Work Life

Cross posted from The Think Tank.

This is a blog about work life.

As a kid in the 80’s, futurologists predicted a coming generational war between baby boomers hitting retirement and my generation (Gen X) and the next (Millenials). This war would be a series of escalating battles fought on the ballot box over the removal of depression-era social contracts such as Social Security.

And yet baby boomers have been hitting the traditional age of retirement for half a decade now and it hasn’t happened yet.

Ignoring the obvious absurdity of a generation of “slackers” and “hipsters” combining forces to wage war against our own parents, the need was nullified because previous generations delayed retirement and work in retirement while our generation redefines success in work to be more than a race for economic rewards.

We went to war, not with each other, but with the traditional meaning of success and failure, of reward and punishment, of life and work.

If we were to extrapolate this to generational theory, it is not in the rightness of each generational archetype1, but in the wrongness of fundamental assumptions we’ve previously all bought in to.

This wrongness is no more evident evident in “work life.”

Continue reading about work life after the jump

Wrong model?

Me: *grabs the Victoria Secret flyer out of girlfriend’s hands*. Oh, it’s just a L…

Her: Yeah, they always have that free panty deal.

Me: You thought I was looking at the underwear? I was looking at the model…(long pause)… of camera! Hahaha!

Her: *rolls eyes* (sarcastically) Oh, very funny.

(It was a Leica film camera, of course.)

Victoria secret add
You know you’re a photographer at heart when when the thing your eyes are immediately drawn to in this photo is the camera.

Rituals and Religion

From an e-mail I received a year ago:

What does that actually mean? It means facilitating the “rituals” that
are part of an agile team’s work (e.g. the daily stand-ups, the
sprint planning meetings, retrospectives, etc.) and continually facilitating
the team’s discovery of improving the way they work.

What is the difference between a software process and a religion? Nothing.

I’m cool with software process, just like I believe in God.

I hate named software process because, like organized religion, it’s full of theology removed from reality, practice without the empiricism, theory without the application. When you show them empirical evidence on the consequence (or outright failure) of one of their particular rituals, they’re quick to maneuver with the words, “That’s ‘big A Agile.’ I’m not talking about that, I’m ‘little A Agile.’” (Whatever the fuck that is.)1

You can’t pin them down because they actually stand for nothing—there is no “there” there. It is the natural result of adapting a process that originated to allow sub-1000 page software consulting contracts with Fortune 500 multinational industrials in the 80’s and 90’s and blindly applying it to a shoe-string funded startups over a full decade after the dotCom crash in non-enterprise consumer-facing Internet whose entire business is software. Two different worlds; two different failure costs; one would assume that there would be two different names for two different software processes.

Instead there are hundreds of different processes all under the “little A agile” banner. And they look not alike at all. To watch the rhetorical hoops these agile adherents go through to call it “all agile” would be amusing if it wasn’t so unnecessary.

When I was a kid at evangelical summer camp, there was a parable I heard the counselor’s tell:

A man gets the opportunity to visit Heaven and Hell. He visits Hell first and meets Satan and asks, “Do you have any Catholics here?”

Satan responds, “Oh yes, we have a lot of them.”

“Presbyterians?”

“Yep!“

“Baptists?”

“Them too!”

And so on, listing every denomination and finding them well-represented in Hell.

Depressed he goes to Heaven and chats with Saint Peter. “Do you have Catholics in Heaven?”

“No,” Peter says.

“Prebyterians?”

“No, none of those.”

“Baptists?”

“No.”

And so on. Exasperated, the man asks Peter, “Well then what do you have in Heaven?”

“Christians.” Peter responds.

Catholicism is Scrum; Presbyterian is Extreme Programming; Baptists is Kanban. I suppose Hell is the dead-pool, Heaven is getting a getting funded or IPO2, and Martin Fowler is Saint Peter.3 It reads the same.

