Category: Work and play

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My new job is at Zarafa in Delft.

Here is my first release.


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I spend a good portion of my waking hours just sitting in my car. About two or more hours each day. Sometimes it is more and sometimes less. During winter even the highways are blocked by heavy traffic, and in the summer I can fly like a bird since most people are away on vacation. On average I am spending more than ten percent of my conscious life driving to and from work. I pass the time by listening to my music on my mp3-player, catching up on the latest news and talk shows on the radio, preparing myself mentally for the day ahead or re-living the day's activities in my head. The daily meditation and mental retrospective. What did I do well, what do I need to improve, what is the purpose of life, is there such a thing as reality, am I really the center of the universe, those kinds of thoughts.


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"Improving daily work is even more important than doing daily work."

- Total Productive Maintenance


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At home I can escape and do some work in the attic.


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As a true leader of people, how much is it your responsibility to motivate the team for which you are the responsible manager?

One is often told to go out and motivate the team to work harder and be more productive, or else. However, it is a hard fact of nature that true motivation has as its source an inner awakening of energy. It cannot be forced upon people from the outside by snapping fingers and spewing threatening words.

People have to motivate themselves, no one else can do that for them. If that inner source is missing no amount of ranting, raving or showering of inspirational words of wisdom will make the slightest difference in the world.

So what is the true leader of people supposed to do? Remove obstacles, open up the road ahead, give a clear vision of which direction to go, and foster a sincere conviction that each individual's sense of belonging and intellectual creativity will greatly influence the world around him or her.

It's all about working toward a common end result of which everyone can be proud. The prouder the better, true motivation leads to satisfaction, to be part of a proud group of top-notch experts.

The team is composed of a collection of unique personalities and expertise areas, working dynamically together, to motivate and thereby achieve so-called impossible goals.

That's what motivation is all about.


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My job is to ensure the fast, predictable, and uninterrupted flow of planned work, delivering continuous value to the business, while minimizing impact and disruption of unplanned work, thereby providing a stable, predictable and secure service to all of our customers. This is quite a mouthful and is an almost impossible challenge which for me is the best kind of challenge one can ever ask for and be lucky enough to pursue.


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I was asked to give a talk in London for the yearly DevOps Summit. There were many interesting presentations and I had the opportunity to do some networking, meet people from other companies and share ideas.

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A large international crowd showed up.

The title of my presentation was Walking the Tightrope, during which I recounted my experiences ramping up an agile software development team and the challenges working with a more plan-driven operations department.

While I was in London, I could do a little sight seeing. Actually, I arrived a bit later in the evening, so I dashed around the nearby area and had a very quick look. Here are a few pictures that I took.

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Paddington
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English pub
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Tudor Hotel
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Hyde Park #1
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Hyde Park #2
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Hyde Park #3

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Each day during my commute from my home in Gouda to my work in Amsterdam, I spend anywhere from two to three hours a day sitting in my car. In the beginning it took me awhile to get used to the long haul, but after a while I could take it in stride and relax. Now after more than a year, it is starting to get on my nerves again having to spend so much time locked up behind the wheel, when I can think of better things to do.


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Typically I try to leave the house by 7am, meaning that I (hopefully) arrive at the office around a quarter past eight. At the end of the day, although I'd prefer to get out of the office earlier, there's often a last-minute meeting to attend or an unexpected emergency to tackle. I then cannot leave until after 6pm and (hopefully) get back home around seven-thirty.

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Driving to work in the morning.

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Driving back home in the evening.


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I would say that the best way to approach things is with an open mind, but that is easier said than done. It's not as easy as it was in the good old days, things are more complicated now.

You've got to get things done, and there's not much time to think it over, make sense of the situation, understand what is going on before making important decisions. The deadline is approaching quickly, watch out or else.

So there is not much room over to hesitate, just get the job done or else. Don't panic, just do what is expected, whatever that is.

Talking with people isn't that easy, and figuring out what they actually mean compared to what they want to say is a challenge in itself. Try to be patient and understanding.

Step in their shoes, listen carefully and do not be afraid to expose yourself, that is what it is all about.


