I Spoke

This was such a big deal; and now it is such a little deal.   What is it really?

I spoke at a conference for the first time – Pics of Bling:

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Leading Up

Leading up to it, it was .. scary. 

  • Will I have something worthy to say? 
  • Will I be able to say it? 
  • What if I say something and I’m wrong?

Walking into the speaker dinner the first time ever .. as a volunteer, three years ago .. surrounded by these splendid specimens of technical trueness .. was both overwhelming and exciting.  Some of that is captured in this blog post:  https://geekygulati.com/2015/04/27/codepalousa-day-2-for-me/

And this year, at the prompting of my company … I took the plunge and I submitted a talk. (Well, technically, two talks, because @jstill did a talk together).    And it took a LOT of time:


28 Hours, in powerpoint, to be exact.   A lot of this was after-hours.   There’s probably another 4-5 hours in there working on it in other apps (like looking for images, or looking up screenshots, or drawing things).   The above graphic is thanks to RescueTime, which I have on both my work and personal machines.   I also spent 14 hours on Youtube in March. 


I don’t think there were any empty seats in the room.

Several people I respect were in the room.

Several of my former students where there!

One person was there because they had seen me talk about RSI.  (link)

I got nervous, and I got ready, and I started … at 3pm, 15 minutes early.  ABORT.   Continue with asking people what their challenges were.  A flow started to form in the room.   Got warmed up.

Once I launched into it, it was fine.  The slides had personal meaning for me, so the slide pulled the information out of me, in the grooves and paths that rehearsal had laid down before.   I had my comedic timing on the sloth slide, and the cat nap slide, amongst others.  I think I saw lightbulbs and people writing stuff down furiously at certain points.  There was drop dead silence as we talked about fears, and then laughter as we went to the van down by the river. 

And then

It was over.  I wish I had spent some more time winding down the presentation, and maybe asking people to give me feedback.  Maybe I could have had my twitter handle present in the slide master like the Storyteller Spellbook’s author talks about.   I did ask specific people what they got out of the presentation, and it was pretty much all on the fears side, not on the process side.


It crept up on me slowly.  At the Google Thursday Night Party.   I was a speaker.  I had crossed that bridge.

What is that bridge?  Who was I before, and who am I after?  And not much has changed, yet, something is different.



Maybe what I have to say is relevant? Maybe not. My experiences have relevance
I wish I could help people I can help people.
I wonder if I’ll ever … Looking forward to the NEXT!  what will it be?


I could definitely submit this talk to other conferences for 2019.

I could do several things for CodePaLousa for 2019.  I could expand on existing things:

  • An expanded version of the RSI talk (instead of 10-15 minutes) …  although, learning to dragon dictate again will be annoying.  And I’m so unsure about the quasi-medical stuff that I unearthed. 
  • Zoom in deeper to dealing with Fears.  I skipped all the stuff from where you become aware of the fear to awareness/acceptance and DABDA before you can get to effective action. 
  • Zoom in deeper into prioritization.  I glossed over the Franklin stuff, I could look at GTD and other such things, I could delve into the not-perfection aspect of it, I could look at the swapping of spots in a queue, etc.
  • Zoom in more into tools.  I didn’t mention Rescuetime, Ditto, or Timesnapper.   Maybe.

I could also do some stuff that’s bouncing around inside, but hasn’t come out yet:

  • How I deal with Conflict.   (Non Violent Communication, basically, except I’m not certified in NVC, and usually walking through that leads to a breakthrough even prior to talking with the other party.)  I know @chadgreen has a talk and a series of blog posts about the same subject.
  • Patterns within Healthy Organizations – keeping this one vague, ask me in person and I can explain why. 

I wish I had technical things I could talk about, but I’m not at the forefront of technology anymore (was I ever?) — I just use things to get the job done.  

I’d love to cover some of my pet projects .. like 3D Printing My House, or making the Tree of Directions, or the as yet uncompleted Map of Best Routes.   Some of these projects are older now, and not very hip.   But hey, I could submit them, and whatever gets chosen, go have some fun with that.

Okay, enough ruminating.   Time to button up this blog post.  There are other stories from the weekend, like how @bryan_soltis helped me find my elevator pitch, and how @guyroyse came up with a perfect summary of @heyslingshot.   

Thank you @CodePaLOUsa for giving me this first opportunity.

CodePaLousa Day 2 (for me)

There’s a code conference in town, CodePaLousa.  5th year for it; this would be my 2nd? 3rd? 4th? year attending (I skipped a year, I think, and I may not have been to the first one).    For many attendees, this would be their first day, for me it was my second.

I wasn’t sure I could go at first – I had a wedding to attend.   Life happened, and we couldn’t go.. but then, the idea of taking a whole week off – it didn’t feel like I had the vacation time to spend.  So, instead, I asked if I could be of service.  Maybe I could spend a day there… soak in the crowd.

