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Startups, Technology and Awesome Programming

A different take on Misogyny

I’ll premise this article with the following statement, Men today need fewer lessons on misogyny and more mom’s and dad’s that were willing to whip them when they did wrong at an early age.

Yes, I understand that doesn’t solve the current problem but history has shown us that you almost never solve a contemporary problem in the current generation.

It usually takes one or two for the societal problem to truly go away.

I spent 8 years in the Marines, if you want an example of mysogonistic culture look no further.

Yet I never once harassed or intimidated a girl, I’ve never even asked a girl for her number or stalked a girl and it’s not because I didn’t like them, it was because as a kid I feared my parents tremendously and that fear turned into discipline when I got older.

Yes our parents spanked us and that’s okay, there is a whole generation of parents that somehow get offended by that fact.

Now there is a whole generation of young men that think they can do whatever the hell they want because they’ve never been conditioned to listen when their parents and or society told them no.

Not all parents discipline their kids out of love so it came off as abuse and I understand that but thankfully my folks cared enough to explain why they did what they did, I eventually realized how sincere my folks were in making sure we as kids grew up to be good people.

I’m going to get crap for saying all of this because some people refuse to accept that maybe their parents didn’t teach them the right way and that’s okay, now that they are parents they don’t understand why their kids act like little shits, but it’s fine because no parent really knows what they are doing when they start and if they tell you they do then they are lying.

No parent goes into it prepared but being willing to change your views and adapt once you become a parent is what makes a difference, becoming a parent is just as much about how you influence yourself than it is about how you influence your kids.

My mom was a strong lady who grew up in a much more misogynistic society then America (I’m from Brazil) but she somehow managed to make me afraid of ever disrespecting any women even to this day which I find my wife repeatedly thanking her for.

After two combat tours I still fear my folks which is a good thing.

If a mom doesn’t want her son to become the girl gripping serial rapist that every girl fears then be willing to discipline them, don’t spank them out of hatred or anger but do it out of love and set rules that are consistent so that your kids understand where the line is.

I’ll end with this statement, I’m lucky that my dad taught me never to need anything from a women, for a guy to be able to be completely independent emotionally and physically means that he has the self control to be picky about who he interacts with, he doesn’t fall all over himself just because a girl pays attention to him.

Every guy has teenage angst and self assurance issues, and I made my fair share of mistakes but by the time I met my wife I was over all of that and it was because I didn’t need her, I wanted to be with her, big difference between the two and I could give her more love than I ever wanted from her.

I just hope I can teach my son the same things and though my daughter will inevitably meet creeps because someone’s parent didn’t have the intestinal fortitude to forgo discipline in exchange for a short term gain, I can only hope that she becomes a strong enough woman like her mother and her grand mothers and will raise her son the right way no matter what society decides is right at that period in time.

Being the new Developer in the room

There’s a lot to be said about being the new guy at any tech company, depending on your level of experience you’ll either try your best to hit the ground running and make some mistakes along the way or you’ll become more reserved about what you do or say in order not to come off looking like an idiot.

Either way when I quit my government contract gig to come work for AMCO, I was looking for a challenge beyond what I was already doing at work or in my free time and got one. Here are some of my experiences learned over the last few weeks that might help you in whatever you do.

Be willing to use other technologies

I was once called a Linux Fascist by a co-worker but in no way does that imply that I have a problem with other operating systems. This is my first programming job when I’ve had to learn to use MacOS and though again I don’t mind it, I have already installed my OS of choice and will eventually make my way back to XMonad land.

The realities are that I needed to hit the ground running hard and get code out the door right away and the only way I could do it using the code I was given was to be willing to adjust my own work environment and speed. This is true about so many tools we use in development that sometimes we get comfortable and complacent and aren’t willing to try new things. I try to think of technology in terms of food, I’ll try anything at least once.

Be willing to be humble to the guys before you

Sometimes when you go into a project you may have ideas and things that you want to do right away, too many times I’ve ran into the folks that have immediately started criticizing other’s code and or methods of development within the first minute of being on a new project. I find that just listening at first and being willing to learn from the people that have been keeping the engine running this whole time will pay off dividends later.

