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Introducing Pipette

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Hello from my temporary location in East Vancouver! My name is Jim Pick. I’m a freelance software developer that lives in Vancouver, Canada. “Pipette” is the name of the new open source project I’ve been working on for the past few months. And this blog is where I’m going to maintain a development journal. So what is Pipette? Pipette is a blogging system. So how is this different than other blogging systems that exist today?
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sillygwailo
9 days ago
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Toronto, ON
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Remembrance Day with Vasco’s Bones – Postcard #63

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Remembrance Day with Vasco's Bones

From an olden church and (otherwise vacant) cenotaph at Fort Cochin, Kerala, India, Dave O – acknowledging an extended medical and death related hiatus – discusses the local history of colonization by Portuguese explorers, Dutch traders, then British Raj in the context of the colonization leading to exploitation, conscription and war with no meaning to local populace. Plus the meaning of reparations and the conflict of peaceful resistance – evidenced my Mahatma Gandhi beach a stone’s throw away – contrasted with continued wars throughout the world, shadowed by disposable tourism, economic and racial caste systems.

Recorded Nov. 11, 2016, Released 11:11 Nov. 11, 2017

Gather Round for Remembrance Day with Vasco’s Bones – Postcard #63  (37:11, .mp3, 192k, 58MB, stereo)

Also of note: Vasco da Gama’s bones, black knee-high socks, French generational losses, siege of Leningrad, Churchill’s mishaps, lost human potential of engineers, poets and lovers, MacArthur’s folly, Australia’s vulnerability, the emergence of regions over nation-states, Brexit for British Columbia + Cascadia, Catalonia and Scottish successions, work of raising a child, trappings of hubris, death by disease and guns, aggressive use of intelligence, forethought and diplomacy, and unfiltered view of sacrifice and life.

Cover art photo: By Dave Olson at Fort Cochin, taken by Lomo Sardine can camera with expired B&W film.

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sillygwailo
10 days ago
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Toronto, ON
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I haven't experienced imposter syndrome, and maybe you haven't either

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I haven't experienced imposter syndrome, and maybe you haven't either

In the course of my day at work I will often wonder the next bug is the bug that will finish me. I am acutely aware of and could instantly list for you 15 things about the CodePen codebase that I should probably know more about to do a better job of my role. Sometimes people write in questions about Vue.js, and I feel bad about not being able to answer them straight away because I’ve never really used it. The second conference I gave a talk at I wondered how the hell I was sharing a stage with Chris Coyier.

I have never felt like an “imposter”.
I have always deserved to be here, I’ve worked hard.
I don’t suffer from a “syndrome”.
Identifying the gaps in my knowledge and being aware of what I don’t know is part of my vocation.

In recent years it’s become trendy to discuss how we all apparently suffer from this imposter syndrome - an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.

I take two issues with this:

  • it minimizes the impact that this experience has on people that really do suffer from it.
  • we’re labelling what should be considered positive personality traits - humility, an acceptance that we can’t be right all the time, a desire to know more, as a “syndrome” that we need to “deal with”, “get over” or “get past”.

If you really can not recognize and internalize your achievements, and you do spend your days gripped by the fear that you will be found out as a fraud, if this is causing you problems in your life and career because your fears and irrational beliefs are holding you back from what is obvious to other people, then you’re suffering from a real debilitating problem. If this sounds like you I would suggest getting some professional help or at least talking to someone about how you can minimize these self-limiting beliefs. Despite what you may read, please know you aren’t alone, but we definitely aren’t all suffering in this manner, and there’s no reason for you to have to suffer either.

When I see my wildly successful, senior developer peers talk publicly about how they deal with imposter syndrome I can see the intent behind it. They want to be approachable, relatable: "internet famous senior devs - they’re just like us!”. I agree that it is important to highlight the ways in which we are all the same because it drives the message home that any dev (given they have the time and access) could achieve the same level of success. I just really wish we could do this without labelling normal and healthy moments of self doubt with “imposter syndrome”.

Of course we all have worries that we aren’t equipped to do our job on any given day, and we’re aware we don’t know as much about a topic as the next dev. Just think about what you would be like if you didn’t, you’d be an arrogant asshole, have huge blindspots, and would probably be a nightmare to work with! If I could nominate one common trait of the most accomplished developers I know, it would be their constant awareness of the “gap” in their knowledge and willingness to work towards closing it. Do these people doubt themselves? have moments questioning whether they deserve to be where they are? Of course they do! It is a key part to being a humble, likable, open-minded developer. They aren’t “suffering” from a “syndrome”.

