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Warren Shea

Archive for the ‘Insightful Reads’ Category

Do we need school anymore? Will we need school?

Monday, March 11th, 2013 at 10:18 pm

Had this thought today: We’ve had school for hundreds (thousands?) of years. Everyone had to learn with a teacher/professor/mentor.
But in recent years, something’s changed. We’ve been introduced to the internet. And with the internet, it IS possible to learn anything and everything without proper schooling and physical attendance.

I had this idea – what if, instead of sending your children to school, paying for increasing tuition costs, and paying the government taxes for education, what if there was some way for a student to learn “everything” online? Obviously, there are things school teaches you – like social skills – but everything that the classes and curriculum teach you can be learned outside of school.

The only thing a post-secondary education gives you is a degree. That’s a lot of money for that qualification. But is it worth that cost? In theory, I could learn everything I needed from school, with the internet. I wouldn’t have to go to any classes. I could write the exams, and still get my degree without going to a single class. The degree is the thing you need to enter to workforce and possibly, needed for those executive level roles.

Now, what if there was an online equivalent to school. Not in the sense of learning material, but what if there were equivalently reputable online degrees you could obtain. I mean, the only thing stopping this sort of thing is that “Certification X from school Y” might not be/sound as impressive as “Degree from UWaterloo or Harvard” or something. But what if it were? What if there was a considerably cheaper alternative to post-secondary school. Where coming out of this program provides you with all the on-paper credentials you need – the equivalent of a degree from a school.

Just my random thoughts. Online learning is still in its infancy. There have been dramatic leaps in online learning and the online resources available in the last decade. Even comparing the resources for when I went to school to the present is vastly different. Who knows how online education will evolve in even as little as 10 years.

But when my kids are ready for university, in 15-20 years, things will be unimaginably different than now.

I honestly think there’s potential in the “market” (by that, I mean the “education market” – if such a thing exists) for a well established, high credential online alternative.

You shouldn’t need money to attend a fancy school and get a reputable degree. We’re learning more and more (with the internet, no less) that genius can exist anywhere and everywhere. You can be successful without that degree (Bill Gates made this kinda thing cool – and believable/obtainable) if you’re exceptional. But even for the above average, there should be a way to get a degree without having to pay $50,000 (and who knows how much it’ll be when my kids go to school). Like Will Hunting said in Good Will Hunting: “…you dropped a hundred and fifty grand on a fuckin education you coulda got for a dollah fifty in late chahges at the public library”.

My point to this whole long drawn out post is that I don’t see a need for education to cost as much as it does. And I see/wish/hope for a reputable online alternative in my lifetime. From this post, I believe that the market for “education” is dying and at some point, won’t be profitable due to the rise of the internet, a FREE tool with INFINITE RESOURCES. Just my predictions…..

Dawson’s Creek: Quotes and thoughts

Monday, April 30th, 2012 at 2:13 am

I recently rewatched Dawson’s Creek. There are a few quotes that I really liked throughout the series. I’ve added them below…

Joey: So what is the best ending in all of literature? Don’t say Ulysses. Everyone says Ulysses.

Professor David Wilder: That’s easy. Sentimental education by Flaubert.

Joey: And what happens?

Professor David Wilder: Nothing, really. Just two old friends sitting around remembering the best thing that never happened to them.

Joey: How do you remember something that never happened?

Professor David Wilder: Fondly. You see, Flaubert believed that anticipation was the purest form of pleasure… and the most reliable. And that while the things that actually happen to you would invariable disappoint, the things that never happened to you would never dim. Never fade. They would always be engraved in your heart with a sort of sweet sadness.

Lily: What’s a soulmate?

Dawson: It’s like a best friend but more. It’s the one person in the world that knows you better than anyone else. Someone who makes you a better person. Actually they don’t make you a better person, you do that yourself because they inspire you. A soulmate is someone who you carry with you forever. It’s the one person who knew you and accepted you and believed in you before anyone else did or when no one else would. And no matter what happens you’ll always love them and nothing can ever change that.

Note that Lily is a small girl. What an obvious writer’s set up to…explain what their interpretation of a soulmate is!

