Scott Hanselman

Hanselminutes Podcast 72 - Be a Better Developer in Six Months

July 13, 2007 Comment on this post [22] Posted in Musings | Podcast | Programming
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My seventy-second podcast is up. Justice Gray and Bill Simser asked folks 'What are you doing for the next 6 months to be a better developer?' In this episode, Scott and Carl kick the question around.

If you have trouble downloading, or your download is slow, do try the torrent with Āµtorrent or another BitTorrent Downloader.

Do also remember the complete archives are always up and they have PDF Transcripts, a little known feature that show up a few weeks after each show.

Telerik is our sponsor for this show.

Check out their UI Suite of controls for ASP.NET. It's very hardcore stuff. One of the things I appreciate about Telerik is their commitment to completeness. For example, they have a page about their Right-to-Left support while some vendors have zero support, or don't bother testing. They also are committed to XHTML compliance and publish their roadmap. It's nice when your controls vendor is very transparent.

As I've said before this show comes to you with the audio expertise and stewardship of Carl Franklin. The name comes from Travis Illig, but the goal of the show is simple. Avoid wasting the listener's time. (and make the commute less boring)

Enjoy. Who knows what'll happen in the next show?

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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July 13, 2007 23:36
.Net IRC rooms. Where are they? Which ones do you frequent, or have you found to be very active?
July 14, 2007 2:52
"When does he do code?"

I don't just spend all day preening myself in the mirror and getting touched obscenely by women @ the office! Well, okay, maybe 3/4 of the day, but the rest I spend developing. ;)

July 14, 2007 7:19
Check out #csharp on freenode.
July 14, 2007 8:21
I've already read some advice by Scott in this podcast past 2 years. It was in our local newspaper -
July 14, 2007 9:07
Being a better developer means getting involved in the local community and attending your local nerd dinners? Is that a pickup line Scott?

All you had to do was ask.

Seriously though, I think the best thing about being involved in a movement like this (and I hope it does move from "meme" to movement) is the focus and companionship it gives you as you move through the program. I've got several developers internally in my company as well as the majority of my online friends working through this and I think that's going to make all the difference of it's success for all of us. I'm already seeing an impact in my life.
July 14, 2007 20:58
What a great show, really gives you something to think about. I've taken the plunge, and publicly declared my personal list of activities to become a better developer:

Thanks Scott and Carl, great show, and thanks to Justice Gray who originated the concept in a post a few months ago.

July 16, 2007 17:56
In podcast you are talking about reading the code but that way you can be a good programmer will you become good developer ? For example To become good developer I have to read different languages or pattern practices to understand the idea behind it..where they came from how there were found and stuff.

by the way i loved your vista joke lol
July 16, 2007 20:24
check out the book Beautiful Code

July 17, 2007 8:57
I would add: work with programmers who are better than you are. If you don't have that luxury at the company where you work at, then join a good open source project which has folks who are willing to mentor you.
July 17, 2007 16:26
Here are a few things to pass along to be a better developer in six months:

1. Skype chats are becoming a great alternative to IRC and you can also have a voice chat from the text based chat which I find very nice. I belong to the .NET Compact Framework Skypechat at
2. I enjoy meeting and chatting with developers that developer with other languages, tools and OS's than myself.
3. At work where I am a consultant I volunteer to help with internal applications that will help me gain new skills. I am leading the development (on my own time) of my company's new MOSS intranet. I know that I will gain new skills, get the appreciation of all and also maybe be compensated at some time down the road.
4. Volunteer at local non-profits that do not have the resources for new software or technologies.

I am actually going to do these myself along with reading more blogs, attending more user group meetings and helping with CodePlex projects.
July 18, 2007 8:28
Hmmm...What about writing code? Doesn't that make you a better developer? I think you become a better fiction writer by writing not just reading other writers' writing.

So I think there are three key things.

1. Listen: This means reading, podcasts, blogs, user groups, lunch with other developers etc. The important part is that you're listening to something that's genuine and of high quality.

2. Think: This means digging in and asking why? Investigate, get different opinions, debate, ponder.

3. Integrate: This means practicing what you've learned and refining it, make it a habit so you don't even have to think about it.

