My First MTB Race

Yesterday I raced in my first MTB race. Well I guess first isn’t completely accurate because I did do a short 5-mile race about 20 years ago, but that was it and it’s been so long ago that experience has been pushed out of my mind.

The one yesterday was called King of Goat Hill which as you can imagine was basically a bunch of hill climbs. I didn’t really know what to expect going in but I want to get faster so what better way than to get out there with some fast people? The event was four laps (10.1 total miles) and the majority of it was hill climbs, hence the name.

As the even started I decided it would be a good idea to start in the back so I don’t kill myself in the beginning but what I didn’t realize is that I’m not as slow as I assumed. The whole first lap I was stuck behind slow people and it was hard to pass.

The second lap was much better as I started to get into a rhythm but my legs weren’t recovering enough on the downhills to be ready for the next uphill. So it was a struggle but I kept pushing.

On lap three I got lapped by the leaders and that was demoralizing. Getting lapped in a four-lap race is not fun, but I didn’t know what to expect so I should have known that would probably happen. I kept pushing through.

At the finish of that lap, I assumed the race was over. In all other events, you finish on the same lap the winner does. I stopped thinking it was over and the people standing around told me to keep going, that this event wasn’t set up like that. I lost a ton of time there.

I pushed through the final lap and finished with a smile. I also asked the top three how many miles a week they ride and each one said 100+ miles. They ride every day and two of three was under 20 years old. Basically, with my current schedule, I’ll never be at their level.

Now that the race is in the books here are a few things I learned:

  1. Start near the front, let people pass you.
  2. Realize if you are not training every day you probably will not finish at the front.
  3. During the race focus only on what you can control.
  4. Have fun!

I plan to race even more this year because I did enjoy it, but I’ll go into the next one knowing more of what to expect.

Most maintainers start working on open source software because it’s fun and solves a problem they have. Many continue out of a sense of obligation instead of fun and over time this unpaid, increasingly non-fun work grinds them down. When they make a controversial decision and receive abuse for it, their friends and family start to ask them if open source is worth the grief.

Open Source Maintainers Owe You Nothing

What Makes PHP Popular?

I saw this question pop up on a forum and I know every PHP developer has their own reasons, it made me think of why I initially picked PHP way back in the early 2000’s when v4.3 was king.

It all started when my family hired a web developer to create a website for their motorcycle dealership. Everyone was moving to the web, and we didn’t want to be left behind. We ended up hiring a local guy, and a few months later a new website was delivered that was built entirely with Microsoft Front-page. He sat with me for an hour or so and showed me the basics on how to update it, took his check, and then went on his merry way.

Flash forward about two months, and I was spending half my day on Front-page forums trying to figure out the tool and how to make cool things. I loved it! Eventually, though I was sick and tired of Front-page, the extensions kept breaking, and every time it was a nightmare to fix.

This led me to a crossroads. I wanted to remake the site so it was dynamic and so we could quickly add new inventory. The two languages I heard was best for this was either ASP or PHP. To a newbie, they both seemed like greek, but PHP hosting was cheaper, so that is the direction I went.

With the language chosen, I started reading everything I could and tinkering, but it didn’t “click” I struggled more than I’d like admin with understanding the relationship between PHP, MySQL, and Apache. Keep in mind back then I had zero tech friends and nobody local I could even ask. It was trial and error from tutorials and forums.

What I ended up realizing is the part I struggled with was that I couldn’t actually see the relationship between all these tools. Around this time I tried Dreamweaver, and it helped tremendously because it was all basically integrated into a single app.

As I compare then to today the training material now is leaps and bounds better than we what we had. Yes, web development is way more complicated today, but everything from tutorials, to training videos, to even open source apps. Everything is better explained than back then.

So to finally answer the question, “What makes PHP popular?”, For me, it was cheaper hosting, and once I grasped the basics, I never left the community. If it works, embrace it.

Where is the Book Publishing Disruption?

There are two primary ways of publishing these days. The first is to go through a book publishing company and the second is through self-publishing. Each has advantages and disadvantages.

If you go the traditional route, typically how it works is they give you an agreed upon amount of money to write the book. Then once it goes on sale you make a low percentage until an agreed upon amount then it goes a little higher. The advantage to this style for tech authors is they handle all the sales, marketing, editing, book cover, etc. So you write the book and get paid.

The downside is the amount you get paid is low. You will, by far, make more money going the self-publishing route. However, everything is up to you. You need a following; you need to understand a little business, how to market, how to hire out contractors for the various parts and on and on. It’s a lot to undertake especially if you have a full-time job, a family, or other responsibilities.

What I’d love to see is an entirely new digital alternative where everything is more favorable to all parties involved. In my opinion, a writer should be able to pitch their book idea to a publisher, and if accepted the writer writes the book, the publisher handles all the mundane tasks like a cover image, editing, and sales & marketing. Then both parties split the revenue 50/50, 60/40, 40/60, just some split that seems fairer than what is currently the industry average.

I do believe something like this should work, but I’ve yet to see anyone come in and try to disrupt the industry. Maybe there is a reason, and I fail to see it?

Hacking the CAN-SPAM Act for fun

The CAN-SPAM Act was enacted back in 2003 and one of the provisions is that you must include a physical address in your email newsletter:

A legitimate physical address of the publisher and/or advertiser is present. PO Box addresses are acceptable in compliance with 16 C.F.R. 316.2(p) and if the email is sent by a third party, the legitimate physical address of the entity, whose products or services are promoted through the email should be visible.

What I’ve started doing is when I get a newsletter I enjoy I’ll write a snail mail letter in response to it, much I like I did in this humorous post for responding to a Tweet.

So far I’ve only done it a handful of times but in almost every single case it gets a response and that’s because it’s unique and people really do enjoy getting real letters in the mail. Plus it’s fun! Now that I’ve shared my secret don’t everyone start doing it or it’ll lose the novelty.  🙂

Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

Mowing the lawn

I grew up in rural North Carolina on a track of land that measured around five acres. Much of it was wooded with maybe around an acre and half of grass. I have fond memories of fighting my brother to get dibs on mowing it, and it was so exciting for about a month, then I absolutely hated it. From then on I let him cut it.

All that worked fine until we became adults and the first home I bought had a lot of grass. I thought being older I’d enjoy it more but quickly found out that wasn’t the case. I went as far as buying a huge z-mower with a 60″ cut to try to get done faster, but nothing mattered I despised it.

Finally, when I sold that house one of the goals with the next was a smaller yard, and with that came the ability for me to hire out the mowing. After about four weeks I realized how dumb I’d been all my life and it reminds me so much of this quote I saw by Sam Altman:

I don’t think most people value their time enough—I am surprised by the number of people I know who make $100 an hour and yet will spend a couple of hours doing something they don’t want to do to save $20.

It reminded me that logically I should have made this decision 10 years ago, but because of cost, I assumed it was advantageous to just suck it up and keep going.

The War of Art

Every time I ready to ship something I get tons of apprehension and the feeling of a fraud and a failure. It’s brutal and it seems to happen every single launch.

During this time I’m reminded of the book The War of Art by Steven Pressfield and if you’ve ever experienced I’d recommend getting yourself a copy.

Stan Berenstein, co-creator of The Berenstein Bears sums up the book perfectly in this quote:

“A marvelous help for anybody who has ever encountered the resistance of a blank page, an empty canvas or an unyielding musical scale.”

The book was originally written for writers but it works for any creative profession.