Questions on self-guided improvement. Because no one cares as much about you as you do.

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876
votes
360answers
156k views

What is the single most effective thing you did to improve your programming skills?

Looking back at my career and life as a programmer, there were plenty of different ways I improved my programming skills - reading code, writing code, reading books, listening to podcasts, watching ...
123
votes
36answers
20k views

Programming with ADD/ADHD [closed]

I have diagnosed ADD. Mild but enough to affect my work: Easily distracted Can't concentrate on one project at a time Addicted to the web Procrastination etc. What strategies do you use to ...
117
votes
15answers
75k views

Is LISP still useful in today's world? Which version is most used?

I try to teach myself a new programming language in regular intervals of time. Recently, I've read how Lisp and its dialects are at the complete opposite end of the spectrum from languages like C/C++, ...
108
votes
16answers
9k views

How to avoid “DO YOU HAZ TEH CODEZ” situations?

I have a strange situation at work, where a colleague of mine often asks me and other co-workers for working code. I would like to help him, but this constant request of trivial snippets interrupts ...
101
votes
61answers
16k views

What's the most absurd myth about programming issues?

To put it another way... What is the most commonly held and frustrating misunderstanding about programming, you have encountered? Which widespread and longstanding myths/misconceptions do you find ...
98
votes
17answers
7k views

Being stupid to get better productivity?

I've spent a lot of time reading different books about "good design", "design patterns", etc. I'm a big fan of the SOLID approach and every time I need to write a simple piece of code, I think about ...
92
votes
17answers
15k views

Does Scrum turn active developers into passive developers?

I'm a web developer working in a team of three developers and one designer. It's now about five months that we've implemented the agile scrum software development methodology. But I have a weird ...
82
votes
38answers
8k views

What programming skills have provided you the best return on investment? [closed]

What are the things that took you only a little time to learn, but had a big payoff? And how long did it take to learn enough before the they began to pay off? For instance, I’m not a master of ...
77
votes
12answers
4k views

Do you spend your working hours on learning? [closed]

Do you spend your working hours learning new stuff, reading tech blogs, books on programming etc.? What's your opinion on it? Can an employer have benefits allowing developers to spend about 1-1.5 hrs ...
75
votes
17answers
5k views

How important is self-teaching in the programming field? [closed]

I'm 16. I started programming about a year ago when I was about to start high-school. I'm going for a career in programming, and I'm doing my best to learn as much as I can. When I first started, I ...
57
votes
34answers
11k views

When would someone be considered a bad programmer? [closed]

How would you consider that a programmer is bad at what he or she is doing? If possible... How should he/she improve?
57
votes
34answers
7k views

What non-programming books should a programmer read to help develop programming/thinking skills? [closed]

There are a lot of questions about what programming books should be on the programmer's bookshelf. How about non-programming related books that can help you become a better programmer or developer? It ...
56
votes
4answers
14k views

Which algorithms/data structures should I “recognize” and know by name? [closed]

I'd like to consider myself a fairly experienced programmer. I've been programming for over 5 years now. My weak point though is terminology. I'm self-taught, so while I know how to program, I don't ...
52
votes
90answers
24k views

What should every programmer know about programming?

Please, stay on technical issues, avoid behavior, cultural, career or political issues.
52
votes
12answers
2k views

Releasing an open source project without getting embarrassed [closed]

I've been working by myself on a fairly large open source project for quite a while and it's nearing the point where I'd like to release it. However, I'm self-taught and I don't really know anyone who ...
51
votes
26answers
64k views

How can I improve my problem-solving ability?

