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Known Unknowns?

Recently I tweeted this:

Afterwards I continued to wonder whether coming away from a tech talk with more questions than I started with was a good thing or not. It can certainly shake your confidence and make you feel like you might not know as much as you thought you did about the topic being discussed. 

On the other hand, perhaps the fact that you have questions reflects the simple fact that the speaker simply has a different perspective from your own. Perhaps if you were to talk about what you were working on they’d have as many questions come up as you did. 

There’s so much available to be known these days in the tech world, especially when it comes to the web I feel. As a result, it’s incredibly easy to get discouraged, or to constantly feel the weight of all the things that you know you don’t know. I know I certainly struggle with this. 

I’m not sure what the answer is, but my strategy is going to be to try to be ok with not knowing everything. Maybe it comes with age and maturity, but it’s obvious to me now that aiming to know everything, no matter the topic, is a fool’s errand.

I’ve always been a great consumer of information. Recently though I’ve been trying to shift my focus towards only needing to know enough to take the next few steps I need on my journey. Once I’ve taken those steps I’ll be able to look from that new position of knowledge and experience and know what needs to be known next to keep going. I feel like this will help with overloading myself with information without really figuring out how to apply any of it.  

After all, who cares what you know if you can’t do anything productive with that knowledge?

Just shared my list of podcasts for developers

Take a look over to the right, I’ve just shared a new page with my favourite podcasts aimed primarily at developers.  I’ve had this list sitting in a draft form for nearly two years now and I’m not really sure why it’s taken this long to publish it.  Given the amount of time since I first put it together, I ended up having to do a number of edits to the list, both to remove things that are either not being published anymore, or, thankfully, to add some of the awesome things I’ve been listening to lately.

I’d love to get some feedback on this list, or even better, any suggestions you have for other podcasts that I might find interesting but don’t have listed.

Get your earphones ready!

What I’ve been up to…

If you’re at all wondering what I’ve been doing the last little while, head over to another site of mine at wallyanderin.com and read all about the Habitat for Humanity trip that my wife and I just return from in Kenya.  It was a great time and Kenya and it’s people are totally amazing.

We have a number of blog posts and pictures up already, with a few more still to come so please check it out.  I’ll be getting back to the technical stuff again soon.

The attack of the zombie hard drives

I don’t know what has been going on with the world lately, but being the only computer guy in my close group of friends with an IT support background definitely has it’s down sides.  Since August I have experienced 5 catastrophic hard drive failures.  I wish I could blame them all on one common factor, like bad firmware or something, but I simply cannot.  The drives were of different ages and from a variety of manufacturers and system builders.  Only one of these drives was mine, the rest belonged to friends and family.  Care to take a guess at how many of these drives were backed up?

Zero.

Luckily for me, my drive that failed was in an external enclosure and was only used for backup anyway.  The rest though, were the main system drives from my friend’s primary PCs.  I was able to get most of the data off of one of them, but the other 3 were completely toast.  Based on the look that shows up on people’s faces when I tell them that I can’t restore any of their pictures or home business files from a failed drive, I might as well be a surgeon informing family of an unfortunate surgical outcome for a family member.  It’s absolutely gut-wrenching.  I don’t wish it on anybody.

I’m a firm believer that if your data does not exist in at least 3 places, it doesn’t exist at all.  Burning DVDs of pictures or copying them to an external hard drive are great, but you need to have a copy OUTSIDE of your home as well.  The method that works for me is that I have an external hard drive that I leave in my desk at work, every other weekend I bring it home and copy my data onto it.  Monday morning I put it back in my desk at the office and I feel much more protected.  Some people like to ‘cloud’ option as well, however with Cogeco having a 60gig per month bandwidth cap, it’ not an option for me (my backup drive is almost 200gigs.)

Really though, I don’t care how you do it, just BACK UP YOUR STUFF!

My 5k Run in the Snowstorm

Some say that you can’t call yourself a runner until you’ve actually run in a race. I’m happy to say that on March 8th, 2008 I accomplished that feat by running the Slainte Irish Pub St. Patrick’s Day Road Race.

This wasn’t your everyday run however, as you can see from the picture below, there was a bit of a snowstorm going on around us!

The snow on race day
A look at the snow outside before the race

It definitely wasn’t the warmest I’ve been while out for a run, but as you can tell from our faces in the picture below, we were doing ok.

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Joe, Dorothy and I ready to go

The route was pretty good, we started just off Concession Street, ran along the mountain brow and then made our way down the Jolly Cut. The whole time down I was telling Joe how nice it would be to have one of those x-games head mounted cameras, that way there would be some evidence for how much snow was coming down.

Considering the weather I was pretty happy with my results, my goal was to not be the last person to cross the line and I beat that by about 50, sweet!

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Joe and I busting for the finish, notice the snow!

The best part about the whole day was the hot Irish stew and beer waiting for us at the pub just over the finish line. Definitely helped us get warmed up quick!

For those thinking about entering this race, go for it! It’s a lot of fun and from what I could tell everybody had a fantastic time. I’ll see you there again next year for sure!

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The three of us at the finish line, we made it!