“Little A Agile”: the “non-denominational Christians” of the software process religions. If it works, it’s “Agile.” And if it fails to get you to Internet Heaven?4

Oh, that shit is “big A Agile.”


  1. If your process is defined by the outcome alone, then it is useless in a business setting. 
  2. A successful exit, in life or startups. :-) 
  3. Does that make me Satan? 
  4. The goal is to have an lucrative exit so you can blog about how hard it is to be a Founder and tweet about your First World problems. 
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San Rafael, California, United States

Apple iPhone 6, Apple iPhone 6 back camera 4.15mm f/2.2

0.001 sec (1/1647) @ f/2.2, iso32 (29 mm)

Pork Tocino

If you live in The Richmond, you know that B*Star Bar is like eating at Burma Superstar but without the line.

Breakfast plate with pork tocino, garlic fried rice topped with two eggs cooked over easy. Spoon in foreground
Pork Tocino with Garlic Fried Rice
B*Star Bar, The Richmond, San Francisco, California, United States

Sony DSC-RX1
0.013 sec (1/80) @ f/4.5, iso400, 35 mm

My favorite brunch dish there is the Pork Tocino. Grilled jerk pork over a bed of garlic fried rice and cherry tomatoes, topped with scallions and balsamic vinegar.

Since Marie loves their Huevos Racheros, I end up ordering this dish a lot. The only times I don’t is when we bring a guest, then I suggest they get it and I order something else.

Continue reading about some WordPress plugin notes after the jump

FYWP #257-262: wpautop and shortcodes/oEmbed do not play nice at all

It occurs to me that wpautop() is the register_globals of WordPress—a feature that was instrumental for its growth and popularity, but really needs to DIAF. They should rename the function wppeepee() because it finds a way to pee pee on your content at the most inopportune moments, causing unending headaches in your code.

For those of you who don’t know, wpautop can be seen as nl2br() on steriods, or (as I prefer to call it) a poor man’s Markdown. It’s been in WordPress for almost forever, and it’s hard to imagine writing a blog post without it, even if it’s a Really Bad Idea™.

Continue reading about the interaction of wpautop, shortcodes and oEmbed after the jump

Review of The Man in the High Castle

The Man in the High Castle by Philip K Dick

I’ve bought this book a while ago, since before I knew that Ridley Scott was working on a TV series based on it. Since the pilot was released on Amazon, Marie borrowed and read it before she started to see spoilers on her social network. Since she read it, we watched the pilot. Since I watched the pilot, I started reading the book in the evening. Since I started reading the book (and it is sci fi/fantasy), I finished it sometime in the middle of the night.

This is why I don’t read science fiction anymore.

Most movies (and I’ll assume this TV show) based on Phillip K Dick are usually loosely based on his books and short stories, where the core ideas (or, more likely, one or two of them) are kept and most of the storyline is not. From the pilot it is clear that this will follow that trend.

I mention this because I find it interesting that when this is done to nearly anyone else’s work readers are angry that either it doesn’t hold true to the original (in the case of contemporary writers), or they clearly list it as an adaptation (in the case of classic writers such as Shakespeare). The only common exception I can think are movies based on comic books—but the source material itself is inconsistent and full of reboots and retellings.

My only real criticism of the book is the use of the I Ching which I found frustrating and boring. After all, you are talking about someone who used to publish “horrorscopes” in college — horoscopes with unfortunate fortunes. This scientist has never taken kindly to that sort of mysticism.

Continue reading some spoilers after the jump

Ulysses

The new version of Ulysses is out for Mac and iPad. (The Mac version is a free upgrade from Ulysses III; the iPad app is new).

Screenshot showing Ulysses for Mac with a three-paned window  editing notes from _Practice Perfect_.
A screenshot of the updated Ulysses for Mac. The theme is “Tomorrow” and the font is Inconsolata.

It’s really hard to explain what this app is. In fact, I’ve been purchasing (and not using) this application for years before I realized that it strikes the right balance for a certain set of work.

Continue reading about Ulysses after the jump