“Before you speak, listen. Before you write, think. Before you spend, earn. Before you invest, investigate. Before you criticize, wait. Before you pray, forgive. Before you quit, try. Before you retire, save. Before you die, give.”

Monday, September 28, 2009

Driving in Bucharest ..

Although I have been driving for 10 years I never was a fan of urban driving. Driving in Bucharest is in my opinion the worst case of urban driving. With average speeds of 11 km/h it is in my opinion a waste of energy , fuel and time (and mental sanity ).
Still every morning when I go to work and every evening I return home I go past hundreds of mostly stopped cars that struggle to get somewhere. They accelerate to high rpm 20 m before the traffic lights only to hit the brakes violently at the lights. No car was designed to run like this whatever manufacturer it was.
People seem to have lost their minds in this city. I have seen plenty of 200 H.P. cars ans SUVs blocked in traffic. I have heard of people actually fighting in traffic or for a parking spot. This is insane.
Still on the bike paths I can only find myself and maybe 10 other cyclists during my commute. My commute takes about 35 minutes for 9km (about 6 miles) and I do listen to my MP3 player. I have heard of people needing 2h for the 9 km in question.
Is it all about social status ? I guess it is . Whenever I get to work during breakes all I hear is cars , cars and more cars. I have been a reader of car magazines (http://www.auto-motor-si-sport.ro/) for 10 years and I know more about cars than most people .
Still the hype around cars is huge and beginning to upset me. Do people really imagine they can truly use a 242 H.P. Audi A6 on the streets of a crowded capital at rush hour ? Sure you can hit it on the highway at 120 Mph or on other national roads but in the city this is insane. Nonetheless I thought so too when I was younger .. and less mature.

Well it is their money after all and I really could not care less except that they will be polluting my air , destroying my health in a city that is already polluted.
Here are my incity vehicles (the one in the background is my wife's but I use it in Bucharest , the other is my touring machine (about 2500 km and several metric centuries on it) that I use in my hometown.

Do people really think a man is worth less if he is not driving all the time ? Do people really need to carry a briefcase and themselves (for a total of 80 kgs ) using a 1200 kg car ?
I stand by these guys when it comes to cars and they do make sense to me.

PS: I wonder what would have happened if it weren't for the economic downturn ?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Too old to code .. or too smart

I keep hearing this around me and is more than annoying. People .. including those with just a few years of coding experience want to stop coding and become managers ,sales persons .. they keep telling me that coding is a low-level job.
Some older guys (around 29-30)think that it is an age thing and you just can't keep up with the new technologies so they want more money without actual technical involvement (like sales ,project management).

I too want to become an architect , to design software to build something from the ground up (this is fun no question about it) , but I don't think coding is under qualified job as everybody else does and I still want to code if only just to verify a proof of concept.

Everybody keeps telling me that a manager can gain 3 times as much as a coder (even in a senior position) that may be true but what everybody "forgets" is that being a manager requires a whole different set of skills to begin with. So investing 5 years of your life to study computer science + 5 years (in my case) as a developer just to become a manager sounds like a stupid thing to do. We (the developers) undervalue ourselves at this point and make development look like a secretaries job which can be done in a open-plan space with poorly trained and poorly payed juniors something I cannot accept.
Well this thread discusses this and I am happy that there are a lot of older developers like myself on StackOverflow to support this point of view.

Anyway as I wrote in the previous thread I am not ready to make career changing decisions now. I have other priorities for now. but I really feel the need to write this on the subject.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Getting stuck ...

This is probably a defining moment. After only 2 weeks of dieting I have lost about 7 kg (that's 15.4 pounds in US measurements). However I am obsessive about my weight now. I need to be at 75 kg(150-155 pounds) and now I am at 107 kg(235.4) pounds). I have been stuck here for almost 2 days (I know this is not significant but I am still bothered).
I am aware that a diet takes time and is more about the lifetime change than anything else but I can't wait to get these 30 kg off. And what bothers me is that I've been in this fight for like 23 of my 28 years (before that I wasn't aware of this issue) and never won for more then a few months (that was in 1998 when I managed to get to 80 kg after running for about the whole year).
As a note giving up Cola though very difficult changed a lot. Most of the weight loss process was caused by this thing.

Living as an obese person is not what I want so before thinking about huge goals like having my own company , promotions , buying a house , invest in the stock markets .. I feel like getting control over my body is more important.

The life as a programmer does not help . You are sitting on a chair coding all day drinking Coca-Cola or Pepsi.
Without bike commuting I don't know if I would still be alive. My worst ever weight (in 2004) was 135 kg (297 pounds) and diabetes and/or heart problems would have ended my life soon (10 years top) if I had not started to bike commute.
So far I always had more important things to do and gave up trying to loose weight but from now on this is the to priority.
My target is getting to 100kg(220 pounds) by the end of the year and to 75 kg by the end of next year NO MATTER WHAT.
These guys in US are very inspiring so I am trying to read their idea's carrefully.
This post seems to draw the picture for programmers and fitness. This being said Jeff Atwood has no idea how it feels to be fat and most of the interesting points can be found in the comments. Joel Spolsky looks slightly more chubby though.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Being in "the zone"

The last 2 days I witnessed a quite rare phenomenon for me : I was in "the zone" totally focused .. racing against myself to finish a tight deadline. Yes it all clicked .. everything matched unbelievable for me. Like in that Swordfish scene when the coder had to break into the Pentagon's defenses well you know it INTENSE concentration .
As a reader of the JoelOnSoftware discussion forum I came to believe that you needed a quiet private office to really focus on the coding job .. but it is more complicated than that.
Everything from your family problems to the food you ate that morning to the fitness level affect your concentration. The fact that I just jumped to coding after some quite short planning period (1 h) is unlike me.
I realized that Joel's strategy Fire & Motion the one article I never understood or agreed on his site is quite true and a revelation these days.
The combination of Montignac diet , bike commuting and a touch of GTD really made my last 2 days great(high energy levels , high concentration even a slight improvement in my social skills).
I actually finished most tasks ahead of schedule .. which I never did before, and now I am looking forward to getting back to more work which is a change.
My most sever problem ever is procrastination . Now at age 28 I realize I wasted a lot of my life just delaying things and I am trying to catch back. I like to think the rest of my life will be more like "No Fear!" kind than the first 28 years.
A stupid example of procrastination : Never copy /paste . That is false. I did copy pasted code today and I did hack things ... but I made notes to refactor later.
Getting things done is more important than doing things right for now.
Yes I used to yell : Technical Debt whenever I saw a 1000 lines class ... not anymore.
The customers really don't care if you have nice and clean code or a big ball of MUD. They need to use the system now not when you do it nice(100 years from now).
That's about it for now I do need to prepare for the bike commute tomorrow.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A new beginning

Hello World !
This is the first program any programmer writes when he is starting with a new language, and in my case this is my hello world in the blogging world.
Why would a programmer start a blog ? I guess because of boredom but I like to think it is because of this famous JoelOnSoftware post : http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000036.html .

Also as I am re-starting my life I want to keep track of it. And since I have always had issues with my computers(my Thinkpad is dead and my desktop doesn't always start) the safest place to keep this is on Blogger (i.e. Google's hard disks).
This blog will be about more than technology .. it will be about my way , my fight as a lonely wolf with life and my issues with our society.
So yes it is all about me :) but I welcome any comments from other people.