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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 Unfortunately the encyclopedia we had was several years out of date, and the pictures I associated with computers being mammoth, room filling machines were quickly replaced by pictures of Apple ][, Commodore VIC 20s, Timex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

You can't please everyone

Sat, 02/17/2018 - 00:27

There's the old saying "you can't please everyone". Usually folks take that to mean that there are certain people who will never be pleased with what you do so don't bother trying to reach them. But there's a secondary way to read this phrase that I'd like to explore and that's the idea that it is exhausting to please everyone and everything that you really care about.

Over the years we accrue many friends, acquaintances, interests, fandoms, and things that mean something to us. And for the most part we can keep on top of engaging with each of these things. But over time we gain so many of them that we can no longer keep up with them in the same way that we used to engage with them. Those few hours with someone at a position we've held become sporadic contact because our job changed. That really cool thing that we found on the internet lead to several other really cool things on the internet and now engaging with all of them becomes physically exhausting.

We have to step back and realize which interactions are still bringing us joy and which ones are there because we feel an obligation to keeping these connections alive.

But there's the tendency to want to keep everything alive; to keep all of the plates spinning with the same intensity that we had when we first engaged with it. But keeping all of those plates spinning wears us out. We can't keep spinning all of them at the same time. Eventually the plates won't have enough momentum to keep going and they wobble and fall off their posts.

And that's OK, as long as we are conscious of which interactions we're letting go of for now. As long as we know which ones we want to keep and engage with them fully we can be OK with the ones that are no longer bringing us joy.

(This post is just a few notes to myself to remind myself that it's OK not to be all things to all people all the time. It's OK to let things go and let the plates fall where they may. And perhaps someday when I'm ready those unbroken plates can take the place of the other ones that have lost their momentum).

Categories: LugNut Blogs

Designing a Well Lived Life: Checking In

Wed, 02/07/2018 - 22:12

2018 is in full-effect and January has already sped on by. Where has the time gone. Last I checked in it was Christmas-time and much like my neighbors that leave their Christmas lights up way too long I managed to leave the last post up for far too long without checking in.

Figured I'd check-in with my progress on Designing a Well Lived Life and the intentions that I have for 2018:

  • Writing more / designing more: Unfortunately I've been a little busy at the moment with work-related things so this intention has taken it in the teeth. It's been a bit of frustration to me with how little I've managed to create but I am thinking of ways to make this more of a priority. Also I've been procrastinating on one major project that I need to complete sooner than later that's related to my current infrastructure so that's been taking precedence.

  • Programming more: I've done a little bit here and there to help sharpen my skills but this too has taken a back-seat.

  • Engage more with people, not things: This has been helped a bit by some of the social activities I have (Coffee House Coders, MUG, etc.). Also I've been culling my social media presence to only a few different services (I've completely cut off Twitter and deleted my account).

  • Blogging more: Ummm... Here you go. blush.

  • Getting out of debt: Slowly but surely. This has been the area that I've been most focusing on, and it's still a bit of stress for me in how long the journey will be. But I'm starting to see some small results.

  • Supporting creators in sustainable ways: Not much to report on this at the moment.

  • Physical health: haven't focused on this.

  • Kindness: I've been more kind to myself and hopefully this has extended to others.

  • Mindfulness: I've been working on meditating but I've also noticed areas where my mind is not present in the moment.

So there's the first of the promised check-ins. Hopefully I'll do this on more of a monthly basis.

Categories: LugNut Blogs

Merry Christmas!

Sat, 12/23/2017 - 09:43

Wishing you and yours the best of the holiday season and a very Merry Christmas!

(Made with TIC80 and love. Click on the tree to see the full version.)


Categories: LugNut Blogs

Designing a Well-Lived Life - Twitter Evacuation and my mental health

Fri, 12/15/2017 - 22:40

As part of my "Designing a Well-Lived Life" I've decided that instead of letting my Twitter account just go dark that I'm going to go completely toward deactivating the account. I've already protected my Tweets so only those who are following the account will see this post there and then I'm removing feed2tweet. On 2017-12-31 I'm deactivating the account for good (or earlier, but the definite drop-dead date is 2017-12-31).

I'm putting my social media attention into Mastodon simply because it's been better for my attention. I can't use Twitter without using Tweetdeck and even then I need to have retweets turned off or it's a complete shit-show. And I find that my brief interactions with Twitter make me want to punch something. Watching the tweets about Net Neutrality being repealed made me angry and feel helpless to do anything. Which lead to more browsing on Twitter looking for hope. I can't handle that anymore. I've logged out of Twitter and now I'm wondering if there's anything redeemable at all.

I don't expect everyone to follow me over to Mastodon; frankly the older I get the more I realize that the only people I have complete influence over is the person looking back at me in the mirror. But I can do my part and not give aid, comfort, and content to those who do nothing but abuse that privilege.

I'm here at Follow me there if you wish.

Honestly I wish there was a way to help folks realize there are better alternatives to Twitter, but habits are hard to break. While I can't help everyone's suffering I can sure as heck help the one who I know is suffering the most from his interactions on that site.

