Overtime Is Killing You… Slowly

If you work in the tech industry, more specifically as a developer (software or web) you are slowly dying from a disease commonly known as: overtime.

There is no cure for overtime other than something called common sense. It comes in many different forms, but for many including myself, it can be a hard pill to swallow when a deadline is looming or a culture of overtime is prevalent. When the company comes to expect overtime, in this economy you have two choices: deal with it and hope you do not burn out or find a new job.

Finding a new job for some can be difficult, a lot of the individual economies that make up the world economy are falling apart. Spain has an unemployment rate of around 25%, the UK around 6.5%. This leaves you with the choice of working incredibly long hours for a fixed salary with no extra benefits, which for some with families to provide for can make it even harder to deal with.

Does any of this sound familiar?

  • But I have to stay back to finish this deadline or I will lose my job.
  • I want to deliver great code, so I can warrant the extra time investment.
  • I am new here and I want to make a good impression, be a team player and I know if the company needs to downsize because I am new, they will look to cull me first.
  • Work said that this will not happen very often. I am only staying back for the greater good of my team and my company, it will not happen very often.
  • We want to get this project completed earlier, so we have time at the end for testing and refinements before handing it over to the client or shipping,

In the end you have to ask yourself: who does overtime truly benefit?

It does not benefit you or your team because it has been proven that after a certain amount of hours staring at a computer screen, you begin to lose focus and once you lose focus, your concentration levels go right down the toilet.

You are definitely not doing your employer any favours either. Dropped concentration levels mean you miss things, you make simple mistakes and could end up setting you and your teams progress back as you scramble to undo mistakes you made whilst fatigued. Resentment begins to grow in environments where work life balance becomes 90/10.

So the answer to the question is: it benefits nobody. It is an outdated way of thinking that the more man hours you throw at a problem, the quicker it gets solved. This is akin to slavery, and like many overworked slaves in history, it takes a toll on you and you either die or become mentally ill.

Many managers seem to operate on the principle of the more hours someone puts in, the more work you get out. This is true until a certain point. It is a little bit like dipping a tea bag in a cup of hot water, after 3 to 5 minutes of steeping in the water, it will not absorb any more tea. You could leave the tea bag in for 2 hours and it would still be no stronger than someone who left theirs in for 5 minutes.

Overtime is not just limited to sitting at your work provided desk on your work provided computer, it also extends to home-life. Working from home after hours, checking emails and losing valuable time you can spend with your family is a form of overtime we all fail to realise is just as detrimental to your health and work/life balance.

Go home, huge your wife/husband, play with your kids, see a movie, call your parents or reach out to that high-school friend you used to be great friends with and stop letting overtime kill you. You are sick, but there is hope for you yet.

Apple OS X Yosemite Wifi Issues

Thanks a lot Apple, you incompetent pieces of shit. Gone are the Steve Jobs days of quality and consistency, these days it seems not only have Apple stopped innovating, they can not even seem to release a software update without breaking things.

First the messed up launch of iOS 8 and the number of issues people experienced there, now the latest and supposedly greatest version of OS X comically named Yosemite is experiencing more issues than an actress in a rehab clinic.

The issue for me appears to be Wifi (Googling seems to yield a lot of results). At first I thought it was my crappy home network, then I thought it was my crappy work network. It turns out I was blaming the wrong culprit, the issue is I updated to Yosemite and it seems to have some kind of bug with wireless connections.

My wireless connection ranges from dropping out completely to slowing down to a crawl and randomly dropping TCP/UDP packets whenever it pleases like a friend who has been sleeping on your couch for 2 months and has made your seat cushions smell like Cheetos and seafood. Sometimes it works for a good while, other times it seems to forget wireless networks that other people around me not on Mavericks seem to have no trouble staying connected to.

Some of the fixes range from forgetting all of your discovered wireless networks, disabling bluetooth, setting IP6 to “link local only” and reinstalling Yosemite. None of the above aforementioned fixes worked for me, which leads me to believe Apple are so arrogant that they do not test anything they put out any more.

I am using a late 2014 model MacBook Pro and I expected better than this… Not that age should matter, I think it definitely highlights Apple have released not even beta quality software.

