Category Archives: Life

Excuses for Economic Misbehavior

A friend of mine was asking the other day why we can’t have a working economy that cares for people.  Good question – why can’t we?

Somehow we have come to believe that the economy is unrestrainable.  It exists as a whirling cloud of dollars and cents over and around us, and we, as a society, cannot control nor shape it.

While we continue to build better buildings that protect us from whatever Mother Nature throws at us, and create better health care practices to protect us from disease, we think we have no tools to protect us from the forces of economics.  But we do.  We are smart enough and caring enough to shape an economy that does protect our values while also growing wealth and providing goods and services.

There are no excuses for our economic misbehavior.  Instead, we need to take the time to train and lead the economic bull instead of letting it run roughshod over our society.

Day 4 of My Media Blackout

I’m on day 4 of my media & Hollywood blackout. So far, the hardest habits to break have been navigating to a news web site during the day (I’ve stopped myself mid-type quite a few times), and sitting down to read a book with a cup of tea. Instead, I wander around the house looking for something to do.

Good things as a result are that I’m ahead of myself on laundry (never happens), and I’ve cleaned out the closet in the office. Worst thing is that I have to over hear re-runs of Full House because the kids have free reign of the TV during prime time.

My husband promised to tell me about some really important world or local event. Otherwise, I’m enjoying not knowing what’s happening.

The cobwebs of public opinion still haven’t cleared so I’ll keep you posted on that.

If only I could tune out some of the software/tech analyst blogs who have little grip on reality. But alas, those are required reading for work.

Hack Your Brain

Note: This blog was a test of using storify to export to wordpress. It posted as an active blog – wish it had posted in draft mode first. Storify has great potential, though, but would like to suggest a few usability tweaks to it. The below is meant as a timeline of what I thought was most important from a SXSW session I went to.

  1. Facilitator: Megan Miller
  2. First up: Michael Scanlon from Lumosity
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    Thu, Mar 15 2012 11:12:27
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    Peak mental performance around an average of 7 hrs sleep a night. Moderate exercise helps too. Good for heart, good for brain. #SXbrainhack

    Fri, Mar 09 2012 15:17:11
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    Playing a musical instrument is positively correlated to increasing IQ over time. #sxbrainhack

    Fri, Mar 09 2012 15:20:58
  6. Next: Dan Wetmore from Sheepdog Sciences
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    Thu, Mar 15 2012 11:28:18
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    “Leverage what the brain does well to compensate for what the brain does poorly” #sxbrainhack #sxblonon #sxsw

    Fri, Mar 09 2012 15:35:11
  9. Last: Dave Asprey from Bulletproof – formerly diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome – brain hacked his way out of it
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    Thu, Mar 15 2012 11:22:22
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    Hack ur brain by hacking your heart first. Decrease heart rate variability to increase brain power #sxbrainhack #SXSW

    Fri, Mar 09 2012 15:37:25
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    Thu, Mar 15 2012 11:22:22
  13. Yoga breathing can mimic the positive effects of LSD
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    questions about (legal) drugs to help improve performance all lead to recommendation to meditate & do breathing exercises. #sxbrainhack

    Fri, Mar 09 2012 15:57:13
  15. Question from audience:  if hacking your brain works, why doesn’t science explore these types of treatements?  A: from Michael Scanlon:  traditional science starts with a hypothesis and then finds data, which limits the perspective to the hypothesis.  Future = Big Data will tell us the solution without a hypothesis.
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    “Big data and the quantified self movement is going to kick science’s ass.” Biohacker Dave Asprey @ #SXbrainhack #SXSW

    Fri, Mar 09 2012 16:01:41
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    #sxbrainhack blew my mind and I am excited about the implications for #ADHD treatmt

    Fri, Mar 09 2012 16:06:43

#SXSW Interactive – Saturday & Sunday in Photos

Samsung’s smart TV – no need for a remote, just use hand gestures to change the channel, the volume, or any setting.  Development kit available.

Keynote speaker Baratunde Thurston inspired us to use comedy to change society. “Comedians are good at smashing idols” – per @occupyjudaism.

Touch table at the Nokia tent. I want this for our coffee house.

Cell phone charging lock boxes

Boxing robots powered by Kinect – using hand gestures. Motion technology is a big theme.

Third Eye Blind. Gotta love alternative music launched in the 90s. I do, so I had to throw that in here.

