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Practical and theoretical aspects of software development

Archive for February 2012

Be the worst

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You know you aren’t the best programmer out there. You haven’t created an open source project in your free time. You probably haven’t even contributed a patch. You don’t go to all of the hip conferences to learn about the latest “latest and greatest” technologies. You don’t give talks at the local user group, and you don’t have a widely read blog.

But you aren’t the worst programmer either. You try to do your work well and you read a few technical books a year. You attend a user group or two when it fits in your schedule. There are a few technologies that you understand fairly well, and others on your team look to you for help in your areas of relative expertise.

The problem is, you are in a rut. You aren’t gaining skills as quickly as you were last year. You aren’t exactly thrilled about your current job, but not so dissatisfied that you want to take the chance of trading your known problems for unknown problems. What to do?

Read the rest of this entry »

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Written by Eric Wilson

February 10, 2012 at 5:50 am

Posted in commentary

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Book review: Effective Java by Joshua Bloch

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If you write Java as part of you job, you need to read this book. If you are learning Java, and hope to write Java as part of a future job, you need to read this book. So for many developers, the question of whether you should read this book is answered very quickly. The most important questions that remain are when to read Effective Java, and why to read Effective Java.

This is not a book to read to learn Java, Bloch assumes throughout that you have a familiarity with the language. It is also not a book to help you take the next steps after learning core Java, such as learning popular APIs such as JDBC, Java EE, or Swing. Effective Java is unlikely to equip you to accomplish any programmatic goal in Java that you were unable to code before reading it.

If you are overly pragmatic, it may seem that this book meets no real need. But if you have learned several languages, the purpose of this book, and the importance of books like this, is obvious. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Eric Wilson

February 8, 2012 at 7:58 am

Posted in reviews

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Jeff Atwood does more good work

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Jeff Atwood announced that he is leaving Stack Overflow / Stack Exchange after this month in order to have more time for the more important, world-changing work of caring for his young and growing family.

The Internet is full of praise for men whose professional successes come at a terrible cost to their wives, and to their children. Meanwhile we wring our hands at the costs of fatherlessness in our nation. Let us take our hats off to Jeff for his manly choice to do the humble, necessary work that does not lead to public praise. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Eric Wilson

February 6, 2012 at 9:24 pm

Posted in commentary

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