Then just rinse and repeat. If you find that you've forgotten something just go back and start listening again.
July 18, 2007 16:11

For almost any developer there are user groups worldwide. Not only is it a chance pick up some new tricks from the speaker it is also a great chance to meet, network and trade stories with other developers. You can find developer groups at INETA (International .NET Association), and at the Microsoft CodeZone site:

At our user groups we try to get people to meet each other and encourage lots of audience participation and discussion. This depends a lot on the speaker but many like a more interactive session.

And code camps are big here in Florida. There is at least an annual code camp in every major city where you not only get a day (and 2 days in some cases) of .net with lots of networking opportunities at meals and in the halls.

Of course there are the various conferences... Teched, PDC, DevConnections, Mix and many others.

Anyway... just to say, don't forget all the in-person events!

Thanks for the great shows!
July 18, 2007 22:15
Dude, what server on freenode? I can't seem to get a live server.
July 19, 2007 2:05
The channel on freenode is ##csharp, with 2 #'s. Goes on any server.
July 19, 2007 22:29
6 Steps to be a Better Developer in 6 Months

1. Demystify a new technology (or any technology you consider magical). Understanding why something works that you didn't understand before can give you a great insight on how to make future projects work better.

2. Mentor someone. In any art mentoring someone can hold a mirror up to your own development and shore up weak spots. The teacher always learns as much as the student (in mentoring).

3. Optimize Old Code. Optimizing old code is a great way to objectively look at your old work and can provide a great positive feedback loop. Immediate post project optimization, while sometimes required, can almost never be positive, it's your baby after all.

4. Remove a Programmatic Crutch. Everyone has programmatic crutches, maybe you can't code without coffee, or without music, or more likely you can't do anything without an IDE. IDE's are great, but they are very self limiting and canalize thinking. If you are doing something wrong the IDE is going to keep feeding the same GIGO since that's what you used last in the IDE is what you'll use again, especially if you are prompted with a last used item first.

5. Learn a new language. Even if you never use it, new languages can give you insight on new ways of doing things.

6. Become More Physically Active. A sharp body will help maintain a sharp mind. It relieves stress, gets you away from the computer for a while, and not being a shut in is a great thing. I personally try to bike 24 miles a day, during which I can listen to podcasts and music and generally decompress.
July 20, 2007 1:10
Good on you for getting out on that bike (if it weren't a deluge tonight, I'd be doing the same) and staying active, but how are you listening to music while you're out there?
Anything other than a bone conduction headphone would block out ambient sound (do those block out ambient sound too?) and as much as I'd like to be listening to music when I'm out on my bike, I'd like to not spend another 6 months laid up even more. I feel like a terribly old man screeching "safety first" like this.
July 20, 2007 2:34
I bike on a relatively closed trail, all major roads are bridged, and all minor roads have 4 way stop signs. At a reasonable volume the risk is a bit more acceptable. I usually keep one ear open to listen for passerby's as well.

Phil DeVeau
July 21, 2007 6:56
Hi Scott,

You mentioned CastleProject and IRC for developers chat in the same podcasts, so I thought I'd leave you a note:

August 03, 2007 4:08
I admire Scott's approach to improving his development skills in meaningful ways over the next 6 months - good tangible goals to become better at what you do. In my recent blog, I present the argument that you become a better writer (of fiction, code, whatever) not by reading the work of others, but by rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty. Experiment, join a creative writing group, submit work for review, blog plenty - whatever gets you writing will improve your skills. The truth is likely somewhere in the middle, but I'd say there's no substitute for practice and experimentation to improve your skills.
August 09, 2007 16:10
Looking at examples of quality code was one of your suggestions. Can someone suggest a good site for quality c# examples? Thanks.
August 25, 2007 0:10
Hey Now Scott,
I just listened to this pod again & it really is a good one. It's interesting how much F# has been discussed since you stared reading the book you spoke about, there is the your episode #76 F# & DNR #266.
September 03, 2007 23:54
I was listening to this podcast on the train back home to Copenhagen, Denmark. I think there's some very good viewpoints in this podcast, and I'm 100% into the reading source code theory that Scott mentioned. I've learned 90% code-related stuff by reading other peoples code.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.