Archive

Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

Travel Stories

November 1st, 2010

A couple fun stories from our trip around Europe.

The $30 laundry. We packed light, which made laundromats a frequent necessity. One evening in Italy we found a laundromat, I found the change machine, but couldn’t read the instructions. Thinking that these machines were universal, I fed it a 20 Euro bill. I was surprised when the machine expelled 20 Euro worth of flat pieces of metal that could only be used in that laundromat. I carried the fake coins around for the remainder of the trip, tried to use them at other laundromats, but never did find another washer that took the fake coins.

Emergency at Buckingham Palace. We met up with a friend in England who took us on a tour of traditional British Pubs – bangers & mash, along with many fresh pulled pints were consumed. The next day I decided to go for a run through the Royal Parks, I ran for an easy 45 minutes, but as I approached the heart of the park, in front of Buckingham Palace, I started feeling a tightness in my stomach. I frantically began my search for a toilet. I started scoping out the snack vendors for facilities, nothing, I started moving towards the park’s parameter, nothing, I looked for possible tree coverage, nope. Visions of being arrested for squatting in-front of Buckingham Palace were screaming through my mind just as a found a tourist map with clearly marked bathrooms, a quick stop at the Green Park tube station and I was back at it. Crisis averted.

The economy hotel. We booked most our hotels the day-of on Hotwire or similar bidding type websites. Not knowing what hotel we were purchasing led to a very wide variation of quality in our accommodations – which kept things interesting and fun. Hotel Wanda was definitely one of our interesting experiences. We struggled for sometime finding Hotel Wanda in the medieval streets of Florence, but eventually bumbled into a 20 foot door with a buzzer for our hotel, we rang, the door was buzzed open, we stood in a dark room of halls, doors, apartment entrances, plaster statues, and stairs – no signage. After some trial and error we discovered the hotel entrance on the 2nd floor where we were greeted by a man at reception (and the only member of staff in the hotel). The man apologized for being drunk, then showed us our room and disappeared. The room was huge, a giant ashtray was sitting on our table (both of us are somewhat sensitive to smoking), upon further inspection, the comforter was riddled with cigarette burns, and the lock on the door was broken. We decided to make the best of it, opened the windows to let some fresh air in, and headed out to explore the city. Upon our return (in the evening) we discovered there was a bar beneath our room, the smoke from the bar patrons, along with their conversations and the music were wafting into our opened windows. No hotel staff were to be found. We closed the windows, popped in the earplugs, and tried to salvage the night. It was a cheap hotel, and we certainly got what we paid for.

We weren’t the only one with similar experiences at Hotel Wanda:

an apparently very drunk gentleman yelled at us from down the street and asked if we were looking for Hotel Wanda. He apologized, took us upstairs and, despite being extremely intoxicated, attempted to tell us which rooms we could have. Although the rooms were very big, it was a bit dark and strange.- Crazy experience (and not in a good way)

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Personal, Running Tags:

Finishing a Marathon

June 7th, 2010

At the 32km marker a series of signs were staked into the grass along the course. The first sign read “You’re doing it!”, the next “Only 10 more kms!”, and the next “You’re running a marathon! You ARE a marathon runner!” A tear welled in the corner of my eye, perhaps from the pain in my quads, or the reality of still being 10km from the finish, but more likely because it finally dawned on me that I was indeed running a marathon – an event I’d been looking forward to since running the Half Marathon a year earlier.

Training for a Marathon was relativity easy. Basically you run one long run every week, in addition to running 6-10km 4 times every week, then rinse and repeat for 3 months. As boring as that may sound, once I got into a routine, and found a running partner, I looked forward to running. Here’s the schedule I followed (I know, I know, don’t laugh, it’s from the far from reputable About.com): Basic Marathon Training Schedule for Beginners.

My next goal is to qualify for a Boston Marathon (qualifying time is 3 hours, 10 minutes, and 59 seconds). I’m not too far off the qualifying time, as I managed to finish Calgary in 3:22.

Get out there and run! :)

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Calgary, Personal, Running Tags:

Transparency, the Underpinnings of Becoming an Unprofessional

May 25th, 2010

The business world is full of “professionals” who wear the uniform and try to seem perfect. In truth, they just come off as stiff and boring. No one can relate to people like that.
Don’t be afraid to show your flaws. Imperfections are real and people respond to real. … Don’t worry about how you’re supposed to act. Show the world what you’re really like, warts and all … talk like you really talk. Reveal things that others are unwilling to discuss. Be upfront about your shortcomings. … You might not seem as professional, but you will seem a lot more genuine. – Rework: Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson

I’ve struggled with the personal vs professional tension for sometime. Back in 2002, I started this site with the intention of professional self promotion (image above is my site from 2003). The results were predictable: the tone boring, the topics dry and most visitors saw through the veil of self promotion. I’ve matured since then (well I hope I have). :) Over the years I’ve found that a personal, down-to-earth tone maintains a healthy level of transparency both on the web and in real life. As Gandhi once said:

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Musings, Personal Tags:

Please, Call Me Señor Developer Not Senior

April 20th, 2010

This March marked my fifth year of working in the software realm and five years since graduating University, and this year (according to industry standards) I’m now considered a Senior Developer.

Funny enough. Today, I don’t consider myself a Senior Developer, but a couple years ago I would have told you to “Call me Senior”. Back in those days I may have been a Senior Developer within the monocultured context of the domain, language, and environment I was working with, but certainly not within the larger context of the software realm. I had surrounded myself with homogeneous tools, like minded colleagues, and had fallen into the trap of thinking I was an expert when I wasn’t – we all thought we were Senior Developers.

