Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Quote of the Week - 12/26/2007

"Pick a mountain in life to climb and don't stop til' you reach the top. When you reach the lookin' for the next mountain to climb." -- Life philosophy of Helen Taylor
My Mom died 6 years ago today. I lost track of the times I heard from her, "climb that mountain", when life turned difficult. And the many times I responded, "I'm tired of climbing."

Never would have thought her mountain mantra would have such an impact in my life. That recalling those nagging words would continue to push me forward in life. Even after she's gone.

Still an inspiration, after all these years.

Thanks, Mom.


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas - 2007

The picture above is from December 2006. Our first snow in Missouri. There is a bit of snow on the ground today...but quickly melting. We may have more snow tomorrow.

Hope everyone is having a great Christmas. I've spent my time drinking coffee my daughter gave me and putting together all the presents for the kids. Next step is grilling some nice tenderloins wrapped in bacon. No thoughts about the markets or programming. Just kicking back and enjoying the day.

Oh, and very thankful for the great gift a friend of mine gave me last year. I've never owned a cordless drill before. A friend of mine felt sorry for me and gave me a full set of Dewalt cordless power tools. All these years I've been cussing at putting toys together...until now. Wow, what a difference Dewalt makes. Thanks, buddy!


Monday, December 17, 2007

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

To Design or Code?

"The one who does the work decides." -- KDE principle
Jeff Atwood over at the Coding Horror blog discusses a fascinating problem in software development. Doers and talkers. Designers and coders.

I believe all developers need to have a bit of both in their toolbox. Mainly, because the first design is most always changed due to scope creep (failure to see all the pieces to the puzzle). If you spend all your time talking about that first never get to coding. And if you can't get to the'll fail to find those missing puzzle pieces. And fail to deliver a prototype for the customers to evaluate.

Designers, this means getting your hands dirty in order to create something to improve. Developing systems is an iterative process. Design, code, design, code. And yes, even code, design, code, design. The ultimate goal is to refine the process until you and your customers are satisfied. Whatever it takes. And yes, that means moving to the coding stage even when the optimal design has yet to reveal itself. It's really a Kaizen process. Small accomplished improvements to the initial design pays dividends to all.

Coders, this means before plunging forward hacking away at the problem...ask for feedback of your idea and possible alternatives to the problem. It's important to starting coding down the right path. One that encompasses as much information of the problem as possible. This means you'll need to bring some information to the design table yourself. Perhaps a bit of discovery coding must take place to figure out what elements are involved and possible problems or bottlenecks in your proposed solution. This also helps in keeping the design discussion focused.

So, how does this apply to investing? Well, how many investors/traders do you know that invest without a plan? Without a design? An overriding investment philosophy? Just plunge ahead into the market?

These type of investors would be well served by stepping back a bit and design their investment model. Then ask for feedback of their proposed design. It's okay to perform some discovery trading first. Determining how the market handles your ideas. But, gather what you need and then design. Then invest with the goal of continually refining your design.

What about investors/traders who are afraid of the market? Have not found an investment model that is perfect? And refuse to step a toe in the market waters until they feel 100% comfortable in their design? Problem with this thinking is knowledge requires experience. And nothing is ever 100%...especially in the market. So, create your investment manifesto and then try it out. You can't improve upon something that isn't there to improve. And you can't design a successful investment strategy if you don't have market experience.

Later trades,


Saturday, December 08, 2007

Breakthrough Programming

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” -- George Bernard Shaw
Scott over at the blog links to an amazing paper on Managing for Breakthroughs in Productivity. The article discusses how breakthroughs occur...and don't occur. My favorite quote...
For breakthroughs to occur, people must be given a chance to do work than can not be proven: ambition and risk are necessary for breakthroughs. If individuals are not trusted to take risks, breakthroughs are unlikely.
Spot on! Programming and risk goes hand in hand. As do programming and ambition.

To be an effective programmer you must have the ambition to automate tasks...all tasks. That's your job. If you spend your time manually putting widgets together...then you're not really programming.

And in order to automate tasks...a programmer has to take risks. Cause you are programming something that has never been done by a computer before. At least that computer. And most likely, never been programmed by you before.