I got an email this morning from Ebates, one of the cash-back apps I use when online shopping, with the heading ‘Late shoppers rejoice’.  Late shoppers?  It’s the third of December!  I’ve begun shopping, catching deals on a couple of key items, but I haven’t even aspired to be done.  Part of the joy of Christmas shopping is getting to spend time contemplating what might be a joyously received gift.  Whether I buy in a local retail store or online, I love shopping a little at a time, seeing if I can find that ‘oh, they’d love that!’ kind of item.  Last year I gave each kid a unique pair of socks that I’d tripped across on a shopping adventure; this year an ad or two which hit my email inbin made me think of a new avenue for gifting.  If I were “done”, I’d miss that joy.

Quick note: the link above includes my referral code for Ebates.  Enjoy (or not) the post with (or without) clicking on the link.  But it and Ibotta have so far worked out well for me in my personal shopping.   Always nice to get a check or a gift card back as a “rebate”.  And simpler than couponing, which I also do…

 

I’m talking with a group of young ladies this week about software development. They’re part of a HowGirlsCode group, which seeks to “provide[..] computer science and engineering education designed to inspire young girls in computer and engineering sciences”.   Women apparently only earn about 20% of the computer science undergraduate degrees and then often leave the field, so that only some 13% of folks in the field are women.[1]  I wish that didn’t ring true but it does.  It’s rare and exciting when there’s another woman on my team.  I make a point of trying to recruit women in particular, just so we can amass a core group of gals to show the world how it’s done.

The talk this week focuses on the fun in software development.  I love it – tried to leave the field in my mid twenties and finally realized this is where I was meant to be.  It’s provided well for me and my family and given me lots of opportunities.  In what other field could I build out conference talks about Furbies (twice?!)  I’ve gotten to travel, both in the US and around the world.  I’ve _never_ been without an opportunity to learn something new.

When I first dreamed of doing software development, I thought I’d go into artificial intelligence.  When I graduated college in the mid 90’s, AI seemed far away, something that only PhDs were thinking about.  While we’re still not where I thought we’d be when I was in high school (and earlier) contemplating a career, researchers in the UK recently announced the world’s largest computer simulation of the brain.  There’s software now in my phone.  There’s software in my car.  I bought Christmas presents this evening through a web browser hooked up through the Internet to an e-commerce infrastructure, undoubtedly hosted in a cloud infrastructure somewhere.  Heck, if I cared to, there could be software in my refrigerator!

I’m really looking forward to talking with the HowGirlsCode young ladies on Thursday.  Computers and software are ubiquitous as far as they’re concerned: they may not even realize how software infuses almost everything they touch.  But I’m looking forward to showing them the opportunities that opens up!

 

 

Home sick today.. It’s a lousy day to be sick, as tomorrow I’m supposed to run a half-marathon and today is the day most of the rest of my software team is off. Read that as: no meetings, great day to code day. Instead I’m home, laptop in my bed, puttering away whilst keeping my head not quite upright so it doesn’t feel like it’ll explode.

So, what’s a gal to do in such a situation? Clean out her email backlog! I’m not an inbin zero kind of gal… I file some emails away, delete a good number, but somehow the pile still generally stays. There’s too much useful info there, and I long since discovered if I tried to file things away, I’d have to clean out however many other files, rather than one big inbin. So instead my goal is to just keep it below some threshold number. Over time that number’s changed. For my personal email bin (the worst offender), right now the target number is 7700. Every so often, I’ll try to decrease it by 100. The number used to be 8000 something before, so I’m making progress.

How do I have 7700 emails worthy of keeping, you ask? Well, I don’t, I’m sure. I have 7700 emails that were mostly at one point worthy of keeping. Many have degraded in value since then, but the effort to go clean out the ones that aren’t valuable is more than the cost to me of having 7700 emails. I have emails in which I get told my grandmother passed away and what the funeral arrangements are. That’s now 4 years ago. My memory’s faulty, but my email history isn’t, so I can go back and check the timeline and particulars. I have emails in which I get back acceptances to speak at conferences. Again, my memory’s faulty, so I use those emails to go back and remind myself – what year, what topic… I have emails that have information I meant to read sometime and never got around to. Some of that information is now stale, some isn’t, etc, etc.

So I accept my email pile. I actively prune both new and old emails. Since I started writing this post, I’ve gotten 6 more messages, which push me over 7700. I’ll prune back down below, and go back through the old pile and try to give myself some headroom by pushing it down to, say, 7650. By later today, though, I’m sure I’ll have to compress it again.

It’s my own email garbage collection strategy. Trading off the cycles required to do the collection and cleanup for time to do more useful things.

October 20th, a scant 76 days away, I’ll toe the line of the half-marathon at the Baltimore Running Festival on behalf of Back on My Feet Baltimore.  Saturday was week 2 of a 12 week training program, and involved a 4 mile run.   I got out there at ~8:30 and started the two miles down the trail, two miles back that would comprise my 4 mile run that day.  As I didn’t want to carry water, I planned the run to turn around at the ranger station, which is nicely equipped with water fountains and bathrooms.  All I wanted to carry was my key, which I put on a carabiner and carried around my knuckles – self-defense measure at the ready were I to need it.

I was moving a bit slower than planned, as of course in my brain, I’m still as fast as I was when I was doing these things ten years or so ago.  But I made it to the turn around point, stopped for a bathroom break, and then headed back up the trail.

