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Archive for the ‘Personal’ Category

The Blog Atrophy

May 11th, 2011

Hey, what happened to all the bloggers? Well… we grew up, grew out, and moved on. Perhaps we’ve become tired of community based online learning, we’ve discovered greater meaning in palpable communities, we’re pursuing new hobbies and responsibilities. We’re finding our internet memes and funny videos on social media. As developers we’re bored of whining about decrepit technologies, we’ve found contentment in friendlier frameworks and work environments. Our confidence and abilities have grown, we’ve discovered that tools don’t matter, we’re no longer here to present the tips and tricks of the latest technology. The blog once established our street cred, but online reputation has transitioned to open source contributions and sites like Stack Overflow and github. The effort of a blog is befittingly employed elsewhere.

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Musings, Personal Tags:

From Training to Tapering

April 21st, 2011

My taper for the Vancouver Marathon (May 1st) started this week.

Over this training session (Jan 1st – April 21st) I’ve logged 750km (466mi) in 60 some hours, gone through two pair of shoes, burned through 60,000 calories, and discovered the joys of running outside. Yes, in the COLD! The coldest day being -28C (-18F). I used to be a fair weather enthusiast, pulling out any excuse to stay indoors in less than ideal conditions, but after breaking my treadmill I discovered that I’m quite weather resistant. Running outside through the winter was fun. Every run was a chance to flip winter the bird, an excuse to wear shorts (well… usually), and each step brought the warm weather closer. Sure there were a couple tough days, but adversity builds character. Right?

This image is an overlay of my long runs in Calgary since January 1st.

Did you know that, the fastest time for the 2010 Calgary Marathon was 2:32, the fastest time for the 2010 Vancouver Marathon was 2:16, the 2012 Olympic Qualifying Standard for the Marathon is 2:15 – 2:18, and that the world’s fastest marathon (2:03) was run this year at the Boston Marathon.

I’m excited to see where this training will take me – hopefully to the Boston Marathon, but certainly not to the Olympics. :)

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

Accomplishments and The Two Year Rule

January 20th, 2011

Focus on the present, the glory days of years gone by are becoming insignificant.

[An accomplishment] has a shelf life of two years. After that, it’s still an [accomplishment] – just with an asterisk. – The Runner’s Rule Book, Rule #1.51

Focusing on accomplishments from the past two years seems like a good rule of thumb – much like concentrating a resume on your past five years of relevant experience.

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

Why I’m Running

January 6th, 2011

The long term results of a sedentary career (desk job) and lifestyle are frightening. Like many software developer and other knowledge based workers, I can spend up to 10 hours, 5 days a week sitting in a chair looking at a screen. It has been suggested that “[staring at a screen] is associated with lower resting metabolic rate” (TV watching ‘makes you obese’), and regardless of being “slim or fat … every week spent inactive is roughly equivalent to smoking a packet of cigarettes” (Laziness will send us to an early grave). General health guidelines recommended that we “should do a minimum of 30 minutes moderate-intensity physical activity, five days a week” (How much exercise?), but exercising consistently five days a week is tough without a preferred physical activity.

In the years following University I was focused on my career (being active wasn’t a priority) and nearing my 30th birthday I began to realize my sedentary lifestyle was taking a toll on my health. I was becoming a pasty red-eyed developer. Going up stairs was leaving me gasping for air, riding a bike for 30 minutes was painful, and my metabolism was slowing down.

I made a couple attempts at becoming more fit. The bike; biking was my first attempt to exercise consistently. Cruising the city on a bike had a low barrier to entry, but getting out of the city required about a 2 hour time commitment, and riding in winter was tough. Rollers stepped in for the winter months, but seemed pretty easy without the resistance – I plan on getting a trainer next winter. Then came the gym, but the time limits on the aerobic equipment were frustrating and I didn’t have a desire to work on bulking up. Enters running. Running offered, the lowest barrier to entry (simplicity, tie up your running shoes and run anywhere), an efficient way to maintain cardiovascular fitness (an intense workout can take 30 minutes or less), and fun challenges (races, community, and competition).

I run because it reduces stress, simplifies my focus, makes me feel great, it’s social, and it’s a great way to maintain a fitness base for other pursuits like: biking, hiking, skiing, and even going up the stairs. I run because my career choice doesn’t necessarily facilitate good health.

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Personal, Running Tags:

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:

Back at it: A Summer Recap

October 28th, 2010

I love summer, every moment of it! It’s difficult to write a blog post or even digest tech content in the precious summer months.

A Summer Recap

Biking. I was able to get lots of mountain biking in. Although the conditions were usually wet and the trails muddy, I was still able to get out on the bike twice a week. Besides, according to my philosophy, the amount of mud you take home on your bike is directly proportionate to the amount of fun you’ve had. No mud, no fun. Although most my friends would disagree. :) I also picked up a bike for Steph at the end of this summer and we toured some of the easier albeit LONG rides (Elbow Loop, Goat Creek to Banff Springs to Canmore to Goat Creek).

Hiking and Backpacking. We managed to knock of a couple local hikes: Mount Baldy (photos), Mount Lawrence Grassi (photos), Moose Mountain (photos), Black Prince Lake (photos), Prairie Mountain (photos), Stanley Glacier (photos) along with a backpack trip to Floe Lake (photos) and another to Forks and Turbine Canyon (photos).

Europe. I FINALY got to Europe, something I’ve been wanting to do for a long-long time. Europe lived up to my expectations, we visited France (photos), Italy (photos), Vatican City, Holland, Belgium (photos), and England (photos). My favourite country while in Europe was Italy. Italy was more exciting, crazy, dirty, and entrepreneurial than the other countries, but Thailand is still my favourite country. I’m dying to go back to Southeast Asia.

Running. When I wasn’t biking, or hiking, I’d fall back on my trusty shoes, and you can bet I was running while in Europe. Running was an amazing way to experience a city. My favourite run was in Paris (running from Notre Dame, through the the Louvre gardens, to the Arc de Triomphe, under the Eiffel Tower, then back to Notre Dame). I want to do the Paris Marathon next year. I also ran the parameter of Lamballe France, through the rural country side and down a river near Guipry France (South of Rennes), the circumference of Venice Italy (I got horribly lost), through the hill paths between Manarola and Riomaggiore Italy (an hour long hill workout in the heat), a 12km session on a Belgium treadmill (yawn), and around the Royal Gardens of England (pretty). Yeah… I admit I am borderline obsessed with running.

So now that summer is over I’m back at it. A big thank-you for sticking around. :)

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Calgary, 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: