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Beware Analogies

I love analogies; but only when I can relate to them. It’s not just a matter of whether or not I know them, but rather if I can relate to them on a deeper level.

Analogies can be detrimental. I’m not a fan of American Football. I’ve tried watching the Super Bowl three times, two of them with someone explaining to me what was going on. It has put me to sleep every single time (sorry, folks). When I read a book or watch a video where people heavily draw comparisons to that sport, talking as if everybody can relate 100% to what they’re saying, as if everybody cared, I get very frustratred and usually give up on the content.

I love analogies that allow me to lean on my pre-existent knowledge to learn something new. If I need to learn two new things at the same time (whatever the topic at hand is, plus the analogy being used), I lose interest and move on.

A lot of computer people immediately assume other computer people’s level of nerdiness is high, so they draw comparison to nerdy things. Those usually don’t work for me, either.

For example, the first couple of times I’ve heard software developers say “we’ll practice TDD using the Game of Life as an example”, I thought they meant the Game of Life board game. After listening to the conversation and realizing that my understanding of the Game of Life didn’t align with what they were describing, I did some research and found out they were referring to Conway’s Game of Life, which I had never heard of before. Yup, I guess I’m not the typical computer nerd. 🙂

So, beware analogies.

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Building my Book Library

I’m slowly building my book library. I enjoy books in all shapes and forms: paperback, e-book, audiobook, animated book summary, etc. My library reflects that.

Most of my technical books are e-books. I usually get their PDF version and put it in a “Books” notebook in Evernote; its search feature goes into those PDF files to find what I’m looking for. Quick access when I need that information.

My fiction books are either paperpack or e-book (usually in Kindle format).

The non-fiction, non-technical books are well spread out in different formats.

I’ve been reading more and more of my e-books on Kindle (on my iPad), using its features to highlight and comment; I often review my notes and highlights.

I’m getting more and more paperback books. Sometimes, I end up getting them after either listening to the audiobook or reading the e-book versions.

I have books in my library that I’ve purchased over a decade ago and haven’t read yet. I also have been acquiring more books that I don’t know when I’ll read them, but I do want to have them readily available. I don’t ever want to be in a situation where I tell myself “oh, gee, I really want to read something, but I have nothing to read”. Seriously, dude? Just go to your library and pick something up!

When I get book recommendations from friends or from reading other books, I look them up on Amazon and add them to my “books wishlist”, and I add a note to remind me where the recommendation came from.

To keep track of my backlog, books I want to read soon, books I’m currently reading, and books I’ve read, I still use the same process I’ve described in 2016.

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Speaking at Houston Tech Fest on Saturday, September 12

I’ll be speaking at the virtual Houston Tech Fest this Saturday, September 12. You can register for free here. After registered, you’ll get information with the schedule so you can registered for the sessions you’re interested in (there are 30 sessions to choose from!!)

Here are my talks. I hope you get to attend to any or all of them!

All times shown in Central Time.

  • 10:10-11:10am – Beyond the Daily Stand-up: An Intro to Scrum
  • 1:40-2:40pm – Navigating and Refactoring Code, and other Productivity Tips
  • 4-5pm – Preparing and Giving Sprint Reviews (and Demos)

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15 Year Anniversary!

Wow. It has been 15 years since I started this blog!

It’s kind of cool seeing the areas that stick out:

Productivity, Testing, Evernote… that sounds about right.

Fun Facts

  • Most popular post: A Good Example of Liskov Substitution Principle (Nov/2010). It’s such an old post, but it still gets many views. The 2nd most popular post doesn’t have even 1/3rd of the views .
  • Total Posts: 426
  • Average Words Per Post: 342
  • Year with the most posts: 2007, with 75. This is post #51 this year, should I look into setting a new record?
  • I can think of at least two occasions when I googled something and ended up finding the answer on my blog, having totally forgotten I had already run into the same problem and written about it.
  • While I don’t get lots of comments left on the blog itself, countless times somebody mentions one of my posts in conversations. My point: people are “listening”, and that’s why I write and post, regardless as to whether I’m generating tons of views and a buzz or not.
  • I still look at zero-based arrays and think “what the heck?”. 🙂

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Who do I know that can help me with this?

When I shared my thoughts on “Fake until you make/become it”, I summed it as follows:

Instead of being a “fake”, I rather make it clear where I want to get to, get help, and give help on my way there!

At a recent update to my Now page a few weeks ago, I’ve included the following:

“I am studying Angular (version 9, at this point). For the last 2 and a half years, I had been mostly using React on the front-end. I had some previous experience with the old AngularJS and decided to take a look at the current version of Angular to see where it stands. In the process of learning, I’m building a little sample inspired by “Your Life in Weeks”. I’m also building a small proof-of-concept for a feature that can be very valuable to my current client. So far, I’m enjoying this version of Angular.”

Not 5 minutes go by and I receive the following message on Facebook, from an old buddy with whom I hadn’t spoken to in 5 years!

