I Just Ate Jimmy John’s to Power-up my iPhone

I just got back from Jimmy John’s. I ate an extra Vito because my iPhone was almost dead. I had planned on charging it up earlier, but I was feeling drained myself. There was no way I could spare 1000 calories before lunch. Once I ate, I put my iPhone onto “charge mode” and watched as the power bar slowly moved from red to green. I was stuffed now and didn’t mind that half of my lunch was going into my phone.

I just had my power implant put in last month. I’m still getting used to balancing my body’s need for energy versus my devices’ need for energy, but it’s pretty easy with the app that tells me how to prioritize my calories. It helps that it’s sponsored by Jimmy John’s and it tells me exactly what to order for lunch to charge my iPhone and my JamBox for the rest of the day. All I had to do was have an implant made of millions of piezoelectric wires placed into my thigh. The wires are able to convert thermoelectric current from my body into a real energy source. The implant can wirelessly charge any device synced to my implant.

I had been wanting to lose some weight, but my schedule was packed. I was running 30 minutes in the morning, but with all my happy hours and lunches, I was still packing on the pounds. With my implant I needed about 1500 extra calories a day to power my devices. After one month I had dropped those 10 pounds without doing anything differently.

When I went to get my implant, my girlfriend was still too scared to get one, but when she saw my six-pack start to show, she was on-board without much convincing. The operation was about $3,000 and the implant was $15,000. My HSA funds weren’t eligible because congress still hadn’t passed any legislation to cover it. It was still probably three to five years before it would be covered. I couldn’t wait though. I dipped into savings to have it done. I figured the health benefit alone was worth it. It was so easy to stay trim now that I could burn off a bacon cheeseburger by charging up my phone and I could burn off the fries by charging up my speakers.

I was still far from being an early-adopter. I had been reading for a year or two about people with the implant. The “before” and “after” pictures were convincing enough. To see some cube-slob drop 50 pounds in a year by doing nothing but the implant had convinced me. I was just getting the power implant while thousands in Silicon Valley had already moved on to many more interesting devices stuck under their skin.

At the end of the day, it was really something I wanted to do for health reasons, convenience and to take some of the burden off of the environment. One-third of the planet was obese and over half was over-weight. We were using mostly coal to create energy which millions of us used to power-up our phones and accessories. If I could set an example on how to use my own fat, which I despised anyway, so that I could power-up all the devices I used every day, I was more than happy to get in line. I think you’ll be happy to do the same. You’ll look great.

Happiness is when what you think, say and do are in harmony

I have struggled a lot in life. I’ve struggled because of external things I had no control of, but I also struggled immensely within my own mind. I’ve waded into vast philosophical realms looking for answers. I’ve found answers which yielded more questions, but the result was the same, I still wasn’t satisfied. I’m finally at a point in my life where I am tired of looking for absolutes and certainties. I’m finally giving up and yielding to one goal: happiness. I think that happiness is a formula unique to each person. What creates happiness in me I suspect is not what creates happiness in the next person. After a lot of serious reflection about a lot of deep emotional issues and a lot of observation about how I am actually living my life, for now at least, I’ve decided that this is my formula for practicing happiness:

Be happy by not:

  1. Objectifying people
  2. Getting intoxicated
  3. Reacting angrily
  4. Being lazy

Be happy by practicing:

  1. Empathy
  2. Forgiveness
  3. Smiling
  4. Sacrifice
  5. Praying
  6. Meditating
  7. Gratitude
  8. Exercise

By doing this my aim is to align the being inside of me who wants to exhibit all of the above and who I have actually been. I want to flatten out the incongruence between what my spirit wants and what my mind acts upon. This for me is the step toward living a spiritual life versus an intellectual life. The intellectual life has yielded poor results and I’m going to go a different route.

There are two key words here for me, “praying” and “spiritual.” Praying doesn’t have to be to anything in particular. They are wishes, they are requests. Prayer is a dialogue that opens up the doorway in my mind to the parts of myself that seek a greater personal understanding of my life and how I can be of service to the universe. Spirituality isn’t something beyond the scope of my mind. It is, however, beyond the scope of logic. It’s the synchronization of emotion, logic, perception, hope and so much more. It’s elevating my own consciousness to places that are higher, more satisfying and loftier. It is a realm that exists not in relation to what the external world says I have, but what I have discovered to be true internally and how I express and maintain that within the life I live daily. Spirituality is mastering myself so that I am who I really am while operating as a human being in a world that doesn’t know me at all.

Tips for Interviewing

Fishing for candidates Recently, I’ve been interviewing for a new contract. Within 12 hours I had two very different interview experiences. I’m going to paint a picture of both and leave it at that.

The first interview was scheduled for 3PM. I have a martial arts class every weekday at 5:30PM. I brought my workout clothes in case the interview ran over and I needed to drive straight to the river to practice. I arrived shortly before 3PM meeting with the account manager who had a well-rehearsed, firm handshake. She shook my hand a second time and it felt exactly like the first. Her handshakes came straight out of a factory.

