Saturday, December 26, 2015

There will be sand

You created a new application, started a new business, added on to an existing project, painted a room in your house, it doesn't matter what you have done either you or someone will find something you didn't think about or cover. A grain of sand, is that bug or feature that someone else finds. If you are a perfectionist then you may find it before someone else does and even if you patch or fix what you find someone else will still find a flaw in what you deliver. This is ok and should be expected in normal operations. Knowing that the grain of sand will exist means you can more easily adjust as needed to come to a solution that is acceptable. 

On the beach of life, sand will find its way into everything that you do. Having the ability to adjust and work with the sand you find shows how much you can grow in the future. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Why will I work with you?

Many a recruiter will send me a note and say that I'm perfect for a job only to find out that my skills are the only thing that has been considered in the search process. I have a diverse background with several skill sets under my belt and I have a propensity to work with different tools depending on what the current position needs. What brings me to you is not the pool table, foosball table, drinks in the fridge, food trucks at the back door or a brand new Mac. I will ask about the people I'll be working with, the management that will be directing a project and other touchy feely type questions. The people, the management, the atmosphere is more important than the bits and bytes I'll be pushing around because if the people are good, the management is respectful and the atmosphere is open and accepting then the work, no matter the language, will be good work.

Toptal recently came to my attention as an opportunity worth pursuing. There was no offer of power bars in the fridge, best food trucks in town, Ms PacMan in the breakroom and all the sodas I can imagine in the fridge. What Toptal brings to the table is, good people and the opportunity to work with great companies doing great things. I can only assume what the management will be like as that normally takes a project or two to get a real feel for. What I can infer is that the management will have to be great in order to work effectively with such a smart and diverse group of people. As I've worked with international teams before I know that diversity breeds a strong gift of leadership that thrives on getting great people to be even better.

If I have the unique opportunity to work with such a diverse team I will know that the work I've done in the past will only be a great foundation for even better work going forward.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Chance Meetings

I start this with a learning experience. Always have a few business cards on hand, even if you think you won't need them. As someone who normally didn't carry cards around and as someone who is working to get their own business started, I missed an opportunity to hand out my cards to a few people last night at a local art show. I'm a polyglot software engineer that is working on a 3D printing business plan and didn't really expect to meet some folks at the event who would be interested in what I'm working on. So, even as an old boyscout, I wasn't fully prepared for the interest and the opportunity to exchange business cards with possible clients.

I will have a few cards with me no matter where I go now because a missed opportunity could mean a loss of business and that's a loss I do not want to miss out on again.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Getting the water out

I saw this image recently and it struck a cord with me. The basic idea is there and being a boat owner I could relate to the metaphor pretty easily. The person who wrote this down forgot to mention that no matter what you do, water will get into your boat.
When water gets into your boat there are some pretty easy ways to get it out, bilge pump, bucket, water gun, etc. When what happens around you gets in and it will, you need a way to get it out. Everyone is different here so figuring out what your bilge pump is will help you get the crap out when it does get in. Ask yourself what it is that you do that helps you feel better after doing it. Assuming you are not Dexter and have emotions, those things that allow you to feel better are those things that can help you bilge the crap that gets in.

Different people recharge differently so knowing yourself is the best way to determine how to get the crap out, get together with friends, read a book, do some gardening and other things is your personal bilge pump.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Code for Good

As a developer, software, you always want to write good code. What is even better is when you can write code for good. Sure, you can write code to solve a problem, speed up a process, improve a users chance of getting the best deal on a new TV or you can write code that helps people do good things in the world. I've been fortunate enough to work for two non-profits in my past that helped people in Colorado. When you write code for good, you better still write good code, it feels different than when you are writing code for a company that benefits that company.

The feeling of doing good is a strong one and in many cases you are willing to make personal sacrifices, monetary, to work for a group that is giving back to the world. Personally, if I could work for an organization that does good I don't really care what the base infrastructure is. It's more about the work and who it benefits than the tools used.

