Blog

Welcome to a little bit of my thoughts and musings about work the Web. Some of these may just be notes to myself.

Ask More Questions

June 28, 2017

The old adage about how "there are no stupid questions," is wrong.

Of course there are stupid questions.

But that doesn't mean you shouldn't ask them.

When starting a new project, or a new job, we can sometimes be timid about our curiousity. But curiosity is an essential element to life. If we don't ask questions, how do we learn?

Whether I'm helping a friend or starting something new, the answer to any unsolved problem has always been to ask more questions.

For example, a project I worked on was having trouble with the store locator on their webiste. Well, as soon as I heard that I started thinking about possible technical solutions. But before I got too far into that, I dug a little deeper.

It seemed like a stupid question, but I asked, "So, is this a business problem or a technical problem?" As it turned out, it was a business problem, and the solution wasn't something I could handle with code.

With a little open curiousity, I saved what could have been a lot of wasted effort on my part.

So go ahead, ask those stupid questions. It's worth it.

Create and Show Rough Drafts

July 5, 2017

As a bit of a perfectionist, I've had to learn a difficult lesson: drafts are not finished products.

The biggest waste of time I put myself through in the past was creating something close to a finished product only to find out the stakeholder didn't like it. (That's the worst-case scenario that doesn't happen anymore.)

Maybe the process I had been using at school didn't evolve properly. Create, create, create, and then turn it in and hope for the best... that doesn't work in the real world.

What I had to force myself to do was to create something without editing it as a I went. If it's words, put them all down on the screen before structuring it. If it's design, scribble out a stack of recycling before starting anything digital.

Then edit the text, or design a set of lo-fidelity mockups, and show it to someone. Or put it all aside for a day and show it to yourself later.

Whether you or that someone likes it, hates it, makes irrelevant comments, or just stares at it blankly, you will come out of the exchange with something. It could be a decision to run with what you’ve got, it could be an idea for an edit or redesign, or you could just scrap the whole thing.

Either way, you’ve tried a few different approaches and gotten feedback. And now that final draft should start to look more clear.

Getting Unstuck

July 18, 2017

With the 10 different activities I have going at once, I can sometimes get stuck on a task.

This happened to me recently with an important, high-level task that no one else could do at that time. (Nothing special about me, just right person, right time.)

It wasn't that I didn't know what to do. It was that I didn't know where to begin because there was so much to do and so much I was already doing.

With all of these ideas floating around in my head, I couldn't pick one to start with, and I was missing the obvious.

I needed a plan.

So I sat down and started making lists, cataloging everything I was doing, wanted to do, needed to do, had planned to do, was supposed to do, and had absolutely no time to do.

It was a kind of purge.

I ended up with four lists and a paragraph that was trying to explain it all. It was a mess.

I took a break. I think I watched an espisode of Fargo Season 3 (only something new and engaging can take my mind off work, and I love this show).

Then I came back and reorganized everything. I cut words and sentences and made action phrases and single item lists and put it all in a chronological sequence.

I still had four lists, but they were concise, and they were an outline of how to tackle that important task.

Do you want to learn more about JavaScript?

July 21, 2017

Try answering some JavaScript questions on Stack Overflow. Or whatever language interests you...

The key word in the question at hand is "more." Do you want to learn more about it? Don't go in blind. Bring a basic understanding of the technology with you.

You're strengthening a lot of areas here:

Communication - Figuring out what the real problem is and what solution is actually needed.

Problem Solving - Diving into the technical details to produce results.

Credibility - Community reputation and technical prowess.

Professionalism - Handling criticism or errors in a public forum.

Self Promotion - Visibly helping others.

Find something easy and give it a shot. If you get somewhere with it, add your Stack Overflow profile to your resume and LinkedIn.