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So you're in the middle of having a terrible argument with someone. You are absolutely convinced that you are right, and the other person's story doesn't make sense at all. You wonder how he cannot see your point of view. You've posed your views a number of times perfectly clearly and beyond a shadow of a doubt.

This is when you have to move from certainty to curiosity. In order to come to understand better the other person's side of the argument, you need to be curious and ask yourself how they can possible think that way. Put yourself in their shoes, understand their background and where he is coming from.

There's some kind of information that the other person has of which you are not aware. So rather than focussing on how irrational and crazy this person is, get curious and try to figure out what could possibly be the reason that their view can make any sense.

Certainty means hitting our head against the wall in hopeless and frustrating repetition. Curiosity opens the door and let's us enter into the other person's story.

The goal anyway is not so much attaining absolute certainty as getting closer to a mutual understanding that makes all parties involved feeling better.


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First of all I would like to understand better what all of the commotion is about. Alot of people running around complaining and things are about to get out of control.

There is the emotional aspect and there is also the pragmatic intellectual aspect that need to be kept in balance with each other. Many people are upset but it is still unclear what the root cause might be.

All hands on deck, and even more.

At this moment in time that does not seem to be the case nor will that be the case within the near future. So what is there to do and how should one react? Each and every situation has its own particular reasons, so let's focus on the most important matters at hand.

The key is to remain cool, calm and collected, also known as the three C's. I learned this very important message from my parents when I was a kid, and it has stuck with me ever since.

Such sound advice is just as applicable back then as it is now.

Stop being angry. Be aware. Remain postive. Try and be a better person. Mediate and use relaxation techniques. Be yourself no matter what.

Whatever the situation might be, it's time to resolve your life according to the following 3C protocol: Cool, calm and collected.


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It's been a long day and I figure it's time to go home. Most everyone has left already, and as one can see the parking lot is mostly empty. Too bad that I still have a long journey back home and won't be there for at least an hour or so. When I finally get back home I will be happy and relieved that it is weekend again.


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That's my office on the 5th floor, 2nd window from the left.

After a long hard day at work, it's time to turn my back to the office building, get in my car and drive back home. Tomorrow it's off to the other side of the world, California here I come. I will probably not be missed.


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Today is my last day as a so-called free man. If being unemployed for the last few months can really qualify as real freedom. Bumming around and trying to find goals day by day is not my favorite activity.

Tomorrow I get to join the ranks again of those fine upstanding working folks out there. Get up bright and early, learn more stuff and meet new colleagues, and have some purpose in life again. Renewed and invigorated, you're never too old for that.

Having so much time leftover has certainly improved my golf game immensely at least. Looking through my records for this year, not counting all the match plays, I've managed to play more than ninety rounds, with an average score of 81.4. My highest score was a lousy 92 and my lowest score was an inspiring 71, which I had twice.

However, playing good golf isn't everything, and it certainly doesn't pay the bills. Back to the real world for me. I wonder how much my golfing skills will suffer, I hope not much.

With more money in the bank, I can buy new clubs and other golfing paraphernalia, which in theory might help improve my game. I will drive to work and my golf clubs will travel with me everywhere. Who knows when an unexpected golfing opportunity might arise while I'm on the road.


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I was late and had a train to catch. Because of the heavy rainstorm that night, by morning the subterranean walkway to the platform was flooded several centimeters high.

Nature was challenging me yet again with one of her creative obstacles.

In order not to miss the train and arrive at work on time, I had a difficult decision to make. My quick deductions narrowed down the choices to three possibilities:

  • Turn around and go back up, take a longish detour and make a mad dash around to the opposite entrance to the train station which was still dry, taking five additional minutes.
  • Take off my shoes, then my socks and roll up my pants, wading carefully though the water in my bare feet, which would take an extra minute.
  • Take the dare, make a large leap and just run as fast as I could through the water hoping not to get too soaked, which would result in no delay at all.

Most of the older people had calmly positioned themselves to the side or were reclining on the stairs taking off shoes and socks, while the younger folks were making large leaps and just going for it. A couple people had turned around but were standing in mid-step, motionless with their backs to the water wondering if what they were doing was the right choice.

