I Was Afraid My Score Would Be Higher

by Nick Wednesday, August 23, 2006 4:37 AM

Do you know how much of a geek you are?  If not, here's yet another test you can take to find out.  As for me...

You are 57.5% geeky.

Not bad. Maybe you spend a little too much time with your computer, but at least you have friends. You do have friends, right?

The current average score is: 31.07%

Fact: 35.69% of people who took this test admit to wearing a costume "just for fun".

Another Fact:  I was not one of them... and I'm sticking to that answer.  Via Samantha Burns.

Personable Doesn't Equate to Good

by Nick Tuesday, August 15, 2006 11:53 AM

This applies to more than just computer geeks.  You see this in any specialized profession, especially ones that require great technical prowess or accomplishment.  That's right, even doctors and lawyers can be like this.  In some cases it's being known as a team player, or just personable, or having good bedside manner.  Often times, this is how people unfamiliar with your profession measure your ability.  If you have good bedside manner, then you must be a skilled surgeon.  If you can relate well to a client, then you must be able to write wonderful briefs.  If you're not a cubicle recluse, you write great code.  Of course this is entirely false.  In fact, often times it's the exact opposite.  People who are the most introverted are often times the most skilled at their profession.  But because they come off as shy, or maybe even rude, it's assumed they must not be good at what they do.

In my experience, some of the most clever, most skilled programmers have been very introverted, and very reclusive.  They're the type of person who sits in their cube, and won't interact with you unless they have to.  But the code which they produce is very high quality, and they have a very deep knowledge of software.  Having spent part of my career hanging out in hospitals, I don't know how many times I've heard from nurses about about a doctor with terrible bedside manner, who was the best surgeon they knew of.  Often times I think serious professionals tend to sacrifice the development of their interpersonal skills in order to concentrate on the technical aspect of their job.

I write this for two reasons.  First, it's important to recognize this about yourself if you know you are this type of professional.  People will judge you, fair or not, based on your ability to communicate well with others, even if it is not the most important part of your job.  Of course, the ability to work well with others, and communicate effectively with patients or clients ought to be a highly desirable skill anyway, and so if you should recognize that it is a reflection on you, and try to improve.

I also write this to make others aware of this.  Don't judge someone purely based on their interpersonal skills.  While it may be important, it's often times not the most important skill to have for a position, and you may be passing up on someone who would do an incredible job for you.  Moreover, someone who can talk a good game my not have the chops when it comes down to actually doing the job you hired them to do.  Don't use one as your only measuring stick for the other.

The Development Process Explained

by Nick Tuesday, August 01, 2006 10:44 AM

One of my coworkers forwarded me this link, which has a great pictorial analysis of how the software development process works.  It's priceless... and something to always keep in mind when you start a long running project.

I Didn't Write That Code

by Nick Tuesday, August 01, 2006 10:40 AM

I review a lot of code during the week... it's one of the more interesting parts of my job.  It's amazing how certain patterns just sink into you brain after you review enough code.  Recently a coworker was in my cube asking about what a particular section of code was supposed to do.  We were looking at my monitor when the following conversation took place:

Coworker:  What does this do?
Me: Well you wrote it, why don't you tell me.
Coworker:  I didn't write that code.
Me:  Yeah, you did.
Coworker:  I never change anything in that project.  You're the only one who works in there.
Me:  Trust me.  I didn't write that code.  I would never write an If statement like that, and that's not how I write comments.  That looks like one of your If statements to me.
Coworker:  What?
Me:  Here, let's take a look at the Source Safe history log.

Sure enough... after just a few minutes in Source Safe, it was revealed that he added the code in question.  It's funny how easy it really is to pick out one person's code versus someone else's.  I can differentiate code written by pretty much everyone on my team just by looking at a few lines.  People have different commenting styles, and different spacing conventions that they like to use.  People leave fingerprints in their code that they don't even realize.

So then we sat around for a few minutes and I showed him his fingerprints.  I showed him how his If statements were subtly different from mine, and how he comments differently.  I didn't do this to correct any flaws... because there weren't any.  It was simply a matter of coding style.  It is important to at least be able to recognize your own code though.

About Me

Nick Schweitzer Nick Schweitzer
Wauwatosa, WI

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I'm a Software Consultant in the Milwaukee area. Among various geeky pursuits, I'm also an amateur triathlete, and enjoy rock climbing. I also like to think I'm a political pundit. ... Full Bio

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