Podcast #15

by Jeff Atwood

on July 24, 2008

This is the fifteenth episode of the StackOverflow podcast, wherein Joel and Jeff discuss the following:

  • A brief discussion of our shoestring budget, and the project schedule. The beta for Stack Overflow is close; we will likely be trickling people in by the end of the month.

  • Strategies for handling recurring or background tasks in ASP.NET. We have a simple method that works for now.

  • Being a stellar software developer does not necessarily equate to being a stellar manager of software developers. Promoting your best coders is not always the best strategy. We highly recommend Peopleware and Managing Humans: Biting and Humorous Tales of a Software Engineering Manager. If you're a manager, staple these books to your face! Live it, learn it, love it! If you know someone who is a manager of software developers, staple these books to their face. They're that important.

  • Joel's essential time management tip: get things done by not reading Getting Things Done. Personally, my time management is terrible, but I do have one guiding principle: produce some kind of small public artifact every day. We can recommend Merlin Mann's excellent site 43Folders, which is sort of a long running geek love letter to that book.

  • I argue that regions are the GOTO of code formatting. I navigate in Visual Studio using search as my metaphor. Between CTRL+I incremental search and CTRL+SHIFT+F find in project, I'm never more than a few keystrokes away from whatever code I need to see. Your code is full of highly unique keywords, just like the web is full of unique search terms.

  • Joel and I both agree: one of the most effective coding practices you can adopt on your team is interactive, sit-down-with-your-coworker code review. 90% of the things you will learn have nothing to do with the code. I believe programming is a far more social activity than most realize. If you write code, and nobody but you ever sees that code -- did you really extract all the benefit from writing that code?

  • When it comes to interviewing software developers, it seems there are two classes of interviews: the kind where the interviewee gets to drive, and the kind where the interviewer does all the driving. Try to have a game plan for both types of interviews. Be yourself, build a portfolio, and actively study the company you're interviewing at. For some interviews, you really do need to prepare -- practice, practice, practice!

  • We can't talk about programming interviews without mentioning classic interview puzzles and the book How Would You Move Mount Fuji?

  • On the amazing power of lambda expressions, delegates, and anonymous methods. Fun stuff!

  • If ACME is in the business of developing explosive widgets, is it unreasonable for them to inevitably outsource their software development to Coders R Us? If you're serious about software engineering as a career, you deserve to work at a company that is serious about software engineering, too. This usually means choosing to work for a company where software is at the core of their business model. See Joel's Talk at Yale.

We answered the following listener questions:

  1. Gordon Milne: "I have an opportunity to pursue a more managerial role; how do you feel about making the transition from developer to being responsible for other developers?"

  2. Jason Zimpelmann: "What sorts of time management skills do you use?" and "What about that posting on region blocks?"

  3. Aviv Ben-Yosef: "Should code review be done alone via email or in person?"

  4. David McGraw: "What advice would you give college graduates who are interviewing for programming jobs?"

  5. Adam Haile: "How do you handle pointers to functions in the .NET world?"

  6. Matias A. Bellone: "Outsourcing has been putting food on my table for the past few years. What are your feelings on this?"

If you'd like to submit a question to be answered in our next episode, record an audio file (90 seconds or less) and mail it to podcast@stackoverflow.com. You can record a question using nothing but a telephone and a web browser.

The transcript wiki for this episode is available for public editing.

Update: if you had trouble playing back this episode (or the previous one), it may have been due to issues with the way the ID3 tags were stored on the file. The ITConversations folks are on it, and have re-rendered the episodes with a fix.