I was taken up on that by @emschw.  So far, I have:

  • Stuffed goodie bags (with the most articulate and well-mannered yet definitely eye-for-detail-and-they-will-let-you-know young ladies, which would be @edcharbeneau ’s oldest two daughters)
    • We had a lot of fun figuring out process!
  • Vacuumed most of the meeting rooms (Styrofoam packing material debris from putting together the projector stands and podiums etc)
    • image With OMG the world’s worst vacuum cleaner.  I had to pull the vacuum off its wheels and angle it to get good suction against the carpet.  It was a good upper body workout.
  • Put up floor-standing banners.. wow those things are cool!
  • Impromptu learned to edit the lighting in one of the conference rooms
  • Bagged and moved T-Shirts and GoodieBags off the tables back to the lock up area.
    • image Deadlifted cases of stuff up onto a cart (I just learned how to deadlift properly, it was fun!)
    • A very nice and friendly lady named Barbara, who is on the cleaning staff at the KICC, really helped me with elevator control.  The cart was too big to fit in the elevator.  She rocks.
  • Been a room monitor. 
  • Attached clips onto lanyards
  • Hung out with so many cool and fun people.  

And I have loved every second of it

I think I put it down in a profile somewhere lately:   I love people.  Especially people who are doing their best, who are being true to their word, who are genuinely excited about what they are about.  I want to help and uphold these people in any way that I can.

Its even better when these are people who are doing technical geeky things that I understand and can relate to.

But, there’s more going on, under the surface.

I want to be a speaker.  There, I said it. 

I want be a speaker about something that I LOVE, where excitement pours out of my pores when I talk about it.    I love my job, don’t get me wrong, but I’m really not that excited about anything going on these days.   EF vs NHibernate vs Dapper vs SqClient;  MVC vs WebForms; angular vs knockout.. these are all tools.  That I use to make people’s lives better.  I can use any of them with enough reference material.  Not what I love.  

No, the code that I love — the last times I felt that, I was actively developing an LPMud.   Think C# syntax, (link is to the main.c of a interactive monopoly game written in LPC) .. but in a ruby-like environment, with hot-swap code, dedicated entirely to monsters and players and rooms and swords and spells and stuff like that.   Think World of Warcraft meets text-only adventure games. 

Stepping back for a bit:

I guess I could do a talk about writing automated tests.  However, its been a while since I’ve done that (for work).   I could talk about how it makes long term maintenance and growing of a project into a breeze.  Being a consultant now, I don’t spend long-term on projects anymore, so its no longer a good fit.

I guess I could do a talk about scale testing, and automating scale testing using Powershell.   Its been almost a decade since I did that. I’d have to re-discover all the tools for driving the tests.

I could do a talk about (non-certified, trenches) project management; tips, tricks and patterns learned over the last decade or two.

I could do a talk about ethics and morality and perspective in the workplace – patterns that works, patterns that don’t.   (Derived from principles in other sources which I will leave anonymous). 

I could do a whirlwind tour of 3D printing using FDM.  That’s pretty recent.

Hey, if you read this, somebody ask me to do a public talk on one of these things.  I may not do it for me, but I’ll do it for you.  And that might launch me somewhere.


I have an idea brewing in my head.  I’m going to open it up for feeding:

  • Learn me some Erlang.   Because Erlang is so … cool.     Specifically, the multi-node scalability of it, and the hot-swapping of runtime code.
  • Somehow interface Erlang with WebSockets (or something) and a front end thingy to make the start of a mud-like thingy.
  • Test various methods of how I would go about writing a mudlib inside Erlang.  There’s straight message passing, possibly luerl (Lua in Erlang).. ?
    • At this point, Erlang is just the tool.  Right now it looks like a good tool.  There are other tools I know better – C# is one of them.   But, is it the end result, or the journey? In the end, I would have wished I had done it in erlang because of the scalability of it.     
  • Do a simple mud with a simple mudlib.  
    • You are standing in a room. 
    • > North. 
    • You are by a bridge, there is a troll there. 
    • You see: 
    • Troll
    • > Attack troll
    • You attack the troll viciously and Hit!
    • Troll attacks you!
    • > quit
  • Open things up so that folks can write their own mud-like games (again).
    • The “Driver” is the super-hard bit where all the connections are dealt with; it hands off to…
    • The Mudlib is the easier bit that deals with how players, monsters, rooms, etc all interact with each other
    • The Mud is the actual adventure, defining the actual rooms and monsters and stuff that is the story.
      • This is where teaching comes in.  To write a mud, you have to learn how to code (a little bit).
      • Writing code for a mud is MUCH more exciting and satisfying than writing code for the real world.
      • And it conveys the excitement of writing code.   Instead of the $ of it.
  • Revisit the mudlib and instead make inventories 2-D, and make it into a 2-D world with an unlimited size map (in NxN chunks, where each chunk also knows about its immediate 8 neighbors, max effect size = N).
    • This brings in all kinds of other stuff, like calculating paths, and speeds, and true area-of-effect spells, and .. and.. ooooooo fun
    • Work on a javascript client for the above using <whatever technologies are best>.  I’m staying with 2D because 3D is NOT my thing.   I’ll probably default to using pictures of text (font-graphics) rather than actual graphics (because, not my thing).
  • Open things up so folks can write their own 2D world games
    • Hopefully with the same driver and different text vs 2D worlds, some clever folks can write an easy-to-use 3D mudlib.
    • And then people can write their own MMORPG’S easily!?
    • Will it scale?  Hence the Erlang.
  • Give a talk (or talks) on all the stuff that I did.

