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Like many people working in technology, every year I assemble a summary of accomplishments for my annual review. It’s always interesting to take a long view look at things. This is especially true when you’re working on things with long lifetimes and uncertain outcomes.

Let’s look at the raw numbers:

  • 73 topics researched
  • 1 intern supervised / mentored
  • 11 independent projects led
  • 2 classes created
  • 3 classes updated
  • 8 classes taught
  • 61 student taught
  • 6 books reviewed for possible internal use
  • 2 standards bodies participated in
  • 1 ISO technical study group chaired
  • 18 project teams worked with
  • 12 first-line managers worked with
  • 4 upper-level managers worked with
  • multiple outside organizations worked with
  • 126 individual code reviews participated in
  • 29 internal trainings taken
  • 2 conferences attended
  • 2 Coursera classes taken

How can I be sure about these numbers? In a word, notebooks. I’m old school that way. It’s not that I don’t use technology for notes. I use Microsoft OneNote to track various subjects and lines of thought. URLs don’t really work in notebooks (or notes to Santa). But for daily tracking of thoughts and events, being able to pick up a pen and start writing is unequaled for me. I take my notebook to meetings preferentially. They don’t get IMs in the middle of meetings.

From these notebooks come my weekly status summaries. From those come my annual status summary document. If anything, my numbers may be a little low. There are times when I neglect to write in my notebooks.

2018 was a very busy year. Lots of overlapping projects in flight. Many of which produced their first fruits. Most of them were multiple years in planning and execution, requiring the efforts across many teams. I love it when a plan comes together. I had the opportunity to work with a cosmic boat load of teams.

It’s a pleasure for me to be asked to create and teach classes. I learn more about the subjects. I get to help improve other peoples’ skills.

Participating in conversations with the ISO C / C++ committees is always an education for me. It doesn’t matter how long I worked with a programming language, there’s something to learn, some new view or example that will help me teach others. It fun.

Participating in code review is much along the same lines. It’s a discussion with the code and the developer. Done properly, everyone learns something. And through the process, you get better code.

I read a lot, but usually that’s a person endeavor. Reading technical books for possible use by others within my organization either for general reference of in conjunction with a class is a different kind of reading. The scope, presumed background and audience are all very different from me just adding another chunk into my existing world map. I need books in support of individuals who need current reference materials. Sometimes I need them in support of technology which is vastly out of date.

One thing I don’t track are all the non-dead tree reference materials I review, summarize and pass along in support of the research projects or management requests for information that I do on a daily basis. On one level, this is a hole in my somewhat obsessive self tracking. On the other, doing so would be too much of an interruption to flow. This material, at least the good stuff, get tracked by subject in OneNote. Eventually, it’s either folded into supporting material summaries for management or put at the end of class material sections of for support and further reading.

Some of my most interesting work last year revolved around interactions with outside organization. Bringing technologies in to lighten the load and support group efforts is always satisfying.

As to what 2019 will be like, who can say. If it’s anything like 2018 was, there will be a lot to write about in next year’s review post.


image credit: Dustin Liebenow (creative commons)

 

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I just finished reading Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell. Perception is a fickle thing. When IBM created a text editor for their mainframe terminals, they ran into a weird problem. They we too fast. Changes were applied to the screen faster than people would perceive them. In order to nudge the brains of their users, they made the screen flash when a change occurred.

Working in an industry where people want high returns on low risk, I find myself at a loss to explain my sense of what is the right or wrong path. On more than one occasion. I have spend days preparing presentations to give decision makers warm fuzzies in dealing with issues which seem perfectly obvious to me. It takes days because there is a long way between perfectly obvious and the breadcrumb laden trail that people seem to need.

Unfortunately, you can’t Google yourself into a state of experience. So the question becomes, you do want to understand or just cover you ass? A paper trail does this quite nicely. At some point, you must make the decision.

If you want to glimpse the process, read the book.

 

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First Times

I write this sitting in Zeus waiting for my corned beef hash to arrive.

On my way here from the corporate housing that Dell was good enough to provide me as part of my relocation package, it I experienced a feeling I’d not had for some time now. The phrase I associate with it is “first time.”

For me a first time is a very reflective sensation. The first first time I recall occurred this time of year when I had just arrived at Rose-Hulman for my freshman year. It occurs in a quite moment. This explains why it’s taken nearly a week of being here in Portland OR before feeling it.

After nearly twenty years in Austin TX, a certain sameness had overtaken me. Walking these streets in a new city opens my mind to possibilities. Austin had become a place of incremental and marginal changes for me.

I do my best when I have to stretch my abilities and be an agent of change. In this place, I see many possibilities.

Like the man said, “It feels like the first time. It feels like the very first time.”

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I just finished reading Christopher Hayes’ book, Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy.

Whatever your political or philosophic leaning, this book provides an interesting analysis of the end of the meritocratic experiment.

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LiveScribe

In my previous post G5 Leadership – Getting Things Done, a main assist mentioned was to make lists for tracking.

For the past year or so I’ve transitioned from my traditional methodology of filling traditional notebooks to using the LiveScribe system.

Specifically, I’m been using the Echo SmartPen. This allows me to have a digital copy of anything written in the notebook. It also allows for synchronized audio recordings.

It has the ability to OCR your notes (well, not my notes, but most people’s notes). It can’t process mine as I write in fully-connected cursive.

I really appreciate that the system understands when it’s using a different notebook. The pen itself is charged via USB. I charge when the pen whines at me (every two weeks or so). I use the pen on a fairly constant basis. data is transferred off the pen to digital version in a computer-based application. Bits of these can be shared to various online services.

My only real complaints are that the replaceable pens tend to stick for me and that you only get one color at a time. The pen sicking is due to my writing angle. I’m hard on pens. The color thing is just a personal thing. I spent years writing in four colors.

 

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I’ve updated my work at Dell page to include the images of the OME 1.0 DVD and cover.

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Yet Another Update set

I’ve updated my resume and Dell pages to include my most recent work. I’ve also updated my resume PDF.

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