Sunday, December 30, 2012


It’s generally really easy for me to keep going if I’ve already got a bit of momentum, but if things have derailed me and caused me to focus elsewhere, Newton’s First Law decides that it also applies to motivation and proceeds to kick my backside.

Translation – if I stop, it takes real work to get going again.

It’s also fair to say that, for me at least, large tasks are intimidating, but breaking them into smaller chunks makes them more manageable because it lets me just consider the current step and leave subsequent steps for a little later.

Big = difficult. Little = easier. Makes sense, right? Less stuff, less to be overwhelmed by.

Or, to paraphrase my sifu a bit “Concentrate on now right now. Later will come when it is time.”

A few years ago, I found a way to motivate myself when learning something new from a book or video as well as when working on projects. Thankfully it plays into the fact that I’m a big fan of marker boards (I have several in my office to help keep myself organized and to brainstorm) so it doesn’t take any additional expense on my part.

I write the name of the book or video series on the marker board and then put down the chapter or video numbers. As I work through it, I erase the numbers for the chapters that I’ve covered.

This does two things:

First, it lets me keep track of where I am. This is especially helpful if I’m doing a video series or a web-based lesson plan.

Second, it lets me see that I have actually been making progress so I don’t get lost in the feeling that I’m never going to get anywhere in what I’m doing (I’m pretty sure that I’m not the only one that has this problem. It’s downright overwhelming to look at how much you have to learn, and every time you learn something, it shows you other things that you need to learn).

Some people will prefer to strike through the numbers or put a check mark next to them after they’ve finished, but I prefer to erase for one very simple reason – it lets me actually SEE the list of things I need to do shrink. If the numbers are still there, the size of the task never visually changes so my brain still says “Hey, there’s still this daunting list of things that we have to do.”

If I erase the numbers, my brain goes “Wow. We’re making progress! Maybe we can do this thing after all.”

Yes, it’s a stupid psychological trick, but in my case it works.

I guess that means it’s not so stupid after all…

Current mood: undecided
Current music: Adam and the Ants – Room at the Top

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Product Review – Mimo 720S

A couple of weeks ago, I won a Mimo 720S (7” USB touch screen monitor) at the CONDG holiday party.

I’d seen them before online and was never really tempted because it just didn’t seem that useful. I mean, after all, a 7” screen isn’t that large. It’s okay for a tablet, but as a 2nd or 3rd monitor?

I’ll admit that I was wrong.

The screen’s a resistive touch screen, but it doesn’t take a lot of pressure to make it work unlike a lot of other resistive screens. That’s not to say that it doesn’t occasionally lose track of the fact that you’re doing a “click and drag”, but nothing’s perfect.

The size of the screen is just about perfect to fit on the desk under my monitor in the space where I usually put a book if I’m using it for reference. Since I have electronic copies of most of my tech books as well as paper copies, the Mimo’s primary purpose for me is as a book display.

Setting the size of the book to 120% in acrobat allows most books to be readable and take up most of the screen and since the Mimo is on an integrated stand, I don’t have to look at a book that’s lying flat like I do with its paper counterpart.

I’m also wondering how it will do as a test screen for mobile app development. Since it rotates 90 degrees, you could emulate either a phone or a tablet.

Honestly, my only complaint is that the screen isn’t a little bit bigger. I think a 10” screen would be just about perfect.

Just be sure to update to the latest drivers and calibrate the touch screen with the Calibrate program before you use it. Otherwise, you’ll be wondering why the mouse moves on your main monitor when you touch the Mimo

Friday, December 07, 2012

GPS - The Angry Wife Edition

I live in a city where I frequently have no idea how to get where I’m going. I used to use MapQuest before I got my GPS several years ago.

It’s a wonderful device, but I refer to it as “The angry little woman in the box” because the voice sounds rather annoyed when it says “recalculating” if you miss your turn or opt for another route. In fact, I think they must have multiple clips for “recalculating”, because she sounds angrier every time she says it, but that could just be my imagination.

It’s like having an irate spouse in the car with you (my girlfriend agrees).


“Turn left”

I don’t want to turn left. This road is a better option

“Recalculating. In 0.5 miles, turn left”

No, I want to stay on this road. It lets me bypass a lot of nasty intersections and is only 2 minutes slower

“If you don’t listen to me, why do you even take me along?”

