Ignite Your Coding Starts March 4th with Andy “Pragmatic Programmer” Hunt!

Ignite Your CodingIt all starts next week on Thursday, March 4th: Ignite Your Coding, the live webcast where we interview some of the biggest brains in the industry, and then hand over the interview to you!

In Ignite Your Coding, my fellow Developer Evangelist John Bristowe and I will talk to developers who’ve made their mark on the industry and ask them how they got started, what sorts of projects they’re working on, what interests them, where they see the industry heading, all with an eye towards helping you make sense of the changes happening in the world of software development. We’ll ask the questions for the first part, but then it’ll be your turn to ask them. The webcast will take place on Thursdays in March and April, and it won’t cost you a thing to catch them.

Our First Guest: Andy Hunt

Andy HuntAre you into agile programming? Andy Hunt co-authored the Manifesto. Does The Pragmatic Programmer occupy a special place on your bookshelf? (And really, it should.) Andy co-wrote that too. Have you ever coded using Ruby on Rails or ASP.NET MVC? Chances are you picked up some knowledge, either directly or indirectly, from a book published by Andy’s book publishing company, The Pragmatic Bookshelf.

We’re quite fortunate to have Andy as our first guest, and we’re looking forward to the interview! Our live webcast with Andy will take place on Thursday, March 4th at 2:00 p.m. Eastern (11:00 a.m. Pacific) and run for an hour. To catch the webcast, all you have to do is register – it’s free!

Pragmatic Thinking and Learning

There are all sorts of books out there that talk about how to get the most of your programming tools, from IDEs to utilities to languages to frameworks to methodologies. But of all these tools, the most important tool is the one that’s largely ignored: your brain. Enter Andy’s latest book, Pragmatic Thinking and Learning, which I declared “My Favourite Geek Book of 2008”. There are many books and tools for refactoring your code; this one’s about refactoring your brain. First, it presents the brain in a way that a programmer can grasp:

Diagram showing a "Dual core" model of the brain

…and then talks about the many ways you can refactor it:

  • Cover of "Pragmatic Thinking and Learning"Taking advantage of R-mode (often called the “right brain” in pop psychology), which often gets ignored because of its non-linear, non-linguistic, unpredictable and even “artsy” nature. It’s actually an amazing problem-solver, so much that PT&L suggests that you should “lead with R-mode and follow with L-mode”, or more colloquially, “write drunk; revise sober”.
  • Working around the bugs in your brain. And there are many, from the primitive “lizard brain” that likes to override our higher cognitive functions to cognitive biases to generational affinity.
  • Learning deliberately: what learning is and isn’t, how to plan to learn, figuring out what your learning style is and how to best take advantage of it, and harnessing mind maps, documentation and teaching in order to learn.
  • Gaining experience, which includes understanding the importance of fun and how pressure kills cognition, learning the “inner game” and why your mantra shouldn’t be “learn to build”, but “build to learn”.
  • Managing focus, a very important topic since there are so many things vying for it, from office interruptions to the siren song of the internet, with email, IM, Twitter, Digg, Reddit and LOLcats. One of my favourite bits in this section was some research whose results indicated that constantly checking your email lowers your effective IQ more than smoking a joint.

Get the book, then meet the author! Register for Andy’s Ignite Your Coding session!

This article also appears in Canadian Developer Connection.

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