Guitar Makers and Musicians

As a software developer one of the things I have noticed that my peers are passionate about are their tools. There are always new tools. Fancier tools. Different tools. Sometimes the tools are generic. Sometimes the tool is a new package manager or programming language to use. While I have a set of tools I use and I love them, I am not nearly as passionate about my tools as I am about building software for non-software people. Some people are passionate about making guitars, and others are passionate about making music.

One consequence of this is that I generally do not find learning a new software language or tooling to be an exciting activity. Many of my peers find the tiny changes and differences in software languages and tools to be interesting. They love learning a new language or tool for the sake of exploring it. I know this feeling because I used to have it. However now that I have a toolset that I love and use I tend to view new or other tool sets as a barrier to me making my products. My barrier for feeling like a new technology is worth it is now much higher. Unless the project is integrating with a legacy application, a new technology better bring something compelling to the table.

Practice Because It’s Not Fun

For the next few weeks I am following the B.A.A.’s recommended training schedule for my upcoming B.A.A. Half Marathon. That meant a long ten mile run on Sunday, a day off yesterday, and then somehow fitting in a five mile run on my normally packed Tuesday. Overall it was a rough morning for me.

While I went to sleep at a decent hour to wake up early at 6 a.m., I woke up and was definitely a bit dehydrated. Unfortunately I failed to realize that and fully hydrate myself ahead of time. That meant going out and running right away was much more painful mentally and physically than normal. On top of that it was extraordinarily humid out. It was like breathing soup. A mile or so in I realized this was not going to be a record nor a good run, I was just hoping to put in some base miles.

While my goal was five miles I had to give in after three. The breathing was tough and clearly my body lacked the nutrition it needed. It really sucks to do that but the reason it is called practice is because it is learning experience. This was not my first early morning run but it was one where I did not have the fuel I needed to accomplish my goals. My body did not have the hydration it needed nor the nutrition it was used to. I was fighting headwinds the whole way.

The good news is now I think I know how I can survive this more easily next time. Besides hopefully being more acclimated to the earlier hour, I ordered some Clif Gels with caffeine so that my body has the caffeine it is used to along with some nutrition. I will likely put some time in to consume more water before I go out and some Gatorade as well. If you’re going to do something tough, anything to tip the scales in your favor is worth trying.

Apple Product Day

Today is one of my favorite days of the year when Apple announces its new products. I have been following the rumor websites and many of the potential new products have already been leaked. However rumors are not always correct and sometimes do not tell the whole story. They are merely kindling for our curiosity.

The fact that there is so much anticipation about a day like today also shows the skill behind Apple’s business marketing and strategy. They have trained us to expect major hardware innovations on an annual schedule. They tell their story but also get others to share their story throughout the year. They somehow have figured out how to write create compelling narratives.

While I know new technology can sometimes be banal, I still look forward to it. I will not likely purchase many nor all of the new things Apple releases today, but as someone that works in technology it is exciting to see where the industry is going.

New Beginnings

While autumn does not technically begin until September 20th, in my mind it starts after Labor Day. After years of going to school I have come to associate September with new beginnings. This year the new beginning involves the departure of my manager at MAPC.

My friends cheekily sent me this tweet:

Change is bittersweet, however. The certainty and stability that existed with knowing how my current manager works is now gone. It will likely take a little bit of time for the team to settle into some new rhythms. At the same time we are looking for a new manager. I am excited at what skills and experience a new manager might bring to the position and how it might shape the future of our team. The fun part about being in a small team is that each person can have a big impact on how things work. So if you are reading this and want to chat about working at MAPC, drop me an email.

Resurrection of RSS

When Google Reader was popular I used to use it along with an app called Reeder for Mac that helped me keep track of my RSS feeds. I was recently excited to learn that Reeder 3 is now free. Given my increasing dissatisfaction with the updated Twitter, Facebook, and Apple News apps, I thought it would be worth trying again.

RSS may have been wounded by Google Reader’s death but it definitely was not killed. While the RSS features I used in my Safari browser no longer exist, a plug-in lets me easily detect and add feeds to the Feedly service I am trying in its stead. It took some time to add feeds from the places I like to browse, but now I have many of the websites I was manually visiting in a single place again. Most news sites continue to provide RSS feeds and Reeder App provides an easy way to read full articles without all the cruft from the site itself.

Ultimately the best thing about RSS is it still works and it works well. I can add blogs and websites to it and get updates without manually needing to check back with them. My feed reader is full of many more interesting articles than my Facebook and Twitter feeds are these days. Finally I have total control over what appears in my reader. As Facebook and Twitter continue to favor native content over being content discovery platforms, RSS readers are once again the best option for curious people.

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This work by Matt Zagaja is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.