Month: August 2023

I have 20+ posts in draft, and I am not freaking out..

Well I am not freaking out yet. This is acceptance of knowing my limitation and keeping my expectations in check. I try to have a high bar to what I post, and I try not to post quantity vs. quality. I have taken weeks off, months off and instead of just slapping one of these half written and post it. Of course, this breaks all of the rules of building an audience and a blog.

But this is where acceptance of ADHD has come. In the middle of writing one post I may have an idea and start another post leaving the first partially written. Of course in the middle of that new post I am doing research and get another idea and bounce to a third. During the writing this post which was started in June of 2023 I had another idea and did not finish this origincally Now jumping back to it, hoping to finish my thoughts. Or Not…

One thing that challenged me, and often still does is the thought of doing something, anything it has to be perfect. Of course having ADHD you get distracted, your brilliant ideas are not as easy to execute, and what looks brilliant in your mind doesn’t match what the reality is. This struggle stopped me from doing many things in the past, in fact it is partly why this became a blog vs a book. Part of the fear is the book would have to go past editors etc. A blog the only person I need to get past is me.

The book also in my mind sounded better than the first few blog posts. I had never written long form before. I wrote mostly technical documentation for work, and occasionally wrote something on the side. I needed to break two things, first my ability to actually finish a post, and second understand the perfect is the enemy of good.

I posted about previously about perfection prevents you from getting work done. Now there are times when perfection is needed, think heart surgery, accounting and filing taxes and others. But sometimes things are good enough. In the Agile development practice there is a notion of Minimal Viable Product(MVP). This allows you to shit something that isn’t perfect. Recently (July of 2023 for those reading years later) Meta releases on new product called Threads which is a great example of an MVP. Please not I am not endorsing the product, the company or am invested in it. This is just an example of an great MVP, the saw a competitor having some issues and released it before it has all the features they want.

So why not use this notion of MVP with other things, including my writing? This simple agile principal has allowed me to publish ideas that are 80 or 90% complete. I don’t worry about perfection, in fact I like to challenge my readers to fill in blanks, finish the thought, continue the conversation. The question what can you do that is good enough, and iterate to get better. Even things like doing the lawn, maybe cut it in the AM, take a break to the edging later and the weeds a few days later. It has freed my mind to doing something.

The MVP broke my perfection, knowing I can update or make changes later. But I started to see this notion of good vs. perfect even more often. Like people painting their house, washing their car, folding laundry etc. Sometimes hiring a professional is a good idea, but

The other thing I learned is that not only do you need to break things up this notion of MVP, but they also need a deadline. If there is no deadline then often well it does not get done. There were a couple of studies 1 and 2 that came up with different results. Why am I not surprised. This is the ‘everyone is the same’ or ‘everyone fits in a mold’ thinking. What I ma talking about is what works for me. If I set a deadline for myself (or it is externally given) I shoot to make that deadline. It it 100% the greatest work of all time, no its an MVP. I can then give me deadlines to update and fix it. But, without the deadline I can always find something else to occupy my time, or give in to the Calvin and Hobbes Theory of last minute panic. If you can spare the time, please read the whole comic strip, its a classic.

So as I complete this months later than I started, I failed to give myself a deadline on this particular post but it does read like an MVP. I give myself a little break as my goal for 2023 was a post a week, and though yes i have 20+ in draft, the weekly deadline has me often taking one out of draft and finishing it. In this case, this is the lucky winner. It is about what works for you, and trying it out. If this does not try another method to get the tasks you need done. Failure here is a lesson in how to get yourself more productive. For me, as I reread this it is MVP and yes it is out on time. I am happy.