You’ll still be able to implement your changes as you go, little by little adding the things that helps improve your development process on the project while ensuring confidence in those around you that you’re not going to botch up all their hard work. Criticizing for the sake of critiquing is sometimes used as a defense mechanism by some developers to appear smarter but it can hurt team cohesion.

Be willing to break stuff (so that you can make it better)

Probably the worst thing about being the new guy is when you break the build, there is a way to break code without breaking everything else and without pushing your breaks to everyone else. Figure out what that way is at your shop, but be willing to break stuff if you feel you need to so that you can put it back together in a better way. If you have tests to go off of then you’re lucky, if you don’t then you’ll have to be more careful and cautious and will probably have to write them yourself along the way.

In development you’re only as good as the mistakes you’ve already made, being able to tell someone that something doesn’t work only happens when you’ve already tried it so make mistakes quickly and then move on making sure that you’ve learned not just the if it works or not but also the why it didn’t work. In the end coding is a meritocracy whether some would like to admit it or not, past accomplishments might have gotten you the job but do nothing in the way of allowing you to keep it. Willingness is rare in the tech world, be willing and you’ll be just fine at your new gig.

Measuring Myself Up

Recently there was a Dave Ramsey article that got a lot of controversial feedback on the issue of Habits of the Wealthy and whether or not having those habits makes one better off financially.

So for fun I decided to go over the list as it relates to my own life and see if I fall short or not on this list and who knows maybe it’ll help me kick some bad habits or start some good ones.

1. 70% of wealthy eat less than 300 junk food calories per day. 97% of poor people eat more than 300 junk food calories per day. 23% of wealthy gamble. 52% of poor people gamble.

No, unfortunately I eat more than my fair share of junk food per day, whether that’s a burger, burrito or frozen hot pocket, I don’t eat as well as I know I should.

Yes, I don’t gamble at all and think anyone who does is simply mathematically challenged.

2. 80% of wealthy are focused on accomplishing some single goal. Only 12% of the poor do this.

No, I do tend to focus on more than one thing although those things tend to be related to getting better at coding so I’m not sure where I would fall on this one. Aside from time with family and raising my kids there’s not much else that attracts my attention as much as code.

3. 76% of wealthy exercise aerobically four days a week. 23% of poor do this.

No, I spent almost 8 years in the Marines running every day at zero dark thirty but since getting out almost 4 years ago I have not ran a single mile. Is it laziness? Is it being too busy? Is it exhaustion from kids and work? The world may never know…

4. 63% of wealthy listen to audio books during commute to work vs. 5% of poor people.

Yes, I have a collection of books from Audible.com that I listen to on a daily basis to and from work, though my list of books I want to listen to keeps growing, I can’t seem to find books that will really teach me something that I don’t already know.

5. 81% of wealthy maintain a to-do list vs. 19% of poor.

No, in my head I have a list of things that I need to do both daily and monthly but physically the only list I have is the one maintained at work otherwise known as User Stories…

6. 63% of wealthy parents make their children read two or more non-fiction books a month vs. 3% of poor.

Yes, We read a chapter of the bible to our son every night before bed so depending on where you stand on biblical inerrancy then I would say we read a lot of non-fiction but maybe it’ll get easier when he can read it himself.

7. 70% of wealthy parents make their children volunteer 10 hours or more a month vs. 3% of poor.

No, my kids are yet to little to do full on volunteering but my wife has taken them to the nursing home from time to time in order to cheer up some older folks.

8. 80% of wealthy make Happy Birthday calls vs. 11% of poor.

No, I’m horrible at this, I usually send a gift in the mail if I can remember but I rarely remember birthdays let alone remember to call people on their birthdays. My mom has helped me save face over the years to call me “reminding” me that it’s my dad or someone else’s birthday and that I should probably give them a ring.

9. 67% of wealthy write down their goals vs. 17% of poor.

No, I don’t write down my goals in much the same way I don’t write down my tasks either. This is something I should do more off.

10. 88% of wealthy read 30 minutes or more each day for education or career reasons vs. 2% of poor.

Yes, I have a morning ritual of reading hacker news every day right after I get out of bed and that takes up about at least 30 minutes if not more of my day.

11. 6% of wealthy say what’s on their mind vs. 69% of poor.