If you can, if you want to, see if you can code for good on your next project.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Are you too experienced?

Even in the software world there is a growing expectation you are an expert in a single area.

What if you are an expert software developer, regardless of the language? When a project lands on your plate you need to ask yourself if you plan on using the language the customer/employer wants you to use or the language you'd like to use. In many cases you are going to use the language that the rest of the team can support in the long run. Still, you'd like to use a lighter, faster, shinier new language to make sure you stay current. However, development skills have become more specialized in recent years and that is actually hurting our career field.

If you've been working with OS's, databases, languages, scripting tools, build tools, etc. etc. for a long time then you may be too experienced for the current crop of companies looking for good people. By too experienced I mean you have yet to specialize your skill sets and forget everything else you've learned. You are a polyglot engineer or a language agnostic developer and if asked you can spin up and be an expert in a given language in short order, pulling from years of experiences, your expertise can shift depending on the project at hand. If this is you, you may be too experienced and finding a good fit in today's world may be more difficult.

Please, if you are a PolyGlot Engineer, Language Agnostic Developer or just a well rounded software type person, don't change.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Rabbit Holes

If you have a lot of little projects going on at once you may drop down a rabbit hole on one and forget to come back up for air. Right now I should be at the grocery store getting fixing for dinner tonight but I went down a hole for one of my projects and am now a little behind. Rabbit holes are not a bad thing and you just need to set yourself a time limit if you drop down one. I give myself only 15 minutes to write this blog and then I have to move on. If you give your rabbit hole a time limit then you can still be productive for the day and feel good about one of your projects.

Time limit you say, yes, time limit yourself and you can get more done than you think. A lot of people tend to work better under a deadline and a time boundary will help you stay focused and productive. Keep notes of where you were on a project, limit yourself to a set time and you can focus more effectively on each project.

Times up.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Think business, keep the heart on the side

I'm sorry, we've decided to take a different path and we will not be needing your help.
We felt that you were lacking depth in the areas of work we have at hand.

These are rejections from possible employers that I received in one day. It's also the leverage I'm using to slay the Dragon of Resistance in my life. I told myself that I'd take my personal business to the next level if I wasn't given an offer and here it is. While it hurts the heart to hear a rejection, I know that when I am running my business I'll need to make those same decisions if someone comes to my door for a job. Business can have a heart and good business is being able to listen to your heart and still make a business decision even if it is not popular.

When thinking for the business and or hearing news from a business you need to keep your heart on the side. And sometimes, knowing that there is still heart in a business will help make the difficult or hard decisions more palatable when delivered.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Advice vs Perspective

Looking over some notes I found a quote I heard a few weekends ago. I don't give advice, I give perspective. This is, of course, a quote from someone else and I wish I had that reference. If you know it please share.

I had to determine what this meant to me and how to change or update my methods of communicating before I understood the quote better. This is not a call to arms to just stop giving advice or to only hand out your perspective in a situation. There is always a balance and the challenge is finding what that is for each conversation. Your perspective is how you see a situation or conversation or event and it is only your view of what is happening. Your advice would be how to correct or fix or affect the situation or conversation, which in turn means a lack of active listening on my part. A good conversationalist will be able to mirror back your discussion so they fully understand your point of view. Giving a perspective is very similar in that you have to listen to the person talking or pay attention to the situation to be able to have a perspective. And, your perspective may be entirely wrong. 

Having a perspective has given me the ability to listen and observe, better than before and it helps me with my tendency to always want to fix or problem solve something. Having a perspective is also having good active listening skills and many times listening is what's important.

Friday, October 2, 2015

When do you think?

Better yet, when do you clear your head when a problem comes up? If you have been trying to push through a problem, keep working till you get it right, banging your head against the wall to knock out all the bad ideas... You may need a new method to flush out that solution to your problem. Admittedly this is more related to the people who have 1st world problems and normally sit to do their work. Regardless, when you have a problem and you need to noodle on it pretty hard, you should be doing something completely different than what you are doing now. The subconscious has almost all of the answers you need to solve the problem at hand. Getting the subconscious to do the work for you is what we are talking about here.

