Showing posts from May, 2023


A few years back my daughter gifted me a little book called "Things I Love About Dad," with pages of prompts that she's been filling out over time. The other night she told me she filled out a new page: "I love that you taught me to appreciate me." This one may just be my favorite page to date. It's so easy to confuse appreciating oneself with being confident, having an ego, or being arrogant. But those others show themselves externally. Appreciating yourself is being friends with your inner monologue, it's knowing you may not always get things right and may make mistakes, but it's acknowledging the intention that's behind them. It's writing a post about a personal note from your daughter, worrying if you're conveying the right message, debating whether to hit post, and thinking 'if it helps someone pat themselves on the back instead of beating themselves up... it's worth it.'

Cover Letters & ROI

  Someone recently asked for my take on cover letters - and while in the past I'd say they're largely pointless unless they provide details your resume cannot (a personal link to the company, an employee, the product - or best of all, some specific experience that would be invaluable to the organization) this current job market has me re-evaluating. I still believe (based on data) that many cover letters will get ignored - when volume of applicants go up, hiring managers don't have the time to read them all. They'll prioritize the resume first, then - if the candidate looks appealing - they may gloss over the cover letter. They may then read the cover letter in more depth in advance of the interview - but at that point, the ball's already in motion. Below 1,000 employees and your cover letter will have greater impact than above 1,000 employees. The smaller the company, the more they'll want to have information about their candidates, rely a lot more on trust, an

Dear Old Me / Dear Young Me - On Comparisons

Dear Old Me, Whether it's in classes, talking to friends, or in interviews - I'm really feeling like I'm never good enough. When I see what others can do, the solutions they create, it looks so easy for them. I really want to be a programmer - so hopefully you've gotten better? ~Alishah   -- Dear Young Me, Let's start simple: Output is a terrible way of measuring difficulty. You never know how hard something is for someone - even if they explain their thought process. That's why we say  "they make it look easy."   Have you ever looked at one of those images that has a hidden image inside it? The first time, it can be tricky to find - but once you see it, it's always there. A lot of problem solving boils down to how many things you've already seen. The fewer things you see for the first time, the better equipped you become at solving them. Part of the trick is taking those problems and simplifying it down to basic parts. Then, whenever you encou

Mistakes on Stage

My daughter was telling me how she's nervous of her upcoming recital. Asking why, she said how was worried about messing up in front of others and getting embarrassed. Being the supportive parent I am, I said "Well, I can promise you this: you will absolutely mess up. It will happen, and there's no avoiding it." Seeing this was doing nothing to build her confidence, I elaborated: " Perfection is impossible. There are no perfect performances. Everyone messes up - and really, a perfect performance isn't always that interesting. It's robotic. The thing that gives music its 'soul' is imperfection." What wows people is how you handle the mess up when it happens. Do you shut down and walk off stage? Are you so scared of messing up you never get on the stage? Do you laugh at the mess up and forge ahead, continuing to make more mistakes? Do you pause, reset, and continue on without further mistakes? Or do you take that mistake and make something out

Dear Old Me / Dear Young Me - On Novelty

  Dear Old Me, So - you wrote recently about how "all the answers become distractions." What did you mean by that? It sounded good, and I wonder if it's what I'm dealing with? As I get better with coding, I'm constantly getting new ideas. Ideas come faster than I can build them - and I just can't keep up. Are you still dealing with that challenge?  ~Alishah P.S.  Did you ever finish Zinglok-725? -- Dear Young Me, The problem never goes away. Someone I/you (we?) admire called us creatively erratic - and while it stung to hear, it was only partially accurate. The thing is, you'll eventually learn to manage it in a few different ways: You'll get better at identifying what intrigues you about the idea. Ideas will come to you as massive projects - but if you spend the time to dissect it down to the trivial bit you'll usually come to the conclusion that: the problem you're interested in has already been resolved, and the rest is just an interesting i


  Everyone's talking about ChatGPT. Today, I'd like to introduce SkatGPT . ...Jazz singers, be afraid...

Hearing What You (Don't) Want To Hear

  Insecurities can really mess with our senses. You hear things differently. You hear the things you don't want to hear. Compliments become invisible while you see criticism everywhere - explicit, implied, subtly hinted at. Feedback becomes the evidence that validates your worst fears about yourself. Praise only comes from those you've duped. Take time to impress yourself. It'll help you see things as they are.

Dear Old Me / Dear Young Me - On Perl

Dear Old Me, HI! Did you ever become a coder? Should I learn Perl?  What about ColdFusion? I'm worried I won't ever get a coding job unless I learn them all. ~Alishah -- Dear Young Me, Don't bother learning Perl. I don't know a single coder who knows Perl. In fact, you'll come across dozens of languages over the next 20 years. Every one of them will do the same thing but in slightly different ways. Instead learn how to break problems down into simple steps. That's the important skill. Ask yourself how you'd solve a problem manually  (like how would you find the word "tiger" in any book?) . If the problem is too hard on its own, or too hard to then translate into computer instructions - then ask yourself what tools or tricks could make it easier  (what if the book had an index or table of contents?!) In fact, you'll often find a lot of problems either: Lack a structure; If so, introduce what you need. Have the wrong structure; If so, break and r


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