Yes, I keep my mouth shut when it needs to be though that may have more to do with my time in the Marines than anything else, you’d be surprised just how quickly you learn to control yourself when facing a potential courts martial.

12. 79% of wealthy network five hours or more each month vs. 16% of poor.

Yes, I host and attend monthly developer meetups so this is something that I enjoy doing, those meetups are both a networking opportunity, a catching up with friends event and a learning something new I didn’t know before routine.

13. 67% of wealthy watch one hour or less of TV every day vs. 23% of poor.

Yes, if one show a night counts as just an hour of TV a day than I’m in, I may actually be in the negative some days as I skip watching TV so that I can code.

14. 6% of wealthy watch reality TV vs. 78% of poor.

Yes, the only reality show I like is Top Shot and that says more about my political affiliations than it does about my circumstance or lack there of.

15. 44% of wealthy wake up three hours before work starts vs. 3% of poor.

Yes, considering I wake up at 4 and am at work by 5 am that kind of shouldn’t count but most of my co-workers don’t show up until at least 7 or 8 am and that gives me time at work to catch up on the day before.

16. 74% of wealthy teach good daily success habits to their children vs. 1% of poor.

No, My son watches more TV than any kid should and I rarely have time to teach him more than daddy’s tired, stop jumping on him. It’s a work in progress.

17. 84% of wealthy believe good habits create opportunity luck vs. 4% of poor.

Yes, I absolutely believe that the more you get into the habit of doing things well the better off you’ll be in life, the Marines also helped teach me that.

18. 76% of wealthy believe bad habits create detrimental luck vs. 9% of poor.

Yes, I’ve seen many Marines suffer from bad habits like sleeping in or being lazy around firearms, good habits help you form muscle memory and help you be better at what you do.

19. 86% of wealthy believe in lifelong educational self-improvement vs. 5% of poor.

Yes, I finished my college degree but am already planning on getting a Masters in Data Science, I will hopefully get my PhD some day as well but education is more than just school.

20. 86% of wealthy love to read vs. 26% of poor.

Yes and No, I enjoy reading but don’t always have the time I need in order to do so. I try to work around this by reading as much as I can online and listening to longer form books in audio format but haven’t had the time to read a book from front to cover in a very long time.

In the end I enjoyed this list, it helped me to see what I am or am not doing right in my own life. I encourage you to get the items on the list and write them out yourself publicly, it’ll both help you determine what you may need to work on or it may help you realize the good from the bad habits in your life.

Confusions about prosperity

I don’t consider myself a prosperous person though some people may say that I’ve been blessed beyond what I deserve. I recently read a CNN blog article on religion that I disagree with not on a basis of facts but on the basis of perspectives.

The article as well as many Christians in our modern society hate the idea of correlating prosperity with God’s favor and blessing for good reason.

There are plenty of verses in scripture that seem to show a disdain for the rich and wealthy and a lot of people use these verses out of context or perspective to say that if you’re well off then you must be your greed that put you there, not something you did right before God.

Every good biblical doctrine though can’t exist without two sets of complete extremes of course so there are also those who on the other side of the spectrum believe that if you’re not prospering then that must mean God has not blessed you and thus a sign of your inability to follow in God’s will as a Christian.

This particular CNN article in my opinion got it wrong when it fired back at a celebrity christian by the name of Dave Ramsey who teaches people how to get out of debt. Their focus seemed to be more of an attempt to villanize the man for his own personal wealth than it was trying to explain the differing perspectives even with it’s platitudes about his advice being good for most people at the beginning.

Yet in both of these two extreme cases I’ve described above there is a lack of perspective which permeates the talking points, on one hand those who are against the idea of God singling out individuals through wealth may see an unfairness in such a doctrine.

They believe that God is no respecter of person’s as they should and would argue against such a view because some who live in abject poverty doing purely God’s work will never see real wealth in their lifetime. There may also be some personal misgivings about why God would choose to bless some while allowing themselves or others of the same faith to suffer financially.

On the other hand there are those who see a lack of financial stability and prosperity from another christian as an inability to turn their faith into actions. They usually tend to believe that God is either punishing the individual for their bad decisions or that the person is not holding to certain doctrinal beliefs such as tithing or the reap and sow concepts taught by scripture which may all be the case.

