Not all public speakers are full of new-age, brouhaha.

My daily routine includes spending an hour or two a day studying: the news, my industry, and skills. Until recently I’ve focused most of effort towards building my professional skill set. After 5 years of that, I believe I have a reached a point where I can’t really learn much more without changing languages. But my goal isn’t to be a mulit-language programmer but to build business. To do this, I realized I need to work on new skills. After reflection, I decided to build on my leadership, negotiation, and economic knowledge. To that end, I went to Barnes and Noble to see what I could find. I picked up Bob Burg’s “The Art of Persuasion“. For years to this point, I never bought a book by a public speaker.

I’ve always been very cynical of motivational speakers and writers. How can reading a small book full of new age catch buzz-words and quasi-religious brouhaha that amounts to nothing but noise. I know I’m not alone in thinking like that, just check out websites like “New-Age Bullshit Generator” and “Random Deepak Chopra Quote Generator“. I don’t need motivated, and my cynicism lead me to lump all speakers into the same group. They’re all out to pray on individual’s desperation to sell them false hope.

Yet Bob, who is a professional speaker now, managed to write a book that didn’t leave me with false hope. While persuasion comes pretty naturally to me, I found the points made in the book invaluable for evaluating how I can do better. The book also frequently suggested other reading, by other authors. From his suggestion, I picked up “Lincoln on Leadership” among other books which have continued to help me build my skills.

Not long after that, a friend suggested I check out YouTube videos of John Rohn’s speaking. If you don’t know him, he was a big motivational speaker in the 60s and 70s. So here I am, watching someone who’s selling people hope, but he’s making a lot of sense. What he has to say mirrors what I’ve learned from experience, but he says it much better and builds on it. He says getting rich is easy, in America, if you work very hard. But the point was, America is one of the only places in the world where you have so much opportunity you have many chances to succeed. My experience exactly. I’ll expand on this soon.

There’s a difference between new age, motivational rubbish and a skilled individual sharing his experiences. I’ve frequently asked older, trusted individuals in my life for advise. I’ve frequently sought out experienced individuals in my industry to learn best practices and expand on my skill set. Yet, unfortunately, I’ve consistently ignored the wealth of knowledge available out there from successful individuals who actually have something useful to say.


I hate (your) computers

Over the years I have often been looked to as the “tech guy” for my family and friends. Have a computer problem? Ask Michael, he’ll fix it! In reality, I hate technician work. If one of my own devices stops working properly, I have to suppress a desire to use a hammer in very not so creative ways to destroy the offending item. How do you think I feel about yours?

I think its an often misguided belief that, because I am a programmer, I must love computers and just jump at any opportunity to tinker with them. Let me assure you that isn’t the case. To reference one of my favorite shows, Big Bang Theory, Sheldon is to Howard as software development is to IT support. I love being creative and thinking outside the box to solve problems, and googling computer crash errors for grandma is the polar opposite. That is why there are sites like Let Me Google That For You and tech support cheat sheets all over the internet.

To my family, I still love you. To my friends, I still tolerate you. Just please, don’t bother me unless your computer melted down into a pile of radioactive sludge. And only then so I can come take pictures.


My life as a PHP developer

Earlier I read The Life of a PHP Developer by Jon Kuperman. He points out that despite the hype around other language choices and the criticism of PHP, php maintains the greatest market pentiration and avaliablity of tutorials for begininers. This is exactly why I chose PHP as my language of choice when I started exploring back end development seriously.

Yet, I wish to point out that language is not a huge indicator of the quality of a program. A novice can code poorly in any language. Programming is just the manifestation of logic to solve a problem and every language I have worked with go about handling it in very similar ways. Recently I read a Nautilus article about Walter Pitts that said:

…the fundamental operations of logic, like the conjunction (“and”), disjunction (“or”), and negation (“not”), to link propositions into increasingly complicated networks.

Walter Pitt’s work studying how the brain arrives at any given conclusion is considered the foundation of computer science. The foundation for every programming language out there. Every language has a way to use the fundamental operations with which what we are capable of doing as developers is only limited to our creativity.