intjonathan: (Default)
as the day, in its progress, is the best of our lives on a small scale. A long, bright, groggy morning, a heart-colored sunset.

The average human in 2008 will live for 30,000 days. That sounds like a lot, doesn't it? It does to me, until I realize that I've already lived about 9,350 of them. It's like I spent 10,000 days trying to get started.

Only 100 years ago, I could have expected to live only 8,181 more days in my 17,500 day lifespan. I'd be over the hill, although back then I guess the hill was a lot lower. I would also have been married for nearly 10 years, have a child or two (assuming my wife survived childbirth), and be training an apprentice in some trade.

Of late I have wondered if there was something those men before me had that I don't. Obviously they were prepared for that pace of life since birth, as the world they were in expected those milestones. But how different was it really? Could I manage that life today if I was asked? Or would I crumble?

I'm 10,000 days old, and frequently feel like I don't know shit about anything. Obviously these men knew shit about something. Or did they feel like they were faking it the whole time, the way I do?

One of the luxuries of a long lifespan is the delayed start. I don't have to know shit after 10,000 days because I've got another 20,000 left. If I only had another 8,000 I would probably think differently. And what I ask myself is, am I abusing that luxury? Our ancestors imagined a world where progress would speed up tremendously, to the point of technological advance rendering the world unrecognizable to them. And while I think that's happened, it did so in ways they wouldn't have expected.

Kitchens of the future will make the food for you, they imagined. Travel will become painless, automatic. Household tasks will be automated, so people will have all this time to accomplish great advances in human achievement.

I have machines to clean my dishes and my laundry, a decorative lawn and machines to cut it. Markets to deliver prepared food, and cheap, reliable transportation to get it to me. It's 2008, and while I may not have a jetpack or a flying car, much of what they imagined came true, but I don't feel very enlightened by it. I mostly feel like I have a lot of free time that I don't care to do anything with. Sometimes I think hand-washing laundry was a better approach, because now that I don't have to do that, it turns out it wasn't keeping me from doing anything very useful anyway.

Sometimes, after a day like today when I did basically nothing important, I wonder if I am betraying their faith in the future.
intjonathan: (Default)
Thanks [ profile] loladancer.
As with all types, the INTJ can achieve personal growth by developing all functions that are not fully developed, through actions such as:

* articulating the INTJ's vision, and allowing others to contribute to its development
* expressing appreciation for work done, even when it falls short of the INTJ's personal standards
* investigating the facts, and documenting them, before interpreting what they mean
* taking time to consider the impact of the INTJ's approach and ideas on people's feelings
* looking for and acknowledging positive contributions and areas of agreement, rather than just seeing flaws and areas of disagreement

Under extreme stress, fatigue or illness, the INTJ's shadow may appear - a negative form of ESFP. Example characteristics are:

* doing things to excess - e.g.: eating, drinking or exercising
* acting very impulsively, perhaps starting off more projects than the INTJ could hope to accomplish
* expressing emotions in an intensive and uncontrolled way
* being very sensitive to criticism
* asking for lots of information that is irrelevant
I have come to know this shadow very well at times over the last year. It is an infuriating trap of this type that the most interesting environment for it is typically a very stressful one.


Jan. 24th, 2008 11:22 pm
intjonathan: (Default)
I'd like to make something bigger than a dent in the concept, myself. But I wouldn't complain if I had more of it. Funny how that works.

When I was small, all my daydreams involved being wealthy enough to ignore money. Incredibly, I'm basically at that point now, except for the part where I have to spend it on crap I don't like, like retirement funds for baby boomers and a dumb war. Those aside, the most striking thing that happened to me when I reached this point was discovering the complex relationship of time and money.

I've talked about this before, though maybe not here, but when you leave school for the working world, you suddenly have more money than time. Things that once seemed ludicrous, like maid services or dealership car repair, suddenly make perfect sense. Building your own computer becomes a chore instead of recreation.

And I've heard both "time is money" and "money is time", and I think they're both true and both wrong. Yes, time is valuable and can be used to create value, and the use of money can allow you to choose more freely how you spend your time, at the end of the day they're really independent things because only money can have a negative balance. There's no such thing as "time debt". No time credit rating or "borrowed" time.

I prefer the idea that Money = (Energy / Elapsed Time) * Knowledge. Energy / Elapsed Time is how you measurepower, thus simplifying it to Money = Power * Knowledge. So in this formula, as your energy or knowledge go up, so does your money, and as your efficiency decreases (or elapsed time goes up), your money goes down.