When up against a wall of a big problem, sometimes, you need to step away from it and let the smarter part of your brain kick in. Options here are boundless and each person is different. Just like sharpening the axe, taking a break from the current problem can allow your brain to do the work it does best. I've had solutions or developed a better picture to solve a problem in the shower.

Sometimes, stepping away will help you solve the problem faster and better.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Sharpening the Axe

Everyone is different and everyone will find their own method of recharging. If you don't have a way to recharge, please start looking. A lot of what I've learned about myself as I grew up and am still growing is that if you listen to yourself you can figure out what you need to recharge. The Sharpening of the Axe, a story I heard over the weekend, illustrates how we can all be better, do more things, achieve greater goals and still do great things in the time we have.

I'm not sure if everyone has ever had to sharpen a knife, axe or sword recently so the metaphor may not play out for you. Introverted v Extroverted recovery. Meditation. Yoga. Running. Biking. Binge watching The Daily Show. One of these might resonate and if it does you may know how to recharge. I didn't mention work in that list because if you recharge at work I am unable to relate to that in this post. To work, heads down, no break, no interaction and constantly focused on a single goal is a very hard thing for the body to do. You breath, you blink, you shift in your seat; the body is not meant to be still for a full day at work and neither is your mind.

Each hour of each day, save when sleeping, you should Sharpen Your Axe by pulling back and realizing where you are, stretch a bit, stand up, take a walk, get a glass of water, etc. A few times a day you need to let your mind go somewhere other than work so that subconscious of yours can noodle over the problem you've been working on. Each week you need to get away completely for a bit. Don't look at your phone, answer emails, etc.

When you step away from work you are still working. You are working on you being a better self, partner, co-worker, friend and more. You need a sharper self to be a better self.

Monday, September 28, 2015

R2D2 Print

Printed out R2D2 last night.
Print Profile : n-vent mini medium settings from with no adjustments.
Notes : Forgot to put down the PVA glue and had to spend some extra effort in getting on of the parts off. Print was pretty clean, some edges had a little curling near the top and I think it may be that the layer print time was to quick and did not allow the material to cool properly first.

Run time: ~4.5hrs
Cura Execution Output :
< Bed x: 0.00 y: 0.00 z: -1.36
< Bed x: 160.00 y: 0.00 z: -0.80
< Bed x: 160.00 y: 160.00 z: -0.80
< Bed x: 0.00 y: 160.00 z: -1.57
< Eqn coefficients: a: 0.00 b: -0.00 d: -1.41
< planeNormal x: -0.00 y: 0.00 z: 1.00
< Probing done!
< echo:endstops hit:  Z:-1.57
< < echo:Marlin1.0.0
< echo: Last Updated: Sep  4 2015 08:36:38 | Author: (Aleph Objects Inc, Mini-2015Q1)
< Compiled: Sep  4 2015
< echo: Free Memory: 4882  PlannerBufferBytes: 1296
< echo:Hardcoded Default Settings Loaded
< echo:Steps per unit:
< echo:  M92 X100.50 Y100.50 Z1600.00 E833.00
< echo:Maximum feedrates (mm/s):
< echo:  M203 X800.00 Y800.00 Z8.00 E40.00
< echo:Maximum Acceleration (mm/s2):
< echo:  M201 X9000 Y9000 Z100 E1000
< echo:Acceleration: S=acceleration, T=retract acceleration
< echo:  M204 S2000.00 T3000.00
< echo:Advanced variables: S=Min feedrate (mm/s), T=Min travel feedrate (mm/s), B=minimum segment time (ms), X=maximum XY jerk (mm/s),  Z=maximum Z jerk (mm/s),  E=maximum E jerk (mm/s)
< echo:  M205 S0.00 T0.00 B20000 X12.00 Z0.40 E10.00
< echo:Home offset (mm):
< echo:  M206 X0.00 Y0.00 Z0.00
< echo:PID settings:
< echo:   M301 P28.79 I1.91 D108.51

Put the Mattress Down First

I shared this weekend a method I was taught about leadership and having a hard or difficult discussion with a team member, a friend or even yourself. Mattresses are soft and there are times when you need to have a discussion that can and will be difficult. Putting the mattress down first is a technique of addressing someones positive qualities and strengths before you get to the hard stuff. A positive team player and strong communicator can also be the one who comes in late and leaves early a lot.

