Three Things I’ve Learned Being a Pluralsight Course Author

Up to this point I’ve produced 7 Pluralsight courses, these are three things I learned along the way:

Be Flexible with Plans

In our industry, “plan the work, and work the plan” is rarely successful – look at the rise of agile software development. So too in producing courses.

Just because I plan to record today, doesn’t mean mother nature won’t throw a wild (noisy) storm at me, or that the new houses being built close by won’t require a thunderous earth-moving machine to be used, or that there wont be a biplane show nearby.

This is definitely a valuable lesson in general: when we grasp desperately at our plans and treat them as if our lives depend on them, we just create unnecessary stress for ourselves. Sometimes you just have to push through regardless, and sometimes you have to let it go; wisdom is knowing which approach to take.

Celebrate Milestones

Life is a series of highs and lows, peaks and troughs. If we don’t celebrate and recognise the highs then all we’re left with are the troughs, the lows. Clearly it’s important to recognise both. For example when C# Tips and Traps got into the top 10 leaderboard, this was a major high so I made sure I celebrated the fact.

The Right Tools

When creating anything the right tools make all the difference. For example I started recording my first course using a Rode NT1-A which is a beautiful microphone for recording rich vocals in music but not great when it comes to sound isolation. I quickly moved to the USB Rode Podcaster which is pretty great – it’s frequency response is tailored for voice and has a fairly narrow end-address pickup that greatly reduces background noise.

The right tools really do make such a difference in all the things we do, as does the right mindset.

I hope to get to ten Pluralsight courses by the end of next year, you can check out my current Pluralsight courses on my author page.

The Golden Age of Software Development

There's a lot of negativity sometimes in our profession, just take a look in your Twitter stream.

The tools we use aren't absolutely 100% without imperfection; the vendors of the tools we use don't always go in the direction we want them to; and sometimes the things we invest time in learning go away and it's beyond our control.

We are change

It's amazing to me how many developers seem to hate Windows 8, even to the point of wanting to install start button replacement tools. And that's ok, it’s a personal choice. For me, Windows 8 is the best operating system I've ever used. Another example was the "Visual Studio menus are shouting at me!", for the record I didn't "fix" this "problem" as it didn't bother me. But I know some developers who really hated it.

Perhaps because we are agents of change, we don't like not being in control of change.

I think we're living in a golden age of software development

We have amazing (if imperfect) tools, Visual Studio is great and we have some awesome open source libraries that are super easy to install via NuGet.

Between my Windows Phone and Windows Store apps I've had almost 28,000 downloads. More than downloads though, that's 28,000 people’s lives that I've touched, even if it’s in a small way.

I can have an idea, and within an hour have a prototype running on my touch screen Lumia phone, or my SurfaceRT tablet. This is amazing, really it is, and I take it for granted sometimes.

This doesn't mean we shouldn't highlight problems or disagree with the strategies of our tools vendors. When we do, we can drop f-bombs and call "them" idiots and create more negativity in our profession; or we can call things out with respect and with hope for the future.

It's our community, we get to decide how it feels...

Today I Became a Microsoft MVP

I’ve been awarded a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional award for the first time in my career.

I feel like it’s a real personal achievement for me. But why?

Recognition

The first is purely one of recognition, and while I suppose this could be considered somewhat egoistic, I guess we all like to be rewarded or recognised.

give each other more compliments; not in the vacuous, high-fiving, “team-building exercise” kind of way

I suppose that if you feel good whilst feeling like you’re helping others, then it’s nice win-win.

Confidence

The imposter syndrome seems to be an oft-quoted thing in our industry and I’m not ashamed to say that I sometimes suffer from this “phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments” [Wikipedia]. Recognition, such as direct compliments from individuals and awards such as the MVP scheme help to alleviate this. I think my article “5 Ways To Give Yourself A Break” was a reflection on this. Perhaps one thing we can do to make our industry more amazing is to give each other more compliments; not in the vacuous, high-fiving, “team-building exercise” kind of way; but in a genuine and sincere appreciation of others’ efforts.

Making Things Better

Things like access to other MVPs and having a more direct line to Microsoft to provide feedback will hopefully make the products and tools we all use better. It’s cool to think I may be able to participate in betas or other programs and provide feedback to make things better.

 

All in all, I feel like this is a significant milestone in my career and I hope to make the best of it in the coming year…

 

* Technically it’s from Oct 1st PST – but it’s the 1st here in Australia :)

5 Ways To Give Yourself A Break

In my many years of being a software developer there’s one thing that I’ve seemed to have experienced on and off throughout this time: Fear.

Fear of:

  • Not knowing the latest language/framework/architecture
  • Falling “behind” everyone else
  • Not being the best
  • Not being as good as others
  • Being wrong
  • Making mistakes
  • Looking stupid
  • Not being able to learn future technology X

This list could go on…

I’m not alone in these feelings. I have been told the same by, or seen this trait in, other developers I’ve worked with over the years.

We don’t have to be super heroes

So what can we do as a community of developers for us all to feel happier and more fulfilled?

I think if we want to make our professional community better we can start by learning to gives ourselves a break.

Here’s five ways we might be able to do this, feel free to disagree or add your own ideas in the comments section.

1. You Don’t Have To Wear A Cape

We don’t have to be super heroes.

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