For example, a fresh college graduate at a startup has plenty of Energy, but little Knowledge and works slowly. Let's say this enthusiastic graduate comes to work with 2000 joules of energy, takes 2 hours to fix a bug, and brings 18 months of practical knowledge to the position:
( 2000J / 7200 s ) * 18 months = 5 magical money units
His manager, a senior programmer that cut his teeth on Deep Blue, comes with much more Knowledge and more efficiency, but less Energy. His results for the same bug:
( 500J / 1800 s ) * 120 months = 33 magical money units

That looks about right. After you've been doing anything for 10 years, you probably don't have to worry too much about making money doing it if you're fast and want to put your energy into it. It's also reasonable to think that the senior programmer has 6 times the earning capacity of a fresh-faced graduate (in fact, that's probably a conservative estimate).

So, if you want to make a lot of money, just find ways to mess with your inputs to this formula. Find an activity for which you have a lot of energy (interest) or can do very efficiently, and start increasing your knowledge and experience doing it. Don't do things you have little energy for, or you'll get stuck with a high knowledge multiplier compensating for a low-energy task.

Relating the results of this formula to Happiness is left as an exercise for the reader.
intjonathan: (Default)
Fred Brooks outlines 3 essential points about systems design:

  • Conceptual integrity is the most important consideration
  • Deciding precisely what to build is the hardest part

  • The focus of any organizational structure must be on solving the critical need for communication

Some of these depend on each other, which can be represented graphically:

Of course, you can't just do these things in order. Over the course of everyone actually building the thing, decisions about what it will do must be revisited.

So, to make a great system, first one must decide what it will do, then ensure that its concepts remain coherent, then communicate constantly and easily with everyone building it. At Treemo, I sit right at the second step in that list, and am working on becoming better at the third, as it is increasingly required of me.

Anyway, these concepts are software engineering 101. Every tool, process, idea, program, or proposal that crosses my desk is going to have this diagram applied to it. "Does this thing solve a communication problem and/or reinforce our software's conceptual integrity?" It seems simple, but most things don't pass. Sometimes I feel like people turn their brains off when evaluating things like this. Software is hard, yes, but process of making it is over 50 years old, and the thousands of software projects that have lived and died in that time can tell us a LOT about how to make solving that hard problem easier. We have such ignorance of our history in this industry. I've only been a professional developer for a year now, and I've reinvented hundreds of wheels both in my code and in my organization. It's exhausting sometimes.

Also worth addressing are the blocks on the bottom of the first diagram: transparent trust, shared vision, and sharp tools.

First, you're not going anywhere in any company if you can't trust those around you. The need in software for fluent, open communication cannot be met without grab-my-hand-over-a-cliff trust. Joel is right about this, even though he doesn't come out and say it. Gifting your developers with offices, decision-making authority, and free lunches is a wonderful way to create a safe environment where they feel free to create and speak.

Second, everyone making software must grasp their role in both the company and the development process. They must share that vision for their role and be enthusiastic about it, because if they're not, why are they working there? Being on-message is just as important for testers as it is salesmen.

Finally, sharp tools must be available to everyone who needs them. Michelangelo was known to work so quickly and so hard that he would work all night with a candle on his head, chiseling furiously until the marble dust choked the air of his workshop. How many chisels do you think he owned? When you look at the David, do you wonder at how much he spent on having them sharpened? This also ties in with the trust issue: put a fast computer in that office.

Now, to build a company wise enough that I don't have to spend Sundays thinking about this stuff...
intjonathan: (Default)
During an intense discussion about the emotional intelligence of one of her exes, Tara suggested that I do "manhood counseling," and while I'm hardly qualified to teach other men the way through that wilderness when I'm barely learning the land myself, I thought she may be on to something. Most of my female friends express continual frustration with the difficulty of finding, much less keeping, a man that they like. Most of my guy friends are flailing through their twenties, single, directionless, and bored. (No offense to said guy friends - just calling it like you say it.) Look around you and count the men in your life that you'd want to have your back in a fight and I suspect you'll end up with a real short list.

I don't claim to have any secrets about this, in fact the ideas here are cribbed from a book by John Eldredge, Wild at Heart. If you have the time to read this essay more than once, you should stop right now and go get a copy of the book for yourself, because the best I can do in an introduction is summarize the enormous concepts in his book. I also don't claim to have all the answers; these ideas are not new, Eldredge just does a great job explaining them, and hopefully I can do them justice.

Read more... )


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