A little over a half mile from the ranger station, I realized that I no longer had my knuckle device – that I’d left it back in the bathrooms, hanging on a hook.  A half mile back, and then a half mile again meant an additional mile…  compared to the distance of the half-marathon, not a worry at all.  Compared to where I am as yet in my training schedule, a not-too-fun surprise.

It occurs to me that not-too-fun surprises are a fact of life for the folks Back On My Feet serves.  Bad weather, grumpy folks, a missed timeline for a chance to eat a hot meal or a hot shower, the challenges of finding transportation to a potential job or to a potential bed for the night… all very real not-too-fun surprises.  Back On My Feet seeks to be a dependable portion of these folks lives, and its own dependability, to set an expectation and goals of dependability and accountability for the homeless community it serves.

Would you consider sponsoring my run for Back On My Feet?  I’ll keep putting one foot in front of the other to make it to the race line, and Back On My Feet will keep providing support and a way out day after day for the folks they serve.  Your dollars help make it possible.

Just in case any of my faithful readers (meaning, dear hubby) is looking for birthday ideas (hint, hint)…
– new kickboxing gloves from my gym. I originally bought the starter gloves and now want a heavier pair
– I set up a wishlist on ClownAntics for fun clowning toys
– there’s always my Amazon wish list

 

Question from one of my teammates on my new work team:

“Did you just learn techA & techB in the 3 days since you’ve joined the project?”

Well, enough to make things work for this portion of the project, anyway.  And thank you for noticing!

My teammate and I have been “pair-programming” remotely, by which I mean: we talk over the phone about the approach and occasionally screen-share / present to show what we mean.  Oh, and of course, commit at regular intervals into a shared git branch.  When I joined the team, the story (uh, work unit, I guess, for those of you not well-versed in software) was written such that the work would have 4 subtasks.  I proposed doing it differently, based on some prior experience I had with techC, which is the end-result of our efforts with techA and techB.  The team bought in, and off we went!

Challenges:

  • neither my teammate nor I had much experience with techA or techB
  • my teammate doesn’t have much experience with techC
  • my teammate and the rest of the team are in Minnesota, which means: no whiteboard drawings, an offset of an hour in schedule, we haven’t met each other in person, …
  • I’m brand-spanking new to the team, so am still navigating getting all of my accounts, figuring out how not to break other folks’ work, figuring out how to prove things _do_ work, …

It looks like by not too much longer today, I’ll be putting in my first merge request for a significant feature for the new project.  Woot!  Good first (real) week.

For those techies interested in the secret decoder ring for the technologies:

  • techA = Ansible
  • techB = Salt
  • techC = Kubernetes

 

 

“NOTE”:ed in documentation I was looking at today…


NOTE: “Default” is not the default DNS policy. If dnsPolicy is not explicitly specified, then “ClusterFirst” is used.

This is the sort of thing that should _not_ pass muster for code-review. Kudos to whoever recognized the issue and at least put it in documentation. But there oughta be a kubernetes GitHub issue out there somewhere to fix the above. And no, telling me that it’s been released this way and thus must be maintained is not an acceptable argument. Deprecate the word ‘Default’, if you must. If the default is not actually that, then the impact is likely small. ‘Default’ could become ‘InheritFromNode’ or ‘Inherited’ or …

A little bit of Google digging found a related, but not quite what I mean GitHub issue. Grumble, grumble, growl….

I hate the below kind of thing. To avoid repeating the behavior, I’ll tell you _why_ after I show you what I hate.

[8:52 AM] XXXXX: Just saw this feature today.
[8:52 AM] XXXXX: https://docs.gitlab.com/ee/user/project/web_ide/
[8:52 AM] XXXXX: That’s interesting.
[8:52 AM] XXXXX: There’s a button for it on our version… Chromebook here I come !

I hate when someone suggests I should check something out, but gives no context. In this case, the person posting it is high enough above me in the food chain that I should check it out. In my passive aggressive response mode, though, I’m just venting online, though protecting the identity of the party. Note that this isn’t just a him thing – I get emails of that sort, as well. Most of those I shunt aside and justify by saying, well, that’s a great way to infect someone with viruses – get them to click on a link but give no real context.

OK, done venting. Time to get back to work. If you click through to the Gitlab doc link, let me know what you think of it. I’m guessing by URL structure they’re saying there’s now a development environment bundled with Gitlab. I can guess along some other paths what that might be, and suspect it could be very useful for a former project of mine. But I’m still going to hold out on looking for a little bit.

On Tuesday, our oldest (16) took responsibility for making sure that both she and her two younger siblings got up on time for school so that her dad could be away in the morning to help his brother and family make it to the airport on time.

On Thursday, we proudly got to watch as that same teen was inducted into the National Honor Society.

On Sunday, she got her belly-button pierced, just a few hours after she helped with the fellowship / coffee hour at church. Hey, the first two examples, along with many others, show that she has a pretty good head on her shoulders, as well as a heart for others. That she now has a hole in her belly button isn’t an option I’d have picked for her, but we’re getting to the stage where she gets to make decisions that we disagree with, and we get to enjoy watching the paths she considers and chooses. (She did opt out of getting facial piercings, and told her younger sis she thought those were cool but would have made her unemployable…)

By the way, that younger sis is pretty awesome, too – she went with her sis to hold her hand and support her through the belly button piercing procedure. They then went together to have a sister bonding day at the nail salon.

I love getting to be the parent of these kids!

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.