30 Dec 2014

Podcasts

A few weeks ago, Toby Osbourn and Chris Laughlin blogged about the podcasts that they were currently listening to. I thought I better do the same, so here are my current podcasts:

Programming

Hanselminutes – A weekly podcast hosted by Scott Hanselman that covers web development and technology, with a particular emphasis on Microsoft and .NET development (Scott being a web developer working as part of the Web Platform Team at Microsoft).  Always worth a listen, it covers the major new technologies from the point of view of a developer.  A good mix of guests, and a good length (around 30 minutes) makes it very easily digestible.

Herding Code – This podcast comes out every few weeks, and is hosted by K. Scott Allen (OdeToCode), Kevin Dente, Scott Koon (Lazycoder) and Jon Galloway.  The podcast format will typically have a guest being interviewed in depth on one or more programming topics, such as a new library or service, and the conversation will typically expand to include general programming topics and tech news.  Always entertaining and occasionally off the wall.

This Developer’s Life – This is another podcast from Scott Hanselman, along with Rob Connery.  This is more about challenges faced by developers (and many others) in their everyday lives.  The podcast titles give you a flavour – Cancer, Competition, Pressure, Management. Quirky, but interesting. Sadly, it looks like this podcast has come to an end. 

If you’re interested in more .NET podcasts, check out http://thesoundof.net/, an aggregator of a number of different .NET podcasts. 

CodingBlocks.NET – A podcast I’ve recently discovered, it is a programmers podcast, hosted by programmers for programmers.  The recent topics have included design Patterns, ASP.NET vNext, the static analysis tool, NDepends, choosing your technology stack, and SQL databases.

Tech News

Tech Weekly from the Guardian Technology team.  Great for keeping abreast of all the current Tech gossip. 

Miscellaneous

Get Up and Code – A podcast aimed at developers discussing fitness and nutrition, originally hosted by Iris Classon and John Sonmez

Kermode Film Reviews - Mark Kermode rants about the latest film releases, while Simon Mayo heroically puts up with his Trotskyite nonsense. Lively, controversial and un-missable movie discussion.

We’re Alive – The best Zombie serial podcast that you’ve never heard.  Absolutely addictive listening.

30 Sep 2014

Career Options for the Older Developer


I recently read a Hacker News post asking what happens to older developers, and thought it would be useful to summarize the various options discussed across the 60+ page post.  As I’m in my late 30’s is a topic I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about personally.
  1. Become a Senior Developer/Architect - This is the route that majority of developers will follow. The main advantages are that you keep on coding (hopefully) and you continue to learn new skills and technologies.  The disadvantages are that as you grow more senior, you are increasing pulled away from development into team management (see below).  There are also the issues of burnout (seeing the same mistakes being made over & over again in new technologies).  You also need to beware of being side-lined into maintaining legacy systems, and having your skills and experience becoming less relevant. Senior developers will typically also see their pay plateau, and will earn significantly less than some of other career options listed below.
  2. Move into Management – Some developers will expect to move through the progression of team leader and project manager into an IT management role.  Indeed, many (too many) organisations encourage/force developers along this path, simply because they don’t have senior technical career path. The advantages are that is such a common career path, and will generally be associated with higher pay.  The disadvantages – the higher the management ladder you climb the less coding you do. Also, being a manager is an  extremely demanding role, requiring a very different mindset to that of a developer.
  3. Consultancy/Contractor – This option is particularly popular due to the current demand for programmers. The main advantages are obviously the higher salary you can command as a consultant/contractor. You get to work on the projects and technologies you’re interested in, generally for short engagements. In theory, you no longer need to worry about department politics. The major disadvantage is the greater risk you’re exposed to when you’re effectively self-employed. 
  4. Move into other Sectors - Some developers will step out of development and move into other IT related roles (System Security, Testing, Business Analysis), while others still will move into different fields where their skills and experience are relevant (i.e. sales, scientific and engineering roles). 
  5. Become an Entrepreneur – This is particularly popular at the minute, with a growing number of developers moving to startup their own company.  You build a product or a SaaS solution or service company.  You may gain financially, or you may not.  At least you are your own boss (or maybe you’re really at the beck & call of all your customers). It will definitely require a significant investment of time and possibly money to become your primary means of making money.
Know of a career path I’ve missed?  Let me know below in the comments, or ping me on Twitter (@AndyParkhill)

P.S. I tried really hard to find a gender neutral icon for a programmer, and the image of the Lego mini-figure above was the best I could come up with.  I’m not particularly happy with it, as it uses the usual lazy stereotype of software developers (male, geeky).  If you know of a better icon or image I can use, please get in touch!

* Photo by wiredforlego used under Creative Commons

29 Jan 2014

Tracking My Weight Over The Years

For the past five years, I have been recording my weight daily.  This year, I’ve finally given up on weighing myself daily, and have reduced it to weighing myself weekly.  As part of the change, I have finally combined the logs from the different years into one.  This has allowed me to track how my weight has changed over this time, and not just over a one year period.

You can draw a few conclusions immediately:

  1. Despite a plateau from March 2009 to October 2010, my weight has been rising over the past few years.
  2. Each year, my weight generally peaks at the end of December.
  3. Despite a number of periods of brief weight loss (generally due to illness), I consistently regain and gradually increase my weight.
  4. I need to lose weight.  And it is going to take time to lose it. After all, it has taken over 3 years to add it.

You can track how my weight changes via my bodyweight log.