There are other folks who have done muds; but that doesn’t help me.  I’ve got an itch, its a coding itch, and I keep ignoring it, and it keeps coming back for scratching.  

And I want it Now

One of the hard parts for me is a) breaking this up into smaller pieces, and b) being consistent and working on those pieces till I get somewhere.     I keep postponing, saying, “hey on Christmas break I’ll do this” – and then I don’t.     And I may postpone it again.  But that doesn’t change the fact that I feel it in my bones that I want to do this.   Its been 24 years, and the itch is still there as strong as it was on day one.  I can almost cry, its that deep and it feels so good to contemplate it.

So..  yeah, that’s where I’m at.   I hope that some day I can give a talk on something that I love, and be an example of a person who followed his dream.  

Having possibly said too much, I’m going to post this anyway.

Kentucky Derby Festival Mini Marathon / CodePaLousa Day #2

“Stop calling it a Mini.  There’s nothing “Mini” about 13.1 miles.”   — somebody who probably is not a Marathoner. 

Well, the second half of the Marathon – making the video of it – Its not “over” because the video isn’t “perfect” and I’m a perfectionist, so I’m admitting defeat and uploading it as it is.   Because to succeed would involve more frustration than I pay myself for.   Maxim S1: Dial the perfection knob down to 7 unless I’m getting paid for it.

My wife’s name is Molly but that’s not for her

My hope and intention was to capture some of the “how” it works (for those folks who’ve never been to a bigger running event like this) as well as the “why” its beautiful (the people who run it, the beautiful old people along the road, the general sense of celebration, the life that happens along the way).

I planned poorly – I ran the GoPro at a frame rate (60 fps), shortening the available battery life to 50 minutes, and took too much video at the starting line, so I had to switch to the iPhone for the last bit.   I wish I could have included:

  • The girl who broke her leg, got crutches, and she, and her entire family, are walking the rest of the way to the end.  Beautiful family. 
  • The guy who broke his leg, got crutches and a wheelchair, and he, with a buddy following behind him with the wheelchair, are intent on finishing it.

Other little things that are interesting to me:

  • The lady who ran three halves this year – her shirt said “I can do it.”  
  • If my friend Todd had run 1 second per mile slower, he would not have qualified for Boston.
  • Running into just about everybody I know who runs, including Nick whom I know from Panera who is 72, race-walks Marathons, and hopes to do 6 M’s in 6 days in the North East this year.  And Steve.  And Shannon. 
  • I was able to sit with somebody by the side of the road and listen to her.  Her knee was locking up on her good leg, and she didn’t know how she could keep on going, and she told her friend not to come back for her but her friend wouldn’t listen, and she was frustrated enough to cry to me, a stranger.    Bless you little lady, I hope you did good, whether that was respecting your pain, or finishing your goal.   Please don’t injure yourself, its much more important to stay healthy than to finish one race.

Lessons learned:

  • The most comfortable place for the camera is, in fact, on my head.    On my chest, it vies for attention with the heart rate chest strap and its much harder to aim; and there’s no hope for having it “put away” on my belt.   If you skip to the end of the video, I don’t look too dorky with it.  Although why did I have to dance?
  • I can probably get a much faster time if I didn’t talk as much, or shoot as much video.  Almost everybody I talked with – if you go look up their times via their bib numbers – finished faster than me.   Go figure!
  • Don’t try to mix anything else with a half marathon day.  To whit:

CodePaLousa Day #2

No Problem.  Car is broken, I’ll just ride my scooter to the half marathon, run 13.1 miles, ride home, let the dogs out, ride back to downtown, and attend the last 3-4 sessions, having only missed a keynote and one session.

Problem Number 1.    We parked 1 mile from the start.  In the morning, that seemed like a great idea.   After the race, not so much.  Every sidewalk curb was an oww-portunity. 

