What to Try When You’ve Tried Everything Else

Developing custom software is tough. There are numerous unknowns and tradeoffs at every stage of a project—each with unique short-, medium-, and long-term consequences in several dimensions. As a consultant, my job is to help people navigate those complex tradeoffs, and to build an app that will help my clients do what they do better, faster, and cheaper.

As a developer, my job is to implement those tradeoffs with code that remains flexible and easy to change. I need to focus on the kind of flexibility that my client is likely to need—without spending time and budget building in the kind of flexibility that they’ll never use. If my software is a jacket, the trick is sewing in just the right amount of pockets, and not one more.

The constant tension of the competing tradeoffs in a software project can lead to some nasty bouts of internal conflict and indecision. If I’m not careful, that indecision can lead to wasted time and effort that don’t provide value. Here are a couple of ways that I break through to find a solution when I’m not sure what to do next. Read more on What to Try When You’ve Tried Everything Else…

Conferences with Colleagues – 6 Ways to Do it Right

Conferences are for learning. But if you go with colleagues, they can also be a great way to build relationships and learn from each other. I’d call this a “group conference”—when three people who know each other attend a conference and plan to spend time together while they’re there.

I was thinking about this a few weeks ago, when more than 25 Atoms attended the 2018 Strange Loop Conference (which we highly recommend). I’ve participated in many group conferences during my time at Atomic. Here are a few ways to make the most of them. Read more on Conferences with Colleagues – 6 Ways to Do it Right…

60 Days of Questions – An Experiment

A few months ago, I read “The Surprising Power of Questions” in the Harvard Business Review. It resonated with me quite a bit. I was most interested in the idea that simply asking more questions can help you learn more and bond with others. For example, one study found that “I wish they had asked more questions” was the most common negative feedback after initial meetings. Read more on 60 Days of Questions – An Experiment…

Your Team Needs You! – The Power of Being an “Active Follower”

Good leaders get a lot of credit—and they deserve it. But leaders (and teams!) can only thrive if they have active followers.

What do I mean? Let me tell you about an experience I had this year in a very different situation—kayaking off the coast of New Zealand. Read more on Your Team Needs You! – The Power of Being an “Active Follower”…

Creativity Within Constraints: Having Fun with PICO-8

I’ve been learning about and playing with PICO-8, a “fantasy console” (as their website phrases it). It’s a virtual machine with specs designed to be extremely limited compared to modern computers. With a 128×128 display, 16 colors, and a program size confined to 32K, you’re dealing with what would now be considered pretty dated specs.

But that’s the point of PICO-8. It was designed with constraints so that creators could build things within well-defined boundaries. Experimenting with it is ultimately a fun exercise in creativity within those constraints. Read more on Creativity Within Constraints: Having Fun with PICO-8…

Running QBASIC in a Browser – My Nostalgic Trip Back to the 1990s

Recently, I saw Windows 95 running under Electron. The project definitely brought up some old memories from when I was young and new to computers in the mid-1990s. Back then, I spent all of my time outside of school learning how to write code in BASIC.

I discovered that the Windows 95 under Electron project uses a v86, x86 emulator running in JavaScript, and I decided that it would be fun to experiment with the emulator and get QBASIC up and running in a browser. Maybe I could recreate my programming experience from my childhood, all in a browser! Read more on Running QBASIC in a Browser – My Nostalgic Trip Back to the 1990s…

Evolving Education Practices in Soft Skills

When I got out of college, I had most of the necessary technical chops, but it hadn’t really prepared me for working in teams. We hadn’t had any specific training on how to work with others effectively. I needed to develop my interpersonal skills.

Fortunately, many schools are evolving their education plans to help develop these crucial skills. This is an important shift to prepare up-and-comers for working in the real world, where knowing how to collaborate and deal with different viewpoints and opinions effectively is required. Read more on Evolving Education Practices in Soft Skills…

7 Reasons Game Development Is the Perfect Side Hobby for Software Developers

If you ask any software developer, there’s a decent chance that they have tried their hand at game development. It seems like a natural fit since it uses many of the same skills. What’s more, programmers come into it with the knowledge that most aspiring game makers lack: how to write good code and create effective software. Read more on 7 Reasons Game Development Is the Perfect Side Hobby for Software Developers…

Choosing Your First Full-Time Job – Five Tips from a Recent College Grad

Because I’m a recent college graduate, the experience of researching and interviewing for my first job is fresh in my mind. This time last year, I was researching different companies, marking my calendar with the university’s career fair, preparing for the interview process, and turning down my first job offer ever. It was an exciting, but stressful, time of life.

Now that I’m a few months into my full-time job, I’ve been able to reflect on the things I wish I’d known going into the process. In no particular order, here are the top five pieces of advice I’d give to other soon-to-be graduates who are navigating the job search process. Read more on Choosing Your First Full-Time Job – Five Tips from a Recent College Grad…