wieldlinux.com



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2016-12-28

Tags: #working

Olsen Light WordPress Theme How to Create a Child Theme

By wieldlinux.com author Morgan Jassen

Recently after having replied to a support topic for the Olsen Light Theme for WordPress ( https://wordpress.org/themes/olsen-light/ ), I've been subscribing to the support issue feed for the Olsen Light Theme. ( https://wordpress.org/support/th.../feed )

Someone asked in a forum thread how to modify CSS for the theme. I wanted to reply that I think they should create a child theme first. However I realized creating a child theme is not always that straightforward.

So I decided to figure out how to create a child theme for Olsen Light.

The WordPress Child Themes codex page helped me -- indeed was my guide to build the child theme. ( https://codex.wordpress.org/Child_Themes )

A caveat that I ran into was that making the functions.php file, at first I thought I had been supposed to make a line as thus:
   $parent_style = 'olsen-light-style';

As it turned out, I just needed to leave it alone and paste it just as in the tutorial, as this:
   $parent_style = 'parent-style';


Here's a link to the finished child theme that I authored, including readme instructions:

https://github.com/mjassen/olsen-light-child



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tags: #investing

Thoughts on Having Read Rich Woman Book

By wieldlinux.com author Morgan Jassen

I recommend "Rich Woman"*, which I read, which is a book by the persona of Kim Kiyosaki because, through stories, the book humbly coaches the reader to empower themself to become wealthy and to become strong.

Here in this blog post is a summary of the book, and mixed in are some of my thoughts.

At 70 pages in, I knew it was as good as the "Rich Dad"** book.

From the unique point of view of the persona of Kim Kiyosaki, the author tells the story of herself, her friends, people, women, rich dad company, and more. Through the telling of these stories, the book relates a valuable message.

I liked that the book had a story feel to it. It's got stories of how she met up with her friends more than a decade later, and they discuss money, investing, financial independence, and more.

It's inspiring. The main characters, the ladies in the main story line, have trust from having known each other years ago. Additionally, now they have life experience with things like: working for money, owning a business, saving money, raising a family, having money troubles, and investing. Despite this experience, many of the characters in the story say that they don't understand, and/or value, the concept of financial independence. That is, until their old friend (Kim's character) imparts it to them.

The book's story (stories) resonate(s) with me since I've also had some familiar life experiences, and I also find myself being introduced to, or for the first time starting to understand, the concept of financial independence.

Furthermore, for those like me who have listened to the audio book of Rich Dad (or read it), Rich Woman book gives a complementary, value-added look on it. Indeed, the Rich Woman book itself, within its text, refers to the Rich Dad book, and builds upon it.

Furthermore again, the Rich Woman book combines the idea of humility with the idea of wealth, and gives the reader the feeling that the world is abundant with wealth and money enough for every person. The book explains what mindset to use, in order to tune into the universal truths surrounding these ideas. It's not just a book about money and becoming wealthy, but a book about becoming strong and being strong.

In conclusion, I recommend Rich Woman book by author Kim Kiyosaki because, through stories, the book humbly coaches the reader to empower themself to become wealthy and to become strong.


* Rich Woman: A Book on Investing for Women - Because I Hate Being Told What to Do!; by Kim Kiyosaki; Rich Publishing, LLC, 2006. ISBN-13: 9781933914008
** Rich Dad, Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money-- That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!; Kiyosaki, Robert T.; New York : Warner, 2000



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2016-12-23

Tags: #stretching

Once Again With the Water-Drinking from the Beaver Mug

By wieldlinux.com author Morgan Jassen

I previously blogged about "Seven Days of Hydrated Water-drinking Non-coffee..." http://wieldlinux.com/2016.php#2016-11-10

Result was positive-- I was off coffee for at least a few days, not quite a week.

I talked about it. People asked about it. It was always within arm's reach, always with at least a little water in it.

Mostly. One time I carried it but in my pocket, with no water in it.

The end of the week, I stopped carrying it, and was back on coffee.

Time to quit coffee again. So I'll start with this previous bit of success, and build off of it.

I will aim for 1 week with the cup, then after that, to continue on beverage-water-only on my own.

This time though, I'll do something else, something new to strengthen the process. Three times each day, as I do my morning, noon, and night stretches, I'm going to envision the taste and the feeling of yummy hydrating water.

Every time I crave coffee, I'm going to immediately sip tiny, deliberate sips of water from the cup already in my hand.

I'm going to grow healthy by replacing habits of coffee, with habits of water-drinking and stretching.

Afterwards I'll plan to again write to follow up how it went.



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2016-12-22

tags: #mingling

Viewing the Slideshow of a Professional and so Learning About Real Web Development Processes

By wieldlinux.com author Morgan Jassen

Following the persona of John Eckman, coming across this tweet (https://twitter.com/jeckman...880) led me to this 28-slide slideshow, which I viewed, and from which I learned about professional Web Development processes.

This:

"Distributed, not Disconnected: Employee Engagement for Remote Companies" ( http://www.slideshare.net/jeckman...remote-companies )

Some of my take-aways afterwards:


In conclusion, from viewing the "Distributed, not Disconnected..." slideshow, I learned about some real, re-usable, invaluable Web Development processes.



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2016-12-21

tags: #working, #mingling

By wieldlinux.com author Morgan Jassen

Learning by Making A Style With Elements from the Twenty Sixteen Theme

I have a site (this wieldlinux.com) that is mostly static html pages. It had pretty much no styles applied. I wanted to apply the WordPress Twenty Sixteen theme to it. But it's not running WordPress.

What, then, to do?

I investigated the Twenty Sixteen theme to figure out what would be a minimalist representation of it -- that would give my site some style and make it look good, without being heavy with CSS and without being an exact copy of the entire style.

As it turned out, I found three main style elements that really made my site feel more like Twenty Sixteen, and at the same time I learned about CSS and about design!

Here's a link to the result. A html & css web page style that incorporates three components that are similar to the WordPress Twenty Sixteen theme styles:

Link to the github project: https://github.com/mjass.../2016.html

Screenshot of a blog post on the website without the styles applied (i.e. "BEFORE"):



Screenshot of a blog post on the website with the styles applied ("i.e. AFTER"):





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2016-12-21

Tags: #investing

Learning about Stock-investing by Playing a Virtual Stock Market Game

By wieldlinux.com author Morgan Jassen

I started to play TD Bank Virtual Stock Market Game (http://virtualstockmarket.tdbank.com/).

I'm trying my "buy and hold" strategy there, starting by buying shares of 10 companies, and holding them to see how they do in the coming year.

It's a game, but as a beginner I really do think I'm learning by playing.

For example they told me that I'd have $100,000 to begin the game, however, on the game's control panel, I see that I have the ability to buy $200,000 worth of stocks, called "Buying Power", to begin with. What?!!?

Is that because of some sort of leveraging? I don't know what that "Buying Power" is nor whether I'd want to do it, however if it is a feature of a stock market game, then it might be common practice in the real world. So I should at least learn about it to relieve my ignorance.

Update: A few months later (2-3 months later), after having started playing the game (most of which time I didn't log in, I just "held" the stocks and let it sit there), after having bought shares of 10 different stocks, the Stock Market Game says I have an overall return of 1.25%. Hmmm... I'm glad it is a positive amount. (If I get $1.25 income for each $100 that I invested, then that is better than a loss and is better than nothing.) Note: the virtual ticker symbols of the virtual stocks that I virtually bought in the virtual game were: M, BID, CSCO, TM, SBUX, MAR, WMT, CAT, LOW, TIF.

Update(cont'd)... But wow! This result shows that this is not a "get rich quick" stock market simulation game! (good thing I didn't expect it to be ;D ) Now another thing to look deeper into, is whether that 1.25% increase was the principle, or whether that included dividend income, or something else. Because if there is dividend income on top of that, then that would be more desirable!

Update(cont'd)... One thing I am grateful for, is to TD Bank Virtual Stock Market Game, for having given me the ability to learn wihout having to put any money down. As a complete newbie it can be hard to overcome the feeling of risking real money, so this game is a welcome way to learn before I start.

Update(cont'd)... One downside of this though, that I feel after having played it, is that I'm starting to feel that this is a bit of a waste of time. How? I feel like it would be about 10 times more effective to learn by actually investing, than by playing an investing game. Alternatively, if I could learn stock investing by looking over someone's shoulder while they are doing it, then that would also be much more effective. So I think this has helped me realize what the next step is, and that just might be to go invest rather than go play an investing game.

In conclusion, from playing the virtual stock market game, I feel that I've learned what I need to learn next, and also I've gotten more of a feel for stock investing. However at the same time I realized I feel that actually investing would be a more effective way of learning.



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2016-12-20

Tags: #working, #mingling

Learning Web Development from Ryelle.codes Blog Post on "WordPress REST API React/Redux helpers"

By wieldlinux.com author Morgan Jassen

Sometimes I follow the online publishings of the persona of https://ryelle.codes, especially because I've observed their habit of publishing about web-development -related topics.

This time, I navigated over to the blog and found this post, which is about using JavaScript to connect to WordPress via REST API and make a theme and more. Thank you to the author for having published this. I'm glad to have been able to read it and learned something.

Link to the blog post:
"WordPress REST API React/Redux helpers" (https://ryelle.codes/2016/10/wor...-helpers/)

One take-away is that the author used/leveraged multiple libraries, and called upon the libraries to pull data from WordPress and display the data in the web browser. Specifically, using these libraries they wrote that they were able to make a basic working page within 15 minutes.

Another take-away is that that the author was able to borrow code from another web developer's github project. Furthermore they included links to github these projects with specific code modules and/or snippets that they, and anyone, can use to do this sort of web development. Nice! I'll bookmark this so that when I need to do a similar project, I'll be able to refer to these code resources.

In conclusion, I'm thankful to the blog author for having shared this, and I was glad to have read this article, whereby I learned about web development using JavaScript, WordPress, and the WP-API, and I was also glad to have been given links to actual code resources that I can use myself.



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2016-12-20

tags: #investing

To Make My Life Better I want to Invest in a Cash-flowing Financial Asset and I Want Everyone To Too

By wieldlinux.com author Morgan Jassen

I want to invest in a cash-flowing financial asset.

I hope everyone reading this wants to, too. Why? I truly believe that if everyone becomes an investor and owns a cash flowing asset, then everyone will become richer, and that will be better for us. A wise person said "money is the root of evil", but another wise person said, "lack of money is the root of evil." So what it comes down to is, what's the character of the person holding(or spending) the money?

As for me, I'm afraid I'm a bit ignorant and a noob when it comes to financial investing -- how can I get started?

Well, I can learn more as I go.

But I do have one experience that I can share.

Years ago, I sold some shares of the common stock of a company that I had. It helped me pay for college. I sold it through the agent, which had been Computershare.com.

(Yes, I realize now that makes me a "trust fund baby". (with negative connotations of being spoiled) At this point I can't help this, so I'll have to live with the reputation and learn from it to make me stronger.)

But my point is that while I had the stock, it had been flowing some dollars per quarter as dividend income, in the form of a check in the mail four times per year. Looking back, that was a good situation to be in. That got me comfortable with that. I'd like to again get in a situation where I can have some quarterly income in the form of dividend income.

So I'll start with what I know -- start there.

But now I don't have any more stock shares. So how can I once again get to that place, to get some cash flow?

Here's a tentative plan.

1.
Strategize. I want to buy stock in what I will call a "buy & hold" strategy. In other words buy it and don't plan to sell it, at least not for some years. (In other words, long term investing.) And I want it to flow quarterly dividend income to me.

2.
Save. I will save up a few dollars per day until I get to the minimum amount to make my first purchase.

3.
Shop. On the Computershare.com website there are hundreds of companies listing stock for sale, some of which have a minimum amount for a purchase like $20, $50, or $500. A list of "all" is here: https://www-us.computershare.com/...?stype=all

4.
Research. At a rate of a dollar per day, it will take me a while to save up the money. In the mean time, I plan to do more research -- what is the difference between a "Direct Stock Purchase Plan" ("DSPP") vs. a "Dividend Reinvestment Plan" ("DRIP")? Which company pays quarterly dividends vs. which doesn't? I read somewhere that for an investor -- from an investor's viewpoint -- "Passive income" is best -- better than earned income or other income. Stock dividends would be a form of passive income -- wouldn't they? Which companies are doing well, vs. which aren't doing well?  ( see my post "In Stock Investing What is a Reverse Split?" http://wieldlinux.com/2016.php?2016-12-16#2016-12-16 )

Winding down. I whole-heartedly think that if everyone in this world invests in cash-flowing financiall assets, then we will all be richer, and that we will all be better off.

Anyway, in conclusion, I will strategize, save, shop, and research. I'll educate myself and learn as much as I can, and my goal is by the end of the year to have bought a share of the best stock that I can find. This is my current plan in my overall goal to flow cash to myself, and furthermore I want everyone else to also have their own plan to flow cash to themselves, too.


Related: (see my post: "(Not) Choosing a Stock Investment (in Starbucks Stock) Based on Emotion" http://wieldlinux.com/2016.php?2016-12-15#2016-12-15 )

Disclaimer: I may be investing using the ways/resources mentioned above. The reader of this blog post should, before investing, perform their own independent research as appropriate. The contents of this blog post are general information from one individual's perspective; I'm not recommending how anyone else should invest.



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2016-12-16

Tags: #investing

Gaining Inspiration from Entrepreneurs Investing by Infringing on Pokemon GO and by Counterfeiting Lead Nickels

By wieldlinux.com author Morgan Jassen

Listening to Carrie Dils Officehours.fm podcast "Turning Tables, Episode 112" ( http://officehours.fm.../112-2/ ). At 01hr.00min.25sec., Carrie Dils' persona says she tried to create Pokemon GO T-shirts to sell, but within days got shut down.

I didn't think too much of it, just thought to myself: "...what would drive her to do that?..."

As her persona spoke about it in hindsight on the podcast, she was speaking from a point of view of it already having been deemed a bad idea in hindsight, because she was looking back on it, knowing it had been shut down, and at this point already realized as a bad idea.

Then, just the next day, I listened once again to audiobook of "Rich Dad, Poor Dad"* by Kiyosaki. Specifically, I listened to the part where he and his friend Mike are counterfeiting Nickels from lead.

This was when I realized, Officehours Carrie Dils' story about Pokemon GO, is a story of an instance of true entrepreneurship (like a business-person, investor) in the spirit of Kiyosaki. Dils' persona is exercising her financial genius, looking for opportunities to make money through investing.

In conclusion, through the two stories above, the personas of Dils and Kiyosaki have inspired me towards investing and entrepreneurship.


* Rich Dad, Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money-- That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!; Kiyosaki, Robert T.; New York : Warner, 2000



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2016-12-16

tags: #investing

Starting Learning About Investing

By wieldlinux.com author Morgan Jassen

I'm learning about investing. I want to learn more about investing in stocks as well as learn more about investing in real estate. I want everyone else to, too!

Per a friend's suggestion about investing in bonds, I read the section about bonds in The Wall Street Journal Guide to Understanding Money and Investing ( Morris & Morris; Lightbulb Press; 1999) ( https://www.amazon.com/Street-...020 )

Borrowed from my local public library(via a hold via their inter-library loan system), I listened to audio book of "Rich Dad, Poor Dad"* book by the persona of Robert Kiyosaki.

The Rich Dad Poor Dad book really struck me because it seems like the author's persona is on *my* side, he doesn't sugar-coat things, and if what he says is true, he practices what he recommends and it really works. (His persona is a real estate investor who has earned millions.)

I want everyone else to read this book, too! Because I feel that the more people read it, the more people will understand financial wealth, and will grow wealthy, and furthermore that if everyone reads it, then everyone will start to understand financial wealth, and then everyone will grow wealthy.

While Kiyosaki's persona does simplify concepts to make them understandable, he doesn't make them sound easier than they are. In fact in the book he stresses the importance of self-discipline and the importance of constantly exercising one's brain.

Reading more on blogs such as http://www.richdad.com/...-blog as well as on blog posts such as "The struggle to raise money" by the persona of Seth Godin (http://sethgodin.typepad.com/...-money.html), I'm learning that as financial assets go, there are what people call different categories of assets:

Categories of assets:
- paper (stocks, bonds)
- real estate
- IP (Intellectual Property) (trademarks, patents)
- IOUs ((Loan) notes)
- commodities
- ...and more?....

In conclusion, I'm starting learning about investing, and I'm learning about investing, and I want everyone to as well. I truly believe that this will lead to us all becoming richer, and that this means that we will all become better-off.


* Rich Dad, Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money-- That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!; Kiyosaki, Robert T.; New York : Warner, 2000



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2016-12-16

Tags: #investing

How to Find Investors Entrepreneurs and Business-people from Whom to Learn?

By wieldlinux.com author Morgan Jassen

I have a problem. I want to learn from experienced business people, but don't know how to connect with them (her or him).

*(Start Problem description)*

As an inexperienced one, these people seem far out of reach to me: experienced business people, experienced investors, and experienced entrepreneurs.

For example C-level executives at any of my companies don't come to me, nor to other "workers" (employees), for help with executive issues.

Retail entrepreneurs where I am a customer often don't share details how their business is going, even if I ask them how business is.

People don't talk freely about buying/ selling assets like stocks, real estate, IP, commodities, or private businesses.

*(End problem description)*


So, .... how to solve the problem?


*(Start possible solutions ideas)*

So how to become experienced about business, investing, and entrepreneurship?

Should I share (collaborate/learn) with other inexperienced business people?

Should I go to school for it? (Should I go to school to learn about the subject?)

I think the best answer may be to: Try talking with experienced people first, and if I can't have a good relationship with them, then try collaborating with other inexperienced people. In other words, keep trying with anyone who is interested!

*(End possible solutions ideas)*


In conclusion, I think a good way to learn about business, investing, and entrepreneurship is from people experienced in those areas, so to learn about those areas I should network with those people, and if I can't network with them, then I should keep pushing forward by networking with those near me (regardless of experience level).



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2016-12-16

tags: #investing

What is One Average of a Web Developer Salary in 2016? -- Spoiler alert: it is $71,694.50

By wieldlinux.com author Morgan Jassen

What is an objective, average, market standard, ("commodity") salary, for a person, who is a Web Developer in the United States and/or in Massachusetts in 2016?

It's $71,694.50, and here below is how I calculated it.

I added four sources of average Web Developer salary in United States and/or Massachusetts that were close to 2016, and divided by four. (see sources linked below) That was: ($75,540 + $66,238 + $87,000 + $58,000) / 4 = $71,694.50

What about for a person? Well a Web Developer is a person, so that counts. But just to compare some other people to confirm that. Compare it to Customer Support people at $68,540, and Teachers at $74,737. (again, see sources linked below) Web Developer average salary sits in-between the two, so that checks out by answering "yep, that's near to what other professional people are making nearby too."

These results are not 100% conclusive. Also, I truly do see salary as only one part of an overall compensation package. Not only that, I think one should consider non-compensation-related factors when looking for a job, for example, am I a culture fit for the company, and is this a role where I will be effective, a role where I will be adding to the bottom line, and will my work be in alignment with the company's goals?

Still, salary is one important piece of a job. And it's important to get it right, pay attention to it, and periodically review it.

In conclusion, a salary is one important piece of an overall compensation package for a Web Developer, and as such should be meditated upon, and an objective average market standard salary for a person who is a Web Developer in the United States and/or in Massachusetts in 2016 would be $71,694.50.


[ 2017-03-02 Update:

So if that's the average salary per year, then what would be the corresponding average hourly wage? Let's calculate it as 40 hrs./wk, with 52 weeks per year.

( ($71,694.50 / 52 weeks) / 40 hrs/wk. ) = $34.47. So based on this, a matching hourly rate would be $34.47/hr. ]


Sources:

- Web Developer salary sources:
** $75,540  (Source: "Labor and Workforce Development ... Occupational Employment and Wages ... All Industries...Massachusetts ... 15-1134 Web Developers(filter) http://lmi2.detma.org/lmi/...asp )
** $66,238 (Source: "Glassdoor -> Web Developer salaries -> National Average filters] https://www.glassdoor.com/Sala...,13.htm )
** $87,000 (Source: Indeed Web Developer Salary http://www.indeed.com/salary/Web-Developer.html )
** $58,000 (Source: Payscale.com -> Web Developer Salary -> national median http://www.payscale.com.../Salary )

- Customer Support salary source:
** $68,540 (Source: "2016 Customer Support Salary Study" https://www.helpscout.net/...salary/ )

- Teacher Salary source:
** $74,737 (Source: "The towns and cities with the best-paid teachers in Massachusetts in 2015" http://www.bizjournals.com/boston/...paid-teachers.html )


Disclaimer: The contents of this blog post are general information from one individual's perspective; I'm not recommending what anyone else's salary should be.



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2016-12-14


In Stock Investing What is a Reverse Split?

By wieldlinux.com author Morgan Jassen

No, really. What is it? What does Reverse Split mean in the context of stock investing? (This blog post asks the question and speculates the answer, but doesn't answer it...)

On the Computershare list of all companies ( https://www-us.computershare.com/investor/3x/plans/planslist.asp?stype=all ) I see what seems like a Bank from Greece on the list of companies -- and I remember hearing in the news about the Greek banking/economy crash last year in 2015.

I looked further and saw that this particular company went through multiple "reverse splits" around that time. This is the first time I've heard that term.

However I have heard of a "split" whereby, because the price of the stock has gone up over time, each share of the stock becomes two shares, retained by the same owner, and the price per share is halved. (the purpose being to keep the price per share in a manageable range, yet retain the same total value)

So if a reverse split is the opposite, then does that mean that for every two shares, it becomes one share and the price doubles, and that the reason for the reverse split is because the stock price went down?

Maybe I should look it up in an investing dictionary...

I have a lot to learn about stock investing.

In conclusion, I don't know what a reverse split is, and I have a lot to learn about financial investing and stock investing.


Disclaimer: I may be investing in any company mentioned above. The reader of this blog post should, before investing, perform their own independent research as appropriate. The contents of this blog post are general information from one individual's perspective; I'm not recommending how anyone else should invest.

Tags: #investing



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2016-12-14


(Not) Choosing a Stock Investment (in Starbucks Stock) Based on Emotion

By wieldlinux.com author Morgan Jassen

As a beginner investor, I want to choose a stock. my arbitrary goal this year will be to save enough by the end of the year to buy 10 shares of Starbucks stock(SBUX). This will be a stretch to save enough money to do it. But I need a concrete goal, so that's it.

My reason for choosing that stock is a bit emotional. I've heard it is a bad idea (investing on emotion is a bad idea, that is.)

I spent money on Starbucks coffee over the years. And I like it and I like the brand. I haven't looked over starbucks financial information much though. So all I know about the company is from having been a customer.

However I did look into dividend history and it looks like in the last 11 quarters, they paid a quarterly dividend of between $.13 and $.20. But what does that mean? $.13 per share? or ...?

So I guess that gives me a lot of homework to do -- I should look more into the company and the news around the company that I want to invest.

And also check out some more companies. I'll plan to first look at companies other than Starbucks, see how they compare based on some objective numbers like dividend history and stock price change. And so I can invest in the one that is the most financially smart.

In conclusion, as a beginner investor, it's tempting to use emotion to choose what company stock to invest. However from common sense and from reading it somewhere, I'm going to instead do some homework and reseach to make an objective choice what company stock to invest.


Disclaimer: I may be investing in SBUX and any company mentioned above by the time this blog post is published. The reader of this blog post should, before investing, perform their own independent research as appropriate. The contents of this blog post are general information from one individual's perspective; I'm not recommending how anyone else should invest.

Tags: #investing



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2016-12-13


A High Performing Web Developer Properly Reads and Reacts to the Emotions of Others

By wieldlinux.com author Morgan Jassen

I read somewhere that a trait of high performing teams is reading and reacting properly to emotions of others, and that this is referred to as having high emotional intelligence.

Furthermore, I believe that *reading these cues is learnable* (Learning emotional intelligence is possible)

Going forward I want to apply this to make me a better Web Developer.

I'll need to put aside any stigma that reading emotions of others (through body language, sounds/tones, and other nonverbal cues) isn't ethical or isn't desirable.

I think I picked that stigma up at some point, and to a large extent developed a habit of avoiding reading emotional cues, not reading them. In hindsight I realize this has prevented me from understanding what others are trying to communicate to me in work conversations.

Moving on.

With the power of this realization, going forward I'll meditate how reading nonverbal / emotional cues, and acting on the findings of the readings is, in and of itself, ethical and acceptable. I'll think that to be a part of a high performing team, I and others should make effort to practice the emotion-reading skill.

Additionally, whenever possible I'll take the skill one step further, and to whenever possible translate the nonverbal communications that I'm seeing into verbal communcations, for the benefit of clear communication and learning of all parties.

In conclusion, to become a better Web Developer going forward, when communicating with others, I'll learn how to read people's emotions, learn how to treat those as part of the whole conversation, read them, and do it.


Tags: #mingling, #working


[2017-01-31 Update: I have since found an excellent reference, to an example of a character performing an act of translating nonverbal communications that they are seeing into verbal communcations, for the benefit of clear communication. In this case it is in "The Good Wife" TV Show ( http://www.cbs.com/shows/the_good_wife/ ), Season 1 Episode 2, when the courtroom judge character asks the courtroom lawyers to agree to what he has said, and waits for a verbal response. One of the lawyers (Mr. Ericcson) knows that he must agree, but is reluctant to do so, and so instead of verbally agreeing, the lawyer makes a gesture with his body and hand that indicates that he reluctantly agrees. Thereupon the judge clarifies to the room (and indeed probably to the court stenographer) that the lawyer made a gesture and that this gesture means that he agrees with the judge. The judge says this: "...Mr., uh... Ericcson? ...[Mr. Ericcson makes gesture]... Ah. I interpret
from Mr. Ericcson's, uh, gesture that he acquiesces. ..." (Thanks to "The Good Wife Transcript" > "01x02 - Stripped" (http://transcripts.foreverdreaming.org/viewtopic.php?f=36&t=13297) for its transcript that helped me find this reference)]



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2016-12-09


Being a Blogger and Learning how to Live With Broken Links

By wieldlinux.com author Morgan Jassen

I have a thing for not liking broken links on my blog website. If I do a migration that I know will create broken links, or for whatever other reason, then I feel like I have to go back and fix them.

