Entries from December 2005 ↓

Ten Rules for Web Startups

Evan Williams gives his Ten Rules for Web Startups:

  1. Be Narrow
  2. Be Different
  3. Be Casual
  4. Be Picky
  5. Be User-Centric
  6. Be Self-Centered
  7. Be Greedy
  8. Be Tiny
  9. Be Agile
  10. Be Balanced
  11. (bonus) Be Wary

A list of general rules that does a good job of summarizing the climate of today’s Web 2.0/AJAX/Tagging/Social Bookmarking startup ecosystem.

Paint .NET v2.5 Released

(via digg.com) Paint.NET was originally intended as a free replacement for the MS Paint software that comes with Windows, but it has grown into a powerful (and free) tool for photo and image editing. It’s the best free image tool I’ve used for Windows, and they’ve just released version 2.5. Check it out if you do any type of image editing and aren’t happy with your editor.

Eric Sink, Software Craftsman

A quote from a recent Eric Sink essay:

“The title on my business card says ‘Software Craftsman’, a choice which reflects my preference for speaking of software development in terms of craftsmanship rather than engineering or art.”

This quote either flies right over your head or it stokes the fire burning inside you like a huge set of bellows. If you’re the latter you love writing code; something about it completes a part of you that would be incomplete otherwise. And hearing other people share that feeling and put to words what’s so hard to explain is…well…somehow fulfilling.

If so, you’re in the right place. Keep reading.

Becoming a Better Developer Part 8: Know Your Archetype

Developers come in many shapes and sizes, but over the years I’ve noticed a handful of archetypes that we tend to embody. These archetypes are the fundamental building blocks of who we are as developers, and two to three of them exist in each of us in varying quantities. I’ve worked with a few people who were 90% in a single area.

The archetypes are:

  • Trainer/Author – spends the majority of his/her time teaching, training, writing articles and books, and otherwise helping others learn how to program.
  • Coder – a hard-core developer. Into design patterns, the next cool and experimental language constructs, and talking about web service proxy generators.
  • Lead – excellent organization skills, driven to make projects succeed, and skilled at leading others.
  • Technologist – into all the new applications; would rather integrate than write code.

Take a minute to decide which two or three describe you best, and make a guess at the percentage of each. A trusted co-worker can easily verify or dispute your numbers. It’s not an exact science.

I’m 45% Coder, 35% Trainer/Author, and 20% Lead. However in my current position I tend to do a lot more Lead-based tasks with some Coder stuff thrown in. I’ve been doing the Trainer/Author portion in my spare time for the past several years.

The benefit of knowing your archetype is three-fold:

  • Career Path – Realizing that you love to teach might make you think twice about taking a promotion requiring you to manage other developers in a deadline-driven environment. Similarly, if you are a technologist you might think about leaving your job as a corporate developer and applying at a product company where your desires could be more easily fulfilled.
  • Strengths & Weaknesses – Knowing your strengths is critical to your career happiness. I realized long ago that I have very little desire to be a technologist, which, in retrospect,. explained my distaste for every integration project I’d ever worked on. As a result when it comes time to volunteer for project roles I’m on the other side of the room when people start talking about Biztalk.
  • Your USP – Though the term “Unique Selling Proposition” (USP) typically applies to products, it can be applied to people. The idea is to find what differentiates you from the alternatives. Why should a company hire you (whether for full-time, contract, or consulting work)? There are hundreds of seemingly qualified candidates – what do you bring to the table that no one else does? Now is the time to specialize, so whatever your strong archetypes, focus on them and make your focus razor sharp. Make it so there is no competition.

Remember that no area is better than any other. I used to be intimidated by people who knew more than I did about software development until I realized that I had the edge in the areas of writing and leadership. It’s not that my percentages made me better or worse than that developer, it’s just a way of realizing that we each have strengths in certain areas.

Feel free to post your percentages in the comments.

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Quote from Google CEO

Google CEO Eric Schmidt said the following to Business 2.0:

“Everything new here comes out of the time engineers spend on side projects. It certainly doesn’t come from management.”

Granted, they’re a company who’s fortune has been built on technology, but I can only imagine the number of engineers who will be sending Google their resume because of this quote.

Book Review: Accidental Empires

Accidental Empires CoverAccidental Empires is subtitled How the Boys of Silicon Valley Make their Millions, Battle Foreign Competition, and Still Can’t Get a Date. The book, written by Bob Cringley of PBS fame talks from an insider’s perspective on the advent of semiconductors, the first days of Apple and Microsoft, the first killer app, and so much more.

As geeky as it sounds, this book is a real page turner. Cringely (pronounced Krinj-lee) educates, informs, and entertains as he revels in the history of the PC from the 1950s to 1992, when the book was published. At around 300 pages it’s quick read, and was later adapted into a PBS mini-series called Triumph of the Nerds, which I will review in the near future. But the book offers so much more in terms of commentary, insight, and the sheer volume of tales.

This book is for anyone who’s ever wanted to know who really invented the mouse, the GUI, laser printers, and ethernet.

Hint: it wasn’t Apple or Microsoft. Not even close.

Links for December 4, 2005

How to Create Your Own Game Company: Part 1
“…nothing beats a great idea. Unfortunately, good ideas are everywhere. What you need to do is make sure your amazing idea is developed properly.”

The Economics of Releasing Your Own DVD
From Joel on Software.

6 Places You Must Use AJAX
Looks at places to use and not use AJAX in your web UIs

ComputerWorld Looks at Why We Still Have to Use Snail Mail for Rebate Forms

TimeSnapper – Regular, Recurring Screen Shots
“When it’s time to fill out that dreaded timesheet, TimeSnapper is a savior. No need to tear your hair out trying to remember where all the time went.”

Get 10% Off Your Next Winning eBay Auction
(From digg.com) Use coupon code “C11-GIFTGUIDE”. Maximum $25 savings and you must complete the transaction with a PayPal account.

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