review, book, productivity, career

One of the challenges of being a software developer is keeping current. Technology moves so quickly that it’s very easy to feel overwhelmed. At times like this you can definitely use some productivity tips. This is how I landed on this book. It has productivity tips alright, but it has so much more to offer.

Soft Skills by John Sonmez

The software developer’s life manual

The subtitle explains it clearly in a few words. The book is not only about productivity but it encompasses all aspects of life. From money management to fitness, from career tips to handling failures it indeed proves to be a life manual.

This is unique book in the sense that it has sections about fitness and spirit. To be honest when I first started reading the book I was planning to skip those sections. But then it hit me: Most of the challenges I have to face are not technical. Technical problems are easy to solve especially in the age of Google and StackOverflow and all sorts of online resources. The real challenge is keeping the motivation up, staying healthy and fit (standard beer & pizza based diet of a developer doesn’t cut it) to increase productivity and overall success, managing your money wisely (which unfortunately means I shouldn’t buy every gadget I see!)

Structure of the book

The book is 504 pages and divided into 7 main sections:

  1. Career
  2. Marketing yourself
  3. Learning
  4. Productivity
  5. Financial
  6. Fitness
  7. Spirit

In the first 2 sections, you can find many helpful tips & tricks regardless you are an employee, freelancer or an entrepreneur. Apparently John Sonmez went through all these stages in his career so he knows what he is talking about.

As I mentioned keeping current is key in our industry and Section 3 addresses this need very effectively.

Since there is so much to learn time management becomes an issue on its own and that’s when you need to improve your productivity. You might not like some of the advice he gives (like quitting watching TV!) but deep inside you’d know he is right.

Money management is especially crucial if you are trying to run your own business. I don’t think finance is any developer’s strongest suit so this section is something to read twice for people like me!

I recently lost a lot of weight and now feel much better about myself. And better yet I feel a lot more productive. Physical fitness is very important. Since our job doesn’t force us to be fit it’s very easy and tempting to let it go. But the consequences are dire! So incorporating a healthy diet and exercise is extremely important to be successful. This section comes with a lot of great advice and techniques to address this.

There’s no way you can achieve any significant level of success if you are not mentally prepared for it. Final section of the book covers mind and soul. From handling relationships to getting back on horse after a failure, it comes with a lot of useful advice and references to good resources.

These 7 sections are divided into 71 chapters in total and they are very easy to read. Since it takes minutes to read each chapter I never had to put it away in the middle of a chapter.

About the author

I like and respect the author, John Sonmez, as he is very prolific and successful. So from the first page I knew for sure the information in the book is not theoretical or made up in any way. Even Uncle Bob’s prologue is an evidence that this guy is methodical, persistent and follows the plan until he achieves success. This is exactly the kind of person you would like to get career advice from!

Conclusion

Generally I find such books fluffy and stating the obvious but not this one because I know I’ve been following the author’s work quite some time now. I know he is very candid and sincere and so I know every word in the book is written by a developer who already had similar challenges and tackled them. Overall, this is definitely a great book to read and keep around for future reference.

Resources

events

I love podcasts as they help me to learn and keep current with the news during idle times. My favourite network is TWiT. They provide all sorts of shows from general tech news to specialized shows like Windows Weekly which focuses on Microsoft world.

A few days ago I received an email from the Windows Apps London meetup group (which made me feel good about my decision for joining) telling me that Mary Jo Foley will be in town and there will be a Windows Weekly live show. Needless to say, I signed up instantly!

I’ve been watching this show for more than 3 years so I exactly knew what to expect. But it’s still very exciting to see Mary Jo in person and being a part of the show. That pixelated being in the back is me:

Me in Windows Weekly

I’ve always considered Mary Jo to be a very kind and polite person and I still maintain that position. Even stronger after seeing how she treats everyone. She was always cheerful, up-beat and friendly all along.

Windows Weekly in London with Mary Jo Foley 1

Windows Weekly in London with Mary Jo Foley 2

A few notes

  • I always download the on-demand version and never watch live. I learned that apparently Leo is always late to the shows! It started 15 minutes late but Mary Jo was not surprised one bit!
  • There were Surface Pro 3s all around. I have never seen so many of them in one place at the same time actually. As a proud owner myself I felt validated :-)

Resources

personal, atheism

This blog is meant to be about my adventures in the techland but every now and then I like to post irrelevant stuff. I think such “off-topic” posts should be expected from a personal blog. As long as they are not link-baits, meaning they deliver what they promise, it shouldn’t be any problem as anyone can simply choose to ignore them. So having said that in this post I want to organize my thoughts on atheism and my reasons for being an atheist.

Which god to follow?

  • Fact: There are lots of religions all around the world (Check the resources section for the map and religious populations)
  • Fact: Almost all believers just follow their parents’ teachings and adopt their faith. That’s why generally countries follow the same religion as a mass.
  • Conclusion: Since religions reject the others’ deities they cannot be all correct. Therefore whether you follow the true faith is just pure luck! So say if Christianity is the correct one around 5 billion people in the world are headed in the wrong direction and gods seem to be fine with it!

Poor distribution mechanism

I have always had a problem with the way the religions were meant to spread (by religions I mean Christianity, Islam and Judaism). The method is God assigns one prophet to convert the entire planet. Mind you there was no Twitter to spread the word back then. No mass communication whatsoever. So every religion was bound to be local in the first place.

Millions ignored completely

What’s the fault of people who have never been sent a prophet? Aren’t we all equal in gods eyes? Seems like he doesn’t give a shit about some people at all. For example take ancient Inca or Aztec civilizations. These people lived and died without being sent a prophet. They practiced horrific human sacrifices to please their gods. I wonder how the god of Islam or Christianity could just allow such barbaric rituals and do nothing about them.

Age of the world: Thousands vs. billions

This alone should be proof enough but people just ignore what they don’t want to hear. Religions teach the earth is around 6000 years old but it’s been scientifically proven that the earth is 4.5 billions years old!

Need to explain the unexplained

We need to explain things. One way or another. If we don’t know the answer we make it up! Thousands of years ago people believed Thor was responsible for nature events such as thunder, lightning and storms. Today we clearly know better and can explain them scientifically without leaving a shred of doubt. So nobody today attributes such regular events to gods.

Today there are key questions still remain unanswered such as the origin of man and universe. There are some explanations but not quite solid so that’s where religions come out to play. Why do we need to attribute the creation of universe to a deity? It’s simply we don’t know the answer yet just like the old Norse failed to explain the creation of thunder. Centuries from now people will call today’s religions mythology just like we do to ancient Greek or Norse gods.

Free will

If we are all free to make our own decisions, then given there are billions of people, god cannot have a clue about what’s going to happen at any given time. And that defies being omnipotent. If god already knows everything that has ever happened and will ever happen then what’s the purpose of creating everything? It’s like writing a story then sitting down and reading it on your own.

Also I refuse to be treated like a lab rat. Created without consent and put to a ridiculous test where I’m threatened to burn in hell if I fail. I cannot understand anyone with some dignity can accept such a premise.

Why give Satan a chance?

The story is that Satan rebelled and God decided to give him a chance. I never understood why? Why not just smite him right there at that instant and keep everything in order? So if I don’t believe in god it’s believed that Satan succeeded but who’s fault is that? As I mentioned above god made a crappy job spreading his word. So he has no right to complain if someone doesn’t believe in him!

Conclusion

These are just some thoughts and questions that have always bugged me. I wanted to get it out of my system and write about them. They are in no particular order and other reasons can be added as well. Maybe in the future I can publish a sequel!

Resources