I had phone interviewed with one of the developers earlier in the week. He asked me extensively about my experience. I felt like he was really getting a strong idea of what my background was, what I had accomplished and what my knowledge-base was. During the interview I spoke with him and the other senior developers on the project. The other developers took quite a different approach. They asked a series of gotcha questions that are designed not to find out a developer’s strengths, but determining miniscule gaps in knowledge; the type of questions that cannot determine what a developer can accomplish, but can only determine what pages are missing in the dictionary in their head.

There were two senior developers with very thick European accents. I found myself guessing at what they were asking half of the time. “Ken you tell me, you write unit test, maybe hmrgh hrgh blurghpfg delegate. What would be da purpose?” one of them asked.

In my mind, I said, “I have no context of what you are asking. Just a delegate, like anywhere in any test that could be written in the entire world? Well, there really is a million answers so I guess any of them are good.” Except this isn’t the case. These guys have very specific answers in mind that they want to hear. If you don’t answer it the way they want to hear it, you are wrong.  Which is of course, the definition of arrogance.

In addition to the gotcha questions, there was a demo requested where I showed these developers new technology they had never heard of. This technology all related to testing which they were emphasizing.  They were asking me to spell the names of the libraries I was using and how to implement them, how they worked and so on. They were getting a full education on my testing suite that they had no clue about.

After this part, I was given a set of requirements, a laptop, a remote connection to an old version of Visual Studio configured in a completely foreign way and asked to start write code and tests to satisfy the requirements. The requirements were written by one of the European guys who I couldn’t understand. The written requirements were just as clear, meaning that they were as clear as the oatmeal stout I just brewed.

I wrote a controller class and several interfaces and started writing the tests. About half-way through the test, the developer asked me to stop writing. Of course, I have no idea if this is good or bad because he then proceeded to keep me there another 30 minutes talking about generalities. In the meantime, I’m missing my class and had to ask for a minute to send a text to my teacher so he wouldn’t be there waiting for me.

After it was all said and done, I spent over 5 hours on this interview from preparing the demo, driving to and from the client office 80 minutes outside the metro area (i.e. cheap rent) and 3 hours in the interview itself.

The following morning I had another interview. This time with the team manager and a business lead. They asked me questions about my achievements, interests, passions and leadership beliefs. We engaged each other not in a way that revealed irrelevant knowledge gaps, but how me could help each other solve problems and achieve goals.

There was plenty of technical discussion, but it was open-ended and warm, not from a place of “I know everything, let’s see what you know.” There was even some white-boarding; implementing a generic interface.

I saw personalities and I felt a genuine desire to try and connect with me, not to come at me from a place of superiority where the only way to interact is to condescend and ask meaningless trivialities that have no value in determining the quality of a person or their abilities.

This interview took one hour and 15 minutes. When the interview was over, I received an email from the recruiter shortly afterward saying that I was offered the contract. Do you think I needed to wait and hear back from the other potential client on whether they wanted to make an offer?

Both of these were contract positions starting out at 4-6months. These aren’t full-time, salary jobs where the candidate may spend a lifetime there and retire. For these roles, a one-hour interview is industry standard, occasionally one-and-a-half hours. I have never been given requirements and asked to create actual software while the room watched on a monitor. I was proud of the code I wrote having been given such poor requirements and under the condescending eye of those around.

In the end, one place had a heart, could see the forest through the trees and produced a product for the better living of people. The other was myopic, condescending and engaged in financial transactions. I wonder how much certain industries attract a certain type of person? In any case, I knew where I would be valued and where I would be treated like an object. I took the same amount of time to accept the offer as the client took to make it.

 

Stupid in a Stupider World

What does it mean to be stupid in a stupider world?

Well, for me, it’s my life. I started this blog as something of technology blog, but things for me always get personal. I’ve tried to do all of the things people say to do like brush my teeth twice a day, create good karma, etc., and I do, but in the end I just have to express myself honestly. It’s who I am.  I realized after many, many years that I have a willingness to be myself and express honest emotions that many people don’t have. I pay a price for it, but for me, I realize it’s just a special toll I have on the road of life.

So what about all this stupidity? Well, I’m a person. All people are ignorant. 10,000 years from now, if there is anything left living on the planet, namely people, they’ll all think we were stupid. And we are stupid. We’re all ridiculously stupid, stupid, stupid. We believe a million lies told to us by our parents, friends, books, therapists, religions, governments (and pets if they could speak) and so on. We’re absolutely, completely stupid. Yes, even science is stupid. Where we are now and what we know is advanced compared with 1000 years ago, but really, look at us. With all of our science we are still prattling on about racism, sexism, vaccinations, gun control, gay rights and on and on and on, because even with all of our science, we are a backward, backwater stupid mass of idiocy that can barely tie our shoes. If we survive 10,000 more years with our capability to destroy the earth, we will certainly be looked upon as barbarians. If you think otherwise, I just read an article about a guy who kidnapped 200+ girls and is selling them as slaves because Allah told him to. Yes, we’re stupid.