You know what the only difference between these two views are? Perspectives about how they see their opposing counter part and that is what God seems to teach in scripture.

As an example, scripture teaches us to tithe or give 10% of what we make back to God, it’s the only time in the entire bible that God tells you to test him, see if he won’t bless you if you give or curse you if you don’t. Yet if you have the wrong perspective on tithing then you may grow to believe that tithing is like pulling God’s arm and when things go wrong financially in one’s life they may question whether they should have tithed in the first place.

Understanding all sides of a discussion and having differing perspectives on a subject is what makes us a Christian. We don’t judge others because we are taught to understand their good perspective even if we think they are totally wrong but we also don’t help just anyone who says they need it because we also understand their bad perspectives may have put them in their situation.

This is what Dave Ramsey seems to teach, this is what I myself believe with all of my heart. My perspective teaches me that I don’t give 10% of my finances back to God but that God let’s me keep 90% of what he gives me. Christ used differences in perspectives to teach his parables and doctrines and this is what we need to do in order to shut out the extreme views on both sides of us.

As a Christian I don’t believe everyone who is wealthy is evil, Job, Abraham, Joseph, David, Solomon and many others from both the new and old testament were blessed by God with wealth and the wisdom to know what to do with it. And they weren’t always just taught to give their wealth away to the poor, they were taught stewardship.

As a Christian I don’t believe everyone who is poor is by definition good either, there were many times in scripture where entire nations as well as individuals suffered from famine, starvation, invasion, complete and utter poverty and destruction because they or their fathers and grandfathers chose to ignore what God was trying to teach them.

Both representations I just made are exceptions to the the common perceptions we have that rich people are evil because they have no humility and suffering while poor people are good because all they have is humility and suffering. The real story of the rich man and Lazarus highlights this.

In truth the real evil here is the mis-characterizations of people solely based on class distinctions verses what they are actually doing with their lives for both for themselves and for Christ. What does a man profit if he gains the whole world but doesn’t do anything for God in the process, in the same light what profits a man if does everything for God and does nothing to take care of himself or his family.

God did not make us to be singular minded and thoughtless creatures, if we understand the principle that it is irresponsible for a rich man to only care about money more than his family or friends (aka the church) then we must also understand that it’s irresponsible and wrong for a poor man to only care about church work or himself while his family and friends (aka the church) starve and suffer.

God does bless some and not bless others in the same way, that doctrine is throughout scripture. He does it because he has a greater plan in mind and he knows just how much you can handle and what you can’t.

In the end Money is the root of all evil but is not evil in and of itself. Money does not make you evil, it merely enhances your existing good or evil traits a bit more. What this means is that if you are already not generous, more money will only make you even less generous. If you’re already wasteful than more money will only cause that to be enhanced.

Judging the wealthy just because one takes a verse out of context is as wrong of a perspective as judging the poor for the same thing. In the end what we have is not our own, it is given to us by God so that we can be good stewards of it. Some will do a poor job stewarding over what great things “God” gave them while others will do well with what little “God” provides.

Jesus did not choose the poor to inherit the earth because they are somehow ideologically or spiritually superior to the rich, he chose them because they are more receptive. With nothing in this world to really cling to they are less likely to turn down the gospel if it is introduced to them through good works of kindness and generosity. Both types otherwise have the same propensity of sin.

It’s not our place to determine who is worthy of God’s blessing and for what reason, it’s only our responsibility to follow God’s principles ourselves and do the best with what he has given us, but most importantly to be content (happy) in whatever that is.

Losing focus and getting it back

A few months ago I quite a job I loved in order to start a company, it was one of the hardest and best decisions I’ve ever made, yet I took some side contract work to help pay the bills while I spent every available effort to build out my software and architecture. It wasn’t easy and I have a family with a wife who’s a stay at home mom and two kids so needless to say it felt almost impossible but God is good and everything has been working out.

Recently I entered into a conversation with a good friend that had helped me remember that I had lost focus of what was important, when I made a comment about my contract job he reminded me that I had only taken that position to help me focus on my real job, the start up. When trying to juggle software projects, one for me and one for the contract, as human beings we tend to put emphasis on what pays off the quickest, not in the long term.

