Our Priorities Suck, Thankfully Joel’s Don’t

Joel Spolsky is, for all you can find out about a person through a blog, a cool guy. This new year (as in previous years) I’ve taken some time to dive into his blog (and Jeff Atwood’s) and let his in-linking take me where it will.

These two guys have a different way of looking at Programming. At Software Development. At _making stuff_.

Why is it different?

Because for the most part, at least in my experience, even the enlightened Developers are bound up within the wrong priorities.


“And we eat lunch together every day.”

This is the best priority I’ve ever seen. Bar none. You know why?

Because Relationships (People) count. They matter more over time than any stock or financial holding or body of code.

What is the point of making stuff if your relationships at work suck? Sure, I can see a point.

  • You get projects .. done.
  • You make a bottom line.
  • You are a piece of paper handed over to a manager who puts it together with some more papers and hands it to their manager, who in turn folds them all into a gigantic paper plane and flies them “upstairs”. Upstairs, where everything is boiled down in giant vats of dollar signs and numbers.

This isn’t a post about changing the system, or pulling off a major coupe against “the Man”.

It’s about YOU/ME continuing to adjust our priorities in alignment with this clear and excellent way of thinking. Relationships first. Code second. It’s an important second, but second nonetheless.

I Figured It Out – Smart AND Gets Things Done


My eldest is as smart as a tack.

He’ll take you to town on Dinosaurs, Lego, Star Wars and Batman, Bugs and Sea Creatures. He’s always making stuff, writing stories, drawing pictures (the other kiddles are doing these things too). He’s not afraid to create something based on other people’s ideas either.

He’s mastering the two important passes in Rugby, the pop and the spiral. He can do a pushup almost (ha ha) as good as his old man. He’s got one of those real six-packs (unlike his old man, who has the keg, heh heh). He loves to help his Grandpas out in the shed, working on stuff like in the picture.

He’s gotten a lot of awards at school. Caring for his classmates is always something mentioned by teachers. Solving problems. Mental acuity. Loves to ask and learn about the projects I’m doing, especially when I dabble in game development.

He’s like a jock and a nerd rolled into one.

He’s smart, and he gets things done.

smartandgetsthingsdoneSmart & Gets Things Done” is a book by Joel Spolsky. It’s subtitled “Joel Spolsky’s Concise Guide to Finding the Best Technical Talent”. He’s the guy I’ve named a series of posts after (Joel Of All Trades).

This is a book that every nerd should read. Period. It’s short, you can whip through it in a couple of sittings, maybe less.

Here is a quote which is the crux and whole of the matter. It’s found towards the end of the book, in the Interview chapter.

OK, I didn’t tell you the most important part – how do you know whether to hire someone?

In principle, it’s simple. You’re looking for people who are

1. Smart, and

2. Get things done.

That’s it. That’s all you’re looking for. Memorize that. Recite it to yourself before you go to bed every night.

I can’t explain just how big an impact this had on my brain.

Here is what I’ve been throwing around in dim recesses for a long time. Trying to classify what I do (that sounds a little arrogant), and how to classify (or de-) what others do.

This is not just a lesson for people looking to hire developers.

This is a lesson FOR developers.

It’s not enough to be smart. It’s not enough to get things done. You have to be a beautiful cylon composite of both.

Be Smart. Get Things Done.

I’ve Had a Fantastic 10 Days Off

It’s been an amazing couple of weeks.

We had a fantastic Christmas. The energy of our kids suffused itself within us (along with our own of course, heh), and we were able to enjoy days of excitement. Still going, with the New Year too.

We’ve visited friends and gone to the beach. We’ve had bbq’s and slept through the fireworks. We’ve played Mario Kart and some Lego Batman too.

And through it all, we’ve been shown the Lord’s grace. The sermons we listened to over Christmas were powerful. Our Christmas Day service particularly struck at the heart of the message of the Gospel. Our Saviour, the Christ, born to die and rise again.

Yesterday I released Oldaer to public beta. It was a big step for little ‘ol me (not sure where the apostrophe goes, should look up my christmas pressie, “The Elements of Style” book, heh heh). So far I’ve had some good feedback. Am working on a new build with some changes.

Will look to go full release at the start of Febuary.