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Happy Anniversary, Sweetheart

Thu, 05/17/2018 - 08:59

Today JoDee and I celebrate 15 years of marriage (and many more prior to our marriage).

I know it's cliche to say "I'd do it all over again" but frankly it's true; I would do it all over again.

You complete me in ways that I never thought possible.

I love you, sweetheart.

Categories: LugNut Blogs

Designing a Well Lived Life: Checking In (April / May)

Mon, 05/14/2018 - 22:59

Checking in for April and May for my "Designing a Well-Lived Life" blogging. This is about making small changes during the year to make larger changes.

I didn't do one in April because things got away from me in the interim. But that's OK. Being kind to myself for not meeting certain expectations is part of the practice.

  • Writing more / designing more: Ho boy. This one really didn't get much attention, but that was in part because I was working on Penguicon presentations and getting things squared away there. I've been really bad about creating a regular writing habit, but I'm hoping to do more of that with some new morning routines.

  • Programming more: I did a whole presentation on the TIC-80 fantasy console which taught me some of how Lua worked. I've also done some programming on tootstream, and I've been getting interested in the Mycroft AI project. But I've also neglected some of the training things that I've signed up for and need to build some of that discipline back into my day.

  • Engage more with people, not things: Same as last check-in. I'm still primarily interacting with folks online, and a small circle of friends when I'm not online.

  • Blogging more: As you can see from the title this hasn't had much focus.

  • Getting out of debt: Slow progress on this front, but there's still some progress.

  • Supporting creators in sustainable ways: Outside of Patreon and Liberapay I haven't figured much to help this front.

  • Physical health: The summer is fast approaching and I'm now out doing yard work, but I'd hardly call that progress.

  • Kindness: Starting to feel some of my sarcastic tendencies at the fore, especially with myself.

  • Mindfulness: I'm meditating and taking time to pause and see myself doing what I'm doing. This has been the area where I'm seeing silent progress as it's something that I'm reminded of each day.

More next month.

Categories: LugNut Blogs

Letting go of expectations

Wed, 03/28/2018 - 23:01

One thing that I have heard often in practices of Mindfulness (and Buddhism) is that desire and attachment are the causes of suffering. And that all seems well and good (surely if you don't desire anything then it stands to reason that you won't suffer in wanting anything. Problem solved! Yay humanity!) But I think there's a little more to it that can become part of the practice of developers.

Too often I have sat frustrated in front of a piece of code because one of the following things happened:

  • It didn't behave like I wanted it to behave
  • It wasn't as simple as I thought it would be
  • The code became much uglier than I wanted it to be
  • The problem eluded me longer than I wanted it to take
  • It wasn't as fun as I had hoped it would be

All of these problems aren't the code's fault. Nothing about the code or the computer could care less about how I feel about it. What I brought to the session were my desires of how it would turn out. My wants precluded me seeing things for how they were and taking them at face value in that moment. My frustrations arose from wanting things to be different and realizing that no matter how hard I tried, or how much I begged, the session was going to do what it would.

Getting mad at the computer wasn't going to make the bugs pop out quicker. Feeling pressured by the deadline wasn't going to make my mind think any clearer about the problem at hand. Fretting that the code that I was generating wasn't the most beautiful code I'd ever written wasn't going to make the code any better. What I brought to the whole exercise was how I wanted things to be and when those didn't happen I suffered for it.

I've been working on recognizing this tendency in my work. Rather than bring my expectations for how easy or quick or unbelievably awesome something will be I choose instead to agree that I will work on whatever it is that I'm working on and see where it leads. Rather than bring my preconceptions for how things will be I instead see how it is and work from there.

It's not easy. There's still times where I bring my old habits of frustration and anger to bear. But I've noticed that when I act with more curiosity that things tend to work out better.

There is still the intention of getting work done as well. It's not just unfocused sessions of sitting in front of the keyboard hoping that I'll write something amazing. I still have to understand what it is that I'm working on. But it happens on a more gradual scale and is driven by curiosity of how things will play out.

Categories: LugNut Blogs

12 Questions About My Job (from 2008)

Tue, 03/13/2018 - 12:12

I just noticed that I'd saved a questionnaire from 2008 about my job and computers. I think this might have come from my college as a way to help prepare students for entering the computing workforce. Back then I was working for a car company doing Perl and Java. Some things have changed since then (I'm no longer doing anything with Perl or Java and I'm OK with that. Also starting salaries have hopefully increased since 2008). But what's more striking is how some things haven't changed (I still want to help people. I still use vi via vim) and how computers have intruded in our lives (smartphones, smart TVs, and the Internet of Things).

So here it is, typos and all; a glimpse into what I was thinking back in 2008 about my job and computing in general:

1. What do you like about your job?

I like the daily challenge of the job. I love solving problems and working out puzzles. I enjoy working with computers and seeing them do amazing and cool things. I enjoy helping out people whenever I can.

2. What dont you like about your job?

I dislike it when the technology or political issues get in the way of helping me help out people. I hate the politics that can come in any corporation, especially if they make no technological or other sense.

