Use an RSS Reader

Dear new developer,

I highly suggest using an RSS reader. I use Newsblur, but there are several good ones out there. This will let you keep on track of any publishing platform that has an RSS feed. This includes this site, but many many others.

You can use it to keep tabs on your favorite online community discussions, tags in Stackoverflow or your favorite blogger. You can even use it to monitor your social media feeds, by using Zapier.

Think of it like a centralized information hub. Instead of you having to go to bunch of different places, you can just go to one. It’s similar to Facebook or Twitter, but the content tends to be long form and richer.

RSS is a venerable format, but one that still works. By using an RSS reader you’re also supporting open web protocols, so you get extra points for that.

Sincerely,

Dan

What Mitchell learned in his first two years as a software developer

Dear new developer,

It’s great to see what other developers have learned, especially when they are just starting out.

This is a post covering Mitchell Irvin’s lessons from his first two years as a software developer. Now, I don’t know Mitchell at all (but I guess I am connected to him in the third degree, according to his LinkedIn profile).

But his lessons resonated with me. Here are his lessons:

  • Your relationships with your coworkers (interpersonal/leadership skills) and your technical prowess (hard skills) are equally important
  • Your ability to influence others is most prominently determined by your ability to help them reach the same conclusion you did, on their own
  • It is the mark of a great problem solver to ask many questions before beginning to think about a solution

Each of these is worth a blog post, but I’ll let you click through to see how Mitchell arrived at each of these–some good anecdata.

However, I think that the bigger point is not what Mitchell said, though he has good points. There are two interesting meta points:

  • Mitchell reached me without me knowing him, or knowing anyone who knows him. This is the power of writing, especially a blog. You never know who you’ll connect with.
  • I checked his arguments against my experience and found it resonated. This is a great way to judge new data that comes at you (and, as a software engineer, a lot of information will flood toward you). But you also need to be aware of your innate biases, and think about how the points in any post or article could be false. You also should consider the source. Mitchell has worked at a couple of large companies and his experience may not be applicable at a different type of company.

Being an information consumer and producer is a key part of being a software developer. You should work on your writing to produce information. And you should be thoughtful about your information consumption.

Sincerely,

Dan