3/28/2015

Burnout

For some reason, growing up, I've always had to endure multiple levels of stress.  And you build up a tolerance for it.  Until it becomes second nature.

This past month has been a whirlwind of stress.  And I don't see it slowing down any time soon.

With all the doctor appointments, working 5 days in Georgia mountains and at the hospital last week for my wife's surgery, I haven't been able to dedicate 40 hours of work to the full time job.  And work on the part time job.  Which translates to smaller paychecks.

Besides work, I now have additional responsibilities around the house and family which are draining the energy.

I've realized that I'm no longer a teenager with a full life ahead.  I've been in the workforce since 1991 and now at a point where money is not the only driving force.  It helped over the years for motivation and inspiration and drive resulting in a 1000% increase in salary over the years.

Perhaps at a plateau now.

Before, when things got to be too much, I'd take a break from work.  I did archeology in 2001.  I taught tennis in 2005.  Now I don't have the luxury of taking time off.

The first thing to go is the part time job.  Next, social media.  Next, leisure time.  Next, sleep.

Until things level off again.  Because burnout is real.  And it can happen to anyone.

3/26/2015

No Easy Rides

Life is hectic.  This week, in addition to working full time and part time jobs, I've been tending to a love one at the hospital.

I arrive at 6am.  Stay till 8pm.  Then go home, take care of the dogs, grab some food and take care of the house stuff.

The hospital does have WiFi connection, so I'm able to work.  However, Lync meetings don't cooperate much with the connection.  Suffice to say, will not be getting 40 hours this week.

Watching the staff at the hospital, it's interesting to see how they handle information.  I'm sure we've answered the same questions to at least 6 different departments.  I'm sure its for safety precaution but it would be nice if they had one record of medical history.

Having a Starbucks in the cafeteria sure is nice.  And the staff is great.  And it's looking like today will be the release date and then recovery period begins.

As you go through life, you get into a pattern.  That pattern shields you from having to think about life and death.  And it can all change in an instant.  And then, all the money in the world is insignificant.

All my life, until the mid thirties, I was free as a bird.  No responsibilities.  No worries.  Pick up and go as I pleased.  Yet, a hollow existence.

It's only when you are tested that you see what strength you have deep down.  And that's how you transform and grow.  And become what you're capable of.

And so it goes~!

3/20/2015

Agile Methodology Works

Agile methodology is a huge change from Waterfall methodology.

It used to be, in IT, that the programmers received specifications for an application, feature or enhancement.  And then went back to their caves and worked on it.  Occasionally the Project Manager would ask how things were going, maybe update the client with a demo and eventually the project was finished, maybe.

The downside to this scenario is accountability and visibility.  The client was typically in the dark for the duration of the project and didn't get to see a working product for months or years.  Many times the project went over budget, over time or did not conform to the original requirements.

Thus, IT was given a bad wrap, justly so in many instances.

With Agile Methodology, you have Sprints, typically two weeks.  The sprints are based off User Stories.  Which are based off the Statement of Work.  Which dictates what will happen on the project, how long it will take and delivery dates.

So within the two week Sprint, team members are given specific duties to complete.  Each day, the team gathers together, sometimes via phone calls, where the Scrum Master goes through the list of people and each team member provides an update with three specific pieces of information:

1. What did you do yesterday?
2. What do you plan to do today?
3. Do you have any blockers or impediments?

You don't go into details, just quick hit bullet point items.

After each team member gives their update the meeting is done and people work on their assignments.

The goal of the Sprint is to have a working deliverable at the end, to present to the client.  Any items not completed get rolled into the next sprint.  And the work assignments are given and the process starts over again.

Typically, the Delivery Lead will keep all the information stored in an application, we use Team Foundation Server through Visual Studio or web.  All the Sprints are managed there, with User Stories, tasks, assigned resources and hours.

The advantages to this process is accountability.  All team members pitch in.  The work is divided evenly.  You can better manage the resources and hours worked.  You can predict with some level of confidence how much work will get done in a specific time frame.  And most of all, the customer is in the loop on what's going on, visibility.

