, for the opportunity to save a life – that’s important. I was trained in college, when I was a rugby coach. But I haven’t renewed in a long time. Time to find a class…
Giving blood is important. My body produces blood, through no talent of mine. Even on my worst day, in terms of impact to the world, I can give blood and help tip the balance for someone’s life. Time to donate again, particularly before I get my next tattoo (tattoos mean you can’t give again for a year – the ink can be in your bloodstream, which could cause an allergic reaction in others…). Which means, time to take more iron – to not repeat the last ill-fated donation. If I’m going to get my finger pricked, I’m darn sight gonna give some blood this time.
Sharing my faith, particularly with my kids, is important. In fact, growing in my faith, so that it’s more evident as being meaningful, is even more important. My oldest daughter has been asked by our church to consider confirmation classes, and I think she’s likely to side-step this year… She can claim she’s shy (true), that it’s a lot of work (true, too)… I count that as a loss, but I’d rather have her do so when _she’s_ ready to investigate than when I wish she were ready. However, our pastor sent ahead the confirmation “to-do” list. I want to share the list with her, and then let her hold me accountable for working through the list myself… It may make an impression on her, it may not, but I certainly think that the things they ask teenagers to learn and practice are ones that would be valuable for me, as well.
February 21st, 2014
Hanging out in my local pretentious bar. It’s not what I’d call the local pub – too many ‘interesting’ beers on the menu. But oh so interesting. And the bartender is talking about the sorts of drinks she’d like to try – will _have_ to come back in, even though the food is overpriced. I have this image of having a book club here, and letting this bartender suggest a drink of the night. She’s raving over international recipes and ingredients like tamarind. My kind of adventurous place.
January 6th, 2014