Tom Ortega II

Posts Tagged ‘Community’

A (Programmer’s) Life Shouldn’t Be Lonely

In Life, Programming on September 18, 2013 at 6:33 am

Reminders of Friends

Reminders of Friends

Oftentimes, programming is a lonely activity. Whether alone in a coffee shop with our headphones on or in an office behind closed doors, most of the magic happens in solitude. Oftentimes, it has to. If we’re paying attention to someone in a conversation, we’re obviously not paying attention to the text on the computer screen. However, we must never forget that no matter how important the work is, the fact that we’re human and need interaction takes higher precedence.

The picture above is the top shelf of my desk. It sits above my computer screens at home and rightfully so. The things on that shelf are of higher importance than anything that transpires on the screens below it. If I may indulge, lemme explain what those items are from left to right. I’ll also cover who those items represent to me, the ideals those people helped build in me, and how that affects my professional life. Read the rest of this entry »

Helping Change the System

In Business, Community on December 2, 2011 at 10:00 am

I’ve spent a longtime thinking about this post. Is it perfect? No. Is this the way I live my life? Not fully…yet. Is it something I’m gearing towards? A bit more each day. Is it something I hope happens? For the sake of my kids and grandkids, yes.

Much like a legal document, let’s define something at the start to ensure we’re on the same page. When I use the word System (note the capital “S”) in this article, I’m referring to mass media and big business. I’ll leave the topics of Wall Street and our government for some other (far distant) day.

The only way to bring down the System is by depriving it of life. Yes, this could be achieved by violent actions, but I’m not a violent kind of guy. Instead, I’m thinking of something that will bring about the same effect, but will use positivity and humanity to starve the system of the money it needs to survive. Because more than anything, the System craves one thing and one thing alone: money.

And who is going to bring about this change? Why you and I, of course. For if not us, then who?

Read the rest of this entry »

Jack of All Trades, Master of None

In Kids, Programming, Tech Writing, Video Games on November 2, 2010 at 8:00 am

I just figured it out. That stupid saying was probably introduced to me early on in life.  It’s a very teacher and parental thing to tell a kid. Most adults have a hard time finding that one thing they’re great at. It would be unfair to plant the notion that there’s more than one thing.

Here’s the thing though. I’ve lived what…35 years of my life in misery, literally, misery and agony trying to find that *one* thing I’m supposed to be master of.

Self doubt sucks

“Is it art?” I wondered until my portfolio quite literally blew away in the wind one day in high school. “Is it writing?” Fiction or non didn’t really matter to me. I wrote a novel, poems, short stories, news articles, technical articles, etc. “Is it programming?” I was good at it in the eighth grade and it’s paid the bills quite steadily since December of 1997. “Is it conferences?” A short stint proved that while fun, that certainly was *not* it. LOL

“Why can’t I figure this out? What’s wrong me?” Every other day, I find myself alone somewhere (my bed, the shower, in the car, heck, even the toilet) and I ponder that. I wonder why I’m broken. “35 years and you still don’t know what you want to be when you grow up.”

See, that’s the thing. I figured you had to be *something*. You had to be a Master of *something*, else you’d be a useless Jack of All Trades. I wanted a sign, from God, from my parents, from my peers, anywhere. “Let me know what it is and I’ll be there. I’ll dedicate my life to it.”

It’s all a Lie

Read the rest of this entry »

Changes are afoot at 360Flex

In 360Conferences, 360Flex, Business, Community on October 19, 2007 at 7:04 am

First off, if you’ve gone to a 360Flex event or plan to someday, go answer this three question survey:

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=yGMLUk_2f4IRYXqoobzijRuQ_3d_3d

The responses to that survey may fundamentally change the 360Flex Conference.

Business is so interesting. I didn’t graduate from Business School, so maybe they teach you a lot of this stuff there. However, I have read 200+ books on business in the 14+ years that I’ve been a part of the business community and very few books actually captured the essence of business life.

The beauty of business is it’s role. A business is there to serve it’s customers. Do a good job, you get to stick around. Do a bad job and you’re out. I think 360Conferences is doing a good job, but John and I are always looking for ways to improve. Over the past few days, some folks have made some remarks about the amount of money we spend on food at our conferences. They suggested that money would be better spent paying travel expenses for speakers rather than lining the hotel’s catering pocket.

John and I feel that food is a major part of the conference. We think it helps build the community. (You can find our full thoughts on our company blog.) Some of our customers have already stated they feel the same. If only there was a way to ask everyone else, to get a consensus. Well, guess what? There is. With the internet, a business can not only talk to all of its past and current customers, but also to all its future customers.

What John and I think is not important. We’re just facilitators for our customers: attendees, speakers and sponsors. If we’re wrong, then we must change. Just because we think something is cute or needed, doesn’t mean it is. Just because we think something is right, doesn’t mean it is. Our customers are the only ones that know what’s right. John and I are hear to make sure we do what’s right.

So far, we’ve had two conferences. With that, over $180,000 of our customers hard-earned cash has passed through our hands. 360 attendees came to eBay’s beautiful campus for 3 days. Another 360 spent 3 days with us in the Emerald City. Over 60 sessions have been given and countless knowledge has been shared. Many people have landed a “dream” Flex job or picked up some contracting work. Most importantly though, friendships have been made. Good times have been shared.

$180,000 may not seem like a lot of money to a big corporation. It’s a lot of money to me though. If it was $180, it would be a lot of money to me. Every dollar given in business is an honor that has to be earned. Each dollar comes with trust and deserves to be spent as wisely and efficiently as possible.

Now, if our customers decide to drop food for speaker fees, that’s fine. However, one person remarked after reading our cost breakdown post, “$80 per visitor per day for food? Wow, I must say I’m speechless. That must have been some orgy.” Now, I take great personal offense to that statement. To say that I would take our cutomers hard earned money and throw an “orgy” hurts. The reality is this: Each person was $59 dollars a day for breakfast, lunch and breaks. Plus, each water and or soda was an additional $5. Monday night BBQ was $25 per person. That is standard hotel pricing for food. “Why not use an outside caterer?” You can’t. “Why not order cheaper food?” That was darn near the cheapest. I wish hotels were cheaper, but they’re not. However, our customers said, “Move to one central location, like a hotel.” We did, and it was certainly not to have an “orgy”.

I stress over every dollar. John lets me handle the books. I let him handle me. I probably have the better deal. We are in debt from the last two shows. It’s only about $15K, but that’s $15K that we owe to the bank and we have to make good on it. This is why it’s important to us to get profitable. Unlike other conferences, we don’t have a corporate backing. No one writes off our losses as marketing for their training business, product business or consulting business. We’re just 2 developers looking to grow the community. Hopefully, we can continue to grow it for many years to come.

So once again, if you’ve gone to a 360Flex event or plan to someday, go answer this three question survey:

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=yGMLUk_2f4IRYXqoobzijRuQ_3d_3d

It’s only 3 questions to you, but it’s worth quiet a bit more to me.

Thanks,

Tom

P.S. The live results of the survey can be found here:

http://www.surveymonkey.com/sr.aspx?sm=vYl0EBqFwQOrWCuur46_2bDfittExkiV1oYuHuVUgA6k8_3d

P.P.S

If you blog, please post the survey and/or the results link on your blog too.  We need as much feed back as necessary.