Showing posts from March, 2014

Just FYI: Food Allergies Suck

At the risk of sounding like a mommyblogger: It's difficult to hear yet another thing your child's food allergies prevent.  Honestly, at times, it feels like my kids are going to end-up in some Food Allergy ghetto wearing a medical alert bracelet staring out through plexiglass at kids luxuriating with their peanut butter, quiche, and potato salad.

Yeah, I'm sad.  This is part of my process of getting over it, so bear with me.

Grace is 3 years old.  She's active, sensory "enhanced" (let's say), impulsive, and quite intelligent.  Channelled appropriately, those are all great qualities.  As it stands, I'm just glad when I come home and the house hasn't burned down.  She's shown a proclivity for sharp objects, flammable microwaves, and plumbing problems.

Anyway, 2 weeks ago, I got the ball rolling to get her into the new child care center/preschool we have onsite exclusively for employees.   The place is brand new, and it's nothing short of ma…

Secret Sauce: Managing Performance

Methodology Doesn't Matter; People Do I've been in industry for 15 years, as unbelievable as that seems.  I just want to shake people when all they can talk about is Process this and Methodology that and Tool this other.
It. Doesn't. Matter.
Okay, it does matter, but only when you have the people end of things sorted out first.  Assuming an equally talented group, those with a better system will (generally) perform better over time.  However, no methodology in the world is going to make disengaged, sloppy employees perform well.  (It's tempting to draw a parallel to the Auto Industry, but I'll spare you.)
So, let's postulate that it's the people that matter.  So what?
Well, if you take that as true, there are conclusions to draw: You must attract top-performing people.You must retain a large percentage of those people.You must eliminate those who don't perform. It's really that simple. 
Okay, item #3 is non-obvious:  Can't the top-performers jus…

My Superego Presents: Best Excuses Ever

Sorry I was unable to ___ because.... the Loyal Order of White Castle was meeting at the same time.I was playing ping-pong.I was playing XBox.I didn't get to work until 11am.I couldn't find the indicated conference room with a map, sextant, compass, GPS, diving rod, and several readings of appropriate entrails.I was busy juggling.I was at lunch 'til 2pm.I chose not to go to bed until 3am, and a nuclear explosion couldn't wake me at 7, let alone my 20 year old Sony clock radio

Orange Card Certification (Psst....It's Free. And Fun.)

Five-year-old Joey:  "Harold, when are we going hunting?"

My step-son is a canonical boy:  Around age 1, his mother reported him fashioning pistols and shooting her with his toast.  He likes taking things apart.  He loves archery, and he's fascinated by firearms.  We live in Kentucky, so most consider this not Neanderthal DNA expressing itself, but the natural order of things.

So yeah, hunting.

As with many things in my life, I found myself in the 1.5 day Kentucky Orange Card certification class this past Friday and Saturday through an odd chain of events:  We actually read the 4-H letter from our local Ag Extension office.  (We get the 4-H letter because we signed-up for a community garden plot last year, but I dropped the ball and we never planted it.)  In the newsletter was a blurb about Scott County 4-H Shooting sports:  Archery, air rifle, air pistol, .22 rifle, .22 pistol, and trap.  It appeared this was all free.  There was an additional blurb:  In order to partic…

Skills to master for a "Full Stack" developer on the JVM, 2014 edition

I'm part of an initiative developing curriculum and training resources for developers.  Here's what I have so far on fundamentals and skills for a developer.
FundamentalsDesign and Structure • Design / Domain Modeling • Object Orientation / Design Patterns
Development and Delivery • IDE mastery: IntelliJ, Eclipse, etc. • Code Reviews / Pull Requests • Testing: Unit testing, test coverage • Effective Debugging / Using a symbolic debugger * Working on an Agile Development team * Profiling/ Performance Measurement Analysis * Secure Coding Practices & Threat modeling
Operations and Sustainability • Appropriate Logging / Levels for operational troubleshooting • Open Source Adoption & Usage • Intellectual Property: Disclosure and Protection

Specific Skills for Server-side DevelopersDatabases General Relational Database concepts (Schemas, tables, datatypes) Expressing one-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to-many relationships General SQL: SELECT, INSERT, UPDATE, DELETE, various joins Awareness o…

"Bitter Process"

Way back in 2004, I wrote a short review of Tate's Bitter Java

Basically, when this book appeared, Java was ~8 years old, and was at the peak of its hype cycle.   Embraced by both the enterprise software world (okay, IBM) and the nascent open source community, Java was the golden hammer, fit for any problem.

Except, it wasn't.

People who could program, but who weren't familiar with domain requirements began writing Enterprise Software, and they began making a mess of it.  My own company had to write-off about $7.4 million on a "failed software project" back in 2003.  Suddenly, the C-levels stopped saying "Maybe we should rewrite our stuff in Java."  Historians term such retrenchment the Thermidorian Reaction, predictable after every revolution.  For us in the industry, it was the heart of the doldrums between the Y2K largesse and the onslaught of Web 2.0.

All that to say:  Where is "Bitter Process"?  We're about 13 years into the Mayflower…

Fire Protection Update

So, my daughter found a cute trick about 3 weeks ago:  If you set a bunch of dry oatmeal in a non-microwavable playset bowl on 5 minutes in the microwave, it catches fire.

Lots of fun things result:  You mommy trotting you out into the cold, lots of folks with sirens showing up, seeing the inside of a Crown Victoria as you shelter from the sub-zero temperatures.

Thankfully, though the microwave was toast and there was smoke in the house, nothing happened permanently and everyone was safe.

That afternoon, though, debriefing with Whitney, I questioned, "Why didn't the smoke detectors go off?"   Basically, my wife had gotten out of the shower, smelled smoke and the smoke alarms never went off.  It was then I figured-out how woefully unprepared we were for any sort of fire.

You see, our old house (1.5 story, 4 br, 2 bath on slab) was built in 2003 and had recent everything: Smoke detectors in every bedroom, one tied-in to the ADT system with constant A/C power, the works.  O…