This is nice, but its not necessary. I learned this from reading one of my new favorite blogs to read, richdad.com. I read an article there, that contained a hyperlink that I wanted to read more. I clicked it. It brought me to a clever picture saying the page couldn't be found. I thought: "oh, well", and then forgot about it and went back and kept browsing.

Not all links are broken on richdad.com, just a few. Most of them still work, so I'm not further discouraged from still trying them when I see them.

In conclusion, I learned that it's not the end of the world if some links are broken on my site.

Tags: #working



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2016-12-08 

Reading to Learn About Financial Bonds

By wieldlinux.com author Morgan Jassen

To learn about bonds ( financial/investment/money bonds ), I read the "Bonds" section of the "Wall Street Journal Guide to Understanding Money and Investing" guide (Morris & Morris). (linked here below)

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/p...080


Tags: #investing



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2016-12-08 

Becoming a more Professional Web Developer By Discussing Business and Money at Work

By wieldlinux.com author Morgan Jassen

I've got a problem. I've been ignoring about business and money. Over the years never paid much attention to colleagues when they've been discussing business and financials. Blah blah blah ok the rant part is over.

What I hadn't realized, is how closely job performance and professionalism are connected to knowing about business and knowing about money.

It comes down to is measuring my and my colleagues' performance. Business and money can be one great measure of my and my colleagues' performance, and so I should respect money, and business metrics, as a measuring tool. And I should start, and join in, these conversations at work, as appropriate.

This brings me to my point.

I'm working in a Web Developer role, and in order to be more effective at my job going forward, I will start to want to know more about the business aspect.

Now I will want to know as much as I reasonably can about the business, money and financial aspect of my company. I will want to talk with the managers and executives whenever possible. Even just a transparent view of what is happening at that level would increase my performance, effectiveness, and professionalism.

In any case, I am beginning to feel that what motivates me is knowing how what I'm doing is affecting the business and knowing how what my colleagues are doing is affecting the business. I want to feel that what I'm doing is making a difference, contributing to the company's bottom line, and is in line with the company's goal.

At the same time, I'm also realizing that (fortunately for me as someone in the position of making this paradigm shift) if one makes it a habit to ask more about the financial side of one's company's business, that one will get more opportunities to learn more about that stuff. Like an upward spiral of knowledge where learning begets learning.

Also at the same time(, unfortunately for me as someone in the position of making this paradigm shift), another thing is, I can't make my colleagues start to discuss money around me at work. If they are in the mindset that they don't want to discuss business and financials at work, then they won't. However, I can carefully start discussing it around my colleague, and listen to what they have to say about it, and I have a feeling the result will be better for everyone. So the change has to start with me.

In conclusion, I feel that over the years I haven't had enough business/money -related conversations at work, and that has stunted my professional growth, but even so, starting from now I can start to discuss business, money, and the bottom line around my colleagues, and as a result I will gain professionalism.

Tags: #working, #mingling

2016-12-23 update: Yesterday I came across this article in bizjournals, and much of it aligns with what I wrote in the above blog post. So I wanted to link it here as "further reading": "3 steps to better manage personal finances and boost career satisfaction" (http://www.bizjournals.com/...-personal-finances.html



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2016-12-08 

On Ubuntu on Virtualbox Using Samba Server Instead of Virtualbox File Sharing

By wieldlinux.com author Morgan Jassen

Instead of trying to install File Sharing in Virtualbox, I installed samba server on the Ubuntu Server 14.04.3 virtual machine guest (with "Host Only Networking" on).

It worked. I was then able to transfer files via Windows 7 (that was running Virtualbox) and the Ubuntu Server on the virtual machine guest.

I used this as a guide: "https://help.ubuntu.com...SambaServerGuide"

Tags: #working



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2016-12-08 

Financially Investing in One's Own Employment Status

By wieldlinux.com author Morgan Jassen

As the title says, this blog post is about investing in one's employment status, but a non-investor might describe this same process/idea as "switching to a new job for more money". However I'm writing about the idea from the point-of-view of a financial investor.

The idea is financially investing in one's own employment status, or switching jobs as a form of investing.

Below I focus on switching to a new job in a different company, however the same mindset and principles will apply to switching to a new job (higher salary) in one's same/existing company. In fact that may be more desirable in most cases.

Rich Dad book* defines investing as buying an asset, and an asset as something that puts money in one's pocket.

This includes stocks, rental properties, and also buying-something-for-a-low-price (because then it can be sold at a high price)

What if one doesn't currently have money? Rich Dad book lays out scenarios where one could borrow money and leverage it to buy assets.

Here's another option I propose.

I propose buying one's current job from one's employer,( for the price of one's current wages/salary,) and then selling it to a new employer for a higher price.

In other words switching jobs; finding a higher-paying job.

This is just a different way of thinking of that act. It is a distinctly different way of looking at the act of job-seeking/ job-switching -- looking at it through the eyes of an investor.

This is an opportunity to buy something low and sell it high. It is the opportunity to buy an asset. If one can see one's employment status (one's partaking-of-payroll (n.)) as an asset, then to invest in it, one would buy it for low, and sell it to someone else for high.

Also, If one can sell one's employment status immediately after having bought it (i.e. switch between jobs without becoming unemployed in-between), then there will be no transaction cost. This would be an ideal way to perform this investment. Less ideal would be buying one's job early, then finding a new buyer, then selling the job. (i.e. being unemployed between jobs)

I'm especially glad to be able to think of this idea from the point of view of an investor, because I myself often feel like I'm in the situation where I'm having a hard time identifying assets to buy, and also have a hard time accepting the risk of borrowing money with which to use to invest.

But I may be more willing to invest in my own employment status (my own partaking of payroll) and resell it at a higher price. As with any investment there will be risk. But it is another option -- another investment to choose from -- one that is readily available to me, and to most people, and that doesn't require borrowing money.

In summary, thinking like an investor, one investment available to most, that doesn't require borrowing money, is to re-sell one's employment status to a new buyer(or to the current buyer) for more money.


Tags: #investing

* Rich Dad, Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money-- That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!; Kiyosaki, Robert T.; New York : Warner, 2000



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2016-12-07 

How to (Not) Become CEO

By wieldlinux.com author Morgan Jassen

I just remembered vividly this view that I had as a kid that the way one becomes president, CEO, leader, boss, etc., is that one gets promoted from within by their boss, in a "from the bottom up" manner, until one day one can become CEO or president etc.

In my mind, that meant that one day there was a good chance that, I would be promoted to become CEO (like by the CEO's boss or by the board of directors.)

Today I realized that's not how it is. To be a leader one drives forward with a passion for collaborative ownership, and may or may not get to be CEO/president.

Funny though how in my 30s until this childhood paradigm of corporate hierarchy and promotion from within, got a major update in my mind. Needed to realize to update this sooner. A lot sooner. *weeps briefly for self, then gets over it and becomes a stronger professional*

Tags:#working



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In 2016 and 2017 Some Goals and Principles to Guide Career and Life

By wieldlinux.com author Morgan Jassen

Seven months ago, I jotted down this two-part bullet-pointed list of goals and priciples on a small piece of paper and tucked it away. Taking it out again and reading over it, I find that the list is still spot on, an accurate list of what my life and career should be focusing on at this point.

Here's the list of some goals and principles to guide career and life in 2016 and into 2017:

- maintain health
- grow wealth
- create value through working
- keep investing a priority
- share

- think long-term
- tune into an abundance mindset
- pursue integrity
- exercise humility to learn from others

Tags: #stretching, #investing, #working, #mingling



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By wieldlinux.com author Morgan Jassen

Thoughts on Intercom's "Wistia’s Jeff Vincent on solving customer problems" Interview Transcript

I read the transcript of this podcast interview: "Wistia’s Jeff Vincent on solving customer problems" (https://blog.intercom.com/wistias...-customer-problems)

Some really good stuff in there about software company development and growth.

In the transcript, the Persona of Jeff Vincent tells about how Wistia's videos "work hard".

In other words, Wistia champions hard-working videos.

I like this. It reminds me of the phrase "Work smarter, not harder." People can work smarter rather than harder, but we can let videos keep working hard!

In the transcript, Jeff's persona tells about putting pressure on the software product to perform so that the customer doesn't have to lean on the software customer support team.

In the transcript, Jeff's persona tells about how he grew from a support person to support manager to product person/manager, and also tells about how at the same time the company grew in size to 10x the number of employees!

In the transcript, Jeff's persona tells about having been mentored by his manager who he indicated had a habit of saying something like 'There is a better way to do this', about problems they face.

The above are some things about software company development and growth, that still remain in my mind after having read through the transcript.

In other words,  in Intercom's "Wistia’s Jeff Vincent on solving customer problems" interview transcript, linked and referenced in the above article, there is some really good stuff in there about software company development and growth, both as seen through the lens of a software support person perspective and as seen through the lens of a software product management perspective.

Note: this blog post is dedicated to week 6 of the supportdriven.slack.com 2016 6-week writing challenge. (more details here: "Stretch your Typing Fingers – Support Driven 6 Week Writing Challenge" ( https://supportdriven.com/...6-week-writing-challenge )) Join our community, here: https://supportdriven.com/support-driven-chat/

tags: #working, #mingling, #challenge

Note: This post was pre-published on November 29, 2016.



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Maintaining a WordPress Plugin on the .org Repository is a Significant Effort but is Rewarding

By Morgan Jassen

I've just finished responding to a bug reported for the mzzstat WordPress plugin that I authored on the .org repository.

I have to admit that for me it's a significant effort. I'm learning that it involves maintaining the plugin in my private repository, and on github, and on the w.org repository, and also responding to support requests, while at the same time creating the patch, testing the patch, and also at the same time learning how to use the .org SVN system (including tagging a version etc.).

At the same time, I'm doing my best to respond *quickly* to a support request for the plugin, but this is tricky too -- in this most recent support case, I was able to reply an initial reply within approximately 72 hours, and then follow up with a patch about a week after that. Not the speediest support like I'd want to give ideally, but, I tried, and in the end did support it.

This isn't meant to be a rant nor a rave. Rather a statement that for me it's not a trivial job to author and maintain a plugin on the .org repository. However, there is a reward for me that I've found -- I'm really learning a lot and when I reply to a support request and push a software patch live, I do have a feeling of accomplishment. I'm glad to have the opportunity and responsibility of having authored, and of maintaining, a publicly-hosted WordPress plugin.

And it's rewarding to see that someone has been using the software that I wrote, and that someone took the effort to report a bug to the software. I like to feel that the plugin is valueable to someone and that its useful.

To make a small patch, it's taken me over an hour! I'll do my best to continue supporting and maintaining the mzzstat plugin in this way. It is a Significant effort; however I'm also learning a lot.

tags: #working

Note: This post was pre-published on Dec. 01, 2016.



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When Nobody Else is talking About it - How to Learn what is an Average Pay Rate in my Area

By Morgan Jassen

If few people I know want to talk about pay rate, wages, or salary in my area, then how can I find out more about it?

I posit the answer is to search for, or look in, reputable online public news sources for any news about specific local salaries.

I had been wondering about salaries in general in the previous week. Then one day I was reading the headlines on bizjournals.com, and came across this article:

"The towns and cities with the best-paid teachers in Massachusetts in 2015" (http://www.bizjournals.com...-best-paid-teachers.html)

This has dollar figure salaries for professional (teachers) in my area. It goes right ahead and publishes a dollar value of $74,737 for 2015 Massachusetts average teacher salary -- read the article yourself for further details!

Even though I'm not a teacher or in the education industry, the benefit to me of this article is that if I have nearly no clue what hardly anyone is being paid bacause few of my peers are talking openly about it, then this is at least a baseline of what some professionals in my nearby geographical area are earning.

This is a first baby step for me as a Software Development and Support Engineer to learn about real market salaries.

I hope to be able to continue to read in local business publications to continue to learn about the financial side of the local economy, especially the software development industry.

Tags: #investing, #working



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Asking a Professional Colleague (Friend) to Come Along with me on my Job Interview (for Moral Support)

By Morgan Jassen

Next time I go on a job interview, I want to invite a colleague to come along for moral support.

Mind you, I don't know of anyone who does this. However I'm thinking it would be great if we did.

But how can I find someone who will come with me?

The answer is that a really great colleague would do this for me and support me. I'm thinking like a "Support Driven" (à la supportdriven.com community feeling) type of colleague.

No, I don't know that I'll be able to find someone. But I can ask!

But what else does this mean? I need to be willing to do the same thing for my colleagues.

So I will. I will offer to go with my colleague on their job interview. (I will offer in the same manner of suggesting any outing; I'll offer to go, if it can be set up with some days notice, and if my schedule permits.) I just set my calendar reminder to email this offer to four of my colleagues, one per week, for the next four weeks.

And the thing is, I feel deep down that this really will help our chances of getting the job. In fact I say this might be a solution to some of the broken-ness of the traditional apply-then-screen-then-interview job-seeking process. What do you think?

In fact this may be how to actually do the kind of helping that I started to write about in these two past posts:
Web Developer Professionalism (wieldlinux.com/2016.php#2016-11-06)
, and:
Brooke Allen - The Idea of Care and Community in Hiring (wieldlinux.com/2016.php#2016-11-08)

In conclusion, next time I go on a job interview, I will invite a colleague to come along for moral support. Furthermore, starting immediately, four times in the next four weeks, I'll write a note to a professional colleague offering to go along with them on their next job interview (situation permitting).

Note: this blog post is dedicated to week 5 of the supportdriven.slack.com 2016 6-week writing challenge. (more details here: "Stretch your Typing Fingers – Support Driven 6 Week Writing Challenge" ( https://supportdriven.com/...6-week-writing-challenge )) Join our community, here: https://supportdriven.com/support-driven-chat/

Tags: #challenge, #mingling


2017-05-25 Update: I've done this two or three times now where I've offered a colleague to go along with them on a job interview. The result is that in general it is not effective. Not particularly well-recieved by the other party. I'm going to mark this up as being a failed experiment for now, unless I can think of a way to modify it to be effective. An answer to this situation may be to, if it is really that important to me to have someone along on my job interview, then I should ask my friends until I find someone willing to go with me. But if I feel that I can do it on my own like is normal, or if I suspect it would be not-well-recieved by the other party for me to offer this, then I probably won't ask someone to go with me, and I probably won't (nonsequitur/cold) offer another to go with them. However the idea did spark some other funny ideas. The first was, I was actually on a job interview by myself. And I was asked "What three words would your colleagues use to describe you?". I thought to myself: "If I had asked a colleague to come along with me today, then I could say to the interviewer: 'They're in the hallway -- let's ask them!'" The second funny thing was, not funny really, it was that I thought instead of asking someone to go along with me during the interview, I could just ask them to meet up for coffee just after the interview. So I could have someone to talk through the results of the interview with. And knowing this might make me more confident during the interview, too.



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The Goal of an employee Working is Sharing

By Morgan Jassen

The goal of an employee working is sharing.

I realized this after having meditated on Rich Dad Poor Dad* book advice that a great way to generate income is not from working but from investing.

Thinking in this mindset, If most of one's employment income is going towards covering living expenses and little is going to savings, then what does this make a worker's employment into? The answer is, that it is sharing.

If one works full-time and the result is that one lives roughly month-to-month, then that makes working sharing.

For me this is a novel way to think of the situation of a worker's employment; of my employment. As the workers (employees) at the company we are sharing the work, and we are sharing the partaking of the payroll. These things we are sharing together. The main thing we are doing together each day can in a single word best be described as, sharing.

I like that thinking this way seems to model more realistically the reality of how most companies are run. In contrast to the thinking that each individual employee "gives" the company their effort & work, and the company "gives" the individual employee a paycheck, (that had been my view for some time until just leading up to recently), instead, it can be considered that all the employees are together sharing the burden of supporting the goal(s) and tasks of the company, and are also all the employees are together sharing in receiving a part of the company payroll.

Where to go from here? Realizing that as an employee, one is sharing in goal/task burden and sharing in partaking of payroll, one can enjoy the feeling of community that comes with this sort of sharing. One can embrace the community in this type of ecosystem.

And one can figure out how to meet other needs of one's life separately, such as prospering, thriving, and learning. (That is, if the company employment situation doesn't meet these other needs.)

However some employee work agreements could include some degrees, even large degrees, of prospering, thriving and learning. Like via stock ownership plans, company gyms, hosting tech meetups, and more. So power to them! This sounds like a great company to work with!

In conclusion, for many employees, the main action that one is performing when working as an employee at a  job is sharing -- that is sharing performing effort towards completing goals and/or tasks, and  that is sharing partaking in payroll.

* Rich Dad, Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money-- That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not!; Kiyosaki, Robert T.; New York : Warner, 2000

Tags: #stretching, #investing, #working, #mingling

Note: This post was pre-published on November 23, 2016.



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Trying out a Form of School that Consists of Blogging about weekly Goals Progress

This post is the manifestation of trying out a form of "School" that consists of weekly blogging about my specific progress towards my specific goals.

In other words, the idea is to, weekly, blog about what I did and learned in these areas:
PROSPERING
THRIVING
LEARNING
SHARING


Without further ado, here's the first one. Here's what it looked like for last week. Here's what I did this week in terms of my goals, and my tasks towards those goals:

PROSPERING
- The week of 6/5-6/11, to prosper by investing, I put $3 in my long-term investing jar, which once it reaches $500 I'll use to buy SBUX shares direct.

THRIVING
- The week of 6/5-6/11, to thrive by exercising, I went to the gym twice to do calisthenics for 15 minutes each. I also stretched for 15 minutes on two mornings.

LEARNING
- The week of 6/5-6/11, to Learn by networking, I read some on http://www.openparenthesis.org/ blog and retweeted a link to it on twitter. Also, I read two articles that I found through http://ryandebeasi.com/  and retweeted links to one of them on twitter.

SHARING
- The week of 6/5-6/11, to share by working, I worked with my colleague to investigate a problem and perform a manual workaround. I then switched to another problem, until my other colleague alerted me that another instance of this other symptom had occurred.


Tags: #stretching, #investing, #working, #mingling

Note: This post was pre-published on November 21, 2016.



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Kate For Windows how to Make the Line-numbering Match up with the Lines

I encountered a symptom in Kate for Windows whereby Line-numbering doesn't match up with the lines. (the line numbering is mismatched with the lines of text)

I had this problem where the line number didn't line up with the text in Kate for Windows (KDE for Windows version of Kate, in 2016)

The symptom was finally resolved by switching fonts to Arial.

That's it. Funny, though, that afterwards when I switched back to seemingly any other font, the symptom never reappears. So maybe the act of switching the font and saving it did the trick? I may never know, but that fixed it.

In other words, this is a "workaround" fix.

Details:
I went to:

"Settings" > "Configure Kate..." > "Fonts & Colors" > "Font"

, and set the font to arial

, and then clicked Apply and clicked OK.

For me in my case, that fixed it! That made the line-numbering line numbers match up with the lines.


[Update 2017-01-23: Since writing this, I also saw this same symptom on Kate editor for Ubuntu Linux. On a fresh install. The Line-numbering didn't match up. The fix/workaround was the same -- I switched to a different font. The symptom was resolved, and didn't reappear!]


Tags: #working

Note: This post was pre-published on November 21, 2016.



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The Huge Difference Between Software Customer Support vs. Professional Services Software Customer Support

Doing more support on "WordPress.org/support" public forums.

It's really starting to hit me. Again.

The *huge* difference between "Software Customer Support" and "Professional Services Software Customer Support".

The former is when the support agent advises, or consults with, the customer on how the customer should use or administer the customer's software solution. This is a consultative role. The support agent should not do any work or perform any service for the customer, but should guide, advise, and serve as consultant, while the client (/customer) does the work of using, adminstering, and configuring the software solution.

The latter is when the support agent (or technician/engineer) performs service work for the client (/customer). This is a service role. The support technician does the work of using, administering, or configuring the software solution for the customer. Usually there is some kind of written agreement, like a project plan, describing the scope of work before the work starts.

What can confuse these two? In a small company like a startup, to save costs, the same person may do both roles. Heck, the same person may do all roles if it is a one-person startup. But even in a multi-person startup, if it's a small company, all of the following roles may still fall on one person: CTO, Developer, Professional Services Support Engineer, Software Customer Support Agent, and more.

However, no matter whether one person is doing both roles or whether one person does one role, it's an important distinction to make. Why? Because, in my experience, the moment the task goes from consultative to service is the moment when it goes from not being work to being work. In other words, that switch-over coincides with a *huge* shift -- it makes a huge difference in terms of effort, time, and cost.

In conclusion, there is a *huge* difference between "Software Customer Support" and "Professional Services Software Customer Support".

Note: this blog post is dedicated to week 4 of the supportdriven.slack.com 2016 6-week writing challenge. (more details here: "Stretch your Typing Fingers – Support Driven 6 Week Writing Challenge" ( https://supportdriven.com/...6-week-writing-challenge )) Join our community, here: https://supportdriven.com/support-driven-chat/

Tags: #challenge, #working

Note: This post was pre-published on November 18, 2016.



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Challenge - How to Serialize a String to JSON in PHP

In the context of web development, I was recently challenged to:
Serialize "PHP".

Below is a description of one way to complete the challenge.

I completed the challenge, at the same time as learning a bit about web development and learning a bit about array serialization to JSON in PHP.

An internet search, on how to serialize a string in PHP, yielded this article: ( http://stackoverflow.com/questions/...-unserialize ). Reading it taught me some about the why and how of serialization in PHP.

Reviewing the challenge question. It was a bit open-ended, and requested to serialize the string.

To make it more clear that I had serialized the string, I decided it would be better to first split it into characters, then encode it in JSON, then echo the string back out to the screen as json-formatted text.

How?

Well, if I just serialized the string, like:

<?php
serialize('PHP');
// output:
//
?>
, then there would be no output; the string would just be serialized in memory on the server.

So I thought I would echo it out on the screen via the browser window:
<?php
echo serialize('PHP');
// output:
// s:3:"PHP";
?>

I think this is a bit better.

But is this too simple? I feel the question has an unwritten implication that, as often is the case in a web programming context, the purpose of serialization is to serialize it into a common format to be able to send it somewhere else where it would be consumed, for example parsed by a JavaScript client application. So it would be better to serialize it in a common format like XML or JSON. I choose JSON. So I encode it in JSON instead, like this:
<?php
echo json_encode('PHP');
// output:
// "PHP"
?>

Hm, but now It seems unclear that it was serialized, and also it doesn't look like JSON format either -- there's little proof that I did any work. I feel I need to show my work a bit more, via the results. What if I split the string first, into an array, by using the PHP str_split() function?

<?php
echo json_encode(str_split('PHP'));
// output:
// ["P","H","P"]
?>

That's better, but it still doesn't look like JSON data. I look in the PHP manual for ideas: ( http://php.net/manual/en/function.json-encode.php ). I find the JSON_FORCE_OBJECT option, and use it:

<?php
echo json_encode(str_split('PHP'), JSON_FORCE_OBJECT);
// output:
// {"0":"P","1":"H","2":"P"}
?>

That's better -- challenge done -- Ship it! (à la http://scotchisforshippers.com/ )

This has been a description of one way to complete the coding challenge, at the same time as learning a bit about web development and learning a bit about array serialization to JSON in PHP.

Tags: #mingling

Note: This post was pre-published on November 18, 2016.



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Researching Computershare Direct Stock Purchase Plans and Gaining Empowerment in Financial Investing and in Life

I have recently spent some time researching the currently-~1000-or-so companies behind the listings on computershare.com ( https://www-us.computershare.com/investor/3x/plans/planslist.asp?stype=all ). If I understand right, these companies offer Direct Stock Purchase Plans (DSPPs) where individuals can buy stock directly from the company.

Over many days, maybe a dozen per day, I have bing-searched hundreds of the companies to learn an overview of what each company does.

One thing I find is that it is empowering to see the diversity of the companies. Searching a dozen of the companies per day, and reading one paragraph about what each company does, I feel connected to the world.

Furthermore, since these companies offer direct stock purchase plans, I feel empowered that if I want, I can become involved-- if I want, and if I have the self-discipline to focus my resources and save up enough money to buy the minimum initial investment (usually between ~$50 and ~$500), then I can direct-purchase stock shares from any of the thousand companies.

I can feel that it is really diverse and really a financial door to the entire world because the companies range anywhere from banks, bond companies, lending companies, real estate companies, mining companies, industrial manufacturing companies, retail companies, service companies, pharmaceutical companies, utilities, and more.

The descriptions of some of the companies indicate the company is all about leveraging money to make money, like some of the banks and funds companies. However the descriptions of some of the companies don't mention investing at all. They summarize their company as having a mission to do, or produce, or serve, or to reach some other specific goal.

I feel like I couldn't possibly in my lifetime even understand, let alone invest in, all of the companies. But its empowering because this list is an enormous, special, financial, view of the world.

Learning about investing by researching DSPPs is empowering me and is strengthening my knowledge of investing and my knowledge of the world.

Tags: #investing

Note: This post was pre-published on November 17, 2016.



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Computer Programmer Career Goals Expressed in a Strict Format for the Short and Medium and Long Term

This exercise tries to answer the question:
"What am I focusing on in the short, medium, and long terms?"

It does so by answering the following specific question, considered separately for various different short, medium, and long term time periods.
"What goals am I seeking, and what value am I looking to add?"

I like this exercise because anyone can do it, and because if I do it, then it forces me to think into my future and to envision my future, which usually starts to give me a renewed sense of calm and a renewed sense of purpose.