How To Fix Issue With DOTA 2 Not Going Fullscreen On Mac

Recently on my MacBook Pro when I launched DOTA 2, the dock was showing and the menu bar, buttons were being cut-off and the game was hard to use. The issue seems to stem from how Steam sometimes launches the game client.

The fix is rather simple and worked for me.

  1. Open up the Steam client
  2. Click the Library tab
  3. Right click on Dota 2
  4. Select Properties
  5. Click on the General tab (it should be selected by default)
  6. Click on the “Set Launch Options” button
  7. In the box that pops up enter -fullscreen

1Password 4 Mac: “Failed To Extract Application Archive” When Upgrading From 4.4.2

I am a huge fan of 1Password and the update process has always gone very smoothly, however recently while attempting to upgrade from 4.4.2 to version 4.4.3 I kept getting an error message about how the application archive failed to extract.

I tried absolutely everything and came to the conclusion that this is an issue with the update package or the update software itself.

The fix is to manually download the update from the 1Password site here and manually install it (which works). Annoying, but not world ending.

The Difference Between The Samsung Galaxy S4 Active And Samsung Galaxy S4

Well, it finally happened. I broke my phone whilst playing a furious game of air hockey. Leaning against the table for those slam shots resulted in my loyal Samsung Galaxy S4 getting its LCD broken and cracks in the glass.

I am currently in Seattle, my insurance ran out recently and I had to go and find a new phone. I tried to find just a straight up Galaxy S4 for a decent price, to no avail.

I considered repairing it first, but to buy the LCD yourself including shipping is about $150 and then you need to buy the glass separately. Phone stores want to charge $240 to repair the phone.

I was able to find a Galaxy S4 Active for $180 including shipping. It’s used, but in better condition than my S4 was and undeniably cheaper than repairing it myself or paying someone else to do it.

So, is there a difference?

Not really. The camera in the Active variant is 8mp on the front, while the none-active variant is 13mp. Do those extra megapixels matter? Not really. Comparing the image quality of the active and non-active variants does not display any noticeable difference.

The benefit of the S4 Active is the fact it is waterproof (to an extent) and dust proof, very handy if you’re fishing or near water. I am not an overly active person, but it is nice to know I can go near water (like leave my phone on the edge of the pool) without worrying about getting it wet.

How To Fix HP Envy M6 Unresponsive Touchpad Issues

My soon-to-be wife recently purchased a HP Envy M6 laptop because it fits her needs of blogging, listening to music, photos, social media and watching video (she isn’t a gamer). However, she soon encountered issues with the trackpad.

It seems HP and their middle-line laptops have some history when it comes to trackpads becoming unresponsive and buggy. This is the model of laptop with the A10 processor, 6gb of ram and 15.6" touch screen.

After some investigation and playing around, I tried installing new drivers for the touchpad by Synaptics. It seems the drivers that ship with this thing are outdated and buggy in the shipped version of Windows: Windows 8.1.

Simply download the appropriate drivers here from the Synaptic website. Install them and then restart your machine. The touchpad should now be more responsive and hopefully fix your issue.

How Do You Hand Over Sketch Files To Developers?

I used to be and am still at times, an avid Adobe Fireworks user. I strongly believe it was ahead of its time and it wasn’t given a proper chance to be the standout premier web design tool that many realised it was.

Recently after moving to a MacBook Pro, I have started playing around with Sketch 3. I think it is fantastic, a great design tool and above all, really snappy (the exportable SVG feature is great).

However, there is a looming problem with Sketch: how do you hand over the design files to developers or designers on non-Mac machines?

Well, you can’t. Sadly Sketch does not support working with Adobe’s proprietary PSD format. This is actually a big problem for Sketch and is hampering its adoption.

Not everyone uses a Mac or can afford to buy one. Then you have the issue of not all companies being equal. I have worked at places where people used PC’s running Windows, Mac’s, PC’s running Linux and Mac’s running Windows. It’s a crazy world out there.

The fence

The community is on the fence about this problem. I am a frequent Designer News reader and I have seen this problem raised a couple of times by the community and the answers were pretty split.

Some people argue that developers shouldn’t get given final design files and that they should be given just the assets and static comps of the designs instead.