This opinion is mine, and mine only, my current or former employers have nothing to do with it. I do not write for any financial gain, I do not take advertising and any product company listed was not done for payment. But if you do like what I write you can donate to the charity I support (with my wife who passed away in 2017) Morgan Stanley’s Children’s Hospital or donate to your favorite charity. I pay to host my site out of my own pocket, my intention is to keep it free.  I do read all feedback, I mostly wont post any of them

This Blog is a labor of love, and was originally going to be a book.  With the advent of being able to publish yourself on the web I chose this path.  I will write many of these and not worry too much about grammar or spelling (I will try to come back later and fix it) but focus on content.  I apologize in advance for my ADD as often topics may flip.  I hope one day to turn this into a book and or a podcast, but for now it will remain a blog.   AI is not used in this writing other than using the web to find information.Images without notes are created using and AI tool that allows me to reuse them. 

Paying attention is harder than it looks, but it maybe the secret to happiness

As a youngster (in the 1970s/80s) like may others we wanted attention, we wanted people to notice us. Yeah there are the few introverts who did not feel that way. We wanted feedback, and avoiding certain stigmas. Aka we would rather be seen as rebellious than dumb. Kids bragged about how successful their parents were. For four years I attended a private school, and that was even more competitive for status. As an adult some people grew out of this competition, sadly others did not.

Fast forward to the present, and now its not just kids but it appears that there is a larger push for the notion of getting attention. Wait, you are writing your blog isn’t that an act of attempting of getting attention. I debate this with myself, but if I really wanted attention I would turn these into video shorts, TikToks etc. I would post the blog on other social media sights. But, often I do find myself almost jumping on a hot topic.

I started writing more personally and posted it well to feel I expressed myself. I do not have a way to like, not push for it. I like feedback from my friends who happen to read it, and have changed things, gotten topics from them, but its not my driver.

But there was a time that on Facebook and Twitter I did fall into the trap. The ADHD of getting ‘likes’ on a post or interaction were dopamine hits that were wonderful. The engagement grew if the idea pushed out got a reaction. What Facebook learned is what other media had known is that fear and anger got engagement. The difference is this notion of getting attention could scale, and anyone could garner attention. In fact, a business started up giving ranking of people who had more followers/engagements. Most users of social media didn’t care. Those looking for the high for the likes drove something interesting.

When writing these posts, I find myself doing the opposite. I am paying attention to myself, listening to my brain, my body and introspecting on my thoughts. My distractions seem to fall to the wayside, no Adderall needed. No I don’t use drugs for my ADHD yet, but don’t need them when writing. In fact, its one of the few times I do not use an pomodoro timer I find myself with focus. I find some clarity in writing, a drift away in where I can just type.

So I am paying attention, can focus and happy, why can’t I figure out how to do the same in other situations? If happiness comes from this notion of being able to pay attention versus trying to get attention why don’t I figure out how to bottle it. Well that is why I am writing this post, it is something I figured out as I sat to write this. In fact the title in my notes what the secret to happiness, but I did not know what that secret was.

So how do we change from wanting attention to paying attention? If you know that secret let me know. Is the answer less social media? Is the answer no social media? I have found groups on a few of the social media sites so helpful (ADHD, Tesla, Technology, Workout) not sure could not use them. I wrote about having a friendly dictator that makes them tick, and most input is not looking for attention, but often looking for answers and others helping out.

Is the secret enjoying an experience and not craving the attention that comes from that experience? I was at a concert last week, snapped maybe 2 pictures but enjoyed one of the best shows. I take pictures daily on my commute and don’t post all of them. Not because some are not up to superb quality but I don’t need feedback from social media that way. I take the pictures for myself, share with relatively few people. I take hundreds of pictures of my dog and have a group chat with my kids where we sent hem.

