Comparing Software Engineering to RailRoads in the 1800’s

An amazing (biased) talk about the rust language by one of the core contributors. Comparing accidents in the rail road industry to computer programming and memory safety.

Getting air-breaks approved in passenger and freight trains took a long time.

I’m starting to consider Rust as my next language to learn. The idea is growing in me as Rust allows you to write software at a much lower systems level. The other languages I know (PHP, Javascript, GO) are more targeted at web and server technologies. I have yet to write code for an embedded system.

Have a listen to the talk. I found it very interesting and I’m sure you will too.

Habits of Highly effective Software Engineers

Valuable advice from the “Tech Lead”. A career in software engineering is a long term game, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Having habits like these, ensure that you’re preserving yourself as you grow in experience and influence.

  1. Healthy Lifestyle, exercise, water and nutrition. Keep a good posture.
  2. Good Sleep routines.
  3. Continual learning. Keep your skills sharp.
  4. Have result-oriented work ethic. Focus on being effective, get work done.
  5. Keep things simple. For yourself and others. Complexity works against you.
  6. Create periods of deep work in your day.
  7. Collaborate with other programmers to save time and effort

Strategies for not neglecting your blog

When we start a blog, we dream of many readers, followers, and online interactions. Our hope is that writing would open doors for us, you know make us a little more famous than we are currently. In most cases, what follows is the exact opposite. Our blog lies dormant, no articles, nor any comments and no changes since who knows when.

At the beginning of 2018, I started doing a few things very intentionally different, which helped me to do at least one post per month, and some months a little more. These ideas did not only lead to more articles but also, as you’ll discover, improved quality.

1 – Define consistency for yourself

We sometimes place subconscious pressure on ourselves. It affects our ability to think and write. The number one thing you can do for your blog is this: decide for yourself, based on the reality in your life, what the definition of an active blog is.

Defining this for yourself releases creativity and unblocks your thinking. Decide at minimum how many posts you want to put out for the period that you decide on, this has given me a way to maintain accountability. If your reality only allows for one post per quarter, do that! As you grow, so will the frequency. The aim here is not to post all the time, but mainly to get a good rhythm going.

2 – Forget quality

I use to think that the only thing that mattered was quality. Until I heard this story:

A teacher divided his art class into two groups. Each group will work on their year-end project. To the one, he said: “You will be marked based on the quality, bring me one top quality piece. The higher the quality, the better your grade.” and to the other, he said, “You will be marked based on quantity, bring me as many art pieces as you can. The more you bring, the higher your grade”. Both groups went off and came back at the end of the year with their art pieces.

You would think the group who focused on quality performed better, but the results were the opposite. The group who concentrated on quantity had better work than the group solely focused on quality. This deduction from this was simple:practice makes perfect! I believe the same applies to our ability to blog.

From this, I gather that the more you blog, the better your blog posts eventually become.

3 – Gather Ideas and move them to drafts

For a blogger, having nothing to write about is one of the worst situations to find yourself. Having the desire, but no content leaves one feeling paralyzed. To me, blogging is, starting with a basic idea and expanding on it. The wise Solomon said, “there is nothing new under the Sun”. I believe this to be true of ideas as well. There are no new ideas under the sun. There are; new ways to frame them, unique ways to express them and your own life experiences to incorporate into them.

Ideas come and go. Our job is to hold onto the good ones. You can write them down, make a video, graft it into a song. Just don’t leave them solely as thoughts -they will disappear. I’ve had many ideas that slid into forgetfulness. Now I write them in my journal; I email them to myself, I record voice notes. Whatever it takes, I make an effort to hold on to the good ones.

Read more. Reading exposes one to ideas and new ways to express them.

I currently have 20 drafts waiting to be fleshed out or polished. These may not sound like very much, but if I compare them to the time where my blog was a ghost town, I think they are a sign of my strategies working for me.

A strategy that I learned from writing is thinking is to start every blog post with a brain dump. Dump your idea and start creating small sentences as you explore the idea. Do this as a blog post draft so you can save it and have it ready for the next time you work on your drafts. The system of taking Ideas and fleshing them out into mind dumping drafts gives you something meaty to return to when you make time for your blog.

