The art of asking questions

This is the second part of a series about most important skills for developer. The first part, about searching for answer skill, can be read here.

Searching for the answer is usually the fastest way to solve a problem

But searching on Google might not be enough to find you the answers, you might be the first to encounter the problem, or you might be searching for the wrong keyword. Sometimes, you have to ask the questions, hoping that some one, some where does know about the problem, and is kind enough to spend some time reading your questions, and typing the answers.

For free.

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The most important skill (of a good programmer)

Being programmer(*) is hard.

Being a good programmer is, of course, even harder. Unlike countless other jobs where the daily work is a routine, and being good at your job is to be efficient at that routine, being programmer is all about constantly learning and doing new things. Being a good programmer is about being fast at learning, and doing new things well. The process might stay for a while, but the content of the job is constantly changing. (If you keep doing same content over and over again, you are doing it wrong)

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Lessons learned from a “boring” Black Friday

This Black Friday, I was in a task force, ready to help high profile DXC Commerce customers to cope with a peak in traffic. It turned out to be boring – there was no moment I could be a hero and “save the day”. Things went surprisingly smooth, even for websites which were struggling with last Black Friday. I went home and was little dissatisfied, but deep down, I know it was a huge success. The hard work from us (Commerce development team), them (the partner development teams), and Managed Services has been well paid off.

Use the latest version

You have heard me saying this, and you will probably hear from me again: Please, use the latest version possible. There is no reason to stay with an old version. This is a little truth: I hurt a little deep inside whenever I read a question on world asking a question about Commerce 7.5, or even 8.x. You should be using at least 10.8 by now, if not 11.x.

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Why I don’t code in my free time, and why you should not, too.

Just read a story that bogged my mind. A “Technical/team lead” told a story, as him, an interviewer, asked “a very good” candidate about what does he/she like, and what does he/she do on his/her spare time. The answers were reading books, watching movies, and cooking.

The candidate did not get hired. The interviewer expected him/her to “work” on his/her spare time. Like a pet project – to learn something new, or to sharpen the skills.

I’m glad I was not neither in that kind of interview, nor I have that kind of boss.

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May I trust your site?

May I trust your site?

If your site has exceeding ads, or you ask me to disable my adblocker, then no.

If your site ask me to subscribe to your newsletter after 5 seconds, then no.

If your site has no comment section, then no.

If you don’t moderate your comment section and it’s full of spam, then no.

If your site open pops up, then no.

If you site doesn’t have HTTPS, then that might raise suspects. (Yes you should look up in the address, this site is not HTTPS-enabled, and that’s entirely my fault, but I would never ask for your information more than a name and an email address (you don’t have to give a real one)). I know, I should have spent time to enable HTTPS on this site, I’m just too busy writing content (another way to say I’m lazy).

 

 

StackOverflow – a missed opportunity

Back when I was young and mostly stupid, I discovered StackOverflow. The site struck me hard. There were a lot of “Wow” moments for a third year student. I still remember the first time I asked the first question, then even think about the questions to ask (so I can gain some precious reputation – yeah, I was young and stupid, remember?), and the first time I tried to answer a question myself.

It has been a long time since those days.

I still use StackOverflow, even at this very moment. But it’s on demand, instead of browsing it everyday as a habit. I search for a question, read the answer, possibly vote it up, then leave. Sometimes, when I have absolutely nothing to do, I try to review the suggested edits from other users. And that’s it.

I don’t entirely leave StackOverflow, I just don’t actively use it any more.

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What does it take to be a developer?

No I’m not talking about becoming a “developer” like Bill Gates, or Mark Zuckerberg, or even someone less “famous” like Linus Torvald or Anders Hejlsberg. Man, I’d give up many things to become one of those. To become such successful developers, you must be extremely talented, extremely determined, and of course, a sizable amount of luck. I’m talking about an average human being, trying to become a person who can enjoy his work (and hopefully, provide his family with that work). 

Somebody might think, it’s easy to be a developer today. Most problems can be found on the internet – by searching Google, or asking questions on sites such as StackOverflow. Some might even jokingly define “programming = copy and paste answer from StackOverflow”, but we all know that, it takes more than that.

I’ve been trying to answer that question. I’m not a great developer by any mean. A decent, at most (My boss has been saying that I’m doing a very good job, I truly hope he’s not just being nice). It’s been 14 years since I get into programming, 10 years since I made the final decision to be a programmer, when I chose the faculty at my university  and 6 years since I began my professional career as a developer. It’s been all natural to me – what does it take to be a decent developer?

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Don’t be that developer

It’s never been easier to be a developer. With the availability of Internet these days, for almost anywhere, anytime, it’s just few clicks away to find the answer of your question. With proper keywords, especially when you have an error message, Google can lead you to the answer within a fraction of second – mostly StackOverflow, or some other websites/blogs that the people have already answered it.

If you want a more specific question where you can’t find an answer to, you can simply ask. It’s free. The days of Expert-sexchange are long gone. People around the world are willing to help you, without knowing who you are – they jump into your question, read it, guess it, understand it, ask something to clarify, think about a solution, possibly try it, post it to you.

They spend time, their precious time, to make your life, just a little easier.

And they don’t charge you a penny. Perhaps they like solving problems. Perhaps they like helping people. Perhaps they like the reputation count in SO. But in the end of the day, you don’t have to spend a bunch of money a professional consultant would cost you.

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Why don’t I reply to your recruitment emails?

This post is about a (I hope) small portion of recruiters. If you have never sent an email like this, congratulations, I think you can consider yourself as a professional recruiter. If you did, might be you can changed the way you communicate with candidates to be more effective? I don’t want to burn any bridge here – I have high respects for recruiters, who are working hard to connect companies with potential employees, making the world a better place.

Most of the recruiters I’ve had chances to work with are great specialists and it’s been a pleasure working with them, even that I have to turn down all of the offers because I don’t want to change jobs now (While I’m not seeking for new job at the moment – have I ever mentioned that I have a great team at Episerver? – I think it’s not harmful to build up a network, just in case). However, there were times I feel annoyed when I receive a recruitment email. Initially, I would kindly reply to that email, saying I’m not interested in the positions. Later, I simply delete those emails. And I even marked some as spams.

It should not have to come to that end.

Why?

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Joel test scores are (somewhat) outdated – you should ask something else

Joel test scores are widely accepted as the “12 golden checks” for interviewee to ask interviewer during an interview. They were originated by Joel Spolsky – and his blog was famous among developers, they were quite well-known – and have been popularized even more with StackOverflow (where Joel Spolsky is one of the founders). StackOverflow Jobs even have a check list for recruiters when they post their job vacancies. Here’s the list:

  • Do you use source control?
  • Can you make a build in one step?
  • Do you make daily builds?
  • Do you have a bug database?
  • Do you fix bugs before writing new code?
  • Do you have an up-to-date schedule?
  • Do you have a spec?
  • Do programmers have quiet working conditions?
  • Do you use the best tools money can buy?
  • Do you have testers?
  • Do new candidates write code during their interview?
  • Do you do hallway usability testing?

The list served its purposes for a long time – and I can say it, to a point – contributed to software industry. When developers are aware of such things, companies need to adapt to attract talents – resulting in better work environments and processes (again, there are companies which do that well before the list, and there are companies do not care about it at all).

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