Watch for Slow Trains

The other day I was listening to .NET Rocks episode 1327 and I heard an interesting quote. One of the guests, Jamie Dixon said:

It’s a slow moving train, but if you sort of stand there with your OO [object oriented] imperative code that train does … leave you behind every day

Now, this quote has been keeping me up at night a bit. Not because I’m afraid that I’ll be stuck writing object oriented, imperative code forever – I firmly believe that functional programming is the future – but because I don’t know which slow trains I’m on, and which slow trains I’m not on.

Health is a good example of a slow train. I know that I’ve gained a little weight since I started computer programming. Pants that were comfortable last summer still fit, but they’re not comfortable. It’s a slow train, but it is leaving me behind. So I decided to re-evaluate a little bit. I’m training for a 5k. That’s not exactly a marathon, but it is a start. It’s a slow train in a direction I want to go.

This blog is another example of a slow train in a direction I want to go. I check the stats every morning, in case a post went viral the night before, and it didn’t. I usually have only a few reads, and probably from people who know me personally, but it doesn’t matter. I’m building up a long history of posts, getting my name out, practicing my writing, and learning. I hope I’m even helping a few other people learn. Again, slow train headed in the right direction.

That slow train quote is a great example of the right little thing. It started me thinking. It was someone else’s aside, but turned into a major catalyst in my mind.

I think that’s it this week. I do have one announcement: I’ll be blogging every Monday and Wednesday morning, instead of just every Wednesday. (This blog train is moving a little slow for my taste.)

I also have a question for you:

What slow trains are you on, and do you like where they’re going?

Till next week, happy learning,


The Right Little Thing: Manage Complexity

Code Complete 2 is a book that I think every programmer should read. And, atypically for this industry, I doubt very many people will disagree with me.

There’s one particular quote, from chapter 5 (page 78 in my edition) that I think is worth buying the book just to have:

Managing complexity is the most important technical topic in software development. In my view, it’s so important that Software’s Primary Technical Imperative has to be managing complexity.

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The Right Little Thing

There’s a wonderful textbook on writing (and thinking) by Richard Mitchell called The Gift of Fire. In it, Mitchell says that teachers sometimes say “the right little thing.” This thing is a short saying that makes the students begin to think differently, that permits them to start to learn in a direction previously closed to them.

I have often noticed, in my own studying, that sometimes a quote from a book, or a lecture, or a blog, turns out to be such a “right little thing.” The whole course or whole book is worth it just because it contained this little, eye-opening quote.

So welcome to the new blog post category! I will share some of the right little things that have helped me learn.

Here is the first Right Little thing:

“The only way to go fast is to go well.” – Bob Martin

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