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Talk of the day

I really enjoyed this keynote from PyCon 2015 by Jacob Kaplan-Moss and I think you will too. He makes a really great point in particular about how statistically, the vast majority of us are average programmers. That’s why they call it average! As much as we’d all like to be amazing programmers, I find something really comforting in knowing that realistically, I’m a perfectly normal programmer and so are you, particularly when I’m having a bad day and nothing works and I feel like a complete fuckup.

When you have a day like that, give that talk a listen and remember that statistically you’re probably just fine :)

Talk of the day

I really enjoyed this recording of the Pycon 2015 keynote and I think you will too. My favourite part was the bit about we are all statistically unlikely to be terrible – it’s called a normal distribution for a reason, most of us are, drumroll please…. normal! Sure, you’re not super likely to be extraordinary (if everyone was then it really wouldn’t be extraordinary), but you’re not super likely to be terrible either. I personally find that comforting to remind myself of when I’m struggling with something and feel totally useless.

Talk of the day: Be Awesome By Being Boring

Because I’m a Katrina Owen fan, I’ve watched a bunch of her talks. Recently I was watching her talk on Therapeutic Refactoring (it’s great and you should watch that one too), saw that it was from Cascadia Ruby Conf, and decided to see what other talks from that conference were recorded anywhere. One that grabbed my eye right away was called Be Awesome By Being Boring by John Hyland.

The gist of his talk is that “boring” (stable, commonly used, not shiny and new) technology is awesome because you can trust it, you can get help when you need it, and you can focus on building something useful instead of fighting with your tools.

Even if you’re a beginner programmer and nowhere near ready to worry about whether your production database is going to crash, it’s still good advice. Well known, commonly used tools are way easier to learn because they’ve been around long enough to have docs written for them and to have the majority of the bugs worked out of them, they’ve been used enough that somebody else has probably run into the same problem and asked about it on stackoverflow already, and because so many people use it, even if your exact question hasn’t been asked already somebody out there can answer it.

For example, take a look at the number of questions tagged Java on stackoverflow versus the number of Kotlin questions. When I wrote this post, Kotlin was closing in on 4k, where Java had 1.1 million. I’ve heard good things about Kotlin and I’m not saying it’s a bad language to learn, just that you’re going to find answers a lot more easily with the language that has over 200 times more presence on stackoverflow. Not that stackoverflow is the be all, end all of programming language popularity, but I think it’s a decent measure of how many people are using a language.

Be awesome by being boring, it’ll make your life easier!

Talk of the day

If you share my obsession with software design (and maybe even if you don’t) you’ll enjoy this talk by Katrina Owen called Overkill. The basic idea of the talk is the use of a simple toy problem as an excuse for focused practice. I really like the idea of going back to basics as a path to mastery, that’s actually why I’ve been on my own back to basics kick on this blog.

If you like that talk, Katrina Owen co-authored an object oriented design book with Sandi Metz (who is also fantastic) called 99 Bottles of OOP. I haven’t read all of it myself yet, but I have watched (well, listened to) a few of Katrina’s and Sandi’s talks and really enjoyed them.