Monday, July 31, 2006

Just watched a talk by Kent Beck on Google Video on programmers breaking out of the pendulum of considering oneself a genius one moment and an idiot the next. One isn't a genius every day (or an idiot), and yet despite various problems in a software project, the software one writes may change the world--it may be a team effort, rather than the effort of a sole "genius", and that is OK.

A poignant moment was near the end of the talk when he got choked up a bit: "saying "I'm OK doing what I do, and I'd like to be able to say that".

Sunday, July 30, 2006

One thing that is making the gtd weekly review less painful for me is that I now realize that I don't have to *do* any of the items I am reviewing. I just need to decide whether each of them needs to be deleted, either because I've already done it or decide I don't need to do it.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

I find I have a lot of energy today, more than I've had in a long time. I think it's a combination of working fewer than 12 hours yesterday :-), catching up on some longstanding errands, and getting to bed when I feel sleepy (so I don't miss the critical sleep-start "window").

Let's do more of that!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Well, another Sunday has come and gone; my one-day vacation draws to a close. I filled the day with reading and my mind is happy; I am now partaking of chicken quesadillas so my tummy is happy as well :-)

It's only 7PM--wndering what to do with the rest of the evening. More reading I think. Wish the bookstores were open--I may need to make do with rereading old ones. I'll probably give Ninang a call as well.

David Allen recommends: "Not *be* the best--*do* your best" (RFA 57). In other words, optimization, not perfectionism. Optimization is always achievable; perfection, rarely. But striving for perfection--that's the key.

"Attempting to be the best can easily have struggle, ego and self-recrimination as baggage, with win-lose as a format. But doing your best is a dynamic, ever-changing experience that is possible anytime, by anyone." As hard as it is, I give myself permission to do my best rather than be the best--I have a hunch that I will be less stressed and more effective that way. And if I happen to be the best while I'm at it, that's gravy.

Another great Allen aphorism: Relax, refocus.

I've committed to *live* heuristically, but can I commit to *work* heuristically? To be content with *my* best, which is within my control, rather than being *the* best, which I have far less control over? The irony is that this relaxed requirement results in greater performance--it's because of there is less stress, more peace. It's the zen state, rather than frantic busyness and panic.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

If anyone is getting this error, the way I fixed it was to export the instiki to a textile zip then import it.
To get the instiki at least running (so I could do the export), I ran it on my local box (Windows). But when I did the export it downloaded a 0 byte file. It turns out that the full file is in the storage directory as well.
Next, blow away your instiki and do the import. (same url but change export to import). You may need to comment out some lines in file_controller.rb to get it to work.
My instiki (which runs on Pendrell) went down at 2006-07-09 23:31:54 EST. When I try to restart it, it says:
=> Starting Instiki on
=> Data files are stored in /home/jonathanaquino/openjump_wiki/instiki/storage/8739
[FATAL] failed to allocate memory

The storage directory has about 90MB of data--would this be the cause of the problem (I've read that Instiki holds everything in memory)? Any ideas what I can do to remedy the problem? (I tried deleting some of the older files in the storage directory, but met with errors).
I have an account on Georgia--if I moved the Instiki there, would that give me more memory to play with (being a business-level server)?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Hoo boy, I tired. Been a long day (as most days are), so I'm taking a bit of a break. I'm on call for some possible work later this evening, so I am resting up.

My inbox and outbox trays are really piling up -- really need to schedule in a couple of hours to process these inputs--no actioning, just pure processing and review.

An hour or two left in the evening--how best to spend it? The best-version-of-myself would use it to do some learning, so that is what I shall do. I'll catch up on my Nonviolent Communication reading.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Just finished Metz's tiny but profound book Poverty of Spirit. And I must say I did not understand it at all. I will need to read it again someday...

And so my day off begins, and I've decided to head outside. I've typically been spending my Sundays in cyberspace, so the change is definitely nice. And today with the warm wind blowing against my face, and the azure sky flecked with clouds, it's the perfect day to be outside.

Today I'm heading to Sidney, which is a little town not far from Victoria. I'm sitting on the red cobblestones of the bus stop, waiting--it's four minutes late--ah there it is.


Things I had forgotten about Sidney trips:
- it is sometimes hot, and a hat becomes useful
- the bus ride is longer than I'd like (1 hr)

I am sitting outside in the cool evening air, reading Dorothy Day's biography. It is easy (and instructive) to while away the time reading the great books. But what I was hoping for from today was some insights, some profound discoveries about my life's direction. A few came up, but nothing earth-shattering.

