Book Image

Skill Up: A Software Developer's Guide to Life and Career

By : Jordan Hudgens
3 (1)
Book Image

Skill Up: A Software Developer's Guide to Life and Career

3 (1)
By: Jordan Hudgens

Overview of this book

This is an all-purpose toolkit for your programming career. It has been built by Jordan Hudgens over a lifetime of coding and teaching coding. It helps you identify the key questions and stumbling blocks that programmers encounter, and gives you the answers to them! It is a comprehensive guide containing more than 50 insights that you can use to improve your work, and to give advice in your career. The book is split up into three topic areas: Coder Skills, Freelancer Skills, and Career Skills, each containing a wealth of practical advice. Coder Skills contains advice for people starting out, or those who are already working in a programming role but want to improve their skills. It includes such subjects as: how to study and understand complex topics, and getting past skill plateaus when learning new languages. Freelancer Skills contains advice for developers working as freelancers or with freelancers. It includes such subjects as: knowing when to fire a client, and tips for taking over legacy applications. Career Skills contains advice for building a successful career as a developer. It includes such subjects as: how to improve your programming techniques, and interview guides and developer salary negotiation strategies.
Table of Contents (5 chapters)

I've talked quite a bit about what it takes to become a great developer. To achieve a level of mastery, I've discussed a number of criteria and in this chapter, I want to add a new pre-requisite to the list.

Let me begin by asking you a question. If I showed you some code, would you be able to tell me in a few seconds if it's good or not? The world of software development is incredibly complex. However, I've discovered over the years that the best developers have the uncanny ability to instantly judge the quality of someone's code.

I spoke to you in Chapter 2, Are Developers Born or Made? – Debunking the Myth of Prodigies about the notion that prodigies and savants are a myth. But if this is the case, how can expert developers analyze programs so quickly? To answer this question, we need to go back to Fake Ancient Greece.

I said Fake Ancient Greece because my favorite illustration of mental models was discovered alongside one of the greatest forgeries in modern art history.

In Malcolm Gladwell's book Blink, he tells the story of the Greek Kouros. In 1985, the Getty Museum purchased a Greek statue called the Kouros for over $9 million dollars. Initially, the museum was hesitant to purchase the statue because there was a significant fear that sculpture was a fake. Kouros pieces were so incredibly rare, the chances that a legitimate and well cared for piece had been discovered were slim to none.

However, the museum was willing to take the risk and embarked on a fact-finding mission. They put the statue through every scientific test available at the time. And the Kouros passed with flying colors. After going through the full examination, the museum purchased the Kouros for $9 million dollars.

Art historians from all over the world were flown in for the unveiling of the Kouros. But something went terribly wrong. The moment that these specialists saw the statue they knew the Kouros was a fake. Interestingly enough they couldn't give any actual reason.

They simply knew that something was not quite right. Their suspicions turned out to be correct and the Kouros ended up being proved to be a hoax. But how were these individuals able to do what countless scientific studies could not? It all comes down to mental models.