Joey: Stay away from the life and death of it all.

Dawson: It’s interesting how people use that expression, ‘life and death’. As if to imply that life is the opposite of death, but birth is the opposite of death… life, has no opposite.

This was one of the most interesting quotes that caught my attention. The opposite of death would be birth.. So…what is life’s opposite? There are an infinite number of opposites. So why can’t I think of an opposite for life? Isn’t it a spectacular thing that life has no opposite? The life is just so…complex that there would never be anything comparably equal?


I think one of the reasons I like these dramas is (if they have) good writers. That someone more intelligent and philosophical can give me something to think about, that I haven’t considered. That they could word things so perfectly in that they make sense, without being inhuman. I really liked the definition of soulmate above. That definition, in itself, inspires me because while I don’t believe in soulmates…I believe in that definition. Does that make sense?

♪ ♫ What can you do when your good isn’t good enough ♬ ♪

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012 at 12:28 pm

Click to show

I’ve been listening to this song lately…it’s a…sad song I guess. When I rewatched Glee, listening to this song was really emotional.

“What can you do when your good isn’t good enough? When all that you touch tumbles down?”

These lyrics starting to pop into my head whenever I see someone failing at something.

I’m looking at my peers.

One of them put 100% into a relationship and it still failed.
One of them tries to work really hard but still struggles at their job.
One of them tries to work really hard but doesn’t get recognized for their work.

I’m just listening to this song as those lyrics (the entire song almost) apply themselves everywhere.

When I listen to this song, I think: desperation

Trying impossibly to do, to get or fix something. But maybe you can’t. Not this time.

I’ve dealt with my own share of personal desperate failures in the last few years. Times where I feel desperation…because what I’m doing just isn’t good enough to get what I want or fix situations.

It’s a horrible feeling to have…this desperation. And when I look around me at those who have had or have this feeling, I wonder:
How could they not see it coming?
How could they not prepare for it?

But…I’m guilty of the exact same thing. Sometimes…these situations just happen.

I’ve been thinking hard about myself and that I always need to be prepared.
Prepared to lose things. My girlfriend. My job. My possessions. My family.

Ugh. Even writing that is almost like…admitting that I can lose something. I mean, on one hand I want to be prepared for failure. But on another hand, I should strive for success and failure should never even be an option. I shouldn’t even consider preparing because I *know* I’m not going to fail. But that’s not it…it’s that as much as I try not to fail, sometimes it just happens. That’s the point I guess.

(Knowing you’ll never fail is a confidence and arrogance in yourself that defies logic. A younger me was very guilty of that. Even now, I’m somewhat guilty of it…but I’m more vulnerable now than when I was younger. I have much more to lose.)

So I need to always be on my toes. And make sure I never fall into a situation where this desperation applies to me.
If I lose my job: what do I do? I need to constantly keep my skills up so that I can get another job ASAP. I can’t ever fall behind so much that I don’t have the skill to do something.
If I lose my possessions: what do I do? I need to remember that money and material things aren’t what make my life. And that my family is there to support me.
If I lose my girlfriend: what do I do? I die a horrible death alone. I think this is the one I’m probably least prepared for…

Anyways, this song and the lyrics have been floating around my head lately…seemingly popping up everywhere and applying to everything. I just wanted to…remind everyone that sometimes you fail, despite your best efforts. And that everyone needs to not only be prepared for it, but to accept this reality and be prepared to move past it. To accept that sometimes you fail. To accept that you have to try again.

Reliable to succeed. Passionate to excel.

Thursday, July 7th, 2011 at 1:44 am

I often contemplate what makes a strong individual in the workplace. I’ve always felt that introspection is important, especially in the workplace where you often won’t get criticism you need because people tend to withhold negative criticism to maintain professional/working relationships. While it’s difficult to judge myself objectively, experience in the workplace helps identify who is good to work with as well as who is bad and I want to make sure I’m on the right track towards becoming a high performing individual in the workplace; picking up good habits from professional individuals and avoiding bad habits from unprofessional/poor-performing individuals.

