Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tennis Ladder - 10/20/2008

Followed up a disappointing 6 win (out of 21 games) week last time with a very promising 14 wins last night against top competition (Henry H., Paul, Satish). Some other night this may be totally different, but I got into a zone somewhere there and turned some recent frustration into all out intensity. I played instinctively which helps me. I have more trouble so far with the guys who dictate their styles and pace against me. I kept balls deep for the most part and in play down the sides, with a strong backhand and good net play. Played old school McEnroe, hit early and on the rise moving forward. Also mixed in a few drops at the right times and overhand smashes for winners. All in all it was one of my best nights indoors. Could even have been better in the win column, but after taking big leads in each of the 3 games, I played a bit too loose for me, perhaps trying different approaches, with losing a game not much of a concern. Who knows about next week. May be a different result, especially in a higher bracket. I want to find that don't give a shit attitude again and just go for the shots when they are there. But I needed this performance on this night as a confidence booster. Serve can always be better but this has improved at least from last year. Need to get consistently on top of the ball and snap my wrist over.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Questions and Perceptions - Architect role

This article found at: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc421438.aspx

Optimistically Critical...

Architects must ask questions (a lot of questions) to gain an understanding of a system and its components..... .questions often lead to a perception of hostility, pessimism, and excessive criticality. No matter how much you try to show neutrality, empathy, and reason, some people inevitably will focus only on the negative aspects of being critiqued, and they take it personally..... come to learn that questioning with sensitivity and being optimistically critical are skills that are required to have an extended career as an architect.
Criticality is needed to perform the basic function of a technical leader; sensitivity is needed to help communicate critiques; optimism is needed to succeed and just remain sane. There are times when silence is prudent; but, in general, we as architects must communicate our views, both good and bad, or we add no value. We must communicate our views—sensitively, whenever possible; bluntly, when necessary; and harshly, never.
....They might be obvious, but find value in repeating them:
1. Being sensitive and kind doesn't move us forward, but it makes the journey more pleasant.
"I always prefer to believe the best of everybody; it saves so much trouble." –Rudyard Kipling
2. Being critical doesn't move us forward, but it does help guide our steps.
"Large skepticism leads to large understanding. Small skepticism leads to small understanding. No skepticism leads to no understanding." –Xi Zhi
3. Being optimistic doesn't move us forward, but it motivates us to take the first and subsequent steps.
"Every strike brings me closer to the next home run." –Babe Ruth
4. It is the actions of people that move us.
"When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don't adjust the goals; adjust the action steps." –Confucius
I ask you to take action and promote optimistic critical thinking in your organization.

This article was published in Skyscrapr, an online resource provided by Microsoft.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Spring Tennis - 4/08

After evening my spring record with Satish at 1-1 last week with an inspiring come from behind 7-5 win indoors, I dropped 2 sets 3-6, 2-6 at Glastonbury in 75+ heat. In the win I was able to get myself in good position to control points, hit a bunch of lines, strategized well(moved ball around at right times) and served fairly good for me. I was totally gassed after the set. Shows that I need to play 'A' game to even have a chance at eking out a win. In the latest 2 set loss, Satish's groundstrokes were deeper and well placed keeping me back and not allowing me to push forward. He had some nice passing shots when I came to the net and lower number of unforced errors. After 2 sets outside in the heat and elements, I was less tired then the one set victory last week. hmmmm...Neither of us served well it seemed (low 1st serve percentage). But Satish's second serve is better then my 1st so there you go. I have a few adjustments to make. One especially in the serve department where I will attempt to change the angle I bring the racket back (i.e. more like Sampras, low and perpindicular with body) as opposed to bringing it back more on a flat plane (i.e. Gimelstob). Maybe that will feel more fluid. So far looks like same dominance developing as last year's outdoor season for 'G' man. I would hope I can make a better showing this year. Better serve mechanics, conditioning maybe? Hasn't been easy for me at this state to make those improvements, especially in conditioning. I need to constantly push, and after a days work, I'm mostly drained and then rushed to get home. I rarely can get out of the office on time, then get stuck in traffic and by the time I get to the gym....anyway....I need to stop whining about it. I'm grateful to have a job and be able to do some things I enjoy.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Hockanum River Race - 2008

