development leadership lifehacks

Did you have a useful week? 

Did you learn something? Did you stretch yourself? Did you challenge your assumptions, or your practices? 

Do you feel like you achieved something last week? Did the frustrations inspire you to make it easier next week? Did you share them with others, in the pub, or on your blog, so others can learn from your frustration? 

Did you set new goals? Are you going to be a faster typist? Are you going to learn functional programming? This time, are you going to lose weight? 

Did you make new connections? Did you make an effort to understand the people you work with? Did you do something to strengthen your work and personal relationships? 

You don’t have to do all of that. But did you think of it? Did you write it down? Did you, in some small and agile way, improve yourself? 

Can you say to yourself, today, that you had a useful week? 

code development NMandelbrot programming

The Mandelbrot Set

Animated Mandelbrot Set
Animated Mandelbrot Set

I think every pragmatic programmer or aspiring code guru needs a core programming challenge that they return to whenever they want to try something new, like signature tune a guitarist will play on every new guitar to see how it fits their style.

My favourite pattern is The Mandelbrot Set because it’s a nice way to check the main features of any language : looping, branching, and creating complex structures, as well as adding a graphical level to start looking at the surrounding libraries. It’s also a neat optimisation problem, and each language I’ve used lends itself to slightly different optimisations.

I’ve gone through a few versions, from Basic, to a couple of versions of C++, Python and Javascript, discovering double-buffering when I got my hands on the SDL for gcc, and list comprehensions to do full-screen iterations in Python, and there’s always a new way to calculate and generate the output.

So what’s your workbench? Do you build a unit-testing framework? Or a shopping cart app? Or do you turn every language into a LOLCode parser?