Problem Number 2.   Scooter = Windchill;  Windchill against tired fatigued muscles = frozen muscles.  When I got off the scooter at home, I was locked in a “Cowboy Stance”.   I could hardly get the scooter back on its kickstand.  I could not walk up the steps (I had to crawl). 

Problem Number 3.  Given what my wife calls “Marathon Brain”, I very intelligently put away my scooter lock into the under-seat storage, with my keys still attached.   At that point in time, didn’t know where the spare keys were (Separate story, starring the Blinking Red Dot from my unconscious).  This makes transport difficult.

However, I did get to wave at two ‘PaLousers (wait that sounds bad) as I jogged past the Seelbach Hotel at the end of the race.    And that would be my second day of CodePaLousa. 

The good news is, my inability to attend has lead to a grassroots movement – I am dedicating the first weekend in the month to have my own mini-conference – including Pizza, and Board Games, and Microsoft’s Channel 9, and one hour sessions, and a friend or two —  to catch up on videos / presentations on various technologies.  

Code PaLOUsa Day #1

In the spirit of “have a garage sale of code”, I’m posting these without “finishing” them:

  • Excellent presentation on scaling out applications, where to scale first, when is consistency important.  Example: Craigslist 30 minutes before your post shows up is actually front side caching (from listening to a podcast did I gather that).  (add attribution here)
  • I saw bits and pieces due to full rooms of Knockout / CoffeeScript and once again caught the last half of @ReverentGeek’s MongoDB presentation.   (more attribution)
  • I verified my hopes (and fears) about automated database deployments, turns out the approach I’m using for scriptwriting for DDL changes is a fairly valid one.  (this could be a post by itself with code)
  • I “manned up” and put down a request for an Open Circle:   “Why should I blog?   Why do I blog?”
  • I chatted with the professional Videographers from InfoQ!   They took my card.  They pay $300 for a gig, but I have to supply my own equipment (I think).
  • Had maybe 20 minutes of comparing first computers with some people from my relative computer generation.
  • I got to hear Richard Campell’s David and Goliath story.

On Blogging.  IT WAS A HUGE CIRCLE!  (omg thank you guys) (and gal) (who showed up later)

  • If nobody ever reads my blog.. was it worth it.. to me?   It has to be stuff I love, or is relevant to me. 
  • Affirmation: yes, today’s market,  I can probably represent myself better via a blog than via my resume.
  • Affirmation: It is possible to write about stuff while keeping things anonymous.  If everybody knows where you work and thus anonymity is defeated, get prior buy-in from work first just to be sure (I think that’s what we arrived at)
  • Devil’s advocate: If I am writing a blog just to have followers / standing / market myself, why not hire followers? (eww) (obviously, my intentions do not lean in those directions)
  • Some talk about WordPress vs Drupal – we had a Drupal seasoned veteran who had some hard times with migrating WordPress content.
  • Later on, a lady from a worldwide recruiting company was talking about how she wanted to change the nature and content of their company blog – to be something more real? relevant? honest? not-just-a-piece-of-marketing?
  • Several of us referred to Hanselminutes a lot, most specifically the “I am a Phony” post.
  • Is my contact information actually on my blog anywhere?
  • Reminder to self – I have a presentation I made internally on “surviving managing a project” that I could anonymize and post.
  • Internal take-away:  yeah, I’m certainly not famous, but if I am a bit further along than some other folks, who have stories inside yearning to get out.. If there is ever any way I can be of service to you..  bring it.   I can promise you dedicated readership for AT LEAST a year.  And comments if you want them.   Smile  <—unprofessional smiley face.

Double duty: I ran across the street and picked up my race packet for the Half Marathon as well.

  • I’ve decided not to record the entire race, as.. it won’t fit on my 32G SD card, and I have not trained with that additional weight, and it rubs against the chest strap heart rate monitor.  Instead, I’ll carry the GoPro in a pouch on my belt.
  • There’s at least one or two other guys at CPL13 who are also running the Half Marathon.
  • The November Half Marathon is back on.   I think I’ll be training for it, especially starting in September.
  • Extra security – due to the explosions – cannot check a backpack, so I have to make sure that my motorcycle gear fits into one of those plastic bags.  I checked.  It does.  I’m good.

Complications:   The brake lights on my car are broken.  All three of them.  (Thank you officer for helping me figure that out, and giving me an opportunity to put that little red sticker on the license plate, yesterday).  Research shows it might be more than just bulbs or a fuse. As a result, I don’t have my car; and my wife and kid are out of town; so I’m left with the scooter. It gets cold riding a scooter.  But the jacket makes me look awesome.  People who know me well were punching the armored shoulders all day. 

Times up.  Gotta get some laundry going, get all my gear put together for tomorrow..  maybe I need to hire UPS to do my logistics for me..  Later!