parlez vous victoire?

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

maybe it's the power of coffee!

I received this email forward this morning... which may be quite relevant to my post last night...
A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to

visit their old university lecturer. Conversation soon turned into

complaints about stress in work and life. Offering his guests coffee, the

lecturer went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an

assortment of cups: porcelain, plastic, glass, some plain-looking and some

expensive and exquisite, telling them to help themselves to hot coffee.

When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the lecturer said: "If

you noticed, all the nice-looking, expensive cups were taken up, leaving

behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is but normal for you to want only

the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress.

What all of you really wanted, was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously

went for the better cups and are eyeing each other's cups."

"Now, if Life is coffee, then the jobs, money and position in society are

the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain Life, but the quality of

Life doesn't change. Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to

enjoy the coffee in it."

So please, don't let the cups drive you ... Enjoy the coffee.

Monday, May 29, 2006

the power of passion...

I read a post one of my colleagues wrote on our intranet blog that really made me think... think back to the days when i used to feel that way, feel so passionate about my job about what i was doing... i would beam and gush about the things i was up to. but what about now? where did the passion, the fire, go? i strongly believe that one should be fired up about one's job, about what one does... afterall as we hear so often, and know all too well, we spend so much of our time at work... what is the use of doing it if you do not feel alive? when, oh when did i become so jaded? and more importantly where to now that i have the knowledge of how i feel?

here is the post if anyone is interested in questioning... questing with me...


May 17th, 2006

I’m very fortunate to work where I do. I love my job. And I mean it. The work is challenging and fun, the company is going places, the environment and work ethic are unique, and the people I work with are gems.

Some major components of the important triad of learning and growth and maturation are encountering new ideologies, tasting new philosophies, viewing the world through new paradigms, experiencing new challenges, sampling new approaches to problem-solving, and assimilating new wisdom through the engagement of new people.

This piece is about something specific and will be too long (and maybe tedious) if I don’t focus, though there is much else I can say about how this work environment feeds all of those needs and stokes the fires of personal learning and growth and maturation.

What I am about to say may sound whacked, but I can think of no better way to put it that would make more sense: In terms of appreciating how and why I love my job, I’ve come to realise that my experience would have been entirely different if the development tool I found myself working with was not Java.

Artists, mercenaries, musicians (you name it) generally choose their own tools, and while the ply of their trade decides the format of the implements, there is an element of personality exhibited in the specific choices made in the exact tools a person picks. And while I may admit that Java was not my choice at this workbench, I can point out that I could have chosen a different workshop.

In an open-source-friendly environment, you are encouraged to explore, to research more than one solution path, to investigate more than one option when hunting solutions. There is an usually an abundance of tools, and when there isn’t a tool for the task you want to tackle then you’re more than welcome to compose new tools from existing ones, or modify the existing ones to suit your own needs. It’s somewhat like a host of sword-smiths producing an arsenal of katanas which you can choose to use in various combinations in battle, or from which you may take any blade you like and reshape to suit your own style, purposes and preferences.

This freedom fuels an insatiable thirst for knowledge, a self-feeding and self-perpetuating quest for knowledge or enlightenment about what’s out there, what’s good, what’s to do and what you can do. The more you explore, the more you learn, and the more you want to learn. It’s all about getting it right, in the best way possible. The coolest way possible.

What I’m saying, then, is that Java and the numerous associated open-source libraries we use in conjunction with it are an epitome of this fantastic environment of exploration, learning, and curiosity-and-its-pursuance - it may not be the best box-o’-toys but it sure is a fun one, and it defines an environment and an ethic I love. Work with passion is not beatable as far as good feelings go.

Quite frankly, I’m sure I’d have known different electric avenues were I not in a Java environment, and I might have had oblivious fun running up and down those avenues, but knowing what I do now, I see that I would have been bored without realising it. And when I’m ready to move on to other things, maybe better things, I’ll have a sweeter appreciation then for concepts I might not even have truly understood otherwise. It’s something like not knowing what a colour looks like if you aren’t able to see it, but when you are able to see it, realising how limited your spectrum was without that ability.

Long live this culture of teaching and learning with unabashed grace, this ethic of harmony and challenges delivered in the same breath, this pursuit to quench an insatiable thirst for knowledge.

It’s what drives us to push boundaries, to break new waters and land upon new frontiers. It’s the fuel for innovation.

