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Archive for the ‘Skills’ Category

How to Become an Expert. The Effective Way.

experts are made, not born – Scientific American

Disclaimer: This post is devoted to a person who wants to become an expert – the top player in a specific field as programming, soccer or chess. This post will be not interesting for people who are satisfied with their current performance and not interested to be the best.

If you want to become an expert, it is not enough to follow your work assignments or occasionally play with interesting stuff at home. You have to push yourself hard in specially designed way.

@Work
Your paid work tasks and projects are not designed to make you an expert. Your company expects results from your work: reliable, with minimal mistakes and focused on the company main goal – make money. Your employer could provide minimal training to help you with job requirements. However, your growth will be constrained by company needs, timelines, work assignments and acceptable methods. We cannot blame our organizations – this is part of the deal – they pay for your work and expect specific results. But… is this the best way for you to become an expert, acquire new skills and gain knowledge? To become an expert, you have to make many mistakes, learn from them, experiment with alternatives and work hard on your weaknesses. How many organizations do allow this risky, unproductive and unreliable way of working?

@Home
Your play at home with interesting stuff has problems too. To satisfy your programming instincts and curiosity, you will probably select what you enjoy to do and eager to try. You’ll immense in this activity and find great satisfaction from doing it. But…  is this the best way to become an expert by doing only what you like? Becoming an expert requires hard, sometimes unpleasant work, specifically designed to improve your performance and push you over comfort zone. Read full post >>

The Elements of Pragmatic Programming Style. Composition.

A really great talent finds its happiness in execution.Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

source

Qualities of well composed code:

  1. Quick discovery and understanding of programming logic and components
  2. Clear organization (for human brains)
  3. Ease of reuse, modification and evolution
  4. Close connection between customer ideas and system implementation

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Pair Programming: To Do or Not To Do

Pair Programming is a great way to build software systems. When Pair Programming works, it has significant benefits:

  • better ideas – continuous brainstorming, larger knowledge pool, less gaps in understanding and more brain power to solve design problems;
  • better quality – fewer bugs, instant validation of ideas, consistent approach and stricter adherence to team conventions;
  • better knowledge – experience and knowledge sharing, deeper understanding of why, how and what was done;
  • increased productivity – better focus and higher intensity, pushing each other and motivating to achieve best results, less procrastination and wasting of time;
  • more enjoyment – most people like to work in groups and solve together interesting problems.

Extreme Programming leaders insist that all significant development should be done in pairs. But can we say that Pair Programming is the best method in all situations?

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The Elements of Pragmatic Programming Style. Approach.

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. – Antoine De Saint Exupery

The approach to programming is concerned with finding the best ways to translate programmer’s intention into the good system design and code.

The programming is communication. The programmer continuously add, change and refine ideas in the code. Source code has two important goals: tell a computer what to do and tell people what the computer should do. The program code is the only true medium for storing and communicating ideas about the software system behavior. Quality of the ideas expression in the code directly affects overall quality of the system.

So, what are characteristics of the good code?

  1. clear – easier to work with ideas;
  2. minimal – less effort to understand and change ideas;
  3. testable – easier to validate ideas.

These are 6 top reasons for bad design and code:

  1. lack of expertise
  2. unrestrained technical curiosity and creativity
  3. missing big picture: system purpose and customer goals
  4. blindly following popular methods and over-using technology
  5. sloppiness; lack of attention to details
  6. over-complicating design to have more work or increase job security

The programmer can write better code (and avoid most of these problems) by improving programming style and approach.

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The Elements of Pragmatic Programming Style. Intention.

“I made this program longer than usual because I lack the time to make it shorter.” – paraphrasing Blaise Pascal

The Elements of Pragmatic Programming Style is the collection of rules for pragmatic programmers. This collection doesn’t pretend to be comprehensive guide how to program. Rather it concentrates on fundamentals: how any programmer can build better software for the customer. Some of the rules are obvious, but, surprisingly, many programmers don’t even think about them. They make same mistakes over and over again. I hope this post will inject a healthy dose of pragmatism into your programming style and make it a bit better .

Style Components:

  • Intention – understand your task and how to get it done
  • Approach – basic principles of writing code
  • Composition – organization of code
  • Expression – expressing ideas in code
  • Object Oriented Pragmatic Style

The goals of Pragmatic Programming Style are

  1. Building reliable software fast.
  2. Delivering maximum value for the customer.
  3. Writing code that is easy to understand, change and share.

Intention

“Everyone hears only what he understands.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Understand your task and how to get it done


Sidereal
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Top 5 non-traditional traits for survival of in-house programmers

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Can in-house software programmers become extinct?