Some people argue that it is a problem that requires a solution, one of which will not come soon.

I can see where designers are coming from, sometimes developers do a pretty rubbish job at cutting up assets correctly, at the right resolutions or sizes and end up getting assets from the designer anyway.

But there is more to a design then assets. The big thing for me is font sizes, colours and font weights. I have worked on projects using extensive typefaces before of which have weights ranging from light to black, a design is able to tell you this.

Sure, designers could also go through and write up a styleguide document detailing the font weights, sizes and colours, but what about things like padding and margins? I know a plugin exists for Sketch that adds in the spacings between elements, but it feels like a hack more than anything.

But then there is another problem that a specification document/styleguide comes with: language barriers. I have been given designs like this before and seen in the document things being referenced like: h1, h2, h3, h4. This is incredibly vague because sometimes I might not even use a heading tag for something.

Clients

Once you get over the design to develop workflow issues with Sketch you have a problem with clients and deliverables.

Sadly, the industry is still very Adobe dominated. If you design a website and the client requests deliverables, Sketch files will not cut it if the client and their team are using PC’s.

It is not uncommon for clients to request deliverables and I have worked on a couple of jobs where the deliverable designs were expected to be Photoshop PSD files and logos in Adobe Illustration (.ai) format.

The solution?

There is no short-term solution to this problem. Sketch cannot export editable Photoshop files and there is no easy way to hand over deliverables to non-Mac users or Mac users who don’t have or want to buy a licence for it.

For some organisations using Sketch at scale, it is obviously different. If you are doing in-house design and everyone is using a Mac, then there is nothing stopping you from implementing and using it.

If you’re a design agency that design and develop WordPress websites and no two clients are the same, you will eventually run into an easy when it comes to deliverables. Even if you educate, it means nothing. The client paid for something and they want the source files.

I have read too many stories of designers ditching Sketch halfway through a client project for Photoshop because of this exact reason for it to be a minor issue.

We need Sketch for Windows and hopefully it eventually happens. Sketch 3 has been selling incredibly well, so perhaps Bohemian Coding can reinvest some of that cash into a Windows version.

If not, perhaps even another solution could be to write a plugin for Photoshop that allows Sketch files to be imported. Whether or not the scripting system in Photoshop would allow this or not.

My Fear Of Flying And Tips For Others

As I write this I am sitting on a plane at 32,000 feet, about 5 hours into my 13 hour flight from Brisbane Australia to Los Angeles, USA.

Unknown to many I am actually terrified of flying. From the moment I know we are boarding, to the taxi, instructional video, take-off and then subsequent ascent into the skies I am having a panic attack each time (sometimes worse than others).

Now it doesn’t stop me from flying, but there are brief moments of panic where in my head I am freaking out, knowing that there is very little I can actually do to calm myself down in the situation.

I tend to have a couple of drinks. This flight I’ve had a scotch and dry (half of which spilled on my partner and her seat) and a Pure Blonde beer. Without sounding like an alcoholic: it does take the edge off.

Before we departed the pilots told us that over New Caledonia/Numea we would encounter turbulence (turns out it is clear air turbulence which can’t be seen).

The first couple of hours were fine, we hadn’t flown over New Caledonia yet (but we were close). But then we did and alarm bells were going off in my head, subtle bumps feel like drops of 1000ft, the shaking and when the crew were told to buckle up, it didn’t make me feel better.

I am very sensitive to turbulence. What is probably not even registering on the instruments in the cockpit feels like free-fall. Even though I reassure myself, there are times of panic where I grab the seat or instinctively lean forward trying to steady myself.

The weird thing about my anxiety and fear of flying is that I have done a lot of flying in the last year alone. In December 2013 through to January 2014, I flew to the United Kingdom, then flew from there to London, Paris, Rome and Poland before flying back to the United Kingdom and then back home to Australia.

In total during that Europe/UK trip I probably flew on about 9 planes, I had a terrifying landing into Heathrow (it was stormy and raining heavily, not to mention pitch black at 3pm). It was a rough landing.

Then there was the flight out of London to Rome, the plane experienced some weird kind of take-off turbulence, something I have never experience before. The plane wasn’t even in the sky and it was shaking and bouncing like a rock concert crowd.

