Dapeng Li

Hungry, foolish and passionate – yet another software developer.

Being 30, accidentally and intentionally (part 2)

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School does not make you smart, but it shows you a gateway to knowledge.

I didn’t see the gateway when I left school, but I got a flash light.

This is the second (and last) part of a simple review of the first 30 years of my life.

First job (23 – 25)

Choosing your first job was supposed to be a very important decision, but I left that decision to someone else – a relative recommended me to a company where there was a vacancy in IT department, I took it without asking what I would be doing.

Turns out it was about writing software, which I had very few experience and even fewer interest. The people I met were very nice (and I am still in touch with some of them), but I had no expectation about the job at that point.

It might work for others, but not me

I needed to learn the programming stuff.

My colleagues suggested several books to me, I guess that’s how they learned it from. Those books are in Chinese, some of them translated from books in English, some written by Chinese. I found them very hard to follow – terms are not consistent, bad structure of contents, seemed the translator/writer had no idea what they were talking about.

Thank you, Jesse Liberty

Then one day I ran into a video tutorial teaching the C# programming language by Jesse Liberty, it was in English but I could understand most of them and followed along 1. I watched the tutorial every evening when I got home from work, at the same time I was reading the book Programming C#, 4th Edition, also authored by Jesse Liberty.

They made so much sense!

I continued reading two other books Programming ASP.NET, 3rd Edition (by Jesse Liberty) and Applied Microsoft .NET Framework Programming (by Jeffery Richter), very happy with them and never read a translated technical book ever since.

I realized I learn much more effectively when learning from first-hand (non-translated) materials, than from materials other people trying to make sense of their own understanding (translated).

I’m not seeing that as an excuse of me got nothing out of school, but it’s possible.

Stumbling upon a good tutorial was accidental, knowing what makes me learning better was accidental, but then seeking for more is intentional.

I never thought reading was fun

Then I paid a lot of attention into technical books, and realized there are many good publishers – O’Reilly, Addison Wesley, Apress, Microsoft Press, Manning, PragProg, and good authors; and there are bad ones. I tried to stay with the good ones and avoid the bad ones.

Looking back, I was very lucky to read the first 3 technical books written by very good authors (Jesse Liberty, Jeffrey Richter) and published by good publishers (O’Reilly, MS Press).

I started reading non-technical, non-fictional books. Several people advised developer to read non-technical books as well as technical ones, I followed the advice and had a lot of fun.

Second Job (25 – 30)

I worked for the first company for about 2 years, then moved on and joined the company now I am working for.

Thank you Scott Hanselman, thank you Chad Fowler

A learning (and humbling) experience and a book changed my perspective about being a software developer, and I could never go back.

I felt like knowing better what I want, whom I want to be like, and hopefully, how to get there.

Wrap Up

Learning is important, not only professionally but also personally. If you had found what works for you to learn things effectively, congratulations; if you haven’t, you should keep looking.

That seems more likely a gateway to knowledge (and many other things) to me.

On my journey so far, a lot of decisions had been made. Some important some not so important; some good some not so good; some accidental some intentional.

Nothing special, no achievement yet. But hey, I’m still only 30, right?


1. An archive of the course’s page is here, unfortunately the company provided this course – AppDev – is struggling in the technical training business now.

Written by Dapeng

November 11th, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Posted in Life

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