Career Strategy

I had Dr. James Whittaker for a class or two during my time at Florida Tech.  He was a very interesting professor, and taught one of the few classes that I would attend 100% of the time.  After school, he randomly appeared in my news feed with his viral blog post on “Why I left Google”.  In a recent episode of a podcast I subscribe to, Software Engineering Radio, he was interviewed on the topic of career strategy.

This episode is a must listen for newer engineers or other people that aren’t already using his strategies.  The main points for career success are roughly:

  1. Develop the skills you enjoy (ideally a short list with newer technology)
  2. Become an expert
  3. Profit

I think the material applies to just about everyone in the workforce.  He’s a great storyteller, and leaves the listener with an actionable homework assignment to help with career growth.  After all these years, I’m still watching lectures and getting homework assignments from Dr. Whittaker.  This time it’s without the student debt.

1000 Stories

1000 Stories

1000 Stories is an amazing small batch Zinfandel made by Bob Blue out of California.  This wine retails at my local shop for right around $20.  

The wine is unique because it is aged in bourbon barrels.  The winemaker says this promotes the flavors of charred vanilla, dried herbs, and a hint of caramel.  I am not the best in tasting specific flavors in wine. I somewhat taste some habañero mixed in with the darker flavors.

The alcohol on this wine is 15.6% which is a little high for me. I typically prefer lower alcohol wines, however, this one doesn’t bother me. It feels balanced by the stronger flavors. 

Tonight’s pairing is with steak and lobster.  Happy Valentine’s Day!

Week 2 – Silence

Silence: Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.

As part of the Plan for Attaining Moral Perfection series,  I will be living one of the 13 virtues described by Benjamin Franklin in the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.  You can read how all this got started here.  

This past week I found it pretty easy to keep with the temperance virtue with the exception of the first day of the challenge. The New England Patriots won their fifth Super Bowl in the best game I’ve ever seen. Lots of food and drink that day, including a 7.5 pound smoked brisket.

 
This week I’ll be focused on living the virtue of Silence.If you’re interested in the book that inspired this, it is available for less than $4 including shipping on Amazon.  If you buy it through my link, by clicking on the image, I get 14 cents for the referral.

Week 1 – Temperance

Temperance: Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation

As part of the Plan for Attaining Moral Perfection series,  I will be living one of the 13 virtues described by Benjamin Franklin in the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.  You can read how all this got started here.  This week I’ll be focused on living the virtue of Temperance.

Today will be hard since my New England Patriots are playing in the Super Bowl.  We’re hosting a party for the game, and there will likely be plenty of things to eat and drink.

If you’re interested in the book that inspired this, it is available for less than $4 including shipping on Amazon.  If you buy it through my link, by clicking on the image, I get 14 cents for the referral.

Plan For Attaining Moral Perfection

I’m currently reading, when I get the chance, the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.  You can pick it up on Amazon for less than $4 including shipping.  In the book, Franklin talks about his goal of moral perfection. To help with successfully implementing the strategy, he breaks up the task into thirteen different virtues.  The plan is to focus on one at a time, for the duration of a week.  After one week of practicing a virtue, it should become more of a habit.  The focus then goes to the next virtue for the following week.  After thirteen weeks, the cycle then repeats, allowing for 4 complete cycles per year.  Franklin kept track of how well he adhered to each of the virtues on a daily basis using a chart seen here.  A black mark is placed in the box for “every fault I found upon examination to have been committed respecting that virtue upon that day.”  After several rounds of this exercise the idea is that there will be fewer and fewer black marks, and you will get closer to attaining moral perfection.

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A chart used by Franklin to track progress

I am going to try this methodology out.  Moral perfection seems like a good goal to have.  I may even create a phone app for this(if one doesn’t already exist).  Seems like it would be practical.  I can already predict a large black mark on my chart for Super Bowl Sunday.  There will be more on the details of the virtues and updates on my progress in future posts.

 

Delete Your Photos

I love my photos.  All of them.  I must have had some purpose in mind to pull my camera out, point it at a subject, and shoot a photo.  These pictures were meant to capture a moment in time, so someday I could go back and relive the experiences.  However, what I have found is that they are mostly sitting on a hard drive, taking up space.  As someone that practices minimalism, I’m very good at keeping only a minimal set of clothing, kitchen gadgets, books, and limiting all other “stuff” as well.  Adopting this lifestyle has made life a lot simpler.