Working in software development I get a lot of job offers, some of them better than what most people would dream of and I’m blessed to be in a field that pays well but it’s also a curse in that when you’re looking at your bills, looking at getting rid of debts, those job offers tend to become a tempting distraction from the focus that I’ve tried to maintain in the last few months.

As I stand here, about a month away from launch and I look at the list of to-do’s I can’t help but realize that I lost some of my focus along the way, I did a lot, learned a lot and gained much but sometimes we as humans try to do too much and only when we come to that realization do we take a step back and re-prioritize a bit.

Having the time to spend with the kids instead of at work, being able to work from home on any research project I want and go down any rabbit hole of software development that my work takes me, that is why I started all of this and it’s why I work as much as I do and strive for this project.

As I get closer to the end of the year and the start of a new, my goal will be to have a cleaner schedule, more focused work load and ensure that the time spent away from my family to work on my startup isn’t just worth it, but that it’s the most important commodity with which I can’t loose sight of.

I’m confident I can finish all of my tasks in the next month but the real lesson for me here is to realize that coding isn’t everything, learning isn’t everything, even execution which was always my original mantra isn’t everything. Motivation and Focus is everything, I know it’s a bit early to start making new years resolutions but that is my goal next year, to do less and focus more. Wish me luck.

Why I’m okay with an Early Christmas

Recently I’ve heard a lot of people complaining that Christmas seems to come earlier and earlier every year. It use to be that the radio would start playing Christmas music right after Thanksgiving and then suddenly now Halloween isn’t even over and there’s already Christmas decorations at all of the stores. You know something? I for one am okay with that and here’s why.

Though I completely disagree with stores staying open on Thanksgiving day all throughout the night in order to get the shoppers earlier and earlier, I believe that is less corporate greed and more of a sign of how little we as a society (that also includes the people volunteering to work on Thanksgiving) care about a day of Thanking God for the things he’s provided for us anymore.

If a company or store forces employees to work on Thanksgiving then that’s just wrong, absolutely positively wrong but that’s also why this is a free country and we are free to go out and find other work and employers that will respect our beliefs over their own bottom line, even in this great “recession” you have a choice as an American where and when you will express your religious beliefs.

With that being said now it’s time for me to explain why I’m okay with an earlier Christmas, I’m now married with two small children and love watching them this time of the year, but that wasn’t always the case. For those of us that have had to miss Christmas’ at home or with our family because of work or more important commitments I for one would like to make up for all of the time I lost.

I’ve spent too many Christmas’ in Iraq or on Ship when I was in the military, too many Christmas’ making phone calls home and decorating a hole in the wall and refusing to listen to “I’ll be home for Christmas” knowing that it would make me feel like crap afterwards. I’ve spent too many Christmas’ with a family at home crying and wishing I was home, too many Christmas’ with a wife that can’t listen to the same songs either.

I can count in both hands the number of times I’ve opened up mailed gifts and had Amazon wrap mines from a far, I also live on the other side of the country from the family I grew up with (California to Florida) and on the other side of the world from the people that they grew up with and that helped raise me (US to Brazil) so since leaving home at the age of 17 I can remember going home maybe twice in the last 13 years for Christmas (I’m now 30).

So for me now with kids of my own and a family of my own Christmas is one of those things that I’m okay with getting a little bit more of each year, it helps to make up for all of the crap I’ve put up with over the years (do you know how many suicide attempts occur over Christmas in the military, especially when you’re the one standing duty on December 24th.)

If you’re the type that’s complaining that it’s starting too early every year and that Christmas won’t be the same anymore if it starts taking over every other holiday, all I can tell you is that it hasn’t been the same for many of us for a very long time. As someone who personally doesn’t celebrate Halloween in our family, I for one welcome the quick passage from evil to joy all at once.

Again as I mentioned above, I’m against forcing people to work on what I consider a sacred holiday like Thanksgiving but in the spirit of that be thankful if you’ve always enjoyed your Christmas’ and had a place or family (even if it wasn’t yours) to spend with on Christmas day, be grateful if you’ve never had to spend the entire holiday season in abject misery or if you’ve dreaded the holidays because you knew where you’d have to be on Christmas day.

