You’re Not Listening

I relish articles like this not only for the off-chance I somehow get thrown into a leadership position, but also because it’s a good life skill. Rands does a consistently good job of mapping engineering speak to life, imagine a career counselor who not only was good as his job, but also spoke geek—it’s as awesome as it sounds1.

The problem starts with the word: listen. Of course you know how to listen. You sit there and let the words into your head. Perhaps your definition is more refined. Maybe your definition of listening involves hearing because you’re aware of that switch in your head that you must flip to really hear what a person is saying. It’s work, right? Pulling in all the words, sorting them in your head, and mapping them against the person who is speaking. That is listening, that is hearing, but if that’s all you’re doing and you’re a leader of people, then you’re still only halfway there.

Let’s start with the most basic rule of listening: If they don’t trust you, they aren’t going to say shit.

  1. the correct answer is: very awesome 

Sometimes you get a call from your managers, manag…

Sometimes you get a call from your managers, managers, manager that he needs you on a conference call at 8pm tonight.

Sometimes you get instructions to be on a flight to the east coast in 14 hours.

Sometimes you realize that if there is a problem, if no one else can help, and if they can find you…you will be called upon.

Magic of Travel

San Diego International Airport, California, United States

The magic of getting on an airplane, waiting two hours, and then exiting in a completely different world still feels special.

Milestone for WordPress self-hosted v0.9

The website I made for Rachel and myself is, of course, run on WordPress. After looking through some themes, I eventually settled on the Forever theme. Forever is a theme, but can be downloaded via SVN from so someone can use it on a self-hosted WordPress installation. Everything was going great, but I couldn’t find the plugin for this really neat widget they have that counts down to The Big Day:

The Milestone Widget in Forever (

It’s called Milestone and as of January 2012 it was supposed to be included in a future release of Jetpack, the official WordPress plugin for things of that nature.

But here we are in August and there’s no plugin.

And I don’t know what the timeline is for actually releasing it.

So I did what any engineer would do when they don’t want to wait, I made my own version. There’s decent enough documentation on the backend and the front end is just stylized with CSS. It’s a pretty simple implementation and only took a few hours to crank out. There are some more things I want to add and tweak, like adding a drop down calendar select and better input checking, but it will work for now.

Here’s how it looks:

Milestone clone

It’s a quick solution that I hope others will enjoy too. I also got a chance to try out using a deploy script to help automate the push from GitHub to SVN. This could help a lot of things go smother.

Read more or download v0.9!

  1. svn co 

Shooting the Blue Angels with the Beast

The Blue Angels are back in town! Yesterday, I got to see them take off from the flight line (one of the many job perks). Today I went out with Rachel and took pictures using the Nikon 600mm f4.0D AF-S II VR that I rented yesterday. The thing is a beast:

Getting ready to shoot the blue angels. Photo by Jacob Blount.

They were all out of the 18mm wide angles. Photo by Jacob Blount.

I got some pretty good shots, but I think there’s a lot of atmospheric crap in the way (i.e. all the air, dust, pollen, etc between my lens and the air planes). I’m not sure what I’m going to do about that, but I’m definitely going to try again tomorrow.

Update: Another picture Jake took, going for the “Rear Window” look…