Companies spend millions dollars  on in-house software development. There is no easy escape for business – they must use software in today world. Companies need in-house programmers for specific for their businesses applications and pay hefty ransom. But will it continue forever? Companies are not happy. And there are few trends that can put in danger a large population of in-house programmers:

Thought experiment

 

Lets imagine the worst scenario. Suppose the dark day came – somebody invented a machine that can program. Non-programmers can use the machine for building software for their business needs. Technical knowledge and programming skills are no longer needed – just tell machine what you want and get a software program. Will it be the end of in-house programmer’s era?         Read full post >>

How to use search skills to become an effective programmer

No man is an island unto himself every man is a part of the whole – John Donne

It is possible to program a web page or small application with little knowledge of programming. Use Google to search for examples and if you are lucky, you will find ready code and your are almost done. Even experienced programmers often retreat to search to save time and effort for finding solutions for their problems.

Modern effective programming is unthinkable without using search, the  Internet and collective intelligence. Therefore, search skills are becoming primary for an effective programmer.

Now we don’t need to know and remember how to solve many programming problems – we can use search. We are becoming more effective, productive and able to solve wider range of problems. But does it mean that good search skills are enough for building software? This post will review the role of search skills in forming programmer knowledge and how to use search effectively.

Types of knowledge and how it grows in programmer’s brains.

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The Secret of Building Effective Software Systems

I can’t wait to share this simple secret with you right now.

The Secret: Effective Software Systems are the systems that easy to understand and operate with human brains.

Programmers are more productive with effective software systems. Programmers can better learn and grow these system. Programmers have less problems, work faster and make better decision with them.

Now, you can avoid spending time reading this post if you already know this secret and you know how to avoid building the software system that:

  • almost impossible to understand in reasonable time
  • has confusing and convoluted swamp of logic and structure
  • scary to change as nobody has any clue what will be broken, but sure that it will be broken


If you are still interested, lets find out what makes software systems effective.

Software Development is a pure mental endeavor (except typing on keyboard) that includes 3 main activities:

  • Understand – learn and know system concepts and implementation
  • Evolve – build, modify and support growth of the system ideas in the code
  • Share – communicate and exchange ideas about the system


Programmers should care about 7 areas to make the system better suited for our brains:

  1. Knowledge Creation and Retention – parsing, memorization and comprehension of the system ideas
  2. System Organization – elements, relations and structure in the system
  3. Sustaining Emerging Order – support evolution of the system and gain control over chaos
  4. Minimize Noise and Purify – avoid adding unnecessary stuff to the system
  5. System Discovery and Learning – making sense of the system
  6. Mental Models – our internal explanations for how things are working in the real system
  7. Shared Knowledge – ideas exchange, reconciliation of opinions and creation of mutually enhanced knowledge.

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Top 10 Qualities of The Perfect Programmer

Who are the perfect programmers?

Popular blogger Alex Iskold answers in Top 10 Traits of a Rockstar Software Engineer:

  1. Loves To Code
  2. Gets Things Done
  3. Continuously Refactors Code
  4. Uses Design Patterns
  5. Writes Tests
  6. Leverages Existing Code
  7. Focuses on Usability
  8. Writes Maintainable Code
  9. Can Code in Any Language
  10. Knows Basic Computer Science


It is a solid list, but this list concentrates on the secondary traits, which are just consequences of the deeper set of qualities. And it is an idealistic list. Do you expect the same qualities from a Flash programmer for kids websites and a software engineer for B2B financial transaction services? But how can we recognize a perfect programmer in the crowd of developers?

The Ultimate Criteria for finding The Perfect Programmer: The perfect programmer delivers good software that meets client’s expectations.

Therefore, the shocking truth is that perfect programmers could know only one programming language, don’t have any idea what are design patterns and don’t program all nights in their basements creating the next Google. We cannot objectively measure the programmers perfection like you could measure diameter of your biceps. The perfect programmers are simply perfect if they deliver a quality, usable and maintainable software system [a good system] in time and meet client needs.

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The Programmer’s Brains At Work: Understanding The Software System

“The important thing is not to stop questioning” – Albert Einstein

A typical programmer faces thousands lines of code, huge number of details and millions of situations and states during the software system execution. A programmer should understand the system, know how to modify it and support knowledge about the system with explanations, justifications and answers. How can a software developer gain, maintain and operate this knowledge and make sense of these volumes of information and complex logic changing every day?

The ways how our memory works could give us few hints.

Our Human Memory Architecture

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