Let me be honest with you, pair programming wasn’t really my thing back in the day. I actually pretty much hated it: It seemed intrusive, slow, and even time-wasting sometimes. And It really annoyed me to have someone looking over my shoulder, and seeing everything I typed into my machine.

It’s been two years since then and I’ve spent countless hours pair programming (specially remotely). And I can very confidently say that it’s been one of the most enriching experiences of my career.

Programming with another person can be a pretty intrusive experience when you’re just starting. But it can also be incredibly rewarding once you get used to doing it: You gain access to an entirely new lense through which to see your own code. One that isn’t blind to all your biases and bad practices, and (in the best case scenario) actively challenges you to improve.

Letting another person into your workflow can also lead you to discover parts of yourself (as a professional) that you didn’t know were in you: Maybe you’re a passionate teacher that never had any students before, for example.

And, out of all the things you’ll learn by pair programming, I can guarantee you one: Having a second set of eyes help you code will, without a doubt, teach you a thing or two about yourself and the coding world in general.

Got you interested? Let’s talk about that.

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Why it's okay to take a break from work (with coffee.)

“I can’t take a break right now, I’ve been trying for three straight days and It just won’t work” my friend was telling me this as he sat hunched on top of his desk, bags under his eyes and a worried expression on his face. “That is precisely why you need to stop working on it for now”, was what I told him as I took a couple of cold ones out of the fridge.

He looked at me like I was crazy, he couldn’t possibly relax and drink beers with me, and specially not when he had already spent three days to work on code that been estimated in hours. I promised him that if he had just one drink with me, he would find the answer he had been looking for these past three days.

No more than two hours had passed, and we were sitting on the floor talking about life and whatnot; when all of a sudden he lighted up completely and jumped back to his pc.

He had this look on his face like he had just heard the answer of life, the universe and everything; and it didn’t take long before he finished all the work that he wasn’t able to wrap his head around for days.

It happens, we focus so hard on the work we’re trying to do that we lose sight of the original idea. Tiredness, tunnel vision and outright stubbornness can prevent us from being able to think outside of the box we ourselves created around the problem we’re facing.

You can push through all these obstacles and move forward to reach your goal. And there are definitely times when you’ll have to do this.

But most of the time though, I would argue that what you really need is to take a break.

Continue Reading "Why it’s okay to take a break from work."

I was talking with a friend of mine the other day about this one app he’s building for himself. He was really excited pitching me the idea, talking about screens and features and possibilities. You know, all the good stuff.

And I’ll be honest with you, he got me excited about the app too. Why? For starters, he had a pretty good idea that targeted a niche and solved a problem (essential for app development). Second and most important, he was really passionate about his ideas and the good that could come out of his work; and that was what got the little maker in me to fire up.

I asked him to send me the details for the project, and he did the very next day. I read through them carefully and just as I expected, it was really good. It just had one problem: Too many features.

Now now… I know what you’re going to say, how can having too many features be a bad thing? (Or maybe you didn’t say that, but work with me for a second here)

Well, I’m about to propose to you the following:

You can make your application better by having it do less things.

Interested in getting to know how, why or what I’ve been drinking? *cough* coffee *cough* Then buckle up soldier, we’re going for a ride:

Author’s Note: The ideas and tips that are presented in this post are highly influenced by the work done by 37signals (now basecamp) and specially their bestselling books Getting Real and Rework. For a deeper analysis of these methods I highly recommend reading their books and following their blog at Signal v. Noise.

Continue Reading "Improve your App with less features."