I kind of wish we could talk about how we all experience:

  • humility’s advantage
  • the beginner’s mindset
  • the motivation that comes from self doubt

They aren’t nearly as sexy sounding as imposter syndrome, but at least we wouldn’t be labelling normal and healthy feelings like they are some sort of psychological affliction!

If you’re a new developer and you’re worried about suffering from this so called syndrome (but you’re not crippled by fear, see above) please know:

  • it’s going to be okay
  • you are normal!
  • worries about not being good enough are natural, we all have them, and they keep us on task and aware of what we might need to learn next
  • as you grow in experience, you will close the gaps in knowledge, you will spend less of the day worrying about what you don’t know, and it will feel great.
  • You will never know everything. The self doubt will never go away, but staying humble is the key to growth, and one day you’ll feel more comfortable with these uncomfortable feelings 😃

Love, Rachel - “A successful Senior developer - She’s just like you!"

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sillygwailo
24 days ago
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Toronto, ON
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I need you to be better

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Originally posted on Facebook, October 16th, 2017

Congratulations, everyone: we’ve once again placed the entire burden of patriarchal culture on the people who routinely experience the worst of it. With this “me too” campaign, this “speak up if you’ve experienced sexual harassment or assault” tidal wave, as if none of us have ever spoken up before, we force victims to relive these awful moments again and again while men go “Omg wow I had NO IDEA!” Listen—if you had no idea, you’re very wilfully ignorant. We are telling you. We’ve been telling you every day and you have not listened. If you need all of Facebook to tell you this is happening before you consider believing us, you are not an ally. And no, I don’t think your nicely worded statuses about how you believe us and are sorry are particularly helpful unless you follow that declaration with real action.

Listen to me. Every man reading this: You have shitty friends. You have probably been shitty. I don’t want to hear about how you’re a nice guy. Nice guys do shitty things too. I am in constant proximity to men who have been predatory or derogatory towards others or to myself. I am friends with them, I am in bands with them, I see them every day, I watch them proclaim themselves feminist. Some of them are reading this status thinking that they sure are glad THEY’RE not one of those men.

YOU, men of my Facebook friends list, men surrounding me in my everyday life: you have laughed when someone said something demeaning to me. You have stood idly by as I got catcalled. You have looked at me skeptically when I describe what it’s like to walk on the streets alone at night. You have made awful comments about other women and told me I couldn’t take a joke when I finally spoke up. You have rolled your eyes and commented about “excessive political correctness” when I angrily say that your joke was shitty. I have been in a room full of men discussing why Jian Ghomeshi might be an okay guy; I have been in a room full of men discussing why putting on shows involving women is good because people want someone to look at. None of you spoke up about it. None of you even said “Hey, maybe don’t say that.” Forgive me if I don’t think that your nice sentence or two is helping, because I’ve seen so many of you have the chance to act on those nice sentiments, and none of you did. Instead I watched you laugh and clink glasses while I stayed silent, debating whether speaking up this time would make me “the bitch who can’t take a joke,” or whether the men I didn’t know very well would become violent if I said anything.

I’m tired of this. Yes, me too. Yes, we’ve all been harassed or assaulted. Yes. You should know that. I don’t need your heart reaction. I need you to tell your shitty friends to stop being so fucking shitty. I need you to stop making jokes about how our friend who got harassed at a show was probably asking for it because she’s so friendly, and I need you to stop freely touching all your non-male friends when you’re hanging out with them like you’re entitled to their bodies, and I need you to be better. I need you to make other men better. I need you to require less labour from your friends who are not men and I need you to go out there and do the hard job of speaking up against your bros. Watch your friends when you’re hanging out. Watch. When your dude friend makes a stupid comment and your non-dude friend kind of clams up, or frowns and then tries to rearrange their face into a normal expression, or exhales a little and says nothing? Yeah, there’s your chance. Fucking do something this time. We’re exhausted. Just believe us for once.

(My language is probably woefully insufficient here and please tell me if I have fucked it up. Also, people of all genders are impacted negatively by the patriarchy, men too. I just can’t speak on a personal level about many of those things, and would never want to pretend to speak for everyone else. What I’m ranting about applies to many people: cis women, trans folks, non-binary folks, and many more.)

Posting this is terrifying, especially on an unfiltered friends list. Imagining how angry people (men) might get is terrifying. Knowing I might lose a friend because they are defensive is shitty. But here you are reading it and here I am, always afraid, because that’s how so many of us have to live.