Goodbye Twitter. We had fun, but now you're causing me harm and I'm done.

Categories: LugNut Blogs

Designing a Well Lived Lfe

Thu, 12/14/2017 - 23:36

I'm currently enrolled in Leo Babauta's "Designing a Well Lived Life" course, and one of the things that was mentioned during the webinar was about some of our intentions for the upcoming year. These aren't resolutions per se because they're things that I intend to work on throughout the year, but I wanted to share some of the ones that I came up with initially (and will likely be added to in the coming months).

  • Writing more / designing more: I'm finding one of my main sources of stress this past year was in not finishing up my game designs. Part of that was because I felt a dichotomy between my job search and my desire to work on the games that were percolating in my head. So my intention for the year is to put more effort into working on and finishing the game designs that I am working on, starting with the Pepper&Carrot RPG.

  • Programming more: My chosen career path is that of a programmer so what better way to celebrate that than by programming more and getting some of the ideas in my head out into the world. Also learning my craft better is important to me and I desperately want to get back to some of the more theoretical and hairy bits of computer science. Yes, this means more Scheme in the future. ;)

  • Engage more with people, not things: I'm finding myself getting more and more frustrated with social media so I'm turning off Twitter for now (frankly because it's a hot mess) and focusing more on meaningful interactions with people. So I'm focusing more on Mastodon (where I find more positive interactions). This also means not checking social media as much and creating more of what I'm terming "sacred spaces" where I'm allowing myself more time to focus and not be distracted.

  • Blogging more: Part of not being part of social media means I'm going to spend more time blogging about my progress and other topics of interest. This will allow me to engage more with folks with longer-form articles and will also allow me more time to write down my thoughts and be more coherent with them. It'll allow me to go for more of the longer game instead of the short dopamine hits of social media.

  • Getting out of debt: Frankly this last year of unemployment did wonders for our banking account and I want to get us back to where we're paying off our bills as best we can. That means scaling back our financial commitments as well as not buying every new thing that comes out on day of release. This also means finding ways of earning money that aren't susceptible to the whims of the job market and finding multiple means of income (see game design focus above).

  • Supporting creators in sustainable ways: This means helping out the folks that I admire in sustainable ways that don't put us both in jeopardy. Patreon recently did weird things with their fee schedule and then walked that back. I'd like to find better ways to help keep those creators able to support themselves and by extension help them to create the stuff that I enjoy (and can also use in my own creations).

  • Physical health: I need to do more outdoor activities and ensure that my body doesn't decide to crap out (throwing the above intentions into doubt).

  • Kindness: This applies both to others and to myself.

  • Mindfulness: Appreciating the moments as the occur and being fully present in that moment.

I'm sure there will be others but these are the biggies for now.

With that said I'm logging out of Twitter and Tweetdeck and revoking my access to Twitter via Rainbowstream. I'll be engaging more on Mastodon (( so you'll find me there. Note that I don't expect anyone who is currently on Twitter or other social media to follow me on Mastodon. I understand that Twitter is a habit and if that works for you then that's fine. I'm more doing this for my own sanity and well-being. If you want to follow then please do it because you want to, not because of me. Maybe I'll be back someday but for now I need to break the habit of checking Twitter and this seems as good a time as any to make the break.

I hope you'll join me in looking at ow to create better habits for the upcoming year and invite you to share your progress, whether in the comments here or on your own blogging platform.

Here's to a designing a well-lived life together.

Categories: LugNut Blogs

Pale Blue Dot

Sun, 12/10/2017 - 10:10

Last night JoDee and I watched a documentary about the Voyager Space Program called "The Farthest: Voyager in Space". It walked through the history of the program to present day: the discoveries, the photos, the science, and the troubles with the program. It's a great watch if you're even remotely interested in the Voyager Spacecraft.

One of the interesting pieces was the (now famous) photograph that Voyager took of Earth as seen from just past Neptune. The mission didn't have that part in mind and Carl Sagan and others thought it would be an interesting perspective for folks to see where Voyager really was in relation to our Earth. Sagan even escalated the issue to the administration of NASA to get the photos. The counter-argument was that the photos had no scientific purpose but eventually Voyager was re-programmed to take the shot.

And in those brief photographs we saw for the first time how tiny our planet is compared to the rest of the solar system. How unremarkable our planet is.

It became one of the quotes Carl Sagan was best known for, and the basis of one of his books: "A Pale Blue Dot".

It's interesting to see how something that had no scientific purpose, that had active opposition up to the highest levels of NASA, became one of the elements that cemented how important the Voyager Space Program was (and is). One last look back at our solar system before we permeated outside of it and pupped our bubble to see what lies beyond.

I think Carl Sagan's greatest achievement was in humanizing science; in keeping that sense of perspective about where our accomplishments are taking us. In turning around Voyager's cameras we got a glimpse of our own world from a place we never dreamed we would be, and the humbling sense that we are truly a pale blue dot, a mote of dust in the cosmos.

Categories: LugNut Blogs