Without boasting or trying to sound arrogant, I believe I’m a strong employee. I’m not perfect and I’m aware of [most of] my own failings and shortcomings, but I would say that I’m one of the strongest performers out of my developer (and designer) co-workers. Now, I didn’t always think this. When I was inexperienced, I didn’t imagine that I did my job better than anyone else. But over the years, I have been recognized for my work, sometimes over others of whom I felt did a comparable job to me.

When I was a UWaterloo co-op student, I had received an “Outstanding” on 3 of my work terms (outstanding is the highest rating, above Excellent, Very Good, Satisfactory and Unsatisfactory). At the time, I honestly had no idea why. I definitely did a good job but Outstanding is an exceptional rating. I didn’t really believe I was exceptional at the time but as I’ve gained more experience, I have found that there’s something that makes me special.

Reliable to succeed. Passionate to excel.

This is my motto. These are the two attributes that I believe lead to success in the workplace based on the experiences I currently have. It may be incorrect, naive, and/or incomplete but this is what I believe.

When I look at any resume, I often see descriptive words that highlight an individual’s strengths. Enthusiastic. Leadership. Detail Minded. Takes Initiative. Ability to Multi-task. Organized. Team Player. Resourceful. etc. In my opinion, all of these attibutes are a means to an end. An end of getting the job done well. I believe that Reliability encompasses all of these (as necessary pertaining to the job). I’ve found that personality can be very important in job interviews; finding a person that can fit with the team. However, from my experience, no amount of “good personality” can save a person if they can’t get the job done. In the workplace, getting the work done is always the number one priority. A skilled professional with social shortcomings is more useful than the nicest person who is terrible at their job.

So I believe that part of what makes me special is my reliability. I believe that people enjoy working with me because I give them peace of mind. Because I didn’t let them down the first time I worked with them. And I didn’t let them down the second or third. And they’ve come to expect that I won’t ever let them down regardless of the project, timeline, or obstacle. They have faith in me, trust me and I haven’t given them any reason to feel otherwise. I will get work done and get it done well. It’s as simple as that. Reliable to succeed.

However, I believe that if you want to do very well, reliability won’t take you far enough. You can be good at your job but what happens when new challenges arise? What happens when you’re faced with something you’re not familiar or comfortable with. You could take it as it comes but you’ll no longer be as reliable. You won’t have the answers immediately, you will be playing catch up like everyone else. You need to be prepared for new challenges ahead of time. You need to know what will come to you at work before it gets to work. This is where the second part comes in: Passionate to excel.

While I’ve felt that there are cases where I’m not as passionate as others, I am definitely more passionate about this field than most. I work all day as a developer and then often go home and code. Or design. Or blog. Or read (development books). Or participate in social media. In the workplace, there are technologies I generally don’t get to use. PHP and jQuery are examples, because they are open source. But it’s important to know things that aren’t within the workplace because you never know when you might need a job or when something new will be introduced in the workplace. But when are you going to learn these things, that aren’t available in your workplace? And this is where the passion comes in. You have to use your personal time to learn. You have to sacrifice the time you’d use to relax, sleep, or go out, and just study. Or practice. And learn. But without passion, you will generally never do something like this regularly and when you need to do it, it will be too late.

In my eyes, this is what makes the difference between doing a job, and doing an outstanding job. It is the added, extra experience you can’t pick up on the job, the experience that takes practice and time and rewards you with knowledge and best practices. It is being resourceful, using experience to offer new solutions and out of the box thinking.

I also believe that passionate people help everyone excel. When I see someone using their time productively, it entices me to work. Just the same, when I passionately describe the work I’ve been doing off-hours, it [sometimes] makes others want to work. It’s the kind of environment that makes everyone better.

If you’re in the working environment, I would advise you to take a moment and think about the tough questions.

What are my strengths?
What are my weaknesses and how can I improve? [the latter being the more important part]
What do I want to excel at?
Who is strong around me and why
Who is weak around me and why but also, how can I avoid these traits [again, the latter being more important]

It’s not good enough to simply identify your faults. You need to address them, create action items and resolutions. Though odd, ask people what you can improve on. Ask them to be honest and they might. And honest feedback is always the most important.