3. How did you decide to go into that profession?

I've always enjoyed computers, ever since I was little. I would see computers on the television doing amazing and incredible feats, and knew I wanted to be a part of that. I would read the World Book Encyclopedia and look at the pictures of computers and dream about building or working with those machines. Unfortunately the encyclopedia we had was several years out of date, and the pictures I associated with computers being mammoth, room filling machines were quickly replaced by pictures of Apple ][, Commodore VIC 20s, Timex Sinclairs, and my first computer, the Atari 400. The idea that I could own a computer and use it was foreign to me, but I quickly got over that and pestered my parents at length to let me have a computer.

4. How do you use computers in your job?

I use them to maintain and develop web-based software. I use UNIX, Perl, and Java to help provide financial and performance information for a major automotive company.

5. How have the computers changed since you have been working?

I started working in 1993, and the machines have changed dramatically. In 1993, the SPARCStation 20 was the machine to beat, and the 486 machines were the fastest processor most home users would have. I gravitated to UNIX and Linux early on, because they were similar to the machines that I had used in college. At that time it was unheard of for home users to have UNIX at home. Now, it's more commonplace for people to use UNIX-based operating systems. When I started working, computers were seen as single-tasking machines. You brought up your word processor, and that was it. Now, you can have multiple programs running simultaneously on a machine without even thinking about it. Viruses were a common problem on DOS and Windows machines, but you had to pass around a floppy in order to be infected. Now, it takes 15 minutes for a Windows machine to be completely compromised. When I started working, the network was a scarce resource. Now, the network is considered to be ubiquitous.

6. What types of software do you use?

I use vi, Perl, Linux, Solaris, and Apache for Development. I use OpenOffice, Lotus Notes and Lotus SameTime for office communication and groupware.

7. How does using computers make your job more efficient?

With the right scripts and programs, I can take a mound of data and turn it into something useful in a matter of seconds. I can use the computer to help my task management and methodologies for improving my work flow. I can send mail to several people to ask for their input without leaving my desk.

8. What type of degrees do you have?

I have a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science.

9. What would be the best way to get starting in a profession like yours?

Curiosity. You can't learn everything from a book or from school. School gives you the discipline, but finding out the answers yourself and from other mentors is the only way to really hone your skills.

10. How much is a typical starting salary?


11. What is a typical task you do on the job?

I do paperwork to handle the corporate policy changes. I fix a little code here and there when it breaks, and handle customer requests for new features.

12. Do you think computers will be forever changing?

I think there will come a point when we won't consider computers as a separate instrument anymore; they'll be so ubiquitous that we won't think about using them, we'll just use them. Television and radio hit that state a while back, yet they still are in constant metamorphosis. Computers found their way into many electronic devices we take for granted, like cable boxes, microwave ovens, and desktop calculators. I think we'll see more and more innovative uses for computers as time goes on.

Categories: LugNut Blogs

Designing a Well Lived Life: Checking In (March)

Sun, 03/11/2018 - 13:17

Checking in for March for my "Designing a Well-Lived Life" blogging. This is about making small changes during the year to make larger changes.

  • Writing more / designing more: I let myself get wrapped up in work-related stuff and this completely went by the wayside. By the time I'd finished up my work for the day the last thing I wanted to do was write or design. I need to bake more of this into my routines and block off some time to make this happen.

Unfortunately this leads to another thing, which is that I don't take my own schedule seriously. If I put something on the schedule that involves another person I will do my best to make it happen. But if it's just for me? Well, I don't make it as important because usually it was a shot-in-the-dark anyway to put it on the calendar and my stuff isn't as important anyway. It's a dangerous habit I've gotten into and one that I need to adjust.

  • Programming more: I did more programming for work so that got attention, but I also need to advance myself in larger application design. I've done applications from the ground up but refactoring other folks code without keeping to the original design is something that I've not been so good at. I need to learn how to assert my own thoughts in code in order to make it better. I also need to learn how to build more applications from the ground up.

  • Engage more with people, not things: Somewhat of a success but not really. I'm still a bit of a hermit outside of Coffee House Coders and MUG, but a lot of my social interactions are either on IRC or Mastodon (My G+ usage has dropped off significantly).

  • Blogging more: Well, at least this keeps me blogging. blush.

  • Getting out of debt: Seems whenever I see the edges of the hole something gives way and we're plunged back into darkness. Need to focus on finding other means for getting income in this age because the era of having one stable job for me seems to be long past.

  • Supporting creators in sustainable ways: Outside of Patreon and Liberapay I haven't figured much to help this front.

  • Physical health: Does breathing count? That's about the only thing I've really focused on.

  • Kindness: Being kind to myself is more of a struggle that I would like to admit. Still focusing on being kind to others and trying to see more sides to things.

  • Mindfulness: Still meditating.

More to come in the coming months.

Categories: LugNut Blogs

Musings on Regret

Sun, 03/11/2018 - 13:16

(I posted this on Mastodon and decided it needed a more permanent location).

Regret is useless if the only thing you take away from it is that you are somehow inferior for the decisions you make. Regret is a disservice and an attack on the decisions that got you here and they discount your tender heart and your about to choose in the moment on what is best for you with available information.

Wishing that you had done something different to have a better life takes away from the beautiful gift you have now, here, to learn and do better.

Categories: LugNut Blogs