Peter Seale's weblog

I write about programming and don't take myself too seriously. Read my standard disclaimer. Follow me on Twitter at @pseale and be inspired.
Friday, November 11, 2011 11:07:42 PM UTC #

Every post I write should come with this standard disclaimer. If I ever re-do my blog, I’ll link to this standard disclaimer from the top of every blog post.

This Stuff Just Doesn’t Matter

This stuff, this software development stuff in and of itself, just doesn’t matter. It isn’t the end goal. There are bigger things in life.

All things being equal, it is better to be a competent software developer than an incompetent software developer. This is why I write posts about how to invest my limited time.

All things being equal, it is better to be learned rather than ignorant about software development practices. This is why from time to time I feel the urge to linkblog posts I find on twitter that I believe my blog audience (i.e. you) haven’t seen, and may benefit from. My linkblog posts are gold, I tell you, gold.

All things being equal, it is better to be intentional about your career path and career goals, especially when it comes to dealing with Microsoft’s endless framework lahar. I see a lot of time wasted on studying for exams, and attention given to half-baked frameworks that subsequently under deliver. And I don’t know why, but I have the urge to fix this problem. For those of you who could not care less about helping others make wiser choices with their learning investments, sorry, but it’s who I am, and it bothers me enough to blog about the topic…frequently.

All things being equal, it is better to go to work and experience less unnecessary pain. This is where a lot of my “written for the search engine” and “suriving TFS” posts come from, and where I hope most people find value. I write many of my blog posts with the singular goal of reducing pain. Pain isn’t the ultimate evil. (There’s a great discussion about pain in A Canticle For Leibowitz, which by the way is the first post-apocalyptic book, but I’m too lazy to find the exact quote. PS—dork alert)

All things being equal, it’s more productive for me to blog here than to sit on the couch on a Saturday and take a nap while watching college football. Though there’s nothing wrong with any combination of naps and college football. It’s also better for me to blog than to play video games; or browse the gaming subreddits; or watch someone on live streaming while they play video games; or best of all watch someone on live streaming while they browse the gaming subreddits, which frees you from the chore of browsing the internet yourself. You should probably visit that hyperlink, because it’s just perfect. It’s like watching Inception if Inception featured laziness as its major theme. It just makes sense. Go watch Inception, and go click that link.

I’m not a super expert genius ninja samurai ZeroCool hacker

If it appears that I’m presenting myself as an authority on any topic, make sure I back it up with personal experience. If I don’t have the personal experience to back up my claims, take my argument for what it is: an unsupported opinion. I know that I’m not an expert, and when writing blog posts my self-image doesn’t change—but maybe here on the internet, where they don’t know you’re not a dog, you don’t read my posts the way I intend for you to.

I’m not an expert, but if it so happens I am, I’ll tell you why.

This is a good rule in general. Given blog posts aren’t built off of months of investigative journalism or academic research, the best blog posts are harvested from personal experience (as opposed to blog posts written by pundits with no experience). And let me draw one more point from this: a lot of .NET experts aren’t experts either on the subjects they write about. They are no more an expert, no more experienced, no more capable and have no better software development experience than you or me. They’re just people like you or me with better communication skills. With that said, some of them are true experts. The difference between a good blog post and a great blog post is, in my opinion, the great blog posts are harvested from years of painful experience. Compare this great blog post to my post on the same subject, but clearly written from a newbie’s perspective for an example of this in action.

One additional point I’d like to make is that I feel like I’ve crested the hill and I get it now. Software development is a known problem for me. I’m comfortable with the things I know, and I’m comfortable not knowing the things I’m fuzzy about and still working on (see: estimation; finding out what the customer wants), and I’m comfortable with the fact that I may never learn Haskell, or SmallTalk, or BizTalk, or Joomla. This greater sense of perspective wasn’t always how I was, and I get the idea that most of the working world is full of people who don’t get it yet. So yet another of my part-time crusades is to get everyone up to speed, at least to the point where they get it. I’ve met people who (without some help) will remain forever behind, forever…for lack of a better word: incompetent. And I don’t see my “getting-it-ness” as unique expertise but simply what all software developers should have. I look around and I don’t see that…getting-it-ness. Find me a better word. I can’t write more explanatory text right now without repeating myself.

I will make every effort not to blog work arguments, or be passive-aggressive in general

My theory is most blog posts spring forth from blog arguments or work frustrations, as I feel this urge to blog work arguments from time to time. If I won’t say it in person, I shouldn’t say it on the blog. And even if I say it in person, some work arguments should be kept in the family.

Every now and then I step out of bounds.

And finally, this stuff just doesn’t matter

Software development is not important in the grand scheme of things. Being a bad software developer in and of itself does not make you morally inferior. To pick on something specifically: software craftsmanship is not a new morality, whereby you are righteous (professional?) if you write clean code and unrighteous (unprofessional?) if you don’t. Depending on the bigger picture, and I place emphasis on the phrase bigger picture, you may be doing serious harm by e.g. overdosing radiation therapy patients via your software, or more likely, putting your company out of business because of your incompetence—but in and of itself, being a bad (worse than average?) software developer isn’t evil.

This stuff just doesn’t matter.

Every post I write, no matter how passionate I may sound, no matter if in truth I get carried away and lose perspective and start believing it, this stuff just doesn’t matter.

Friday, November 11, 2011 11:07:42 PM UTC  #     |  Comments [1]
Saturday, November 12, 2011 12:17:06 AM UTC
I read your blog and although some of the topics are a little over my head, every once in a while I run across a situation where something I remember from one of your blog posts triggers an aha moment in my own current situation. If you've gained a more permanent understanding of the lessons you've learned by organizing your thoughts and writing them down, and I (and ostensibly a few others) have gained something (if nothing more than a commiserative chuckle) by reading them, then the end result is a positive one.
There are far too many people out there filling the internet with everything from ignorant drivel to outright purposeful misinformation. Those who have spent time learning their field and have something worthwhile to share should make time to do so more often if for no other reason than to balance out the former. Whether that information is perfectly formed, completely up-to-date or a bit biased (provided adequate disclaimer as such) is irrelevant. It is the willingness to pass along what you've "paid" to learn to others that matters. We've all used information found on personal blogs to help solve a problem at some point. Posting your own experiences is simply returning the favor.

Keep blogging.
John C.
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