E-Learning Providers for Software Developers

by Dmitry Kirsanov 25. January 2013 06:00

I get this question quite frequently – what are, in my opinion, the best e-learning providers for software developers. So, here is my top, sorted by effectiveness:

  1. Pluralsight
  2. AppDev
  3. Lynda.com
  4. Career Academy
  5. TrainSignal (non-developers)
  6. Channel9, MVA and others

Note, that none of the top 5 are free, they all provide professional grade training courses with varying degree of effectiveness. In most cases, variation is insignificant, but the ratio of brilliant works resembles the position in this top.

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Reimagination

by Dmitry Kirsanov 14. September 2012 04:02

Alice is about to reimagine flamingoIn some future articles I am going to use this term, as well as you’ll hear it more often, because it may turn into a buzzword soon. So I’ll explain it to make sure we’re on the same page in the future.

People are habit-driven. We invent something and then we are just following the path. We are building paths for ourselves and for other people, depending from what we do. Manuals, instructions, laws and policies – these are perhaps the biggest examples of rules we make, but there are others, which you follow without consent. Why do you pour coffee before milk?

Some of the rules and habits we have are perfectly reasonable. Like when you are taking your umbrella when you are expecting showers. Or the way you are using the elevator or doing any other routine in never changing principles. However, some rules outlive the reason why they were created. More...

Run Faster, Jump Higher

by Dmitry Kirsanov 31. July 2012 13:00

A cubic meter of wood weights differently in different parts of the planet. We know it from childhood. What we start to learn later – that it’s the same about your career potential.

Let’s take an example. Mike, an ordinary guy next door, lost his job at the local café shop in England. It wasn’t a lucrative position by any means, but it was a job. When his employer informed him about the forthcoming dismissal, Mike went to state employment services and applied for all kind of allowances he could. He was one of a few hundreds of other guys with the same level of education, skills and knowledge, as well as with the same work experience.

He had to choose the next specialty, which is neither easy or pleasant choice to make, even if someone else is going to fund it. Since he is reading newspapers and talks to friends, he knows that IT is sort of the most stable industry nowadays. He doesn’t feel like he’s able to become a programmer, he is not a geek, so he decided he could go into system administration. Maybe something related to wireless technologies, as it looks to make more buzz in media.

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The Pin Is Inside

by Dmitry Kirsanov 11. April 2012 03:45

The pin is insideRemember the Matrix? The movie by Wachowski brothers that shook the world in 1999. There was a concept of accelerated training, when knowledge was simply uploaded to your brain. In a matter of seconds you could learn Kung-Fu or how to control the helicopter. Now, what was the most attractive in that concept?

The fact, that you wouldn’t have to fight with yourself day after day, until you would eventually give up and abandon the training, burying the dreams about the black belt or the license.

Imagine, if tribe leaders would just gather and sign the peace treaty, without starting the war. That’s what it is, the real training – a war of your future against your past. A civil war inside of you. When one part of your brain screams that it is much safer to sit in the trench or retreat, while other objects, that if you don’t follow your dream now, it will turn into the nightmare later.

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The Law of the Draft, or What it Takes to Write Good Software

by Dmitry Kirsanov 10. April 2012 00:41

Moses (brings 10 testaments), painting by RembrandtNot long ago one acquaintance of mine, an HR manager, said that she doesn’t believe that I’ve deleted a small document I’ve created a year ago for my own needs. A list of 20 questions for beginner software developers. I wouldn’t ever consider it an asset.

She couldn’t believe I was able to delete so important and useful thing.

I tried to recall what else I’ve either deleted or abandoned during my life as professional, and who would consider THAT as an asset. And the scale of what I’ve seen in my vision led me to obvious, but perhaps unwritten law of software developers. The law of the draft.
In short, I believe that you should always have at least one project ongoing, and it shouldn’t be anything related to your job, as well as you should not consider to obligatory release this project.

Here is why I think you should follow this rule, unless you already do:

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How Musical Skills Affect IT

by Dmitry Kirsanov 16. February 2012 12:17

Music notesAs you know, I am a trainer, among other trades. As my Swedish colleague said – “your guitar has many strings”, and this string is of the most important ones. Among other benefits, this allowed me to meet many bright minds of IT scene and that way to get more material for analysis and correlations.

One of the most fascinating and unexpected findings for me was the fact, that musical skills are directly related with the ability of person to write better computer software. In other words, there were no bad software developers among those whom I knew or heard about and who also were good at playing musical instruments.
I am not even talking about composing of music, or singing, or dancing (which, at some degree, could be considered a musical skill, isn’t it?), just plain performing. More...

