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.

Continue reading “The Right Little Thing: Manage Complexity”

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

Continue reading “The Right Little Thing”