Yep, I’ve started a blog. A programming blog; a blog about software development. (cue fanfare)
I’ve had a blog before. 12 posts over 2 years, and the last post was about 2 years before this one. I’m not going to link to it here because it wasn’t very good1 and I’m going to take it down soon.
Why I’m blogging again
This time will be different. Really.
Actually it will be different. I’ll be posting regularly, at least once a week. And I’ll be using this writing to help me clarify my thinking, to discover things, to investigate technologies and methods, and to record what I’ve learned and discovered.
In 2014 I attended the Microsoft //build conference. There I heard a presentation by Leslie Lamport—inventor of Paxos and creator of LaTeX—on TLA+, a software specification language. In making the case for doing rigorous specifications he quoted the cartoonist Guindon, saying, “Writing is nature’s way of letting you know how sloppy your thinking is.”
That quote really resonated. In my work I do find that writing emails, specifications, design documents, and other things really does help clarify my thinking and highlights gaps in my understanding. I recognize that writing is a necessary part of what I need to do to fully understand something. Not just writing per se, but writing that communicates to other people (i.e., not just notes to myself or instructions for a machine).
What I do at work is just a narrow slice of what interests me in computing. So I intend to use this blog to help push my knowledge and understanding into those areas that I don’t get a chance to pursue at work, and that would be of utility to other software developers. I intend to write about it all to help make sure my thinking isn’t sloppy.
How I got started again
I heard a podcast that intrigued me and led me to kicking off this blog. I listen to a lot of podcasts. One that I really find interesting and useful is the IEEE Software Engineering podcast. It covers many topics related to building software systems and computer science. At the end of 2015 they published an episode that was an interview with John Sonmez about managing your career and marketing yourself.
I had never heard of John Sonmez, and the episode topic was not the deep technology dive I was used to, but I listened anyway. Most of the time was spent discussing Sonmez’s book Soft Skills: The Software Developer’s Life Manual. What I heard intriqued me enough to investigate further. I was especially interested in the benefits a blog can bring to a software professional, and took notice when Sonmez mentioned that he offered a free short course in running a blog.2 I went to http://simpleprogrammer.com and found some links on blogging in the resources section of the site, including a link to the 3-week course on blogging.
The course explains how to create and operate a successful blog. In retrospect a lot of what is covered should have been obvious to me. But it wasn’t—and also there were some non-obvious suggestions. The course is straightforward, full of good guidance, and tuned to someone with a busy schedule. Highly recommended if you have any inclination about starting a blog, or have a stalled blog you want to restart.
So, stay tuned (hint: RSS). I plan on posting every Thursday.