Allow the rest of us to be okay with an earlier Christmas, to make up for all of the lost time, energy and sadness we felt for so many years or decades where we may not have had what you had with these added few days, and this Thanksgiving as well as Christmas be thankful and grateful that you may get to celebrate it all a little bit more than someone else whom like myself has spent too many holidays away from everyone and everything they care about no matter what their circumstance.

That is why I’m okay with an Earlier Christmas…

Schema.org is Crucial to WordPress

Originally posted on Torquemag.io

Recently, there have been a number of articles discussing the new Hummingbird upgrade on Google Search. Many of you have probably already heard that because of this change, it will bemore important to use Schema.org in your site’s syntax in the future.

But what is Schema.org, and how does it apply to how I’m building my web pages?

Schema.org was a joint effort by Google, and a number of other search engines, started a few years ago to try to get more semantic information from web pages. In essence, it teaches content owners to think like programmers by creating inherited properties that a machine can understand and relate to if listed on your site properly.

I’ve spent the better part of the last few years crawling websites for data that is used for product and market intelligence firms, which includes pricing, stock, availability, promotional campaign tracking, specifications collecting, and so on. So I’ve had some experience both in implementing Schema.org, as well as scraping from it. From my experience, here’s a simpler way to understand all of this:

You can think of it like this—at the very top of the Schema.org data model there is a data object called a Thing, which is basically a very generic object that other objects can inherit properties from. A “Thing” has a few basic properties like name, description, image, url, and a value called “sameAs” that relates it to another type of object.

The principle here is that all objects that inherit from Thing will automatically inherit those basic properties, much like Classes in programming inherit properties from other parent or abstract classes. There is also another base type called DataType, but we’ll for now just focus on Things and its child properties.

Now it’s important to understand why Google is doing this. They are trying to organize more of the world’s information and they need some way to grasp the semantics behind what people are searching for. By following Schema.org, websites ensure that when someone does a keyword search for something, that the link that comes up pertains more to what they actually are looking for instead of some arbitrary similarity in a similar word. It brings context to people’s searches, which is why Google is making it mandatory now for good SEO.

To give you some more perspective, there is another item that inherits from Thing calledCreativeWork. It borrows many of the same values—like name, description, etc.—found in a “Thing,” but allows it to be narrowed down even further. A CreativeWork can become any number of items including ArticleBlogPaintingMovie…you get the idea. Under what seems like a more complicated approach to looking at our content lies a concept we already know very well in the WordPress world, Custom Post Types.

If you have worked in WordPress for a while, then you understand Custom Post Types. They are essentially a way to transform the WP-Posts table into our own personal data playground, allowing us to semantically reorganize posts into whatever we want them to be; Pages are nothing more than posts with a different classification.

In WooCommerce, for example, we use a Custom Post Type for Product that is nothing more than a post with different attributes. In the world of WordPress, Things are basically Post Types, and we inherit and change as we need them to fit into our database schema. Is this all starting to come together now?

Even though native Schema.org support in WordPress doesn’t seem to be coming to the forefront in the foreseeable future, it’s on the to-do list and will make a huge difference in how Google semantically understands your content. There are already a slew of plugins that you can download to take advantage of the new semantic syntax formatting used in Schema.org to help search engines better understand where your page fits in their search results.

Popular plugins like WooCommerce already have had Schema.org markup support, since 1.3, and if you’re a developer building any sort of Custom Post Type for your plugins, themes, or clients—this is now a must to understand.

Schema.org is crucial for you to implement on your WordPress site because it makes it easier for web bots and spiders, like the ones I build, to understand the content they are crawling. This in turns gives them greater ability to parse through data and create products and tools that can link and bring more visitors to your site outside of search engines and other native tools.

Facebook has a different syntax type called Open Graph that for now at least isn’t required, so choosing Schema.org is a better bet for developers as they work on their Custom Post Type projects.

If you have any other questions about Schema.org or how to implement it, please join me atAdvanced WordPress, or leave a comment below and I’ll be happy to talk about anything you may not fully understand.