Here are the questions, prior to having been filled out:

In the next 1 day my goal is to _____________ and I want to add the value of ____________________ .
In the next 1 week my goal is to _____________ and I want to add the value of ____________________ .
In the next 1 month my goal is to _____________ and I want to add the value of ____________________ .
In the next 1 quarter my goal is to _____________ and I want to add the value of ____________________ .
In the next 1 year my goal is to _____________ and I want to add the value of ____________________ .
In the next 1 decade my goal is to _____________ and I want to add the value of ____________________ .
In the next 1 lifetime my goal is to _____________ and I want to add the value of ____________________ .

This time around, I'm answering the questions about my career. (as opposed to answering them about my personal life etc.) So in this case the question is:
"As a professional Computer Programmer, what am I focusing on in the short, medium, and long terms?"

In other words, here are the same questions, after having been filled out:

- In the next 1 day my goal is to ______determine my short, medium, and long term goals_______ and I want to add the value of _________having written-down / recorded / saved these goals___________ .

- In the next 1 week my goal is to _____help my co-worker on their project by first learning about their project and then talking with them about it and asking them what they're doing and how it's going, and then appropriately offering the level of help that they are receptive to and that I can genuinely add________ and I want to add the value of _______having helped them with their project, whether it having been by talking it through with them, or it having been by showing them that I cared by asking about it, or it having been by sharing my own actual experience and actual outcome in a similar situation_____________ .

- In the next 1 month my goal is to _______complete the current 1 most important computer programming project______ and I want to add the value of _________having improved this 1 most important computer program which the business will leverage to earn a high profit___________ .

- In the next 1 quarter my goal is to _______deepen my self-discipline at work to a point where I have a solid professional character, from which I can start to build a series of win/win outcomes whereby both myself and Acme Corporation* profit from my actions______ and I want to add the value of __________having developed the self-discipline habit to a point where maintaining it is manageable so that I can use my remaining abundant time to identify, perform towards, and close on, win-win opportunities__________ .

- In the next 1 year my goal is to ______complete three win-win projects at work -- projects where the completed project is a tool that Acme Corporation* leverages to create profit for the company, and where the completed project is also one that I can put on my professional resume (and is one where my colleague can testify that I owned the success of the project)_______ and I want to add the value of ________having through character and focused effort, maintained a high, visible, professional profile while having completed 3 value-creating levers (software tools) for my company____________ .

- In the next 1 decade my goal is to _______maintain ongoing relationships with 10 professional colleagues, all of whom I've had the experience of working together with on as many (10) such (high-impact), value-adding projects for Acme Corporation*______ and I want to add the value of __________having helped 10 professional colleagues complete their high-impact, value-adding projects__________ .

- In the next 1 lifetime my goal is to _______have invested in, and played an important role in, maintaining and growing Acme Corporation*; both through completing dozens of work projects and through having been a financial invstor in the company (buying and owning stock); and also to have had my work and investment reward me with a portion of the shared dividends as an official shareholder of the company______ and I want to add the value of _________having through focused effort completed dozens of value-adding projects at Acme Corporation*, and having through financial investing bought and held a portion of shared ownership of the company___________ .

In conclusion, the exercise in this blog post has answered the question: "As a professional Computer Programmer, what am I focusing on in the short, medium, and long terms?"

* My company; denoting that the real company name has been obfuscated.

Tags: #investing, #working, #mingling

Note: This post was pre-published on November 16, 2016.



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wieldlinux.com

Buildium Boston Combines Forces with Wistia Cambridge to Publish Customer Success Story

Wistia's 'customer success stories' article entitled "Buildium" not only highlighted two of the companies that I like, but also taught me a bit about each company.

Having gotten interested in the company because I heard they hosted CSxCS Meetup at their venue in Fall 2016, I started to follow (Boston-based) Buildium.

Because I had previously, out of professional interest, followed the online persona of one of their long-term employees, Wistia is another (Cambridge-based) company I have been interested in following.

Following the Buildium blog, I came across an article. Then following its author and searching the web to see what else they had been up to, I came across this interview-style article on Wistia's website: "Buildium" ( https://content.wistia.com/customer-stories/buildium )

I'm grateful for having been able to read this article on Wistia.com, because in doing so I learned a bit about how things work at Buildium -- how they are trying to do marketing, support, and training, also including some history of how things used to be done at Buildium, as well as what they'll try next. I even learned a bit about the role of Epay in property management. (Learned this about Epay from a short video, which was linked/embedded in the article.)

Not only that, but I learned about some features of the Wistia platform, notably their metrics, captioning-and-description-SEO, and replace video (versioning) features. These features were all highlighted in the article.

Also, I was inspired by the fact that people from both companies were willing to come together, share, and put some effort into creating this article. It seems like a win-win-win to me -- Buildium, Wistia, and the reader of the article (myself in this case) all win. (The first by gaining marketing exposure, the second also by gaining marketing exposure, and the third by learning, respectively.)

In conclusion, Wistia's 'customer success stories' article entitled "Buildium" not only highlighted two of the companies that I like, but also taught me a bit about each company.

Note: this blog post is dedicated to the folks over at supportdriven.slack.com, for week 3 of the 2016 6-week writing challenge. (more details here: "Stretch your Typing Fingers – Support Driven 6 Week Writing Challenge" ( https://supportdriven.com/2016/10/21/stretch-your-typing-fingers-support-driven-6-week-writing-challenge )) Join our community, here: https://supportdriven.com/support-driven-chat/

Tags: #challenge, #mingling

Note: This post was pre-published on November 14, 2016.



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wieldlinux.com

For a Web Developer the Importance of an Abundance Mindset to Professional References

Abundance mindset is called for to tune into an abundance of professional references.

I've been thinking these few months about abundance/scarcity mindset and how it affects a Web Developer's career.

I previously wrote about professional references ( "For a Software Support Engineer a Note on the Relevance of Professional References" http://wieldlinux.com/2014.php?2014-11-17#2014-11-17 ) )

This combines the two ideas.

If one has a scarcity mindset, and that mindset affects one's view of seeking or having professional references, then it will seem to one that professional references are scarce and that professional references are hard to come by. It'll probably only ever seem to be that there are just enough references to barely have three people to ask to be one's reference when applying for a new job. (If that many! Maybe it'll feel like there are no references.)

What's an answer? Tune into an abundance mindset. Be optimistic and believe that there is an abundance of people willing to be one's professional reference, and all a Web Developer has to do is start asking around among one's past and present colleagues and associates, and one will find that pretty soon one will have a list of names, numbering more than enough people who are willing to serve as one's professional reference.

As I wrote in the past post (linked above), professional references are extremely valuable to one's career in an extremely unique way. This being the case, everyone will need references at some point. This makes it important to cultivate an abundance mindset.

As a Web Developer thinking about professional references with an abundance mindset is important because when thinking that way one realizes an abundance of professional references in their career.

tags: #working, #mingling

Note: This post was pre-published on November 14, 2016.



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wieldlinux.com

As a Web Developer or Software Support Person - Salary is a Problem that One Needs help to Solve

I wrote about SDASE salary -- (see: "On Software Development and Support Engineer Pay Rate" http://wieldlinux.com/2016.php?2016-07-01#2016-07-01 ) -- it's a recurring topic that I'm learning more about, and meditating over. I wrote before that I don't know how to get a high pay rate, but I feel it has something to do with professionalism, and something to do with asking for the salary from someone with power to give it.

Something else about it. A way to look at the question of "how to get a high pay rate?" is that getting it is something one needs help to get. I need to be able to ask for the salary I want. I need to be able to ask for help.

As a professional Web Developer or Software Support Person, if I have a problem that is my salary is not high to the level that I want it to be, then the ownership of the responsibility to solve the problem is mine. I need to do something. As a Web Developer or Software Support Person employee, I don't control a payroll and I don't approve my department's staffing budget and I don't set guidelines for HR salaries. The people in the roles of payroll manager, department manager, and hr manager, respectively, do.

In other words, this is a difficult problem, and one that I can't solve alone. How to proceed? I need to ask for help. I need to ask the person who's the finance manager for help, and ask the person who's the department manager for help, and ask the person who's the hr manager for help, to solve this.

I think that when I do ask, my professionalism will immediately be scrutinized -- I will be evaluated for how much value I'm adding to the company, i.e. how professional I am. Which is good! This should constantly be evaluated and I should constantly try to push it high. So that I can ask my fellow professionals to push my salary high.

Note: this blog post is dedicated to the folks over at supportdriven.slack.com, for week 2 of the 2016 6-week writing challenge. (more details here: "Stretch your Typing Fingers – Support Driven 6 Week Writing Challenge" ( https://supportdriven.com/2016/10/21/stretch-your-typing-fingers-support-driven-6-week-writing-challenge ))

tags: #challenge, #mingling, #investing

Note: This post was pre-published on November 11, 2016.



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wieldlinux.com

Upon Observing Four Tweets -- Four Problems that Today a Web Developer Might Face

Introduction: After having learned of the persona of @RyanDeBeasi (https://twitter.com/RyanDeBeasi) on twitter, I have sometimes liked to follow their public twitter feed of tweets. There I have observed tweeting and re-tweeting about Web Developer topics, which I have been grateful for the chance to read.

In particular, today, I want to distill out the essence of what are some examples of a problem that a web developer can face. Why? I like to think about Web Development problems, especially through the lens of another persona. I think it is part of the learning process to think about difficult problems.

I also like to think about how to solve problems, and/or to observe suggested solutions to the problems alongside them. And indeed, for most of the tweets and re-tweets listed below, if one reads them and reads through into their linked content, or through the rest of the tweets in the twitter feed, they do include discussion about a/some solution(s) to the underlying problem! (Yay for learning!)

Without further ado, here are a list of links to four (re-)tweets that I think are relevant to web development. After each, I made up a sentence or two that tries to distill out what could be a possible underlying problem with which the tweet is concerned.

https://twitter.com/ginatrapani/...379
Possible underlying web development -related problem:
- The problem is that on the day of learning the results of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, today some people (, and by extension maybe some web developers?) feel sad and don't feel like working.

https://twitter.com/hopefulcyborg/...760
Possible underlying web development -related problem:
- It's a challenge finding a way to learn JavaScript programming at the same time as learning something else, namely at the same time as learning biology.

https://twitter.com/statnews/...968
Possible underlying web development -related problem:
- For the success of a niche news service website business, it's a challenge finding a subscriber who will subscribe at the beginning of the year, who will also stay subscribed after the end of one year( and beyond!).

https://twitter.com/RyanDeBeasi/...696
Possible underlying web development -related problem:
- A slow-loading website, and thus a website where the content doesn't load at all, is a problem. This is no matter whether the slow-loading is caused by web fonts, or caused by the desire to make the website completely pretty before revealing it to the user.

Thanks again to the (re-)tweeter (see above, introduction) for having shared these tweets. By observing and thinking about the content of these tweets, and thinking about what web development -related problems they might represent, I feel like I have, in a good way, learned something about Web Development that I otherwise wouldn't have known.

Tags: #working, #mingling

Note: This post was pre-published on November 10, 2016.



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wieldlinux.com

List of 10 Local (Boston Area) Companies that I Admire

I recently wrote this list of 10 companies(or organizations) that I think are excellent (now in 2016). (and that are also either local to Boston, or allow remote work.)

01 Wistia (Cambridge) ( https://wistia.com/blog )
02 Buildium (Boston) ( https://www.buildium.com/blog/ )
03 10up (Remote) ( https://twitter.com/10up )
04 Constant Contact (Waltham) ( https://www.constantcontact.com )
05 Bocoup (Boston) ( https://bocoup.com/weblog )
06 MIT Libraries (Cambridge) ( http://libraries.mit.edu/news/ )
07 ten24 (Worcester) ( https://twitter.com/ten24web )
08 Bartlett Interactive (Concord) ( http://www.bartlettinteractive.com/ )
09 Cisco (Boxborough) ( https://newsroom.cisco.com/ )
10 Automattic (Remote) ( https://automattic.com/about/ )

This is not *the* list, rather it is my attempt at making and sharing *one* list. It is a conversation starter. Also, I'm not being compensated to promote any of these companies -- this is my own opinion that these are excellent companies.

In other words, not only are these the sort of companies that I'd want myself and my colleagues to work for, but these are also the sort of companies that I'd want my company, and my colleagues' companies, to become.

How about you -- What do you think of these companies, and what other excellent companies/organizations are out there?

Tags: #working

P.S. AT the time of this writing, MIT's MIT Libraries is advertising that they are hiring for a Web Developer. See their About/Jobs page here: http://libraries.mit.edu/about/#Jobs ), and the direct link to the job posting here: http://careers.peopleclick.com/careerscp/client_mit/external/en-us/gateway.do?functionName=viewFromLink&jobPostId=8624&localeCode=en-us

(Note: At the time of this posing, I'm not affiliated with, compensated by, or employed by MIT Libraries.)

Note: This post was pre-published in November 2016.



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wieldlinux.com

Partial Summary of WPEngine 10up Interview Including Web Development Problems and How 10uppers Address such Problems

10up's clients have some difficult problems and 10up employees (10uppers) need to know how to converse about them.

This is covered in this video interview with WPEngine's Emma ( https://twitter.com/WPE_Emma ) and Jonathan ( https://twitter.com/mcnamarajs ), and 10up's John ( https://twitter.com/jeckman ) "Video Replay: 10Up’s John Eckman on Client Relations" (link to blog post: https://wpengine.com/blog/live-interview-10ups-john-eckman-client-relations ) ( youtube video direct link: https://youtu.be/A4vW78FGy5I )

What are some problems their clients are facing that need solving, that have turned into projects for 10up to complete? Here are some that are mentioned in the video:

[Starting at about ~13min.30sec. (Paraphrasing what's discussed during this portion of the video) ]

They (10up) hold the [web project] quality bar very high, which is an ongoing challenge. A challenge for 10uppers to constantly keep the quality of their work high while at the same time delivering the project early.

Also, another problem 10up faces, described in the video, is that an east-coast based public radio station wants something. It wants a web solution that can keep the now playing list active, while at the same time allowing the surrounding website content to change around it -- allowing the user to continue to use the website like an app, while keeping it playing.

Also, another problem 10up faces, described in the video, is that AMC.com has a problem that they want 10up's help with. AMC.com wants a website design that resonates across all their brands and all their tv shows. They want a design that complements the writing content of the website, and even the live-streaming experience, by presenting the content from the entire suite of AMC.com's different brands and shows, while at the same time makes a single unified feeling for the website visitor.

Also, another problem 10up faces, described in the video, is that BBC US has a similar challenge in that they already have multiple websites -- one for each tv show, but now they want to bring those together under one website. How can 10up help them with this?

[Ending at about ~17min.00sec.]

Watch the video to find out! In the video is describe some about how 10up meets these challenges.

Here's a clue. 10uppers take on the challenge.

In the video, John describes a bit of specifics how 10uppers do this.

At about 26min.40sec. into the video, John says:

"They are direct conversations. Anyone who works at 10up should expect to have direct conversations -- face-to-face, in-person, or virtually, with clients, on a regular basis. They should know how to ask questions, they should know how to do active listening, they should know how to follow up, they should know how to be consultative and say, "Ok, I hear what you are asking us to do and I understand what you're trying to accomplish, but here's a better way to do it." That kind of creativity and problem-solving and innovation is something that we foster a lot in our team."

This has been partial summary of the WPEngine 10up video interview, including some specific web wevelopment problems, and including some ways how 10uppers are expected to address web development problems.

Tags: #working, #mingling

Note: This post was pre-published in November 2016.



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wieldlinux.com

A Web Developer's Performance is Subjective not Quantitative

A Web Developer's performance is subjective, not quantitative.

That is all.

Tags: #working, #mingling

Note: This post was pre-published in November 2016.



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wieldlinux.com

For a Web Developer Creating Value and Not Being a Fixed-value Undervalued Commodity

For a Web Developer, how can one think in terms of how to create value, and how to not be a fixed-value and/or undervalued commodity?

This was covered by this podcast: Carrie Dils Officehours.fm podcast "Positioning Your Business, Episode 96" ( http://officehours.fm/podcast/96-2/ ), with guest Philip Morgan.

In the episode, at about 12min. 50sec. in, the guest expresses that he thought of himself as a writer... Gave him a feeling of flexibility and job security. But goes on to say he had a misconception of how value is created.

Then, at about ~14min. 45sec. He says what this actually did was made him a commodity, and he (Philip Morgan) explains that this put a fixed limit on the value of his services.

So what are my own take-aways from having listened to this podcast episode?

A take away is that this can also apply to a Web Developer who labels themselves as such. (who labels themself as a Web Developer)

So just as the podcast guest and host were discussing, now I'm also thinknig that to realize higher earnings, a Web Developer may think outside the label of their job title, and may learn how value is created, and proceed in a way to create that value, and then the ultimate reward is to share in the results, for example share in the money earned.

For example if I think of myself as a Web Developer, then I might think my job is to go to work at 9, do the tasks my manager tells for me to do, do only web development tasks, leave work at 5, make sure to not take any days off, and don't question whether these tasks are helping the company. For this I am rewarded with the industry standard salary, or maybe a bit less.

Whereas if I think of myself first and foremost as a problem solver who understands the "why" of my company and department, and think my job is to solve those problems ongoing, then I might wake up in the morning, eager to go to work early, solve a part of a difficult problem before lunch, communicate with colleagues after lunch about what problems the department is working on and how, and then leave a bit early after having been productive. I might take a few hours off here and there each month, and might work late for a few hours here and there each month, in order to do what needs to be done in my personal life and in my work, respectively. For this I am rewarded with a fair share of the company's high profits. (high because we are paid well to solve difficult problems). Or if I'm a contractor owning my own company, I can set my fees high according to the difficult problems that I am solving.

In summary, as the podcast participants discussed, there are ways for a professional to create value by thinking in terms of how to create value. Furthermore they discussed avoiding thinking of oneself as a fixed-value commodity, as a way to avoid becoming a fixed-value commodity. My take-away from this discussion is that I say these apply to a Web Developer. A Web Developer can use such a value-creation mindset to create value for their company and for themself.

Tags: #working

Note: This post was pre-published in November 2016.



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wieldlinux.com

Workaround for Ubuntu 12.04 Unity on Compaq Presario with HP Monitor Symptom of Suddenly Crashing and Displaying Login Screen

The goal is to run Ubuntu Linux on a Compaq Presario CQ5604F PC with the specs listed below.

Applies to:
- Compaq Presario CQ5604F PC
- AMD Athlon™ II 170u processor
- 64-bit
- 3 GB System Memory
- Looking up the specs it looks like this Compaq has "Integrated graphics using nVidia GeForce 6150SE" (source: http://h20564.www2.hp.com/hpsc/doc/public/display?docId=emr_na-c02481305 )
- HP W2072a Monitor

Screenshot of Ubuntu 12.04, running its default Unity desktop:



The symptom is that a default install of Ubuntu 12.04 runs for a while, but then sporadically, suddenly, the login screen appears as if something had crashed and I had become instantly logged out.

Screenshot of the login screen to where I was suddenly becoming kicked out:



It was seemingly sporadic, however seemed to be loosely around the time when one program or another was launched. For example if, as usual, Firefox and/or LibreOffice and/or FileZilla and/or Kate editor were open, and then when I opened another program like the Ubuntu Software Center, then it might "crash" in this way, on average multiple times per day.

I hesitate to use the word "freeze" because it isn't that the system was freezing. Usually I could log back in to the Ubuntu unity desktop, and although I wouldn't immediately see any of my programs still open, when I thereupon launched each of the programs, (e.g. Firefox, LibreOffice, etc.) they would immediately come up, with the same document or page open, as if they had somehow kept running in the background. (!!?!)

What to do -- how to find out what was happening? What to try to fix it?

Googling the error, some forum posters had written that it might be a graphics issue. But there's not a poster who wrote that they had my exact configuration, who wrote that they had found a working resolution.

Thereupon was tried using a different screen resolution was tried. No matter the screen resolution, the symptom remained.

Thereupon was tried running the Ubuntu update manager, and the updates were done, to make sure Ubuntu was up-to-date. Afterwards the symptom still persisted.

What was the ultimate workaround?

The workaround that has worked for about a week now without any crashing symptom is to keep using the same Ubuntu 12.04 install, but instead of the default Unity desktop, install and use the Lubuntu desktop.

Link to article to help how: "How to Install the Lightweight LXDE Desktop on Ubuntu" ( http://www.howtogeek.com/107368/how-to-install-the-lightweight-lxde-desktop-on-ubuntu/ )

Basically, the article says to run this command from terminal:
sudo apt-get install lubuntu-desktop

Screenshot of the login screen where, after having installed Lubuntu desktop and after having clicked on the little ubuntu icon, I now have the option to choose the Lubuntu desktop:



Screenshot of Ubuntu 12.04, now running the Lubuntu desktop:



Another note is that I had instead first tried to install and use the Xubuntu desktop. I don't remember it crashing, but it felt less comfortable -- less like the ubuntu Unity desktop.

I like the Lubuntu desktop. Immediately I still have access to all of the Ubuntu programs that I had access to through unity. However for my particular setup it is stable without any random "crashing" symptom. Plus it actually seems faster and more performant -- for example applications seem to launch quicker and windows feel like they come up quicker.

In summary, this has been a description of a permanent workaround for Ubuntu 12.04 Unity on Compaq Presario with HP Monitor, how to address the symptom of suddenly crashing and displaying the login screen, and furthermore ending up with a nice, performant Ubuntu installation.

tags: #working

Note: This post was pre-published in November 2016.



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wieldlinux.com

Seven Days of Hydrated Water-drinking Non-coffee-drinking Sweaty Odd Ugly Software Development and Support Engineer Self-discipline Training

Motivated by my drive, and by Kiyosaki Rich Dad and Covey 7 Habits advice to develop personal discipline.

I read some blog posts on self-discipline and ended on a blog post from Brian Tracy and decided to act right away.

I decided my one behavior was to drink only water-- no coffee.

I took my ugly inappropriate ceramic beaver mug:



And filled it with water and have vowed to keep it filled, and with me, for 7 days and nights . Like a security blanket -- bedside, in car, for daily walks outside, and into retail stores -- always containing at least some water. That is the plan.

Therefore I will always be reminded to drink only water, not coffee, *and* the water will always be in my hand ready to drink.

I'm even glad it's breakable, ugly(it's a mug with a cartoon on it, with seemingly permanent coffee-staining inside), inappropriate(sarcastic comic on mug), has no lid, small(maybe holds ~10-12 oz.), and won't fit in a cup holder. This all will serve to remind me of the importance of the week's goal and of the high level of care that I'll need to maintain to make it through the week.

I am even guessing people will ask what I'm doing and why-- and if so then I'm looking forward to telling them -- I want to talk with others about my coffee habit, my water-drinking week, self-discipline plan, and my health, to help motivate myself.

That's the plan -- the plan to develop a habit of self-discipline, the plan which will be executed via carrying a significant token (the coffee cup of water) with me always for a week. We'll see next week how I did.

tags: #stretching

Note: This post was pre-published in November 2016.



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wieldlinux.com

A Colleague's Project Learning About React.js

My colleague Ross Geller*  is working on a project. They recently have said they are learning React.js. They also mentioned egghead.io as well as webpack. Thanks to this conversation, they've inspired me to learn a bit about it.

How to understand what my colleague is talking about? Google-searching led to a page that linked to https://facebook.github.io/react/blog/2016/09/28/our-first-50000-stars.html, which linked to https://egghead.io/, including tutorials on React.js and on webpack.

Digging further into this one called "Start Using React to Build Web Applications" (https://egghead.io/lessons/react-react-fundamentals-development-environment-setup?course=react-fundamentals), one finds that it goes through installing Node.js.



The tutorial describes installing Node.js and npm ( the tutorial is for on mac -- googling instructions for Ubuntu leads to https://github.com/nodesource/distributions#debinstall )



For someone who is learning about the existence of some of these technologies, at the same time as learing how to use them, it's creating a lot of files during the tutorial without really knowing what's happening. For example the tutorial depicts editing a package.json file that's already been created. But it's not there. So extra googling research is needed to find out how to create a default package.json file, without knowing why. From this: https://docs.npmjs.com/getting-started/using-a-package.json



Moving on.

At the end of the "Start Using React to Build Web Applications" live coding tutorial video, when running "npm start", errors come up, the first one being:
"sh:  1: webpack-dev-server: not found". This is unexpected, as part of the tutorial was to run a command to install webpack-dev-server!

In other words, unfortunately, something is wrong and it'll have to be investigated. Time to take a break before re-assessing and trying again!

Take-aways after having come this far?

- For a n00b to React.js and some of its surrounding technologies, going through the above steps helps to learn terminology and to learn elementary configuration steps. If these are fundamental and re-usable, then it will have helped, because the steps will be a foundation for a subsequent React.js -based project.

- It's not comfortable, and it's disorienting. It's frustrating to have to take so many configuration steps when it's not clear why each step is needed. However it's a similar discomfort to learning other technologies, so the feeling of discomfort-while-learning is familiar. In other words, it feels like learning!

Thanks to my colleague for sharing that they're working to learn React.js, and for mentioning some resources for learning it. They've inspired me to learn a bit about it.

tags: #mingling , #working

*The asterisk here denotes that this is a pseudonym. (To obfuscate my colleague's real identity, for privacy reasons.)

Note: This post was pre-published on 2016-11-04.



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wieldlinux.com

Brooke Allen - The Idea of Care and Community in Hiring

The idea of care and community in hiring in these two blog posts below has affected how I think. Now I want to continually and sustainably help connect employers with employees. (which is the main idea of the posts)

This blog post: "How to hire good people instead of nice people" ( https://brookeallen.com/2015/01/14/how-to-hire-good-people-instead-of-nice-people/ )

Added note: Interestingly, since I first read the above article, it has been months. I have experienced the following things:
My desire to help connect employers with employees has strengthened and then subsided and then strengthened again.
My employment status has changed between various states of: unemployed, employed, and employed-with-a-different-employer.

In other words, this is a dynamic ongoing process/topic.