Of all the examples I list above are situations where I am paying attention. Learning from groups on social media sites, enjoying the sunrise/sunset on my commute, writing this blog etc. are all examples of me not looking to be the center of attention but to pay attention. Now if I could only learn from what does make me happy, and figure out how to now pay attention better in other situations. I cannot guarantee I will but just writing this has let me find something if you asked me yesterday I didn’t understand about happiness.

his opinion is mine, and mine only, my current or former employers have nothing to do with it. I do not write for any financial gain, I do not take advertising and any product company listed was not done for payment. But if you do like what I write you can donate to the charity I support (with my wife who passed away in 2017) Morgan Stanley’s Children’s Hospital or donate to your favorite charity. I pay to host my site out of my own pocket, my intention is to keep it free.  I do read all feedback, I mostly wont post any of them

This Blog is a labor of love, and was originally going to be a book.  With the advent of being able to publish yourself on the web I chose this path.  I will write many of these and not worry too much about grammar or spelling (I will try to come back later and fix it) but focus on content.  I apologize in advance for my ADD as often topics may flip.  I hope one day to turn this into a book and or a podcast, but for now it will remain a blog.   AI is not used in this writing other than using the web to find information.Images without notes are created using and AI tool that allows me to reuse them. 

Am I Becoming a Worse Driver…

Two years ago, I pampered myself and bought a Tesla Model 3. It was the first time in 12 years I got myself a car. I had bought 2 cars for the kids and 2 for my wife in that span. But mine was on last legs, so i got rid of it. I did not get Full Self Driving but it comes with Autopilot. This is like a super cruise control, and it does what cruise control does, as well as keeps the car in the lane, around curves etc.  

The first time I used it I was like wow; this does a really excellent job. Now there are some quirks, you need to keep your hands on the wheel, and sometimes (like on-ramps etc.) it struggles. But in stop and go traffic and on 440 on Staten Island it is the most wonderful thing. It takes the stress out of rush hour driving for sure. But then I started using it anytime I was driving on roads, it was easy. I started to think, though I am losing my driving skills.  

Then my mind started thinking about other things automated and will are those skills gone and or reduced. I mentioned that I work in technology and of course when you build applications part of the goal is to automate some manual tasks. The knowledge workers who did those tasks in spreadsheets or on paper now do not have to. When those workers leave and new people replace them there is a lack of knowledge of the original process, and if the system goes down, they might not be able to do it manually.  

For any task that somehow gets automated do we lose those skills and knowledge. For example, how many people know how to change their oil? How many people could navigate with a physical map? Develop and Print Photos from a film camera? Set the clock on a VCR? What is your best friend’s phone number? Can you calculate with a slide rule? Find a book in the library using the card catalog? These are all skills that I did years ago that well are no longer needed and no longer used. 

I have not ice skated in a year nor picked up a tennis racquet in longer. I played both sports a lot, to the point my muscle memory took over. I do know if I start (and try to get back on the ice) that it will kick in after a little while of rust. As the years go by the more rust there is, sitting at the piano things do not come as easy as it did when I play often. And things that I have not done for 10 or so years are going to struggle. The piano, skating and tennis may come back when my brain kicks in, but some mental things may not. 

Why do I mention this? Just like calculators have killed math, spreadsheet have killed the ledger I am wondering what the latest ‘AI’ (I put it in quotes cause its truly not AI) tools will kill off. What if people stopped writing meeting notes (expecting a tool to listen in and give notes) and it is missing some key point though it did not sound like one. What if all developers trained themselves on programming languages via a GPT? Would we lose developer creativity? Would everyone learn the same way, and it may not be the best way to code? What are the skills that the latest round of technology is going to replace and is it an improvement? 

This is not to scare anyone from using these tools. For coding I find it incredibly helpful to write test cases, remind me of an obscure library I used once every 4-5 years, and even ask to refactor to see alternatives to what I wrote. I do not use it yet for this blog, as it thinks with the crowd of wisdom (a blog post in draft) thus what it writes is average. I would rather point back to my previous assessment of the next digital divide but adding now a caveat. We need to keep our skills in certain areas, or we risk not being able to know if output of the AI is not missing something.  