So the Sprints continue, like a steady drum, day after day, week after week, until the project is complete.  The trick is to stay on track, meet your deliverables and have a working set of features every two weeks.

Meeting goals is part of the job of programming.  And with Agile, you have to meet your goals consistently.  This adds much pressure to the job as there's no room for slacking.  And if you run into a problem, you'd better find a solution sooner than later, to keep on track.

You're also part of a team.  Which means there's lots of collaboration.  As your feature may be dependent on another programers feature.  As everything gets intertwined.  And that means the Team Leader or Delivery Manager has to keep a close eye on how things are progressing daily, as to better manage the project to ensure no delays and keep every resource occupied.

Which means a typical Scrum project may have more overhead than the traditional Waterfall projects because there are additional people on the team.  So a simple project with 100 hours of programming, will in fact be greater because you have to factor in additional staff to manage the project.

There are many advantages to Scrum Methodology.  And its amazing to see it work in action.  It's almost an art to run a successful Agile project.

More and more companies and departments are moving towards this framework for good reason.  Because managing an IT project 20 years ago was anybody's guess.  Now we have repeatable patterns to move a project from initial design to build to quality assurance to delivery.  With accountability and visibility.

So IT can now estimate projects better, meet their deliverable's better, keep the client informed and manage issues as they arise, as well as interchange tasks and resources as needed.

Win-Win~!

3/19/2015

Readjust Priorities

Every day there's something new to learn.

Except everyday I have to work my full time job.

And take care of the home and family.

And work on my part time job.

And exercise.

And sleep.

Which doesn't leave much room for learning.

And that's why I resigned from my part time job this week.  I'll miss the extra paychecks.

But something has to give.  I don't want to burn out.

I have not been keeping up with the latest Hadoop, partly because I lack any real projects.

Haven't had a chance to review the latest Power BI stuff.  Or the NoSQL stuff.  Or SQL Server 2014 stuff.

I've been working mostly on Service Broker for SQL Server on the day job.

However, I have found time to visit the library and read some good books.

I worked every day on vacation, 8 hours a day.

Work life balance - does that really exist?  Probably not.  Just need to readjust the priorities a bit.

And so it goes~!

3/18/2015

Cabin

This week we are in the mountains of north Georgia.  One might call it a vacation.  Since we are in a cabin far from home.  Yet I manage to work 8 hours per day, at the kitchen table, connected to WiFi.

It really is great to get away from daily grind.  To spend time outdoors hiking.  Eating food from the grill.  Watching the dogs run haywire outdoors in the fenced yard.

We've go to the mountains twice a year for the past 8 years.  This trip is one of the best.

As we head back home tomorrow, the 10 hour drive, will prepare for the upcoming weeks.  And back to reality.

3/10/2015

Prior Civilizations

Humans have been around for a while.  How long?  Well, our calendar goes back two thousand years.  And the Chinese and Jewish calendar go back at least five thousand.

One theory suggests we derived from ape like creatures, into Australopithecus, Homo Habilis and then Homo Erectus.  I suppose that's possible.

The only thing I don't understand is why is there no history prior to five thousand years ago?

What about the pyramids in Egypt?  And the statues on Easter Island?  And we have ruins across the globe where the architectural feats are unmatched today?

We had an ice age, where 30% of the planet was covered with ice.  And about 10,000 years ago, it began to melt.  Some say this melting took a long time, other theories suggest a rapid transition within a period of three years.

And that change occurred around the time that the earth's tilt changed.  Which caused the sea levels to rise.  And  wiped out entire civilizations.  And we have ruins beneath the ocean sitting idle.  Mysterious cultures lost forever.

So perhaps there were humans prior to the ice age.  Who had advanced technology.  That sailed across the globe intermingling with other cultures with trade of goods and technology.

We are told of a possible society called Atlantis, that sunk into the sea.  Except oral traditions passed through  the generations lost most of the details as they talk in metaphors.  Perhaps it didn't sink, but the sea level rose causing widespread death and forcing people to flee into the mountains until the tides subsided, losing all knowledge of the past.

