Thursday, January 29, 2009

Be Indispensable

The key to being indispensable is the same no matter what the economic situation.  It doesn't change.  The keys are simple.

Communication / Transparency

Keep everyone in the loop on what you are working on.  Go above and beyond the normal communication that may need to happen with your boss about your status report.  Instead, post that status somewhere more public that anyone who is interested can see it.   If you have the ability to blog about your work internally then do that.  If you are a consultant then blog to the world the things that you are doing.  Let everyone know everything that you are doing, learning, and deciding.  You will be repaid with trust since you are not trying to pull one over on anyone.

Creativity / Ingenuity

Find creative ways to make more money or save money.  Find ingenious ways to get your work done faster and save money. The keys may be more automation, or just changing a process.  Spend time thinking about how to make everything faster and easier.   Solutions that make the company money will keep you in house when layoff happen.


In order to be really great at what you do, you must be committed. That may mean spending more time at work or spending time outside of work improving your skills.  Better yourself for the specific job you have, and for additional responsibilities you may need to take on.  What things are you not doing today that you may be asked to do next week or next month because someone else had to be let go?  Are you ready for those tasks?


In order to be able to communicate everything efficiently and to be creative and even to find the time to learn new things, you must be organized.  Everywhere you look you can see people who are well organized that outperform those that are not.  It's rare that a disorganized person can reverse this trend.  In those cases, they would most likely be able to excel even more if they were organized.   Don't let clutter get in the way of what you have to do, and don't miss deadlines because you weren't sure where a request went to.  Pick an organization System like Getting Things Done, or Zen To Done, read about it and implement it.   Becoming organized will have a positive impact on your performance and output. 

Being indispensable is hard. It takes a lot of work and communication. 

Monday, January 26, 2009

Book Review: Best Kept Secrets of Peer Code Review

Best Kept Secrets of Peer Code Review (Modern Approach. Practical Advice.) is a different kind of book. I like to know statistical data and see the reasons that people interpret them a certain way. This entire book is an argument for using a tool for Peer Code review. And that there are time limits that should be used when reviewing someone's code. The limits seem in line with other studies showing how long someone can concentrate on anything before needing a break. And then the law of diminishing returns is discussed. Looking for defects for longer than an hour seems to not be worth it.

Using these simple limits and a tool an individual should spend 2 to 4 15 or 30 minute sessions reviewing code.

The tool discussions were more interesting. Having a tool that will allow a developer to monitor how long is spent reviewing code, track annotations and allow chatting between people who are reviewing sounds good. It just so happens that the author Jason Cohen works for SmartBear Software and you can buy software that does that exact thing.

I've never used any software to coordinate code reviews, but after reading this book I definitely will be looking into software and it's costs. It's at least worth considering.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Hybrids only benefit from better gas engines.

I've seen several times that better gas engines can negate the need for hybrids. Even the Wall Street Journal has an article titled "Gas Engines Get Upgrade in Challenge to Hybrids"

All of these are wrong. And they are wrong for several reasons.

First, a more fuel efficient gas engine still needs gas, which only exists in a limited and diminishing quantity. Sooner or later it will run out, it may run out somewhat slower with engine improvements, but it will still run out.

Second, all improvements to a gas engine also improve hybrids. A hybrid basically adds a batter and an electric motor to a car. That addition will add an extra so many miles per gallon based on how good the battery is and how it can recharge. But when the battery runs out the car is still using a gas engine. Improvements to gas engines can be used to improve these gas engines too. Instead of having a small gas engine that gets 30 miles a gallon, if it can now get 40, then a hybrid could go from 50 MPG to 60 MPG.

I like the ingenuity that is being used to improve the fuel efficiency in engines of all kinds now. It's disappointing that for years cars have not had much in fuel efficiency improvements. Most of the new technologies that are being used aren't revolutionary. There's no reason that many of these could not have been used much sooner to provide vehicles that could go much further on less gas than what we have now.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Happy Birthday to my oldest

My oldest turned 7 the other day. He is growing so fast. We will celebrate this weekend with him. For his birthday we got on Skype and called him, he was able to see the entire family singing him Happy Birthday.

Technology has played a large role in the long distance parenting we have been doing with him. We instant message with his mom about him and anything. We keep up to date with random cell phone calls and Jonas himself will instant message us occasionally.

I've read bedtime stories over the phone and sent my love many times.

Skype is the newest long distance technology. We can now video conference with him. He puts his little headset on with the mic coming around his face to his mouth and looks like such a handsome little geek. That's my boy. It's amazing how much technology is ingrained into his life at only 7. Being able to read and write and now type (hunt and peck style) are a huge benefit for him. Jonas is ready for the technology that is being ingrained into every aspect of life.

Jonas I love you, Happy Birthday.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A new car.