After having read the first article above, just recently I read this other article by Brooke Allen: "Name the variable for the switch that says you should take a job or hire an employee" ( https://medium.com/@BrookeTAllen/name-the-variable-for-the-switch-that-says-you-should-take-a-job-or-hire-an-employee-7673b21043b1#.5latic1nx )

I have felt that the hiring system is broken. I've read tweets from others who feel this way too. This second article mentions "...had decided to try a different approach to hiring...". I am feeling like this blog post truly is describing a different approach to hiring. It is a real way to fix the broken system.

Now I'm thinking how can I as an individual fix my aspect of participation in the broken system?

First thing comes to mind is to use a modified version of my colleague's way of job searching.

A story:

My colleague said they wanted a job, so they found ten local companies, any of which they liked and so wanted to work for. Then they researched each of the ten companies and wrote a slightly different resume for each company, and kept following up with each of the ten. My colleague said the result was that they did get a job with one of the ten (which was where I met my colleague as I was there)

In this second article linked above, Brooke Allen gives a public request to "name the variable for the switch". I'd say the switch should be called the job-after-next switch, because it's when you realize this is the job (or the employee) that you want not only right now, but the next time you do a job search as well. In other words it's when you realize that this job (or employee) is an excellent fit, and you want to keep pursuing it, and you wish all your future job opportunities were this perfect of a fit, because then you'd have more opportunities that actually are a good fit.

The end of the second article writes "...Then the employer hires the people they want and we try to place the rest. ..."

Yes, this is describing a different approach to hiring. Along the same lines of the first article linked above.

Moving on.

How to adapt this to the employee point-of-view?

The article indicates that John's company (through Brooke's service) facilitates ~50-ish job seekers through seminars, hires 2, and helps the other 48 find jobs instead of giving up on them. (note: I'm assigning concrete numbers beyond the article's)

From my point of view, I could apply to 50 companies, get interviewed by 10, get hired by one of the two companies who wants me, and then help the other 9 companies to find employees instead of giving up on them. In other words, I could care about the companies that I am applying to, by caring about the hiring managers who interviewed me, no matter whether they ended up hiring me or not.

How could I help the companies find employees? I could keep names and addresses of contact people at each company who interviewed me, check in with them periodically, read what they're doing online, blog about what they're doing, and refer my colleagues. (from my professional network, refer my colleagues (who are prospective employees) to the hiring managers)

tags: #mingling

Note: This post was pre-published on 2016-11-03.



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wieldlinux.com

With Colleagues Working and Learning About SharePoint

I met with a colleague, Ken Adams* , who mentioned they were interested in learning about SharePoint for a project.

How might I help them learn about SharePoint? I could share a story about my direct experience about SharePoint, in an effort to share what I know about it.

Without further ado, here's a story about a time I worked with SharePoint.

I had been tasked with editing/proof-reading a setup guide for a 3rd party integration tool to integrate with SharePoint. Also a bit later, I was tasked with installing SharePoint along with the 3rd party integration tool, on a development (sandbox) server.

At the beginning of this work, I hadn't worked with SharePoint, so I had to learn as I went.

My environment for installing Windows and for installing SharePoint was on a VMware virtual machine, running on an HP rack-mount server hardware in the server closet down the hall from my office. For this SharePoint project, I never had to touch the HP hardware. If I had to administer the server, like for installing the Windows 2008 OS onto a guest machine, I logged into the VMware host via the vSphere client.

One thing to do was choose an appropriate version of Windows Server OS, and choose an appropriate version of the SharePoint software.

At the time, I had access to an MSDN subscription, which gave me access to versions of SharePoint 2010, and to versions of SharePoint 2013.

In addition, for the Windows Server software that SharePoint would run on, I had the choice of Windows Server 2008 vs. Windows Server 2012.

I ended up going with Windows Server 2008 and SharePoint 2010. As I am usually in favor of using the latest version of each software componenent, this is not what I had wanted to do originally. However in this case, at the time, the 3rd party integration software that I was going to be showcasing had been designed for SharePoint 2010, and so for my purpose it got the job done.

Moving on.

Via the vSphere client, I did the install of Windows Server 2008, with a version of SharePoint 2010.

I configured the SharePoint along with the 3rd party integration tool. Being somewhat familiar with Windows Server and IIS web server from other projects, I was able to follow the installation guides pretty well. SharePoint itself had a Windows-sytle install "Wizard" that prompted me to choose installation options as I went, and did the rest of the installation for me, showing me progress bars throughout the install.

Once SharePoint was up and running as a web application, I could click inside its web interface to configure it, as I would any other web application.

I noticed SharePoint looks like a smooth and polished web application, and doesn't look complicated (not complicated-feeling, so not intimidating-feeling) on the surface. However, clicking into the configuration pages, one soon realizes that it is a very complex software with seeminly limitless options and flexibility.

I got the solution working via the local network, however ran into a problem making the site available via the internet via its internet domain name. After trying a couple of troubleshooting attempts, I felt I was stuck and needed help. At this point, I was extremely glad to have a colleague, John Watson*, who had worked with SharePoint before (and who was professional and ready to help). My colleague researched, and got it working the rest of the way, and followed up with me and showed me how to configure SharePoint the way that I had needed.

Moving on again.

As mentioned above, I had the task of editing the setup guide document. The author who wrote the guide had English as their second language. However they were the author of the software tool. So I was editing for English (grammar, spelling, overall readability), not likely for underlying technical correctness.

How did I proceed? I had a deadline of "ASAP" to meet. So I jumped right in! I followed the guide step-by-step, with the Windows Server and SharePoint page open on one window and the setup guide draft on the other window. I performed the steps in the setup guide, and whenever I noticed an English error, I fixed it, then moved on to the next step. As expected, the guide worked but just had some English issues, which I was able to improve.

In conclusion, this is a brief story of how I worked with, and learned (some about), SharePoint. If I had to advise my colleague of what was effective in learning about SharePoint for me, I'd say the following. It helped me to have an actual project to work on. (In my case, either a server install to do, or a SharePoint-related guide to proofread) It also helped me to have a deadline of "ASAP" looming. Finally, it helped me to have another colleague to help me and teach me when I got stuck at one point!

tags: #mingling , #working

*The asterisk here denotes that this is a pseudonym. (To obfuscate my colleague's real identity, for privacy reasons.)

Note: This post was pre-published on 2016-11-01.



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wieldlinux.com

Web Developer Professionalism

Professionalism is helping my colleagues reach their business goals. That's professional.

This applies to a Web Developer.

tags: #working



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2017-07-01

wieldlinux.com

For a Semi-introverted Software Development and Support Engineer how to Network Professionally and Actively Put Oneself in the Middle of a Network of High-Status Professionals

For a semi-introverted Software Development and Support Engineer (see Officehours.fm podcast: "Relationships And The Role They Play In Business Growth, Episode 94" ) ( http://officehours.fm/podcast/94-2/ ) (@ ~ 13min.10sec. into the podcast, Carrie Dils brings up introvert(s). Then Tom McFarlin talks about introverts and extroverts, and degrees of introversion. Then, @ ~ 14min.00sec., Tom McFarlin uses the term "semi-introverted" He then mentions one shouldn't go so far as to write down a note to ask a person "Hi, how are you doing?"

The episode talks even more about this and is great. I take away from it how to be a more professional Employee.

Then the podcast guest and host talk about how to network and build business relationships. The context is freelancers building relationships with clients here.

However for me, I think it can be expanded and the concept is the same for all networking.

Personally,I can't overemphasize how much it has helped me as a semi-introverted Software Development and Support Engineer becoming more professional, to have developed this process.

As someone who has in the past tended to treat everyone as an individual, (as opposed to categorizing people into groups or types) and everyone as a [potential] friend (as opposed to a [potential] professional colleague), this process has helped me become more extroverted (in a good way) and more professional.

This process:

- Have a list of anywhere from a dozen to a hundred (or more or less) people who you admire as professionals, or who you like as a professional, or who seem to like you as a professional. Always in a professional context.

- 1x per day (or 1x per week if that's more comfortable to start) visit, call, email, tweet at, text, skype, message or otherwise contact the person and ask them how they are doing, what they are working on.

	- mention that the reason for the call is to say hi, chat, and find out how they are doing

	- then *just LISTEN*

	- keep the conversation going for as long as is natural. let it grow or fade out organically. it may be a 1-minute call if they're busy. It may develop into a 2-week-long email exchange of multiple emails. They may not respond at all. It may end after 1 exchange or after 5 minutes, with a promise to talk again soon. It may grow from a phone call into a face-to-face meeting to have coffee / power-lunch.

	- Don't take the outcome personally, especially if the person doesn't reply. Let this one interaction thread grow, or fail, organically. The point of this "Networking" is two-fold: is to keep in touch and grow one's network, *while also is building individual relationships with individual professionals*

- after the initial contact is done, move that person's name to the bottom of the list.

- the next day (or the next week, or as soon as i'm comfortable, really) contact the next person on the list in the same way.

That's it! What this does is twofold; it: 1.) keeps one in touch with one's "ecosystem" (network) of professionals and thus as a whole grows one's network, AND simultaneously it: 2.) builds one's individual relationships with individual professionals.

This way I'm getting over my introvert tendencies in a structured focused way, being more professional, improving my colleagues' statuses as a professionals, and myself being professional. When I need to get help or offer help, those on my list will be fresh in mind and we can help each other. That's the idea.

Doing so in this structured way, (with a written, structured list) helps me to feel like the "networing" is cohesive and structured. I'm not "picking on" one person when I call them, nor am I "selling to" them, and so I less fear that moment when I knock on their door or pick up the phone, like I'm singling them out -- I'm not -- it's a professional call -- I'm calling to say hi, chat, and ask about them as a professional. I'm not taking it personally; I'm "keeping it professional".

tags: #mingling

Note: This post was pre-published on 2016-09-26.
Note: This post was re-pre-published on 2016-10-28.


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2017-06-01

wieldlinux.com

What Plain Text Editor Has All These Desirable Functionalities?

Kate editor!

Close second is Scite

Third is Geany.

Tags: #working

Note: This post was pre-published on 2016-09-25.

Note: This post was re-pre-published on 2016-10-28.

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2017-05-01

wieldlinux.com

For a Web Developer how to Advance My Career Through Networking?

I want to do professional networking, make some professional connections, and make the connections last -- not many of them go beyond the group where we met. The professional relationships usually stay in the medium where they started. Next time at the monthly meetup I again say hi. Or maybe not. At least it feels that way.

How to bring my career professional networking to a "next level"?

Career remix!! Do it with peple! Network all the things!!!

Here are some ways that I have, or can, network:

There are a lot of channels there; how to focus my overall networking strategy?

1.) Continue calling individual people on the phone (like in: "For a Software Developer How to Network" (http://wieldlinux.com/2016.php#2016-08-31)).

2.) FOLLOW PEOPLE, (not projects/things/blogs/processes) Meaning, once I meet some people at a professional meetup or wherever, don't only wait until the next monthly meetup to contact them again. For one person with whom I got along well and was professional, call or email them before then to check in and ask what they're up to and learn from them.

3.) Move away from only blogging on whatever I want, all by myself. Instead, after having talked with someone about a topic. Later, blog about that specific topic. With the person's permission, find out whether or not the person would agree to me mentioning them in the blog. If they say yes, mention them in the blog post. This way, it is networking at the same time as blogging!

4.) On twitter, tweet @ people. Don't just tweet a link to my blog post and hoping someone sees it, instead tweet it @ someone whom I see tweeting about something related. Join in conversations on twitter. @ people is the key.

5.) In general, online, don't just read. Reply there. Join in the chat conversation. Calmly voice my professional opinion on professionaly relevant topics.

6.) Read .org forums then reply, the goal being to connect with the person. Find out who I'm replying to. Look for forum posts written by people who are active on their own public channels like blog or twitter, etc. Follow them on their public channel and if they write with professionalism and if it resonates with me, then publicly comment over there.

8.) Make it about the *PEOPLE*/PERSON. At an in-person event or online, always be looking network by having a conversation with someone. ( As opposed to just going to the group and listening to a speaker's talk and then going home) In addition, talk about the event or the project with someone, both before & after. Always. This is what makes it networking as opposed to mere media consumption.

9.) At an in-person meetup, ask someone where they publish online, or how to reach them after the event. Afterwards, I liked what they had to say and if they were professional, then read what they're up to in their public online space. Comment back to them there. To be genuinely interested and curious, I should seek the person on *their* preferred online public medium. So, if they like to blog then I can follow their blog and comment to them. If on their about page they publish their email address welcoming feedback then I can email them telling what I think of their blog post.

Finally I should remember it may be structured professional networking but it shouldn't be forced or non-genuine. Personally I have had bad experiences with a conversation trying to be forced (from both ends -- at times I've been the person trying to force a conversation, and at times someone has tried to force a conversation with me). That's unpleasant, akin to meeting an overly-pushy salesperson. If there's no professional chemistry, don't force the conversation; drop that thread. Chase the conversations where there's chemistry there!

These have been some ideas that can form a strategy of how to, as a Web Developer, advance my career through networking.

Tags: #mingling

Note: This post was pre-published on 2016-09-25.

Note: This post was re-pre-published on 2016-10-28.

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2017-04-01

wieldlinux.com

How TJD (Target Job Deconstruction) Helped me with My Current Job

I re-did my Software Development and Support Engineer resume by doing a TJD (Target Job Deconstruction), and an unexpected side effect was that it helped me with my current job.

In order to update my resume, per the advice of "Knock 'em Dead" job seeking (career development) book ( by Martin Yate), I performed a TJD.

I expected it to help me to craft an excellent resume and that's all.

But in addition to that, it also made me become more engaged in my current job.

How did it do this? In doing the TJD one night, while looking through job requirements for 6 job descriptions similar to my target job, I found that two of the requirements I was weak on.

And furthermore, for one of those two, although I hadn't ever had direct experience, I recognized that my colleague's project from that very morning was fulfilling that requirement!

Of course, the next day, I made a point to ask my colleague how that project was going, what details they could share, and how I could help.

Thus because I deconstructed my desired role off-hours, I knew clearly what I needed to work on & learn about next!

This is a *specific* example of how reading "Knock 'em Dead" book, generally is good for professional development *regardless of whether a Software Development and Support Engineer is currently seeking a job or not*. This is how doing a TJD (Target Job Deconstruction) helped me with my current job.

Tags: #working

Note: This post was pre-published on 2016-09-22.

Note: This post was re-pre-published on 2016-10-28.

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2017-03-01

wieldlinux.com

It Was Time to Take a Break from WordPress for a While but Keep Blogging about Software Development and Support

In October 2015, I found something that I had deemed important, such that it would probably take my time away from WordPress for months. I thought I’d need to stop participating to WordPress forums and WordPress chat.

Transcript in the Slack archives from when I wrote that I had to take a break from WordPress. https://wordpress.slack.com/archives/...458 (A Slack account is required – see: https://make.wordpress.org/chat )

I had worried that career development would suffer during this 90 days. I wouldn’t be learning via the WordPress community participation.

Even so, I felt I’d still be learning in other ways. I felt I’d keep talking to colleagues via other channels and meet new friends and colleagues along the way. And I felt that I might learn things and do things that I’d continue blogging about on my Software Support and Development Engineer -related professional blog.

It immediately turned out that it was in a sense liberating to clear my calendar of the weight of the WordPress “school”. Then immediately I felt weird that I had thought WordPress activities (“school”) was highly important, but now that I had started to think something else was more important, that I could drop WordPress like that. Sort of emotional – sort of made me want to laugh, and cry.

At the same time I felt liberated, because that was the underlying motivation to learn about WordPress in the first place — as a way to learn about Software Support and Development Engineer -related topics.

I wound this down by doing a couple of things: Took WordPress reminders off my calendar, and removed WordPress bookmarks from my browser.

I had thought it was like the then-current home page of http://blog.josemcastaneda.com/ (Jose M Castaneda blog)

“…I am a WordPress fanatic. I love to learn new things and love to share my learnings. I have always loved open source and have a love-hate relationship with it. I hate how much I love it, sometimes. …”

I thought maybe it had turned out that I too sometimes hated how much I loved WordPress, and maybe that’s why there was some relief in the idea of taking a break from it for some time.

That’s what happened in October 2015 when I had found something that I had deemed important, such that it would probably take my time away from WordPress for months. I stopped WordPress community participation for a while. It felt sad yet liberating. And I re-discovered the essence of why I do WordPress as a type of “school” in the first place — to learn about Software Development and Support.

Note: This post was pre-published on 2016-09-09.

Note: This post was re-pre-published on 2016-10-28.


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wieldlinux.com

For a Software Development and Support Engineer What About Making Networking into an Asset and Placing a Dollar Value on It?

To become serious about the value of networking, the following is an idea how a Software Development and Support Engineer (SDASE) might use money as a catalyst for professional networking.

Let me start by saying AHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAA!!!

That's what I sounded like out loud when I began thinking about this idea.

I'm a Software Development and Support Engineer (SDASE) who's historically shy about professional networking.

But I think professional networking's extremely valuable.

But some other people think it's valuable, and some others don't.

How to break the ice, approach others about networking with me, and explicitly express to my colleague that I value their networking with me?

I will pay them money.

The answer is that I can offer to pay my colleague to talk with me about professional career topics.

For example I will offer a coworker $1 cash for every time they listen to my answer after having asked me the question of "how is the project going?"

That's it.

There will be caveats and exceptions. Like some colleagues may be offended, or some may be too busy etc. However, I think some colleagues will appreciate the playful yet professional aspect of this idea, and maybe, the idea of the dollar value is what will make the difference in playfulness to get them to agree when they otherwise wouldn't have!

Or twists/variations may arise, Like treat a colleague to a coffee instead of $1 cash. Or a variation like pay a colleague $1 to be my "wing person" -- accompany me to a local tech meetup. Or maybe the colleague wants $5. Or however much we agree it's worth!

Or of course, it will work both ways -- If my colleague offers me $1 to listen the description of how their professional project is going, or to be their "wing person" to a tech meetup, then I can consider doing so.

The idea of monetizing professional career networking among SDASE colleagues fits inline with the whole idea of us all adding value to our careers; indeed, there is symbolism in adding a dollar to my or my associate's pocket, while at the same time adding value to the depth of our professional relationship.

The point is, this idea could be used by me as I'm upping my game and becoming serious. I'm becoming serious about communicating the value of networking, and becoming serious about using money as a catalyst for professional networking.

One more strategy for getting out there and networking professionally!

This idea is an experiment. How could this work out, or how might it fail?

Hahahha I just realized this idea might have been inspired by last night me having watched the "Mad Men" tv show episode where the Peggy character and them go to Burger Chef, and pay customers to tell them what they think about Burger Chef -- Marketing research.

In conclusion, to become serious about the value of networking, a SDASE might using money as a catalyst for professional networking.

Note: this blog post is dedicated to the folks over at supportdriven.slack.com, for week 1 of the 2016 6-week writing challenge. (more details here: "Stretch your Typing Fingers – Support Driven 6 Week Writing Challenge" ( https://supportdriven.com/2016/10/21/stretch-your-typing-fingers-support-driven-6-week-writing-challenge ))

tags: #challenge, #mingling


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2017-02-01

wieldlinux.com

Thoughts on Having Listened to Delivering Happiness AudioBook (audio book by Tony Hsieh)

I developed an interest in how Automattic company does Software Customer Support. I listened to an audio recording of a book popular in WordPress.com Happiness Engineer (Software Customer Support Engineer) employee circles: Hsieh, Tony. “Delivering Happiness:A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose”

I enjoyed the early chapters. They focused on the broad topic of “profit” and mostly were stories of Tony Hsieh’s entrepreneurship through the years.

Then I also enjoyed the middle section of the book which focused on “passion”. Stories in this part of the book were sometimes about how Tony got interested in Zappos company and how he an his colleagues grew it in its earlier years.

The last part of the book broadly focused on “purpose”. And parts in the middle-to-end of the book started talking heavily about Zappos company culture, events that transpired at Zappos company and with its people. I have to say that some parts in the middle-to-end I didn’t enjoy as much.

The three parts of “profit”, “passion” and “purpose” were mentioned by Tony within the book– I didn’t create these labels.

What(‘s) (are) my take-away(s), and what did I think?

Over all, I very much enjoyed the book.

How does it relate to Software Customer Support, and, why does a Automattic Happiness Engineer like to read it– and what from the book can I apply to my own role as a Software Customer Support Engineer?

A big take-away on software customer support from the book is that customer support can be a way to differentiate one’s company. A story from the book comes to mind when Tony Hsieh encouraged a non-Zappos friend to call Zappos and ask where’s the best place to order pizza. And the Zappos phone agent hardly missed a beat and did help the caller friend look up a pizza place.

Another take-away is that Tony says the company put a lot of resources into building a library and building a set of courses/classes, and effort to hire within and to encourage employees to move into higher-skilled roles in the company. My thought at this point of the book is that I wished to know more about how the employees viewed the courses/classes. At this time the company was hundreds of employees. I wanted to know more about how the employees view the courses/classes, and who among the employees participated in the courses/classes.)

I guess I’ll have to keep thinking about it, maybe read the paper version of the book later.

Note: This post was pre-published on 2016-09-09.

Note: This post was re-pre-published on 2016-10-28.


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2017-01-01
wieldlinux.com

Previously Unpublished Rant from a Few Years Ago on Support Not Being a Thing

I just found this rant that I had written a few years ago and never published, on Support Engineer Not Being a Thing. I’ve since reconsidered a lot of the points and found them to be largely untrue. However, the unedited rant pasted below reminds me how, even though Support can be, and is, a thing, sometimes it *feels* like its not.

——
“Is Support a thing? No, it is not a thing.

After some thought, Support is not a thing. Meaning Software Support Engineer or Software Customer Support Agent is not a thing. There is no college degree that leads up to it. It is an operational job like a military job. Events like UserConf is a product of its parent company. And SupportOps.co is close and I love it, but it is small, and its panelists are from software companies that market software to Support agents.
At the manager level, Support starts to become a thing. But at the agent level it is not a thing.
It’s a role one falls into, not one chooses.
What is the main point here? The point is Support is not a career, not a chosen profession, not a thing.”
——

Conclusion is that although Support can be a thing, and is a thing, sometimes, one in a support role can *feel* like it is not a thing and not a career.

Note: This post was pre-published on 2016-09-09.
Note: This post was re-pre-published on 2016-10-28.



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2016-12-01

wieldlinux.com

As a Software Developer Exercising my Ability to take a Break from Answering a Software Behavior Question

(written from earlier notes, and from events that transpired before publish-time)

I’ve been working on trying to answer this question for about two hours:

Announcements are not showing as expected ( https://www.evan-herman.com/wordpre...#post-5459 )

I’ve looked at the site in question, installed the WordPress plugin on my localhost, looked through the page source, looked through the page in Firebug, searched through the source code of the WordPress plugin, searched through a sql dump of the localhost MySQL database with some sample timeline announcements.

I believe it has something to do with this line of css I see in Firebug inspector:

.cd-timeline-block:nth-child(2n)

, and these lines I find in a php file:

.cd-timeline-block:nth-child(odd) .cd-timeline-content::before {

.cd-timeline-block:nth-child(even) .cd-timeline-content::before {

But I still don’t fully know when nor how the “nth-child(” is triggering the announcement to show up on the left vs. the right, let alone how to control this.

Moving on. I took a one-day break, then picked it up again.

Now I started to feel like its my skills are not sharp enough and feel like that’s why I’m not able to find the answer to this question quickly enough. So I start to read a tutorial on how to use the Firebug JavaScript debugger.

But a few minutes in, I realize this isn’t going to get the question answered. As a Software Developer I need to exercise my ability to step away from the issue.

I’ve already learned some things in searching for the answer to this question, about the timeline-express WordPress plugin, about Firebug, about JavaScript, and about CSS. No, I haven’t solved the question, however it’s time to accept the fact that this question is above my level. It’s best for me to move on to another question that challenges me but that I’m not wasting effort by way of struggling.

In a blog post I wrote about: The Importance of Regrouping after 30 Minutes When Working on an Involved Tech Support Case ( http://wieldlinux.com/?p=14 ) I’ll now take my own advice from that post and realize that: “…it’s time to regroup and either get input from a colleague, set the case aside for a while, … or otherwise pause the case …”

In that older post, I’d written that I’d learned the importance of the ability to regroup and pause work on an issue. Now today I’ll exercise that ability.

Note: This post was pre-published on 2016-09-08.
Note: This post was re-pre-published on 2016-10-27.



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2016-11-01

wieldlinux.com

My Software Developer and Support Engineer Blog is my Career

I just realized that for me, my blog is my Career.

Here’s exactly how I can develop my career by writing my blog:
– Starting today, every _x_ days, I blog a specific record of what I did in my job or life that aligns with my career. For example I could once a week (while it is still fresh in my head) Write down a few bullet points of my main accomplishments from the past week. Take out any confidential information, and it becomes a blog post.
– Say a year goes by and by that time I really want to get promoted to a more senior role.
– Now I send an email to the manager, that refers to specific, individual blog posts of my accomplishments. I look on my job board for a role similar to the role I’ve been doing, but more challenging role than the role I’ve been doing.

I find that because of my blogging, I now have _x_ specific records telling how I did the job that aligns with my career. Say for example I was a Junior Woodchuck for 1 year. And now I really want to apply to be a Senior Woodchuck in the company. I look back and see that in my blog posts, 10 of the posts described accomplishments that fit the core duties of a Senior Woodchuck. Bingo! I Write a letter to my manager for the Senior Woodchuck position with links to those ten(10) blog posts that prove that during the past year’s time, I’ve *already been performing the Senior Woodchuck role*.

What tools do I need to accomplish this?
– My blog containing my actual blog posts.
– A system that lets me write records of what I did throughout the week(s)/year(s).

Without the blog, I don’t have a public, available, trustworthy record of my weekly/yearly/lifetime accomplishments; I have no career– I only have a job.

With the blog, I have a public, available, trustworthy record of my weekly/yearly/lifetime accomplishments; I have a career. The Blog is important and is my career.