4 – Set out blog time every possible day

How much time should you set aside for blogging? How often? You decide. My method is to set time aside every working morning. I take 10-20 mins and work on my drafts. If you have more time, that’s even better! When you sit down to work on your drafts. Set a timer and stop when it runs out.

This method may mean that a blog post, like this one, takes you a few weeks to write. That doesn’t matter. What matters is that you are thinking as you are writing, which makes you a better thinker and a better writer. The result is a well thought out post every once in a while.

The more time you make per day, the more you can think and write, the more regular your blog posts may be. Remember you are getting better as you do this so 10 mins today and 10 mins 1 year from now is not the same 10 mins. A year from now, you are pouring more experience and knowledge into the 10 mins than what you are capable of today. This system helps you grow your capabilities.

5 – Remove the fear

I currently have about 21 drafts. I don’t work on all of them. I pick one; actually, I force myself to choose the one that’s closest to finish and try to push it forward. Some days, when my motivation is low, I allow myself to pick anyone I like and working on it until the timer runs out. This daily process has helped me with my consistency, which is the secret sauce of an active blog.

Don’t hit publish. I have touched on this before, but the most effective way for me to overcome fear is not to hit publish, but rather to set the date a week from today and then hit the schedule button.

Forget your readers (for now). If you care about who’s reading your posts, it puts even more fear on the table. Remember, we are not referring to a newspaper article that needs to go viral. We are talking about you developing your ability to communicate better by having a more active blog.

Forget the future. Focus on now and what you want to say now. How relevant that is tomorrow is not essential. One day you will write timeless classics, for now, focus on the habit of daily writing.

6 – Keep it short

If you only have a paragraph to share under a given topic, schedule that! If all you have is a sentence write that down. It’s your blog, if you want to come back in a few weeks and, in another post, elaborate on what you said, why not, you own it.

I have tried to use my blog as the primary outlet for social media rants and statuses. It is not as rewarding as my blog does not have many visitors, but I’ve gotten to a point where, growing my ability to communication and gathering skills in this area have become more important than likes, comments, and retweets. So the idea here is to blog first and share that on a post on other services you use. Pump your creativity into one platform, preferably one where the data belongs to you.

In Closing

I’ve experienced more confidence and a greater desire to blog. My blog is no longer something I dread; instead, I’m excited to write and make time for writing. Let this be your reality too.

gap, my most loved git command

gap the alias I created, mapping to git add -p has been one of my most typed commands ever since I changed my workflow.

What this does :

It breaks up your diff into smaller chunks that help you avoid committing things you really don’t want to and helps you know exactly what code is going into the next command. For each chunk, you can choose to stage it or not. All staged changes are those that will be included in your next commit.

To add this command it opens your .bashrc in any editor and add this to it: alias gap="git add -p

It doesn’t matter if you use Git CLI or the app as you get the same things done, but if you really want to get comfortable with it, start using the terminal. It will be painful in the beginning, but you’ll learn more about Git this way.

One liner for importing multiple SQL files using WP CLI DB command

In some cases, SQL backups break exports into multiple files, usualy by table name.

I wanted to import all the files in one go and figured googled my way to this “one liner”:

Continue reading “One liner for importing multiple SQL files using WP CLI DB command”

What does 6 months paternity leave feel like with 2 babys?

I didn’t want to say much about this as it is not that common, especially here in South Africa. The norm here is three days and some annual leave. When I share that I’m on family responsibility leave and for how long, people usually either respond with excellent or a mild form of disgusted jealousy. I’m am truly blessed to have the privilege of paid leave for such a long time.

Continue reading “What does 6 months paternity leave feel like with 2 babys?”

It doesn’t have to be crazy at work – quick book review

I usually stick to one book and finish it before moving on, but this book grabbed my attention instantly. Firstly because I love the way the authors run their company. They are so unconventional and so intentional at the same time. So I dropped my current book (The Undoing Project) and jumped into this book.

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