Spread influence, provide value, and become a well-rounded dev by improving your code review

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Photo by Anna Kolosyuk on Unsplash.

There’s so much more to software development than writing code. Many developers totally underestimate the importance of reviewing code.

It’s a shame because reviewing your coworkers’ code is a mission-critical responsibility. In fact, if your goal is to spread influence, provide value to the team, and become a well-rounded developer, then code reviews may be more impactful than the code you write yourself.

Code Reviews Increase Influence

No matter the company involved, when I ask my friends about tech promotions, I notice a common theme: influence. That is to say, developers become great candidates for a promotion when they gather enough influence.

The idea of influence is somewhat malleable. If I were to offer my definition, I would say it is dependent on three…


A deep-dive into iteration planning and predicting how long something will take

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Photo by Alvaro Reyes on Unsplash

It’s no secret that developers are atrocious at estimating how long a task will take.

It doesn’t matter what your company calls them: stories, tickets, tasks, epics, sub-epics. Estimating the amount of time to allocate to a development chore is difficult… Really difficult.

In 2015, Standish Group found that only 29% of projects were completed on time given contemporary agile development practices. By extrapolation, one could make the assumption that roughly 29% of tasks are estimated correctly.

That’s because, if every story was estimated accurately, 100% of projects would’ve been completed by the due date.

This is not a perfect assumption though. A team could accurately estimate 99% of all tasks under a project and still miss the due date by months. In my opinion, this is the more likely scenario. …


Why “forced” distributed teams are not indicative of what remote work is usually like

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Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

In the wake of a pandemic, many companies are looking at remote work for answers.

It’s easy to assume remote work will be a “plug and play” solution to this crisis. Remote work keeps employees safe and productive as well.

Unfortunately, my prediction is that many workers will have a miserable first-time experience. It’s not going to be easy to get back to the same productivity that they’re used to.

Jarring cultural changes, faulty VPN, and the backdrop of our remote work will cast a shadow on the success of other distributed work. …


Demystifying the term “idempotent” and discussing its application in the real world

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Photo by ben o’bro on Unsplash

Web developers can’t go more than a few weeks without hearing the term “Idempotent” tossed around the office. The term has become ubiquitous within teams aiming to build high-quality API services.

Many blog posts and articles overcomplicate what idempotency really does for an application. Getting bogged down in the technical jargon is not what we’re here for.

I find the technical definition of idempotency to be confusing to junior developers. Instead, let's focus on what idempotent design really means for an API.

An Example Of Idempotency

We have a bag containing two red and two blue marbles:

💰 → 🔴 🔴 🔵 🔵

Then we have a friend, Jill, who wants us to do her a favor. Jill asks, “Can you take out all the blue…


How Competitive Hearthstone Changed My Life For The Better

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Photo by Florian Olivo on Unsplash

This may seem ridiculous to those who are not well versed in eSports, but our team was quite comparable to any college club sport.

That is to say, we had practices, a coach, workout and diet programs, scouting reports, and televised matches. Some of our matches were featured on Big Ten Network, right after the football games aired.

The University of Michigan sponsors several eSport teams in games like League of Legends, Rocket League, Smash Bros, and Overwatch. Many of these players are sponsored and now playing video games professionally for 6-figure salaries.

I played Hearthstone, which is a very popular strategy game. Our team at the University of Michigan was rated #1 in the country for several weeks during the regular season. …


low hanging fruit, dirty laundry, and sugar pills

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Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash

Here are 23 themes, quotes, and ideas that I think about most frequently at 23. So at any given moment, when you see me, there’s a good chance I’m thinking about how:

  1. to make money
  2. people just want to matter
  3. the information we need to know is getting more complex while appetite for reading and listening is getting shorter
  4. good sleep comes from a place of enjoying the fact that there’s nothing more to do today before bed
  5. sarcastic humor is overrated
  6. cliches become cliche because they’re true
  7. it’s really easy to be successful if you have time and enjoy the rat…

Capture Attention and Vibe With It

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Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Telling a story is critical to winning friendships and commanding attention. If you want to be the star of the show, you gotta be able to tell a helluva story.

These are my top tips for verbal story telling:

#1 There is Brilliance in Brevity — Don’t be afraid to tell a short story or even not tell a story. Less is more.

#2 Know Your Audience — Understand what makes your audience tick. Exploit what you know will interest them.

#3 Actualize “Common Sense” Story Telling — Suspense, foreshadowing, & conflict don’t disappear when telling a verbal story. Most people only think about humor when speaking. …


Do You Agree With My List Of Tips?

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Photo by Valeriy Khan on Unsplash

Over the past two months, I’ve been interviewing with various tech companies in SF, NY, Chicago, and Detroit. I’ve interviewed with fortune 500 companies, and also startups that are in a “growth” phase. Big and small, far and wide, many hiring teams made choices that harmed my interviewing experience.

During my job hunt, I recognized three tips that could help hiring teams improve.

Consider this my “Exit Interview” for the entry-level software development interview process.

Tip #1: During Behavioral Interviews, Prioritize “Passion” and “Willingness to Learn”

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Photo by Nicole Wolf on Unsplash

Interns and entry level software developers have to do the most learning out of everyone on the team.

Not only do they have to learn a new codebase, but also new technologies, and company culture. …


The Problem Isn’t Building The App, It’s Figuring Out What App To Build

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Photo by Alex Sajan on Unsplash

College students have the ability to build first and ask for permission later.

Young entrepreneurs are hungry, creative, and aren’t tied down by bureaucracy. They have grandiose visions and a million fresh ideas to try.

As a programmer at the University of Michigan, I sat though a slew of bizarre entrepreneurial pitches. I heard, everything from pokemon-esque fish battles (with real live fish) to fraternity drinking game gambling.

I knew most of these ideas would be shut down by PETA, HIPAA, or basic human common sense. Yet I felt obligated to give my peers optimistic advice:

“Here’s how you can create an MVP. Start a group chat and run manual trials of your ‘linkedIn for tinder’ idea with you and your friends. See how that goes. Once you gather enough data, enter one of the entrepreneurship competitions on campus. See if you can snowball the monetary winnings, and veteran guidance into a legit iPhone app.” …


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My name is Max Albert. I’m a senior at the University of Michigan studying Computer Science. In my free time I blog, I post photos, and I obliterate warlocks with my dread infernal minions — fire demons from the underworld.

In other words, I’m the Captain of the University of Michigan Hearthstone Team.

Hearthstone is the 4th biggest ESport in the world. It has 400 million players. Hearthstone is a strategy game that revolves around deck-building and statistics. People who are good at chess and poker tend to be good at Hearthstone.

I’m a big fan of other ESports too! Some other popular titles include League of Legends — an RTS team game, CS:GO — a first person shooter, and Rocket League — a car game based on soccer. …

About

Max Albert

just a programmer from the midwest. Ope!

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