Don’t wait for a community, build it

Originally posted on the ManageWP Blog

When I got involved with the San Diego Tech community back in 2009, we didn’t have much to start with in the way of developer training, we had some great user groups including SD Php, SD Ruby and SD WordPress but they mostly revolved around people giving presentations and there’s was very little hands on involved.

After experiencing much frustration we started Advanced WordPress (AWP), it was a way for us who had more of a developer focused approach to get down and dirty with our own code or with other people’s. The idea was simple, no single presentation, everyone in the group shared what they were working on for 10 or 20 minutes and at the end the combined knowledge of the group taught us more in one 2 hour session than a single presenter ever could have.

The experience for many of us made our monthly AWP meetups enjoyable, in fact it became almost blasphemy for us to even consider skipping a month or not hosting one. We were blessed to have a lot of really talented people sharing a lot of really interesting stuff and the small 7 man meetup that started in a coffee shop back in 2011 now has 2000+ members communicating on Facebook150+ on Google Plus and between 20 to 30 regular attendees every month at Co-Merge in Downtown San Diego.

And then the study groups began, at the time my day job was writing Rails applications and so I needed to get better at Ruby right away, I was invited by a co-worker to a study group up at UCLA’s Computer Science department that met once a week. The format was revolutionary and something I’d never seen before so of course I had to try it out for myself. The UCLA group would pick a technical programming book and would cover one chapter every week. This was basically like a college study group on steroids and I learned so much in one night that I had to start one in San Diego.

So in early 2012 I started a Ruby Study group once a week out of my office in Point Loma, CA and it regularly attracted between 7 to 10 people per week, we even got the SD Ruby user group to help us promote it and the amount of information shared between the people that knew a lot and the people that didn’t know much but were hungry to read was amazing. The Ruby Study group lasted about as long as my stint with that company and it ended only after I left the firm in mid 2013 for a new position elsewhere.

Towards the end of 2012 though I had a friend whom I’d done some consulting work for ask me about growing their company’s developer outreach, we ended up starting a Php Study Group out of his offices in the Mission Valley area of San Diego and it’s still active and running to this day. The format may have been modified and changed over the last year but the concept is still the same, get people who are hungry about programming to meet and learn together.

Why is the group dynamic important? One of my favorite books is called the Wisdom of Crowds, in it James Surowiecki teaches that the collective knowledge of a diverse group is way better and more informed than the knowledge of any single highly skilled individual. What I learned from setting up these weekly meetups and study groups is that developer communities aren’t manufactured out of thing air, they are born out of getting groups of individuals wanting to learn a skill set and being given the space and the ability to do it.

If you’re a company looking for good developers, don’t just try to recruit whomever you can get your hands on, instead pick a book, any book on a specific programming language or subject you want your developers or community to become good at. Open your doors to the outside world and start a study group, cover one chapter each week or every two weeks and promote the heck out of it. At the end of the day you may get a lot of newbies, people who want to learn more and don’t themselves bring much to the table.

The focus should be less on someone giving a presentation and more on a total group driven discussion. Force anyone that’s new to read and share with the group what they understand about the topic every week, as time passes and the group grows the ones that really want to continue learning will stick around, they will get better, after just a few months people who didn’t know a lick of programming beforehand will be teaching you stuff, they will be showing you what they are now capable of. If you’re a company looking for developers, you will have a new, free and cheap way of recruiting talent that’s passionate and dedicated to growing in their career as programmers because you didn’t sit around waiting for it to happen, you build it from the ground up yourself.

Storytellers Inherit the Future

Aristotle understood that in any society, it’s not the smartest or the brightest people that win the hearts and minds of future generations, it’s the story tellers. In America we can see this more clearly now than in any other time in our history, the bulk of modern American’s get their values and beliefs from the books they read and the movies or TV shows they watch.

When the storytelling goes bad in society, the result is decadence. -Aristotle

Whether good or bad, what teaches the next generation about the values they should hold dear too are not parents, authority figures or school teachers who tend to teach cold hard facts or try to win over people with the truth, it’s the people telling a story, any story that reaches people most profoundly. This is true in religious scripture, most people who understood the concepts that people like Jesus were teaching got them from parables which used stories to explain what he was trying to say in a unique way.

