Being interested

Two nights ago, I crashed into bed with my mind racing. It was 12:30am, my eyes weren’t focusing anymore, but the “voice” in my head was trying out all sorts of things that I wanted to get up and write about. Now I can’t remember much of it, which is really darned annoying. I’m going to take a stab at this anyway…

I know that it started out with some musing about how I felt “trained” out of talking about the things that I find interesting. They make piss poor small talk, and most people’s eyes start glazing over. That’s kind of annoying, but other than a really good ice or snow storm, I mostly don’t get much interested in the weather. Politics is just a disaster, and I don’t know a damn thing (nor care about) sports. Yeah, I’m in a chit-chat/small talk sort of hell. To be clear, I’m not into the “ooh, look – my CPU is bigger than your CPU” sort of technical mishmash, I instead prefer a good conversation on the benefits of optimizing against developer or processor time. The issues of heat vs. performance and how it’s becoming a force to be reckoned with in progamming, or what makes up a good UI element. But that is all pretty much an aside.

A week ago I gave a presentation at work that I worked myself into a frenzy over. In retrospect, it went very well. I’ve received some impressive kudo’s for it. And yeah, I can still see all the warts and flaws. For the insatiably curious, it was on using Maven 2 as a build tool and how we should be transforming our use of Perforce from old habits.

I started working on the talk back in September. I hate to admit it, but wanting to do well on the talk put it off for literally months. It’s a little bit about momentum. I knew that the talk would be a big push on momentum of using Maven, I want it to succeed, and I was worried that if I screwed it up, it would have the inverse effect. People would think the idea of using Maven internally sucked, and I’d have rolled this development-process-momemtum to a horrific and grinding halt.

In December, I scheduled the talk to force myself to stop putting it off. I thought maybe 10-15 people would show. Over 40 signed up. 30 actually showed – it was standing room only for the last few. I’d spent hours and hours rehearsing it, editing it, trying it out. I think I completely redid that talk 3 times. I read nearly every post on presenting by Kathy Siera and Damian Conway that I could find. It helped. I was still quietly (or not so, to some of my friends) paniced. I knew I still had a fatal flow of too many messages in my story.

In the end, being interested is what I think made the presentation work. And that is what (somehow) ties back to first comments – that I like and am interested in things other folks find not-so-interesting. I believe that simply by being interested and knowledgable in the subject, it lends a fair amount of credibility that I happily took credit against. I don’t think the intracies of automatic transitive dependecies in builds and making the development process better with it is going to be a common cocktail party topic – but hey, over a good beer it’ll do fine. Thank god I go out drinking with other Mac programmers periodically, or I’d never get to talk about the geek stuff without someone glazing over.

Published by heckj

Joe has broad software engineering development and management experience, from startups to large companies. Joe works on projects ranging from mobile to multi-cloud distributed systems, has set up and led engineering teams and processes, as well as managing and running services. Joe also contributes and collaborates with a wide variety of open source projects, and writes online at

%d bloggers like this: