Making A Difference Right Away

A while back I attended a GeekFest talk by Ashish Dixit  (so far the only person that I have met who I know is from Nepal) on “Making a Difference Right Away.” My notes are in outline form, but this will be a mix of bullet points and complete sentences, and perhaps a mix of past, present and future tenses.

– had limited experience
– enthusiastic
– got a great opportunity

Exciting yet stressful
This is not just for new developers. The core issues are the same for new codebases and new domains.

Why is he talking about it? He got a lot of help from the community. He asked for help. There has been a lot of talk about hiring, but very little talk from the perspective of a new developer.

What he has learned:
– pairing is caring: it’s a good way to get up to speed on a codebase
– bugs are your friends: they are challenges to explore a codebase
– fresh set of eyes: people can become habituated to things
– make it work before you make it better
– flying solo
– asking for help is still a struggle: timeboxing is a good idea, go for 30-60 minutes
– automate, automate, automate: set up an environment with a script, “rake bootstrap”
– communication is king: try not to give too muuch background info
– pay it forward
– other strategies: side projects, meetups and conferences


Image from the Polling Psalter, an early 13th century Gospel manuscript housed at Bavarian State Library, webpage information here, image from World Document Library, image assumed allowed under Fair Use.