Then in April 2014, I flew to San Francisco from Brisbane, flying through Sydney (for a week). This was a total of 4 flights as well. So all in all in 2014 I have basically been on a plane close to 13 times (including now).

And yet, the fear never subsides. I know that flying is safer than driving to the airport and choosing a western airline automatically betters your chances. But still the fear remains and I think it always will remain to an extent.

However, I have learned to cope with my fear and hopefully these tips below that have helped me will help you. If you are legitimately having small panic attacks at times (like me) please know this isn’t a cure, but rather help from a fellow scared traveller.

Get a seat over the wings

You see this mentioned everywhere and there is a damn good reason why: centre of gravity. Sitting over the wings means you’re sitting in the centre of gravity of the plane, this is the most comfortable part of the plane.

As the plane bounces around, it will move from the centre just a little bit, but always returns to the same point due to the lift of the wings and engines. When I say centre I mean picture a circle and the plane is within the middle of the circle. This is the centre of gravity, where the weight of the plane ensures that it returns to that point if moved.

Fortunately I have been lucky enough to get wing seats in most of the plane trips I have been on. If you’re flying long-haul and you are a nervous flyer, explain this to them and they will be very understanding and accommodating. My advice is to check in early, they will move other passengers if you have a legitimate fear and this helps manage it.

While sitting over the wings during turbulence and still feeling like you’re on a vulnerable piece of alloy flying through the sky: spare a thought for the nervous flyers stuck at the back of the plane (arguably the worse place to be during turbulence).

Listen to upbeat music

When you listen to upbeat music, it will raise your heart-rate. I personally listen to a lot of metal and bands like The Black Dahlia Murder get me through the rough parts.

Listening to up-tempo dance music, especially dubstep if you can stand it (the equivalent of electronic music death metal). I have found this raises your heart-rate and then confuses your body as to why your heart-rate is higher. You can confuse your bodies senses with loud uptempo music which in turn helps it kind of forget that you’re freaking out (just a bit).

Spotify user?

Spotify has not only an exceptional catalogue of music, but also quite a good selection of therapeutic hypnosis and calming tracks.

If you’re not into hypnosis or other self-help materials, keep reading and skip this tip that won’t apply to some.

Searching “hypnosis flying” will yield a few fear of flying tracks which if you are a premium user, can sync onto your phone and listen to them on the plane. I actually found a really good one linked here which I felt as though did indeed calm me a bit.

Play pretend

Picture yourself in a car on a highway. This highway has been neglected by local council and is very bumpy. Driving over those bumps, some bigger than others will result in your car to shake and be temporarily thrown off balance, but only slightly.

Remember how it felt to drive on a bumpy road. It felt similar to being in turbulence, didn’t it? Remember the last time you drove down a hill and you got that feeling in your stomach? that is gravity making you lighter.

The more you tell yourself you’re 35,000 feet in the air, the more you will freak yourself out. There is nothing you can do, so all you can do is stop, take deep breaths and place yourself elsewhere. An irrational thought process will only result in irrational thoughts.

Remember the last time you flew

Do you remember the last time you were on a plane? Good, that means you departed and arrived safely. Sure, planes have been known to crash and they always will, but you should focus on the positive. You survived last time, you will survive this time.

Now remember how sill you felt after you got off the plane. A sense of relief and slight embarrassment, “I can’t believe I freaked out over nothing. I will be better next time”

G-force Applications

In the iOS and Android app stores there are numerous paid and free applications that can show you the position of the plane and its movement. Lying your phone flat on the tray table and opening your app will show that even during the shakiest of flights, the plane doesn’t actually move that far.

I am an Android user, so I user an application called “G-force Speedometer” it shows you the vertices and axis. If you’re sitting in the middle of the plane, it works really well and can be calibrated to work within your position of the plane cabin.

What surprised me the most is this actually how little the plane is moving, it’s not even really moving up and down or left and right. During the turbulence on this flight over New Caledonia (the worst on the flight) it was basically staying in the middle of the axis and showed the plane probably wasn’t even budging an inch in height.

