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wshaffer
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bannakaffalatta, short
I'm heading to the VMworld conference tomorrow evening, and the current list of electronic devices I'm contemplating taking consists of: 2 laptops, a digital camera, an iPad, an iPod, a phone, and a Kindle. Oh, and a Fitbit. That means I'm going to need to remember 6 distinct power/charging cables.

I probably ought to throw a power strip in there as well.

I think I can fit it all in the super-cool electronics bag my mother got me after I managed to mislay both a laptop power cord and a Kindle during a single 3 day trip. We'll see.
RTFM
Director: We could hire a professional services consultant to explain how X works to us.
Me: Nah, let me and [colleague] do a little research first. I bet we could figure it out ourselves.
Director: I love your DIY spirit.

My DIY spirit was forged largely in grad school, where literally almost everything was more expensive than my own labor. Why spend what could end up being thousands of dollars on a consultant when maybe we could just do it ourselves? The only thing I need to remember is that I'm not paid like a grad student anymore and neither is [colleague]*, so it is possible to reach a point where the consultant becomes the cost effective option.

Until then, I'm gonna DIY it. Punk rock doc, y'all.

*Come to think of it, [colleague] is also a former grad student, which might explain part of why we work so well together.
18th-Aug-2016 11:57 am - Guided meditations
bannakaffalatta, short
My on-again off-again meditation habit is currently on again. It seems to be doing me good, but one thing it does bring home is just how very noisy the inside of my head can be. (Sample impression:"Okay. Breathe in. Breathe out. Dammit, Moonspell. Okay, focus on the breath. Wow, my L5R character is so much better at this than I am. Well, my L5R character is a monk. Which reminds me, next session - no, focus on the breath. Breathe in. Breathe out. Hello, Moonspell. Focus on the breath. Actually, this would make a hilarious post. Focus. on. the. breath." And so on.)

Then I happened to stumble across a playlist of guided meditations on Spotify, and it made me wonder if having something else to focus on would make it easier to let go of my thoughts. So, I've been throwing in a different guided meditation from Spotify's playlist every few sessions.

Mostly it's been working wonderfully, but I have a piece of advice to offer - if you start your guided meditation, and you think, "Wow, this guy's voice is a bit irritating, but I'll just go with it." Do not go with it. Bail and pick another meditation. Because by the end of 15 minutes, "slightly irritating" will become, "I want to crawl out of my own skin." Especially if you are a little bit suggestible, and Mr. Slightly Irritating breaks out "You may feel slight sensations of discomfort, such as an itch. Just hold that sensation mindfully in your awareness," which causes your entire body to itch.

I will not be trying any more guided meditations from Mr. Itchy.
17th-Aug-2016 01:52 pm - Advice on interviewing a developer?
RTFM
I've been asked to interview a potential candidate for a tools developer on my team at work. The job posting is here.

I've worked with plenty of developers, so I've got a pretty good notion of what I want in a candidate. I'm not planning on asking a lot of technical questions - there are other people on the team who will do that. Also, I really care much more about a hypothetical candidate's problem-solving abilities and their ability to understand the user mindset well enough that they'll build things that not only meet the technical requirements but actually help us do our jobs better. (In theory, translating writer requirements into language that developers can understand is part of my job. In practice, I've found that that's nearly infinitely easier to do with a developer who is willing to meet you halfway.)

Anyhow, I know that many of you are developers or regularly interview developers. I would love to hear about your favorite interview questions, or things you look for as red flags, or whatever. Please, give me advice.

Also, if you know anyone who would be a good candidate for the position, send them my way. The current candidate looks quite promising, but it never hurts to have a larger pool to choose from.
11th-Aug-2016 08:21 pm - Miscellaneous gym observations
weights, deadlift
A scoop of Optimum Nutrition vanilla flavor whey powder plus a teaspoon of matcha powder actually makes a tasty enough protein shake that I might be tempted to drink it even if I didn't think that it would help my lifting performance and recovery.

My push ups progress has kind of plateaued for a while, so I'm changing things up a bit - trying things like more reps with my hands elevated higher, more negatives, etc. It's too early to tell if it will actually increase the number of push ups I can do, but my triceps are growing, which is kind of nice during tank top season.

