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Vacation Planning Like A Boss

In 17 days, I and my partner will be sailing out of Fort Lauderdale on a 7-day Caribbean cruise and I will be entirely unreachable for the better part of 10 days including travel days.

When I was an individual contributor, this was fine; I made sure my work was handed off to someone, I made sure my tickets were up to date, and I told my boss I was going, and then I walked away. But now, I am the boss. There are things, including interfacing with the clients, that no one else on my team is even authorized to do by dint of corporate policy. Now, this isn't insurmountable; my boss knows I'm going to be unavailable, I'm getting everything lined up and squared away before I leave, and I'll be doing a handoff briefing before I leave.

But honestly, I now totally understand why sometimes managers have a tough time stepping away. There's a lot hanging over my head, and I definitely don't want it hanging over my team's head because they already have enough hanging ov…
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Nerdy Ninth: Novels of a Particular Sort

I have, as anyone who knows me can tell you, a penchant for reading (devouring, consuming, blazing through) Science Fiction novels. Other people enjoy big thick-brick-of-prose fantasy novels where there's a fight every third page and everyone eats a lot of stew. Some folk like reading about big spaceship battles where there's a lot of lasers and dogfighting and possibly some shooting at people and to be fair, I will often read those novels, too; I'm not trying to say you shouldn't. There's a lot of great work out there and almost all of it is worth reading for someone. But the books I really love, the ones I really sink my teeth into, are what I like to call the Political Manuvering Novels.

The PMNs are, on their face, not for everyone. Let's face it, the delicate maneuvering and internal monologues of various characters as they reason their way to a solution (or more often out of a sticky situation) do not, for most people, make a tense and gripping read, nor …

Core Competencies

We talk, and I mean A LOT, about what technical roles are and what is required to succeed as an individual contributor. Core Competencies: those things you must, MUST have in order to be good at whatever it is you're doing.

As an IC, anyway.

Managers... seem like a different matter. We know, in theory, what a good manager looks like, if only by pointing at our experiences with previous or current managers and saying "well, not that; whatever the opposite of that is." But negative space with regards to core competency isn't actually all that helpful. And a big piece of whether we think a manager is "good" or not boils down to "did I like this person, and did they appear to like me?" in the end. And while that's an important part of being a manager (and arguably an important part of being a good manager), it's probably not actually how we should be measuring.

I'm not as curious about what executives think makes a good manager, because th…

Nerdy Ninth: James Spader

So ages ago, my friend Curt rolled out the idea of "Nerdy Ninth", which is where we take the ninth day of the month every month to unabashedly talk positively about the things we like. It's a positive-feedback-only idea - no yucking other people's yum, and if you have something good to say, say it with enthusiasm. If the thing being discussed doesn't roll up your socks, then skip it; go play in your own sandbox if you wanna lay turds. I like it: it gives people the space to be positive about stuff, which sometimes in modern nerditry isn't something that happens often. It was a big thing on G+ for a while, and now that G+ is going away I'm going to try and drag that over into my own blog for a chance to talk about things in a positive way. So here's a Nerdy Ninth post to get started.

This month for Nerdy Ninth I'm going to go back to my roots and talking about something I like (in this case, someone):

James Spader.

James Spader has always been an odd…

Managing Difficulties.

The single biggest speedbump on my transition from Individual Contributor to Manager is the realization that I need to hire people that have skills that I don't have, but I'm not sure how to test for those skills to make sure I'm hiring correctly.

Listen, hiring is HARD. It's hard, y'all. Interviews are difficult and as far as I can tell don't actually give a good measure of how a person is going to react or what a person knows. Technical interviews can only do so much, especially when you're hiring for niche positions. Eventually, you just have to make a call and trust you do it right. Sometimes, you get to take a chance on someone who maybe doesn't exactly fit the background, but you like their spirit and you want to give them an opportunity and so you get a great self-learner who is eager for each task and really knows her shit and is working actively to learn more. And that's great!

And then sometimes you give into time pressure and you go with …

Jerome's 2018 in Review, for Posterity.

As I said in a tweet the other day, I thought about doing an end-of-year roundup but 2018 has been seventeen years long, so it felt like a lot of work. But really, It's only been 11 and a half months, and that shouldn't be so bad if I stick to the important points. I mean, sure, the world is boiling and the government is a tire fire of garbage and nobody can manage to get things pointed in the right direction, but what about the personal stuff? So that's what you get.

Right after New Year I started seriously taking classes for my bachelor's degree. Well, prerequisites for it, anyway; I've been attending classes at Portland Community College with the intention of transferring to Oregon State to finish up, mostly because they both had strong online class options. And boy, did I learn a LOT about myself in that first term. I took CS 120 (Computer Concepts), Math 75 (Remedial Algebra), and English 201 (Shakespeare's Early Plays). It doesn't sound like a lot, bu…

Occasional Media Consumption: Swordheart, by T. Kingfisher.

I'm not sure how to say what I want to say without saying it wrong.

I don't think I have been this excited for a new author's work since I was in the rapid process of discovering and then chewing through the back catalog of C.J. Cherryh, who at that point had just published Foreigner and grabbed me by my whiskers and screamed (metaphorically) "Look! Here is an author whose style of prose and choice of character speaks directly and entirely to you!" Or that moment in my high school years when I stumbled upon Melissa Scott's Trouble and Her Friends and I suddenly knew, with a certainty that has still not yet left me, that I wanted to be a part of the future (and the culture) of technology. And yet that's not fair, because T. Kingfisher, nee Ursula Vernon, is her own writer, her own voice, her own authorial person, and doesn't deserve to be compared to others.

To say that Kingfisher's prose style and choice of genre (which is to say, a particularly dar…