The one area that I haven’t yet applied this practice of minimalism to is my collection of photographs.  I have been collecting a set of photos for over 10 years.  I rarely have the need to go back and look at photos that were taken at a random party in college, however I don’t really want to delete “irreplaceable” photos.  I have always thought of photographs as irreplaceable, since it’s impossible to go back and capture each image and guarantee that it looks exactly like the one lost.  This is especially true when it comes to capturing moments related to people and pets.  Are they really ALL irreplaceable though?  Will I care if I lose my uninteresting shots?

not interesting
Why have I been holding on to this photo for 10 years?

Since 2003, when I purchased my first digital camera, I have put together a cluttered top level folder of 88,192 photographs which are currently taking up 391GB of drive space.  This amounts to 22 photos per day over the years.  A large portion of these are either out of focus, uninteresting, duplicates or test shots.  I have photos from old cell phones, and even exact duplicate files from when I bought my first DSLR and set it to save in both raw and jpg.  Why keep everything?  My rationale has always been that drive space is cheap and nearly unlimited.

I want to reduce clutter and keep only a minimal set of photos.  I believe that less is more, and I’ll appreciate a smaller set of good photos over the full set of mediocre ones.  It will also be a lot easier to backup a smaller set of photos as opposed to backing up a larger set.  It’s nearly impossible to protect nearly 400GB of data without incurring a large cost for stuff that I mostly don’t care about.  It will also be easier to access and find photos that I care about.

Criteria for a photo to be deleted(one or more must be true):

  • The subject of the photo is out of focus
  • The photo is not interesting
  • The photo is poorly exposed (and not correctable)
  • The photo is of a person that is unflattering (goofy looking, has their eyes closed, etc)
  • The photo is of/or related to an ex girlfriend (or someone that I equally dislike)
  • The photo is a duplicate or looks identical to a photo that I plan to keep

The Result

It took a long time to go through each individual file, a very long time.  The process was completed, and I have successfully deleted a very large number of photos.  I applied the criteria to each and every file and came up with a startling discovery.  Most of my photos fit the criteria needed for deletion.  I was able to reduce my total number of photos to just over 8,000, a reduction of 90%.

This image is out of focus
This photo is out of focus
This image is not interesting
This photo is not interesting
I took a few hundred photos on this evening. This photo is a duplicate
I took a few hundred photos this evening.  This is a duplicate of a better one I took 2 seconds earlier

I’d guess that around 15% of the photos had the subject out of focus, 30% were as interesting as a pile of rocks, and the other 45% were duplicates of another image that looked better.  I’m very happy with my resulting set of photos.  This exercise also provided me a chance to go back and relive the last 10 years.  Each photo told a story, and now I just have a clearer and more usable picture of the events.  As an added bonus, I only have to backup around 50GB, when a 400GB backup was required before.

This is a repost of something I wrote a few years ago. Today, I still use this method to remove clutter in my library of photos.  I can say, three years later, that I do not regret my decision to delete photos.

Hiking Staunton State Park With Tommy

A couple of weeks ago, my wife, Tommy, and I went for a hike at Staunton State Park in Pine, Colorado.  This was the second time this winter that Tommy has gone for a stroller hike.  You can check out our last trip to Roxborough here.

It was a warm 65 degree day in January so we decided to go out for a family hike.  Staunton State park is only a short drive from home and it’s a place we rarely go outside of fall.  On this hike, we took the Staunton Ranch Trail which is one of the main trails accessible from the parking lot.  Here is a live webcam view, courtesy of Friends of Staunton State Park, from the trail we took.

Live view of Staunton State Park (15 min refresh)

 

The trail is wide enough, and mostly smooth enough to pass with the stroller without too much trouble.  There are some rough rocky spots along the way, but our BOB stroller didn’t have too much difficulty navigating through these areas.  This stroller is definitely one of the essential items for anyone with small children.

As we started to gain some elevation, the temperature started to drop.  We made it roughly halfway up the main trail.  It started to get a little too cold, so we decided it was probably best to head back down.

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Tommy on the Staunton Ranch Trail

Overall this is a pretty accessible hike for people with a stroller.  Tommy seemed to enjoy himself and took in a lot of great scenery.  We’ll have to try it again in a couple of months when the weather gets warmer.

Our New White House Press Secretary

Is it just me or does the new White House Press Secretary look just like the actor John Heard?  He’s known by me mostly as the character Vin Makazian from The Sopranos.  He’s also pretty well known for playing the father, Peter McCallister, in Home Alone.  This is coincidently the same movie that has a cameo from Donald Trump.  For the next four to eight years, I will be making this association in my head.

 

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Sean Spicer — White House Press Secretary  (Image credit: GrahamHughey)

This blog will not add much to political discussion, but this needs to be pointed out.  I’m wondering if I’m the only person that sees it?