Building community one developer at a time

I’ve been working in this industry for a number of years and through that time of progressed from being somewhat competent at showing up for work to now being somewhat competent at showing up for work sober. In reality, we all progress in our skills as we gain experience and move through a number of jobs. Since getting involved in the local Edmonton community with Edmug, one of the things that I’ve tried to work on is providing something to the growth of newer developers. There are a number of ways that I try to do this. In some cases it’s simply standing up and speaking at the user group and code camp. Other times I do nothing more than show up at the local pub to talk and answer questions (the pub part is a favourite of mine). As a very non-interactive method of transferring knowledge I also provide books to people when I can.

While I’m not a big fan of lending books, due to the lack of interaction, sometimes you’re just better off to get the whinging bugger out of your face before you end up being the lead story on the local news. As you’ve probably read this week, Justice Gray has been bemoaning the fact he can’t attend the MVP Summit in Redmond. The primary reason for this is, contrary to what he’d have you believe, the fact that he hasn’t been designated as an MVP. Prior to leaving Edmonton, Justice’s actions were making it very obvious that he was going to be trying hard over the next year to become Edmonton’s next MVP.

Being community minded, and knowing that Justice was mired in the pits of the software development skills category, I decided to lend him a helping hand. I dug through the bookshelf in my office and found a book suitable for his first steps on the ladder to programming greatness. I know that you’re thinking that VB6 is an old technology and that I’m starting Justice down an ill-advised road, so let me explain to you the rationale behind this personally crafted skills enhancement program.

First, we have to realize that every developer has to start somewhere. When you’ve been out of meaningful development and development conversation for as long as Justice has, you need to ensure that the student practitioner begins their journey with something that they won’t be intimidated by. VB6 provides the perfect opportunity for Justice to begin acquiring skills that will allow him to remain irrelevant in the development community for years to come, thus saving all of use from having to rewrite all the code he contributed to projects.

The second consideration in this book choice is the fact that it is a ‘…in 24 hours’ book. This is very important. I was sure I wouldn’t be needing this book while in Seattle at the Summit. Given that I’m away for a full 8 days and nights in combination with Justice’s impeded knowledge gathering skills I’m fairly confident that he will be able to get through the first 3 chapters during the 192 hours that I’ll be out of town.

The final point that I considered in this Herculean learning project was that I would definitely be out of contact while in Seattle. A person can never be too cognizant of ensuring that you’ve done all things possible to eliminate all communication channels. Although Justice claims to be keen to learn, there is a point where his continual update phone calls of “Hey Donald, I’ve finished page one. What should I do now?” become a bit more than simply annoying. Remember that if you’re going to ask a two legged dog to walk across the yard, you better be ready to be its crutch.

It’s only a few more days before I arrive back in Edmonton. When I do, I’m not expecting Justice to be returning the book to me, and I’m okay with that. Justice, I hope you enjoy this book for many years to come.