Notes to self

Not gold alone brought us hither

Oct 6, 2013

Start with peace of mind

Peace of mind produces right values, right values produce right thoughts. Right thoughts produce right actions and right actions produce work which will be a material reflection for others to see of the serenity at the center of it all.

– Robert M. Pirsig

Oct 6, 2013

Two kinds of books

There are two kinds of [selfhelp] books:

  1. Those that tell you why you are the way you are, and that its ok to be the way you are; and
  2. Those that tell you how to become what you want to become.

I see value in both of the above, but time spent reading the second type feels like more bang for the buck.

Jun 16, 2013

Looking forward

One thing that keeps us going more than anything else is – the hope that tomorrow is going to be better than today. This is true no matter what your today looks like. You may be going through the worst day of your life or today may be the best day of your life, but tomorrow needs to be something you look forward to. For example, former Olympians struggle with post Olympic stress disorder because their best days seem to be behind them.

Give yourself something to look forward to. That is what keeps us going.

May 14, 2013

Craftsmen build tools

One of the tell tale signs of craftsmen is their natural afinity for building or improving tools. While this may sound unnatural to others, a craftsman does not have to think about this; it comes to him naturally – improving existing tools or building new tools.

When I am interviewing a candidate for a job, I always ask this question: “Tell me about the tools you have built or improved to make you more effective at your job.” Craftsman’s eyes light up, he sits straight with an improved posture, leans forward and starts talking about the tool(s) he developed and how it made a difference in the way he and his team accomplished their daily tasks. He forgets that he is answering an interview question, because now we are in his teritory which he knows like the back of his hand and he is most proud of having built. All I need to do now is find out how well he did what he loves doing most.

I need at least one craftsman on my team who helps sharpen the metaphorical saw while others saw away at the trees.

Apr 1, 2013

Getting back on track

Moving to a new job and a new city threw me off track in many ways. Now, I think things are falling back in place and I may soon be on track. This means, some of the things that I did outside of work – and had become used to – will again become possible.

Just being able to post a few words on my blog feels great.

Nov 3, 2012

On writing

I have started reading “On writing well” by William Zinsser and just from reading chapter 1, I can see what makes this book tick. It is a sequel to the seminal work on this subject – “Elements of style” by Strunk and White. I have enjoyed reading “Elements of style” so much that it left me with a longing for more on the topic; and “On writing well” satisfies that craving.

There is more to this book than just [literary] writing. Surprisingly, the insights gained from reading the first chapter go beyond the craft of writing – to software development, i.e. writing code. Following are a few assertions that the author makes which apply to writing code as well.

  1. Writing is not easy and fun. It is hard and lonely, and the words seldom just flow. (So is programming, but readme driven development can help.)
  2. Rewriting is the essence of writing. Professional writers rewrite their sentences over and over. (In other words, refactor your code all the time.)
  3. Writing is a craft, not an art. (Practice your craft as a programmer.)
  4. If your job is writing, you learn to do it every day. Like any other job. (Write code every day no matter your job title.)
  5. Professional writers are solitary drudges who seldom see other writers. (Many successful software developers too work alone – here’s an example.)

I am happy to be reading this book.