Not only was I made aware of a good old friend who’s willing to help with something that’s currently important to me, but also had the chance to catch up. Double win!

While I’m at it, let me share one of my favorite TED Talks: Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking.

So, after asking yourself “What Can/Will I do about it?”, move on to the next question:

Who do I know that can help me with this? – James Clear

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What have you been up to?

I had seen Derek Sivers’ “Now” page a while ago (this is what that’s all about), and I finally decided to create my own Now page. So, now whenever anybody send me an email or text asking me “so, what have you been up to?”, I’ll point them to that page. Check it out: https://lassala.net/now/

I’m not sure yet how often I’ll update the page. At a very minimum, at least when I do my monthly review, at which point I check my current plans, which are derived from my previous year’s Annual Review. That’ll be a good way to make sure I’m still on track, and/or reflect upon course correction throughout the year.

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Houston Agile Shift 2020: Registration is Open!

Registration for the Houston Agile Shift 2020 is now open!

After its successful debut in 2019, the conference is back in 2020, bigger and better. I enjoyed presenting there last year, had great interactions with the attendees, and stayed in touch with them even months after the conference was over.

This year I’ll be even more involved with the conference and can’t wait to see attendees learning and networking, speakers sharing their experiences, and a vibrant community coming together!

If you’d like to speak, the Call for Speakers is open for only a short period of time, so hurry up and submit your session proposals.

If you’d like to be a sponsor, this is also a good time to reach out.

If you’d like to attend, grab your tickets!

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Agile Shift 2020: Call for Speakers!

I’ve had a great time speaking at Agile Shift this year and am excited to know the conference will happen again in 2020; bigger this time! Check out the conference’s website for more info.

At this time, there’s a Call for Speakers. If you’d like to speak at a great conference, this is a sweet chance. You can also let your favorite speakers know about this opportunity!

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One Full Year of Daily Meditation!

I’ve finally done it: a streak of 365 days of meditation!

Let me tell you why this is a big deal to me…

It’s NOT about the achievements!!

Over the last 4 years or so, I’ve blogged about (or mentioned) meditation. I’ve been consistently meditating daily for the last 365 days. However, it wasn’t always like this.

The app I use for guided meditation, Headspace, like many others, award you with badges based on your streak of days meditating: 1 day, 3 days, 10 days, 15 days, 30 days, etc. Getting up to 30 days was relatively easy for me: come on, 10 minutes a day shouldn’t be that hard! However, the next badge after that is for 90 days.

In order to hit that next mark, at some point I started cheating: there were days where I was too busy with everything else, so I’d start the guided meditation on the app, and proceed with doing whatever else I was doing. Yeah, just so I could earn my super badge. Really?!

Fortunately, my blog tagline’s got to me: “Why do we do this again…?”. Oh, the shame.

With that realization, I got back on track, now decided that I’d never cheat like that again; if I had to miss a day because I couldn’t honestly afford 10 minutes to meditate, I’d simply start over from day 1.

Guess what? I did find time to meditate!

I remember reading or hearing somewhere: “If you don’t have time to meditate 10 minutes, you should meditate 20 minutes”. There’s a lot of truth in that. Over time I started meditating 15 minutes, and then got to 20 minutes (I have pulled back to 15 minutes a few months ago after adding a couple minutes to the evening, too, but I’ll likely go up in my morning session again soon).

But the streak was broken again… and again…

I got my for the 90-day streak. And then for 180 days. But then, one weekend in mid 2017, I camped at a racing track and thought: “yikes, how am I going to meditate here?”. And I skipped two days of meditation. I then convinced myself there’s absolutely no reason to meditate wherever I am, and ever since, I have meditated inside of my camping tent, inside of my car, at hotels, at work… I don’t care.

After that, how would I get to the next (and last) badge, for 365 days? Well, that one couldn’t be easy.

At one moment, I passed 200+ days, but then I had one bad day when the sun didn’t want to smile at me and the streak was broken. I started over.

Then, I passed 300+ days. And then again, a mix of a bad day and a timezone change for a trip to Europe have caused that streak to be broken again. Man, so close…

…and finally, 365!!

I’ve really earned this badge:

If there’s a day that’s, let’s say, complicated, I will NOT skip meditation. I may have a short session (the minimum I did was 3 minutes), but I’ll still sit down, put myself together, meditate, and then carry on.

Now I just have to keep doing what I’m doing, collecting the benefits of living a mindful life, and eventually, I’ll get to 2 thousand meditation sessions completed. 🙂

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Improving Houston is Hiring!

Improving Houston is hiring. We have a TON of positions available!

  • Senior and Principal level Java consultants
  • Consultant, Senior, and Principal .NET consultants
  • Senior and Principal UI/UX consultants
  • Agile Coaches and Scrum Masters

If you’re interested, or know somebody who’d be, contact me at claudio.lassala AT improving.com

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