Being young at heart and not wanting to risk being late, I made two cautious steps backwards, ascending slightly, and not thinking I took the running leap.

This was risky business but invigorating at the same time. It reminded me of the good old days as a kid when running through puddles was so much fun. The great part is that while doing running through the water, you get to splash all of the carefully wading people and soak them anyway.

By the time I arrived in Amsterdam my feet were completely dry, but the adventure remains to this day fresh in my mind.


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Too often one is so consumed by a jungle of intertwined thoughts that the beauty of the nearby surroundings is completely foresaken.

Having tried to solve an especially complicated problem for the last couple of days already, I needed an escape. I decided to take an extended lunch break this time by walking further than normal along the canals of Amsterdam. It didn't matter where as long as I stopped tackling that ornery mountain of code for a bit, return to normalcy.

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View of the Keizersgracht where I work.

The walk was alright I guess, getting away from it all. When I crossed the last bridge on my return to the office, I was at once struck by a wonderful, serene scene of peaceful movements. The gentle splashing of the tourists in the paddle boat is what woke me. Right there in front of me and I had missed it completely when walking earlier the other way. I took this picture so that I would not forget the awe of that special moment.

Mo more than five seconds after I snapped this picture using my mobile phone, the answer to the problem came to me in a flash. Better get back quickly before I forget.

That's the building where I work in the distance on the left right about the middle of the photograph.

Also for the sake of completeness notice on the right of the picture the girl bicycling ever so swiftly going to who knows where.


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I was pleasantly surprised to discover the following exciting email in my inbox this morning.

Good Day,

My name is Robert and I'm a recruiter at Axelon Services Corporation, formerly known as Algomod Technologies Corporation. Our records show that you are an experienced professional with experience in Computer Repair. This experience is relevant to one of my current openings.

It is located in SALINAS, CA.

Field Technician
Salinas, CA
5+ Month Contract

I'll have to think about it first before jumping too quickly at this opportunity that could change my life.


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So I figured that I'd work from home today so I could concentrate better and be much more productive.

Woke up extra early to make a good start, enjoying a nice hot cup of coffee and typing away behind my good old laptop.

As it turns out, right across the street there's some @#$! idiot sawing wood with this high-pitched electrical saw the whole morning.

What a jerk. I hope he quits real soon before I get insane and attempt something desperate.

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New job's coming along just fine. There's much new and interesting stuff to learn which keeps my old brain cells in shape. Being surrounded the whole day by psychologists in an academic environment takes a bit of getting used to though. Bridging the theoretical with real world technology is the name of the game, at least second to golf that is. Tomorrow morning early (7:50) I am off to shoot yet another course record.


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That's how long it took from the moment I lost my previous job until I found another one. Sixty-two days of living on the dole, looking around and hoping that some day in the not so distant future I would be able to land something new and challenging.

Starting in Amsterdam, zig-zagging all over the Netherlands and even into a number of other European countries and then back to good old Amsterdam again. There's just something mysterious about that place that keeps calling me back.

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I survived the ordeal by accepting the way things are, regaining control of my life, and remaining positive throughout the whole disappointing and very frustrating ordeal.

Considering how bad the economy is right now and the steadily rising unemployment rates worldwide, I feel very fortunate and am thankful to God for having sought me out and revealed to me this new opportunity in life.

Thanks alot God, maybe I can treat you to a nice lunch in Amsterdam someday soon, just the two of us?

"Seek out danger, tackle risks early before they come back to attack you, embrace change which is inevitable anyway, and don't forget about God."


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I received this amazing job offer email in the morning, so you can imagine how excited I felt upon reading it:

Hello,
Wobbits Service is currently hiring for the position of Mailing Assistant. If you feel that you are a self-motivated and career-oriented person, we highly encourage you to spare a minute and learn more about our current openings.
Primary job requirements:

* Basic knowledge of the computer
* Ability to print and scan documents
* Knowledge of such programs as Adobe Acrobat Reader and Microsoft Office
* Ability to pick up packages weighing up to 30lbs.


