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Why I teach

Dear reader,

I am a selfish person. I do not generally like to share my time with anyone and would rather spend it doing the things I love like video games and scuba diving. However, I owe a debt that I am honor bound to repay.

I am where I am in life because others helped me get here. Yes, I am a self-taught programmer, I mean that in the traditional way of I have no formal training in software development. But self-taught does not mean that I did it all myself. I learned from others. I read their blogs, I listened to their podcasts, I went to their conference sessions. I did the learning, but others all around me taught, mentored, and generally lifted me up to where I am.

Knowing this, I spend a portion of every day trying to help others. Some efforts are more successful than others, but as long as I am trying, I am paying back the debt I owe.

Others sacrificed so I can be where I am. It is my duty to sacrifice so that I can lift the next generation of developers up higher than I could go. To lift them up on my shoulders so that they can stand there and see further than I ever could.

Until next time,
I <3 |<
=C=

Great writers read…a lot

Dear Reader,

Have you ever watched one of those movies where  a software developer (usually called a hacker) is sitting in front of 2 screens and on both of them code is scrolling by at a fast pace while the hacker nods knowingly like they are reading and understanding what they are seeing?

Yeah, that doesn’t happen.

A more common scenario is that a software developer will fork a repo, clone it locally, open their editor of choice and start reading through the code. Scrolling through it slowly. opening another edito for the same code and scrolling back up to a previous section and comparing the two. This goes on for a long time.

Reading other people’s code is probably the best way to learn how to program. If you know what the code does then reading the code shows you how someone else solved the problem.

Just like a great writer reads more than they write, a great software developer will read code, theirs and other peoples, more than they will write code. As a junior developer this goes double for you. Since you do not have a body of work to copy and paste from, you need to see how other people solved common problems so you can understand how to solve them yourself.

Until next time,
I <3 |<

You will fail

Dear Reader,

It has come out recently that while packing up to leave the White House, the previous administration’s  staffers left notes all over the place for incoming administration’s staffers stating “You will fail.” I am sure they meant this to be a subversive and demoralizing message meant to make sure that things did not get off to a good start. I’m not here to discuss what kind of people it takes to willfully wish other people fail and hope for the worst. I also have no idea if the messages were effective or not, that’s not the point here. 

The point I want to make about these notes is that they were absolutely right and on-point. Every person who received one of those messages did fail at some point, probably on that very day. Here’s the fun part, so did the people who wrote them. We are human, we all fail, it’s a fact of life. 

You will fail at some point today.

I will fail at some point today, for every value of today.

Whether it is missing a deadline, or not doing something you promised a friend you would do; at some point today, you will fail. I’m here to tell you that it’s ok, failing is how we learn.

In tech, some companies adopt the mantra of “fail fast” for that very reason. The faster we fail, the faster we can learn from that failure, and the faster we can learn what works.

It’s ok to try something new.

It’s ok to fail when you do.

It’s ok to get up and try again. 

You will fail. Own it. 

Until next time,
I <3 |<
=C=

I wanna be like my Roomba

Dear Reader,

I wanna be like my Roomba.

My Roomba kicks off every morning at 8:00 Am ET sharp and sets out to accomplish the day’s mission.

My Roomba does not feel like a failure if does not complete it’s given task in the allotted time.

My Roomba does not take into consideration that it failed yesterday before starting today.

My Roomba does not doubt itself and wonder if it is really qualified to clean the floor.

My Roomba faces each day knowing that it will do it’s job to the best of it’s ability and that’s good enough.

I wanna be like my Roomba.

Until next time,

I <3 |<

It’s OK to walk away

Dear Reader,

In teaching a student recently, I was pulled aside and told “This is not fun, I don’t want to be here”.

I smiled. I helped the student to the edge of the pool, lifted the gear out, disassembled it myself, and called an instructor over to discuss ‘Next steps’.

I understand the student’s frustration. In this particular case, several small things had gone wrong and they just were not getting it.  I am a firm believer that if it does not bring joy, get rid of it; at least when it comes to hobbies. :)

I feel the same way with professional relationships.  If a relationship is not working for both parties, it’s OK to shake hands and walk away.  I don’t feel it is necessary to try and salvage it, or work on it, or any of the other things we sometimes do with more personal relationships.

If it does not bring joy, if it’s no fun for you being a part of a professional relationship, it’s ok, to walk away.

Oh the student arranged for one-on-one training. I hope it works out and they can find the joy in diving. I know I do. :)

Until next time,
I <3 |<
=C=