In previous writings I have mentioned the classic statement perfection is the enemy of good. Is the output from any of these tools good enough? If you do not know the answer or have used these tools so often for tasks you lose the skill to even know, we have found a problem. If you are using it for knowledge for something you never did, it is different than if you know it for something that you used to do, and now leverage it. Let us assume everything you are asking is the latter. The more you use it (aka people writing using AI for the full writing when normally they used to write themselves) do they lose the skill of writing? If they are not reading it, correcting it, or rewriting it then the skills will deteriorate.  

I am and awful drawer, photoshoper (is that a word) or Microsoft Paint editor. I do love taking photos (those who know me see my pictures from the ferry) but I am not a good editor. Thus, asking a tool to edit or create an image for me I will use. But a skillset I know I need to use and want to continue to learn the tools can only be an assistant. In fact, as I am writing this, I am watching a class in Artificial Intelligence with Python to continue to build my knowledge. I know if I lose the skills, I could be unemployed.  

What skills will I lose? That is not the right question, the question should be what skill I should make sure I keep and work on so that I do not lose it. Which means even if complex calculations at work people should understand how to do manually, I need to sit at the piano more often, I need to work at friendship/relationships, I need to work at being a father, I need to work at communication, I need to work at my health and much more. I will use the tools at my disposal but ensure when I use them, I understand in which case I am doing so. And I challenge you to look at what skills you lost, what skills you need and make the right choices. As the subtitle of the blog states, it is getting better every day.  And probably being a good driver is one of them also.

This opinion is mine, and mine only, my current or former employers have nothing to do with it. I do not write for any financial gain, I do not take advertising and any product company listed was not done for payment. But if you do like what I write you can donate to the charity I support (with my wife who passed away in 2017) Morgan Stanley’s Children’s Hospital or donate to your favorite charity. I pay to host my site out of my own pocket, my intention is to keep it free.  I do read all feedback, I mostly wont post any of them

This Blog is a labor of love, and was originally going to be a book.  With the advent of being able to publish yourself on the web I chose this path.  I will write many of these and not worry too much about grammar or spelling (I will try to come back later and fix it) but focus on content.  I apologize in advance for my ADD as often topics may flip.  I hope one day to turn this into a book and or a podcast, but for now it will remain a blog.   AI is not used in this writing other than using the web to find information.Images without notes are created using and AI tool that allows me to reuse them. 

What Open Source has taught me about leadership.

A long time ago in my career I was at a different company that I was at now and linux was becoming the buzz. I had a boss tell me, with Linux we can pick a vendor for support, training, version, etc. vs. a single company. It was all about choice. And there became my introduction to open source. 

Being who I am, I overthink everything. When I heard the stories about open source is better for security because more people have eyes on it, that anyone can improve it, that it’s not limited to one company. The thoughts came up like anyone can put something bad in, and who is going to make sure the system goes awry? But what I was not thinking about then and see now is about leadership, and some of the best open-source projects have leadership. 

This should be part of my Team series, so I hope you all read that (see the top menu) but I did not think of it until a conversation with a good friend. What I learned from leadership comes down to a few key things, Empowerment, Flexibility, Communication, Recognition, Stealing and Drive to become what I sometimes call the friendly dictator. 

Empowerment: Open source is driven fully by this; no developer is given a ‘task’ to do (in theory). A developer can decide if there is a need, find an ask, pick it up, and start coding. If they produce the best solution (hopefully) their code will make a release. Kanban process of Agile tried to do the same, that is allows developers to pick the ‘next thing’ on the list themselves. Even Scrum wants developers to pick up tasks and not be assigned tasks. Now of course in companies break this a lot but done correctly you have freedom inside the box. As a manager by delegating authority and trusting the team to deliver you have empowered them. 

Flexibility: This is not being able to touch my toes without my knees bending, it is more about altering your ideas, schedule and even outcome. In open-source projects the leadership needs to often adjust on the fly but also allow ideas of features and functionality that they were not thinking or planning. Leadership does not always know what is right and understanding that, and with the power the team has needs your ability to be flexible is key. 

