Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Talk Less, Do More

Stop talking so much! You don't got to talk about your dream. Look, do me a favor, let your work - look, look, talk less, grind more - let your work, speak for you! - Eric Thomas

It says it all.

The time is now!

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Learning not to overthink

Those who read this blog and they know me, know I love my hobby.

Outside of work, I am a very keen indoor lawn bowler. I will talk anyone's head-off about bowls when given a chance. I love bowling, I love the tactical nature of it. I love the team work aspect when playing pairs, triples or fours.

Recently, I lost a major semi-final playing in a triples team, to be honest we played the best we could and to be fair the opposition were just better. No shame in that as it was the county semi-final and its only the second season I have played this game.

On Saturday, I was competing in the county team event and we didn't win a game in our group. We lost each game by very narrow margins (3-4 points) but we still lost. Again, we were happy how we played and gave are all but I was so disappointed replaying each game in my head thinking if there was anyway I personally could have changed the result.

I was sat alone thinking about this and a very experienced bowler came over to me and we chatted, the conversation went like this:
Bowler: "Well played today, Scott"
Me: "Thanks, but we didn't win, I am trying to replay the games in my head and find where we went wrong!"
Bowler: "Bloody hell, Scott. You played great, gave all you had is that not enough? Your biggest weakness isn't your bowing. You play well for how long you have bowled. You're weakness is that you over think."
Me: "Over think? How can you over think?"
Bowler: "The more you over think, the less you will understand!"
He then walked away. I'll be honest I have no idea what he meant at the time, but on reflection I think I understand. Maybe, I didn't do anything wrong. I just need to do my best at whatever I do and accept sometimes things will not go my way or the way I would really like.

I don't think this just applies to my hobby but to my career. I think too much and then I become more confused about what I was thinking about and the lessons to be learnt get lost in a maze of thoughts.

To get good at anything, you need to think about it less and just do it!

Time for more bowling!!

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Why I deleted my Facebook account

Today, I did something amazing. I have deleted my Facebook account, and when I say deleted, I mean deleted not the deactivated option.

Why? Are you mad? Everyone is on Facebook!

Of course the first question I guess that many people ask is why?

I spend several hours a day staring at flat, glowing screens and my evenings are often centred around staring at TV or computer screens. So I decided to focus the free time I have on actually experiencing things for real - i.e. in flesh and blood, three-dimensional world. 

If I feel the need to discuss an event or something of interest, I prefer to do so by engaging in private conversations with people I actually care about. (I know what a shocking thought!)

When I thought about deleting my account, I decided that I didn't want to become a "screen-person" - a person whose entire life seems centred around documenting their moments (some highly personal) on Facebook's screens. These people seem to gain real pleasure from assembling a two-dimensional record (which Facebook uses to sell stuff by the way and other things too I bet) of the day-to-day minutiae of their lives.

Everyone's always complaining about reality TV, “Nowadays, people are famous for absolutely nothing.” That same principle is what worries me about Facebook - it's like the screen people want their turn to be reality stars, and Facebook has granted their wish by providing them with a screen and audience for their very own reality shows. The screen people love to focus their attention on screens so much that they voluntarily shrink their lives down into little scripted chunks on the Facebook screen.

In truth, I am also embarrassed by the over sharing that the screen people constantly engage in. I do not care that you made something nice for dinner, and I definitely don't need to see a picture of it. I don't feel any real sympathy about the fact that you have a cold. And I'm guessing that the cute picture of your baby doing a silly thing that you just mobile-uploaded would've been a lot more meaningful if you weren't distracted by the Facebook posting ritual in the wake of the moment.

What makes it even worse is that it feeds off itself and isn't limited to the screen. Think about the last time you went out in public. Chances are you were involved in a conversation about what someone posted on Facebook, and/or that you posed in a picture that was immediately uploaded to Facebook. This is the big triumph of the screen people - they've successfully reduced life to little more than posts and status updates and mobile uploads and tagging and likes, and now they're cheapening actual in-person interactions by redirecting the focus back to the screens, even when we're not sitting in front of the screens.

I am interested to see how my family and friends react to the fact I am no longer on Facebook. Hopefully I'm not the only one who feels this way. I would love to find out that there are at least a few other people who prefer living life to living life for the sake of capturing it on a tiny screen.

Friday, 8 November 2013

Don't be scared to fail

Apologies for the length of time since my last blog post. I have been both busy and enjoying a (if I can say) well earned holiday in Thailand.

For today's blog post I wanted to talk about a topic that I gave much thought to during my time off.


Or rather the fear of.

Samuel Beckett once said:
Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.
Why was I thinking about failure?

I was reading the excellent Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson and there were many aspects of it that I found very interesting but the one I found really interesting was how Steve Jobs reflected on his departure from Apple.

Without wanting to give too much away, Jobs describes this "failure" as the most important and key point in his life. When you consider all the successes Jobs had at Apple for him to describe [what many people see as his biggest failure] his departure as the key moment is very interesting.

Why can failure be seen as a good thing?

Reading Jobs' comments in the book, made me realise that people and their careers are often defined by how they respond to failure rather than to how they are when successful. Of course, if Jobs had always failed then they wouldn't write books about him or make films. 

I believe that, the fact he failed enabled him to be a bigger success in future as it provided the experience and the motivation to succeed. I think this is how we should all look upon our failures as a chance to get better and be successful in future.

I have made a decision that personally I will try to use my own failures as opportunities to improve and develop. When put like this, it make me less scared of failure, which in turn is very empowering as it means you dare to do more.

When you dare to do more, the opportunities for success become much greater!

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Building Trust on Agile Teams

Firstly, apologies for not posting in a while, just not really got around to it and didn't have too much interesting to blog about. 

Recently, I have been working on a project and there have been issues around trust between the different departments.

This got me thinking: 

How important is Trust to a software development team? 

Outside of my work, I have been lucky to have played in many successful and unsuccessful sporting teams. When thinking about this, I found that trust was a key factor in the successful teams and lack of trust was a key factor in the unsuccessful teams. I believe this principle can be applied to software development teams.

As a coach in some of these teams you can try to build trust but I guess the problem with trust is that it can take ages to earn but only a second to lose. 

I would like to point you in the direction of a blog post about this subject I found very interesting. I think I can sum this up by saying that in any successful team either software or sport you must trust each other. 

If you don't then forget it! Successful agile software development is definitely a team game! 

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Interesting MSDN videos about Azure

Recently I have been learning about Windows Azure for a work project and I have found the following videos on MSDN Channel 9 very useful.

I would recommend watching "Windows Azure Cloud Services" series as I found it an excellent introduction into Cloud Services (PaaS, Platform as a Service). What they are? Why would want to use them rather than Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).

Personally, I have also found some of the videos in the "Subscribe" series very useful. Note some of these are in German as well as in English.

What I like about the MSDN videos is that they are updated regularly. Videos on other sites (such as Pluralsight) can be out of date when you watch them. There are some excellent videos on Pluralsight, but generally I found their Azure videos were a little dated.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Software Development: Doing It Scared

People who know me, know that my biggest weakness as a software developer is I am often "scared" when it comes to new things. I don't know why I get like that, as I have a good record of doing good work in situations when I have been "scared".

At the moment I am working on a project that "scares" me because I know nothing about the domain or the platform we're developing on. 

I hate unknowns! I hate "failing" but actually some of the most important lessons I have learnt as a developer came when I did "fail", so maybe its OK to "lose" sometimes provided you learn from it.

Anyway, whilst thinking about this I came across an excellent blog post which can be found here.