I have only just discovered these kind of applications and even if they are not 100% accurate, as long as I think they are, it will calm and reassure me to a certain extent.

Put in earplugs or headphones

If you’re not listening to music, put in some noise-blocking earplugs. I used to let the sound of the engines get to me. I am no jet engine mechanic, but it never used to stop me from freaking out every time I heard a noise I thought wasn’t right.

Do any of these thoughts sound familiar?

“The engines have gone quiet, something must be wrong”
“I hear the engines getting louder, something must be wrong”
“I hear large banging noises when we are about to land, the landing gear must be broken”

Trust me, if something isn’t right, the pilots will know about it and passengers will be alerted accordingly. It’s like being home alone in the dark and having a slight fear, you will think you hear noises and assume they’re bad.

Your safety is paramount and no pilot will keep any potential issue from you, in-case in the rare event you need to follow the appropriate brace procedure, you will be told.

Fly with someone else

If you can, fly with a loved one or partner. If you are flying with your partner, holding their hand can help steady you. If your partner is not afraid of flying (like mine) look at their face, they are not worried, why should you be? Reassure yourself by looking to your partner or loved one.

Have a drink

But don’t drink too much. I know some will frown upon this, but if you are a drinker, have yourself a glass of wine, beer or scotch to ease the nerves. Make sure you drink plenty of water, the pressured cabin will dry out your skin and dehydrate you (this will cause immense jetlag).

I find after a couple of drinks, I am a lot more relaxed and able to actually sleep for a little bit. I am never truly at ease to go into a deeper slumber, but enough to have a cat-nap.

Educate Yourself

Because I knew what plane I was flying on and the airline, I did some research. For some airlines this might make you worse, but for me it helped knowing some interesting facts.

This section is going to be quite long, so bear with me. This is the last section as well and comprised of a few sub-tips.

Research The Airline
Research the history of your airline. I am flying Virgin Australia and I know they are rated 7 stars for safety (up there with Qantas and other larger companies). When was the last time they had a crash resulting in fatalities? How many planes have they lost in the last 10 years?

Research The Plane
I then researched the type of plane I was flying on a Boeing B777 300er. The B777 is regarded as one of the safest planes in operation, my understanding based on my internet research is that one has never crashed resulting in fatalities. There have been a few issues with it, but nothing to worry about.

Airlines are businesses
Understand that planes cost a lot of money. Airlines require planes to make them money, on-top of the high salaries they pay pilots and staff, not to mention accommodation and food allowances for plane staff on-top of the fact that plane hold tonnes of fuel and fuel is VERY expensive.

Losing a plane is the last thing an airline wants. As bad as it sounds, they are a business and losing a plane because of recklessness or other human-errors means they take a hit (sadly Malaysian Airlines recently is an example of this).

Heavily regulated
The aviation industry (at least in the western world) is heavily and I mean, very heavily moderated. Log books need to be kept on absolutely everything. How many hours a plane has done, the weight of the plane, temperatures its been through and any incidents (how minor) are reported and logged.

There is actually no other industry in the world that I can name that is as regulated as airlines. Not even gun manufacturers are as regulated as an airline.

Pilots are highly trained
The process for becoming a pilot is a long and painful one. Unlike your drivers licence, you can’t just have a few lessons and get behind the cockpit of a Boeing 777 jetliner.

Before a pilot is even allowed to step footer into a simulator, there are many tests they need to undertake. Mathematics, problem solving skills, IQ tests, aptitude tests and psychological tests.

The process is so gruelling that a lot of applicants don’t make it through the process. A pilot is a special kind of person, detail oriented and somewhat boring, but fitting the kind of criteria you would want for someone piloting a multimillion dollar plane full of people.

And then after all of the training and tests, once a pilot is allowed to fly, they need to get their hours up. A pilot does not simply just start flying international flights, they’re made to fly domestic routes first to get their hours up and then, once they’ve reached a certain amount, they are allowed to pilot the international flights.

I know Australian airline Qantas makes new pilots fly Dash–8 Turboprop planes on their many domestic routes for quite a while before they can become an international pilot.