In the above ways, and with the above tools, I make my blog. This blog represents my Career. Thus the blog *is* my Software Developer and Support Engineer career.

Note: This post was pre-published on 2016-09-08.
Note: This post was re-pre-published on 2016-10-27.



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wieldlinux.com

Working and Investing and A Successful Software Engineer Career

Where working and investing intersect, there are the elements of a successful career. When a Software Engineer understands business and finance It will help them to do well in their career.

In March 2016, I left a note for myself to write a blog post about: "as a software engineer how financial literacy affects me"

More than six months later, I'm reading that note.

It's sticking.

I haven't stopped thinking about financial literacy since then. I've been reading books about investing such as these:

**     Rich Dad, Poor Dad : Kiyosaki, Robert T. ( https://bpl.bibliocommons.com/..._poor_dad )
**     The Wall Street Journal Guide to Understanding Money ( https://bpl.bibliocommons.com/..._money_amp_investing )
**     Rich Woman : Kiyosaki, Kim ( https://bpl.bibliocommons.com/item/show/1176693075 )
**     Start your Own Corporation : Sutton, Garrett ( https://bpl.bibliocommons.com/...own_corporation )
**     The Wall Street Journal Complete Home Owner's Guidebook : Crook, David ( https://bpl.bibliocommons.com...home_owners_guidebook )

Also since then, I've blogged about:

"On Software Development and Support Engineer Pay Rate" ( http://wieldlinux.com/2016.php#2016-07-01 )

, and:

"For a Software Development and Support Engineer Finances are Important" ( http://wieldlinux.com/2016.php#2016-06-04 )

, and I've changed my blog tagline to:

"Stretching, investing, and working. Mingling." (Note: the addition of "..., investing, ...")

In other words, I'm starting to pay more attention to finances and investing, and blog about it.

Today six months later I came across a quote on a blog post that struck me as a description of how a low-level of financial literacy has affected me as a Software Engineer.

"...“regular employees,” which just means they’re businessmen with self-confidence issues and poor business skills. ..."
( http://www.kalzumeus.com/20...-negotiation/ ).

The idea of the quote is that knowledge of how a business works is beneficial to everyone, and everyone is affected by businesses and how they run, whether they know it or not (or like it or not), therefore a "regular employee" is at a disadvantage because they are subject to how a business works while at the same time not understanding how a business works.

(although I'd call myself "businesspeople" instead of businessmen)

Why does the above quote particularly strike me in the context of my own life as a financially illiterate Software Engineer?

One could say I've long thought of myself as a "regular employee".

What does that mean for people like me in the financial and business world?

After starting to respect money more and reading a bit about it, I start to realize the truth in this idea that we are all business people, just some more ignorant of business and finance than others. (myself included first)

The point is, where working and investing intersect, there are the elements of a successful career. When a Software Engineer understands business and finance It will help them to do well in their career.

tags: #working, #investing



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wieldlinux.com

My Goal of Financial Independence and how to Reach it Via Web Developer Professionalism

My goal and how to get to it step-by-step as directly as possible.

My goal is to maintain a state of financial independence, so that if I can't work (for any one of numerous reasons like disability, unemployment, old age, need to care for a disabled loved one, want to travel the world for a month in the summer, etc. etc. ) then my income will still support me until I get back to work.

How to attain financial independence?

Buy sufficient quantity of cash flowing assets.

How to buy sufficient quantity of cash flowing assets?

Get an allowance sufficiently high to cover expeses *plus asset purchases*.

How to get an allowance sufficiently high?

Get a salary sufficiently high.

How to get a salary sufficiently high?

Sell my professional employment status for a high price. (others would say "get a job with a high salary", but I find my description here is more accurate for what I'm actually doing)

How to sell my professional employment status for a high price?

Properly market my professional employment status.

How to properly market my professional employment status?

Constantly be professional, and be vocal about it with others while I'm doing it.

How to constantly be professional, and be vocal about it with others while I'm doing it?

Constantly pay attention to how others are being professional, and pay attention to how they are being vocal with me as they do it.

The above is a map of my goal of financial independence, and how to reach it via Web Developer professionalism. It starts with listening to other vocal professionals, progresses through being professional and through selling my professionalism, and ends with financial independence.

Tags: #investing, #working, #mingling



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wieldlinux.com

Proposing Steps to Author a Public Professional Review To Learn and to Help Career Development

Note: Some inspiration for this was gotten from: Nicholas Tart, "10 Tips for Creating Interviews for your Blog" ( http://www.incomediary.com/10-tips-creating-awesome-interviews-blog )

To learn and help professional career development, how about I do a mini-story highlighting the public online activity of a fellow professional? For example write a blog post refererencing what I saw another Web Developer writing, posting, publishing, or chatting about in public online, and add my thoughts to it.

Note: I read that when writing about someone else's blog, the etiquette is to do all of the following. Thus when proposing these steps I'm including them:
1.) In my post, link + attribute their post,
2.) Leave a comment on their post telling them that I wrote about their post,
3.) Tweet / social-media-mention it to them on twitter or on social-media.

So here are the steps I'm proposing, here in the form of a template/Runthrough, using myself as an example:


A.) First, link to Morgan's messages/posts that are being mentioned as the topic of the Review.

B.) Next, as an introduction to how I gained access to Morgan's work, write a sentence to explain that Morgan actively posted in the public forum and that's how I was able to publicly see his messages/posts.

C.) Next, as an introduction to the author (Morgan), write a sentence about how I came to know of the persona of Morgan. For example write a sentence that explains that I started a habit of visiting a specific website where I have been seeing Morgan's blog posts, tweets, and/or slack messages and forum posts, etc. etc.

D.) Next, the body of the mini-story, write a story describing what Morgan published or did, how it is professional in nature, why I think it's professional and noteworthy, (or not professional and/or not noteworthy) and including links to the messages and posts.

E.) Next, write an sentence that serves as an open message of thanks to Morgan for having published these messages/posts. Link to Morgan's sites/profiles.

F.) Finally, tweet at Morgan (message him on social media) to let him know you blogged about him.


In one blog post, I started to use a process similar to this. I felt good with the result. Although it does take nerve to write this sort of post.

Link to post where I used a process similar to this:
Inspired by the Persona of Jeff Vincent – Clearing my Calendar to Zero and Managing my Software Developer Career and Managing my Life ( http://wieldlinux.com/2016.php#2016-03-24 )

tags: #mingling



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wieldlinux.com

Testing Early Version of Mzz-stat WordPress Plugin

In December 2015, I installed an early version of my Mzz-stat plugin live on my own website. It was capturing site hits data. (timestamp and which-page-visited)

The purpose was twofold:
1. I felt it was ready for production -- ready to be used on a live site. As such, of course I wanted to use it on my own site. It would tell me how many total hits I had, and would show me the last 20 hits data (timestamp and which page visited)

2. I would keep CrazyStat ( http://www.christosoft.de/CrazyStat ) installed alongside it, and so if it happened that I wanted one additional piece of site statistics that my plugin didn't have, I'd look to CrazyStat for this info. Then I'd make a note of what info it was that I had wanted, that CrazyStat had but that my plugin didn't have. Then I'd know what feature to add to my plugin next.

To recap, to test my plugin during development, I used my plugin on my live site, so that I could improve my plugin. And at the same time I was developing the plugin from scratch so I could keep its feature-set limited to only the features that I needed.

My goal was that as a total package it'd be better for my situation than my previously preferred stat (hit counter) engine. It'd be native WordPress, would have only the data I wanted captured/displayed, and no clutter!

Descriptive screenshot:





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Regarding the Idea that Software Running on a Computer is a Person and does the work of a Person

1.
A computer software salesperson sell a software solution, saying that the software solution ‘does x y and z…’ and the software solution “takes care of x for you…”. This is common for a software salesperson to say.

2.
When troubleshooting a software solution issue, as a software support engineer I look for the answer to the question: “When and where, Who did What?” ( “____ and ____, ___ did ____?”) and in this question, By “Who” I mean (What person or What software user login of a software running on a computer).

In these two ways appears the idea that software-running-on-a-computer is a person and does the work of a person.

Note: This post was pre-published on 2016-09-08.


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Web Developer Work Conversations in the Context of the Company's Bottom Line

For a Web Developer work conversations should be in the context of the company's bottom Line. (In the context of how one's work adds to the company's profitability)

When the boss asks "how are things", really the boss means "How are things in terms of your current project adding to the company's bottom line?"!

Is it really my job to listen and talk in this context?

Yes.

Is it also my job as Web Developer *to realize* (to figure out) that is that is the context that's being used -- to realize what is really being asked?

Yes. That, too -- the figuring out-- is also the job of the Web Developer -- is my job.

In conclusion, as a Web Developer it's my job to converse about my daily work in terms of how it adds to the company's bottom line, also my job to have figured this out..

Having thought this through, I feel good, and feel able to do my job and grow my career!

Tags: #working

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wieldlinux.com

For a Software Developer is a Salary More Like a Dial or Like a Switch?

To give at least some quantification context to this post. This article "2015-2016 Dice Salary Survey" wrote that: "...Average technology salaries in the U.S. [increased] to $96,370 annually..." ( http://media.dice.com/...-salary-survey/ )

So take an arbitrary scenario where a Software Developer's yearly salary is currently $96,370.

Is it a switch where the Developer is either paid $96,370, -- or else isn't employed?

Or is it a dial where the Developer could either somewhere in a flexible range that is extremely loosely surrounding $96,370 -- could even be half that or could be double that, -- or else isn't employed?

Or?

*and* who controls the switch/dial?

The hiring manager? HR person? Employee? Of all three in a joint meeting? Or?

Tags: #working

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wieldlinux.com

For a Software Developer How to Deal with Fear and Vulnerability that Comes with Certain Kinds of Consistency

In professional life, I want to do something that improves my life or that is required of me, but that no one else does. For me it has in the past specifically been either taking a power-nap, or doing 2-mins-per-hour of yoga-stretching-exercises, or daily writing-and-sending my weekly report to my supervisor.

How did I realize that I have insecurity surrounding these types of exercises? These are things that I want to do hourly or daily. Consistently. And as such I know I'll be judged by my peers for doing them and for doing them on a consistent basis. And that people will talk about how I do these things -- my character will be defined by my habitually doing these activities.

I realized from reading the concept of HRT from the book "Team Geek" (Sussman and Fitzpatrick), and from my experience, that this is insecurity.

Solution? If it's important, then do it. The three above are examples. Stretching for two minutes per hour is important for my health so I should do it throughout every day. When I'm burnt out, taking a power-nap is important so on those occasions I should take a power nap during my break time at work. As the sole employee under my supervisor, if I am asked to write a daily report to my boss of what I've done, even when I know my nearby colleagues have not been asked to do the same for their supervisors, then I should do it. I should do it and if colleagues judge me as the person who does this and it becomes part of my identity, then I should acknowledge that and keep doing it.

Persevere with confidence. It's work, it's not easy, it can be uncomfortable. Colleagues will judge me for what I do and don't do. But a professional works through it -- indeed that's what makes them professional.

Tags: #working

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wieldlinux.com

Software Developer One Specific Professional Networking Tip And How It Has Worked for Me

This has to do with improving a Software Developer’s soft skills, has to do with how to talk more with others.

In another post I wrote about how to do networking deliberately and on to do it on a schedule. ( For a Software Developer How to Network (http://wieldlinux.com/2016.php#2016-08-31 http://wieldlinux.com/?p=1374 )

That’s another topic — this post covers one specific part of that previous post.

Today’s tip is to, when calling someone to network, make sure to *explicitly mention that the reason I called is to say hi, to ask how they are doing, and to chat*

The key here is to tell the person up front that’s what I’m doing.

That way it’s not weird that I seemingly spontaneously call the person. Also saying this up front clears the air and sets the expectation — I’m not calling to sell them something, and it’s not an emergency call, and I’m not calling to give them something — it’s a networking call — I’m calling specifically to say hi, ask how they are doing, and chat!

Interestingly I fisrt developed this tip for myself with phone call networking and not until later started to use it for in-person and written-correspondence networking.

The times I’ve used this tip, I’ve had good results with the person positively receiving this type of networking call.

Another tip is: to not take it personally if someone doesn’t respond or if someone says now’s not a good time or if someone says they’re busy.

However those are for other days.

Today’s tip is to tell the person that this is why you’re calling.

Tags: #working


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wieldlinux.com

For a Software Development and Support Engineer How to Become Better at Something

I recently wrote asking how salary is directly linked to professionalism. (See: “23 Questions Regarding American Professional Cultural Truths Around Performance and Professionalism and Identity and Pay Rate” http://wieldlinux.com/2016.php?2016-09-04#2016-09-04 )

So how to get higher salary?

Up one’s professionalism.

What if an SDASE is having a hard time– it’s been months or years and still hasn’t figured out how to up their professionalism?

Research how to up one’s professionalism.

What if one’s also not good at researching how to up one’s professionalism?

Research how to become better at researching.

In other words, the first step may be to step back further and research even more elementary such as “how to become better at something”.

This is what I’m now googling– “how to become better at something”.

Tags: #working



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wieldlinux.com

23 Questions Regarding American Professional Cultural Truths Around Performance and Professionalism and Identity and Pay Rate

Is it a popular American cultural belief that a professional’s *performance* is tied to and determined by an individual’s professionalism?

(professionalism here meaning an individual’s professional identity)

Is a professional’s performance seen by one’s peers as being largely static?

Is a professional’s professionalism seen by one’s peers as being largely static?

Is the belief that some employees perform better/higher than others?

Furthermore, is it that in general, within any given year for any given employee, the employee’s performance is expected to remain constant?

Is it expected, however, that between years there may be changes in performance, which can be determined in a performance review?

Is a popular American professional cultural belief that *pay rate* is tied to and determined by an individual’s professionalism — their professional identity — and is largely static?

Is the belief that some employees are paid (and viewed as deserving to be paid) higher better/higher than others?

In American culture, is it that in general, within any given year for any given employee, the employee’s pay rate will remain constant? ( but that between years there may be changes in pay rate, which can be determined in a performance review)

In American culture, is it that an employee’s performance is seen as being not directly related to the employee’s salary?

Is it that there is no *direct* relation between performance and salary, and that one doesn’t directly affect the other, and that any percieved relation is likely an indirect relationship based on performance’s / salary’s indirect relationship with professionalism?

Are these truths correct or what?

How close is this to the truth?

Furthermore, in light of the above questions, then what about the following questions?…

Q1. How can one affect one’s performance?

Q2. How can one affect one’s pay rate?

Q3. How can one affect one’s professionalism?

Is A1. that an employee may affect one’s performance direcly by becoming professional or maintaining professionalism?

Is A2. that an employee may affect one’s pay rate direcly by becoming professional or maintaining professionalism?

How can an employee affect one’s professionalism?

Is A3. that an employee can one affect one’s professionalism by listening to other people about being professional, talking with other people about being professional, reading books/texts on being professional, and writing/blogging about being professional?

If one does the above, then during these listenings and talks and readings and writings, if they can pay attention and recieve attention to both the performance-related aspect of professionalism and the pay-rate-related aspect of professionalism, then will they become professional?

Tags: #working



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wieldlinux.com

Moving Web Server from Linux Desktop OS to Linux Server OS

This week my Linux web server had been freezing up so that its GUI login console, as well as the web page serving functionality, had stopped responding.

I saved db and files, and then did a reinstall.

My server’s hardware is a netbook. It has no DVD drive. So I bing-searched and found instructions to install from a USB.
I installed from usb.

For the new server OS I installed Ubuntu Linux Server v. 14.04 lts. It has no GUI desktop. During install I used tasksel to install LAMP and SSH-Server. AFterwards I installed FTP server.

Afterwards, I had to change a line in a configuration file to make it so closing the netbook lid doesn’t cause the laptop to sleep.

I Loaded my MySQL .sql dump file with all the databases back into the new server using the mysql monitor. I FTPed the website files into the home directory, then copied them into the web root using sudo commands.

I used chmod commands to set the directory and file permissions so that the web server can serve the pages to users.

Overall I’m feeling comfortable with running my web server without a GUI. I’ve been able to get it up and running with only a few hours of effort.

I’m happy because I think it’s going to run much better because I’m not serving my website from the a Linux desktop OS as I have in the past.

I set the server to install security updates automatically as well.

I have the extra satisfaction that I’m running server OS to run a server, which is the way it should be. I’m thankful that I was able to use Desktop OS as a server in the past– it helped me have the GUI to fall back to when I was learning to run a server. But now I’m comfortaguible running and administering the Linux server OS without the overhead and complexity of a GUI, it gets the job done perfectly, and it feels satisfying.

Tags: #working



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In Order to Become a Better Software Developer Focusing on WordPress Plugins

To become a better sw dev, I’ve curated a focused list of WP plugins that I follow as Thunderbird RSS feed support feeds.

Tags: #working



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Professional Calendar and To-do List Makeover

I’ve increased my productivity and preserved my sanity. I’ve done so by having made my calendar private, having stopped using recurring tasks, and having moved the to-do items into time slots.

It’s much better. How?

1. I still use Mac Calendar for my to-do list and my Calendar events. I like how I can edit items either by drag-and-drop or by text-field & dropdown-selector.

2. I disconnected my calendar from shared cloud calendar accounts and disconnected the my calendar from email. Basically its on the local hard drive and not connected to any other calendar account or email.

3. I no longer use the “recurring” tasks feature. Instead, I tag it with a word that reminds me that it is a recurring task, like “weekly” or “daily” or “monthly” and as I finish each task I punt the task forward on the calendar.

4. I no longer use the “To-do” section at the top of the Mac Calendar. That’s the section at the top that’s meant for tasks that are assigned to a day but not to a particular time-of-day. Instead I put everything as calendar events with a time assigned to them in the main calendar event section.

How does that all work and make it better and make it more organized?

Regarding 2., above. Since I disconnected my calendar and made it local, this means Calendar items stay where I put them, and only appear, disappear, and move around on my calendar when I personally am the one to move them. I control my calendar items, so I’m in control of my tasks, my goals, my day, my career, and my life!

A drawback to this is that I have to manually take the time to create or delete the item from my calendar. However that’s also the point- I have to actually look at, think about, and know about each and every calendar event, as it goes on or off the calendar, which makes me much more aware of my schedule and more careful of what goes on and comes off my calendar. The overall benefit is x100- I can really feel the difference!

Regarding 3., above. How does that work, not using recurring tasks? So say its a daily recurring task. I do it done today. Then I drag the calendar event and drop it onto the same time the next day. What’s the benefit? The benefit is with one glance I see the *true number* of tasks before me. In contrast, before it appeared filled up with both one-time tasks and recurring tasks, with no way of telling them apart and I was hopeless. Now, I glance and I know how many tasks lie ahead of me and my calendar doesn’t feel full *so far in the future*.

Regarding 4., above. How does that work, not using the daily to-do section, and instead giving every item a specific time-of-day? Well I still have tasks that don’t really *need* to have a specific time-down-to-the-minute-or-hour attached to them, but however that do need to get done as soon as possible. But it was confusing to have some tasks in the main calendar area and others in the top to-do section — my mind boggled trying to figure out whether I should be working on one of the to-do items at the top or one of the calendar events in the main area. 好累! Now instead I assign each of these to-do tasks as a half-hour-long calendar event and I drag it and drop it roughly to the timeslot where I think I will be able to get it done. Also, I put a special tag in front of it that reminds me that this is a “to-do” item and is only roughly attached to the timeslot where I put it. I keep a manageable amount (half-dozen-or-so) of outstanding to-do items. I usually drag-and-drop them throughout the day and put them
in a clump surrounding the 3-hour-long period of time when I think I can get them done. When I complete an item, I delete it off the calendar. When an important task comes along, I create an item for it and put it on the calendar clumped next to the others. Sometimes I have closer to a dozen outstanding to-do items so they take up much more space on the calendar or are arranged much more densely on the calendar, or both. I float the clumps of to-do list items to open spaces such as a large open mid-morning slot, or a large open mid-afternoon slot, or even an open night-time slot or an open early-morning slot.

Maybe later I’ll be able to re-connect my calendar to my shared cloud calendar accounts and to my email, be able to take advantage of recurring tasks, and be able to stay sane while using the to-do area at the top. I envision this as happening organically, at such time when I again realize that I need these features. But for now, what I’ve described here above is working well for me.

Well, that’s how I’ve changed my to-do and calendar work flow for the better. I made my calendar private and stopped using recurring tasks and moved all items (both to-do and events) to the main/bottom calendar event area. I love it! My productivity has risen and my sanity has maintained. Amazing!


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wieldlinux.com

For a Software Developer How to Network

For a Software Developer it’s important to network professionally.

Have a list of some people’s names with whom you want to network. At a pace which you feel comfortable (it could be three per day or it could be one per month; whatever is your style!) call the first person on the list, and first off say “just checking in” or “I’m calling to say hi and see how you’re doing. What’s going on with you?”

And then listen to what they say.

If no answer or I don’t have their number , then I either text or email a follow-up note.

The point is to stay in touch, be friendly, and say hi. This can facilitate you both helping each other – now or in the future.

This is how a sw dev can network professionally.

Ideally it can end in either of you landing a job now or in the future – through s friend of a friend. However that is a side effect of what’s going on here which is friendship, trust-building and prof networking.

Finally, move that person’s name from first to last place on the list. Repeat with the next name on the list at your own comfortable pace (But, make sure that you have the self-discipline to follow through and do it at regular intervals at this pre-determined pace).

Finally-finally, Note that some people won’t want to network. Either cycle their name down on the list to try when it comes around again, or, take their name off the list. We only want to network with those who are open to networking with us! Our goal is that as a whole, we’re not bugging anybody, we’re keeping it relaxed, and we’re networking professionally.

Tags: #mingling

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wieldlinux.com

WordPress Plugin Development Recovery

I completed a large part of the mzz-stat WordPress plugin.

Now I’ve gotten a bit burned out from all this, and to recover, at home I am resting and reading the book “Professional WordPress Plugin Development” a chapter at a time.

Tags: #working


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wieldlinux.com

Updated To-Do List for Mzz-stat Plugin for WordPress

Previously I wrote about:

To-Do List for Mzzstat WordPress Plugin

http://wieldlinux.com/2015.php?2015-08-14#2015-08-14 http://wieldlinux.com/?p=1147

Here’s the link to the current revision at the time of this blog post writing: https://github.com/mjassen/mzz-stat/t...2745

Since then, I’ve done this::

– Added a changelog file and started writing the changes there as I do them.

– Removed hard-coded PHP MySQL database calls, replaced them instead with native WordPress database calls.

– Added plugin install logic and plugin removal logic, including code to install and remove the database table and data.

Here’s my updated to-do list. It has changed to become more focused. Some items taken out and new added. (Re-prioritized next-steps for the development of the plugin)

1. Remove front-end shortcode feature; instead move it to a dashboard area where an admin can view the stat(s). The reason is that the user of this plugin is envisioned to be the WordPress site admin and not a site visitor.

2. More clearly define the purpose of the plugin and how to use it. Write these clearly into the readme of the plugin. start to get the plugin ready for submission to the WordPress plugin repository. (Use this codex article (and the pages it links to) as a starting point guide: “Plugin Submission and Promotion” ( https://codex.wordpress.org..._and_Promotion )

3. Submit the plugin to the WordPress.org plugins repository.

4. In addition to the total site visitors that now can be displayed, while it’s moved to the admin area, let’s also display a per-month and per-day visit count breakdown.

5. In the proposed admin stats area, let’s display a list of which URIs the visitor visited. (this is already captured, now let’s display it to the admin)



That’s what I’ve done and what I will do, to further develop the mzz-stat plugin.

tags: #wordpress



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wieldlinux.com

Notes from During Developing PHP WordPress Software

I updated the mzz-stat Software PHP WordPress plugin to use native WordPress database calls to select the count of page hits from the database.

I tried to set up git to push to github.com, but didn’t succeed so for now went back to using text files and pasting in the github.com interface. I’ll have to try again later to adopt git for this.

Next week I’ll make the database inserts for the mzz-stat plugin use the native database calls. Then make native install/uninstall script part of the plugin.

I consider how soon it’ll be ready for submitting the mzz-stat plugin to the wordpress plugins repository.

I read up on, and subsequently make note of, what needs to be done — 4 steps that I need to to to make this happen (to make the plugin be ready for submission to the WP.org repo). They mostly involve documenting my plugin well, as I see the Codex says that’s needed prior to publishing a plugin on the official WordPress repository.

The 4 things:
To submit plugin to WordPress repo, I should be very clear about these. Document these:
– What does the plugin do? (What’s its purpose– what problem does it solve– why was it created and why does it exist?)
– How to use and install the plugin?
– How to get support for the plugin?
– Where to get/ download the plugin?

I’m also considering rather than working on my mzz-stat a plugin, insted finding an actual other user or plugin (developer) , and trying to work with them to help themn write a plugin to solve their problem.

In any case, an idea is that in order for my work to matter, two criteria need be met: 1. I need to have at least one user other than myself actively using the plugin, and 2. The plugin needs to be on the WordPress plugins repository.

tags: #working



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Software PHP WordPress Developer Update About Using Git and Github.com

I while back, I did this. I got my git client partway configured to push to my github.com repository.

I got through many error/warning/notice messages.

Then I prepared to get throug the latest notice message that the git client was showing, so that I could push my mzz-stat project to github via Linux Ubuntu git client.

Tags: #working



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As a Software Developer Some Things I have Developed

As a Software Developer here are some things on which I’ve worked.

– Integrated QR code label-printing, and QR code scanning functionality into a PHP script.
– Merged a heavily modified branch of PHP code back into the trunk.
– In PHP and SQL, to control how a scheduled report is calculated, fixed a program’s date-calculation code.
– In PHP, HTML, JavaScript, jQuery, and CSS, modified a program to, on the web page, display photos and a working email form.
– Patched a VBScript HTA program in the way it read from and wrote to the Windows registry.
– Talked with the stakeholder on how to add their desired serial/bulk data-object processing functionality to a PHP + SQL -based program, and then created (wrote) a textual plan of how the new functionality would work.
– Fixed a user-reported bug in a PHP + SQL application — corrected it to draw the data from the correct location.



