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A Journalist Codes: 4 Lessons Learned
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dried_squid
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dried_squid,
User Rank: Moderator
12/29/2014 | 1:50:36 PM
coding - self or others
    A good title, caught my interest. I presumed the writer was new to coding, not a writer who became a coder. And more code and broader experience than me.

    I'm not a coder. I do it for myself, and not others. Like preparing a meal for myself, so I'm not a cook.

    Like some people pay iTunes, and others play their guitar, but not because they're a musician.

    Like some people use the camera program modes, and other shoot manual.

    I don't think everyone should do DIY everything, but I do think more people should make time to do DIY something for the long term.

    My personal devotion is to reusing files in different applications, so I fiddle with perl for folder listings, and more use of plain text, and HTML wordprocessing, to allow more use of regexes.

    I don't consider this primitive or old-fashioned, I'm just lazy, and suffer a disdain for redoing the same thing to fit each and every new app.

    In 2015, I hope to try Haskell. Happy New Year all.

   Thanks for the column, tweeked my psyche.

kstaron
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kstaron,
User Rank: Ninja
12/29/2014 | 12:30:10 PM
A nod to renaissance learning
You never really understand how complicated something is until you try to describe it to a third grader so they understand it. Simple isn't easy. After a dismal programming course in college I leave the programming proper to professionals perfering to grasp the major concepts as opposed to the nitty gritty of slinging code. It's always a good thing as a journalist to have some skills in the area, if nothing else so you can describe it to the masses. Everyone should learn something other than their main discipline, it help the brain to be a renaissance man.
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
12/29/2014 | 9:44:31 AM
Re: Happy users
@jfeldman, what are the "good old days" in your book? I read it as a throwback to a time when you were experimenting with tech hands-on, rather than directing other people to do so -- but not sure if that's what you meant.

Anyway, thanks for your note.
asksqn
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asksqn,
User Rank: Ninja
12/27/2014 | 5:01:47 PM
Conversion imminent
Bravo, a writer who understands tech.  It sounds like Open Source can you use your skill sets.  Come over to the Linux side...we have cookies.
Somedude8
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Somedude8,
User Rank: Ninja
12/27/2014 | 12:45:21 PM
Simple
Its hard to explain to folks that the hardest thing to do in software development is "simple". From good naming all the way up to arhcitecture, its almost like we have some massive OCD instinct driving us to complicate things. There is a story on TheDailyWTF called "The Complicator's Gloves" that probably explains it the best I have heard. I try to keep it in mind at all times, but on occasion still end with something that could have just been gloves.

zerox203
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zerox203,
User Rank: Ninja
12/25/2014 | 5:42:44 AM
Re: A Journalist Codes: 4 Lessons Learned
As someone who's in the exact same boat, David, this is ringing an awful lot of bells and rounding out my end-of-year retrospecting quite nicely. I have no formal programming training either, but for some reason, I decided to embark on my own journey to learn this year. Software design is certainly a lucrative career, but not often for those without degrees. It's a lot like picking up an instrument (and the reasons are similar, too), except much more time consuming and not nearly as immediately satisfying. To say I have a new appreciation for people who do this daily is an understatement, but you're right - those daily lessons scale up to the enterprise level quite easily, and the benefits are always forthcoming (not the monetary ones, the other kind).

APIs are a godsend, but one does wonder if we're losing something from the days of yore. It's great to just plug something in and see immediate results, but it almost ends up being a case of too many cooks spoiling the soup. In other words, when things become too extensible, portable, and customizable, we end up with feature creep out the wazoo and tons of redundant software that does the same thing as something else, or that fills a niche that doesn't exist. Competition with 'because that's the way it is' is definitely an unforseen hurdle that I'm feeling hugely. I suppose musicians, artists, etc. experience this too, but you can't get the  same immediate 'this looks/sounds nice' as easily with software. It's very easy to create something and have it literally have 0 clicks or downloads. That's rough, and another good lesson at the enterprise level. This was a refreshing holiday read.
PedroGonzales
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PedroGonzales,
User Rank: Ninja
12/24/2014 | 5:39:27 PM
Re: Happy users
this is a great article.   There is no better experience in developing software than your own.  This goes to show you that there are many unexpected challenges for a developer that, you as a programmer, couldn't even imagine.  But, as time progress, we get better and better.
jfeldman
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jfeldman,
User Rank: Ninja
12/24/2014 | 2:29:22 PM
Re: Happy users
I really enjoyed reading this, Dave. Reminds me of the good old days. Happy holidays!
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
12/24/2014 | 10:59:51 AM
Re: Happy users
BTW, because this is an insider thing I should explain that @ChrisMurphy is referring to a screen scraper app that pulls in headlines and links from InformationWeek.com and sister sites like Dark Reading and formats them as suggested tweets, with the headlines and the author's @handle if we have it. Connects to the HootSuite API so social posts can be tracked and broadcast to multiple networks.
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
12/24/2014 | 10:00:40 AM
Re: Happy users
Thanks, Chris. That's a perfect example of a pattern: I cook up something that makes life easier for me and works the way I want it to work, then look for opportunities to share it. I'm in good company there. When I saw him at Gartner, Woz said the early Apple computers were designed the way they were because that was the computer he wanted to own. A lot of good tech is created for selfish purposes.
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