Why do we not have archeological remains of the past?  Perhaps we do, except they are hidden in museum basements, un or mis identified, which no intent of researching.

And why is that?  Because our society is based on facts.  And those facts are dictated to us in our history books.  And in order to keep our history rigid and fixed, there can be no alternative views to disrupt our accepted story of society.

If we were to figure out the past, that many cultures existed prior to ours, who had advanced technology and thrived for tens of thousands of year, then there would be chaos.  And the storytellers who manufactured our picture of reality, would lose control.

We have a clear and distinct blind spot of our human history which we choose to ignore.  Yet the overwhelming facts exist nonetheless.  We are descendents of advanced societies, who were wiped out from a cataclysm which disseminated and lost almost entirely, except for those who survived and had to relearn all the knowledge from scratch.  And those survives passed on their knowledge in form of fables and stories lacking details.  And the proof of their existence has purposely been withheld and suppressed.

So what caused the ice age and subsequent melting of the polar caps?  My guess based on years of passive research, is the electromagnetic field which encompasses the earth shifts from time to time.  In that the poles swap, which causes the ocean currents to take new courses which remaps the land masses.  The polar swap occurs every so many thousand years, and we are way over due for another shift.

Some scientist have noticed evidence of a new shift about to occur, which would explain the melting of the glaciers and unusual weather patterns across the globe and increased temperatures.  Here's the Polar Shift hypothesis: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pole_shift_hypothesis

It would appear the the current iteration of mankind is that of a child compared to our great ancestors who roamed the planet before our known history.  Their existence has been suppressed from the history books for whatever reasons.  Yet their remains exist throughout the planet of a society who technological prowess surpasses us tenfold as we can not duplicate their efforts in this day and age.

The unquestioned facts which we base our reality on are lies.  We are a willfully deceived society.

3/06/2015

Human Stock Market

Companies on the stock market depend on their stock prices.  They are gauged on expectations and how well they deliver.

And many investors buy stock and hope it goes up, as to earn a nice profit or dividends.  And the stock market has a life of its own.  Which spawns an entire industry.  As well as portfolios and IRAs and retirement funds.

What about people.  What if we invested in "people" like we do in companies.  I'll take 1000 shares of Bob, he seems to have his act together and I expect the upward trend to continue.  And while I'm at it, I'd like to sell 500 shares of Fred.  He doesn't seem to be performing at optimal levels and I fear the trend will continue.

The Human Stock Market.  Could happen.  Maybe it already is.

What if human capital were bought and sold on some hidden stock market, identified by our social security numbers.  I once heard that our social security numbers are in fact listed on the stock exchange.  But I can't confirm.

Just an odd thought I had.  If this were to become reality, would you invest in yourself?

Top 10 List

Been reading about all the billionaires and how they stack up on wealth.  Was the money inherited, worked for, new people added to the list, people who dropped off.

Very fascinating.

I'd like to propose a list of the top 10 poorest people.

First, there's Bob.  He lives down by the water.  Homeless in fact.  Not a dime to his name.  Favorite hobbies are drinking, hanging out and enjoying the scenery.

And then there's Fred, he's so broke he can't pay attention.

And Oscar, he's a vet.  He roams the streets in search of a warm place to sleep and something to eat.

I don't have all the facts on the other 7 poorest people.  But I'm sure they have similar stories.

The fact is, we worship the mighty dollar to such an extent, that if you don't contribute to society in the form of earning a living, in which to spend your money to keep the economy going, we do not place much value in those individuals.

And we assign blame that they are lazy bums who don't contribute.  And perhaps that's true to some extent.  But some people have been trapped in the system with no way out, do to no fault of there own.

In the land of the free, you only have value if you work.  And if you don't work you don't have money.  And if you don't have money, you probably don't rent or own a home.  And that means you are on your own.  And will probably end up in jail as a vagrant.

So this blog post is to expose the sad true of the bottom portion of society which doesn't get recognition.  Those down on their luck.  Who will go to sleep tonight unnoticed, unwanted and unappreciated.

It's a hard life.  And more people are being added to this list every day.