In the workplace, I live by Reliable to succeed. Passionate to excel. but what’s your motto? Create one and strive to meet it.

House S04E15 and House S04E16….(and Life & Death).

Monday, May 9th, 2011 at 11:30 pm

I haven’t watched House in about a week. Despite watching episodes constantly lately, starting from the beginning and powering through the seasons, I stopped at S04E14. Why? I knew S04E15 and S04E16 would be great…and I wanted to give them more than usual attention. I didn’t want to watch it while I was tired, or grumpy…I remember those 2 episodes being good…so while I couldn’t wait to watch them, I wouldn’t watch them under ideal circumstances.

Now, House is the kinda show that…is ridiculously episodic. As someone who hates episodic shows, I care less about the disease per episode and more about the characters. The episodes that interest me are character driven, not plot driven. And generally, except in rare cases, only the season finales are that strong. With the exception of a Foreman double parter in Season 2…and maybe one of the House/Cuddy episodes from this season, they’re all mostly plot driven.

To be honest, I don’t know which category House S04E15 falls under. But I can stay, after re-watching this episode, that this is by far my favorite episode of the entire series thus far. I put it on expecting to watch it, but not expecting to give it my full attention (I was supposed to blog while watching it)…but I couldn’t turn away. I was just captivated by it all. Even knowing the mystery behind the episode, I still couldn’t look away.

So while I’ll put the S04E15 episode as my favorite episode of House, I’ll also say that, in my opinion, S04E16 was definitely the saddest. I remember tearing up, possibly even crying when I saw it the first time. This time, I also couldn’t stop tearing up…but I didn’t have tears. I would have to say, it’s probably because Z was with me, watching it as well. I can see that if I were watching this alone, or late at night when I sometimes hit an emotional euphoria and/or emotional dysphoria, I can see myself balling. As I’m watching this show, I’m thinking that Wilson’s the nicest guy ever. And I’m thinking…he’s watching someone he loves, die right before his eyes…because of some random act of chance. He’s too nice to put real and inaccurate blame on someone (ie. House). Sometimes, life is just…unfair.

And I’m sitting here….watching him deal with this, wondering how I would react in his place. What if someone I loved were dying…what if I had to say “goodbye”. It’s something we don’t face everyday but it’s something we’re likely to face eventually. When I was younger, I used to contemplate my own death. Who would come to my funeral? What would be said about me? But at my current age (god I’m old :/), I contemplate the death of my loved ones. What am I going to say at my mother, or father’s funeral? Will I do them justice? How can I express the feeling of pride, how thankful I am, all the things I just can’t seem to say on a daily basis. Do I even know them well enough to speak for them? As I get older, and my acquaintances (co-workers) get older, I’m forced to see their family members pass away. I write my condolences on a card for them and while I know it means nothing, it also means everything…if that makes any sense. I don’t know, maybe I’m just a morbid kinda guy….the concept of death…intrigues me probably more than anything. While I’ve had my grandmother pass away, I wasn’t very close to her. I’ve had repeated hamsters pass away and while I’m sad, I find myself “over it” relatively quickly. Such is life, after all. But…eventually, my parents are going to go (before me). Or, by some freak accident, someone I’m close to. Or, by some simple careless mistake, I could die randomly. I don’t know what it feels like to experience a great loss. Maybe that’s why I’m trying to put myself in Wilson’s shoes…to try to feel what I might feel, never having had experience it. Or maybe I’m trying to prepare myself for the inevitable feeling of grief and loss and the bottomless void created that will never fully heal. Or maybe a bit of both. Hmm, as I wrote that, it’s quite possible that I’m putting far too much emphasis on death and not enough emphasis on life. Really, it doesn’t matter what happens when someone dies….but it matters how they lived.

Anyways, I didn’t intend to get all….deep, dark, and intense….that was an interesting side rant, despite the fact that I’ve quite possibly repeated it earlier, in previous blog posts. It’s so hard to tell nowadays. My posts feel so episodic, nothing memorable at all. Oh well, I always have new readers to read old content….

Anyways, on to what I was supposed to be blogging about….