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Explaining Race Conditions to Non Programmers

Explaining Race Conditions to Non Programmers

A few weeks ago, I was down in Columbus at a coffee shop. This place happened to have a bathroom which needed a key to use. I went to the counter to ask for the key because mother nature called, but the key was nowhere to be found. Somebody was already in the bathroom and had the key with them.

No problem, I stood outside the bathroom door and soon enough, a gentleman appeared. In a knowing manner, he offered me the key. In moment of self admiration for my wit, I declined the key. I grabbed the door before it shut. We both smiled, both knowing that I was fine getting in the bathroom without the key.

I felt proud of my efficiency. I didn’t need to hold up use of the key. As a sat down – “things were put into motion which could not be undone” as Gandolf would say. But, it was only then that I realized this bathroom didn’t have stalls. I was exposed.

This was a race condition waiting to happen….

At any minute, somebody could walk in and I was trapped. The key was now happily laying on counter with the Baristas. Any unknowing customer could grab key and head toward the bathroom.

This had all the making of a classic race condition in programming – self admiring wit, gloating thoughts of efficiency, and a lack of foresight.

So, the next time you use a public bathroom which needs a key, remember to take the key. For those of you that do program, remember to do proper file locking, or lock management in a distributed system.

Remember the bathroom rule!!!

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Body Hacking – While Being a Road Warrior

Body Hacking – While Being a Road Warrior

I recently read Road Warriors – Healthy Tips for Staying ‘On Plan’ by Steve Katasi and thought it was really good. We have developed a lot of the same strategies. I wanted to point people towards it and add a few additions:

  • 1.1: Snacks: there are a TON of good options for protein bars, and powders. Also, many gas stations have Muscle Milk or other protein drinks. Just pay attention to nutrition labels. A lot of them are more junk than food. Remember macros, macros, macros.
  • 2.2: Make Hotel Gym a Must Have Criteria: Calisthenics can be done at any gym. There are progressive overload techniques for calisthenics, so for a day or two trip, this can work.
  • 2.3: Better Still – Access to Commercial Gym: I would go a step further than Steve does. Not only are external gyms better equipped, they can be destinations in and of themselves. I love working out in other countries. Japan, Belgium, and Czech Republic have all been extremely interesting – each country has it’s own gym culture. Also, many major cities have amazing old school gyms. In Dallas once, I went to Doug’s Gym (see picture) – it was an old gym opened in the 70s after the owner won the lottery. It reminded me of Rocky I. Find an awesome gym, it’s totally motivational.
  • 2.4: Lower Workout Expectations: I don’t completely agree on this one. Generally, I find having a keel to your workout programming helps keep you on track. For me, that is Wendler 5/3/1. I also have days for conditioning, Yoga, running, and other accessory work. I prefer to program the flexibility into my routine. Then, when traveling it makes it easier to stay on the program. Even a 20-30 minute run mixed in can help, bu that’s part of my program. I don’t recommend lowering your expectation, I recommend having harder and lighter days. Count the travel days as lighter days in the program.
  • 5.4 Avoid Crappy Sandwiches: I COMPLETELY disagree with this point. Food is Protein, Carbohydrates, and Fat. While, I can absolutely feel it when I eat high glycemic index foods (I can feel the hunger strike harder), this is nothing more than an optimization. Also, when you eat a sandwich, just drink a protein shake, and maybe a high fiber bar (there are plenty). As long as you mix a high protein source and some fiber (which is a carb), you will feel fine and be totally fine. Also, there is NO evidence that Gluten is universally inflammatory. In fact, it’s recommended that you should eat gluten, unless you are sensitive to it. Read more here and here.
  • 5.4: Good Protein – Rich Breakfast: Again, a mix of science and fact. I absolutely agree that breakfast is the meal to get things going in the right direction and in fact, it’s the best one to start with a strong protein macro count. That said, there is NO factual evidence that skipping it matters for calorie control. That is a myth. In fact, the latest science basically says that meal timing is irrelevant. Three medium sized meals, five, small meals, 47 tiny snacks. It all works. See more here and here.

My few disagreements aside, I think his article has some really great tips and tricks…. Good luck, and keep hacking…

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Netflix – Technology Wizards or Good Content?

I love the content they produce like Orange is the New Black, Narcos, Stranger Things, and House of Cards. But, remember back to before Netflix produced this content? They were struggling with subscribers, under attack from cable companies, and their future looked very, very uncertain. So, how did they turn the ship around?

They started producing their own content. And, let’s be clear – software engineering at Netflix did not make that decision. This is a quintessential “business decision.” This was a decision to create value for their market – people who watch content through the Internet. They were a content distributor and they decided to enter an adjacent market – content creation.

Yet, time and time again Netflix is referenced as some kind of technology wizards, contributing the OSS Stack, moving to the cloud for almost everything, hiring only the best and the brightest.

They are held in high regard for “disrupting” the cable industry – but, for the wrong reasons. It’s not their technology that is their differentiated value proposition to the market. It is their cunning move to create content akin to HBO. At the same time, this places them in a stronger position to negotiate better contracts for their distribution business.

I would argue that they have succeeded, not because of their technology, but despite it. Their end user experience is rather lacking, yet they keep attracting and retaining subscribers. Here’s a few examples.

1. They finally, just recently added the ability to download movies and watch them offline. Even now, not all content can be downloaded, even some they produced, which makes no sense to me. Google Play and Amazon Prime have had this since almost the beginning of their service, yet nobody hails them as some great innovators.

2. It takes forever when you rewind or fast-forward. Again, Google Play and Amazon Prime both have smoother, better experiences.

3. Subtitles get blocked when the video is paused. Something thst is just really annoying when the reason that you paused it is so that you can read it slower.

So, the next time you hear somebody call Netflix a technology company, just quote their own CEO:

We spend money more like a media company than a tech company

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Wisdom in Primates – The Four Branches

Wisdom in Primates – The Four Branches

Have you ever looked over at someone and seen them doing some fairly impressive physical or mental feat? You might day to yourself, wow, I don’t know if I can do that?

The other day, I was taking a yoga class, and I noticed a new student next to me bending all the way down until her elbows were touching the ground. I thought to myself, she doesn’t seem to have a lot of experience doing yoga. In fact, she seemed somewhat uncoordinated. I was kind of impressed. I thought to myself, ahh to be young again.

When you’re young, you just “do” stuff. You are either able to do it or you’re not, but you have the urge to try it. Let’s do backflips off the 20ft bridge into the water below. Let’s ride 50 miles. Let’s hike 20 miles. No problem, when you’re young, life just kinda happens.

As you age, you might become more sophisticated in your analysis. When you see something cool that you want to try, you might come to any of the following conclusions:

  1. I have never been able to do that and will most likely never be able to do it in the future either.
  2. I used to be able to that when I was younger, but I can’t do that anymore. I will probably never be able to do it that again.
  3. I used to be able to do that when I was younger, but I can’t do that anymore. I might be able to do that again, if I focus, and move like a plant.
  4. I can do that now and execute it like a tiger.

So, the next time you see somebody doing something cool and you kinda want to try it, put it in one of the four branches. Move like a plant, or move like a tiger, but may you never confuse the two. Bring clarity to your mind and consciously choose the path of the plant or the tiger. Pluck the strawberry and eat it…

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A Reflection on Travel and Learning in 2016

A Reflection on Travel and Learning in 2016

From a travel and learning perspective, this was one of the best years of my life. I did a ton of travel which I never dreamed would have been possible.  I have always loved cities and I continue to love exploring them, but this year, I started to get out into nature mo read more

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