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Showing posts from 2014

Why Group Texts Must Die

Recently I re-tweeted this thought from Pete Holmes:

top reasons for divorce. 1984: 1. financial problems. 2. religious differences. 2014: 1. constant inclusion in group texts. 2. no wifi.
— Pete Holmes (@peteholmes) September 14, 2014 because I'm in the middle of a communication crisis.  I do "knowledge work" so it’s considered inappropriate to have a device constantly making little beeps and boops while the person next to me is working on some insane LibXML (you don’t wanna know) bug.  Programming requires extreme concentration and distractions are to be avoided. 

The rub of it is that I’m “on call” if our software product bursts into flames.  Therefore, I must keep my phone in a mode capable of disturbing me so I don’t eat lunch, play ping-pong, or just code right through the disastrous failure of our software. 

This used to be fine back when text messages were either:
Time sensitiveImportantFrom one person In first two cases the beeps my phone made were appropr…

Software Apprenticeship Podcast Update

Episode 4 “Time to Exercise!” is out right now! Search for it on your favorite podcast app or check out our free temp website here: http://softwareapprenticeship.libsyn.com

With 4 weeks under his belt (plus 9 weeks of Dev Bootcamp) our apprentice, Jonathan Howden, continues his quest to become an enterprise software developer at an amazingly rapid pace.  Can a dedicated man become a good developer without a college degree?  Tune in and find out (spoiler: he’s doing well but it’s intense) 

Topics this week:
Doing push-ups to break up the lethargy of coding Migrating from Authlogic to Devise/Warden and the perils of using a framework’s column in the database for activation.Why senior programmers avoid becoming mentorsRails’ Asset PipelineThe usual screwing around and one censored F-bomb (sorry - it was me).
Yesterday we all sat in a room and reviewed Jon’s chess code (his outside of work coding project).  I’ll try to put up a more detailed article about it soon, but in brief it went well.…

The Definition of Garbage

The views and opinions expressed here are my own and don’t necessarily represent positions, strategies, or opinions of Backstop Solutions Group.

Recently we released episode 3 of the Software Apprenticeship Podcast but had to pull it back for re-editing because of some problems with how developers talk to each other.  Developers are not kind to ANY code.  Even our own.  Especially our own.  Sitting next to a dev while he or she discusses the code they are working on can be a shocking experience.  Words like “Crap,” “Junk”, “Garbage” and many worse are used often.  A lot of this type of talk was on episode 3 and when someone at Backstop (who’s job it is to protect us from ourselves and comments taken out of context) heard it they asked us to edit the podcast to take out some of the more offensive comments. This is why episode 3 sometimes fades into music and then comes back mid-conversation.  Sorry about that.

I don’t know where I first heard the definition of developer as “Whiny Optimis…

Software Apprenticeship Podcast Episode 3 is Out

This week we start off by throwing Jonathan into the deep end of pool where he pairs with an experienced developer on a 10 year old Java project that is the core of our signature product: Backstop.  Of course the company is called Backstop Solutions and so, in order to avoid confusion, we gave the project a different name for internal use:  Fund Butter.  The mystery of how such a terrible thing came to pass is revealed in this very episode.

There’s no way we couldn’t discuss DHH’s Rails Conf declaration and blog post: “TDD is dead. Long live testing.” This, of course, leads to a discussion of our team’s test philosophy.

You can find it on iTunes (search for Software Apprenticeship Podcast), any podcast app’s search function, Google, this temp page: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/software-apprenticeship-podcast/id868371146 or use the RSS feed directly if your into that sort of thing: http://softwareapprenticeship.libsyn.com/rss



Our panel (composed of Toby Tripp, Matt Pyra, Eric John…

Announcing the Software Apprenticeship Podcast

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In the summer of 2004 I did an apprenticeship of sorts at a place called Object Mentor.  At the time “Uncle” Bob Martin and his son Micah Martin were in leadership positions at the company and I somehow convinced them to let me work for free over the summer in exchange for teaching me software development. It wasn’t a very structured program, nothing like what Micah would later put together for 8th Light, but I was a pretty motivated learner.  I also had the advantage of coming from a teaching background so I knew how to learn.

All this has been covered in daily detail, if you'd like to read more.

After ten years of software experience I’m becoming a mentor to an apprentice and documenting the experience via podcast.  Backstop Solutions has graciously allowed me to pay our apprentice (the same rate we pay interns) as he is doing real work on a daily basis in addition to outside learning experiences.  From 9-5 he will be working on production code with 100% supervision as he will a…

SICP Wasn’t Written for You

The number of software luminaries who sing the praises of “Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs” (referred to as SICP) is such a long list that you might think only a crazy person would take issue with it. However, to ignore SICP’s problems and continue to blindly recommend it seems just as crazy.

SICP was the textbook for MIT’s introductory programming class and was a bit of a departure from other into to computer science textbooks at the time.  Wikipedia sums it up nicely:  “Before SICP, the introductory courses were almost always filled with learning the details of some programming language, while SICP focuses on finding general patterns from specific problems and building software tools that embody each pattern.”  Which sounds awesome, but does essentially say that abstract principles will be introduced before the nuts and bolts of a language.  If you think about that for a minute, you may see where the problems will be.

When I was training to be a teacher I took a bunc…