I’ve wanted to speak at a conference for a long time and only recently decided to take the leap by submitting a talk for the local WordCamp in Saratoga. I chose the topic of the Cron API because I use something very similar everyday at Automattic and I’ve not seen any talks on the component in WordPress Core. Check out the video of the talk below. I’ve also posted the slides on Speaker Deck.
I’ve been waiting for the video to show up on WordPress.tv so I could review my first talk and see what I needed to work on. Overall I think it went well and there was a good turnout (we only had two tracks of talks) of around 40 people. A few things I need to work on: speaking more clearly and enunciate, refrain from using filler words as often, and use specific vocabulary consistently throughout the talk. I also noticed I looked down a little too much (mainly for keeping on track with my presenter notes) and I pointed at the projection a lot. I’m not sure if that was distracting or even necessary but I made my slides in a way that highlighted parts that I was talking about, pointing seemed redundant.
I was pretty nervous right up until I was standing in front of everyone and only became nervous when I lost my place or words. Regardless I thought it went well and I had fun. I plan on speaking again soon.
What did you think? What would you like to hear me talk about in the future?
“… the desire for security and the feeling of insecurity are the same thing. To hold your breath is to lose your breath. A society based on the quest for security is nothing but a breath-retention contest in which everyone is as taut as a drum and as purple as a beet.”
– Alan Watts
I’ve had this article bookmarked for some time now and I agree with what the author says. Too often in this field I’ve heard developers complain about another developer’s code because it doesn’t fit into their standard. I’ve definitely looked at code and scoffed at it both vocally and in my head.
Over time though I’ve learned there can be good reason for why something was built a certain way. It could absolutely be a budget reason where they had to cut corners a bit. It could also be that the developer honestly didn’t see a better way at the time, we all have old code we’re embarrassed to look back at. Even at Automattic we have code that’s difficult to work with and other parts that are a joy with great inline comments and unit tests.
Why is this? Expediency.
A good engineer is not the one who knows how to build the most advanced system, but the one who knows when not to build that system.
Sometimes the expedient way is, at the time, the best way. It’s how we hit internal deadlines and/or how we redirect our focus to a portion of code that could benefit most from the time spent making it elegant.
Very often I’ve noticed it’s a lot easier to see how a part of code could have been written better (DRY) after you’ve written what’s in your head. It can be difficult to see the bigger picture on how different parts of the architecture communicates with each other without first building what’s initially in your head. Iterating on the initial idea is key.
Get over yourself, be understanding, and remember that we’ve all been there. If you’re working with someone who always goes the expedient way, maybe they need some help. Talk to them, be open to educate each other and learn together. Complaining doesn’t move anyone forward.
As software developers, we often think our job is to develop software, but, really, that is just the means to an end, and the end is to empower business to reach their goals. Your code may be elegant, but if it doesn’t meet the objectives (be they time or business) it doesn’t f***ing work.
I know that it’s not possible to have every teenager pursue a passion. Many don’t have one at this young. However, they should be introduced to many more things than they are now. I also know that in the long run, sometimes ends have to be met, which means not always working towards your passion. I’m not denying that.
I like this post by Zach Bruggeman and like him I found my passion very early in life. I agree a lot with what he wrote about exploration not being encouraged in schools. I didn’t feel that was the case when I was in school. Grades and success on tests was what mattered most and I hated it.
I was interested in many things as a teenager such as carpentry, construction, automobiles, games, computers, networking, the internet, art (drawing, painting, calligraphy), programming, etc. I think all of these interests helped me find my true passion as a programmer.
Zach also mentioned in his post that he’s tried pushing his friends and gets a ridiculous response from it. I’ve gotten the same response before and along the lines of the quote above: “sometimes ends have to be met, which means not always working towards your passion.” I both agree and disagree with this statement.
I agree that everyone needs to know their priorities and make sure they keep them in check. Family is important and continuing to provide for it is not something you can/should change. However, I disagree that this stops anyone from changing anything in their life. Other priorities are a common excuse people tell themselves which stops them from doing anything. A lot of these other “priorities” aren’t always priorities but just a false sense of busyness. I think many people are just overwhelmed with the amount of things on their mind that they feel they can’t do anything. I’ve definitely felt this and still do, but it seems when someone feels this way they don’t change anything regardless. It’s a completely different problem solved by getting organized.
Other activities such as browsing the internet, watching YouTube videos, getting stuck on TV shows and binge-watching them on Netflix or iTunes are all things we do and can change. Is taking a break and having some entertainment bad? Absolutely not and I think it’s necessary. You can’t always be in work mode but you can’t always be in play mode either. It’s a balance to keeping yourself sane, and it can be very easy to swing heavily in one way or the other.
I think people need to be more willing to make personal sacrifices in order to explore new things that could lead them into finding their passion. I don’t believe the changes have to be permanent but there needs to be some focus change in order to take steps, even if it’s only 2 weeks at a time. If you can’t stop watching your favorite TV show for 2 weeks so you can use that time to explore some new interest, then I don’t think you’ll ever find the time. No amount of inspiration can change that attitude.
This post might seem like a rant post, and it is a little. I just wish more people would take a look at their own lives and see what they could change in order to find their passion. You don’t just find it, I didn’t just find mine. It’s a process that varies in length and is continually evolving. If you just skip the exploration of interests and try to decide what your passion is, you will most likely fail. What you think your passion is could be completely different once your start exploring.
Find the courage to explore your interests because doing so is your path to finding your current passion.
In June I went to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for another track day. I love riding on the NHMS track and I felt confident this year, maybe because I crashed last year and got over my fear of laying it down. I did come close to making contact with someone though which you’ll see in the video.
I always bring my GoPro camera but this time it wasn’t working as well. I recorded some decent footage but towards the end of the second day it would randomly shutoff in the middle of a lap. It was frustrating because I was feeling really good that second day.
I have decent body position on the bike but this year I really wanted to push myself to get faster. That means hitting the brakes later before a turn, carrying speed through the corner, and finally getting on the throttle earlier out of a turn. I felt I did a decent job at it but I have more work to do if I want to drop my lap times significantly.
A lot of riders have the goal of dragging their knee through a corner, I did as well but quickly changed my mind on it. I didn’t worry about grinding my knee puck on the track through a turn and instead focused on body position and my racing line. This year though I actually dragged my knee and I wasn’t even trying! My brother and I were racing down the front stretch and into the first turn I passed him (on the brakes later). While leaning into the long left turn I also passed a second rider. Immediately flicked the bike into the next right turn and I heard/felt a bang and then grinding on my right knee. It felt so good.
On these two-day track days there is a photographer who sets up cameras around the track to automatically take closeup photos of riders through the turns. He also positions himself at certain points on the track to get some great shots as well. Here are some of the best shots he took and sent me.
I keep forgetting to post photos I’ve taken, especially after I get back from traveling. In February of this year I had the opportunity of traveling to Hawaii for a VaultPress team meetup. I’ve always wanted to visit Hawaii and was super excited to finally go! It’s what I always imagined Hawaii to be: amazing, beautiful, and very relaxing.
Because Automattic is a completely distributed company, we have 3 or 4 team meetups a year to get together and hangout as well as work on small projects for the week we are together. It’s not a vacation but even though we still have lots of work to do, we make sure we enjoy our time together as well. Here are a few of the pictures from that trip.