Month: January 2016

Books I read in 2015

One thing I miss about being a grad student – I spent a lot of time reading! Since I got married and got a job, my reading time has gone way down, especially for fiction. That said, I’m making the effort to find time to read. This past year I also picked up an induction loop (which lets me stream sound from my phone to my cochlear implant), letting me listen to audiobooks during my commute. So here are the books that I enjoyed in 2015, roughly organized by type. Most aren’t new, and some aren’t even new to...

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The value of a computer science education for programmers

It’s not uncommon to see people decrying a computer science degree as not effectively preparing students to be programmers. Of course, this misses the point that it’s not intended to do so; computer science is the study of computation, not the study of how to program. Indeed, the 2015 Stack Overflow Developer Survey found that only 75% of programmers responding said they studied computer science at a university, and many of those still described themselves self-taught. And yet, every year another 40,000 students graduate with a bachelor’s degree in computer science, and many of them go on to work...

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Overcoming Impostor Syndrome

About six months after I started my job, I mentioned to my mentor that what worried me was knowing that I was the worst developer on the team. She told me that I was definitely not. People are often bad at judging how good they are at things. At one end of the scale we have the Dunning-Kruger effect, in which people who aren’t particularly good at something mistakenly believe their level of skill to be very high; people who are incompetent rarely recognize this. At the other end, people who are skilled at a given task tend to...

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Unit Testing: What I learned my first year

In 2014, I decided that one of my goals in 2015 was to start doing unit testing at work. I picked up a copy of The Art of Unit Testing and read a reasonable amount of it. I was excited about the idea of being able to automatically catch bugs, making it less likely that they’d slip through to be found by my code reviewers or testers. Unit testing refers to automated tests designed to each test one “unit” – usually a function – in your code. This means checking that for any given input, the function will return...

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Usability: Multi-page articles

Ok, we get it. Banner ads are how you pay the bills for hosting your site, and the rate you can charge for them has been dropping year after year, which means you need to show more ads for the same amount of money. Which brings us to the latest trend: articles that could be all on one page, split up over 20 or 30 pages so that the user has to click next every couple of sentences (or even after one picture with a one-sentence caption). Stop doing this. First off, it doesn’t work. Sure, some people are...

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