Field Notes

A couple of years ago a friend sent me a three pack of field notes and I honestly didn’t get the point. I tried to use them but I didn’t see the benefit over a bigger notebook I kept on my desk.

I was recently doing some cleaning and came across the notebooks again and decided to give them another go. Grabbed a pen and stuck one in my pocket.

It’s been about a week now and even though I work from home having it my pocket is so useful. It’s quick to pull out and jot down a note, a reminder, a quote, or anything else.

Then when I get back to my desk I either copy to my main larger notebook or setup things in my calendar. I’m now a convert and just ordered a couple more sets. Of course, field notes is the main brand but any pocket size notebook will work. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Playing golf during social distancing

Today I played golf for the first time since the social distancing due to COVID-19 started in my area. Here was the rules:

  • Only one person per golf cart or walk
  • Leave the flags in
  • No rakes in or around the bunkers
  • No water from coolers on the course

Simple rules and I think it worked well. My group was able to play with no one getting too close to each other and we all had an enjoyable time.

Hopefully, the curve will be flattened soon enough and we can go back to normal life. Until then little things can go along way.

Stay safe!

Art Night

Every so often we do family art night. It’s fun, the kids enjoy it, and we get free drawings to decorate our house with. Winning all around!

I will say painting is hard without practice. Just like this one I created tonight that was supposed to be black panther eyes. I knew how I wanted it to end up, but couldn’t get the paint to do what I wanted. Just makes one realize how good the professionals are.

Buying the Kids a Book a Month

I think reading is essential, and I want to pass on the love of it to my kids. Last year I had the idea of a new program in our household, every first day of the month I would buy them a new book, and it could be 100% their choice. I didn’t care if it’s the Very Hungry Caterpillar or an autobiography of Gandhi. Any book they want, I’ll buy it for them.

It gives us something to look forward to every month, and I think it’s pretty exciting seeing their choices. Right now, one is loving illustrated books, and the other is into fiction.

This month my oldest wanted the Hunger Games, so I got her the box set. I’m pretty sure that she is attempting to beat the system, but I’m not going to complain that it’s three instead of one.

The Ride of a Lifetime by Robert Iger

The Ride of a Lifetime by Bob Iger is about his business life. How he got his start, how he became CEO of Disney, and some of his thinking behind the purchases he made at Disney. During his tenure that was Pixar, Marvel, LucasFilm, and Fox.

The book is sort of a memoir, yet in the opening sentence he says its not. It’s a chronological narrative of his life. From early childhood and his family that is a catalyst for his beliefs all the way through being one of the most powerful CEO’s in the world. But beyond that the book is really a management and leadership book.

He covers some of the challenges he’s faced over the years, and how sticking to a few basic principles like honesty, integrity, and humbleness you can make it far.

What I find great about the book is Disney is a creative company and he gives specific differences on how to manage creative people which transitions well into software. Here is one paragraph on giving critiques that works for designers, developers, and pull requests:

“I never start out negatively, and unless we’re in the late stages of production, I never start small. I’ve found that often people will focus on little details as a way of masking a lack of any clear, coherent, big thoughts. If you start petty, you seem petty. And if the big picture is a mess, then the small things don’t matter anyway, and you shouldn’t spend time focusing on them.”

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and if you are in any management role, even if you manage open source software, it’s worth reading and seeing how you can take what works in one of the largest companies to managing a small project. No matter the size the same core values are the same.

If you’d like to get a copy it’s on Amazon for around $15 depending on what version (kindle, hardcover, paperback) you prefer.

If the Moon Were Only 1 Pixel

1pixelmoon

We’ve all seen models of the solar system and they do a good job of representing the sun and the planets, but it’s hard to get a representation of the sheer vastness of space. If the moon were only 1 pixel by Josh Worth he creates a scale model using the moon as 1 pixel. It’s crazy how much scrolling is involved to reach the first planet, and be sure and click the light speed button in the bottom corner.

earth-moon.png

“Most space charts leave out the most significant part – all the space”, and now I’m tired of scrolling.