I took my kayak out for the 2008 Hockanum River Race. Results are posted here: http://www.neckra.org/Results-2008/2008Results01.htm I entered in 2004 with my brother-in-law in a 2 man canoe. Inexperience, low water and a metal canoe was not on our side. We had a horrendous race time but can now share many laughs from that race. This year was different for me as I wanted some redemption. My brother-in-law Glenn Chaisson also entered with his friend Dave Weiner and did very well in their 2 man kayak. I came in wanting to be under 1:40 and hoping more for 1:20 but with really no baseline to mark against as 2004 gave no indication of potential. It was extremely cold but the water was high. My buddy Dave got me some gloves which were key and got me a ride from the finish. Satish and his family showed up, which was nice to see them out. He took some cool video and made a dvd of me going through the rapids. That was much appreciated as my family couldn't make it out. Maybe we get him out next year but really doubt that. He's better on land with a racquet in his hand and in 90 degree heat. There were 30 boats in my class of plastic short kayaks. I almost dumped off the start as I scooted in off the hill but the helper guy caught me. That would have been the worst! The crowd gave me an anxious laugh/applause. I was a bit shaky starting off, trying to set my watch and get my feel for the rocking of the boat. As I approached the "rapids" I made a decision to stay right of the river and feel my way through. I pushed through and stayed mostly away from trouble. But I'm no expert at this stuff. Occasionally I would place my paddle to the wrong side or too deep into the water which will casuse a sudden hard pull. I was helped out later in the rapids when I got stuck against a rock. Then I felt temporary relief before I went up the side of a big rock and scooted off of it (kayak is at an advantage there) and then onto the pond where I kept a steady pace. At times I would remind myself to use more shoulder and drive. There were nice people along the way, cheering and giving advice. Anyway, I counted about 6 boats pass me in all. 1 early on, 2 on the pond and 3 on the lower river. I passed one guy who was going head to head with me. He was a better paddler but he dumped up against a tree and eskimo rolled out and had to beach. I got caught on the same tree but managed to luckily push out. I saw him later on and was glad to see he finished up well. Lots of curves and logs and rocks. I felt I made mostly good decisions. I ended up at 1 hour 30 minutes in 12th place. Good time with good people.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Spring tennis tune-up and Kayaking

Spring training continues before the Summer tour. It's hard to find courts as nets are either in bad shape or not up yet. We also contend on court time with the school teams. Satish and I played in cool but decent weather. After warming up a bit we started our set. I lost serve on first game and went into a funk from there for the next 3 going down 0-4. I was missing some easy forehand "put away" type of shots (at strike zone inside service line!) as I was not paying attention to form, flying out and trying to wail at the ball. My head needs to be still. Anyway... Satish played hard and consistent throughout. His strokes were on the mark and putting me mostly out of positon. I picked up my game a bit in the middle to at least challenge for a while but I was clearly over matched against a better player. 2-6 to G-man. My serve surprised me in spots. I was getting a decent percentage in on the first with some velocity, although that doesn't equate to too much. Placement was there on a few also. We started another abbreviated set. I broke his serve on first game and had new life. But Satish won the next 3 gritty games and sent me home packing wondering what happened to my forehand.

Hockanum river race is Sunday. A few of my buddies will be doing kayaks this year. I need to redeem from 2004 canoe debacle. This year it's "personal". I'd like under 1:40. A little anxious with the rocks/rapid part as I don't have a clear strategy. If I get through that, then I'll cross the pond, portage and hope to navigate the tight spots to the finish. A good spot to watch may be behind Beacon Light in Manchester-SW (Oakland Rd.) . There's a trail along the river. Also you can pick up the Hockanum trail off Burnside - I84 Exit 60.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Mythical Man Month - Excerpt

..... think better and better manage yourself, and be more productive and less wasteful with your time and energy. In short, you will do more with less.
The Mythical Man-Month:Assigning more programmers to a project running behind schedule, may make it even more late.
The Second-System Effect:The second system an engineer designs is the most bloated system she will EVER design.
Conceptual Integrity:To retain conceptual integrity and thereby user-friendliness, a system must have a single architect (or a small system architecture team), completely separate from the implementation team.
The Manual:The chief architect should produce detailed written specifications for the system in the form of the manual, which leaves no ambiguities about any part of the system and completely specifies the external spcifications of the system i.e. what the user sees.
Pilot Plant:When designing a new kind of system, a team should factor in the fact that they will have to throw away the first system that is built since this first system will teach them how to build the system. The system will then be completely redesigned using the newly acquired insights during building of the first system. This second system will be smarter and should be the one delivered to the customer.
Formal Documents:Every project manager must create a roadmap in the form of formal documents which specifies milestones precisely and things like who is going to do what and when and at what cost.
Communication:In order to avoid disaster, all the teams working on a project, such as the architecture and implementation teams, should stay in contact with each other in as many ways as possible and not guess or assume anything about the other. Ask whenever there's a doubt. NEVER assume anything.
Code Freeze and System Versioning:No customer ever fully knows what she wants from the system she wants you to build. As the system begins to come to life, and the customer interacts with it, he understands more and more what he really wants from the system and consequently asks for changes. These changes should of course be accomodated but only upto a certain date, after which the code is frozen. All requests for more changes will have to wait until the NEXT version of the system. If you keep making changes to the system endlessly, it may NEVER get finished.
Specialized Tools:Every team should have a designated tool maker who makes tools for the entire team, instead of all individuals developing and using their private tools that no one else understands.
No silver bullet:There is no single strategy, technique or trick that will exponentially raise the productivity of programmers.

IT - Save your Job

"....constantly improve yourself, constantly seek to improve others, and be knowledgeable of your business and customers. ....common sense ... Don't base your career on one technology.... Surrounding yourself with really good people is a lot better way to learn than being the best....Love it or leave it. The people I like to work with the most are the people with passion for what they do. They are the ones that are constantly seeking to do things the right way. They are the ones who are innovating..."