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wieldlinux.com

On Beginning the Journey of Moving from a Lower-level to a Senior-level Software Development and Support Engineer

I realized today that as a Software Development and Support Engineer, I’m not a Senior-level Software Development and Support Engineer. What’s the bad of this? It was a temporary shot to my ego in order to get past this, and, the fact that I’m not already a Senior Software Development and Support Engineer.

The good? Now I’m able to know that I’m truly not yet a Senior-level Software Development and Support Engineer, I know exactly where I stand at this moment professionally, and therefore it’s easy to know what professional level to aim for next: Senior Software Development and Support Engineer. I’ll set specific incremental goals to get me towards this big goal.

It was hard for me realizing that I’m not already senior. Because this is not something that anyone told me directly like: “Hey you might think you are a senior-level Support Engineer, but you’re not.”

One fallacy that I had embraced up until recently was that since I’ve been doing Software Development and Support Engineer role for 6+ years at this point, was that I wrongly thought that the number of years spent in a role entitle me to a Senior title.

That’s another lesson I learned. I need to pay attention to my title and my role and realize what they both are.

Another very hard part of this is, in hindsight, remembering seeing the smirks on colleagues’ faces whenever I’ve made a junior comment or junior mistake on-the-job.

Now looking back objectively, I see that smirks in times like these should have been professional cues, to prompt me to objectively analyze the situation and figure out what my colleagues were seeing as distasteful or inexperienced of my professional behavior.

Instead, what I had been doing when colleagues have smirked at my speech or actions in a professional setting, is that I had been taking it personally and blocking it out of my mind. I had been just being hurt by it and internalizing the emotional pain, and my reaction had been to deny to myself that I was actually doing/saying anything unprofessional/junior, and falsely tell myself that ‘…if my smirking colleague had really thought that I had done something unprofessional/junior, then they would have told me directly…’

Now what?

Armed with the knowledge that now I’m a Lower-level, I’ll now aim to become a Senior Software Development and Support Engineer, I’ll set specific goals to get me there, and along the way I’ll pay attention to my progress and my performance. And I’ll pay closer to my colleagues’ intonations, take them professionally not personally, and use them as a cue to help me get there.

Edit: This post was previously published at: wieldlinux.com/2016-07-15-mid-to-senior-engineer.php


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Support is Being There

Supportops.co podcast episode #96 – “Make Meetings Count” with guest Justin Seymour. ( http://supportops.co/96-make-meetings-count/ ) Near the beginning of the episode, Justin says something like: [as HelpScout customer support, it’s our job to ] ‘be present for the customers’.

I liked hearing this because it seems accurate.

I’ve been thinking how it’s not accurate to describe Software Customer Support role as “helping the customers”, nor is it accurate to describe it as ‘problem solving’. ( see What Support is for a Software Support and Development Engineer http://wieldlinux.com/?p=1333 )

Instead, I like this description of ‘being present for the customers’. Also I like “triaging customer issues” or “troubleshooting customer issues”.

What does this mean for me as a software support person? “being present for the customer”. describes “being”, not *doing*. So in other words as a support person the accurate description of my job is to just be there and have conversations with customers, direct them how to use our software. Tell the customer how they can well use our software.

Indeed it is as some have previously discussed — on the supportdriven.com supportdriven.slack.com chat — software customer support is like being a Hotel Concierge / Front-desk Role.

Edit: This post was previously published at: wieldlinux.com/2016-07-03-support-is-being-there.php


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Driven Support Not Free

How to get a “driven” Support job? (i.e. a Software Customer Support job in the attitude of the supportdriven.com community in 2015-2016 ) Maybe look for a company where the customers are valued and the role of support is empowered and valued.

Conversely, Be scrutinizing if these are anywhere in the sales or marketing messages:

Support is free

or

it comes with support

or

unlimited support

Which might indicate a company-wide attitude.

Edit: This post was previously published at: wieldlinux.com/2016-07-02-driven-support-not-free.php



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On Software Development and Support Engineer Pay Rate

How can a Software Development and Support Engineer attain and maintain a high pay rate? I see this is as a great challenge; a high rate of pay is something:
-not easy to want,
-not easy to define,
-not easy to talk about (taboo),
-not easy to understand how to get,
-not easy to get or to maintain.

– Wanted

First, I have to get past the first step. A Software Development and Support Engineer has to want it. Drop it like it’s hot. Do it. Want it because attaining a high pay rate will make a Software Development and Support Engineer’s career and life better, and the act of attaining a high pay rate, in and of itself, won’t adversely affect those others around the Software Development and Support Engineer.

Even though none of these things are easy, a high pay rate needs to be:
-wanted
-defined,
-talked about,
-understood-how-to-get,
-gotten and maintained.

– Defined

In this context, pay isn’t a one-way transaction. It’s not just given by the employer. It’s also not just taken by the employee. It rather is offered and accepted. It’s a relationship, for example in the way that a friendship is a friendship. Pay is somewhat out of one’s control and depends on the actions of others. High pay rate involves offering by the employer(s) and acceptance by the employee(s), as part of an ongoing relationship. However it can also be defined in concrete, essential terms as a quantifiable dollar amount being passed from the employer to the employee.

If as a Software Development and Support Engineer, getting a high pay rate is somewhat out of my control, then how to proceed? How to gain understanding of how to get it?

– Talked about

I posit the next step is to talk about it with others. Same as with anything; if one doesn’t understand how to do something, one should talk with others to figure out how to do it. Talk with others to understand how to get a high rate of pay. Why is this hard though? Because “people are funny about money”. There exists an American cultural taboo about talking openly with others about pay rate, salary and money, that is still at large today.

All the same, the next step is to talk about it.

I’m gonna be discreet in starting conversations. I’m not going to further bother those who indicate they aren’t open to talking about it. At the same time, I’m going to be discreet about my personal finances too (It’s not necessary to share personal financial figures and details– if the conversation gets uncomfortable for me then I’m going to calmly and politely stop the conversation at that point.) Some professionals will be open to talking about pay rates with a Software Development and Support Engineer. I can talk with them about it.

– Understood-how-to-get

In short, my way will be to regularly talk with colleagues (with other professional people) about what’s a professional pay rate, and about how to get a professional pay rate.

The purpose of this talking will be to continually learn and understand what is a professional high pay rate is, and to continually learn and understand how to get such a pay rate.

By iterating this type of conversation with professionals ongoing, what I’ll be doing is starting to define the quantifiable dollar amount of my desired pay rate. By continuing such conversations with colleagues, I’ll be continuing to define the quantifiable dollar amount of my desired pay rate.

What’s next? Getting and maintaining a high rate of pay. I’ll say it straight out– I haven’t yet figured out how to do this.

– Gotten and maintained.

I think attaining it will involve me to regularly and periodically asking for the pay rate. Asking for it from a person who has the power to give it to me, that is. I think maintaining it will involve maintaining a high degree of professionalism and acting like an entrepreneur. But I’m still figuring this part out.

Summary

To summarize, as a Software Development and Support Engineer, I need to want a high rate of pay, realize it’s a relationship with a dollar amount attached to it, discreetly & regularly talk about it with others, and ask for it. I posit these actions and habits are what a Software Development and Support Engineer should do to try to attain a high rate of pay, and thus are what I should do to get a high rate of pay.

Going forward, I’ll need to remember that even with any actions and habits, a high salary is somewhat out of my control, therefore I’ll still need to be persistent, be patient, and iterate.

As a Software Development and Support Engineer, I don’t know how to attain and maintain a high pay rate. Although I don’t know how to do so, and although I will not be able to do it alone, I can want it, define it, talk about it, think about how to get it, try to get it, and (, if gotten,) try to maintain it!

Edit: This post was previously published at: wieldlinux.com/2016-07-01-career-remix-performance-salary.php



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Communicate with the Customer

Once the boss that the Software Customer Support boss reports to told the whole support team to: “…communicate with the customer even if we don’t have an answer and even if we don’t have good news…”

So that brings up the question, is it the job of Support Engineer to “communicate with the customer”, period?

Is that the core of the job– to communicate with the customer?

Edit: This post was previously published at: wieldlinux.com/2016-06-30-communicate-with-the-customer.php



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For a Software Developer When Overwhelmed by Urgent Requests Actionable ways To Overcome the Feeling of Powerlessness

True story — I get to the office and check my messages. I see a message from a customer who asks me to call them “first thing this morning”. At that moment my phone rings — it’s my boss who tells me to call that same customer.

Before I checked my message and got that call, I had another important project on my mind that I had been wanting to do this morning. How to not feel overwhelmed and powerless in this situation?

Here are some actionable ways.

1.) Immediately, before doing anything else, before calling the customer, take a few seconds to create a note of the “urgent” new case and move the case to the current date/time on my calendar. This way I feel that it’s me who is deciding to make it important; me who is moving my calendar and me who is actively deciding to make room on my calendar to make this new case happen right now. This is self empowerment.

2.) Realize that after I make the call and address the “urgent” new case, I’m going to be able to add the call-log-note related to this new urgent case to my “I done this” list after I make the call. Then I’ll be recording my work and getting deserved credit for my effort.

3.) Blog about it. I can do this by first making a quick note to write a blog post about the firefighting event. Then I can follow up and actually write the blog post and publish it to my blog (obfuscating any/all private information of course). This is empowering. Why? Because it allows me to make a record and take ownership of my effort on this case. I could take this one step further and during my next performance review or next job application, I can reference the material from this blog post as an example of my responsiveness and high performance.

4.) I can honestly look at my current top priorities (calendar/to-do) and quickly determine whether this new “urgent” request is *really* more important than my existing top prioirities. If it is more important, then I can actively agree that it is more important, which means that I took the initiative to review it and it was me who made the decision to make this case top priority, and go ahead and confidently address the urgent issue. If the new “urgent” issue actually falls third or fourth on my current list of existing top priorities, then conversely I can actively disagree that it is more important, which means I took the initiative to review it and it is me who made the correct decision that this case is third or fourth priority. I can go ahead and tell my boss that because of this more important case that it’s more benefit to the company to do the other cases first, then confidently put this new “urgent” issue in third or fourth place and do the other two more important ones first. Thus in this way I
am confident, stress-free, comfortable, and retain feeling of power, and I do right by my colleagues to help the priority cases first.

Are these four ways-of-dealing going to be enough to lessen my feeling of powerless-ness? What other ways can I take control of the situation, to keep stress low, and to make this type of firefighting be a daily sustainable activity?

Edit: This post was previously published at: wieldlinux.com/2016-06-29-urgent-cases-powerless-engineer.php



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35-Year-old Developer Learns To Bullshit

Note: I wrote this some months ago. Shout out to supportdriven.com slack chat community for motivating me to write more during the blog #challenge.

Today I turn 35. That’s not the point of this blog post, but it puts this blog post in perspective. The point is that as a 35-year-old Software Development and Support Engineer, I don’t know how to bullshit, but am now learning about it.

I don’t know how to recognize bullshit. But I’m learning.

Here’s what I’ve learned.

A Software Development and Support Engineer is being bullshitted when the other person talks a lot but doesn’t answer the Software Development and Support Engineer’s question. There are other forms of bullshit too but this pattern particularly comes to mind. On a high level what it comes down to is, spending effort on something unimportant is bullshitting. In that sense I can bullshit myself too — if I spend too long trying to do some unimportant task. But between two people, it can take the form of one person wasting the other person’s time by purposely saying something misleading to them. In professional software engineering setting, between two people it can also take the form of Person A talking at length about something non-work-related like a hobby or like their personal life, *and*/*or* Person B listening to be polite.

I’m learning how to recognize bullshit, bullshitters, when I’m being bullshitted, and when someone’s bullshitting me.

I truly believe that by 10 years old, many people were expert bullshitters.

I think that by some time in their teens or twenties, most people can bullshit and/or recognize bullshit. Furthermore by that age, most people assume that everyone else can also bullshit. Thus by getting older than that, and still being bad at bullshitting, there’s a sort of double-tough barrier to cross.

For me to a large extent what I’ve done over the past two or so decades, is that when a person bullshitted me I would tend to not my head, smile, and then from then on avoid that person. From my point of view, it alienated me from a person when I realized that they had bullshitted me — I treated it as them lying to me, and I took it very personally, didn’t bring it up to them (didn’t confront them), internalized it, and tended to avoid conversations with that person from then on. Where has this gotten me? To be honest, now looking back on it, it’s alienated me from a lot of people.

Looking back, but more recently, this is what I was trying to figure out in this previous blog post “For an IT professional it’s a Skill to get an Answer” ( http://wieldlinux.com/2014-12-17-IT-professional-skill-answer.php ). In that post in hindsight I was writing that as a Software Development and Support Engineer it is important to realize when someone’s bullshitting me.

However. This blog post is not supposed to be *all* a rant. Moving on.

I’m moving forward and getting better at bullshitting later-in-life.

In fact I will be as bold as to say that without knowing how to bullshit, a Software Development and Support Engineer won’t be able to do their job! It’s that important. Every day, every conversation, every message exchanged, needs to be quickly analyzed for what level of bullshit it contains. If the bullshit gets in the way of a Software Development and Support Engineer’s important goal, then it must be addressed and either worked through, or else worked around.

Where to go from here? As a Software Development and Support Engineer, once I get good at identifying when someone is bullshitting me, the next step will be to call the person out. When the bullshit gets in the way of my goal I need to every time call the person out — I need to every time confront them and let them know that I’m going to treat their bullshit response as bullshit, and adjust my actions accordingly to continue towards my goal.

Where to go from here in terms of being alienated or not-being-alienated? Looking back in hindsight, now I realize that some degree of bullshit is normal, and the normal thing to do is to evaluate the degree of bullshit vs. the level of importance of the goal that is being impacted/hindered by the bullshit, and then either let it go or confront it *but (and indeed this helps with this) don’t let it negatively affect* my relationship with the other person. Don’t take it personally when it’s not.

Indeed, it turns out that when used with each other between two experienced bullshitters, some bullshit is an effective tool to soften conversations and as a “meta” (alternate/indirect) way of communicating what’s important vs. what’s not important.

What’s a high-level, overall conclusion here? For a Software Development and Support Engineer, no matter what point in one’s life one learns to recognize and properly react to being-bullshitted, knowing how to bullshit is a valuable skill.

( This post is somewhat of a follow-up on my previous post “As a Software Support and Development Engineer I am Bullshitted” (http://wieldlinux.com/2016-05-18-software-engineer-being-bullshitted.php) )

Edit: This post was previously published at: wieldlinux.com/2016-06-28-engineer-35-learning-bullshit.php



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How to React to Possible Bullshitting Situation and Options to Reply

If I feel I’m being bullshitted, then I might want to quickly analyze (try and figure out), and do, the following things:

– Is the person asking me something? (or for something?)

– Is the person telling me something? (or to do something?)

– Is the person fishing for information?

For example they are neither asking nor telling me something — they just say a bunch of bullshit that doesn’t make sense and then pause and wait for a response. This could indicate the person isn’t trying to tell me anything at all but rather is trying to get me to tell them some information. In this case it’s likely important to the person that *I volunteer the information to them*, as opposed to them having to ask me for the information directly. In this case perhaps the person for whatever reason wants to retain the position of power in the conversation, but still wants to get information from me.

– Is the person trying to indirectly/politely say “no” to something?

– Try and figure out by the overall feel, context, tone and types of words that they are using, what their general meaning is.

Ignore some of the details that don’t line up with their overall message. Even if their words are indirect or don’t clearly express a complete idea, their communication might, when taken as a whole, point to what the person is getting at.

– Rephrase the person’s words back to them in a direct, clear, grammatically-complete sentence, and then ask them if that’s what they meant.

– If the person is asking a yes/no question, and the answer won’t be yes or no, then rephrase the person’s question into a non-yes-or-no question, then reply to that non-yes-or-no question, then ask whether that answers their question.

Edit: This post was previously published at: wieldlinux.com/2016-06-27-bullshit-determine-more-information.php



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Software Support and Development Engineer Techniques to Only do Important Tasks and Not Do Bullshit Tasks

For every task in my calendar, before I do it and periodically while working on it, use *feeling* (emotion) to determine whether to keep working on the task or to break from it.

Before and periodically, recall *why* this task is important (the reason for doing it –the overall goal of it).

Then do this.

If I feel this is what I should be working on, and I can remember why I’m working on it, then do it– keep doing it and get it done fast!

If I either feel this isn’t what I should be working on, or I can’t remember why I’m working on it, then do the following.

Ask the next-closest stakeholder to remind me why this is important.

If the other stakeholder replies its not important, or if the other stakeholder doesn’t reply, (or if there is no other stakeholder,) then drop the task! Drop it like it’s hot! (permanently/immediately drop it off my calendar/ list, and don’t worry — if the task really is/was important then it will come up again and can again be re-added to my calendar/list)

Edit: This post was previously published at: wieldlinux.com/2016-06-26-developer-no-bullshit-tasks.php



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As a Software Development and Support Engineer Failing and Succeeding

I’m going to focus on activily failing better. Failing earlier and more often. As a Software Development and Support Engineer I’ve had a fear of failing that’s so bad that it’s that so-called “self-fulfilling prophecy” that results in me failing.

Looking back on a few cases of this, I now see in hindsight that it’s gone like this:

I get a Software Support and Development Engineer task in front of me. It might be a task of “medium” difficulty, which to complete will take back-and forth with other people, over multiple days’ time, and some personal effort.

Then I freeze and just do nothing because I’m scared that I’ll fail. What is the result? Of course because I did nothing, I fail. Self-fulfilling prophecy.

I’m going to try to improve my failing process.

First, in the first hour, within the first two minutes of me knowing about the project, I will estimate whether I can do the project, figure out that I can’t, and tell the stakeholders within the first hour that I’m not going to be able to do this project because X. (X being for example because other projects, full calendar, I lack required Y Access or I lack necessary Z Power). In this way I’ll be failing to do the project, in a way that is better than failing-by-doing-nothing.

Second, I’ll make an attempt to complete one part, iteration, or try at the project, for one hour, then stop, and consider how far done is it? Is it done but missing critical functional elements, and so not done? Or is only done one part of four, and so not done? (Since it really is a medium project, it will be one of these two) Then I’ll tell the stakeholders that I completed one attempt and failed. In this way I’ll be failing to do the project, but in a way that is better than failing-by-doing nothing.

In either of the above, is communicating my progress to the stakeholders in any case, even when the progress is news-of-failure.

In fact, taking it a step further, I’ll communicate every single project of mine as a failure *until the moment that it’s done* at which time I’ll then communicate it as a success.

In other words I’m proposing an “under-promise, over-deliver” method. A key to this though is that I need to A. attempt to complete the project (as opposed to doing nothing) and B. do it with a light heart — with gusto and optimism (as opposed to doing it with a fear of failing)

I know that I’ll find that, compared to the old failing-through-fear-and-inactivity, is this type of actively-often-failing will be magnitudes better.

In summary, I’ll get better at failing. In this way I’ll move towards succeeding.

Edit: This post was previously published at: wieldlinux.com/2016-06-25-engineer-failing-and-succeeding.php



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http://wieldlinux.com/

What Support is for a Software Support and Development Engineer

One time, my support colleague asked me ‘Can you help Customer X from “Company Y? They have a question about “How to do Z).”

What my support colleague meant was “will you triage Customer X’s concern?”, and the immediate answer was simultaneously “yes” and “I don’t know” — yes I can talk to the customer and investigate their concern — but I don’t know yet until the end of the conversation whether I’ll have to say I can’t help them or whether I’ll be able to directly help them.

90% of support is telling a customer I don’t know, in other words not helping the customer, (maybe/usually with a period of deep investigating into the concern), and the other 10% is doing something towards fixing their concern like reporting a bug, giving a refund or answering a direct question.

It’s beneficial for a support person to realize this, because if one goes in thinking of one’s support job as “helping people” or “answering people’s questions” or “making the solution work for the customer”, that is setting up for anxiety and failure.

It might be more accurately described as support is communicating with the customer about both what my company’s solution can do and what my company’s solution can’t do.

Moving on.

For a Software Development and Support Engineer, support is always unique and is never the same person with the same issue.

Support is never the same issue — it’s a unique person with their own question every time. So then why are they treated as all being “Support”?

The answer is that support is largely a triage channel. The job is to triage and send the bulk of the questions to other departments (sales, engineering, etc.) or back to the customer — or to answer a quick 2-minute question.

Now once one realizes that support is triaging large numbers of unique questions, and sending them to the appropriate place, that is great; one can proceed to focus on doing that, and doing it well.

Something else about support. Any communication from every customer could be considered support and triaged by support — support is equipped to begin the conversation supporting anyone with any issue. Furthermore, salespeople, executives, success people, professional services support people, and engineers all, at times, support customers. But for these communications, they are not support conversations, and for these roles their support is not customer support. Why?

Because support is separating post sales customer requests from other customer requests, based solely on that fact. (The fact that the customer is post-sales — they already bought the software) The people in non-support roles don’t log their conversations into the support case ticket system.

So in other words, support is only limited to: 1.) Cases that are post-sales, and 2.) Cases that came in through the “support” channel.

To recap, “Support” is the fraction of a company’s overall customer support effort that is a one-way triage inbox for post-sales customer requests. After the “support” request hits the inbox it goes through initial triage where about 90% of the requests are forwarded or denied as “the reason it’s no is because ___”, and about 10% of the requests are directly fixed or addressed. Support is communicating with the customer about both what my company’s solution can do and what my company’s solution can’t do.

Edit: This post was previously published at: wieldlinux.com/2016-06-24-what-customer-support-is.php



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wieldlinux.com

Listening to Carrie Dils officehours.fm podcast “A Dynamik Change to a Pricing Model, Episode 79” ( http://officehours.fm/podcast/79-2/ )

They start talking about support. and licensing, and Help Scout. and support costs. and more customer support stuff.

Edit: This post was previously published at: wieldlinux.com/2016-06-23-officehours-talking-customer-support.php



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As a Software Development and Support Engineer I need to do fewer things and do them quicker.

That is all.

——

Why is this blog post two sentences?

http://two.sentenc.es (but for blog-writing)

Edit: This post was previously published at: wieldlinux.com/2016-06-22-engineer-fewer-things-quicker.php



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Two-way Proactive Synchronous Support – Merging Marketing and Sales and Support – Customer Success or Customer Experience

The support part of the role of a Software Support and Development Engineer traditionally has been reactive. Tech support or customer support has been long established as a cost center that reacts-to, resolves, and answers these things: customer questions, issues, concerns, and complaints.

Do I call my building maintenance person to ask how they are today? No, I tend to only call them when my plumbing has a problem, or my heating, or when something is wrong or broken or needs fixing. Do I call support when my software isn’t broken? No.

This presents a problem. It means that usually, by the time the customer picks up the phone (or writes the email), the customer at that point already is concerned, unhappy, unimpressed, or confused.

The problem is the customer, and the Customer Support person, is constantly faced with this negative energy. It’s not balanced. It creates an unbalanced life for the customer and for the customer support person. The customer has to call a general number (or a general email address) and ask a stranger for help. This means that the first time the customer and the support person meet, it is over a problem. How terrible is that?

This problem is in part caused by the traditional role of Marketing developing a relationship with the customer then passing the customer to sales, then sales developing a relationship with the customer then passing the customer to support.

How to fix this? What if support was two-way, proactive or synchronous. What does this mean? It means the support person periodically calls or emails the customer and asks how things are. “Hi Jane, I can’t believe 100 days have again passed! It’s me, John from ACME, and it’s time for my regular 100-day call to ask you how our solution’s behaving for you?”

Wow! Amazing — John from ACME has the support strength, foresight, caring and attentiveness to call the customer and introduce himself(or again say hi if they already met 100 days before). John has in effect performed a bit of marketing and sales, by contacting the customer and checking in. This is what nowadays people call Customer Experience or Customer Success. John is a Customer Success Engineer.

What happened here? Well John and Jane are meeting for the first time when Jane likely wasn’t stewing over a problem. The degree of negative energy will likely be much less. Now that they know each other exist and know each other’s names, they will be able to know who to call *if* there *does* ever arise a problem. Also it’s balanced for both people.

Another way to fix this? Welcome the customer to call in any time to talk about the software, even when there’s not a problem.

Traditionally an exception has been that some people give their building maintenance person a baked goods or a bonus money at new year’s day. Also, some companies send a holiday card to their customers on New Year’s day to see how things are going and check up on them and say thanks. And that is something that some companies traditionally have done. The marketing or sales department would have done that.

To summarize, traditional Software Support’s problem of the first support contact being over a problem is caused by marketing and sales being separate from support, and the answer can be merging marketing with sales and with support. The answer can be the support person or the customer reaching out ahead of time to establish a relationship in the beginning, in the manner done nowadays by Customer Success or Customer Experience pros.

Edit: This post was previously published at: wieldlinux.com/2016-06-19-success-merges-marketing-support.php



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As A Software Development and Support Engineer Balancing Consistency with Flexibility

As a Software Support and Development Engineer I must lose consistency and gain flexibility, until I reach a balance.

‘Consistency is the hobgoblin of a small mind’ (quoted from memory – from on the OurSQL Podcast, one of the very early episodes while there was just the founding host Sheeri and there was a “quote of the day’.)

I’ve heard people describe this in other people as, “(He) has demons”.

How can I tone down the consistency just a bit, not value consistency for consistency’s sake, and become more flexible?

As the Trailer Park Boys might say, how can I ‘self smart’ myself — ‘from nature’?

If I can tend away from extreme consistency, and become more flexible in the way I think for high-level aspects of my suite of professional behavior, it will benefit my career greatly.

I heard it quoted elsewhere that ‘the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different outcome’, which is along these same lines.

There can be strength in flexibility. Consistency can be a strength but is perhaps at direct odds with flexibility which is also strength.

