A Photographer’s Journey

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

You started with a point and shoot, liked taking pictures, and learned enough to start getting some compliments. A SLR would let you do more, but you know it means diving into the deep end, not to mention the difficulty of walkgin around with that kind of bulge in your pants. But you do it, and all of a sudden you’re learning to swim again. So many new technical and artistic knobs, tons of cameras, lenses, lights, and gear to drool over and play “only if…”.

Slowly it dawns on you that it’s not just the camera or the lens or the light, but the soul of a photo that you’re chasing. If you’re social you grab every breathing acquaintance to pose for you, if you’re an introvert you grab your coat every time there’s a chance of a good sunset. The cornucopia of photography books, blogs, and Flickr groups are now your constant buffet.

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Old and New Resolutions

Monday, December 29th, 2008

Looking forwardThe coming of the new year brings thoughts of new goals and resolutions. Before jumping into the future, though, it’s always a good idea to take a look at the past and how plans for the past year panned out.

  1. The one clear goal I can recall from the beginning of this year was to become more involved in online and offline photo communities. That’s been a success; I’ve posted in Digital Photography School’s forums, won a weekly assignment, and got some other great ideas. Offline, I had a good time with other photographers at the Philadelphia Photowalk and Philly Strobist meetup.
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Your Blog’s Personality

Thursday, December 4th, 2008

I just ran my blog through Typealyzer and got:

ENTP - The Visionaries

The charming and trend savvy type. They are especially attuned to the big picture and anticipate trends. They often have sophisticated language skills and come across as witty and social. At the end of the day, however, they are pragmatic decision makers and have a good analytical abilitity.

They enjoy work that lets them use their cleverness, great communication skills and knack for new exciting ventures. They have to look out not to become quitters, since they easily get bored when the creative exciting start-up phase is over.

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Listen First

Monday, October 27th, 2008

Peacefully waitingI consider myself a good listener, but really missed the mark last week. One of the cloud computing talks was being given by Joe Gregorio from Google, who I chatted with beforehand. He mentioned working on the Atom protocol, which I immediately took as an opportunity to ramble off about using it as the API for a previous project.

I looked him up afterward, and found out that he actually wrote the spec! For as many times as I read the thing, you’d think I would’ve noticed the name, or at least picked up what he was telling me before launching into my own story. Of course, being a good listener himself, he indulged me before getting into his talk on Google’s App Engine.

30 Days

Thursday, July 10th, 2008

I enjoy Morgan Spurlock’s work; both Super Size Me and 30 Days provide a fresh, provocative look at modern issues. It got me thinking: how would each of us cope if we had to live a lifestyle opposite to our own for 30 days?

Nice computer!The first step in this thought experiment is figuring out what that personally meaningful opposite is, be it a belief, lifestyle, or position on a certain issue. For me, I think something that shapes my life significantly is the regular use of computers. It’s how I earn a living, communicate with friends and family, and even meet women. How would I fare if unplugged for a month?

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30

Sunday, June 22nd, 2008

30Turning 30 is intimidating because it’s supposed to be a milestone: you look back at the fun times and early accomplishments of your 20’s as you look towards settling into a more serious life in your 30’s. Of course, 30 is a pretty arbitrary age for any accomplishment, so perhaps it’s better spent just taking stock of the last decade and the next to come.

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6 Months

Wednesday, June 4th, 2008

I’ve been in my new job for 6 months now, which is long enough to take a look at the bigger picture of that change:

The transition was tougher than I expected; changing companies is a much bigger shakeup than changing projects. I had gotten comfortable with the latter; even though there was an adjustment period, the corporate culture was the same and I had grown a large network there. It probably took a good three months to assimilate, and I’m still putting together the bigger picture of this new company and new industry.

Fast flat fixerThe proverbial grass is greener in spots, though interviewers conveniently don’t mention the brown patches, or the occasional dog turd. The project was in worse technological shape than advertised, though I’ve learned a lot about good & bad architecture, reverse engineering, and refactoring in the process. There’s also a lot of opportunity in the turnaround; I got to be scrum master and lead the implementation of test-driven development and other modern practices.

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Know Thyself

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

I noticed Cheri tagged her Myers-Briggs personality indicator on del.icio.us, prompting me to find my own and confirm that I’m just wired a certain way. Here are some bits of the INTJ - The Free-Thinker profile that struck home for me:

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An International Moment

Saturday, February 16th, 2008

One of the very different things at my new job is how prevalent the use of contractors is, though it provides some interesting moments. My team currently includes a software architect in London, 3 on-site contractors, and an entire test team in India.

Those of us on-site go out for lunch every Friday, and this week we hit up a Mexican restaurant with one of the new contractors, who’s in the US from India for the first time. He was adventurous enough to try some Mexican food, which led to the interesting scene of one (Italian) Amerian, one Russian, and one more acclimated Indian trying to explain the nuances of various meat, cheese, and tortilla combinations. It worked out OK in the end; he got a couple of beef tacos and cleaned his plate :)

What I Want to Be When I Grow Up

Wednesday, February 6th, 2008

Since I’m approaching 30, you’d think I’d have figured this out by now. I used to think I did: work hard, keep learning, and ultimately advance along a technical path on merit. Of course, that discounted the realities of office politics, Putt’s Law, and a business mindset often still focused on advancement only through the management chain. With them in mind, though, I’ve continued to pursue the goal of a more formal technical leadership position while carving out smaller leadership and project management roles along the way.

Technical leadership, to me, means keeping engaged and abreast of technology in order to guide the overall direction of a project and a small team to a successful delivery. This seemed to match the more hierarchical team lead interpretation of scrum master on my previous project, where the power and decision-making was largely concentrated in the “inner circle” that the scrum of scrums became. I take no credit for the term, but it’s totally apt - individual developers and even technical area leaders like myself were largely out of the loop.

Seeing the scrum master role as a facilitator and more of a project management role in this week’s training challenges that assumption. When I served as a scrum master before, I certainly found it to be more of that than technical direction. And it that respect is was still satisfying work - having the real pulse of the team and being engaged with many people to keep it beating. Growing as a technical leader also still appeals to me, though I’ve yet to see an organization or a pure enough scrum implementation where that kind of responsibility and authority naturally grows out of an individual role.

In summary, I suppose I’ve figured out one or two places I want to go, and am still working on finding and walking the right path to get there.