Deadlift continues to come along nicely. I got really close to lifting 210lbs last week - I got the bar about 2 inches off the ground and then couldn't pull it any higher. Soon!
2nd-Aug-2016 04:14 pm - R.I.P. Seymour Papert
photo-me2
So, when I tell the story of how I ended up working in tech, I sometimes start it this way, "When I was very young, my father was a professor at M.I.T. for a while. While he was there, he met Seymour Papert, who told him all about his work in teaching computer programming to very young children. And my father said, 'Hmmm, I have very young children...'"

It's quite likely that I would have been interested in computers and that my parents would have encouraged that interest even if my father had never met Seymour Papert. But Seymour Papert helped stack the deck in favor of that, and for that I'll always be grateful.
cooking, food
I threw this together when I had some boneless, skinless chicken thighs that needed to be used up. I've been taking the results to work as part of my lunch for the past few days, and the results are tasty enough that I wanted to make note of this for future reference.

I did not measure anything in this recipe.
What you need: ~1lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, some fresh ginger, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, Sriracha sauce. Some minced fresh garlic probably would not go at all amiss, but I didn't use it.

Grate or mince a thumb-size piece of ginger finely. (I used a microplane grater). Put the ginger in a bowl or dish large enough to hold the chicken. Slosh in about equal parts soy sauce and rice vinger. Dribble in a few drops of sesame oil. Add Sriracha to taste.

Put the chicken in the marinade you've just made, and stash it in the fridge for an hour or so. (Or longer, if you've actually thought to plan in advance.)

Preheat the broiler to high and line a broiler pan with foil. Put the chicken thighs on the pan, drizzle with a little extra marinade, and broil until they're done, flipping them over halfway through.
RTFM
Procrastination: Why You Do It, What To Do About ItProcrastination: Why You Do It, What To Do About It by Jane B. Burka

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Probably one of the most comprehensive overviews of the causes of procrastination that I've read. I think this book does a really good job of demonstrating that procrastination is a complex thing, with many possible causes behind it. I particularly liked the discussion of how some procrastinators have a different relationship with time than non-procrastinators - I've personally found that a lot of my procrastination comes not so much from a reluctance to do a task but from things like vastly underestimating the amount of time it will take, assuming there will be time "later" to do it, or just getting completely caught up in something else and losing track of time.

The second half of the book, the "what to do about it" part, goes over slightly more familiar territory, with recommendations to do things like break tasks into smaller pieces, give yourself rewards, and enlist social support.

I won't say that the book is life changing, but having a better understanding of the reasons why I procrastinate has helped me tweak my anti-procrastination strategies to be a bit more effective. Which is enough for me - my procrastination is not bad enough to be crippling, although it does annoy me sometimes.

Finally, I just want to say that I've seen several reviews dissing the authors for admitting to their own struggles with procrastination. I don't get it - why would you read a book on overcoming procrastination written by people who had never struggled with procrastination? (Come to think of it, although I've used words like "non-procrastinators" and "people who have never struggled with procrastination", I'm not sure that such people exist. If you can honestly say that you've never procrastinated on anything, I would be fascinated to hear your experiences.)



View all my reviews
25th-Jul-2016 12:41 pm - Odd Crew
calm, metal
I arrived in my office this morning to find a CD entitled "Mark These Words" by Odd Crew sitting on my desk. It had a note with it from the director of my department, who just returned from a trip to Bulgaria, saying that one of my colleagues in Sofia had asked her to bring it to me.

Odd Crew appear to be one of Sofia, Bulgaria's more successful heavy metal bands. They hadn't crossed my radar before, but I've listened to a few songs on the album and found it quite enjoyable.
19th-Jul-2016 10:38 am - Blogger Talk Episode 3
RTFM
The VMware Information Experience team has started a new video series called Blogger Talk, where we interview VMware bloggers about their favorite topics. I talked to Mike Foley about vSphere security topics like why a VM escape is unlikely on ESXi, how to deal with internal security threats, and how to use the vSphere Hardening Guide.

Please like, comment, or share if you are so inclined.

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