Note to self: If you ever mess up your terminal defaults in Yosemite execute

defaults delete com.apple.Terminal

Yesterday it was World Autism Awareness Day. So let me copy here the only Slashdot comment I remember (and one of the few that I’ve read anyway). I read it before autism knocked my door:

As the mother of an autistic (PDD) child–thank you for saying all that.

I’m so fucking sick and tired of these geeks who think autism is some sort of neato cool thing to have which makes your life a magical fairyland of math and science genius while explaining away their aversion to dating and soap. That attitude alone tells me they have no fucking clue what they are talking about.

Autism is not a benefit and it’s not fun and games. It’s a fucking nightmare! I can’t even begin to imagine what my son goes through when he «short circuits» on sensory overload. And he’s old enough now to realize something is going wrong, but he can’t do anything to stop it. How come none of the «autism wannabes» out there ever talk about that aspect? Maybe because they’re not actually autistic? Trust me, if I could I’d take my son’s autism away from him and give it to one of those «autism is so kewl!» geeks so their dream of being autistic can come true.

It deserves better visibility and I can now attest to its accuracy.

Container shipping

2015/03/31

I like the podcast episodes that I listen to being small. Something like 30 minutes or so. But for this episode from omega tau named Container Shipping I make an exception. This is probably the best podcast episode I’ve listened to. Maersk big ships, «Lego» for big boys, transportation, economics, networks and their mathematical aspects. Two and a half hours! What more can one ask for?

[ One of the failures of my education: How they managed not to map Simplex (which we solved by hand in the exams) with real life. ]

The sound of open space is mouse clicks.

Like cracking Aegina’s pistachios all the time.

Noise cancellation works.

If you have a 2012 nexus 7 by now either you’ve installed Lollipop and you complain about the machine’s behavior, or you’re reading other people’s gripes. Mine is running Android 5.1 now and here is what I did to make it bearable to work with:

  • I disabled GPS location.
  • I have locked orientation to Portrait (Portrait or Landscape does not matter, just lock it to somehing).
  • I’ve disabled keyboard gestures.
  • I’ve put the tablet into developer mode and I disabled Window animation scale, Transition animation scale and Animator duration scale. I’ve also limited the background processes to 3 instead of the default limit. However, keep in mind that if you switch off the machine, when switching it back on, you need to set it back to 3 processes.
  • I am now using Firefox for Android as the default web browser.
  • I have also done a factory defaults on the machine to deal with TRIM. Normally you shouldn’t have to with Android 5.0 but I did it anyway.

I am using this tablet as a Kindle Reader, Google Play Books Reader, Aldiko Reader, and the occasional social media. No Google+, no Youtube (no video whatsoever). Original Angry Birds from Play Store seems to behave. From time to time the machine locks up (about once a day) but I am keeping it for now.

YMMV.

This is basically an effort to rehash Conway’s Recipe for Success for DevOps:

Work on several problems at a time

Conway was working with six problems at a time as a means to battle depression by failing to conquer a specific problem. Six problems are enough to fit your daily mood. It is more than one per day anyway. In DevOps the software stack you need to coordinate just to make your app go live is so versatile that there is always something you can work on daily even if your primary focus seems stalled. Beware though since this is also a way to not make any work at all. You can eat an elephant but somehow we seem to attract hordes of them. And then you can just stare at the monitor Hopeless.

A good strategy to combat this is what I once heard «type A people procrastinate by doing other things». Your stack has more than six components, you can easily have more than six fallbacks should you get stuck.

If anything, please try and don’t ever break your rhythm. Interrupts cost. Context switching too.

Pick your problems with specific goals in mind

This is one thing that I suffer a lot. Everything is cool. And I want / need to know everything. In acceptable depth. Today. But this is not feasible even if we have 25h per day and no sleep. So, IMHO (and I try hard to do so) the plan is to pick problems with two goals in mind: Your current job and «the dream job» you want to land on.

Big problem

The difficult and important problem for Conway. The Architecture problem in the DevOps case. Is your running Architecture OK? Does it need improvements? Do you need something completely new? Are you to invent the next lambda architecture? How are you going to make your dent in the circle?

Your contribution to the world.

Your contribution to the world.

(Yes, you have to try to make a dent in the circle even if you’re not pursuing a PhD.)

Workable problem

Big problems mean big delays most of the time. And in trying to solve big problems you need practice. So you need to have an arsenal of problems you can work on that you can solve. They may be boring or even need repeated tedious tasks performed by you. Automate yourself out of them if you can. Flex your brain muscle so that you can work on the big stuff properly warmed up. Your current setup always has clear steps that you can walk forward. Nothing fancy that you could give a speech about, but something that you can complete during the day and feel good about it.

Book problem

I do not have a book project on my own. But over the last 20 years there have been two books that I wish I could find time to revise. I have a friend though that just finished writing a book and he seems pretty happy with the result.

If you’re writing a book, consider this as yet another problem you’re working on. If you’re not writing a book, well write something. There is always less documentation than needed.

Read a book by the way. Make reading books your book project. That’s mine too.

Fun problem

You should always have at least one problem that you do for fun said Conway. Well I guess we have Github for that, don’t we? I think my current fun project will be cryptopals. Let’s see for how long.

Enjoy your life

Happiness is the single productivity booster that one can think of. Grief and depression the best demoralisers. This post about Karojisatsu really shook me. And it came during a time that I was seriously thinking about DevOps inflicted depression.

I still have no generally applicable tricks about that.

No slides?

2015/02/23

This reached me through infowarrior (author of The PowerPoint Manifesto):

In a sign of how Carter intends to challenge his commanders’ thinking, he has banned them from making any PowerPoint presentations — a backbone feature of most U.S. military briefings.

Could it be that such presentations have become an integral part in briefings because of Patterns of Conflict? I cannot tell, but it sure is the most known military presentation outside the military world.

But where had I seen banning presentations before? Ah, Louis Gerstner at the decks:

At that time, the standard format of any important IBM meeting was a presentation using overhead projectors and graphics that IBMers called «foils» [projected transparencies]. Nick [a division head] was on his second foil when I stepped to the table and, as politely as I could in front of his team, switched off the projector. After a long moment of awkward silence, I simply said, «Let’s just talk about your business.»

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