• OSDC -- Meeting of the pro geeks

    On Wednesday and Thursday, I'll be in Nuremberg again for this year's Open Source Datacenter Conference. It has a great lineup, for example:

    • Kris Buytaert, Devops evangelist and fellow Drupalista
    • Kristian Köhntopp, with whom I shared an employer and still share the pleasure of drinking whisky
    • Kenny Gryp and Alexey Kopytov from the MySQL experts at Percona
    • Olivier Renault, cloud computing engineer at Eucalyptus

    And it looks like my Chef presentation at OSDC 2011 was well-received enough for host Netways to have me take part again, this time to talk about organizing IT teams with the Kanban method. Thanks, guys!

    I'm already excited and can't wait to get on the train on Tuesday. Not only will this be an amazing source of inspiration and knowledge. It's meeting all those great minds in person and reuniting with former colleagues like Kris, Peter and Martin (Andy: a pity that you won't be there) what I'll enjoy the most.

  • Putting my money where my mouth is

    day in the life: lunch money

    The Iron Blogger Freiburg initiative made me realize how much an incentive the threat of losing money can be. Basically, it’s a bet against myself that I can write at least one blog post a week. Which I do at this precise moment, once again only a few hours before the deadline.

    So, recently I had the idea of betting against myself in another area I’ve made much less progress than I’d like to admit: losing weight. Of course, I know all the benefits of not being overweight by heart and I appreciate them. So I tried time and time again, but eventually I always lost my discipline and gained back the little I had been able to shed.

    This changed a few weeks ago when I decided to literally put my money where my mouth is: Yes, I want to lose at least 10kg, and yes, I’m going to pay cash if I fail. It works like this: I set a new weight goal at the beginning of the month and for every kilo I’m off at its end, I pay 20€ to my partner. Since the difference is always rounded up to the next full kilo, missing my goal by only 100g means handing over 20€.

    Lo and behold: Suddenly, I’m steadily losing weight (4kg so far)! Between losing money and missing a few sugary pleasures, I choose the latter. And since I’m setting realistic goals (2kg per month at the moment), I still have fun eating.

    Looks like if the motivational carrot just isn’t enough, I need to find the right stick.

  • Drink!

    Father Jack Hacket

    It looks as if the Iron Blogger Freiburg initiative really was able to breathe some life into the blogs of our small group of spare-time writers!

    Money is quite an incentive, I’ve come to learn. The impending “fine” of 4€ for missing the entry deadline on Monday morning makes sure that on Sunday evening at the latest, I force myself to launch my writing software. It’s been only two times now that I didn’t deliver; one time I spent the weekend in Rome and last weekend, I’ve been far to knackered to still write coherent sentences.

    With Carolin and Heather, who both turned themselves in unsolicitedly for missing the deadline, we’ve now an open account of 16€ for the tab on our first meetup.

    Speaking of meetup: Heather is going to visit Freiburg in May or June. Will we have accumulated a tidy sum until then? Anyone else who wants to clear their concience? ;-)

  • I bought the Steve Jobs book

    And it actually is an interesting read. I had listened to the older biography by Steven S. Young when I started my Audible subscription in 2006 but can’t remember much. The Isaacson book refreshes my memory and gives me a good overview on Jobs' development as a person.

    But that’s not what I want to talk about. I’m reading “Steve Jobs” in its ebook form. Last year, I decided to buy my books only in digital form, if possible; either as ebooks or as audiobooks. And there are many people that find that peculiar. I don’t.

    Digital books are so much more comfortable. When I find a reference to an interesting read, it takes me only a few seconds to get it onto my Kindle or my iPhone. Then, I can “read” a book via my earbuds while I’m walking into city centre (which helps greatly with losing weight). And with 4 or more unread books on my Kindle, I get to choose spontaneously if I want to read a sci-fi novel, a book about IT operations processes or something else. Regardless of where I am — at home, on the train, on a plane, in a street cafe in Rome.

    “But what about the experience? The haptic feeling of holding a book and turning pages?” I’ll let Marco Arment answer that with a quote from his article “Do you have the paperback or the hardcover?”:

    Many people romanticize the experience of reading a printed book, but I just don’t get it. When I start reading, the form of the book quickly disappears. Just as I don’t notice the individual letters in each word, I stop noticing the layout, the font, the paper, the binding, and every other physical artifact because I’m focused on the writing.

    It’s the same with me. When I focus on the writing, its delivery vanishes into the background. So, not only do I not judge a book by its cover, but I also don’t care about its medium. It’s the content that matters. Only the content. And once you define a book as what’s between the title and the end page, there’s no need to differentiate the medium any more. As Marco puts it:

    Since I don’t think the distinction matters, I rarely need to say “I bought the Steve Jobs book in iBooks,” or “I bought the Steve Jobs book on my Kindle.” I just say, “I bought the Steve Jobs book.”

    It’s not important in what form you get your reading material. It’s only important that you read.

  • Family First

    Founding my own business has proven to be a very fulfilling venture, but it’s also very time-intensive. Balancing my professional duties with the responsibilities of a father and partner actually is a challenge every day.

    Over the years, I had many opportunities to experience how much the support of my family means to me. That’s why I follow Gary V’s advice in “Crush It” (which, by the way, did immensely influence me) and chose “Family First” as my rule number one.

    Now, how do I put this rule into practice? The article “Manifesto for a Freelancer with a Family” on FreelanceFolder has a great answer with which I agree wholeheartedly! Author Brian McDaniel makes the following declarations, adding to each some concrete guidelines:

    • My Family Will Always Come First
    • I Will Keep My Marriage Healthy
    • I Will Pour Myself into My Children
    • I Will Keep Myself Healthy and Sane

    I think having these principles really helps in making the right decisions and achieving something like “work/family balance” (I don’t like the term “work/life balance” since I regard my work an essential part of my life). That’s why I copied the Manifesto into my “Important Notes” folder and reread it from time to time.

    I have to admit that there are still some points I’m struggling with, for example with “Be present. Not just physically, but completely present, even when I’m working.” because it seems to conflict with my very focused working style.

    Since I know from experience that working as an employee can be as taxing on your family life as is working for your own business, I recommend reading Brians article to every professional that has (or intends to found) a family.