Therefore they must be balanced.

I need to lose consistency and gain flexibility.

In conclusion, as a Software Support and Development Engineer I must lose consistency and gain flexibility, until I reach a balance.

Edit: This post was previously published at: wieldlinux.com/2016-06-10-engineer-balance-consistency-flexibility.php



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The Goal is to Keep the Customer Using the Software Solution

This realization hit me strong after the supportdriven.slack.com conversation on about 2015-10-09, where one person wrote that they focused on a strategy of (how many customers requesting)+(whether the customer will stop using)+(how much money the combined customers are paying), and reported this to their boss as a way to leverage a feature request to be added/included.

For a Software Support Engineer (SSE) here’s a goal. The goal is to get each customer to keep using the solution.

In other words, my goal as a Software Support Engineer is to message with the customer so their concern is addressed in such a way that they are more likely to keep using my company’s solution and really what this means is that they renew their license subscription.

This is simple, and direct, and core to my mission as a Software Support Engineer.

Sometimes Software Support Engineers and their colleagues say things like A.) the SSE’s goal is to “keep the customers happy” or B.) the SSE’s goal is to “help the customers”. Then the SSE is stressing out about those cases where the customer isn’t happy and where they don’t seem to be helping the customer. Either of these goals is less effective because they will lead to the SSE in some cases being set up for failure — those cases when when the SSE can’t help the customer, or when the SSE can’t make the customer happy.

The first goal — acting according to what is most likely to keep the customer using the solution — is more effective. Often there’s a scenario where an SSE can’t help the customer, and also can’t make the customer happy, but that doesn’t matter because it’s a scenario where the customer will keep using the solution. The SSE and their colleagues will be more effective when they help the customer and keep the customer happy, but only in the context of them using the SSE’s company’s solution.

Sometimes SSEs and their colleagues say things like 1. an SSE’s goal is to make the technology work for the customer, and also 2. an SSE’s goal is to act in such a way that it will benefit the SSE’s company’s shareholders/stockholders.

These are good, and could be taken as they are, or, could be made even more concise and focused by combining them. There is a more concise goal that combines keeping the customer happy and to helping them keeping using my company’s solution. The more concise goal is act in such a way facilitates the customer renewing their license subscription.

But remember, another take-away from the strategies above is what a SSE can stop doing. They can stop doing these: (I.) If if an SSE truly can’t help the customer in the given situation, then the SSE can stop trying to help them. (II.) If the customer is asking for something that they want but without it they will keep using the app, then the SSE can stop trying to help them.

In summary, an SSE will do well to focus on those cases where both the SSE can help the customer, and the SSE helping the customer results in the customer keeping using the solution.

Edit: This post was previously published at: wieldlinux.com/2016-06-06-engineer-keep-customer-using.php



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wieldlinux.com

For a Software Development and Support Engineer Finances are Important

For a Software Development and Support Engineer finances are important. Reviewing finances, personal accounting, and balancing one’s checkbook is important for a Software Development and Support Engineer.

Isn’t this as important to the next person as it is to a Software Development and Support Engineer? Yes, it is important for everyone, and also for a Software Development and Support Engineer too.

So why is it important for us? Its important because finances are a measurer, and an enabler, of high performance and high pay.

As a Software Development and Support Engineer if one isn’t comfortable with the state of one’s finances then it affects one’s job and one’s job affects it. If one looks and sees that one’s frugal and is following a financially sustainable plan, but that one’s not earning enough, then that could be an indicator either that one’s not in a challenging role that commands a high pay, or that one’s company’s not paying enough. In ths case, one thing one can do is, while keeping performing high as always, ask for a raise, or look for a better opportunity. In either case, the point is that one should be in, or looking for, a role with a company that both demands high performance and pays well!

If one’s overspending or generating debt without a plan to pay it off, or without the income to pay it off, then that will negatively affect one’s Software Development and Support Engineer job performance and negatively affect one’s career. Daily/Weekly/Monthly looking at one’s finances will help one see whether one’s overspending and then one will know it and then one will be able to start to address it.

If a Software Development and Support Engineer looks and sees healthy finances, then great! That means one may not need to seek career changes; they can then continue to focus on maintaining a/that high level of performance. Or if one’s all set financially then go volunteer to contribute development and support engineering efforts to an open source project, or whatever one wants to build one’s career. Or go back and get a (second) software engineering degree. Or a finance/accounting degree 😉 If one’s checkbook is balanced and one’s finances are healthy, then that gives a Software Development and Support Engineer more career choices, not fewer career choices.

Here’s the summary of this pep-talk; it’s important for a Software Development and Support Engineer to look at one’s finances regularly, and look at them often. What one sees there can be an indicator of a high-achieving career and can be an enabler of a high-achieving career. So go! Go out there and sit down and balance that checkbook, fellow Software Development and Support Engineers, and let’s figure out whether our finances are in order. Then find out what we need to do to get them in order, and do it. It’ll make us better Software Development and Support Engineers.

Edit: This post was previously published at: wieldlinux.com/2016-06-04-software-engineer-finances-important.php



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There is some Inertia in the time Between When A Software Support Engineer Works on a Case and When a Software Support Engineer Logs a Case

There is some inertia in the time between when a Software Support Engineer works on a case and when a Software Support Engineer logs the case notes for that case.

A question that arises in this scenario is, at what point is the Software Support Engineer’s task complete? The correct answer is that the progressing of the case and the logging of the case notes is all one task, and the task isn’t complete until both parts have been done. Furthermore the two parts are insepearable– in other words, I’m positing that until both parts are complete, *no work has been performed* This may sound counterintuitive! But in a system where management gets 100% of their information about a Support Engineer performance through the logged case notes, unless the notes are logged, it actually equates to the Support Engineer not having performed any work. By the counter-token, if notes are logged without having performed a task — if notes are logged without having progressed a software support case — then the Support Engineer also is in a situation where *no work has been performed*.

The inertia that I’m talking about happens at that moment where the case has been progressed between the Software Support Engineer and the client, for example a half-hour-long conference call where the case was progressed. At this moment someone who doesn’t know better might think that work has been done. However that’s not so– the case notes must be logged. Consider this inertia. In other words, if one doesn’t know about this inertia and its effects, then they might not be doing their job. In fact, I might consider this the “third element”, or component, of performing customer software support engineering case work — the first is progressing the case with the customer, the second is overcoming the inertia to push through to complete the case notes, and the third element/component is the actual act of completing the case notes. In software customer support engineering, this 1-2-3 combo must be bundled together and done as a unit, every single time a case is handled, in order for work to really have been
performed.

Edit: This post was previously published at: wieldlinux.com/2016-06-01-support-progress-logs-inertia.php



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wieldlinux.com

On a Software Development and Support Engineer Owning Recurring Tasks

I saw a social-professional pattern where the boss tells the employee to do a recurring task, with no end date/time and then as time goes by also the boss doesn’t actively have a further conversation with the employee to review how the task is being handled. In other words the manager gives a standing order to the employee and then forgets it.

For example the boss tells the employee to do a daily errand every day. This could add up — if the boss gives 100 standing orders to the employee over the course of the year, then that is 100 recurring tasks that are expected to be done.

I say there’s a good way and a bad way for an employee to handle being assigned a thankless recurring task. This is outside of the employee saying that no, they won’t take on the task. I say a good way is for the employee to do the tasks but also check back periodically telling the boss how its going with that. I say a bad way is for the employee to do the tasks and never periodically remind the boss how its going with that.

In the good, checking back way, one scenario could go like this:

The employee takes on numerous tasks throughout the year, and also remembers to check back with the boss on each of them periodically (like once a quarter) to ask how things are going with them? (whether they still need to be done?, are they being done right?)

And then the years go by and each quarter, the employee touches base with the boss on each of the tasks and how its going. The employee’s schedule is filled with the tasks as long as the boss still agrees they are important, and both the boss and the employee continually realize that the employee is adding value by doing these tasks.

Since the employee is spending great effort and the boss is periodically recognizing them for it, for the employee it can promote professional acknowledgement, sustainability, recognition, the boss recognizing the employee’s good performance, reviewing of tasks to cull out unneeded ones and leaving only higher-priority value-adding tasks.

In the bad, never periodically checking back way, the same scenario could go like this:

The employee takes on numerous tasks throughout the year, and doesn’t check back with the boss on any of them to ask how things are going with them? ( whether they still need to be done?, are they being done right?)

And then quarters and/or years go by and not another word is spoken on the subject. If, for each of those tasks, no conversation is had regarding the ongoing handling of the tasks, then a situation develops where the employee’s schedule is filled with tasks, and they’re the only person who’s attending to the tasks.

Since the employee is spending great effort and not being recognized, it can lead to resentment, burn-out, the boss not recognizing the employee’s effort, and tasks still being done that actually no longer need to be done.

This scenario, is above split into two extreme outcomes. However, this does happen on some scale.

It would be an excellent boss who gives a standing order and then themselves remembers to check back each quarter to ask the employee how its going. I think often what the boss means when they give a standing order with no end date, is “Do task “x” every day, and check back with me quarterly to review the handling of task “x”.” *but* the boss doesn’t actually *say* the last: “and check back with me quarterly…” part. In any case, in order to as the employee take ownership and be professional, its the job of the employee to check in with the boss periodically to review the state of the standing task.

Here’s where some smarts can come in. The employee can realize that even though no end date was specified and the boss doesn’t initiate a review, *the employee* can periodically check in, and can ask for an end date.

Say the employee does a daily recurring task reliably for 90 days and no one says anything — it’s taken for granted that “the employee does that task” or “the employee does that task because they like to do that task” or “the employee does that task because they are good at doing that task”. Let’s not have any of these things be taken for granted — let’s talk about it periodically. If once a quarter, the employee reminds the boss “hey, now that I’ve been doing this task every day for 90 days, how have I done with that? I just wanted to confirm that doing-the-task should still continue to be done the same way, or ask whether it should be done differently”. There are some benefits for the employee here, and some for the boss. (a “win-win”! scenario)

One is that the employee has taken ownership of the task. The boss initiated the task, but now the employee’s the one initiating the continuation of the task. It shows initiative, responsibility and professionalism.

Two is that it’s a reminder to the boss that the task isn’t doing itself — the employee is doing it and is thinking about it regularly.

Three is that sometimes new people come on board. And if the employee is busy doing recurring tasks and no one’s talking about it, then people will think “the employee does that task because they are good at it and they like it”. And so maybe the new person will have a better chance to get assigned that new challenging project that is seen as adding value to the bottom line, and the old employee will be more likely to be the one who stays in the role of thankless-task-doer. When really if a company promotes from within then the old employee should have a way to move from the less challenging role into a more challenging role. And of course if this new person comes in and new-project-assignment starts to happen when the employee hasn’t been checking in quarterly/regularly, and the employee then says “hey how about I get the new challenging project?”, then the chance is that it’ll be seen more as they want to leverage themselves in front of the new person, but conversely if this starts to happen when the
employee has been checking in quarterly, and the employee says “hey, since I’ve been doing a good job with the task-doing — what are the chances that I can apply the same pride and ownership to the new challenging project?”

Four is that the reason for the employee to check in on a recurring-task status regularly on a by-the-calendar schedule, like quarterly on the fifteenth of the first quarter of the month or whatever arbitrary recurring date makes sense, as opposed to whenever they feel like it, is that it shows that its a routine check-in — the employee is merely checking in in a responsible way — removing any doubt that the employee just had a bad day and didn’t feel like doing the task and is checking in to try to get out of doing the task.

In summary, bosses ask employees to do recurring tasks. (Yes this includes us Software Development and Support Engineers) A good way for the employee to handle this is to take the ownership of the task, do a good job of it, and regularly & periodically check in with the boss regarding this task.

Edit: This post was previously published at: wieldlinux.com/2016-05-28-engineer-Owning-recurring-tasks.php



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wieldlinux.com

Software Support and Development Engineer ten year goals:

Colleagues that challenge me

Salary that sustains my lifestyle

Working with people that I fit in the culture

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Q: Why is this blog post three sentences or less?

A: http://three.sentenc.es (but for blogging)

Edit: This post was previously published at: wieldlinux.com/2016-05-25-career-ten-year-goals.php


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wieldlinux.com

As a Software Support and Development Engineer I am Bullshitted

As a Software Development and Support Engineer (SDASE), I’m bullshitted.

There’s a social economic pattern that applies to being a SDASE, that I want to share here.

The pattern is that of a SDASE being bullshitted(*) by the SDASE’s colleague. For example this pattern may be performed by the colleague in an attempt to see whether the SDASE knows they’re being bullshitted.

Once a SDASE is aware that this pattern is commonly practiced by their colleague, they can act properly and call the colleague out for bullshitting, confront their colleague for testing them, or call the colleague out for being incompetent or unknowledgeable.

Why blog about this? Isn’t this something most people learn about before age ten? I think that one’s never too old to bullshit, be bullshitted, to learn/recognize for the first time that being bullshitted is a “thing”, or to revisit the concept. Some things, some people learn when they’re a child, and other people don’t learn the same lesson until well into adulthood.

This raises some questions. How do I recognize bullshit? Looking back on my life, which were the times when someone was bullshitting me and I didn’t know it? If I didn’t think it was bullshit, then what did I think was happening?

Reflecting back on my life, there have been numerous times when a colleague has said something to me that directly contradicts something that I know we both know. Without suspecting bullshit, in the past I would have reacted one of two ways: A., I felt that the colleague was unknowledgeable or incompetent, or B., I was confused why they would say that when I had thought they knew otherwise. Not suspecting bullshit, I’d need to ask for clarification.

Going forward, as a SDASE now that I know that occasionally, as a routine test, people will bullshit me, what I’ll do is point out to them that they’re bullshitting me — point out to them that I know that they’re testing me — and then get on with what matters.

There is a beauty in bullshit though. That is the person being bullshitted only has one real option — to call the bullshitter out on it. This is because whether or not its a test, the bullshittee, being a professional, should be correcting the bullshitter on the misinformation or on the discrepancy.

Another thing I’ve found is that looking back I can’t help but think of those times when someone had in the past bullshitted me, and I failed the test — failed to call them out. Thereupon they (the bullshiter) saw that I (the bullshittee) had failed their test. After they realized that I had been easily bullshitted, that I had failed their simple test, I can’t remember one of these colleagues/people calling me out for being easily-bullshitted.

That raises another thing about bullshitting. One can’t expect the colleague to take one aside later and say something like “Hey, by the way, this morning when I said that I was bullshitting you — I was testing you to see how you’d react.” Maybe because after the colleague sees the result of the test, there’s no added value in addressing the interaction any further.

In conclusion, I’ve noticed a social economic pattern that is a colleague bullshits a SDASE — tells a little lie to test how the engineer will react. As a Software Development and Support Engineer, now that I know that this kind of testing in some professional circles is a common practice, I’ll be able to react appropriately.

(*)being bullshitted: 1. When a colleague asks me a question to which they already know the answer, to see how I will respond, I am being bullshitted. 2. When a colleague makes an untrue statement and observes to see whether I will point out the falseness of the statement (see whether I will call bullshit on them), I am being bullshitted.

Edit: This post was previously published at: wieldlinux.com/2016-05-18-software-engineer-being-bullshitted.php



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2016-05-14

wieldlinux.com

Thinking of Product-izing Software Support

I’m thinking of product-izing software support by quantifying it in terms of the quantity of high-quality documentation + messages that I produce.

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Q: Why is this blog post three sentences or less?

A: http://three.sentenc.es

Edit: This post was previously published at: wieldlinux.com/2016-05-14-product-izing-software-support.php



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2016-05-13

wieldlinux.com

Adapting Two.sentenc.es to Blog Writing

I heard of two.sentenc.es from the persona of Carolyn Kopprasch ( https://twitter.com/carokopp ) of supportops.co podcast fame.

But I can’t bring myself to use it for email because I don’t truly believe that would be realistic — *However* I love the idea and will play with using the same concept *for writing blog posts*!

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Q: Why is this blog post three sentences or less?

A: http://two.sentenc.es/

Edit: This post was previously published at: wieldlinux.com/2016-05-13-three-sentences-blog-posts.php



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2016-05-12

wieldlinux.com

Thoughts on Software Support and Development Engineer supporting a Product

Supporting SaaS I’ve felt confusion about about what I’m supporting — is it a product or a service? The answer is that if its sold as a product then it is product and the sales, support, and customer must all treat it as such.

I ask a SaaS salesperson what they are selling. They say they are selling a product. They sell the following products: “(A) solution” “(a) platform” “(an) experience”, “(an) access”.

I do subscribe to the idea that people are willing to buy a product, not pay for a service. This view makes it smart to sell something as a product. When supporting something, it should be supported as it was sold, so therefore it should also be supported as a product.

Making a comparison to food service. At my local premium coffee chain store I buy a coffee. But I’m really paying for the service of brewing, serving and selling me hot coffee in a cup and the polite service and attention. But in my mind I think I’m just buying “a coffee”. In other words I’m paying for the premium service but I think I’m paying for “a coffee” — a product.

So with SaaS the customer in their mind is buying “a platform” but they are really paying for a delivery service and data hosting and service availability etc etc.

Anyway I have to support what I, what my company, sells. If I sell the following “products”: “(A) solution” “(a) platform” “(an) experience”, “(an) access”, then I have to support these.

Here’s where confusion can creep back in. None of the four above mentioned are a single thing that can be pointed to with one’s finger. SaaS is a system of networked software and hardware. So I need to support this system of networked software and hardware, of which I have direct access to only portions of it. I need to ask my DevOps colleagues for help to access the other portions of it for me, to fix it for me.

Furthermore if my salesperson at any time advertises/sells my product as a service “…you don’t have to worry about infrastructure, we host everything in the cloud…”, then that plants the seed for the customer to later approach me to support the product as a service.

Supporting an application that was installed from an install CD onto the customer’s own computer/server is different. I supported such a software, along with a printer and barcode scanner that I (my company) sold. More of the pieces were owned by the customer. The customer could only get updates by either us sending them a new CD or by downloading the installers from a download link that we sent them in an email. (no option for automatic download and update was available)

It was clear that the customer owned the entire solution on premises. It was more clear that they were responsible for using, operating and supporting it themselves because they owned the entire solution– the hardware pieces and all of the software pieces (including database and server) were all on their own premises.

Circling back again to Saas — I have supported SaaS. The idea comes in that I (my company) is seen as owning part of the solution. I (my company) control the service and the data and the database. If there is any connection trouble to the service or the data or the database, it appears to the user that they don’t own the solution. The instant they can’t access the service they realize a feeling that this isn’t a product that they own.

What’s the bottom line? I need to support the solution as a product. As a solution. As a platform. I need to keep the “ownership” of the solution/product/platform *on the customer*. I can do my all to support the customer using this, the product/solution/platform that they own, but fundamentally I must support it as a product.

Why? for my sanity. And my company is selling it that way. They bought it so they own it. For an instance of (a subscription to) SaaS that is sold as a product, then it is a product, and the sales, support, and customer must all treat it as such.

Edit: This post was previously published at: wieldlinux.com/2016-05-12-support-software-as-product.php



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2016-05-11

wieldlinux.com

As a Software Support and Development Engineer How to Measure and Improve my Performance

Here are some distillations of how to measure and improve my software-development-and-support engineer performance.

In my previous post entitled: “As a Software Support and Development Engineer What I Do and What I Produce” ( http://wieldlinux.com/2015-10-03-what-I-do-produce.php ), I defined this:

“…

My primary service:

– Transport messages across distance with another person.

My primary goods-production:

– Produce messages, instructions and documents.

…”

Now that I have defined what I do and what I produce, I can do neat things with that knowledge, such as start to define how to measure my performance as a professional Software Support and Development Engineer, and how to improve my performance as well.

Here’s what I mean– how can I measure and improve my performance in terms of my service?

* The frequency and timeliness of messages does matter. My performance can be measured/improved by the frequency and timeliness of my message-sending.

* To improve my performance I must increase the frequency and maintain the timeliness of my message sending.

* The quality (accuracy and beauty) of the messages, instructions and documents should be consistently excellent, and the quantity (the number) of the messages matters. My performance can be measured on the quantity of high-quality messages that I send.

* To improve my performance I must increase the quantity of the high-quality messages that I send.

The above are some distillations of how to measure and improve my software-development-and-support engineer performance.

Edit: This post was previously published at: wieldlinux.com/2016-05-11-engineer-measure-improve-performance.php



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2016-05-10

wieldlinux.com

Contact a Person Not a Company — OR — A Feeling of Good Customer Service

I am feeling that good customer service is this:

As a customer, I contact a person instead of group/alias/company.

So the contact page on the company web site, there are pictures and names of 1-3 people and their phone numbers. And I contact them for support instead of contacting the “support nubmer” and their email addresses are there. and I email their addresses.

As a support person, I advertise for a customers to contact me as a person. Don’t contact a group/alias/company and end up talking with me. Instead contact me as a person who represents my company.

In short, communciation for customer service/support, no matter its between a company and a person, should be between an individual company representative and the customer. That’s good customer service.

Edit: This post was previously published at: wieldlinux.com/2016-05-10-contact-person-not-company.php



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2016-05-09

wieldlinux.com

Work productivity trick for a Software Support and Development Engineer.

Work productivity trick for a Software Support and Development Engineer. This trick is designed to help me not to spend too long on one task, *and* also to get at least a minimum number of tasks completed each day.

Make it my goal to, each half-hour on the half-hour, try to get one task done in the first 5 minutes of the half-hour.

Of course half-hour-long chunks of time tend to roll into one another (after 30 minutes they do). So to plan for this and make this trick work, it’s also necessary to break at the twenty-minute-mark of each half-hour-long time block.

The trick is this: for a person who tends to spend too long on one task, the trick to increasing productivity is actually to *take more frequent breaks*. And also to *more frequently start or continue working on tasks*. This breaking into half-hour-long-chunks method, in conjunction with my natural tendency to spend a long time on a task, will tend to result in me wasting less time, starting working on tasks more frequently, working on a greater number of different tasks, completing a greater number of tasks, and more frequently completing tasks.

In other words, before this method, my day might have looked like this: …

—

*9:00am:

– spend 60 minutes worrying that it’s going to be a waste of an hour to work on the task, and then start working on it, and then work on it straight for the remainder of the 60 minutes.

(repeat, continue throughout the hours of the work day)

, and now after implementing this method, my day looks more like this: …

—

* 9:00am:

– spend the first five minutes working on a task. (and try to complete the task)

* 9:20am:

-take a break and step away physically from the work area.

* 9:30am:

– spend the first five minutes working on a task. (and try to complete the task)

* 9:50am:

-take a break and step away physically from the work area.

(repeat, continue throughout the hours of the work day)

—

The result is that in the examples above, in the former I’ve only worked on one task in an hour’s time, and by the end haven’t yet completed it.

In the latter example I’ve at least worked on two tasks.

The difference is that I’ve likely completed two tasks with the latter method, and worst-case, I’ve at least progressed two tasks.

Whereas with the former method, I likely haven’t completed even one task (because I don’t have a stop-and-step-away. and worst-case, I’ve only progressed one task.

Edit: This post was previously published at: wieldlinux.com/2016-05-09-software-developer-productivity-trick.php



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2016-05-06

wieldlinux.com

A Dream to Productize Service Industry Starting with Software Support and Development Engineer Service

I was distilling a previous blog post some more. (“As a Software Support and Development Engineer What I Do and What I Produce”, http://wieldlinux.com/2015-10-03-what-I-do-produce.php ) I finally got to define what I produce in terms of goods and services. In doing so I ended up thinking of the value, to a Software Support and Development Engineer, of being able to quantify the results of one’s work.

A dream is that any service industry professional should be able to do the same. For example a delivery driver should be able to quantify their performance in terms of “Deliveries”. And they can from there sell their deliveries as a product, positing that their Deliveries are excellent quality, and that their deliveries are worth $xx. apiece, and to ask anyone and they’ll say that their deliveries are high quality and are worth $xx. apiece. But this post focuses on the same but for a Software Support and Development Engineer.

A dream is that a Software Support and Development Engineer should be able to quantify in terms of number of messages produced. And posit that their messages are worth $xx apiece. So as a Software Support and Development Engineer I can say that my messages are excellent quality, and so they are worth this price of $xx apiece. This productizing — this treating the results of my work as goods — this gives us a bargaining tool to really express the value that we add to our company. The benefit is that it allows a Software Support and Development Engineer to know, talk about, and feel, how much value they add, and what our effort is worth.

I feel like this should be called a dream, because this is not the way things are, and, there’s not a plan for this to become the way things are.

Moving on. what’s the point?

The point is, the dream is for all service pros to be able to quantify their perfomance by amount of goods produced and not by number of hours passed on the clock while they worked.

Edit: This post was previously published at: wieldlinux.com/2016-05-06-productize-support-engineer-service.php



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2016-05-05

wieldlinux.com

Proposing a Strategy to Overcome Personal/Professional Workplace Conversation Dichotomy

Here I propose a strategy designed to help me as a Software Development and Support Engineer learn to more quickly switch between personal and work personas, and to overcome my tendency to prefer personal conversations.

When I tend to prefer personal conversations and avoid professional conversations in the workplace, my colleagues realize it and start to disengage with me as a professional. Which of course is murder to my (to anyone’s) career.

I need a plan! And I’ve thought of one.

To train myself to be more professional, I’ll enact a 30-day period where, at work, I ignore chitchat as if the other person didn’t say anything, and I instead reply with a work- related topic.

Then depending on how it has gone, after the 30 days I can try to again start participating in chitchat.

This strategy is designed to help me as a Software Development and Support Engineer to more easily switch into work mode, and to train myself away from preferring personal conversations.

Edit: This post was previously published at: wieldlinux.com/2016-05-05-overcome-personal-professional-dichotomy.php



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wieldlinux.com

For a Software Development and Support Engineer an Unplanned Benefit of Working on Pomodoros is that I Spend more time Talking with Colleagues

I started working on pomodoros. I started to write about it here: http://wieldlinux.com/2016.php?2016-04-30#2016-04-30wieldlinux.com/2016-04-30-local-calendar-pomodoros-productivity.php

I did it to improve productivity and clear my mind so that throughout the day I would be able to re-focus and thus stay focused, on what’s important.