Monday, February 25, 2008

10s - Back In The Saddle

Had a good practice session Sunday wth Satish. It was my first outing since 2/11. We hit the machine a few rounds to warm up. Satish won the set 6-2. I was happy with my performance regardless of the score. There were many decent points played. Satish is playing well, especially with his serve and I still make more unforced errors when it comes down to it. I'd like to play 2 more times in March. I have nagging shoulder and elbow pain to resolve but nothing too serious. Will be working on my service game in March also. Needs a lot of consistency there.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

End of the Ladder - 2/11/08

I complete my abbreviated tennis ladder with a combined (against regular, sub and 7pm match-ups) 147 - 168 record 46.7% win pct. I figured I ranked 4th or 5th out of the 8-9 regular players. Last night I avenged 2 previous losses with 4-3 wins. I was playing fairly well heading into the final match of the night against my main "rival" at 8:30 - Ramon. The winner gets to move up to the coveted 7pm ladder with my buddy Satish. After losing the first game from being up 40-15 it was all downhill. My patience was shot. My serve was robotic and stiff. He took advantage of everything I gave him. I left shots short and lofty for him to push me every where he wanted. Down the lines...in and out. I was left with a demoralizing 0-7 finish. The next day, I withdrew from the league. Anyway...it was good to face the competition over the winter and I look to refine some skills for summer play. I want to improve my serve big time. My ball machine should help me get more consistency with a lower, aggressive shot and add topspin...plus get a workout. Not sure of the summer line-up. Hopeful that Satish will continue to keep me on his tour.

On a similar note - I picked up John McEnroe's book for this summer's vacation read.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

NY Giant Football: Big Blue are Super Bowl Champs!

Awesome game! Had the heart pounding. My daughter and I were jumping all over the place which made it a fun moment. food tally: 4 beers, pulled pork, sausage, salad, chips, brownie and cookies.

Ranked 3rd in Tennis League (out of 10). I was 10-11 last week against good competition. Not good enough to move up but may challenge a few more weeks to see if I can break through. Congrats. to my playing partner Satish as he beat me 3-4 and moved on to the early session with a decent 14 point night. I got my tennis ball machine from eBay last week and used it this weekend as weather cooperated. Nice machine and probably a good investment. Good workouts. It helped my stroke on Monday Night.

My girls JV basketball team is winding down the season. We started out slow, peaked a bit with a 3 game winning streak and have tailed off. My first full year as basketball coach. It was rewarding and glad to help out.

Work is getting tough again with this new project. Looking forward to spring and more tennis.

Monday, January 21, 2008

New York Giants - NFC Champions!

Just checking in even if I'm the only reader of my blog. Don't know why with all this riveting content.
What drama in the Giant win over Green Bay. I have many Patriot fans in my family which will make for a great party this year.
Australian Open tennis has also been great to watch. These guys are amazing. Blake was impressive in his comeback being down 0-2 in sets and 1-4 in the 3rd. Federer finds a way. Need to stay mentally tough.
Not much else...just working for the weekend.
My friend Satish will be back from vacation this week. Good for me, but not for him.
My other co-worker friend is training for his half-marathon next month. We're working together on a few projects at work, which is cool to collaborate on. Makes things easier and it helps with opinions, etc...

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Monday Night Ladder - 1/7/08

Disappointing results for me. I had a chance to separate myself from 8:30 elite but lost some important points in games I had 40-30 leads. Played Frank well with the best drop shots (earned 5 points) I ever had and ended up 3-4. I then played the Satish sub - Dan who presented himself as very beatable. Lefty but with only defense. He just punched everything back mostly as high, no spin lobs or blocked shots. I rallied a bit with him then looked for the knock out punch and then preceeded to hit long or just wide. Need to pronate more on wrist and apply topspin more. Lost 2-5 in a crushing defeat. I lost 3-4 to Ramon who also lost 2-5 to Satish-Dan. 8 wins - 13 losses. I'm not worthy.

I did have a little rust from 2 week layoff but no excuse...one thing I did wrong was overeat before the match. Not smart. I played like an old fat guy!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Psyche Tip

"....After winning a difficult, tense set there’s often a conflict between your logical mind, which tells you to keep applying pres-sure and close out the match, and your subconscious mind, which suggests that you temporarily escape all this stress by easing up and taking a well-deserved mental break. With a set under your belt, now feels like as good a time as any.
Big mistake. On the other side of the net, your opponent knows that he has to bear down or he’ll soon be leaving the court a loser. So he tends to maintain or increase his intensity level. Couple that with your own tendency to let up at this stage and there’s a momentum change just waiting to happen.
How do you prevent it? In this situation, forewarned is forearmed. If you win the first set, take a few moments to collect yourself and pump yourself up. Then redouble your efforts at the start of the second set. It often helps to play games with your mind. Try to convince yourself that the match is starting over and that you have to jump out to an early lead. Be even more aggressive...."