Best articles of Nov

I’ll Never Be an Expert

Weenie management and Sucker Culture

Starts as a funny Q/A exchange with a fictional (maybe not?) CEO Victoria and an advice columnist, Liz. It’s a great read. It focuses on some employers getting made at doing only the work they are paid for. It talks about this prevalent idea in companies that are post startup phase. It’s great, funny, and poignant. He ends with this, written to technology employees:

And the point is simple: stop it. Stop considering it impressive to give away more of your labor for free than the guy next to you. Stop feeling guilty for asking, “what’s in it for me,” when your company implies that your 8 hour days should balloon to 10 hour ones. Stop thinking that donating an extra 20-40% of your working hours for a possible promotion in 5 years is anything but a terrible time investment. Stop participating in sucker culture. Stop humoring Victoria. Victoria doesn’t work for free — every hour she puts in increases the worth of an asset of hers — so why should you?

ThoughBot on design

This is an older article but it’s great, and very relevant to software companies with designers and codes side by side. This is followed up more recently with an article on ‘designers’ being forced to be front end developers at Thoughtbot:

A good article from Ellen Pao, whatever you think of her. One point she made that I think all of us can learn from, especially engineers, is one of giving advice. There is useful advice, and not so useful advice. As people we have a few problems, unthoughtful helplessness and arrogance. Both can manifest themselves with giving suggestions to people who are struggling with something. “Have you tried X?” where x is usually some obvious solution. People who want to be helpful, but don’t think before they speak (moi) often do this - as do arrogant people who believe they are smarter than the person in question. Chances are good they’ve thought of that same thing a month ago and there is a good reason why they chose not to do it. If you must let the your helpfulness get the better of you, at least start by asking - “what have you tried? What’s the reason you haven’t tried X?” We can be better engineers and most importantly better people by doing this. Read the rest of the article for the experiences, and damage of selective statistics which pose hurdles to women in technology.

Sofware’s Growing Elitism Problem: This article talks about the software industry, well us who graduated from university, look down on Code school graduates. I think this is true for a lot of people, but I also think it’s prudent to be skeptical of these graduates (also any graduate but at the least, students who’ve only been coding 6 weeks). I think one of the problem with code schools, is not that they don’t produce good graduates - I think it’s that they are labelled as ‘practical graduates’. My worry is that with this labelling and rhetoric, small businesses who don’t have the ability to qualify someones abilities are hiring these graduates to build their software. They would expect them to do a good job, of course. While I think university graduates can have the same problem. But call me crazy but I think over 4 years of a CS degree at any mediocre university you’ll still pick up some knowledge and you know how to work hard.

Uncle Bob’s - Programmer’s Oath

This article critiques and shares opinions on one uncle Bobs recent ideas. It’s an ethical set of statements which espouses the idea of software craftsmanship. This article critiques them:

Of course you could say that Uncle Bob’s words aren’t meant to be followed to the letter, after all, be pragmatic. But the reality is, he chose the term Oath for a reason. He does want it followed all the time, it’s not a set of principles, it’s an oath. After all oath breakers will be hanged.

TDD Extremists

This article talks about the dogma surrounding TDD for many people. He points out some great uses for TDD and some places where it’s just find not to use TDD, or better to use other types of testing. Also if you haven’t heard of property based testing or mutant testing, let me know and I’ll write something up on it.

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