Communication: If you think about an open-source project, there are people all over the world (possibly) working for different companies, in school or not even working somehow must work towards a common goal. Try getting one other department in a large company to work with another, it is almost impossible. How are they able to do this? They have found ways to communicate. It is often documented and information on how to do things, where to put them etc. These open-source leaders set out how to communicate and the team would follow. I talk about how I lay out my expectations for the year to the team, as well as the pillar of communications, and this is from these leaders. 

Recognition: I did already state this in my Teams series but one of the best things you can do for someone on your team is ensure they are recognized, not just by you but by people outside your team for their work/effort. Open-source projects do this well, in fact early on there was this notion of credibility, where people were known for their input on Open-Source projects. Leaders should never take credit for individuals’ effort, and even more important team recognition is also key.  

Stealing: If you read my early on posts or worked for me/with me you have heard me say ‘Beg, Borrow, Steal then Build.’ But Steal is what open-source leaders are more looking to do. They steal ideas and features from commercial projects and other open-source projects. I know, when a company like Google or others is driving it they do produce original things, but many open-source projects are just versions of commercial software that already exists.  

Drive: How many times have you looked at an open-source project and the last update date was years ago? Or after a few years it slows down and dies? A post from the creator who says something like ‘I graduated school’ or ‘got a job’ so I am going to spend less time on this. For open-source projects to survive they need someone to drive it. None exists without the key person who keeps it going, even if it is just him during times when their projects are not as popular.  

These attributes (and a few others) create this friendly dictator. Why do I use such an awful term? There needs to be single buck stops here. Although the leaders can be flexible, to deliver the next version, to fix bugs, to stay competitive with commercial and other open-source software there needs to be this Top person. The most successful employ these key leadership skills and do it in this ‘friendly’ way that others are willing to get on board. The Open-Source leader makes people feel empowered, heard, recognized and the freedom to step in to help.  

Over the past few months, I saw this play out in a different area, in groups and communities. The most successful ones that I leverage (across a multitude of platforms) have these leaders who drive it. Some platforms call these moderators or admins. In groups that I am a part of you can see when the leadership works and does not. I of course get smart and either leave or ignore those groups. In groups that I retain the amount of knowledge I pick up is fantastic. I talk often about my Tesla groups, but other groups like finance, programming, writing, NJ Devils, pizza, wings, etc. all the best ones have leaders who have the same attributes.  

Just like Open-Source Software, what you will find is that these groups are driven by a few and used by many. That posts and info are not Top down from a leader, but the community learns the communication rules and standards. The admins will delete posts that are not welcome, remove users who are not following the rules and drive the conversation. I am surprised I did not recognize the link between groups and open-source projects sooner. It does boil down to the single point of great leadership. 

On a last point and going back to thinking about Bruce Lee and Jeet Kune Do, is to learn as much as you can from a variety of resources and take the best out of it. I try to keep my mind open as I see things around me and wonder what I can learn from it. I never thought I would be looking to learn leadership lessons from Open-Source software, but alas it was sitting there waiting for me to digest it. 

This opinion is mine, and mine only, my current or former employers have nothing to do with it. I do not write for any financial gain, I do not take advertising and any product company listed was not done for payment. But if you do like what I write you can donate to the charity I support (with my wife who passed away in 2017) Morgan Stanley’s Children’s Hospital or donate to your favorite charity. I pay to host my site out of my own pocket, my intention is to keep it free.  I do read all feedback, I mostly wont post any of them

This Blog is a labor of love, and was originally going to be a book.  With the advent of being able to publish yourself on the web I chose this path.  I will write many of these and not worry too much about grammar or spelling (I will try to come back later and fix it) but focus on content.  I apologize in advance for my ADD as often topics may flip.  I hope one day to turn this into a book and or a podcast, but for now it will remain a blog.   AI is not used in this writing other than using the web to find information.Images without notes are created using and AI tool that allows me to reuse them. 

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