Enter Nerdy Fun Person

I wanted to provide a little background on myself, for perspective. Besides it’s my blog anyway. I recently did another MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) to help me better understand my personality preference and why I do some things the way I do. This was not some online personality thing, it was done by a certified MBTI instructor. My personality preference is ENFP (Extraversion-Intuition-Feeling-Percieving) with this short summary:

Warmly enthusiastic and imaginative. See life as full of possibilities. Make connections between events and information very quickly, and confidently proceed based on the patterns they see. Want a lot of affirmation from others, and readily give appreciation and support. Spontaneous and flexible, often rely on their ability to improvise and their verbal fluency. http://tinyurl.com/2ed46n

While that is a good starting point, there are few other points that go deeper into who I am (taken from the MBTI book):

ENFPs are innovators, initiating project and directing great energy into getting them underway. - Check (finishing them is another matter entirely)

ENFPs value harmony and goodwill. - Check

ENFPs hate routine, schedules, and structure and usually manage to avoid them. - Check

If ENFPs do not find a place where they can use their gifts and be appreciated for their contributions, they usually feel frustrated and may become scattered, fail to follow through on decisions, become rebellious, excessively nonconforming and ignore deadlines and procedures. - Check (been there, done that)

[ENFPs] Overextend themselves – have trouble saying no to interesting possibilities and people. – Check, Check

Under great stress, ENFPs may become overwhelmed by detail and lose their normal perspective and sense of options. They tend to focus on an unimportant of distorted detail, letting it become the central fact of their universe. - and Check

If nothing else I hope this sheds a little more light on who I am as far as personality preference. All of those things I listed I have experienced or done at one time or another and I have the t-shirts to prove it.

“Enough about me, let’s talk about me.” – Johnny Bravo

Just kidding, I couldn’t resist throwing that quote in (YouTube for those not aware of JB).

I have often found myself trying to de-busy my life, I have in fact blogged about that already. I like new challenges and I like to help people out when I can, and I have just starting figuring out the concept of the “No” word. It’s hard for me to say no to people, especially because sometimes I feel like I am hurting them in some way by turning them down. While the vast majority of the time that isn’t true, as Popeye would say “I am what I am”. This also means I tend to do a lot of stuff at once. Like right now I am working two jobs, going to ASU 3/4 time (9 credits), directing music/praise team at my church, raising two amazing girls with another on the way and falling back in love with my wife every day.

Some people ask me, “How can you possibly enjoy living like that?” or “How do you find time for your family?”. I have reached a point where my life is in balance and I try to avoid things that upset that balance. Elise can attest to the fact that over the last 12 months have I turned down more website contracts than I have taken on. It is so nice to finally be able to do that. Could I do even less, probably. Do I want to right now? Nope, because I feel valued and affirmed in all of those areas of my life right now and that is important to me.

Part of this current busy-ness (ever notice that word is like business, LOL) has a greater purpose. Elise and I also recently went through Dave Ramsey’s 13-week Financial Peace University. I, more so than my wife, have made a lot of bad financial decisions in my life that have amounted to a staggering debt load that we are currently working to pay off. For my generation credit cards are like candy. If I didn’t have one, I wanted one, if there was a better flavor, I wanted it. The credit card industry had me in this daze of instant gratification and “free” money. Turns out that money isn’t free, fyi.

I can relate to the current crisis in our government because I lived like that for almost 10 years, WAY outside my means. Elise and I had been working to get a handle on it about a year before this FPU class. We had stabilized our finances and found a way to pay what we owed and still be able to eat. I am in college to provide better opportunities for my family in the future and to better myself (deadlines and schedules and all that). I am working a second job to find peace in the fact that someday very soon, we won’t owe anyone another nickel of the money God chooses to bless us with and we will be able to give even more than we give now. That is hugely important to Elise and I. We want to provide a better future for our kids and a future where debt is not the answer; hard work, personal responsibility and common sense are. “Normal is broke”, we don’t want to be normal anymore so we have chosen to “Live like no one else, so that later, we can live like no one else.”

For more information on Dave Ramsey, Financial Peace University or The Great Recovery, check out www.daveramsey.com

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Facebook Integration

Wow, it’s been a while (more on that later). I have found myself with a renewed interest in my own website, go figure, and decided to see what fancy things I could do with it. Other than getting most of it working again as it collected much dust and bugs I wanted to delve into the world of Facebook integration. For you non-programmers out there Facebook has this cool thing called the “Open Graph Protocol” that allows developers and other crazy coders like me to hook into Facebook with a website or mobile app, etc. Turns out this is really quite easy with a site like this. The only thing I really had to do was get an AppID from Facebook, install a plug-in from the WordPress community and viola, “Like” buttons everywhere. The coolest part is that once people (yes you) start using them it will generate recommendations in the side bar based on what people like. Very cool stuff.

For those that are curious I am using the Facebook Like Button and Facebook Comments for WordPress.

Edit (8/26/11): I have since quit using the comments plug-in, it just wasn’t for me. I would still recommend it if that is what you are looking for.

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I was thinking today about stuff I’d like to actually blog about, and since this is what I do for a living right now, I thought I would start with something easy. Programming. Yeah, yeah, easy for me, right? Basically, I sit in front of a computer all day and make it do my bidding. Don’t worry, I only use my powers for good (right now anyway, muahahaa!).

The project I am on and have been on for the last several years runs north of half a million lines of code across 23 projects right now and I am one of two people that actively work on it. At this point, you could go over and browse through Dilbert strips (www.dilbert.com) and probably begin to understand about 90% of what I do on a day-to-day basis. Really, I’m not lying about the Dilbert thing.

There are a lot of aspects to what I do. For most projects we get a set of requirements from marketing/sales/support that detail out what needs to be added, editing and/or removed from the next release of software. In this case I would then take that requirements document and spend a week or two writing up a “Software Technical Specification” that outlines and details what we are, and are not, going to do to meet those requirements. This includes mocking up new screens are showing changes to existing screens along with talking about what work is involved, what code will need to be changed and sometimes, how long I think it will take. Estimation is a big part of what I do. Everybody always wants to know how long I think it will take to do something, then when they think that is too much time they ask what can we pull out to get this by X date and we negotiate back and forth till everyone is happy-ish. But I digress, this tech specs tend to be anywhere from 10 pages to 50+ pages (yes I have personally written a document that is over 50 pages long). The spec goes through a review/negotiation process, some rewrites, screen shot tweaks, more review, rinse, lather, repeat as desired.

Once the spec is given the okay then we write the code. This part is the most fun for me and generally the smallest part of the product release. We write the code, update unit tests, update the build system and then roll a release candidate to quality assurance (QA). Now, unit tests are small, focused tests that exercise specific pieces of the code and make sure that from build to build we developers didn’t break any core functionality in the software. The build system is like a computer based assembly line, code goes in one end and the thing you install on your PC comes out the other.

Once QA gets it they/we decide on which test scripts they will use to exercise the changes that were made and then they go off and test our fixes and changes. Generally speaking, these changes either work or they don’t. If new issues are found because of a change then we update the tests, fix the code and go around again. We do this process until we are satisfied with the result.

I want to take a moment and make something very clear to those that don’t live in the software development world. ALL software has bugs. ALL software companies know about some or all of said bugs before each release. ALL software companies knowingly release software with known issues/bugs in them. It’s the nature of the beast. Hopefully what I just said wasn’t like the time when you found out the Tooth Fairy wasn’t real. Sorry, that’s just how it is. Software development is an iterative process. Granted some software companies are better about making sure that they don’t release with major defects and that the product only ships with bugs that happen if you stick out your tongue, sit on the keyboard, turn your monitor sideways and happens to be on the fourth Tuesday during a full moon. Most people won’t see these types of bugs, those that do are generally offered workarounds or patches that take care of the situation until the next release.

Moving on down the process, after QA generally comes BETA. The “B” word. This is where you get either your most cranky customer or some of your best customers to take it upon themselves to install this new software upon their systems so that it can get some real world use. BETA feedback is gathered and new issues or workarounds are addressed and we either go around again or we move on to final release.

Pretty much at this point, my involvement as a major player in the project ends. Change orders are made, lost, rejected, remade, reviewed and so on. Once production is ready for it they ramp up and get everything in place and we wait for the release date. By this point we are generally deep into the process on another project or the next release and we go around again. Like the circle of life, only with 1′s and 0′s.

My colleagues and fellow programmers will probably note that have greatly over simplified the entire process because they want more details. That’s how engineers are. I was a film/marketing/web guy first, then I got converted to the dark side. I like to think I can still cross back over into the light but there are times when I am reminded that I am also an engineer. If you enjoyed my take on programming check out www.joelonsoftware.com, Joel is a guy who has been through it all and still wants to write software. He is quite enjoyable to read. Check out Dilbert, too, seriously, it’s scary sometimes.

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a traffic story

I was driving down the 51 this past Sunday morning, on my way to church, with my dear girls & saw a cop car behind me. Now, that doesn’t make me nervous. I do a quick check of my speed & pay a bit more attention to when I am using my turn signals. I do not slow down to EXACTLY the speed limit (or below!), if a cop decides to pull me over only going 5 over the speed limit, then so be it. I am choosing to drive over the posted speed limit, so I have to own that. Usually the cars who suddenly recognize a cop car behind them do upset me (I don’t see the need to suddenly drive so stupidly), but most of the cars were already behind the cop. So, when I first saw the cop, I said “grr” in my head (just a little one), BUT then I was actually happy because for once, there was NOT that one or two cars going 90 mph on a 65 mph freeway! Those people really make me nervous! The death & destruction that can happen at those speeds! I have serious doubts as to whether there is an actual ‘NEED’ to drive at that speed at that time of day. (11 am or so on a Sunday morning).

I would seriously love to do a full tirade against the “stupid drivers” out and about in this city. But, I know that I don’t drive the safest in all the world. Also, I have read two very good blogs about traffic & the crazy-ness of it all. Check them out!

One is my friend Rodger’s blog. View it HERE

The other is a friend of my friend’s blog. View John’s blog HERE

I’ve been seriously thinking about these two blogs & what I could add. I can’t really add that much. There are definitely people who I’d like to “tire iron” (which is just a joke, by the way! in case you didn’t catch that!). I really have to agree with John’s blog, though. We get in our cars & start driving. Suddenly, the “people” are gone  and we see them as “machines” only, instead of seeing a person in a rush, having a bad day & just wants to get home, etc. We make many excuses for people that we see out & about, while we are physically around them, but we do not allow the same excuses for people who are driving. It seems sometimes that common courtesy is dead.

Though, not all common courtesy is dead. I am a stay-at-home mom during the week & as such, I take my kids out & about pretty often. Usually we just walk around Target or other grocery stores. My sister-in-law is also a stay-at-home mom, so we meet up quite often (our kids get along well & we live close to each other). When we meet up, with our kids, they often start spinning in the aisles. (Hey, if I was around 5 years old, I would too!) Well, they are children & don’t always pay attention to where other people are around them & they block the aisle. Most of the time (about 95% of the time), we apologize to the person or people that were held up because of the children, and they don’t get upset. There has been a couple of people who actually have grimaced & given dirty looks! Our children don’t go screaming down the aisles, they move out of the way fairly quickly, and we apologize. Plus, the kids are 5 YEARS OLD AND YOUNGER!!!! Children deserve to have some fun!

Another example of common courtesy still alive (and chivalry, too!) is this: I am a professional juggler (sorta). I have one child that pretty much rides my hip & I carry too much stuff (according to thetallone), plus making sure theblondeone stays within arm’s reach. I’m pretty good at “juggling” all this, at the same time. Often, I will have people hold a door open for me. Usually I don’t need the help (theblondeone is a pretty good door-opener), but I appreciate it, anyway! It is nice to know there are people out there who lend a helping hand to those around them.

I think everyone should have to take a “defensive driving” course every couple of years. I had been stopped by a cop a number of years ago & took the defensive driving course to take care of the ticket. I actually learned quite a bit more about how to drive more safely than I had been. When I was talking with my husband about it afterward, he knew most of the stuff that I had just learned (that I hadn’t know before) because he had taken a Sears driving course when he was 15 or 16. It really seems to me that if more people drove defensively instead of offensively, we would all be a lot safer! The dangers of driving more than 20 miles over the speed limit, cutting people off, tailgating, etc.; do they really add up to an outcome that is beneficial to anyone? I like driving fast as much as the next person, but not to compromise my safety and the safety of others around me.

I was glad to not have more nervous feelings about driving (not my favorite activity, I view it more of a means to an end) that morning. I would like to thank the people out there who still practice courtesy to the people around them. Lend a helping hand, today, Pay It Forward! I also want to thank all of the DPS, cops, sheriffs, and other law enforcement officers. I know there are a few bad apples out there, but this city is a MUCH safer place with all of their dedication and sacrifice. THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

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bad days = lame

—Haven’t posted in awhile (actually slacking on my goal!), but I finally finished writing out this one I’ve been working on for a bit. :)—

I don’t like bad days. I think that someone who has battled depression has a more difficult time keeping a bad day confined to one day. {I battled depression for quite a few years. I used both counseling & meds to help me get to “my” normal. I am currently still on anti-depressant/anti-anxiety meds.} It takes effort to keep the bad day in it’s place. Sometimes it even takes force of will to get out of the mindset that turns the bad day into two or three, or even more bad days. Just like in relationships, you can get stuck in a rut. Stuck in a certain mindset, an attitude, a “bad day.” When you’ve reached the 2nd bad day in a row, then you have a problem. That’s when you realize that something else has to be done or changed. Now comes your moment of truth, do you take the energy, time & effort to get out of the rut? Or do you stay, mired in the muck of your bad couple of days? In my world, it’s a tough choice to make. The lazy choice is to stay in your mucky bad days. The healthier choice is to make the change to have a better day tomorrow. I choose a better day, chose the same and we can BOTH have a better day!

There are only two good things about bad days. One is that they do pass on, eventually. Good days do arrive again, but the time-frame of when that happens depends upon how much help you seek in getting out of those bad days. The 2nd good thing about bad days is that everyone has them! If they say that they don’t, they are lying. J Everyone has a bad day now & then. People even have bad weeks. But, if you often find yourself having a bad weeks, get help! Depression is not something that can be fought alone. Some people (like me) need meds to control it. Others only need counseling. Still other need a combination of the two! Neither meds nor counseling are paths to be ashamed off. I personally put stock in both, since I have had counseling a number of times, and am on anti-depressant meds. Help is out there, you just have to look for it, seek it out, and accept it.

Not everyone actually has “clinical depression.” I understand this, so I am including some tips that work for my bad days that I have even on meds. : )

  1. Laugh! I think this is one of the things that helps me the most. You get around the person who always seems to find a way to make you laugh, even when you don’t want to. Also, I like to add in some of my favorite funny movies. Any laugh = a good laugh!
  2. Talk to people. The conversation doesn’t have to be about what you are feeling, or going through. People need people. I sometimes wish that wasn’t true, but it is! Get around the people you think of as “your people” and hang! Bask in their presence.
  3. Do something for someone else. Listen to their problems. Take their dog for a walk. Something that you don’t “feel” like doing, but you know will make the other person happy. It’s much harder to be depressed when you are serving others.
  4. Do an activity that usually makes you feel satisfied/fulfilled as a person. When you spend time being you, it’s easier to ignore the “feeling” of not being yourself.
  5. Pray, sing, talk to God (if you believe in Him). He loves to hear from you, even when you are down. I always remember the “Footprints in the Sand” poem as well. When someone is depressed, they feel very alone. God is always there! : )

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