“make mistakes. Make big ones” #Tambor #SXSW

If Jesus Hadn’t Come in an Ugly Manger

If Jesus hadn’t come in an ugly manger, we might think that we should attain to success on earth.  We might think that looking good, or earning wealth, or being the best at what we do, is important.

If Jesus hadn’t come in a manger, in a drafty cave, we might think that the goal of our lives is comfort, free from pain, hunger, and cold.

If Jesus hadn’t come in a manger, after a normal human birth, we might think that we need great supernatural acts to accomplish anything important.

If Jesus hadn’t come in a manager, with the help of some ordinary people, we might think that the simple things we do on earth don’t matter.

If Jesus hadn’t come in a manager, as a screaming infant child, we might think that humanity, with the spirit of God, doesn’t have the power over good and evil.

If Jesus hadn’t come in a manger, in a specific time and place, we might consider ourselves puppets in world affairs, where God pulls the strings to make sure everything goes His way.

If Jesus hadn’t come in a manger, under a starry sky, we might think God is only watching us from a distance.

If Jesus hadn’t come in a manger, with an earthly mother who gave birth in pain, we might think we can sit back and wait for everyone else to do “something” to make the world a better place.

If Jesus hadn’t come in a manger, part of an intricate plan, we might think that we are products of chance.

If Jesus hadn’t come in a manger… we wouldn’t care enough to even wonder why.

Advice to Newly Graduated Programmers

datamation-1965-well-dressed-programmer

Image from Datamation magazine, 1965.  Courtesty of The Computer Boys

At myStaffingPro, we are fortunate to work with IT students during their college years.  As we send them off into the “real wold,” and hopefully into a full-time IT job, there’s some things I want them to know.

Put yourself in the user’s shoes
Listen to what the software user is saying with his heart, not just with his mouth.  Many users can’t verbalize exactly what they want.  Good developers will dig deeper to find the felt need and create software that meets that need.

Think like a hacker
Expect to spend more time on security than you want.  It’s a reality of the world that people will try to take advantage of you, your software, and your customers.

Delve deeper
Don’t stop at the first solution – keep digging for the best solution, while staying within time and budget constraints, of course.  Usually the best solution isn’t the something you’ll learn in a classroom.

P & I
Leverage the work of those before you by utilizing free online resources, attending conferences, and sharing code with other developers.  Study successful applications.  Share freely of your resources as well.

Mock up everything
Even if it’s just a drawing on a napkin, a mock-up will give you better focus.

Test it to death
Don’t hand anything in as complete until you’ve tested it at least 10 times more than you thought you needed.  Again, test it yourself, BEFORE handing it off to QA or your supervisor.

Communicate, communicate, communicate
By nature, most programmers focus so much on their skill that their communication skills don’t get used much.  Force yourself to communicate with your co-workers about what you’re doing.  Then listen, listen, listen.

Ask questions…
…but only after you’ve made an honest attempt to find the answers yourself.

Get to work on time and be nice to others
This applies to any career choice – hopefully the why is obvious.

You’ve chosen an exciting career that will allow you to create art in the form of software.  Keep your focus on the end goal of what you’re creating, and you’ll keep your inspiration.  Carpe diem!

“In most people’s vocabularies, design means veneer. It’s interior decorating. It’s the fabric of the curtains of the sofa. But to me, nothing could be further from the meaning of design. Design is the fundamental soul of a human-made creation that ends up expressing itself in successive outer layers of the product or service.” – Steve Jobs in Fortune

Three Things

Unless we’ve got loads of cash and can choose exactly how we spend our time, we’re probably spending some time on things that are a bit mundane.  Whether it’s doing laundry, replying to too many emails in a day, or whatever, we can get worn down by tasks not of our choosing.

That’s why one day I was feeling sorry for myself and pondering how I could inject more meaningful activity into my daily routine.  Although I am privileged to be able to exercise creativity through by job in software design, it’s still not the same as creating something Just Because.  So, I was driving down the road wondering when I’d be able to “do what I want”, such as be a pop star and famous author, and complaining to God about emails and laundry, when a voice seemed to whisper to me:  sing, pray, write.

Sing.  Pray.  Write.  Sing, because I love to.  Pray, because it connects me to my life source.  Write, because it exercises my creative energy.

All of these things are things I can do each day.  I can sing to a CD on my way to work.  I can write a quick blog over my lunch hour.  I can pray at any time.  And when I take the small amount of time necessary for doing these things, I feel refreshed, energized, and more engaged in life.

What three things energize you?