So what should we do? As an engineer I tend to be very black and white, very logical in nature and much of what I believe both spiritually, politically and pragmatically no longer seems to be what American society as a whole values anymore. My world view comes from 8 years of war experience, it comes from dealing with people and studying societies not just modern but ancient cultures, yet what I’ve learned is that I can have all of the historical evidence I need and it won’t make a bit of difference, nothing teaches people better than a story and most are so hooked to that principle that you can’t get anything across to them in any other way.

So because of this I’m forcing myself to blog every day, not sure if I’ll succeed, not sure how well I’ll do but my goal is to always tell a story, aside from the things I normally talk about relating to code or business, I need to start relaying the stories behind much of what I’ve learned in my life and Aristotle had it right, people like us who live and breathe off of facts and statistics can’t expect people to understand our beliefs and views without some form of story or narrative to get them to that point.

The future belongs to those who tell good stories, and with this the religious, political and total views of those story tellers will be passed on to those who read or watch the story they tell. So in business if you want to dominate your market, you need to stop giving customers facts and figures, you need to start telling stories. In coding if you want to convince your company to use the right tools or languages than you need to stop giving them a list of preferences and you need to start telling them the story of a company that used your process and succeeded. In politics we need to stop getting people to do basic math in their heads as to the cost of government programs and we need to start telling stories that are true to life and reveal a greater, deeper truth. In family I need to stop telling my kid to do or not do something and instead I should tell him a story about the why.

Storytellers are the ones with the real control, unless we become story tellers ourselves we end up just coming along for the ride but never steering it…

Why Technology Recruiters Fail

If you’ve been a software engineer for a while you’ll know that recruiters are the Nigerian Prince of the technology ecosystem. Most of them send out these massively canned emails through either my GMail account or LinkedIn and in most cases won’t tell me what the job really entails or who the potential employer is.

This complex but self defeating formula seems to have been copied by all of them because in most cases they only include anything personal at the top (like my name) and then ask me for to send them a Resume. This is perplexing when it comes from LinkedIn notifications because they had to have seen my work history and resume when they saw my profile in the first place.

Not mentioning the company that they are representing to me is a major marking flaw since at my current stage in life that is about the only factor that would cause me to want to read an offer in the first place. Who the company is and what they are all about (aka what they do) is the most important thing to seeing if it would be a good fit with what I do and what I’m good at.

The worst part is when they ask me to refer someone who I feel might be a good fit for the position, it’s kind of like the person that asked you out then asking if you could put in a good word for them to your friend, it just reeks of bad motivations.

Almost all of these emails mention one or two technologies that are included but offer no more technical information than if I were reading a job description which when written by non technical people offers next to nothing about what the job will actually involve.

Since most of the job offers I’ve seen are for inside the US and in California I really haven’t ran into a situation where a job is offered outside of my area but I’ve heard some horror stories about this.

It’s important to understand the reason for all of this, what you have here are two different worlds running into each other and that causes the frustration from the side of the developers and I can imagine what it must do on the side of the recruiters.

You have one group that is highly technical and that gets paid really well, software engineers don’t really have to worry about being out of work most of the time and their choice of options is between their current employment and a better one.

On the other hand you have recruiters which unless they work for Google or Facebook directly probably get paid on commission so they are trying to fill as many people through as many jobs as possible.

When it comes right down to it most technical recruits are not at all technical, they are trying to hire for jobs they really don’t understand and can’t really make the necessary evaluations required to both efficiently target and accurately entice developers.

So what should those recruiters do to stop spamming engineers and start forcing us to pay attention? Well first stop doing everything you are currently doing, start thinking like an engineer and don’t assume that just because you’ve successfully recruited some people in the thousands you mass email that the process is somehow working.

Try to understand the technologies you are recruiting for, if at all possible try to specialize in just a few that are prevalent in your area so that it’s easier for you to reach out. Don’t send email or LinkedIn spam, be personal, hell ask me how my family is doing and whether or not they would consider a move in the next few months if the price is right.

The main point is to understand the major differences between the two groups, developers aren’t very good at explaining what they do to someone who is non technical so the more you try to enter their world the easier it will be to convince them that the opportunity they are being given is or is not the right one. And if we tell you that we are okay where we are at, don’t try to ask us to refer someone else unless you already know us personally.

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