February, 2010

One Week of Bike Commuting

Sun Feb 28, 2010 11:15:02 am by Dustin
Filed under Fun, General, Health, Payroll, a little about life

Ever since my man vs boat experience, I have been a bit reluctant to ride a bike in Vancouver. I figure I need to face my fears and get out there.

I bought a bike and started bike commuting. I might be the only person dumb enough to take a bike from Vancouver to downtown Portland, but I have never been much for fitting in. Actually, I do not ride the entire 11 miles. I grab the Yellow Line in North Portland.

I get a Tri-met pass for work, so minus the cost of the bike, my commute is now free. Woohoo.

Going over the Interstate Bridge in the rain, wind, and dark is less than my favorite activity in the world. Otherwise, I enjoy my commute better than sitting in traffic.

Next step, move back to Portland.

Refactoring (Book Review)

Thu Feb 18, 2010 8:35:20 pm by Dustin
Filed under Book Review, General, Software

*This is a technical post. Ye be warned.*

Full Title: Refactoring: Improving the Design of Existing Code by Martin Fowler
ISBN: 978-0-201-48567-7
Get it cheap.


As people change code – changes to realize short-term goals or changes made without a full comprehension of the design of the code – the code loses its structure… Refactoring is rather like tidying up the code.

As this quote explains, refactoring code is necessary. A single feature may disregard high level architecture. The sales department may set a deadline rushing implementation while ignoring long-term development issues. For these reasons, we occasionally (or continuously) clean our code.

This book was kind enough to outline a couple dozen quick refactoring types (name this, move that, etc). When these tips are combined, they create a more solid code base.

What I thought: My career has put me in a position where I have seen many types of projects. Good architecture, bad architecture, good architecture with bad code, etc. In all cases, an occasional clean-up is helpful. I enjoyed this book because it put the examples out there for ‘Spring Clean’ partaking. There were a couple of ‘well duh’ instances, but a nice reference indeed.

Good enough to make the migration to my desk at work.

Packers’ Big Audacious Goals

Sat Feb 13, 2010 11:17:53 am by Dustin
Filed under Dealing with People, General

In James Collins’ Build to Last, he outlines what he calls Big Hairy Audacious Goals, a principle for setting goals so outrageous they are rarely met or even believed to be obtainable. These companies than go after them or die trying. A couple successful examples:

  • Boeing – After WWII, they entered the commercial jet engine market by making the 707. For a company who primarily created military aircrafts, they had no experience in the commercial market. Additionally, this market was not thought to ever need jets.
  • GE – Be # 1 or 2 in every market they enter or get out of the market.
  • Microsoft – A computer in every home.
  • Google – Organize the world’s data.

Easy accomplishments, huh? Not much to it? You could imagine a large amount of motivation once some momentum is behind it.

The same philosophy could be applied to a football franchise. Obviously, any team goes into a season to win the Super Bowl. But that is not enough. A team could destroy its long-term potential with such a short-term goal.

The Green Bay Packers have had their glory days – the 30s and 60s and a burp in the 90s. Shortly after the leagues merged, they have been considered the team that was.

Well I am going to single handedly change that. Are you ready? I hope Mike and Ted are listening because here are my BHAGs:

  • Ten Consecutive Division Titles – No more losing to the most hated rivals.
  • Undefeated at Home – Bring back the times when nobody came to Lambeau to win.
  • Undefeated in the Division – Yes, I realize these last two will give them 12 win seasons automatically.
  • Four Super Bowl Titles – During the ten years of division titles, four should take them all the way.

Achieving these goals should not only prove the Pack is the greatest team of all time (new and old) but also build a system that is build to last. A system with gears turning past the current administration and players.

My First Super Bowl Ad

Tue Feb 9, 2010 11:16:55 am by Dustin
Filed under Dealing with People, General, Payroll, Tools and Tricks, a little about life

Many of you probably watched the Super Bowl last Sunday. You also probably watched the commercials. To throw out some shameless self promotion, I had the pleasure of being apart of one of those ads. Ok, it was not me directly. Although I do enjoy Doritos and not wearing my Dockers.

In the third quarter Google had an ad. You can watch it below. They called it Parisian Love. Between seconds 36 and 40 search of ‘AA 120′ is made (a flight number). This referenced my employer, FlightStats.

There has been a ton of chatter in our office the last couple days, but in general we are all really excited. One of our marketing people said he would never be able to top an accidental Super Bowl ad appearance – career over.

I do have to say it is nice working for a team and product with such high credentials.

The Next 100 Years (Book Review)

Tue Feb 2, 2010 9:25:23 am by Dustin
Filed under Book Review, Defending the Flag, General

Full Title: The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century by George Friedman
ISBN: 978-0-385-51705-8
Get it cheap.

Summary: This book projects the economical and geopolitical future of the next 100 years. Friedman’s goal is demonstrate who will dominate this realm and where the USA will fit into the picture.

Domination in this area comes down to who will control world trade. Achieving trade supremacy can happen in two ways: 1) being so impeccably awesome everybody needs to trade with you (unlikely to be sustainable in the short or long terms) or 2) control the world oceans militarily and thus pressuring other countries (very possible).

A world power needs control over the Pacific and the Atlantic. The other oceans will fall into place thereafter. Both oceans must be controlled, otherwise the said state only has regional power. Think Japan in the Pacific or Britain in the Atlantic before World War II.

Additionally, no state or combination of states will be able to dominate these oceans without physical borders on both oceans. Not just ports here. The nation need to border these waters. This is not only to launch new ships but to deploy armies, participate in trade, and transfer goods by land from one ocean to the other.

The US is currently in this position. The US Navy is larger than all other navies combined. It controls world trade. Its navy can be used to pressure foreign policy.

If a country were to challenge the US’s dominance, it would need to obviously challenge the US Navy. The key to navy dominance starts will land dominance. Friedman spends most of the book explaining how events in Eurasia will play out as countries either unite or invade to have shores on both oceans or increase their resources. Couple the need to expand their boundaries with the US’s history of keeping unstable regions remain unstable and no true leader will emerge. If these regions are continually unstable, they cannot further stabilize themselves and unite with their neighbors, building even larger controls. Germany and Afghanistan are good examples here. Afghanistan was part of the Ottoman Empire in our recent history. A power like that could put pressure on the US.

So the question arises, if Eurasia cannot unite, who in North America can catch up to America?

What I thought: I found this book interesting but not amazing. I would suggest it to others though. I already have plans to loan it to a friend. At times, it was a bit science fiction like, but it is a projection. Satellite producing solar power and sending electromagnetic waves to power stations on land…