Friday, May 26, 2006

soccer fever

so the soccer fever has caught up, even to me... the soccer world cup 2006 starts on Friday 9 June, and is held in Germany... and now I have a reason to keep an eye on the German world cup... our office held a world cup draw, and I got Ecuador! Go Ecuador!

So if you know nothing about Ecuador, here's some info gleaned from wikipedia:

República del Ecuador
Republic of Ecuador
Flag of Ecuador Coat of arms of Ecuador
Flag Coat of arms
Motto: Spanish: "Dios, patria y libertad"
(English: "God, homeland and liberty")
Anthem: Salve, Oh Patria
Location of Ecuador
Capital Quito
00°9′S 78°21′W
Largest city Guayaquil
Official language(s) Spanish1
Government Republic
Alfredo Palacio
Alejandro Serrano
From Spain
24 May 1822
- Total

- Water (%)

199,235 km² (71st)
76,905 sq mi
- July 2005 est.
- Density

13,363,593 (62nd)
47/km² (124th)
122/sq mi
- Total
- Per capita
2005 estimate
$67 billion (73rd)
$4,083 (114th)
HDI (2003) 0.759 (82nd) – medium
Currency U.S. dollar2 (USD)
Time zone
- Summer (DST)
(UTC-5; UTC -6 (Galápagos Islands)
Internet TLD .ec
Calling code +593
1 Quichua and other Amerindian languages spoken by indigenous communities.
2 Sucre until 2000.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

pottery proud

Hooray! I finally got to take something home from pottery last night... It's one of the first pinch pots I made... actually the first stoneware pinch pot. not bad, eh? I painted it by following the patterns the steelwool I used to smooth it down with made in the surface... quite interesting... I'm still experimenting with different shapes and glazes...

mean mountainbikers...

this mtb story forwarded through the spinman group had me in stitches today! being a (rather inactive) mtb-er myself, I can really relate to the crazy stuff that happens out there!


By Don True

Remember the Cottonwood 200 Club Ride last Sunday? The route went out Sixty
First Street; down the big hill; through Dover and on to Council Grove. I
was doing my civic and biking duty by being a marshal at the top of the big
hill, just outside Dover. I was the guy handing you bananas and apples and
refilling your water bottles. It’s the bananas that caused the real
problem. I had heard that when bananas are shipped here from South America
that sometimes tarantulas slip into the packing crates and make it all the
way to market. And since the bike club buys bananas by the case for the
hungry hoard of bikers, I think that’s where the spider came from. As I was
sitting there on the water jugs he must have creep silently and slowly out
of the crate and into my rear jersey pockets. I just wish I had seen him

As the last group of riders left the water point, up rode my buddy Jim the

“Come on Don, let’s race into Dover for some power bars and granola.” “Gee
Jim,” I replied, “How healthy. How about a sausage biscuit with butter and
cheese on it and a greasy old egg thrown on top?” And with that I jumped on
my bike and got a 200-foot head start before he realized I had left. He may
have been slow to catch onto me leaving, but he hammered on his pedals and
caught me in about 10 seconds.

We were now racing downhill at about 35 mph when Jim yells over: “Stop
pedalling and hold real still. A big brown ugly spider is crawling up your

Suddenly I could feel eight little legs making their way up my spine. I
watched Jim slowly unfasten his Zefal frame pump, and gripping it like a
tennis racket he proceeded to hit the spider with his best back hand top
spin shot.


The pump made a dull thud of a sound as it hit me squarely across the back.
I was thrown forward from the force and my chest was crushed against my aero
bars. This opened up some stitches from a previous accident. I could only
moan and gasp for air as I swerved back and forth across the road.

The crafty spider had foreseen Jim’s mighty blow and scurried up my back and
now was perched on my left shoulder. In my peripheral vision, I could see a
venomous hairy brown creature about three inches in diameter, clinging onto
me for dear life. It had fangs about ½-inch long, and it looked to me like
poison venom was dripping profusely from them. Two little beady eyes looked
back into mine, and I swear, I saw his twisted brown lips smile at me.

In a sudden move he leaped off my shoulder and two razor sharp pinchers
claws caught my ear lobe and the spider dangled there. “JIMMMMM” I
screamed, as Jim took another back swing with his pump.


