Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Pragmatic Thinking and Learning

I have just finished reading Pragmatic Thinking and Learning - Refactor your Wetware by Andy Hunt. This is a very interesting book, which is well worth a read by anyone who is interested in:

a) Different ways of learning new skills
b) The way the mind works
c) The whole left side/right side debate
d) You just fancy a change from an ordinary software development textbook.

As I was reading it, a few things came to light that I did 'right' and 'wrong' last year.

Learning Moose and Erlang.

Last year I learnt Moose, and didn't learn Erlang. I set out to do both, but didn't manage it. Why? I am capable. I managed to learn to use oo perl, ruby and rails in 3 months, why not Moose and Erlang.

Simple, I had no opportunity to play with Erlang, and I had no defined targets (I want to write in Erlang using concurrency by ).

However, with Moose, it was completely different. I wanted to write a pluggable pipeline system using a modern oo perl system which others would be able to use easily. I had time to play as I learnt the basics, and then start building the structure of the framework as I learnt more.

Allowing time and scribbling.

I started to turn away from my screen and think a bit more. I also scribbled more. I created more scrap paper this year than the previous. I roughly mapped out where the code went. This worked. Thinking back to when I set up the QC application and database, I just got on and did it. That took a lot longer to achieve than it should (I got a stern warning from my bosses boss about that!) whereas the pipeline was in theory tougher, but took less than a quarter of the time in the end to get to it's initial start.

Both of these positives are described in the book as using R-mode to lead L-mode. Since I have seen some of this in action last year, I am going to try to use that in guiding me forward next year. I really need to learn some C. If there is likely to be space, I would like to learn Erlang still. However, the key is to be able to set a reason for doing so. I will.

So, first off C. Erlang isn't required for my job at this time, so I'll leave it for now.

My target for C. Finish going through the C book I have and then take a C script that my pluggable pipeline sets off, and try to work out how it all works, and see if I can refactor it. In the process of this, I should also try to write a small program to sort a user inputted list. This shoudl probably be my first mini-target once completing the book.

There are lots of other things in this book to follow. I think I probably need to reread it. I'll not write about more here now (I have a 4 year old desperate to assemble a Lego Star Wars toy with me) but I shall try to keep up to date my blogging more, and detail when it is something in from this book which has helped guide me towards it.

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