Over the weekend we finally replaced out little Geo Prizm that didn't have any heat, with a minivan that does. We're now the owner of a 2007 Chevy Uplander (at a very good price)

We had been looking around for about a week, and ended up dealing with 3 different dealers for a few hours each on Saturday making it an extremely long day. We're happy that at the end of the day though we have a car big enough for our entire family to sit comfortably in. I'll have to get some real pictures up later, but until then it looks like this image.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Palin still complaining about the media.

The AP reported that Palin is still complaining about the media. Palin stated "I've been interested to see how Caroline Kennedy will be handled and if she will be handled with kid gloves or if she will be under such a microscope,"

I think she is missing the point. Running for Senate in a state may not garner as much scrutiny as running for VP of the country. Even if the media is not as hard on Caroline Kennedy, it's mostly because there are a lot less people who care. Palin was running for next in line to the President. For that position I, and most of the rest of the country, want to know everything about the person.

The article ends with.

Palin singled out the Couric interview as condescending, particularly a question about what she reads and, according to the governor, "What do you guys do up there?" In fact, Couric never asked that question but did press, unsuccessfully, for the governor to state specific newspapers she read, which Palin never did.

Palin also complained about reports suggesting that Trig Palin was not her son and said she was "frustrated" by rampant rumors about her and her family. However, mainstream media stayed away from such rumors, which were fueled by bloggers and others online and the supermarket tabloids.

"I wasn't believed that Trig was really my son," she said. She called it a "sad state of affairs."

"What is the double-standard here?" she asked. "Why would people choose to believe lies? What is it that drives people to believe the worst, perpetuate the worst?"

"When did we start accepting as hard news sources bloggers, anonymous bloggers especially?" she asked.

None of the mainstream media was using anonymous bloggers as a sourse. As for bloggers, they are people. Sometimes who are closer to a situation than any reporters are. Bloggers should not be discounted as sources simply because they don't work for a newspaper. Her statements make it seem more like the newspapers that she is reading are the tabloids, and not reputable newspapers.

Friday, January 09, 2009

What would I like to see from Windows 7

I've been using Windows XP for quite some time. And I have done my best to avoid Vista. I have a desktop computer at home that I will not upgrade, and we don't use it at my job. My wife's laptop however came with Vista on it.

What I can say from my experiences with Vista is that it runs slow, uses a lot of RAM and processing power and has been difficult to install new things on other peoples computers when they ask me to help them out.

The OS has become more annoying also because of the different variations of it. I dabble in web development, so I would like to be able to play with that on the side, using Java, ASP, ASP.Net, Ruby, Javascript, etc. My wife just needs the computer to store and organize her pictures and music. We both need the web.

What I would like to see from Windows 7 is:
  • Easier ability to install things. Don't make actions that I am initiating so annoying by asking me if I want to do them over and over.
  • Don't make restore points optional. They may slow an installation, but will save people more than hurting them.
  • Use less resources. I want the OS to be as small as possible. Reduce the size and consumption of resources the OS needs as well as making it faster.
  • Security is a big deal. There seems to be a new way to hack Windows monthly. Stop adding new features and start going back through all of your code to slim it down, and remove the problems.
  • Only have one OS option. I don't want to be upset that the computer I bought had the wrong version of windows and I can't do what I want with it. Make the base OS the same for everything, and whatever is actually considered as differences now, offer as either free or paid software to the OS.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Obama's tough challenge

When taking office, Barak Obama is facing more issues than any president other than FDR. Even Lincoln only had a south threatening to leave, which would divide the country.

The big things that everyone sees are:
  • the war in Iraq
  • the war in Afghanistan
  • the economic crisis of the world
  • What to do with prisoners at Guantanamo Bay
Some smaller things are:
  • How to stimulate adoption of clean energy to increase the US energy independence.
  • What to do with NASA with the space shuttle being retired and Bush setting a plan to land on Mars.
  • What to do with the No Child Left Behind act. It has some major problems, how can they be fixed, but more importantly how do we improve schools and learning?
  • Israel, which seems to be begging to be the center of attention more than normally.
  • Russia, first an all out attack on Georgia, now cutting off natural gas from eastern Europe, are they becoming a problem again?

When it comes to the government and the future I have lots of questions and surprisingly very few suggestions. I hope that the team he is putting in place will be able to handle all of these known issues, plus whatever comes up.

Friday, January 02, 2009

The anti-resolution

After several days of deliberating about what to come up with as a resolution this year I decided. I"m not going to come up with anything.

Setting goals is great, but setting a resolution simply because it's the first of the year doesn't mean anything to me. I have a lot of plans and things that I want to do in the next year. Instead of having any resolutions, I'm just going to work on my existing plans. When they are done, I'll move on to the next thing.

It's GTD for me instead of resolutions.

If you set one of your own, good luck, I'm rooting for you, but if not, don't worry.