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Showing posts from April, 2022

On Pasta Sauce

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No need to check your address bar. You aren't on Instagram. I know I typically write about professional things but, honestly, what could be more professional than wrapping up a great day at work than pouring your heart and soul into the pasta sauce recipe you're perfecting so that your kids will one day brag about it to their friends? Doesn't sound professional? Consider that any good hiring manager will tell you: Great teams are made up of versatile team members. People who challenge themselves and push themselves to get better. Regardless the subject matter. The spirit is infectious. You want team members willing to be vulnerable - willing to share their second attempt at a pasta sauce. Maybe that perfect pasta sauce isn't actually perfect yet. And they're ok with showing their progress. (Maybe they are also sharing it with their network secretly hoping they'll get tips.) You want resourceful team members - the types who have researched and watched countless v

In the Absence of Opportunity, Create Your Own

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  Entry-level/Junior coders are everywhere right now. They are so easy to find that companies hiring then barely even need to advertise their openings. An entry-level opening can get 200, 300 applicants in the first week alone. And that creates an impossible challenge for any junior coder right now: They're applying to 500+ places and often getting no response. If this sounds familiar, keep in mind that everyone started there. Arguably, the situation has only become more challenging as the market has become more saturated - but I think the same fundamentals still hold: The beauty of working in Technology is that, in the absence of opportunity, you can easily create your own. Looking at my old resume - I realized: when I was getting started, my resume was empty - I had no professional experience. But within 1 month, I'd had one small gig that got me the next gig which got me the next. Whenever I'd get rejected, I'd find the reason ("You don't know SQL...")

Keychains, Meaning & The Ceremony of the Iron Ring

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Whenever I give a talk with students, I'll wrap things up with a story about myself, and the keychains I collected as a kid. This came after years of giving away small trinkets and prizes that were generally meaningless. I wanted to take a different approach - something that would connect the students to a larger purpose. This story gets connected with an Engineering Ritual practiced by many Canadian colleges, and finishes off with small meaningless token to which students can ascribe meaning. I'd written about it  in the past, but I'm happy to finally have a video of this portion of the talk because it's often my favorite bit. Having given out more than 300 of these little chains, it still always excites me when I see the kids rush to the fishbowl to grab one. I've had some ask if they can take one home to their parent who is a software developer - and sometimes even professional coders, whether Seniors or Junior, will come by to ask if they can grab one. I can'

"Get something out there and iterate"

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  This is why I make the content I do. Messages like this make my week, and it's only Tuesday.  The last sentence is what makes it: " Get something out there and iterate. "   Start small, don't let your ambition, ideas or creativity inhibit progress. Prioritize outcome over output. By putting something out sooner, you get feedback faster and can increase value faster that way. It's all about pursuing excellence , and not perfection. If you're wondering what video is being referred to, you can find it here: Or just check out the tl;dr article:  7 Steps to Building your Portfolio MVP

'I' Shapes and 'T' Shapes

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  In IT (but it just as-well applies to any industry) you'll hear of 'I' shaped people and 'T' shaped people.  The shapes represent the depths and breadths of your knowledge and talents. The thinking has been that while you'll always want people with a lot of knowledge depth, it's increasingly important to identify individuals who can bridge the divide - therefor, breadth of knowledge is important. This concept is often expressed as two mutually exclusive types of people, I or T. The truth is, everyone is a T shaped person - and we're seeing it more these days as people change careers, draw from a broader range of what is considered 'applicable' experience. IT has not been a strictly academic pursuit for years - and so varied experience has become more valuable. This is all great news for anyone who has gone through a coding bootcamp, or changed careers - provided you can showcase that breadth of experience and why it is valuable. That's exac

Time Traveling StackOverflow

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There's a story I often share with Junior coders. It's about the time when I was searching for a solution to a rather specific problem. I searched and searched, but was having a hard time getting my key words just right. My "Google-Fu," - the skilled craft of using Google and all it's search modifiers was being pushed to it's limits. The solution was out there, I just needed to find the right terms. I stepped away, thought about my problem, I drew it out, I generalized it and made it less specific. Finally, I returned to the keyboard with a slightly modified set of keywords. Almost immediately I found a StackOverflow with the exact solution I needed. The post was 10 years old, but the answers were timeless. I was also relieved and impressed that no one had run into the same issue, and it hadn't been asked more often. The question was like studying history and relating to the struggles of a bygone era. Except, re-reading the question, something was also sli

The Toaster Problem

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For years, in talks ranging from first graders through to college students, in conversations or in job interviews, I've asked a question. It's asked like a riddle but there's no "right" answer. It's purely to help elicit conversation and see how someone approaches a problem for which they couldn't have prepared. It's your first week on the job. Your new boss calls you the Sunday night before you start, and asks for you to be in at 8:55am to put a slice of bread in the toaster and have some toast ready for him for when he comes in at 9am. It's an odd request, but you've always wanted to work at that company so you oblige him. Monday, you make the toast and other than that one peculiarity, it's an amazing first day at work. The rest of the week plays out that way - until Friday, the toaster isn't toasting. It's 8:58, and the toaster still hasn't finished toasting. What do you do next? Despite having no right answer, there are bet

April Fool's Easter Egg

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  My site doesn't nearly get enough traffic for me to make a proper April Fool's joke - but I was playing around with some different styles and realized I could apply the effect to the scrollable timeline.  It's a nice little Easter Egg someone may one day stumble across. It's amazing how much of this is easily achieved with CSS and only a little  JavaScript.

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