Every 30 minutes, I stop for two minutes to write a note of what I did, triage email and triage calendar.

It has indeed improved my productivity as a Software Development and Support Engineer, but also it’s improved another aspect of my professionalism. Now I’ve changed to where I, here-and-there throughout the week, *end up spending a few more minutes talking with my colleagues* face-to-face in the office.

Since I get up and stretch every half hour, and make a point to not sit down until at least 120 seconds later, I end up having nothing to do but listen to what my other colleagues next to me are talking about. As a result, I tend to stop and listen and ask what’s going on and start to participate in more brief conversations.

As a Software Development and Support Engineer, I’ve found that a benefit of working on pomodoros is that I spend more time talking with colleagues.

Edit: This post was previously published at: wieldlinux.com/2016-05-04-unplanned-benefit-of-pomodoros.php



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2016-05-02

wieldlinux.com

For a Software Support Engineer when At Work Always be Interviewing

As a Software Support Engineer, when at work I should always be interviewing.

What does this mean?

I mean in order to propel my career forward, when talking to colleagues I should have the same attitude as if I am interviewing for the job. In other words, I should be focused on work and should always act with a professional attitude and my actions should be professional.

There is a story that is spurring me on, to want to adopt this attitude.

Upon returning from vacation, my great-grandboss (my supervisor’s boss’ boss) asked me ‘How was vacation? did you spend time with [your family]?’, and my reply was basically: “Uh, yeah. Uh, it was good.”

However thinking back I should have replied “[insert great-grandboss’ name here], yes my PTO was good. I spent some time thinking over how to improve my productivity for the company upon my return.”

In other words, when talking with colleagues and especially in this case talking with my boss’ boss’ boss, who is therefore my boss, I should always reply with a note about how I’m adding value to the company. This is no matter whether the conversation starts to steer to personal topics. I should make an acknowleding remark about the personal topic *but then end the sentence with something about work and company productivity*

For some reason, and it may indeed be lack of personal professionalism, I tend to respond to personal comments at work with more personal comments. But my point here is that when at work I should always be interviewing– I should always reply to all comments with professional comments.

Indeed thinking more on it now in hindsight, I see that my colleagues, sometimes purposely and sometimes inadvertently, test me in a way, by seeing how I reply to personal comments. And if I reply professionally then they think of me as professional but if I reply with personal comments then they think of me as unprofessional. And then over time based on my historical replies it’ll develop *even further* and I’ll either be thought of as That Professional Colleague, or thought of as That Unprofessional Colleague, depending on my answers.

In conclusion, as a Software Support Engineer, when at work I should always be interviewing.

Edit: This post was previously published at: wieldlinux.com/2016-05-02-engineer-always-be-interviewing.php



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2016-05-01

wieldlinux.com

The Benefits of the Calendar and Pomodoros System

I used my calendar + pomodoros system. Its main benefit is that it turns all tasks into synchronous tasks.

This system consists of 30-minute pomodoros where I break for (up to) 10 minutes each time. So I work at the next asynchronous task for at most 20 minutes, then break to breathe, stretch, write my get-it-done note, triage new emails, and check my calendar.

The value-adding effect that this has is that it essentially turns my to-do list of asynchronous-tasks into a bunch of synchronous tasks! (asynchronous-task meaning a task that that needs to be done now/asap; a task that doesn’t necessarily have a deadline but that just has to get done “the sooner the better”.)

For example a task could be replying/progressing/solving a customer software support case from the existing queue of cases. For another example is checking my email inbox and reading the new emails and triaging action-items to my calendar or to-do list.

Why is this calendar + pomodoros system value-adding? Because as a Professional Software Development and Support Engineer, I need to do both sync tasks and async tasks, and turning async into sync lets me treat all as sync which simplifies my flow by an order of magnitude.

So now I can check for calendar events each half-hour (a synchronous task that needs to be done every half hour by the clock), and at the same time check my email (which would otherwise be asynchronous because an email could come every minute or every 4 hours, and could be processed immediately if I wanted)

To summarize, the main benefit of the calendar + pomodoros system that I’ve started using, is that it turns all tasks into synchronous tasks.

Edit: This post was previously published at: wieldlinux.com/2016-05-01-synchronous-asynchronous-flow-calendar.php



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2016-05-01

Productivity Idea for Software Support Technician

As a Software Support Technician and Developer, for times when I need to quicken my focus and sharpen my response as a Software Support Technician. I am going to try this trick which will be to keep all to-do tasks in an external repository, like the service desk ticket system, and then load up only the one most important one into my calendar as an event with the current day and time as the time. If I had another one on my calendar that I hadn’t yet gotten to by the time that this new important one appeared, then I’ll put that other one into the external repository and take it off my calendar.

This way, my calendar is clear except for the one most important item that I must be doing right now. And so it’ll be obvious that it is the most important and should be done now.

Edit: This post was previously published at: wieldlinux.com/2016-05-01-synchronous-asynchronous-flow-calendar.php



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wieldlinux.com

I’m taking my calendar productivity to a next level.

I’ve made calendar changes and, as a Software Development and Support Engineer I stopped using shared calendar, instead using a local calendar. This has been an improvement. However I need to check my calendar more often so as to not miss anything. But not check it *too* often so as to not waste time.

Here’s my new strategy. I set 30 minute pomodoros. Every time 30 minutes rolls around, I stretch, breathe, check email and check calendar. This only takes between 4-10 minutes to do, and it breaks my Software Development and Support Engineer schedule nicely to clear my mind and increase my productivity.

Edit: This post was previously published at: wieldlinux.com/2016-04-30-local-calendar-pomodoros-productivity.php



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wieldlinux.com

Recap of 2016-04-10 Open Source Volunteer Software Development and Support Engineer “Mentorship”

Previously I had blogged about my plan for my Open Source Volunteer Software Development and Support Engineer “Mentorship” ( http://wieldlinux.com/2016.php?2016-04-10#2016-04-10 ) I proposed to chat, support, and report on WordPress support for thirty days.

This is the follow-up “final report” of what I learned!

I learned that I wanted to spend more time in-person with colleagues, and spend more time working with geographically local colleagues. Especially during the last 5 days, I tended/switched to calling local colleagues on the phone, and planning to go to the local April 2016 Boston WordPress meetup in-person. I’m disappointed I couldn’t make it through the project fully, however I’m joyful that I switched my focus more to professional networking with geographically local software-development-and-support professionals on the phone and in-person.

I learned I didn’t have the endurance, grit, or focus to finish the Work-project. Partway through, I blogged again to change the project proposal, proposing to shorten the project length and double the daily office-hours length. ( http://wieldlinux.com/2016.php?2016-04-15#2016-04-15 ) However in the end I only ended up actively volunteering on 8 of the 15 days.

I also learned about the following:

Olsen Light theme. https://wordpress.org/support/topic/streched-paypal-buttons-how-to-unstrech-them?replies=5#post-8254375
A bit about a couple of my public forums colleagues in the slack #forums channel.

Some options for hosting an RSS feed, i.e. the existence of Tiny Tiny RSS ( https://tt-rss.org )

Yikes mail chimp plugin and Shortcodes In Menus plugin.

A bit about trying to make a GDP map of cities using the Visualizer plugin https://wordpress.org/support/topic/problem-with-regions?replies=4

I chuckled because of the language creativity when I read what I suspect is the coining of the phrase “…I’m facepalming the hell out of this. …” written by a plugin author on the public forums ( https://wordpress.org/support/topic/please-backup-more-than-db-wp-content?replies=14#post-8143933 )

I think what I may have been looking for in the first place was to learn, but also to in-person network with local Software Developers.

Edit: This post was previously published at: wieldlinux.com/2016-04-29-recap-support-engineer-mentorship.php
Edit: 2016-12-07 fixed broken links.


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2016-04-24

wieldlinux.com

PHP HTML Calendar Codes for Studying how a Calendar can Work in LAMP

As a Software Development and Support Engineer, I’m interested in calendar computer scripts because practically everyone uses a calendar every day, and a calendar is included as a sub-part of many other computer applications, even if the application itself isn’t a calendar application per se. Understanding how a calendar works in computing means understanding about how times and dates work in computing. By learning how a calendar script works, I believe it will help me grow as a Software Development and Support Engineer, to develop applications that use calendars, dates, and times, and to support users in using applications that use calendars, dates, and times.

I found two relatively simple examples of source code for a PHP calendar script. I can use these to study and learn how the code for a calendar LAMP web application can work.

The calendar example from Chapter 24 of: “Sams Teach Yourself PHP, MySQL and Apache” by Julie Meloni

Sugar Events Calendar Lite (plugin for WordPress) ( https://wordpress.org/plugins/sugar-calendar-lite/ )

The former is a PHP/MySQL powered calendar. I was lucky to get access to a copy of the book from my city library. The latter is a WordPress plugin (ultimately powered by PHP/MySQL but through WordPress) downloadable for free from WordPress.org.

These are two source code scripts that as a Software Development and Support Engineer, I can use to study how a PHP calendar script can work.

Edit: This post was previously published at: wieldlinux.com/2016-04-24-php-calendar-source-code.php



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2016-04-23

wieldlinux.com

It’s Important for a Software Development and Support Engineer to Recognize Indirect and Direct Communicators and Thereupon to Over-communicate Back to Them

Through past SDASE (Software Development and Support Engineer) experince, I’ve been in a postion where a co-worker directly told me what they needed me to do better. I remember having felt some kind of resentment and been upset that they had been so blunt with me. I’ve also before been in a position where a co-worker indirectly implied that I wasn’t working hard enough. I had to figure out myself through reflection afterwards on what they had said and how they had said it. I remember having felt some sort of resentment and been that they had been so indirect and hadn’t confronted me and hadn’t explicitly told me what they thought of my performance.

First, let me say that anyone reading this at this point must think I’m a terrible worker. I’m working on it! But that’s not the point; the point is how I can do better to handle when I’m criticized.

What’s the take-away on this?

I need to find a better balance wherein I over-communicate in *both* of the above cases.

As a Software Development and Suppor2016-t Engineer, in the above-described former scenario, I need to over-communicate by confronting the person and telling them that I think they’re directly telling me that I’m not working hard enough, telling them that I think that they’re being direct about telling me about it so that everyone’s clear, telling them that I won’t take it personally but rather I’ll take it professionally, telling them what I think and feel about it, telling them what I’m going to do about it, and then I need to solicit their response. (to listen)

In the above-described latter scenario, I need to over-communicate by confronting the person and telling them that I think they mean that I’m not working hard enough, telling them that I think they’re being polite by not telling me that directly, telling them what I think and feel about that, telling them what I’m going to do about that, and then I need to solicit their response. (to listen)

So to recap, for a Software Development and Support Engineer, it’s important to be able to recognize and to be able to over-communicate with different styles of communicators people who indirectly indicate what they need from me vs. people who directly tell me what they need. No matter which style the other person uses to communicate to me, It’s best for me to respond by over-communicating directly back to them.

Edit: This post was previously published at: wieldlinux.com/2016-04-23-direct-indirect-confront-overcommunicate.php



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2016-04-22

wieldlinux.com

Maintain the Best Day-job Salarformance and Blog It

A while back I had the idea that salary (pay rate) was connected to performance. I thought of calling the concept in this idea one’s “Salarformance” or one’s “Performalary”.

I had the idea that under this paradigm, motivation to get a high salary would motivate me to perform well. I told myself that I would have to keep in mind that I was producing the day-job salarformance for myself. I told myself that is where all of my motivation would come from.

However althought I knew salary was important, and was to an extent motivating, I still had this feeling that I was missing the motivation that came somehow from a feeling of alignment of my career goals with the goals of my then-current day-job. And I still thought about how would my performance at my job stay aligned with others in the industry at different organizations, how would I develop skills, and would I have to blog about my salarformance experience in order to stay in touch with other professionals? I thought my professional blog would tie my private then-current day-job to other similar industry-wide day-jobs and thus would be my career. “Blog it or it didn’t happen”, I thought.

The conclusion it seems is that salary is not that closely tied to performance. It is more related to other motivations; driven-by / tied-to industry knowledge, professional career goals, and sharing/blogging with others. I’m still figuring this part out.

To recap, the guidelines of my career remix of that time had been:

My number one career remix goal was “the best day-job salarformance and blog it”

I’d focus all my effort on getting-the-best-day-job-salary-by-way-of-improving-my-day-job-performance-and-blogging-it

I’d take notes as I go and I’d blog about what I had learned.

However in hindsight, in summary and upon reflection, the conclusion is that although its important and the salary isn’t what motivates peformance. Although I’m still figuring it out, salarformance is tied to alignment of job with career-goals, aligning with others in the industry, and blogging/sharing with others.

Edit: This post was previously published at: wieldlinux.com/2016-04-22-salarformance-and-blog-it.php



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Update to Previous Plan for “2016-04-10 to 2016-05-10 Open Source Volunteer … Work-project )” Post

Previously I blogged “Plan for 2016-04-10 to 2016-05-10 Open Source Volunteer Software Development and Support Engineer “Mentorship” ( Job-shadow / Informational-interview / Work-project )” ( http://wieldlinux.com/2016.php?2016-04-10#2016-04-10 )

Update:

Today Mid-stream / in-flight (meaning: while the project is already underway), I’m halving the project length while doubling the daily-office-hours-time-length. So I’ll do 15 days (with “final report” on day 16 (days 1-15 being April 11th to April 25th, and day 16 being 2016-04-26)). And “office hours” will become 5am-6am daily.

I think that this change will both allow the Work-project to be be more impactful to the community, as well as allow deeper learning (quicker iterations of deeper dives) for myself.

Edit: This post was previously published at: wieldlinux.com/2016-04-15-work-project-plan-update.php
Edit: 2016-12-07 fixed broken link.
Edit: Follow-up note -- See the next follow -up to this post, here: "Recap of 2016-04-10 Open Source Volunteer Software Development and Support Engineer “Mentorship”" ( http://wieldlinux.com/2016.php?2016-04-29#2016-04-29 )


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Plan for 2016-04-10 to 2016-05-10 Open Source Volunteer Software Development and Support Engineer “Mentorship” ( Job-shadow / Informational-interview / Work-project )

This post outlines the plan for a learning/growth project for me. The goal is for me to work with users towards solving their problems on the WordPress.org support forums, and to, in a structured way via this volunteer work, to myself grow and learn about Software Development and Support. Today is day 0 of the plan. Here are the details:

Starting 2016-04-10 to 2016-05-10 (days 1-30), with “office hours” of 5:30am – 6:00am (New York time), I’ll:

On days 1-30, daily, during my “office hours”, check in on the wordpress.slack.com #forums channel. (Say hi, write what’s happening with me, read/ask what’s happening with other members of the support team, be social. Don’t be shy to “interview” (write to the channel to ask even one short sentence is fine) others on the channel what they are doing in terms of open source WordPress Software Support and Development. If I have a question, don’t be shy to write out onto the chat to ask the channel/team the question. Then read and acknowledge any replies. Thus my peers can be my “mentors”. )

On days 1-30, daily, during my “office hours, “Do the work!”(Read & Write — read & reply threads on the http://WordPress.org/support forums. Don’t be afraid if on a certain day, I read 10 (or 30!) threads and thus just “shadow” whats happening on forum threads. That’s learning too and is participating. Replying is good too, when it adds value.) Take a private note what happened (for my report later)

On day 31, that’s 2016-05-11, compiled from my private notes on days 1-30, write and blog the “Final report”. This should be a list of bullet points, or a list of paragraphs, whenever possible including details (links and dates+times etc.) describing what happened during days 0-30.

This has been a description of my plan for a 2016-04-10 to 2016-05-10 Open Source Volunteer Software Development and Support Engineer “Mentorship” ( Job-shadow / Informational-interview / Work-project ). I’ll see you on the forums on the chat! And look for my follow-up blog post “final report” on day 31 ( May 11, 2016).

Edit: This post was previously published at: wieldlinux.com/2016-04-10-open-source-volunteer-mentorship.php
Edit: Follow-up note -- See the next follow -up to this post, here: "Update to Previous Plan for “2016-04-10 to 2016-05-10 Open Source Volunteer … Work-project )” Post" ( http://wieldlinux.com/2016.php?2016-04-15#2016-04-15 )



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wieldlinux.com

Reasons a Software Development and Support Engineer Should Strive to Kick Ass at Their Current Job

Reasons a Software Development and Support Engineer should strive to kick ass at their current job (do their current job well), that have nothing to do with their current job. In other words why it benefits one’s *own* career to perform well at work.

The scope of this idea is that this applies to all jobs past, present, and future.

This can be seen as a pep-talk for *anyone*, however may be especially poignant for a Software Development and Support Engineer who either isn’t currently getting a lot of job satisfaction at their current job, or feels underappreciated by management at their current job, or feels underpaid, etc. etc.

The point is that as a Software Development and Support Engineer there are *big* reasons for performing well, that benefit a Software Development and Support Engineer as an individual professional — reasons that have nothing to do with how much one’s currently paid, nothing to do with how much job satisfaction one’s currently getting, and nothing to do with how (under)appreciated-by-management one feels at one’s job.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt a Software Development and Support Engineer’s employer either that one is high-performing! It’s a win-win — it’s good for the employer and the employee.

Reasons:

1. The colleagues at one’s current job will be needed to be references in the future, years down the road. Not only for changing jobs to a different organization but for promotions within the current organization. In other words people hire and promote a person who is regarded by their colleagues as a professional high-performer.

2. If a Software Development and Support Engineer wasn’t kicking ass at their job with their current organization, then the Software Development and Support Engineer would be kicking ass at their job with another organization. In other words, no matter the current situation at ones current job, it’s still in one’s interest to strive to be a high-performer. After all, as a a Software Development and Support Engineer, if I wasn’t doing a kick-ass job at this organization, then I’d be doing a kick-ass job at some other organization.

The point of this pep-talk is that as a Software Development and Support Engineer, the above-mentioned are some *big* reasons for performing well, that benefit a a Software Development and Support Engineer as an individual professional.

Edit: This post was previously published at: wieldlinux.com/2016-04-09-reasons-to-kick-ass.php



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wieldlinux.com

One Reason Why I Like Doing Software Support and how it Relates to Quality Software Customer Support and Development Engineering

Although its been years since I started Doing Software Support, I just now thought of this aspect that of why I like it. Triggered by something I saw on a software support forum.

I like responding to each user’s individual question individually. That way I get the feeling I’m helping that one person with that one problem. It preserves the human aspect.

This has nothing to do with pointing the user to an existing document, no matter how well-written the document is. There’s always phrasing that could be made different- improved based on each individual user’s individual question. So copy+pasting, or linking to a guide won’t give the same feel.

However how can one balance this with doing software customer support as a job, representing a business? So many business models don’t allow for the high-touch required to respond individually to each customer inquiry. Thus strategies such as automated replies, copy+pasting, snippets, and pointing to existing documentation are widespread.

I think the take-away here may be that different companies do it differently. I think one big factor might be in how much the solution costs and what level of service the customer expects. From having listened to software support podcasts and read software support chats and blogs, I understand that some companies charge more and put importance on customer service. Like some high-end department stores that provide professional shoppers, one-to-one customer service, and also happen to charge higher prices. But their customers like this and can and do pay the higher prices.

On the other hand, some SaaS companies never talk to their customers on the phone, and use automated email replies mixed with snippet and/or copy+paste replies.

Where’s this thought process going? I’m reminded of what I’ve understood personalities, including Jeff Vincent of supportops.co fame, as in my mind the personality who I’ve listened to this most often, refer to as “the best support is no support”. Which means that designing or improving or fixing the product to the extent that it does what the customers need it to do, so much so that the customer never needs contact the support channel. I think Jeff Vincent’s personality also said or quoted something like ‘automate wherever possible, and be intensely human everywhere else…’ or something. This leads into the world of Software Development. Maybe even into the world where a Software Support Engineer also plays the role of Software Development Engineer (Software Developer), thus becoming a sort of Software Support and Development Engineer.

What is the conclusion? 1. It’s human and enjoyable to craft a unique reply to each software customer support request, 2. The paradigm that allows this is the one of the high-end personal-shopper expensive excellent-1-on-1-service department store, 3. Another paradigm that allows this is the one where the product is developed such that the customer never needs to contact support



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2016-04-01

The Importance of Software Customer Support to a Software Developer of Plugins for WordPress

Listening to Officehours.fm podcast – “A Former WooMattician Sets Out on His Own, Episode 67”.

At about 10min.55sec. into the podcast, until at least 11min.55sec., Carrie Dils and her guest Barry Kooij are discussing the importance of Support. At this point of the podcast, they discuss for a WordPress plugin developer, what is the importance of customer software support. One thing Barry Kooij says is that he thinks supporting the existing customers is very important. He indicates that his habit is to first support the existing clients, then second proceed to work on developing the product.



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Inspired by the Persona of Jeff Vincent – Clearing my Calendar to Zero and Managing my Software Developer Career and Managing my Life

I became exposed to the persona of Jeff Vincent through supportops.co podcast about two years ago. Jeff’s comments have inspired me. Today I read some posts on Jeff’s blog, and read the post “Zero” which I’d read before. http://jeffvincent.me/zero

In the post he wrote “Instead of supporting the status quo of recurring meetings, I re-examined each for it’s value…”

This time around reading this, I’m inspired to action. As a result, I am clearing my calendar to empty, and re-adding only the essential items. It feels great and is taking the weight of unnecessary to-do items out of my life.

( and, also inspired by Jeff’s blog post, I am keeping in mind: “…(if they are really important, they’ll come back)….” — as Jeff wrote in his other “The White-Space Day” post on a similar topic ( http://jeffvincent.me/zeroing-out ) )

Thanks to Jeff for having blogged this. I’m glad I read it. I’ve become inspired, acted on it, and it is helping me manage my Software Developer career and manage my life.



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Spend a Medium Amount of Time Each Day Talking With Colleagues

2016-03-01

Even though it’s the first part of my twitter bio (blog tag line too), I may not blog about it a lot. It’s time to blog about talking with a colleague. that’s what this post is about. (twitter bio: “Talk with a Colleague, wield linux to ….”)

As a Software Support and Development Engineer, I need to spend a medium amount of time each day talking to colleagues.

Ok, but what does this even mean?

I mean, it’s not good to too-quickly rush by colleagues every day, either not saying hi or merely saying a quick hi. At the same time, it’s also not necessary to go too far and strain oneself to try and grab breakfast or lunch with each one of my colleagues every single day.

I mean that people like to spend a medium amount of time talking. If there’s less to say, then the conversation could end after half a minute naturally. Or if there’s more to say then the conversation could go on for ten, fifteen, or more minutes naturally.

What’s the benefit? It’s normal, it will allow an engineer to fit in, will allow for a healthy life and career that wouldn’t be possible. If too rushed or too strained, or if one talks too little or too much with colleagues, then an engineer will have a hard time fitting in.

In conclusion, when striking up (going into) a daily “hello” type of conversation with each of my colleagues, as a Software Support and Development Engineer I should expect to be able to spend a medium amount of time.



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For a Software Support and Development Engineer the Importance of Being Able to Sell

2016-02-01

For a Software Support and Development Engineer it’s important to be able to sell. In other words one might say it’s important to be able to bullshit (bullshit in a good way). In *other* other words, to be able to convince others to do stuff- to argue well enough to win an argument in one’s favor. (or in one’s department’s favor, or in one’s colleague’s favor, or in one’s company’s favor, or in one’s client’s favor, or in one’s shareholder’s favor, etc. etc.)

This could be considered a soft skill or a people skill. Therefore why is it important for a Software Support and Development Engineer to have this skill? A Software Support Agent or a Software Dev. must be able to sell in order to do some critical things: 1. win the argument to get resources for one’s department (get hardware, software purchases, get funding to attend relevant professional conferences, etc.) 2. to convince one’s boss, peers, or client that the next-step course of action that I’m proposing on a project is the best next-step *even if it is a non-trivial task*, 3.) to sell themselves to get a promotion, or even to get the job in the first place.

It’s important for a Software Support and Development Engineer to have the soft skill of selling. It’s important for us Support Agents and us Devs to be able to bullshit (in a good way) in order to win our arguments in our favor. It enables us to do the best job that we can!



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Professional Networking (WordCamp style)

2016-01-01

My first listen to Office Hours.fm podcast hosted by Carrie Dils. Started with episode 70 – “Taking Your Freelance Business To The Next Level, Episode 70”. 31 minutes (so halfway) into it, the panelists have discussed the WordPress ecosystem where freelancers form partnerships based on their skillsets / strengths. The panelists talk abou how the center of this — where the magic happens — is by freelancers / professionals meeting at WordCamps and Meetups.

The podcast show host and guests talk about how people stronger in sales and talking with clients go to a WordCamp and may strike up (a) friendship(s) with someone who is good at creating product. The man guest mentions how, as someone strong on the talking-to-clients / client-relationships (meaning sales) end of things, he really took the opportunity to find and seek advice from a product person at a WordCamp. Someone mentions how the key here is that friendships and trust grow across multiple consecutive in-person events, and then later business partnerships naturally form more easily because that strong personal trust is already there.

What strikes me listening to this podcast is that some people are most definitely more on the product/coding side of skill strengths, yet these same people might feel like there’s no one who’s interested in their skillset. And yet here is someone on the podcast saying they are looking for someone like this – the person is looking for someone strong on the product/coding end of things. Looking for a Software Development Engineer (Looking for a Software Developer)

To me listening to this podcast, I might say that described in a single term, what’s going on could be called Professional Networking. However I don’t recall anyone on the podcast using that term. In any case, it’s clear to me listening to this that as a Software Support and Development Engineer, one constantly needs to do this- network with all of one’s colleagues to keep professional relationships past, present and future!

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