Personal Development

The value of ignorance

Several weeks ago, I read Stephan Paternot's book A Very Public Offering. He was one of the co-founders of theglobe.com This book then described the rather spectacular rise of the company, including a very impressive IPO - and the equally impressive crash of the firm. TheGlobe.com was one of the first big online communities. The story is a typical tale of the dot-com boom and bust.

I do not really want to talk about the book though.

Before the story itself begins, before the table of contents even, the reader finds the following quote:


Those who say it cannot be done should get out of the way of those who are already doing it.
- a wise fortune cookie

You know what? I like that.

[Admin] How can we make the site better?

First of all, thank you to everone who has been visting and reading the site. According to last time I checked, CodeSnipers is in the top 50k blogs on Technorati. While I was hoping that people would read the site, share some ideas, and kick around some concepts, I wasn't expecting anything quite this dramatic so quickly. I'd like to publicly thank all of our contributors (their names are on the left under "Regular Contributors") and everyone who has found something useful or interesting on the site and shared their thoughts.

Anyway, the point of this message... The site has been online for approximately 12 weeks and I want to figure out what we're doing right and what we're doing wrong. I and the other contributors have lots of ideas, but I want to hear from the people who actually come and visit the site on a regular basis. So here are my questions for you:

  • What is the site lacking?
  • Have you noticed bugs or oddities?
  • What do you think of the overall design?
  • If the site had exactly *one* new feature, what would you want it to be?
  • Are there particular topics/postings that you wish had more discussion/coverage?
  • Which topics/postings did you particularly appreciate or made you think?
  • Are there particular topics that you wish we'd just stop talking about?
  • Do you want to or know people who would like to contribute?
  • Do you want to give us each a million dollars?

Now, I can't promise that we'll do all of the resulting suggestions... actually, I can't promise that we'll do any of it, but I can promise that we'll all read them and consider which ones make the most sense and are in a direction that works with the overall site. I brought this site online to Connect Developers and I want to know how we can do it better.

Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Concerns?

Thank you for your time.

Changing Gears

My first car was a 1983 Honda Civic Wagon. The entire car seemed to weigh 50lbs and get 30 miles to the gallon. It was a great car and latest through almost two years of college. Of course, the one thing I didn't count on was it being a stickshift. I had never driven a stickshift before I got it, so I had the day of and the drive home to figure out how to make it work. I quickly learned that it took a very precise balance between disengaging the clutch and applying less gas to make it operate smoothly and without grinding... I thought about this recently when talking with a friend.

How do you manage your time and work? Do you simply flow from task to task applying the right mixture of fuel and downtime to keep things at a smooth steady pace or do you stall out mid-stride?

Aaaah, Vacation

I needed one, so I took one. I didn't go anywhere; instead I stayed at home and renovated my garage. It was really fun, and (as I've worked in construction before) it was gratifying to move around, lift things, nail other things together, use words like "soffit" and "facia" and say things like "They want too much for sixteen sinkers" out loud and to no one in particular at Home Depot. I didn't even turn my computer on all week. I felt like a real man.

The Career Programmer: Guerilla Tactics for an Imperfect World

Here is something I learned over the last couple years, with the lessons mainly being conducted between the hours of 9 and 5: It rarely matters what is right or wrong. Decisions are not always based on logical thought. As a developer/programmer/software engineer/etc. you can say you just want to do your job and create software. The reality is that the work environment may not be entirely in agreement with your goals. Maybe other individuals/departments follow their own agendas at your cost and maybe you do not receive the freedom (and tools) to actually do your job. There can be many problems. Christopher Duncan's The Career Programmer: Guerilla Tactics for an Imperfect World is a book worth reading to understand your environment and deal with it more effectively.

Not Stopping


So, you're a programmer?
Well, yeah ...
Some corporate drone, sitting in a sad, dark cube?
Um, no, well, it's not like that ...
What, you don't sit in a cube?
I do when I am in the office. But I have this idea, I am working on at home ...
An idea?
Yeah yeah, and let me tell you, this is gonna be big. Real big. Seriously man, check it out...

And then it's all over. He had to get me started and now he has to listen to it all. His cool composure, the fresh tan and the overall contempt was too much to bear. I want to insist that there's something cool happening in my life, too. My wife tells me later that I had that wild look in my eyes again, as I was explaining myself, gesturing like crazy.

Paul Graham's Startup School

So who hasn't heard of Paul Graham?

For those you who don't know of him, he's a bit of a uber-geek in terms of a geek who made it big during the dot-com times, managed to walk away with a bit of cash, and now has a bit of a philanthropic goal of assisting other startups to give it a try. Whenever he writes, it sends ripples through the online world and generally gets on slashdot.

As the owner of a startup, I applied to his upcoming Startup School as a bit of a lark never thinking I would get an invite. I hit "Submit" and then promptly forgot about it and made plans to go to my other conference called Power your Business with PHP which starts three days later.

So I got an invite last night.... whoa.

Now I need to figure out how to close on a new place just outside Washington, DC on the 14th, make it to Boston on the 15th, and then make it to San Francisco on the 17th.... hmmm.

Edit: I just realized that I forgot to point out that I initially came across the Startup School info over at Dane Carlson's Business Opportunities Weblog. - Thanks Dane!

got something done

A meeting in a stuffy conference room, over lunch, no less. Issues were raised, some fingers were pointed, solutions were discussed. Nothing too unusual really, until the end, when the host cleared his throat and inquired: Alright, so what's the next action?

This, right then and there made my day.

My office needs an ice cream truck!

Ah yes, summer is coming to an end, but those ice cream trucks still come around sometime in the early afternoon. Yeah, I typically notice them on a weekend, at home, just when I am trying to read a good book. They are loud, their music annoying at best and they tend to hang around for too long, waiting for kids to bring their parents' cash in exchange for some over-priced ice cream. The music keeps going while they wait. It's really just about impossible to focus on anything till that truck has moved on.

I want one of those to stop at the office. Every day!

Alright, alright, someone is clearly losing it here. This is obviously a ridiculous idea. We cannot possibly even think about taking this suggestion seriously. The noise is disruptive and loud, nobody will be able to get any work done. Meetings get interrupted, people will goof off taking their ice cream breaks. I just really don't get, why anyone would even think about - Wait, stop right there.

I realize, it sounds crazy.

CodeSnipers Generation-2 [Admin]

Good morning,

CodeSnipers has been growing like crazy. We're steadily getting more and more hits and I consider the launch a success. We have made it into the top 100k blogs on Technorati, so that means someone finds what we're saying interesting... even if they don't agree. As a result, I'm looking to expand the site a bit in selected areas.

Officially, no additional CodeSnipers will be added until the end of the month. But, in order to find the right people early in this process, I am extending an open invitation to be guest contributors. The same guidelines will apply (listed below) and we may not publish your piece, but I will make sure you get feedback. If your piece gets published, your personal blog/website will be mentioned along with a short (one paragraph) profile which you can submit.