Monday, May 30, 2011

Software Links III

Get the idea that I spend a lot of time reading about software lately? The iPad helps immensely. If you have one, I recommend Zite, the programming category is great, particularly after it starts to get a read on what you're interested in. Not perfect, but still good.
  • How to Create a Killer Ignite presentation - our submission of how to do your own stick figure comic was denied, although we're pulling together better art. Some other options are CMSes and Dytopias. We're going to queue up a few of our ideas and make sure we're ready to go next time with some options. I should speak in front of audiences a bit more - I'm not known for being a stand up commedian.  If you haven't heard of Ignite! there are plenty of videos at that link, plus some at the YouTube tag.  The videos from the most recent event (#3/2011) aren't out there yet.
  • I didn't know until I bought a PDF book from them that Pragmatic Programming had a magazine (online).  There are really good articles out there on Agile at 10, Refactoring Your Job, HTML 5, Writing a Book for Pragmatic, and a slew of other great content.
  • Work is Fascinating: the Metagame - speaking of "refactoring your job" (nice...I have transitions in my links, they're like an iTunes playlist), Mark O'Connor talks about optimizing his job to keep himself interested and only busy with the most enjoyable things.  In the spirit of Peter Drucker's books, he recommends aggressively eliminating all repetitive tasks so that you can focus on what's innovative and makes your brain work.  How he specifically goes about it might not be everyone's cup of tea (I'm still not going to use Vim), but the basic ideas speak to find tools to eliminate wasted time, find opportunity to do what's fun in new ways ("Write in all the fun languages you can’t use at work"), measure it, and do it immediately.  That most of the advice you need to make your job tolerable (the other bit being, in my experience, just take it easy, relax, enjoy the change and enjoy the people).
  • Moshidora - a graphic novelized application of Drucker (see, transitions...told you so).  I'm looking forward to getting my hands on an English version some day.  Reminds me of Dan Pink's Johnny Bunko: the Last Career Guide You'll Ever Need which is one of the few management books sitting on my shelf at work (signed copy, thank you Dan).  I just recently recommended it to two high school students I'm mentoring via BestPrep.  If I'd have been planning better, I'd have had two copies available when they came to visit.  I'll be better prepared next year.
  • Speaking of Dan, he recommended Leadership is Dead some time ago on Twitter.  I'd like to skim it, despite at least one assertion that there's nothing new involved in the work.  My stint as a Large Database Partner Consultant for our corporate proprietary database involved leading by influence and it's my experience that in a large company, on any large project, there's almost always a lack of leadership somewhere that can be filled indirectly by someone with the skill.  While looking at Amazon's Leadership is Dead page, it was recommended that I read Poke the Box, which has a Q&A section that includes: "Question: What does it mean to Poke the Box?"  Nice.  I like the part where it says Poke the Box may be the kick in the pants I need.  I bet if I poke enough boxes, I'd get a whole bunch of kicks in the pants.  Just not the back side.
  • And, speaking of things that made me laugh in the management/career space, this article about Leveling Up: Career Advancement for Software Developers by Peter Lyons has an amusing first bit of "Duh" advice, "Don't Annoy Management."  I enjoyed the bit about "watch your language."  I used a bit of profanity at work twice last week.  It's not going to be a habit, but I had two people I wanted to break out of their normal perception of me.  One I've known to use swearing before and I think he thinks I'm a bit of a conundrum, not showing enough urgency on the one hand and a little too straight laced and traditional management on the other.  In that case, the swearing was to convince him, a.) I was passionate about our software, and b.) definitely not tied to management protocol in all situations.  In the second case, it was with someone down chain (how's that for management speak) who I think perceives me as the typical manager to be avoided and who will avoid you if you avoid him, and who doesn't care about what you're working on as long as some things get done for appearances sake.  That time it was for a bit of shock value.  Hopefully I won't be writing about getting called into HR in my next post. And this advice is golden, "Make sure management hears your name in a positive light." I've been telling my new team for months that it doesn't just apply to management.  The department (and beyond) needs to hear your name in a good light, and if that means pimping your own name, filling out your own award forms, telling your manager when s/he doesn't understand your contribution, or even finding a buddy so that you can promote each other, then that's what it takes if you're aiming for something inside the company.  It's advice I wish I had understood more completely when I was an MTS2.  Anyway - I think Peter overdoes it a bit, but his core message is solid, if you want to level up, there are ways to go about it, particularly in a large corporate culture, and you if understand where to apply that effort without appearing mercenary, unless you run afoul of management (speaking from experience), the path upward is in your own hands.

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