The Plane Components
Every single part in a plane that moves or experiences any kind of stress is heavily tested before the plane is even allowed to go on a test flight. And I am not just talking about theoretical limits, plane manufacturers stress parts in a plane well beyond their recommended operating limits just to see what happens.

Surprising to many, the wings are the strongest and lightest part of the plane. They might look like two pieces of light metal attached to the plane, but these things are the most stress tested part of the plane. This video actually shows just how much Boeing wings can handle being bent in before they break (a lot more force than a plane would ever encounter).

The engines are equally as reliable on the plane. Jet engines on modern planes are actually the same kind of engines planes were using 20 years ago (just slightly improved over the years for fuel economy). It might reassure you to know that engine manufacturers like Rolls Royce actually use the same technology in power plant turbines.

There are power plants out there especially with turbine engines that have been running for 30+ years, possibly even longer. The technology of plane engines in particular is down to a science and most cases of engines failing or encountering issues were due to external factors (like birds).

Cruise altitude is the safest part
The safest part of your flight is when you are at cruise altitude. Modern planes are flown mostly on autopilot (with crew there to monitor instruments and messages). This is referred to as “fly-by-wire” in which the plane flies itself most of the way there.

The least safest part and historically based on statistics from the last 30 years or so, most planes encounter issues when taking off and landing. Of the accidents that do occur during this part, you have about an 80% survival rate if the plane has issues with landing gear or something else.

Conclusion

These tips will hopefully help you as they did help me. I am still a nervous flyer, but the above tips have helped me see the world and not freak out so much when flying high at 32,000 feet and I hope they help you as well.

Just remember flying is the safest form of transport. Your chances of dying in a crash are less than once percent and the number of fatal crashes on western airlines in the last 10 years can be counted on two hands with room to spare.

Like I am right now, tell yourself in your head, “How good is this? I am flying above the clouds with a few hundred people at 900km an hour, with access to entertainment, drink and great service”

Keep thinking positive thoughts as cliche as it sounds, it will make you feel better. Thinking over crash scenarios in your head will just make things so much worse for you.

[FIX] ‘Allowed memory size exhausted’ Composer PHP On Mac OSX

Recently I encountered a dreaded issue whilst trying to install Laravel on my Mac OSX machine.

The message I was getting was:

Allowed memory size of 536870912 bytes exhausted (tried to allocate 72 bytes) in phar:///usr/local/Cellar/composer/1.0.0-alpha8/libexec/composer.phar/src/Composer/DependencyResolver/RuleSetGenerator.php on line 123

The issue was perplexing according to PHP I had allocated 128mb of memory for PHP, but apparently this wasn’t enough. It appears as though dependencies are managed within memory and all of the components that make up Laravel (mostly Symfony) take up more than 128mb of memory.

I am using MAMP for my local development environment and setting the memory to be higher in my PHP.ini file (even though my MAMP PHP is used as the default) didn’t change the memory size, so I had to try something else.

If you are using your Homebrew install of Composer, you need to actually download the .phar file instead. I found that the Homebrew install of Composer didn’t allow you (from what I could find) to specify memory usage.

Download Composer.phar

If you haven’t already downloaded Composer (the .phar file version) in your application directory you will want to run this: curl -sS https://getcomposer.org/installer | php

You will now have the Composer package manager file to run. We will be calling it like a PHP script.

Running Composer.phar

To run Composer without memory restrictions simply type: php -d memory_limit=-1 composer.phar update

Your application that was previously freaking out because of memory exhaustion will now run (hopefully).

 

Getting Navicat To Work With MAMP Pro MySQL

After recently deciding to switch to Navicat on my MacBook Pro from Sequel Pro, I encountered an issue where Navicat couldn’t connect to my MySQL server using either localhost or the local IP of 127.0.0.1.

This is because MAMP will start the MySQL server using a socket. This just means you need to tell Navicat where your socket server is.

When creating a new connection you should see tabs; General, Advanced, SSL, SSH and HTTP. We want to specify the socket in the advanced tab.

You should see the following (as pictured below):

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 9.47.49 am

In the “Use socket file” field copy and paste this: /Applications/MAMP/tmp/mysql/mysql.sock

Now hit “Test Connection” and everything should work. You’ve now got Navicat working with your MAMP MySQL.