“When you are not very skilled in some area, you are more likely to think you’re actually pretty expert at it … The converse seems to be true as well; once you truly become an expert, you become painfully aware of just how little you know.” – Pragmatic Thinking and Learning: Refactor Your Wetware

Over the years I’ve observed that Experts and true Senior Developers are collectively regarded as such by their peers, not by corporate credentials, not by job titles, or duration of employment. Experts and Senior Developers are more preoccupied with getting things done, improving themselves, improving their environments, and helping others – not worrying about job titles and status.

“The people who are best at programming are the people who realize how small their brains are. They are humble. The people who are the worst at programming are the people who refuse to accept the fact that their brains aren’t equal to the task. Their egos keep them from being great programmers. The more you learn to compensate for your small brain, the better a programmer you’ll be. The more humble you are, the faster you’ll improve.” – Code Complete: A Practical Handbook of Software Construction

Please, don’t call me a Senior Developer, I’m Mr. Developer or Señor Developer.

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Musings, Personal, Software Tags:

Give Away Everything: Creative Commons, Open Source, …

March 25th, 2010

remember from school other students preventing you from seeing their answers by placing their arm around their exercise book or exam paper.

It is the same [in the working world] …

The problem with hoarding is you end up living off your reserves. Eventually you’ll become stale.
If you give away everything you have, you are left with nothing. This forces you to look, to be aware, to replenish.

Somehow the more you give away the more comes back to you.Paul Arden, It’s Not How Good You Are, Its How Good You Want to Be

I identify with Arden’s philosophy. The creative process is enjoyable. If I’ve had fun producing it, then why not share it? I think our tendencies to hoard, get hung up on copyright, and get picky about attribution stem from our fear of being taken advantage of and the fallacy of thinking we’re special (we’re not special). I think we should throw our code into the public, share our content, give away everything, and watch what comes back.

The painting above was created by Ron Krajewski, based on my photo (licensed under Creative Commons). Ron mailed me a copy of the painting – it’s also available for purchase at Pet Art.

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Musings, Personal Tags:

The Dreyfus Model: Developer Events and Skill Categories

October 8th, 2009

I found the Dreyfus Model of Skill Acquisition neat. It’s a central theme throughout Pragmatic Thinking and Learning by Andy Hunt.

Here’s how Wikipedia describes the Dreyfus Model:

The Dreyfus Model of Skill Acquisition postulates that when individuals acquire a skill through external instruction, they normally pass through five stages. … the five stages of skill acquisition are: Novice, Advanced beginner, Competent, Proficient and ExpertDreyfus model of skill acquisition

We have different skills and are at different stages simultaneously in each skill – for example, someone might be an Expert at underwater basket weaving and a Novice at cooking. As we cultivate our experience we progress through these stages.

The categories (again, from Wikipedia) are as follows:

  1. Novice
    • rigid adherence to rules
    • no discretional judgment
  2. Advanced beginner
    • situational perception still limited
    • all aspects of work are treated separately and given equal importance
  3. Competent
    • coping with crowdedness (multiple activity, information)
    • now partially sees action as part of longer term goals
    • conscious , deliberate planning
  4. Proficient
    • holistic view of situation, rather than in terms of aspects
    • sees what is most important in a situation
    • uses maxims for guidance, meaning of maxims may vary according to situation
  5. Expert
    • no longer reliant on rules, guidelines, maxims
    • intuitive grasp of situation, based on tacit knowledge
    • vision of what is possible
Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Musings, Personal Tags:

Training for a Half Marathon

June 5th, 2009

I ran my first half marathon this past weekend. Finding training resources online was difficult so I’m passing the tips that I found useful.

How to train for a half marathon:

  • Ensure you can maintain 30 minutes of moderate running at least a month before your running date (this is the most important step)
  • One month before your race, run 18 kms (6 easy, 6 moderate, 6 hard, don’t worry about how long it takes)
  • 7 days later run 20 kms
  • 7 days later run for 90 minutes hard
  • 7 days later run for 60 minutes at a moderate pace
  • 1 day before the race run for 20 minutes at an easy pace

Running with 3000+ people for the first 16 kms was an amazing experience, after the 18 km mark I was questioning my sanity, and when it was over all the race participants were on top of the world. I highly recommend doing a half or full marathon. I raised some money for Team Diabetes and managed to finished in 1:58.  Next year I’m planning to run the full marathon.

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Calgary, Personal, Running Tags:

Running a Half Marathon for Diabetes

April 16th, 2009

I’m running the half marathon for diabetes in Calgary on May 31st . This cause has a personal connection – one of my younger siblings has diabetes.

My training up to this point has been terribly lax, I’ve been running 7km in about an hour. At this pace it’ll take at least 3 hours to break 20kms – Ouch!

If you're interested in donating (or better yet, joining the run too), then follow these steps:

  1. Visit The Canadian Diabetes Association
  2. Search for Adam Kahtava
  3. Donate

Anyhow; life isn't just about geeking out. I've got to run. :)

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Calgary, Personal, Running Tags:

Happiness

February 3rd, 2009

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. – Mohandas Gandhi

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Musings, Personal Tags:

By three methods we may learn

December 10th, 2008

By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest. – Confucius

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Musings, Personal Tags: