A Blog by Scott Isaacs

Month: August 2008

Family Pictures

Tomorrow we are having family pictures of sorts.  Actually, we are having an ultrasound.  Hopefully by mid-morning we’ll know if our next child will be a boy or girl.  Hopefully we will have full cooperation.

UPDATE: It looks like we will be having another daughter.  Due to a mix up with scheduling, though, we will get another chance to take a peek in a couple weeks.  Hopefully the ultrasound tech will get a clearer view then and not have to make her "best guess".

Finding Passion

Passion is elusive.  It’s sneaky and slippery.  It hides and taunts you.  For those lucky enough to have found it, you are truly fortunate.  For years now, I’ve been looking for something to be passionate about.  Something I could really devote myself to.  Something I would be willing to do even if I wasn’t being paid.

All this time, I’ve been looking in the wrong place.  I’ve been hunting passion at work; that’s not where it is.  I’ve tried devoting myself to the job, making sacrifices and working hard, but I always felt like something was missing.  It’s been such a struggle for me that I’ve seriously been thinking about finding a new career.  The problem is that I just don’t know what else to do.

As it turns out, the passion has been just off to the side, right in plain view, but not where I was looking.  I’ve always enjoyed working with the WI .NET Users Group and wished that I could do it for a living somehow.  Now while working on GiveCamp MKE, I think I’ve found the passion I’ve been looking for.  There’s something about organizing something with the sole purpose of benefiting someone else that satisfies me.

The really cool thing, though, is that once you find passion, you can take it with you where ever you go.  I can now feel passionate about work as well (working at a great company helps by the way).  Things are different all around once you’ve found passion.

If you are feeling unmotivated and complacent, keep looking.  Passion is there — just maybe not where you think it should be.  Maybe in a few months I’ll have to write about Maintaining Passion?  Let’s see how successful I can be at that.

RTLB #1: Always Assume Good Intentions

"Rules to Live By" (RTLB) is a new series that I will occasionally be writing here on my blog.  Like every other professional, in every other field, over the years I’ve picked up a lot of things that make my life easier, both professionally and personally.  Most of these things can be summarized in a sentence or two, and I’ve decided to call them Rules to Live By (original, I know).  As much as any other reason, they are here to remind myself of things that I’ve decided to believe in, even if I don’t feel like it one day.

Without further ado, I present RTLB #1:

Always assume good intentions.

This one is not always easy, but I’ve found myself doing this for many years, and it has become second nature.  If I find myself in the situation where someone says or does something that could be offensive in some way, I stop and think, "They didn’t mean it the way it came out."

Most people aren’t intentionally mean-spirited.  Sure, some people are just rude, arrogant, selfish morons, but that is rare.  It is unlikely that they meant to offend me with that comment or action.  There is almost definitely some circumstance I am not aware of that is causing this.  Almost always it is a miscommunication somewhere along the way, on my end or theirs, or both. 

Yes, sometimes it’s my own fault.

Realizing this, it helps keep me from getting unnecessarily angry and reacting in a way that makes things worse, or from sitting and grumbling silently to myself or peers.  Staying calm and humble by assuming the problem is very possibly my own fault, I can often approach the person and work through whatever issues there are, and in the end, we are all happy.

So there you have it, Rule to Live By #1.  I welcome any comments or feedback.  If you have your own rules to live by, I’d love to hear about them.

Curly Brace Placement

I’ve been writing code with curly braces for a dozen years or so, starting with C++ in college, then JavaScript for many, many years, and for the last few years, C#.  In all that time, I have been a fan of putting the opening curly brace on the same line as the declaration or control statement.  For example:

private void DoSomething() {    // ...    if (somecondition) {        myval = true;    }    // ...}

At work, though, I have been working on someone else’s code, and I always try as much as possible change my coding style to match the existing code.  In this case, that means opening curly braces get their own line, like so:

private void DoSomething() {    // ...    if (somecondition)     {        myval = true;    }    // ...}

I find that I’m actually starting to prefer the "new line" option.  But I don’t want to prefer it!  I guess maybe I’m stubborn.

I agree that it is easier to visually match opening and closing braces this way, but VS2008 does that for me anyway with clever highlighting.  Also, I don’t like how much extra room is taken in my editor window.  I like whitespace, but this seems to put it in the wrong place for me.

Sigh.  What’s a poor developer to do?

What’s your preference and why?

GiveCamp MKE

I’m very excited to announce that we are planning the first ever GiveCamp in the Milwaukee area: GiveCamp MKE.  In fact, it’s one of the first GiveCamps anywhere.

"What’s a GiveCamp?", you ask.  In short, it is an opportunity for developers, designers, DBAs, project managers and anyone else involved in the software development process to give back to the community.  And we do it by doing what we know how to do best — building software.  We will soon be accepting applications from various charities for software that they need.  It could be anything from a website to a data collection app to a mailing list manager or anything else.  For more information about the whole GiveCamp concept, and to see what other communities have had (or are planning) GiveCamps, please visit the official GiveCamp site.

We’ve been putting a lot of time into this over the last couple weeks, but we’re still not quite there.  Please bear with us as we continue to finalize things, including the website itself as well as more info about the GiveCamp MKE event.  Rest assured that we will be making regular updates to the GiveCamp MKE site, so please check it often or subscribe to the RSS feed to make sure you don’t miss anything.  I’m sure I will also post major updates here as well.

I am very excited about this, and how things are shaping up.  Remember that conference call I wrote about a couple weeks ago?  That was about this.  I just wish I could put all of the things I want to say into words tonight before I fall asleep, but that might take me a couple hours.  :)  So keep checking back here and at the GiveCamp MKE site, and I’ll eventually get it all out there.

If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to let me know, or to use the contact form on the GiveCamp MKE site.

Four Eyes

I’m wearing glasses now and I don’t know how I feel about that.  I have nothing against glasses.  In fact, I prefer when my wife wears her glasses over her contacts.  I just don’t know how I feel about having them on my own face.

I only need to wear them, for the most part, when I’m working (close range, eye strain, etc.).


I should make sure I keep that roll of masking tape nearby, just in case…

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