“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.”

Friday, November 27, 2009

The good side of the real estate bubble and the programmers home

I am finally moving in the suburbs. I will get a one bedroom apartment in a 1 year old flat(+2 parking spots) for the same amount in rent I was paying for a 35 year old ,dirty and unmaintained studio 4 km from the center of the town(350 Euro).

The same place would have been rented for 2 x the amount I am paying in 2007 (700 Euro).. I know it because I was looking for a place to rent then in new buildings.

Renting in my 3rd world country is not usually an option as most of the times is not legal (the owner does not want to pay taxes for the money he/she gains) and you really have no rights.

So the prices for buying went sky high in 2007 (the apartment I will move to costs 60.000 Euro now but 120.000 in 2008).
Guess what : now they do agree to have a contract and pay taxes for it.

The place a programmer lives in is not as important as the place he works at nevertheless there are a lot of programmers that do code at home for side-projects , their business idea or as in my case just fun ... well you need a good environment:
1) Quiet and no interruptions space- yes it does matter
2) Space for computer stuff : a computer book library , a desk with a top of the line(and very quiet) desktop , maybe another place to take the laptop to for a while(a porch/garden in a house is ideal),a router for sharing connections for your home network , a server (for your site) and maybe a printer.
3)Separation from other family members for a small while

I dream about the bionic office but I realize I will just get it at my home , never at work, because really programmers are becoming glorified typists and work conditions won't get better here (in my country I have see only one company using cubicles .. let's not even think about private offices).

My current place just does not cut it anymore .. too little , too old , too dirty , too many scratches from neighbors on my car (Romanian habit on cars parked in crowded places if you happen to find an empty spot(unmarked) expect to have a car key scratch on it when you return).
If you never code at home you can live in a crammed room in a big city and literally live at the office and in the city but for me the place I code in is very important.
So important I thought about buying a house in a small town and starting my own business (software of course) and you know what I would be a happier coder then the typical apartment renter/owner dwelling in a big city , working in a open plan office and in a Dilbert like company.
Maybe .. just maybe I could do it. Food for thought.
For now I can't wait to move ... to a place I thought I would never afford.
PS : I still blame Kyosaki for the real estate bubble .. because nobody could afford to buy a really comfortable place to live in(like a house with a garage and garden) .. without being a drug dealer and now everybody is defaulting on loans they took thinking the houses/flats values would increase infinitely and yes in Romania it was 3X worse than in US .

Monday, November 16, 2009

Technical leader or team leader ?

At last I have been promoted mostly against my will :). I am leading a 3 persons team at work and I am working in a pretty complex project. I am now a team leader writing documents , attending meetings and generally being in charge of things.
Basically I am what I hated 3 years ago .. giving tasks around and checking on people. I try to keep from delegating work I do not understand but I am tempted to skip boring parts and do the interesting parts my self. I can delegate I am a team leader :). I want everybody to be able to work in the team and enjoy their work but I can see that that is not always the case and motivating people is an art I do not master for the moment but is crucial for the job you do (no matter how silly the CRUD app looks like).
One of my former team leaders was able to inspire me and make me learn stuff and I wish I could inspire my team members to be passionate about their work ( I keep failing at this for the moment).
Here is a discussion I like about being a technical leader.

People look at(good) team leaders with respect , I really believe in teams that can coordinate themselves without a central character leading the show because this is a domain where people are smart but that is just me.
As a team leader you need to be interrupted , to answer questions to redirect questions and in general to be in a constant communication mode.
So if you wanna be a team leader you need to forget about long stretches in the zone and learn to handle interruptions and even to be expected to get out of the zone when a team member asks you stuff (coding while listening to music is no longer possible all day long).
Maybe a good alternative to do that would be to have a meeting daily in which you decide tasks , solve questions and prepare the work to be done in "the zone". Would a wiki help ? would a forum ? well I don't know but I need to find out.
What would a technical leader do ? Well mostly the same but the requirements would not be handled , and I guess they get to be left alone and decide what to do by themselves and just advise the (very junior) developers on how to get their things done.

On the other hand at the start of November a crash ended my biking to work odyssey :( and I started jogging on and off 3-4 times a week to replace the effort. My weight is stable around 98-99kg and I am starting to be annoyed because I got used to the 2kg every week loss. This is annoying. I need to get the weight DOWN to 90kg ASAP.So this blog will contain less biking and more running.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Less than 0.1 tons

Finally the gods of cycling and weight loss have smiled at me.
I have reached less then 100 kg (99.o kg Friday October 30th) and I feel better. The diet went well and the bike commute was always ok.
Yes we are talking about 20 kg weightloss in less then 2 months which is impressive.
I even managed to change my freewheel (a SunRace 14-28 t with a Shimano 14-28t) because the old one on my wife's bike didn't work. I don't think I could have done it without the help of Sheldon Brown's site which keeps being a fantastic resource almost a year after his very regretted death.
If I am lucky this year will be the first I will do the winter cycling thing (that is bike commute regularly after November 4th).
My plans are to reach 90 kg by the end of the year and from then on another 10 kg by March 2010.
Now I really should start focusing on the technology thing because I always seem to be a bit behind and I do hate it. I had all kind of excuses but getting organised about it is more important then pretending the computer is slow or that I am tired.