Proactive Thinking as The Most Precious Ability

by Dmitry Kirsanov 11. February 2012 18:20

butterfly in a jar“You see, there is only one constant. One universal. It is the only real truth. Causality. Action, reaction. Cause and effect.”

Merovingian, The Matrix Reloaded

Sometimes I think that lack of proactive thinking is a root of all evil. Buzzwords aside, I am talking about the analytical skills and using them.

By coincidence or not, but for the last few months, when I am analyzing the cause of someone’s failure in any area, it appears that lack of analytical skills, or thinking 2 steps ahead, was the paramount part of it.

As a metaphor to understand what I am talking about – let’s take a car. Imagine, that someone has created a car without brakes. Because he was only thinking about taking off, and not about how his journey would end.

A friend of mine once left home with about 120$ in her pocket. She took a ticket to a plane and fled to England. No plans, no language, nothing at all. She was 15 years old somewhat naïve girl. I wish I could have a better example of real-life lack of proactive thinking. More...

Of Action and Reaction

by Dmitry Kirsanov 21. December 2011 20:31

AtlasThis story happened 2 years ago. That time I was training IT specialists sent by their companies to acquire various certifications – be it MCSE, MCPD or even CISSP. I had a colleague, and she was very passionate about training people to achieve new heights, and once she got a bright idea.

The idea sounds like that – all of our students are established IT specialists, many of them are heads of their IT departments and lead developers. They are very motivated both by their employers and themselves. There is no problem to teach them anything new.
But what if we will train someone, who is not motivated at all? What if we’ll take a group of high school pupils and train them for something simple yet useful – like Windows Vista Administration certification?

Yes, we wanted to train any amount of school kids to get a certification they would otherwise pay hundreds of dollars for. For free and during a week.

My colleague wanted to perform that training at her former state school. She was just 23, so she knew all the teachers and the principal of that school. It was easy to set up the meeting and so we met the principal and IT teacher to discuss the event.

Although they didn’t really got why we would do that, they could agree to host the event using the equipment of IT class. However, it all depended from one question – how much money would they get from it. That is – you know, electricity and stuff – we would pay for that, right?

Wrong.

Of course, we didn’t talk with them afterwards.

The morale of the story is – more often than not, your good intentions, especially when they are intelligent and have benefits which needs to be explained, will be treated hostile and you won’t get well deserved respect for them. Yet another argument of the objectivism theory, which states that we all look at the world through the prism of our perception. And this leads to the necessity to defend your ideas, even if the whole idea doesn’t give you any value. And this means, that having power to do “good” alone is not enough. As more such power you’ll have, as more resistance you’ll face. The irony lays in the fact that you’ll face resistance from those you’re trying to help.

Entering the Path of Software Developer - what you need to become one

by Dmitry Kirsanov 12. December 2011 21:37

Microsoft KidDuring my career as a Microsoft Certified Trainer, I’ve been training .NET software developers and Windows system administrators – usually they were well established professionals longing for more knowledge and ready to purchase a training course instead of a car.

But there were people, and they still appear regularly, who suddenly make a decision to become a software developer. Either it’s because they were ignited by the idea and believed in own capacity of writing new software, or out of curiosity or any other reason – be it money, prestige or worrying about own future.


So this post is for such people. If you are considering to become a .NET software developer and wondering what should be your first step – I will do my best to explain it right now. If you are seasoned .NET software developer, then perhaps you won’t find much useful information here, but you’ll have a link to give when someone will ask you that question – “I want to become a software developer, what should I do?”. More...

This is about self-esteem

by Dmitry Kirsanov 19. November 2011 21:37

“People create their own questions because they are afraid to look straight. All you have to do is look straight and you see the road, and when you see it, don’t sit looking at it – walk!” (Ayn Rand)

One of the most favorite questions asked by all sorts of people (usually – for the sake of asking the question) is what is the most valuable quality of [name the profession]. That is – what do you have to do in order to reach new heights, become a better specialist or succeed in something.

I already had a chance to speak about how to learn more and become more creative, and that topic needs the follow up, but getting the quality of self-esteem wasn’t really discussed. It’s not a psychological trick, not something to put into your checklist or include into the training course – self-esteem is one of the top qualities that makes you a human being. But unlike some others, it can be acquired.

It’s close to impossible to describe everything in one post, I’ll just try to put it as short and informative as possible. More...


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