So with this blog I’m going to write some things that I feel about my life. I want to give some honesty to the world. I may be paying my “honesty tax” along the way, but I don’t care. It’s something I have to do. Maybe everything I write will have already been said. Maybe I won’t write very well. That’s fine because I’m stupid. I’m just trying to tell the world about how I see it, experience it and most of all feel it. I realize my world is a world of feelings, while in this day most people live in a world of thoughts. It’s getting to the place where we have feelings again that I think will aid us in not being so stupid. We say empathetic things, but do we feel them equivalently? I’m not so sure.

I interact with people in a world that is measured, careful, fearful,  correct and polite. I don’t think most of these things are wrong or avoidable, but I think there is a lot more about people that doesn’t get discussed, that is hidden and sanitized. Our carefulness and measured approach keeps us somewhat alienated and alone. We aren’t really sure if the world will accept us if it really saw us, or we are afraid that it will punish us for being something that doesn’t fit the part the world has told us to play. I want to talk about spirituality and feelings and combine that with the scientific method in a way that allows me to live a better life, but also a more authentic life. I’m not trying to overthrow the corrupt powers that run the world. They have always been there and always will. They’ve always been stupid and likely always will. I’m fine with being stupid in a stupider world. It’s my life and it’s my reality. I’m going to write about it.

 

Programming with Wisdom

_DSC4737What is wisdom? Wisdom is knowledge with the weight of experience that has been evaluated. The key part of the sentence is ‘evaluated.’ When I was a kid, my father told me, “Ian, no matter how many years you live, I’ll always have 21 more years of experiences.”

Of course, me being who I am, I challenged him on the spot. I said, “so if you take ten 65 year-olds, you can guarantee that they are all equally wise?”

He reluctantly said, “No.”

So I said, “So just because someone has more years of experience, it doesn’t mean they got the same amount out of them.”

That is where the ‘evaluated’ part comes in. Someone who has done lots of things, but never reflected on them didn’t receive any wisdom from those experiences.  They likely created relationships, memories and so on, but they probably did not create much wisdom. Wisdom is created by thoughtfully reflecting on experiences, evaluating them and determining the merits or deficiencies. That’s right, wisdom is largely created. Acquiring wisdom isn’t passive and it also requires critical thinking. Someone who spent their life repeating the same patterns over and over again didn’t passively acquire much of wisdom.

Now take this definition into the professional world of programming. If you look at three resumes, one has a year of experience, another has five and yet another has ten, our industry says that the person with ten years experience is the senior programmer. He’s senior because his rear was in a chair for five more years than the second guy and nine more years than the guy with a year? That’s what they tell us.

I see it frequently where a full-time employee with little to no wisdom is promoted to senior simply because of the amount of  ‘ass-in-chair’ time. I see young guys come in with way more insight and even wisdom than others with many more years on their resumes. This is a symptom of our unevolved way of structuring corporations. But you need hierarchy right? To some extent, but what you really need are people who understand what the hell is going on and what their role is in doing it. I’ve seen junior level-people with a lot of potential who are given a senior level title. Immediately they start trying to quiet their actual seniors and be the voice. This is a perfect example of over-indulgence within corporations. Now you’ve stunted the growth of someone who had potential merely because you want to indulge their fantasy of being the man. Good job.

You aren’t senior until you have wisdom. Wisdom isn’t knowing what the best MVVM library is. Wisdom isn’t using Visual Studio 14 in beta. Wisdom isn’t ten years of experience. Wisdom isn’t having worked at Microsoft, Google, NASA, etc. etc. You know when you have wisdom, but you don’t know when you don’t have it. It sucks like that.

Another problem with wisdom is that there has to be a demand for it in order for it to have any value. Lots of places there is simply no demand for it at all. People want to work with buzzwords. People want resume padding. Managers tend to pander and over-indulge. What we get is a giant cluster-fuck, too often.

So how do you develop wisdom while programming?

  • Think critically about what you are doing, what those around you are doing and what the results are. You have to be honest. If you lie to yourself you aren’t gaining wisdom, you are increasing denial or making some type of personal schism.
  • Take the best parts of your experience and keep applying it. Throw the other parts away. Journal about things that work and don’t work and try to determine whether it’s a personal lack of understanding or whether it’s just a bad practice.
  • Talk to people who seem like they have wisdom and ask them questions.
  • Quit trying to be right all the time (guilty!) Try to start assuming that you don’t understand anything at all and carefully measure along the way. Think like a scientist not a politician (unless you are on management track, but then this isn’t for you because this is for programmers).
  • Live life! Life lessons in general apply to your career. Get off the computer and go do something interesting that requires thinking differently.

Think. Do. Reflect. Think. Do. Reflect. Think. Do. Reflect. Think. Do. Reflect. Think. Do. Reflect. Think. Do. Reflect. Think. Do. Reflect. Think. Do. Reflect. Think. Do. Reflect. Think. Do. Reflect.

 

Ian Felton is a thinker, brewer, tea drinker, programmer, entrepreneur, writer, musician, human, American