The Ending Of Things

I’ve had to learn to become more comfortable with the ending of things.

I haven’t always gotten the endings that I’ve wanted.

I’ve often tried to keep things going just to avoid an unpleasant ending.

I’ve also returned to situations I should’ve left alone in order to “fix” the previous ending.

But that’s not how things work.

Some things end on a high note. Some things end in a messy way.

But regardless, they’ve end.

I’ve had to accept the fact that sometimes, the last conversation I had with someone is the last conversation I’ll ever have with them. 

Sometimes, it’s because it’s not possible to have another conversation.

Sometimes, it’s because there’s nothing left to be said.

But I still had to move on.

There’s always another ending to face.

Until the last one.

And getting comfortable with that may be the hardest thing.

CN Podcast #49: Practice vs Game Time

My uncle coached youth baseball for a number of years and he left a huge impact on the way I handled myself and players when I started coaching. In this episode, I talk about how that influence has impacted my work as well.

Episode Link

Give yourself the time and space to learn. There are enough stress/distractions on the playing field (i.e. at work). Kids are hearing their teammates, their parents and the opposing team. Likewise, you’ve got the voices of all of your responsibilities vying for your attention. All of these voices create a significant amount of noise and it’s very hard for signal to get through. 

Proper practice makes you prepared. The more preparation done in practice, the less there is to think about on the field. This preparation includes not only focus on technique but contingency plans and working under duress. The reason teams practice hurry-up offense and audibles is because the conditions won’t always be ideal.

Leave the judgement on the practice field. Mechanical thinking during game time is counterproductive. My biggest flaw in golf was that I was overly focused on position during play. Instead of simply trusting the process that I’d established in practice, I was judging myself as I was doing it. 

Have fun at practice. The time you spend honing your craft doesn’t have to be dour or onerous. I grew up with coaches yelling at us with colorful language but we also had fun even as we were working hard. Make sure that you make room for that in your practice. Balance is key.

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Which one has two zero and two four?

I came across a post on Facebook, in which you’re challenged to provide the “correct” answer. Normally, I would bypass these as I don’t have much time in the day-to-day work to engage but I had a build that was particularly slow so I “play”

“Which one has two zero and two four?”

  • A) 0024
  • B) 2024
  • C) 0044

I’ve recently started taking formal Spanish lessons again to improve my public speaking and I looked at the question a bit differently. As I started thinking about the solution, I was taken back to my sophomore year of college at the North Avenue Trade school, when I changed my major from Computer Engineering to Computer Science. That summer, I stayed in Atlanta and took a pivotal class, CS1411. It was there that I met 3 of my best friends. It was in this class that I started learning about parsers by way of building an operating system over the course of the class.

Let’s break the sentence down or in compiler-speak apply a lexical analyzer, parsing the components (tokens) in order to make sense of it

“Which one has” – this is equivalent to a query/filter command, returning a single result similar to:

•  “SELECT TOP 1” in SQL

“.first(where: )” in Swift

Is there a “correct” answer?

The correct answer is “It depends”. Let’s look at the ways in which we can interpret the remaining components

The most common interpretation (based on responses) may say that the words TWO, ZERO, TWO & FOUR each represent a LITERAL value. We will also state that AND is a concatenation operator, meaning we simply combine it with the preceding value(s)

With this interpretation, we get “2024” and B is correct

What if the rules were slightly different?

Let’s now say the first number represents a COUNT operator and the following number represents a LITERAL value. We will maintain the rule that AND is a concatenation operator, as above.

 “Two Zero” would be interpreted as COUNT (“TWO”) followed by a LITERAL number (“ZERO”) meaning “2 of the literal value (0)”, which results in “00”. Similarly, “Two Four” would be interpreted as “44”

With this interpretation, we get “0044” and C is correct

What if AND behaved differently?

Imagine that our AND did more than just concatenate, which makes sense as it feels unnecessary in the prior examples. The values can simply be returned, negating the need for the AND (Think  “me llamo Alondo” instead of “me llamo es Alondo”)

Instead, consider AND behaving as switch operator, moving between modes of the LITERAL and COUNT/LITERAL interpretations.

• COUNT/LITERAL “2 of the literal value (0)”  

• AND (switch modes from COUNT/LITERAL to LITERAL

• LITERAL(“24”)

With this interpretation, we get “0024” and A is correct

Summary

For me, this was a simple reminder that there are often more than “2” sides to something and that the “correct” answer is usually context dependent. It’s important to pay attention to the factors that impact interpretation and therefore resulting outcomes.