Jim’s last blow hit me right up side the head. For a few seconds I was
seeing stars and a solar eclipse all at the same time. At 40 mph I started
to pass out and ride off the road, but Jim made a desperate grab at me and
managed to grasp the waistband on the back of my Lycra pants. He pulled
open a 2-inch gap between my waist and the pants and a rather large SPIDER
in distress dropped off my ear lobe and into my now open shorts.

In rapid-fire succession Jim pummelled me on the rear with several blows
from his Zefal. Seeing a 3-inch lump moving left and right under my shorts,
Jim would react with a new blow each time it moved. As we continued
speeding down the hill, I was becoming more afraid of my toothless crazed
good buddy Jim than I was of the tarantula.

It was a quiet Sunday morning as we blazed past the Dover Baptist Church at
the bottom of the hill. The Sunday service was just letting out. The
Pastor, in his best robes, was standing on the front steps still shaking
hands with his departing parishioners, who were now treated to the sight of
a person in terror, screaming profanity at the top of his lungs, while a
very large man, with no teeth, clad in pink lycra shorts, continued to beat
him about the rear with a large blunt object, while riding bicycles down the

The spider finally had had enough of Jim’s poundings, as I pulled my bike to
the side of the road. He sank his venomous laden fangs into my flesh and I
gave out a cry that would wake the dead. All 150 pairs of eyes from the
Baptist congregation were now turned and riveted on me. In agony, I quickly
pulled down my shorts to get the creature out. I screamed at Jim that my
rear was on fire with burning pain. He abruptly grabbed his water bottle
and proceeded to squirt me with his grape Gatorade on my now bare naked

In the corner of my eye, I saw a small child run up to the pastor and I
heard him say: “Are those the sinners that you are always preaching about?”

Lying beside the road in pain, each and every Baptist drove by and shook
their heads. Several pointed Jim and me out to their children, as examples
of a life gone bad…

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

oh to understand french...

who are you?

where do you come from? where do you go?

so i have been peering in at google analytics every now and again in the hopes of getting some insight into the people that read my blog... i think i have more questions than ever's a sample report screenshot starting on the day before i started using analytics, of the past 2 weeks' visits...

i now know a whole lot more about the type of "victoire" visitor (mostly direct)... but there are questions... like, how does manage to refer so many hits to my site when they make no reference whatsoever on their site to me ...i had a theory that perhaps people were using the "next blog" button on blogger ... and of course i had to go out and prove my theory... i clicked on the "next blog" button 10 times from nux's site... nothing... not once did i come across smokingtt... maybe if i had persisted... but what are the chances? and why do i not get hits from other blogger sites?questions questions questions...oh... and welcome to all my visitors far and wide (number of visits in brackets):

Johannesburg (21)
Parow (9)
Bellville (8)
Waterloo (5)
Sandton (2)
Preston (2)
Mountain View (1)
Houghton Estate (1)
Lewiston (1)
Bangalore (1)
Cape Town (1)
Calcutta (1)
Midrand (1)
Mexico (1)
Milton Keynes (1)
Nedlands (1)
Durbanville Hills (1)
Gdansk (1)
Waverly (1)
Mombasa (1)
Canton (1)

... to be exact ;)

Thursday, May 18, 2006

the arbness of being

for those in jhb... how odd is the rain we got last night? Completely out of the blue... but it left the veld on the way to work bursting with greenery this morning, lovely! I've been marveling at the wonderful autumn colours of the trees, grasses whilst driving around.

i have been in a bit of a mood lately, mostly due to the incomprehensively boring work i am doing! it's astounding... "what does it accomplish?!" I have been wont to shout out loud on numerous occasions... and today i found out, not much at all. changes have been made, yet again, which basically render my efforts over the past... 6 months? a year? futile... *yet again*. Ok not COMPLETELY futile... but basically futile. I am ready to just wring somebody's neck (maybe my own) and give up on this project. But there's the conundrum... I'm not a quitter... and there's still something in me that says that I can make a difference... I can do this. I hope.

Coming to my rescue is some change management work I have been asked to do on the same project, hopefully this will be a bit of a change (heh heh), and will leave me in better spirits.

pottery is my sugar... or my tonic... my cuppa earl grey tea. I realised this yesterday, when i forced myself to attend my pottery class, despite being in yet another one of my rather foul moods. I was happy I did. it is so... stress-relieving-peaceful. it makes me happy.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

who controls the controller?

so I went back to a link I've saved for blogging about sometime on 43 folders...