The Mattress: You are a positive team player and communicate well with others.
The Hard Stuff: We appreciate your energy and we need it here for the full day.

Even if you know someone really well, starting off with the difficult part of the conversation first can put them on the defensive and then less apt to hear anything else you say. The mattress is the soft spot to land when you giving the hard talk.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Decisions by Denver Public Schools

It looks like the word is getting out, even 9 News is reporting that DPS will be closed today. I'm hoping my original tweet helped make a difference today.

This section :
Whenever possible, DPS tries to keep schools open to serve our students and families. Many working parents who are on moderate incomes have few to no child-care options, don’t get paid days off from their jobs, and therefore face a huge burden when schools are closed and their employer remains open. Denver schools serve tens of thousands of children who come from low-income households. Schools are not only vital places of learning for those students, but they are also in many cases the only place where these students get two free hot meals a day, health care, counseling and support services.
is what really set me off. Making a decision about child or student safety, based upon a parents possible work or income situation, should be left out of the calculations for schools to remain open during inclement weather.

Schools are for learning and sometimes the weather says; Learn to make better decisions about your safety.

DPS article on Feb 26 Re: Schools staying open

February 25, 2015

Schools to Remain Open on Thursday, Feb. 26; Cold and Snowy Conditions Expected

Cold and snowy conditions are expected to continue throughout the morning of Feb. 26, so please dress students warmly! While we expect to open schools tomorrow, we will review conditions through the night and in the early morning hours to see if a change is necessary. Denver Public Schools (DPS) bus crews will report early to help reduce any delays as a result of winter weather conditions. Bus route delays can be found at Any additional school updates will be posted here.

How decisions are made during winter weather conditions

The decision whether to close our schools is based on information provided by representatives from transportation agencies, the weather bureau, city and county law enforcement and DPS Transportation.

We know how important these decisions are and we take them very seriously. The most important factor is the well-being of our students and their families. The unpredictability of the current weather pattern poses an extra challenge in making the best decision.

Whenever possible, DPS tries to keep schools open to serve our students and families. Many working parents who are on moderate incomes have few to no child-care options, don’t get paid days off from their jobs, and therefore face a huge burden when schools are closed and their employer remains open. Denver schools serve tens of thousands of children who come from low-income households. Schools are not only vital places of learning for those students, but they are also in many cases the only place where these students get two free hot meals a day, health care, counseling and support services.

Schools Open During Inclement Weather: The required transportation will be provided. However, services may be modified to ensure both driver and student safety and welfare. Traffic conditions are very likely to require students to spend additional time en route to school, special activities, programs or home. Buses are also likely to be delayed due to the inclement weather and traffic. This information will be posted to the Transportation hotline 720.423.4600 and at

View Winter Weather FAQs and important Transportation information

If school is cancelled, the information will be communicated in the following ways:

  • Emergency school closures are posted on www.dpsk12.orgimmediately.
  • The Communications Office will immediately notify local television and radio stations, which will broadcast regular announcements of school closures. You can also visit the and Notifications in Spanish will be made on radio newscasts on 1150 AM, 1280 AM and 1090 AM.
  • Announcements to close or delay school will also be posted to the district‘s Facebook and Twitter pages.
  • A message denoting the closure will also be left on the school district’s closure hotline at 720.423.3200, as well on the DPS Transportation hotline at 720.423.4600.
  • DPS employees should check their e-mails regularly.
  • DPS transportation employees will be notified by Bus Bulletinvia call, text or email.

Find out what's going on throughout the district.
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