CN Podcast #47: Creating Small Things

In this week’s episode, I talk about the value in creating small things and how you can use it to increase your likelihood of success. I’ll share some of the advantages of starting small and using those wins as building blocks

Episode Link

Show Notes:

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Aspiration and Inspiration

As aspirational people (those who want to do), we often look to the inspirational people (those who have done it) for the keys to success.

We would do well to learn from those who are in media res (those who are in the middle of doing).  

Their stories provide the context of their decision making w/o the fog of memory, sanitization nor embellishment .

It’s why we love the the hero’s journey. We can follow the story as it unfolds. It’s exciting and we don’t know how it’s going to end.

Though it’s tempting to dismiss people who “haven’t made it yet”, I encourage you to reconsider and take advantage of what their journeys have to offer.

CNPodcast #45: Streaks, Consistency & Habits

Streaks can serve as both a motivation and a deterrent if you’re not careful. Sometimes it pays to take that sick day. In this episode, I talk about the struggle to leverage streaks in the pursuit of consistency.

Show Notes:

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Passion isn’t Enough

Photo by Jefferson Santos on Unsplash

Passion is often talked about in computing as the secret key ingredient in the work that we do. The true power that separates you from the “pretenders”, the newbies that are in it for the money. It has grown louder of late as the field has grown increasingly larger and more diverse. The newbies are often decried as not being “passionate” about programming because they don’t think about it day/night. They’re not spending every spare moment polishing their code late into the night. Heaven forbid they have other interests or priorities.

That’s not what’s most important in the work that we do. I find it often used as a tool for gatekeeping, seeing those who see tech careers as a path to upward mobility as somehow undeserving. As someone who spent most of my youth doing manual labor in agriculture and the service industry, not once was my “passion” ever questioned. Other than at a pep rally for my job at Arby’s, passion was never even mentioned (people get worked up over Beef N’ Cheddars).

But you know what was questioned? My competence and commitment.

Passion is hailed as the thing that will keep you going when thing go sour or as a defense against of burnout.

It’s simply not true.

I started programming when I was 12 but I was burned out on programming a few years ago and needed a break, precisely because my passion allowed my life to get out of balance.

Passion doesn’t imply greater ability either. I went to high school with many passionate basketball players who just weren’t good enough to make the team.

And even after accounting for competence, we often assume passionate people willingly provided what’s needed by the team. There are plenty of talented and passionate running backs that are not committed to picking up the blitz. Similarly, I know many passionate developers uninterested in mentorship, even when the organization sorely needs it. You have to understand what people are specifically passionate about. They may be passionate about “their” code. Passionate developers can often be an impediment to team success, if the passion is self serving.

I live in Mexico and one of my favorite activities is taking early morning walks. I like to see people get ready for the day, watching a city literally wake up before my eyes. All the shop owners, vendors and employees, often getting ready before sunrise, so that people like me can get a coffee or tacos de canasta as we start our day. They have bills to pay and mouths to feed. I have no way to quantify their passion but I’m certain of their competence and commitment because they show up each day without fail. And I’ll take that over passion any day of the week.

Thank You For Your Service

American culture is full of oft repeated expressions of gratitude

“You are a valued customer. We thank you for your patience.”

“Thank you for working overtime on the project”

“Thank You for Your Service”

Is it genuine or simply a stand-in for “better you than me”? 

Is it gratitude or platitude?

What actions are you taking when speaking words of gratitude? 

What compensations are you providing in recognition of service and sacrifice? 

A warm meal.

A place to sleep.

Standing in line for someone so they can rest their legs.

A ride to an appointment.

Help in filling out forms.

A makeup vacation day that can actually be used.

A donation.

Simply taking the time to sit down and listen.

Expressions are cheap. They cost nothing to give. 

Giving is an action. Love is a verb.

What are you prepared to DO to express gratitude?

Cocoa Nomad Podcast: Retrospective #18

In the latest retrospective, I share why I decided to take a loss on selling my house and some tips on keeping yourself financially solvent as a solopreneur

You are extending a line of credit when you start a project. So yeah, it’s a good idea to get them to invest a bit in the beginning. It’s their app after all. 

Eric Wroolie, Overpass Apps

Show Links:

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I’d love to hear from you. Reach out with comments, feedback or show ideas on Twitter or Instagram