Procrastination can drive most of us into a spiral of shame that’s as mundane as it is painfully personal. We know what we should be doing, but some invisible hang-up keeps us on the line. Unfortunately, the guaranteed consequence of procrastination is growth in the scale of the task you’ve been putting off—as well as the anxiety that it creates. All the time you’re putting something off, your problem’s getting bigger—both in reality and in your head, where your colorful imagination is liable to turn even the most trivial item into an unsolvable juggernaut that threatens to overwhelm you. And that means extra stress, more procrastination, and the music goes round.

My favorite tonic for procrastination—which I have mentioned in passing previously—is what I call a dash, which is simply a short burst of focused activity during which you force yourself to do nothing but work on the procrastinated item for a very short period of time—perhaps as little as just one minute. By breaking a few tiny pebbles off of your perceived monolith, you end up psyching yourself out of your stupor, as well as making much-needed progress on your overdue project. Neat, huh?

It's an interesting concept. but requires a to do list. I can imagine it being useful to me if I split my tasks up into components and tackled them with a "dash". But then again, I have to make time to make the list... boy, does organisation take time or what? the admin of admin...

In my reading of the article, I came upon a link to some free software called "Temptation Blocker" in the comments section.

The software is supposed to keep one from those "temptations" that steal one's time during the day, like reading email, for a set amount of time, allowing one to focus on the more important tasks of the moment.

I have found myself distracted by such things as browsing and gmail lately, but my solution is to close firefox, and concentrate on getting my work done. Have we reached such a point that we're unable to control ourselves anymore? What if you get so used to the blocker that you cannot function without it, and more importantly you get used to the idea of using a blocker in your everyday computer activities?

Analytics This!

news just in...

yay! after applying for google analytics late last year, i've finally been sent an invitation! it was sitting in my gmail inbox when i got in this morning. nice little present for the week. so now I wait and see what information it brings about my visitors... :) not that i'm keen on spying on y'all but it would be interesting to have an indication of how many visitors i get, and what not...

the analytics of this morning lead me to thinking about google's adsense too... so you might notice the google ads at the top of the page. i've never been big on ads in personal blogs... so this is a trial thing, let me know if it annoys you immensely.

:) have a nice day!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

funky features

do you think it's dodgy to have 2 blogs?[1] or more than one blog? my very first blog started off at but then i found blogger... and it just seemed easier to post here. everything was already set up, i could just start blogging. but i couldn't let go of my original blog and personal domain name, and it's still there, waiting patiently for me to find the time, and an internet connection from home, to make it all i dreamed it to be.

getting back to the point... i logged into wordpress yesterday, and discovered a funky, if basic, feature... they've added an add-on that enables one to blog about a page one is browsing. It's basically a bookmark that inserts the url you are browsing into a new post in a pop-up window. i dig it. this feature may very well lead me to post on more regularly. i've already used it to bookmark drafts for blogging later on...

[1] a friend maintains that having more than one blog is rather nefarious, and smacks of backhanded-ness. can the person who has more than one blog be trusted? what are they trying to hide?

Friday, May 05, 2006

the cherry on the top

no that wouldn't be me... that would be referring to some excellent news i received the other day with regards to my honours research paper...

i received the prize for the best honours project in the information systems department.

the best.

i wrote the *best* research paper.


the pain of that paper is quite distant, almost numbed now... so i don't think that this prize can be fully appreciated... but even so, i am rather amazed. i wrote the bulk of that paper in one of the most difficult weeks (both physically from not sleeping and emotionally - when it rains it pours) of my life.

i am just so grateful that it is all over... and i have this to add a bit of a sparkle to the end of it all... a light at the end of the tunnel... a rainbow after the rain.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


it's all in your mindset...

this thought has been with me for a few weeks now. i don't know how to describe it really, i know that the deeper meaning behind this phrase is enormous... it's bigger than me, it's bigger than my life, it encompasses everything i do... and is visible in the smallest examples too. how to express it though? i think it has to do with the way i look at things and occurances in my life. if i look at things slightly differently they may become less complicated... or ... argh! i don't know how to put it, and now it's just sounding silly. perhaps i will revisit this point later. think about it.