Archive for October, 2009

Book Reviewed: Pragmatic Thinking and Learning: Refactor Your Wetware

October 26th, 2009

Pragmatic Thinking and LearningAndy Hunt’s Pragmatic Thinking and Learning is fun and interesting, but the topics within often leaned on the obvious. The central theme throughout Pragmatic Thinking and Learning revolves around harnessing brain modes (linear mode and rich mode), self improvement, and the Dreyfus Model – a model, where skills are ranked by five stages (Novice, Advanced Beginner, Competent, Proficient, and Expert). Throughout the text Andy works through the stages of the Dreyfus Model within the context of the software realm. He offers advice on how we can progress as developers, and discusses learning techniques that have worked for him.

Andy offers many interesting tips, stories, and draws in external research. For example, did you know, that research suggests that: “if you constantly interrupt your task to check email [Twitter, Facebook] or respond to an IM text message, your effective IQ drops by ten points” or “the leading predictor of a tendency for road rage was the amount of personalization on a vehicle”?

However, I felt that many of the concepts discussed have become common knowledge (part of popular developer culture) and were somewhat obvious. To borrow from the Dreyfus Model; this book is probably best suited for Novices or Advanced Beginner. It’s also fair to mention that I thought Andy’s other book The Pragmatic Programmer suffered this same problem, but also keep in mind that “the obvious … is never seen until someone expresses it simply” (Kahlil Gibran). In the end, I do recommend this book. It’s a fun read, excellent for those who are new to the software industry. It would make a great addition to College / University programs.

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Review Tags:

The Dreyfus Model: Developer Events and Skill Categories

October 8th, 2009

I found the Dreyfus Model of Skill Acquisition neat. It’s a central theme throughout Pragmatic Thinking and Learning by Andy Hunt.

Here’s how Wikipedia describes the Dreyfus Model:

The Dreyfus Model of Skill Acquisition postulates that when individuals acquire a skill through external instruction, they normally pass through five stages. … the five stages of skill acquisition are: Novice, Advanced beginner, Competent, Proficient and ExpertDreyfus model of skill acquisition

We have different skills and are at different stages simultaneously in each skill – for example, someone might be an Expert at underwater basket weaving and a Novice at cooking. As we cultivate our experience we progress through these stages.

The categories (again, from Wikipedia) are as follows:

  1. Novice
    • rigid adherence to rules
    • no discretional judgment
  2. Advanced beginner
    • situational perception still limited
    • all aspects of work are treated separately and given equal importance
  3. Competent
    • coping with crowdedness (multiple activity, information)
    • now partially sees action as part of longer term goals
    • conscious , deliberate planning
  4. Proficient
    • holistic view of situation, rather than in terms of aspects
    • sees what is most important in a situation
    • uses maxims for guidance, meaning of maxims may vary according to situation
  5. Expert
    • no longer reliant on rules, guidelines, maxims
    • intuitive grasp of situation, based on tacit knowledge
    • vision of what is possible
Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Musings, Personal Tags:

Perfectionism: for the Insane?

October 1st, 2009

Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life … I think Perfectionism is based on an obsessive belief that if you run careful enough … you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people [are going to] have a lot more fun [than you] … -  Anne LamottBird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

Author: Adam Kahtava Categories: Musings Tags: