On fairness and developer salaries

I’m taking advantage of being funemployed by taking a few online courses, including Dan Ariely’s A Beginner’s Guide to Irrational Behavior at Coursera. I’m very familiar with Ariely’s work (I’ve read each of his books and cited various pieces of his research in my talk at SXSW a few years ago), but I’ve been pleasantly surprised as each week has taught me something new. Case in point: fairness, specifically as it relates to salaries.

On my productivity

A couple of weeks ago, I posted about my upcoming funemployment (which has since begun). I mentioned in that post that my past jobs have helped me figure out how I’m most productive, and I’ve had a couple of people ask me what exactly I’ve learned about that. So, here goes. I don’t think I’m particularly unique with any (or at least most) of these items, but I’ve found it helpful to be clear about them to myself.

On “monitoring”

I’m at Monitorama this week; it’s been a great conference, but a weird one for me. This is the first conference I’ve been to in years where I don’t know a significant minority of the attendees, and it’s the first non-Ruby/Rails conference I’ve been to in even longer. I’m enjoying the feeling of not-quite-knowing what’s going on, since I’m not deeply embedded in the DevOps / monitoring movements. One thing that struck me yesterday during the talks was an issue of vocabulary: many of the speakers seemed to use “monitoring” and “alerting” almost interchangeably – it’s almost as if the purpose of monitoring was just to enable alerting, which is all that matters.

On my recent brush with rhabdo

First off: thank you to everyone who sent their thoughts and well-wishes. It was extremely heartening to open up Twitter or Facebook and see people hoping that I’d be OK. OK, so a bit more information on my ill-timed hospital stay. After a hard (but not unreasonably so) Crossfit workout on Tuesday and being sick with a fever on Wednesday and Thursday, I went to the doctor on Friday to get checked out.

On taking time to think

I’ve gotten into a really bad habit when it comes to my work: every job in software development I’ve ever had has essentially been an (extremely fortunate) accident: My first gig (nearly 14 years ago) was just something to occupy my time after my first year of graduate school in philosophy. From there, one of my volleyball buddies needed a web developer for his team at Nextel, and I thought it sounded fun.

On remote work

I've worked remotely to a greater or lesser extent for three or four years now -- ranging from working from home a few days a week to being 100% remote and on the other side of the country from the home office. In my experience: For any given person, they're going to be less effective working remotely than they would be working face-to-face with their team. ZOMG, let's all be Yahoo!

On “people” problems

My friend Justin Gehtland tweet this a bit ago: At its root, every problem is a *people* problem, because only people have problems.Without people, they are just facts and circumstances. — jgehtland (@jgehtland) February 12, 2013 That spawned a quick response from me, Jim Van Fleet, and Ben Vandgrift. I want to refine what I said, however -- and to a certain extent take it back. First, a definition: a problem is a mismatch between the way the world is (facts and circumstances, in Justin's formulation) and the way that some person wants the world to be.

On Integrity

Some years ago, I remember hearing about a novel (short story, maybe?) by a futurist-minded science fiction author. The premise is that in the future, surveillance is cheap, easily accessible, and (most importantly) universal. I imagine the introduction of such technology would be a boon to law enforcement and amateur porn enthusiasts alike, but that wasn't the point of the story, which took place after society had somewhat adjusted to the new status quo.

On Radical Honesty

OK, who's heard of Radical Honesty? My introduction to it was in AJ Jacobs' My Life as an Experiment. The premise is that you don't lie, and (according to the founder) don't filter at all. If you're mad at someone, you let them have it with the full force of your anger; if you're attracted to someone who is not your partner, you tell them that you're thinking about what it would be like to have sex with them.

On Self-knowledge

Picking up on that "how do I know what I think" quote -- let's start to tie a little bit of this into topics that might be more interesting to my usual crowd. One of the most powerful things you can do in your life is journal. I don't necessarily mean writing down your thoughts and feelings each day (though that can be extremely powerful) -- I mean recording anything, reliably.