I often complain about the second-rate quality of these recruitment agencies that spam me all day with their wonderful job matches, but this one definitely takes the cake!

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Getting laid off is never easy, look at me, it's the third time in my long and unpredictable career. This time however it's seems much worse than the other times, and I'm bracing myself for a long haul. No matter what happens, I'm confident that things will eventually pick up at some point in the future. It always has. So I just need to hang in there until that happens, busying myself in a productive and useful way.

So let's take something negative and transform it into something positive, alright? Just like a snake that must shed it's skin every once in awhile in order to grow, this is an opportunity to shed the past, move forward and re-energize myself with something new. Look at all those computer books I've collected and never had time to learn. Pick a subject, any subject and dive in. Play around with the new technology, explore the many possibilities and become an expert.

I've decided to hone my Java skills and become a J2EE expert, and on the side maybe even learn some Python. It will take some time, but if there's one thing I have alot of lately, then that's time. Get involved in an open source project, attend various seminars and congresses, and even volunteer to help out at some stands passing out folders and talking to people.

Then when the future comes I will be better prepared. Who knows, maybe by doing all this learning stuff I will somehow influence the future, subconsciously attracting the perfect job with the perfect kind of work. Hey, I can't wait.

Getting laid off is never easy, but let's make the best of it. It might even end up being kind of fun.
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Interviewers decide to accept or reject a candidate within the first 3 or 4 minutes of the interview. The remainder of the interview time is spent seeking evidence to confirm their first impression.

With that in mind I am going to be a little more careful but still act like who I am.

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I thought it'd be a great idea: I would not shave my beard until I got a new job. So far I've been growing a nice grubby beard now for almost a week,

Unfortunately, I forgot that I have to attend interviews and look respectable and professional. Since tomorrow is my next (fourth) interview, that means off with the beard.

Oh well.

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One of the advantages of being unemployed is that there is tons of time left over to read, workout at the gym and play golf.

Unfortunately, it's still way too cold out there to play golf, so I'm going to have to be patient and wait a bit.

Why couldn't I have lost my job later in the year when it is warmer?

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Why is it that whenever I finally get invited for an interview that it is at a company that is so far away? Up to now I've had interviews at the following places:

  • Hilversum (60 km)
  • Veenendaal (70 km)
  • Den Bosch (89 km)
Hopefully I can find a job which does not involve too long of a commute.

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Speaking of leaders, isn't it kind of ironic that whenever a company has to lay off a bunch of people, none of the higher management loses their job and lots of valuable human capitol disappears forever, usually meaning the ship will sink even faster?
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Last night I dreamed that I had the perfect job. Don't quite remember exactly what kind of job it was, but in the dream I felt really great. Guess that means there's still hope as long as I remain positive.

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Checklist for success:
  • Identify and attack the most important risks early on in the project before they come back and haunt you at the end of the project.
  • According to Murphy's Law this is usually right before an important launch date when the customer is the most eager to see results.
  • From the very beginning, keep an up to date risk list in order to track progress and ensure the success of the project.
  • Along with each risk listed, include a plan for mitigating that risk.
  • Order these risks according to importance, e.g. those risks which would have the biggest impact on the project should go first.
  • A very simple Excel sheet with a few columns should suffice.
  • This list serves as a focal point for planning project activities, and is the basis around which iterations are organized.
  • As the project continues this list will change and if it doesn't be weary of impending danger.

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This is truly an amazing achievement, so you better check it out for yourself. Something we can all be very proud of that's for sure.

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TomTom Route Planner


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Information

This personal weblog was started way back on July 21, 2001 which means that it is 7-21-2001 old.

So far this blog contains no less than 2092 entries and as many as 1862 comments.

Important events

I started working at Zarafa 1-15-2014 ago.

This blog came into existence 7-21-2001 ago.

Believe it or not but I am 10-11-1957 young.

Thea and I first met 6-14-1980 ago.

I graduated from Stanford 6-5-1979 ago.

Kiffin Rockwell was shot down and killed 9-23-1916 ago.

I began my well-balanced and healthy life style 1-8-2013 ago.

My father passed away 10-20-2000 ago.