Approaching the end of the line with school…

Last Friday, the 14th, I made a large step toward finishing my PhD – I passed the PhD Qualification Exam.  This means I’m now a PhD candidate and with just a bit more work I can write some more code, do some more testing, read more sources, and finally write a large document and do another presentation and after all that, hopefully be a PhD.  Or a doctor, but not the sort of doctor that helps people.

Musings on Career Improvement: Switching Jobs

This isn’t so much a programming post or even a post on how to make yourself better.  It’s a post musing about switching jobs and how people look at switching jobs.  The idea that you’ll stay with one company for your entire career is an idealism best left in the 1950s since it in no way matches how business is done today. It’s now up to you to guide your career. A career is a succession of jobs that move you toward a goal. In some cases, it might only take two jobs to make someone happy or feel that they’ve reached where they want to be. For others, it could be various jobs with multiple companies or a few jobs with one company and then a few more jobs with another one still. Point being, you can’t count on a company to be your career.

Book Review: Who Moved My Cheese?

As I’ve been thinking about my career I realize I have seriously neglected the business side for many years.  As part of my quest to learn more about the business side I’ve been finding lists of the supposedly best business books, adding them to my Amazon wish list, finding them at Half Price Books and buying them there, and then reading them.  I know my brother has been doing the same thing and I know if both of us are doing it, there are many other people who are as well.  This is what has gotten me to write a review about the books I’m reading in my copious amounts of free time (haha).  Anyway, this wonderful little ditty Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson, M.D. has quite a following both good and bad.  Amazon’s rating (3.3 / 5) seem to show it’s split right down the middle. Some people have said it has changed their life and others view it as trite simplistic mush not even worthy of a first grader.  And, spoiler alert, I fall into the latter camp — I’m not a fan of the book.  I’m glad I got it at HPB for $4.99 cause at it’s $19.95 MSRP it’s a complete rip-off and even at $4.99 I was a little ticked off.  I will give Dr. Johnson props for making a boat load of money off this book of common sense.

I won’t bore you with the fable, but just know it involves Sniff, Scurry, Hem, and Haw as the characters and THE MAZE as the place they live and find Cheese.  If you have just a little bit of imagination you’ll know right away that

  • All four characters find cheese
  • When the cheese disappears Sniff and Scurry leave right away and don’t complain
  • Hem and Haw stick around complaining (obviously) until one realizes they need to be like S&S and find new Cheese in the scary maze
  • Eventually the other one decides to venture out from the original Cheese station and finds everyone else happy

Throw in some nice banal quotes about Cheese (metaphor for money or happiness) and you’ve got a best selling business book.  I’ll save you the money and give some real advice:

  • Things change, get over it
  • No use in crying over the change
  • Be sensitive to changes in the workplace, note what they are and start making plans
  • Always be looking for the next big opportunity
  • Leave on your timeline, not the business’ timeline for you
  • Spend the $5 it’d cost you for this book at HPB on a beer and the $20 it’d cost you for the full thing on a decent meal.  It’d be money better spent.

…and back to your regularly scheduled website

Sorry about that down time, apparently, a little billing mishap occurred and my site went down for a few days.  It’s amazing what happens when emails aren’t sent to your correct addresses.

And since I’m talking like I’m in a commercial, I’ll give you a preview of what to expect on Lane Holloway dot com in the coming months.  First, more content about programming process and design.  Second, more content about programming in Java and Scala and, if I get the time, Clojure.  Thirdly, I’ll talk about some of the newer things out there like “Big Data” (gotta have the air quotes).  Fourth, since I’m taking a class about SAT solvers, I might work up some articles on SAT solvers and some of the issues surrounding them.  It’ll help me understand them more and perhaps, give you, a chance to get your feet wet with them.  Lastly, I don’t know, I’m sure I’ll find something interesting to write about.

Anyway, coming up next will be some articles about programming.  I’ve got a few in the pipeline for y’all. 🙂

How Important is Writing Down Your Goals?

You know, it’s kinda funny how writing things down and checking them off when you finish mentally makes you feel pushed to do them versus just saying you’re going to.  I found that out when I spent all of last year telling myself that no matter what I’d set goals and work toward them each month and talk about how far along I was in that goal.

Well, a few days ago a graphic artist , Allison Morris (sorry you never gave me a link to your website), sent me an email and asked me if I’d be interested in sharing an infographic she created for another website.  I found the infographic had facts worth sharing and was well done, so without further ado, here is the infographic (and why you SHOULD write down your goals).

Setting Goals Infographic
You can see the original article and infographic here.

Write down those goals and make 10x more money than your friends who don’t write them down. So my dear readers, are there any other tips you have to make and keep those goals?

Edit: the 10x more money about the Harvard Business School Study is a myth.

Fitocracy

One of my goals for this year is to be in good enough shape to be able to compete in the Tough Mudder that is occurring in October here in central Texas.  I put my money where my mouth is and signed up for it.  Now I’ve got to put the pedal to the metal and get myself in enough shape to run it.

For me it is more of a two-fold exercise; first, I have to get into that shape and second, I have to not die while getting into that shape.  As you might already know, being a Type I Diabetic means I have to be a heck of a lot more careful when exercising because I could end up having my blood sugar drop to dangerous levels and end up dying or in coma if I’m not very careful.  However, challenges are fun and interesting and proof that I can do it despite whatever is holding me back so I think it’ll be a blast getting myself into the right shape to do it.  Anyway, back to the task at hand: getting in shape.  I wasn’t in the best physical shape thanks to stress and some long hours at work and school but it wasn’t the worst shape I’d even been in.. and I’ve got nine months to get into that good shape.

I initially thought about doing P90X and Insanity again, but having done those I was into doing something a little different; perhaps going outside for a change, especially since the tough mudder is a 12 mile obstacle course.  I need to get some running into my routine.  Working out with my friends from work would help me get into a routine, however, I was really looking for something that could turn fitness into a game.  And that is when I was introduced to Fitocracy.

Fitocracy makes fitness a social game.  Sign up for it with your friends, follow each other and Fitocracy assigns points to the exercises that you do and scores you.  As you do more exercises you’ll level up (just like a real-life RPG!) and open up quests and achievements along the way.  I’ve found that the more exercises I do the likely I am to look and see that I’m really close to finishing another quest so I go ahead and muscle ahead and complete the few exercises that I need to complete the quest.  Hopefully way before the Tough Mudder date I’ll be in great shape and I’ll be able to run through Tough Mudder like Arnuld through bad guys in Commando and I’ll look a heck of a lot better than I have in a long time (I don’t look that bad now, but you know, it always helps to look better :)).