One was a refinement of part of my mission statement--from "Engineering beautiful software" to "Engineering beautiful software that people find useful", which carries more meaning for me.

Another was the realization that I need to incorporate into my worldview the importance of reliance on God. I rely on my own strength whenever I embark on any project, and this is as it should be. But to pray for success, to cry out in prayer in the face of large obstacles, and to have "the serenity to accept the things I cannot change"--these practices would result in a lot less stress. Then again, perhaps a little stress is inevitable, perhaps even necessary, in any creative endeavour. Just to know then that I am not facing my trials alone--this is a great comfort.

I don't know...I am searching for something, some take-home insight for the day (well, evening by now), and writing out my thoughts in the hope of unearthing it.

The TV blares downstairs--I need to find a quieter spot, but outside the mosquitoes are buzzing. I retreat to the interior of the parked car.

My threefold mission statement is activity-based rather than results-based. It's more of a heuristic for living rather than a vision for the future. Hmm. I wonder what a more goal-based mission statement would look like...

What is my point B (in three years, say)? What do I want from life?

I suppose the threefold mission statement holds up well to these questions: To know that I engineered some beautifully designed software that at least a few people found useful. To know that I cherished my family often--that "wasteful" quality time of a phone call or a shared meal. And to have experienced many moments of playing the benefactor in some random act of kindness. A life full of these specific joyful experiences--that would be for me a life well lived.

So that for now is how I am going to live this life. For me it will not be a long process of achieving a specific future goal, but aiming for three specific types of experiences that are achievable on a daily basis. It's more like the Japanese concept of kaizen (continuous improvement) than Big Up-Front Design.

Phew. That was a useful exercise. Now back to Dorothy Day...

Matthew Kelly asks an interesting question:

What do you want from life?

No answers readily come to mind, so I'll need to tap the right brain somehow.

The day is not going as planned. I had hoped today would be an inspired day of rest, bursting with inspirations about the meaning of life. Instead, the books give me no solace, and I have ingested too great a quantity of Starbucks Frappucino, that I am oversatiated and drowsy...

Saturday, July 08, 2006

One of the exercises that Stephen Covey gives in 7 Habits is to imagine you have a week left to live--what would you do. I would probably live my final week very simply and purposefully. Not a frenzied rush to sample what the world has to offer, but a shift of focus from Area 1 (engineering beautiful software) to Areas 2 and 3 (cherishing my family, and random acts of kindness). There would be meals with my family, probably in the places of my childhood (to close the circle), and I would probably be generous on impulse to a couple of friends and a couple of strangers. And after the last meal is shared and the last words spoken, what is there to do but move on?

Selenium--Firefox macro recorder/playback

Now I want to put in a good word for the Firefox Selenium extension. This thing lets you record and playback sequences of actions in Firefox. I just used it to upload 10 images to a webapp for testing; that could just as easily have been 100 or 1000, unattended.

I'm sure I'll be finding ways to use it not just for testing but for other boilerplate activity.

Matthew Kelly has numerous profound statements in this book of his I'm reading, but one that stands out to me today is the notion of the meaning of life being "to become the best-version-of-yourself". I love that term, and I can intuitively see in my mind's eye what the best-version-of-myself would look like.

I would be constantly learning--spending some time each day learning new skills pertaining to my profession, or reading books on spiritual things, just to keep reminding myself that I am a spiritual being. Exercise and eating well would be a natural part of my daily routine; perhaps I can achieve Oni level in Dance Dance Revolution.

Prayer would be a part of each hour--when things are going badly I turn to prayer; when things are going well I turn to prayer. The practice of computer programming informs prayer, and vice versa.

And connection with people--the ear that listens not just to the voice but also to the heart. Listening for the underlying need--all that stuff I learned from Nonviolent Communication.

And always and in everything knowing why I am doing what I do, or if that is beyond my control, then at least why I am doing it in the way I am doing it. Every action a conscious choice.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

system log

added to jedit shortcut: -Dsun.java2d.noddraw=true
hopefully will solve dual-monitor display problems with jedit

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

system log -- I turned off ATI PowerPlay as recommended in -- hopefully this will solve the jEdit slow refreshes.