Know your limitations

After coming back from Adelaide watching The Tour Down Under and participating in the Be Active ride I’ve learnt a couple of things.
Phil Liggett is an absolute gentleman. Thank you for signing our hats and having your photo taken with my wife.
The riders in the event are phenomenal sportsmen (and women in the companion races). This was held over 5 days, of which 3 were the hottest 72 hour period in Adelaide in 70 years (3 consecutive days of 40+ degree heat, measured in the shade, and these guys are riding on black bitumen roads!)
Finally I’m getting wiser.
I entered the Be Active ride. 154 km over the same course the riders rode. I made 147 km before I pulled out. I was so close to the end I could almost see it, but I was overheating so badly that I couldn’t cool down, and the conditions were too hot to safely continue. It would have been over 45 degrees on the bike, if not more.
Since then, I’ve been thinking about my decision. Why didn’t I just go on ? I mean, I probably could have pushed myself, I wasn’t particularly physically fatigued (my legs and back were fine), but even so I ended up sleeping on the tiled floor of the kitchen that night to keep cool and was pretty woozy the next day.
What made me give up then ? Impending fatherhood ? I really don’t know, but I do know it was the right decision, as disappointing and difficult as it was. At the end of the day, I had to put aside my personal pride and ambitions for a larger goal (not being sick for the 3 days left in Adelaide, stressing my wife and friends who were also there).
So, why don’t we do this on projects ? When a project is going pear-shaped why do we continue to say “it’s ok”, or “if I just work a bit harder it will be ok”. Or even worse when a project is started say “sure, I can do that”.
I appeal to everybody out there. Know your limitations. It’s not weak, or incompetent to admit them. It’s professional behaviour. It’s strong, responsible and appropriate to put your actions in context and understand wider implications.
The next time you’re put in a position that you know has “impending doom” written all over it, do your best to professionally ask for assistance. You’ll be surprised how often people react positively to your actions. Also, if you’re a manager reading this blog, when your staff are asking for help, reward them for their honesty, this is a very difficult thing to do, and they need to feel comfortable so things work out well.
7km – not far, but not worth hospital.

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Clean firetrucks and clean code

Seth Godin wrote an article about clean firetrucks that got a few responses from fireys (I love you guys!) and general commenters.
The premise of the article was “why do they stand around and clean stuff when they should be out preventing fires”. Now, it was Seth’s goal to paint a vivid picture about why organisations should be pro-active in getting business, rather than just standing around.
However, interestingly enough, I had a different picture in my mind after I read the title, but before I read the blog entry.
Cleaning firetrucks is possibly the most important activity that can be performed in a firestation, for the same reason as cleaning your own car (shame on me) and keeping your code clean.
You are actively looking at the item in question, and it’s more than just “a bit of spit and polish”, you’re taking time to make sure the hose-reels are nicely wound, and that the tyres are pumped, and the spare tyre is ready to go, and that there is no clutter in the driving cabin.
Why is that ? Well, when the shit hits the fan, and the rubber has to hit the road, then the truck’s gotta be in tip-top shape and operating at peak effectiveness.
So, the perception that “washing the truck” is just “busy work” is so pervasive that even clever and articulate commentators would choose to reflect on these activites in this manner.
What chances do we have as software developers to get people to understand that refactoring code, and general code and build housekeeping provides those same values ?
When the bug comes in, or the change request comes in, I wanna be in a position to slide down the pole, put on my red shiny hat, big ass pants and wellies and write code to save the day. (How’s that for a visual ?)
I don’t want to have to find out that the hose has kinks in it, or the cabin is filled with Maccas rubbish at the worst possible time. The orphanage is on fire and nuns and children need to be recued now !
Cleanliness may not be next to godliness, but I’m sure there is a high correlation between cleanliness and the level of maintenance on the items in hand, whether that be a 10-tonne fire truck (or whatever they weigh) and the software that I write.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to hose down some code I wrote yesterday.

2005 The Year That Was

2005 would have to rate as one of my best years. The Eaves family managed to finish the year fit and healthy, and the extended family is all damn good as well. One minor incident involving the mother-in-law and her heart stopping, but she’s good, got a pacemaker and enjoyed Christmas with the family.
On the work front, I’ve got a new job at ANZ Bank which I was bit hesitant about, but am absolutely loving it. ANZ is a great employer, and the area that I’m working in is brilliant. You have to understand the large corporation “culture” to not go mad, but I’ve been given license to be a heretic, and am making significant impact as I inflict myself on projects within ANZ. Thanks for the opportunity Alan, Nick & Joel.
However, best….news….ever….
In June 2006, I’m going to be a dad. So, fingers crossed that everything continues to work out well. Sue is fit and healthy, and all the reports from the doctors are that “bump” also is.
One hope for the New Year is that the world starts to get it’s shit together and stop shooting and blowing each other up. The world has a bigger problem which is human induced climate change, and unless the world governments starts to take this seriously, this fucked up weather will kill every living thing on this planet.
Screw the stupid religous differences, we have a global issue that will mean that we’re pretty much fucked unless we all get together and do something.