Salary Negotiation

Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss is excellent. One of the best books I read in the past year and it has tons of advice on negotiation that is applicable in many areas of your life. Everything from buying a new vehicle, to working with companies, to even negotiating salary.

One tip he shares related to salary is to never go first, but if you are cornered then only offer a range. Never share what you are making today. For example:

Interviewer: What are your salary expectations?
You: At top places like X Corp., people in this job get between $130,000 and $170,000.

When doing a range like this the low number is more than likely what they will gravitate toward so be sure it’s a value you actually want.

This is just the surface of the book but I believe it’s one you should own and read. I’ve picked up so many tips for negotiating in life from it. Even persuading my kids to do want I want.

In your code editor, dock your sidebar to the right

A few months ago I moved the sidebar in my code editor to the right and I love it. In fact, I’m sad I’ve been writing code for 20 years without ever doing this before. If you’ve never tried it, you should and here is a video by Jeff Sagal demonstrating why it’s useful:

I have all of my editors, that allow it, set up this way and I don’t think I’ll ever go back to a left sidebar again. Look at how beautiful VS Code is, and no janky code moving when you open it.

vscode.jpeg

Does it pass the smell test?

Today I received the following email…

possible-spam-email.png

As I was blazing through my inbox, my first reaction to fire off a quick yes, but then just as I started to reply I noticed the “There” was capitalized. That threw up a flag to my brain, then as I thought for 10 seconds I came to the conclusion that no one with good faith would email this question. Instead, they would say you have a broken link on this page.

I deleted this email and didn’t reply, but they almost got me. Of course, now I’m going to spend all day wondering what the goal of this email actually was? Maybe they just wanted to see if the email address they sent it to was active. Who knows.

Inspect Browser

Ever wanted to debug a site or web app while on the go, or maybe view it on mobile and do some debugging? As you may know Safari on iOS doesn’t include any form of console utilities but the Inspect Browser makes a great replacement that includes all the basic features to get the job done.

Granted this isn’t as powerful as Chrome or Firefox but it includes the main features like a JavaScript console, HTML inspection, CSS inspection and live preview, network panel, responsive design tools, and more.

Bullet Journal weekly spread

I’ve been a fan of the bullet journal method and been using it for a while. There is something oddly satisfying about looking at your past written notes versus being all digital. Here is a new way of doing the weekly spread that is still simple but gives it a little visual appearance.

Father Forgets

Today is my youngest child’s tenth birthday and every year I have a reminder set to reread Father Forgets by W. Livingston Larned. Since I’ve been doing this I’ve been convicted every year about how I let little things upset and annoy me and it always gives me a reset to refocus. Here is the poem in its entirety:


Listen, son: I am saying this as you lie asleep, one little paw crumpled under your cheek and the blond curls stickily wet on your damp forehead. I have stolen into your room alone. Just a few minutes ago, as I sat reading my paper in the library, a stifling wave of remorse swept over me. Guiltily I came to your bedside.

There are the things I was thinking, son: I had been cross to you. I scolded you as you were dressing for school because you gave your face merely a dab with a towel. I took you to task for not cleaning your shoes. I called out angrily when you threw some of your things on the floor.

At breakfast I found fault, too. You spilled things. You gulped down your food. You put your elbows on the table. You spread butter too thick on your bread. And as you started off to play and I made for my train, you turned and waved a hand and called, “Goodbye, Daddy!” and I frowned, and said in reply, “Hold your shoulders back!”

Then it began all over again in the late afternoon. As I came up the road I spied you, down on your knees, playing marbles. There were holes in your stockings. I humiliated you before your boyfriends by marching you ahead of me to the house. Stockings were expensive-and if you had to buy them you would be more careful! Imagine that, son, from a father!

Do you remember, later, when I was reading in the library, how you came in timidly, with a sort of hurt look in your eyes? When I glanced up over my paper, impatient at the interruption, you hesitated at the door. “What is it you want?” I snapped.

You said nothing, but ran across in one tempestuous plunge, and threw your arms around my neck and kissed me, and your small arms tightened with an affection that God had set blooming in your heart and which even neglect could not wither. And then you were gone, pattering up the stairs.