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sillygwailo
25 days ago
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Toronto, ON
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Erik Eriksson announces bid for mayor of Courtenay

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The 2018 municipal election campaign got a jump start this week when Courtenay Councillor Erik Eriksson told Decafnation that he’s running for mayor.

Eriksson is the first Comox Valley candidate to formally announce his campaign.

While most incumbents and potential newcomers are still mulling the pros and cons of committing to a four-year term that won’t end until 2023, Eriksson said he couldn’t wait to start building support.

Eriksson said it wasn’t his intention to contest incumbent Mayor Larry Jangula for the mayor’s chair, but he also couldn’t wait for Jangula to finally decide if he’s retiring or seeking another term. Jangula has hinted at stepping down next year.

“I just had to get my campaign started,” Eriksson said. “It takes time to put together a successful support team for the mayor’s office.”

Voters go to the polls on Oct. 20 next year. The official nomination period for candidates begins on Sept. 3, 2018 and runs for 10 days.

Eriksson, who begins his sixth year on Courtenay City Council in 2018, is running on a simple platform: building partnerships.

He believes people who live in the region’s three municipalities and three unincorporated regional districts have common goals, and that by working together they can be more effective.

Eriksson isn’t using the “A-word” (amalgamation) because that’s a long and complicated process, which Valley voters have rejected in the past. But he believes there’s ample space for municipalities, the regional district, K’omoks First Nation and CFB Comox to share more services.

It’s one of his best skills, he believes, to resolve problems by helping people to find a common purpose.

“It’s amazing how effective you can be if you just talk … and discover that common ground,” he said.

Eriksson points to his support for the Committee to End Homelessness, the Community Health Network, the Food Bank and the Courtenay Youth Music Centre  as examples.

If elected, Eriksson would apply those skills to bring the council together.

And he’s motivated by a single purpose, “to make things better for people who don’t have it so good,” he said.

Some candidates like to work on building campaigns privately, and announce at the last minute. But Eriksson didn’t hesitate to publicly announce his candidacy early.

“It’s going to take time to show voters all the ways we can work better through partnerships. I want to use the credibility I’ve built to champion this cause,” he said.

 

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sillygwailo
25 days ago
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Toronto, ON
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The Total Solar Eclipse of 2017

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Washington DC did not see a total solar eclipse, but there was at least one small part of it in the path of totality on August 21st — in Nebraska.

These four sandstone columns were once part of the Department of the Treasury, until they were detached in 1908 and moved to Pioneers Park, Lincoln, Nebraska in 1916. It was to this artifact of historic Washington that I traveled, to watch the moon slide in front of the sun and shroud the area in darkness, above me a ring of silvery coronal fire piercing through darkened clouds.

Eclipse 2017

I had read that the experience of totality produced a kind of primal fear in some viewers, an irrational sense of ominous doom; or in others, a sense of expanded cosmic awareness of the universe. I didn’t feel any of that, but I did get goose bumps of awe. (It’s entirely possible that I just live in a constant state of ominous doom and cosmic awareness.) Mostly I just stared at that silvery ring, mumbling to myself, “There’s the shadow, ooooh prominences, wooow” while letting the camera trigger run through exposure cycles.

Eclipse 2017 Single LE HDR Exposure Eclipse 2017 Single LE HDR Exposure Eclipse 2017 Single LE HDR Exposure Eclipse 2017 Single LE HDR Exposure

Post-totality I also met Thomas, who didn’t just watch the eclipse, he was the eclipse. We talked a bunch about space and forklifts and Nebraska and DC, and he gave me a ride back to my parking spot.

Portrait of Man as Solar Eclipse

This was a same-day round trip and sadly there wasn’t time to drive into Lincoln and see the sights before going to the airport. Instead I hiked around Pioneers Park a bit to see the Prairie and Nature Centers. There was an injured barn owl at the Nature Center who had gotten used to waking at daytime hours to interact with guests. Apparently she had fallen asleep during totality, thinking it was night, and was still sleeping when I got there.

Pioneers Park
Pioneers Park
Sleepy Barn Owl, Pioneers Park Nature Center

It was a 22 hour journey, much of it spent aboard planes, in airports, or driving a rental Nissan Rogue around the Lincoln area, all for a minute and a half of cloudy celestial twilight above four grimy sandstone columns. It was worth the trip.

Total Solar Eclipse at The Columns

Full eclipse photoset here, and GoPro eclipse video here.

Next total solar eclipse on Earth will be 2 July 2019 over Chile and Argentina, and next total solar eclipse to cross North America will be 8 April 2024; so make your plans now, I guess?

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sillygwailo
84 days ago
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Toronto, ON
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