A Day in the Life

A day in my life. Thoughts on leadership, management, startups, technology, software, concurrent development, etc... Basically the stuff I think about from 10am to 6pm.


My Cool Projects

I’ve decided to start a meme. We’ll see how far it goes, but I want to know what the coolest projects you’ve ever worked on are and why. I think that the coolness factor says a lot about who we are because it is so subjective. The projects don’t have to be technical. Maybe you built a house with Habitat for Humanity. I think that would be cool. Maybe you taught your dog to bring you a beer. (If you let this information out you may find a lot of dog training gigs coming your way.) Regardless, cool is about who we are at our core and I think it would be much more revealing then the "five things you don’t know about me" meme.

• I started a recreational women’s softball division for the Hotlanta softball league. Zero to thirteen teams in four years. What a ride.

• I wrote a product that was used at the Nagano Olympics and a Super Bowl, I mentioned it here. Besides where it was used, I also got to play around with live broadcast feed, did the entire product myself (that includes documentation), supported multithreading, and generated code. Did I mention it was used at the Olympics?

• There are two things I love to do as an engineer. Work down in the bits and bytes and pull-off the impossible. I’ve had the chance to do this for a casino gaming system (embedded system! proprietary operating system! EPROM! Yea, that’s the ticket!) and for a content aggregation server that was ported from a stand-alone app (I did NOT design that thing but I certainly helped fix it. Can you say more multithreading bugs than stars in the sky?). Now that was cool.

• As an athlete I’ve had moments when my teammates and I have just gelled. It was if we were one unit. Every pass was perfect. Those moments are why I play. And when I think about the coolest moments in my life...I always see those plays and remember the feeling of absolute completion and wholeness. In martial arts they talk about giving up your ego, but I don’t think that is exactly what happens. I think it is a combination of truly accepting what is happening and being open to the moment. Anyway...it’s definitely a safe clean high.

• And to finish off my list...I organized an informational event at one company I worked at. The problem was that there were a lot of folks in the company who didn’t really understand what we were selling or how it worked. I sent out an email asking for questions, lined up the speakers, and we spent a day on the top topics. The event was very well attended and received. This was cool for me because I love to help people, I got a lot of ego strokes from the attendees, and I can’t help but think that it helped our company be more successful...and that is just cool.

Since I want this meme to spread I’m not going to tag anyone specifically. I ask that after you’ve put up your post that you add a comment here with a link to it and tag folks from your blog. That will be my tagging.

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Experienced Multithread Developer...so good I don't need locks

This has got to be one of the funniest things I've read all year. (Of course it's still early...)

"We have a multi-threaded .NET application, the problem is that the previous programmer didn't care to have locks on the shared variables. Somehow the application doesn't end up in Locked state on a single CPU machine but I have tried running it on several dual core machines and it randomly freezes. I am searching for a quick-fix until I implement locks around all the shared variables in the entire application.

Is there a way to bound the .NET application to single CPU.

Thanks!" link

Anyone who has been reading my postings or attended any of my concurrent development presentations will immediately see the humor in this. However, I will explain for the unenlightened....

I have been saying all along that there are a lot of folks writing multithreaded applications that have no idea what they're doing. The original developer is one of them. Now this guy is probably going to keep writing multithreaded apps because he thinks he has successfully done it before. In fact his new company may have hired him because of that experience. This is funny.

The other funny thing is that I've said time and time again that often a newbie will add multithreading and then only test on a single processor. Some folks have asked me how any one could be so...ignorant. (I want to say stupid but we're trying not to use that word at home.) Well folks, here you have it. Never underestimate a person's ability to do stupid...I mean ignorant things.



I am...a Green Lantern!

To continue this crazy meme kind of day...the results of my Super Hero test indicate that I am secretly a Green Lantern...I just wish I could find my ring...

You are Green Lantern
Green Lantern
The Flash
Iron Man
Wonder Woman
Hot-headed. You have strong
will power and a good imagination.
Click here to take the Superhero Personality Test

My five things...

Dan tagged me a few days ago with the "5 things you don't know about me" meme. I've spent a few days thinking about those five things. I read what others had written about themselves for inspiration (and to get some idea what this is about) and came up with these five things:

1. I love turtles. I have no idea why.

2. My favorite color is orange. This is new, my favorite color used to be green.

3. I've been around and touched by a few celebrities. I've eaten dinner on Melissa Etheridge's credit card but I've never met her. I've been inches away from Emily of the Indigo Girls fame on several occasions at the softball field. I was bored out of my mind with Ellen Degeneres at an art show at the Snake Pit in Atlanta. We didn't talk. She is very quite and after several attempts to start a conversation...I decided to just try to get drunk...I didn't succeed at that either. I used to know this guy because we worked together at a children’s theatre where I was more concerned about the roof leaking than any ghosts that might be hanging around. And of course...there's Dan.

[update] I forgot to mention that Fran Tarkenton walked into my office and asked me how things were going (I used to work for him). He didn't really care so I told him everything was fine.

4. And one really cool product that I created (yes I did the whole thing, documentation and everything) was NetCam II for the IBM sports group. NetCam captured images from live broadcast feeds, packaged the images up (even creating the HTML pages for them), and sent them to the IBM hosted websites. The software was used at the Nagano Olympics, a couple big golf events, and even the Super Bowl. I would get crazy last minute requests like the one from the Super Bowl.

"We're going to be in a truck in the parking lot...how fast can you add FTP support because we're going to have to upload the images using FTP through a satellite!"

Sleep? I don't need no stinking sleep! You want FTP...you got FTP, Baby!

5. Inspired by Jonathan Schwartz's response #3 I found myself thinking back to my own brush with death. Unlike Jonathan I am going to elaborate not only on what happened but also on how it began to change me.

I think it was in 1993. I was living in Norcross, GA and commuting to work in Roswell. It had been raining that morning, the first rain in a long time which meant that there were slick spots on the road from oil build up. I was coming down the ramp from 85 to 285 when I hit one of those slicks and did a 180. My pick-up truck was sliding backwards down the ramp at about 50 miles an hour.

When I looked up, I looked right into the eyes of a trucker driving a big rig. In a moment of clarity I felt that he and I had a non-verbal conversation that went like this:

Me: Oh shit...I'm going to die.
Trucker: I'm sorry. I can't do anything without hurting more people.
Me: I know. You're right. It's not your fault. I don't blame you.

In the Trucker's eyes I saw him prepare to ride that rig right over me. He had to be careful not to brake and end up in worse shape than me. But just as I thought it was all over...one of my back tires got a grip on some good pavement and I was able to spin my truck back around and off to the shoulder.

As I sat on the side of the road, not a scratch on me or my truck, I just shook. I had faced what I thought was certain death by a man who I had never met and who meant me no harm. I was surprised that I had faced my death so calmly and peacefully. I had felt bad for the Trucker; I had not wanted my death to be a burden to him and I remembered feeling forgiveness toward him and hoping that he would forgive me.

My life changed in less than a second but the changes weren't immediate. I began asking myself the question, "If I die tomorrow will I regret this decision?" And this one question began to change the direction of my life. I also began to look at people differently. I am more forgiving, more willing to look for the reasons behind a person's actions, to try to understand a person's motivations and assumptions, to step up in my life and lead, to try to leave things a little better than I found them, to never give up...I believe I am a better person.

I hope that when the time comes to face my death again...that I will fight just as calmly to live as I did that day. To accept that my death may be the outcome, but not that my death is necessarily inevitable.

Your turn:

Reg Braithwaite
Adnan Masood
Gustavo Cavalcanti
Peter Kellner
Anand Iyer