Well, son, it was shortly afterwards that my paper slipped from my hands and a terrible sickening fear came over me. What has habit been doing to me? The habit of finding fault, of reprimanding-this was my reward to you for being a boy. It was not that I did not love you; it was that I expected too much of youth. I was measuring you by the yardstick of my own years.

There was so much that was good and fine and true in your character. The little heart of you was as big as the dawn itself over the wide hills. This was shown by your spontaneous impulse to rush in and kiss me good night. Nothing else matters tonight, son. I have come to your bedside in the darkness, and I have knelt there, ashamed!

It is feeble atonement; I know you would not understand these things if I told them to you during your waking hours. But tomorrow I will be a real daddy! I will chum with you, and suffer when you suffer, and laugh when you laugh. I will bite my tongue when impatient words come. I will keep saying as if it were a ritual: “He is nothing but a boy-a little boy!”

I am afraid I have visualized you as a man. Yet as I see you now, son, crumpled and weary in your cot, I see that you are still a baby. Yesterday you were in your mother’s arms, your head on her shoulder. I have asked too much, too much.

A Good Walk Spoiled

pineisland

It’s been just over a year since I broke my hand and I was finally able to play golf for the first time yesterday.  The weather was chilly and I played terribly, but just being outside away from the computer was great. There is something about being out in nature that gives me clarity on problems and helps clear my head.

Another thing that I’ve found useful is after working on a coding problem and getting it working, go for a short walk and just think about the solution again. Typically I’ll get ideas on how to make the code better, and think of other side effects I might not have originally seen.

 

Write a Thank You Letter

Just before the holidays, I received an opensource donation from the nice folks at Algolia.  They sent the money via Paypal and also included their office address. As a way of saying thank you, I wrote them a quick thank you letter, went to the post office and bought a global stamp (they are in Paris), and mailed it off.  Then yesterday I woke up to this nice message on Twitter:

It took me all of about 30 minutes which included the trip to the post office to make this and I want to believe this stands out because no one takes the time to write a thank-you letter anymore. Instead, we’d rather use email, social media, text message, or a DM.

The next time someone does something nice for you, send them a thank you letter. It just might make their day memorable.

Stop Slack from messing with your Markdown

A few weeks ago Slack made a change to the app and added a new WYSIWYG toolbar. This alone didn’t bother me, but they also started doing weird things with markdown style code blocks using the three ticks. Thankfully they just announced you can turn this feature off.  Just hit “Preferences -> Advanced -> Input Options” and then check the following option:

slack-options.png

 

Thoughts on the Impeachment

I’ve been watching the impeachment testimony every day and I’m thankful the Republicans pushed this to be a public hearing. I love watching it and I find the chess match between the two sides in this exhilarating. So far I’ve stayed away from talking-head commentary and only watched the proceedings through my own lens and I wanted to share my thoughts after Sondland’s testimony yesterday. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to watch the night session so I’m not sure if they had a lot of other new information.

In his opening statement, Sondland threw everyone under the bus and it was damaging to the defense. He said everyone knew what was going on from the POTUS, the VP, and down, and there was definitely a quid pro quo. It was a bombshell.

Really the only recourse the Republicans had was to discredit him and he’s had a lot of changing stories, so it shouldn’t have been very hard. However, I think the Republicans made a huge mistake when they didn’t allow him access to the transcripts of his calls and meetings. Yes, he should have taken notes, yes he changed his story, but for me holding these back had the reverse effect. It gave him more credibility and made them look weak.

In the end, none of this really matters. It will be a party-line vote and he will be impeached, then nothing will happen in the Senate. I think the same happened to Clinton if my memory is correct.  People will scream about fairness, witch hunts, and moving goalposts, but it’s just noise. The impeachment has been decided and they have the votes.

Night Mountain Biking

His description of this was so perfect and I was nodding in agreement the whole time. I haven’t done a lot of night riding and I just did my first one of the season last week on trails that I know. It was a ton of fun, but not sure I’d be comfortable taking a beginner. Although, they would have some great stories from the adventure.