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Albert D. Kallal
I've just read Joel's article, Test Yourself. It seems like the idea of improving oneself by taking tests (same as practicing) is conveyed here, if I'm not wrong. The problem is [in most of the cases and particulary mine] we don't have time to do it.
I just use what I know from them. Joel you are right by implying that we all need to practice, but how do we find the time to do it?
One step back to take two forward. Often forcing yourself to make time to learn something new will pay dividends later - so long as what you learn has some chance of being usefull to you in the future. I'm always agonising over this issue - and mostly don't follow my own advice!
Friday, March 10, 2006
You are not alone. A good majority of the working people find it absolutely next to impossible to take out time for anything they like, let alone practicing your art - the art of programming.
However, those of us that do, (I do because I stretch myself to death everyday) only are able to do it at the cost of other things - health, being looked down upon as unsociable (you will reduce talk time), being called a book-worm or a freak etc. etc.
Your asking and being disturbed about this fact is a very good thing. I too am very hard on myself about this, even though I run the marathon everyday.
I would encourage you to read these two interesting articles from Steve Yegge's blog about the same issue:
Being the Averagest
You are on the right track. It is not about finding time, it is about stealing time off other thing and putting it to the thing you are passionate about.
Also read one Paul Graham's essay about procrastination in the same context.
Good and Bad Procrastination
Keep running. Good luck.
PS: As you go along, keep moving the "health" part on your list of priorities a little upward.
And to answer your question:
Do I find the time to practice?
Hell, no! I don't find it at all. I create it. And don't you fret about it too much, because sometimes, you just can't create it enough. So, let those times go. But punish yourself the next time you're able to create it by creating a little bit more.
And just remember one more thing. Ten out of every ten people die. One day, you will die. No matter what, one day you will die. So, before you rush to the marathon, make a list of what you really, really, really "want" to do.
How do you want to express yourself? Do you want to write? Do you want to act in movies? Do you want to play golf? What makes you smile? What makes your heart smile? Decide that before you decide to take time off programming.
That is the hardest part.
As Dr. Phil says (believe me, I'm not an advocate of the guy but he does promote catchy pithy phrases), "ya gotta name it to claim it."
Don't deny yourself what you want out of your professional career. If you don't "have" the time to do something, quite frankly, it's because you aren't MAKING the time to do it....no excuses....because there's an old saying that says, "he who excuses himself, accuses himself."
If ya want to learn the technology, you have to make the time for it......no excuses....if you are married, have kids, and a host of other responsibilities....my response to you is "ya shouldn't have gotten married, or at the very least, ya should have refrained from having kids" because guess what? You've ALREADY made a conscious decision regarding where the majority of your time will be spent...deal with it.....
I'm single, no kids and I have MORE than enough time to concentrate on new innovations in technology as well as practice writing code....but then again.....I've CORRECTLY planned my life accordingly.....NO excuses....
I have to strongly disagree with Brice. There's an old saying that goes like this: You don't know what you've got until you loose it.
I would never have made a comment to the effect that you should not have had kids, this, that and the other and then insinuate that this was life not planned accordingly.
The OP is at a decision cross road in a sense. Looking back at the past was, is not going to solve anything; nor is insulting him for that matter.
Moreover, how can kids, marriage, and family be even close to not "I've CORRECTLY planned my life accordingly."
Total bullshit! It's total bullshit because you are making assumptions without knowing all the facts.
How do you know his wife & kids are not his most precious gifts. How do you know he wouldn't rather spend more time with them? How do you know if he is simply looking at ways to expand his career/field of study during his workday? How do you know if he had it to do all over again that he would not take the same steps.
My advise from a fellow programmer always looking to learn new things is to find a new project and evaluate what IT is you want to learn as a tool in your new project. Example: I want to learn more J2EE and I seemingly don't have the time. So I try to make time for it with some of the projects I am working on. For example, I am in the process of putting up a simple web based report system. I am going to over-engineer the project a bit and use Tomcat to learn a little J2EE. I'll use Perl CGI as my fall back plan if I run low on time. I'm presently doing all the easy stuff now in Perl and later I'll look at moving some of the Perl code to Java.
I also code in C/C++. I routinely will look at STL to do things I know I can quickly get done otherwise to learn a little more about STL.
Saturday, March 11, 2006
I adore situations where I'm working with developer fathers and husbands......why? Because I KNOW by the very nature of their status, that they have very little time for anything else in life except their families.....I'm not condemning anyone here on this post, I'm simply stating the facts......which is, you make a decision in life and you have to deal with its consequences.....and certainly having a lack of time as a developer holds alot of truth if that developer is married and/or has kids.....
I say I adore these folks because I can usually run rings around them in terms of work productivity, software development knowledge, and future technology innovations....they can't touch me because I quite simply have MUCH more time to spend learning new things than they do.....it may be sad but it's true......I ALWAYS have a vocational edge when working with or for someone who is married with kids....
...hell, I've even expressed these thoughts during a job interview when I was asked "Why should this company hire you instead of any other qualified candidate interested in this position?" My response was quite simply, "Because I have the time to dedicate to this company in ways that others can't....." When pressed as to what I meant by that statement.....I explained the facts as succinctly as I have here about the challenge of how married workers can't compete with someone like me who is single with no kids and focused on my job AND who has PLENTY of time to devote to the cause....
....as a footnote to this post, it should be noted that I was offered the job but I turned it down......but it was a pure compliment that I was at least offered the position...and I'm SURE at the time I was competing with married jobless candidates......
"I'm simply stating the facts......which is, you make a decision in life and you have to deal with its consequences....."
And these facts are all encompassing of the world's events as they relate to job performance? Give me a break!
Monday, March 13, 2006
Anon.This.Time wrote about something which worked also for me.
In my first year of grad school my C/C++ skills were not sharp enough. I also knew I was unable at that time to motivate myself enough to learn it by myself. To solve this I tought few classmates about programming. In order to teach them I had to gain knowledge to answer any question they could have after lectures or on project which they were working on.
This deal not only gave me (almost)constant supply of beer money. It also motivated me to do high quality C++ work. I could loose my face (and therefore potential beer money suppliers) by giving medicore advice or help.
I followed this way with learninig web(PHP). I learned basics myself and when I thought I could handle it, I polished it by taking some small, paid PHP task.
Ath that time I was single so I could afford doing extra work apart from handling gradschool.
Now I met girl and we both want to get old with each other and I want to spend as much time with her as I can. It changed few things but basic idea is still the same.
One thing is that I'm now more careful to take that leap into polishing. My school's sysadmin has saying "There is huge gap between 'It could be done' and 'It is done'". By commiting yourself to learning new thing you engage your time to get this knowlege. It's easy to underestimate how much it will take.
I also choose what to learn more wisely. I prefer to choose something which adds another dimension to my knowlege rather than somthing which can be described with dimensions I already know. It's like knowing C++ and choosing to learn MVC instead of choosing to learn JAVA.
Some solution to more time is not watching tv. It's amazing how large time-sink TV is.
It's not easy to manage physical and mind's eye time, but be aware that "there are no problems only solutions". Some of them are braindead, some marvelous but if you think about it there is always at least one usable so cheer up :)
Brice, your outlook seems a bit pathological. Have fun coding rings around people, but you might wonder what it was all for someday.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
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