I do listen to you, but in this case, I know a better route for this part of the trip

“You don’t love me anymore. I saw you looking at that other GPS in the store”

That’s a model for hiking and geocaching

“She’s a model, is she?? I bet you felt her up too! Damned skinny bitch”

Oh, now you’re just being silly

“I am NOT being silly. You don’t touch me like you used to! I catch you looking at other GPS’es and now you don’t even listen when I tell you to turn left!”

I’m just saying that this time, going straight is a better option.

“That’s it! I’m going to my mother’s! TURN RIGHT!”



Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Oct 14

Happy Birthday

Tuesday, October 09, 2012


The tech job market in Columbus seems to be picking up quite a bit. This is a wonderful thing for a lot of people since we like to be able to pay rent and buy sandwiches.

Unfortunately, it also means an increase in the number of people that call themselves recruiters whose only purpose is to spam as many people as possible in the hope that some company will hire one of them so said “recruiter” can get a commission.

These people are not really recruiters. They’re parasites. Real recruiters are a completely different creature.

If you’re a “recruiter” and are located in an off shored call center, you aren’t really a recruiter. I’ve gotten a few calls of this sort in the last few weeks and they’re driving me up the wall – Broken English, lots of call center noise in the background, and follow up emails that say things like “I enjoyed speaking with you” when all they did was leave a voicemail.

If your “job description” is a page full of bullet points that tell me absolutely NOTHING about the position, you’re doing it wrong. I once got an email from a “recruiter” that had about 20 bullet points worth of “description” and all it really said was “write code, conform to company standards, and you won’t be supervising anyone”.

Don’t tell me that you have something you think I would be “perfect” for without telling me why. This is especially true when the job is for something I’ve never done before. This is the most common kind of resume spammer “recruiter”. Thankfully they also tend to be the least tenacious and easiest to ignore.

If you’re contacting me about a job in Ohio, but you’re located in New York, you’re doing it wrong. You can’t know about the developer community in Columbus, Ohio if you’re located in Rochester, New York. If you’re not in the geographic area that you’re hiring for, you’re probably doing it wrong (there are exceptions, but they’re not that common).

Bad recruiters leer at and hit on my girlfriend while she’s at an after users group meet-up with me (true story, sadly. Karyl almost dumped her drink on the guy).

By contrast, good recruiters generally display the following qualities:

  • They work through word of mouth networks in the developer community. Referrals are the source of most of their candidates.
  • They will tell you the name of the company that they are trying to put you in touch with to make sure you haven’t already submitted to them since multiple submissions basically kill your chances.
  • They take some time to learn what you’re looking for instead of trying to shoehorn you into every position that comes across their desk.
  • They take time to help prepare you for the interview. They will give you an idea of what to expect both in terms of interview techniques (if there are any tests, etc) and corporate culture including suggestions of how formal or casual to be in the interview.
  • They do not act like a creep and hit on my girlfriend.

Good recruiters are worth their weight in gold. Bad ones only serve to make everyone’s lives difficult. Sadly, the good ones are also about as rare as gold while the bad ones abound.

Current mood: tired
Current music: The Call – Let The Day Begin

Friday, June 29, 2012

Lunch Time


Since some of the Devs on my twitter list seem to be in the mood for soups/stews and Bill (@sempf) suggested I place this recipe here, I present to you

Lamb Stew

  • 1lb ground lamb or beef
  • 6 cups beef broth (I use the beef base from Das Dutchman. It’s inexpensive and takes up much less storage space. It’s available at some area Kroger stores as well as here)
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 package beef stew seasoning
  • 1 cup pearled barley
  • 8-12 oz package of mushrooms (washed and diced)
  • 6-8 carrots, sliced
  • 2-6 whole tomatoes (about 1-1.5lb). Diced
  • 1-2 medium onions, diced
  • 1 can whole kernel corn (optional)
  • Red pepper to taste

Brown meat in 5qt or larger pot (I use a 5qt cast iron Dutch oven)
Add remaining ingredients and bring mixture to a boil
Reduce heat, cover and allow mixture to simmer for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally.
It may be necessary to add water to the soup as evaporation will occur

Makes 1 gallon + of stew.