Everyone says the same thing: "a real programmer knows how to handle real problems." But they forget how they learned this ability or where: it's not taught in schools. What can I do to improve my ...
50
votes
20answers
11k views

What's the best place for a high school programmer to get his work noticed? [closed]

I'm a 16 year old high school student, with a passion for computer programming. I'm in grade 11, and I've been learning it as part of the school syllabus for about 8 months. I've gone beyond what's ...
50
votes
7answers
4k views

What is the most productive way to handle development-related failures? [closed]

We've all been there: Your project failed or got cancelled. The code you spent days working on got rejected by your team. The design pattern you introduced to the team created chaos. Everyone ...
44
votes
9answers
3k views

Could spending time on Programmers.SE or Stack Overflow be substitute of good programming books for a non-beginner? [closed]

Could spending time (and actively participating) on Programmers.SE and Stack Overflow help me improve my programming skills any close to what spending time on reading a book like Code Complete 2 (...
43
votes
7answers
5k views

What should junior developer expect from their senior team lead [closed]

Disclaimer: Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer. I work for a small company, in which few people are developers, others are QA/Test and 1 is ...
42
votes
20answers
5k views

How do you stay motivated for hobby projects? [closed]

I started seriously programming as a hobbiest, student and then intern about 4 years ago and I've always done small projects on the side as a learning exercise. Schools over now though, and I spend ...
39
votes
10answers
61k views

How do I learn algorithms and data structures? [closed]

This is in continuation to my previous question where I asked is it necessary to learn algorithms and data structures. I feel yes it is. Now I work in an environment where I won't ever get the chance ...
35
votes
4answers
90k views

How do I completely-self-study Computer Science? [closed]

Being a completely self taught programmer, I would like it if I could better myself by self-learning the computer science course taught to a typical CS grad. Finding different resources on internet ...
34
votes
9answers
2k views

At what point does “constructive” criticism of your code become unhelpful?

I recently started as a junior developer. As well as being one of the least experienced people on the team, I'm also a woman, which comes with all sorts of its own challenges working in a male-...
34
votes
11answers
5k views

Random number generation algorithm for human brains? [closed]

Are you aware of, or have you devised, any practical, simple-to-learn "in-head" algorithms that let humans generate (somewhat "true") random numbers? By "in-head" I mean.. preferably without any ...
34
votes
2answers
2k views

How do you keep your basic skills from atrophy? [closed]

Coding is only one aspect to professional programming. My job requires me to code, but it also requires me to do other things for extended periods – sometimes days or weeks go by when I'm not just ...
34
votes
6answers
19k views

How to Deliberately Practice Software Engineering? [duplicate]

I just finished reading this recent article. It's a very interesting read, and it makes some great points. The point that specifically jumped out at me was this: The difference was in how they ...
32
votes
39answers
3k views

What are some things you have read that inspired and guided you as a programmer? [closed]

For example, being a beginner, I find a lot of inspiration and direction from reading this post by Bryan Woods.
32
votes
10answers
1k views

Ship Early, Ship Never [closed]

This started as a "Note to Self," so please excuse me if the frustration is all too evident and the writing is less than stellar... Three major subjects I've had at the forefront of my mind lately: ...
31
votes
12answers
12k views

Do I need to understand algorithms and data structures to be called a programmer? [closed]

It has been six years since I have been coding. Coding into all kinds of things like ActionScript, JavaScript, Java, PHP, Ajax, XML HTML, ASP, etc. I have used arrays, maps, linked lists, sets, etc ...
30
votes
17answers
6k views

Am I copy/paste programmer? [duplicate]

When ever I am stuck with a particular problem, I search for a solution in Google. And then I try to understand the code and tweak it according to my requirement. For example recently I had asked a ...
30
votes
8answers
5k views

What are the three most important questions you should ask your team about your performance as their team leader?

I'm approaching the 1 year mark as a leader of a small development team (4 members, including myself) inside of a small software company. I'd like to give my team the opportunity to evaluate how I am ...
29
votes
11answers
2k views

Should a developer be forced to memorize details? [closed]

Many times I forget things about my application. I don't memorize the table names or what a query did and I search to get what I want. My team leader told me I'm supposed to memorize the table names ...
29
votes
5answers
6k views

Is there such a thing as Programmer's block? [closed]

Is it possible for a programmer to suffer the equivalent of writer's block? What strategies are there to overcome it?
29
votes
8answers
4k views

Writing robust code vs. overengineering

How do you guys know that you are writing the most robust code possible without overengineering? I find myself thinking too much about every possible path that my code can take, and it feels like a ...
28
votes
10answers
5k views

Any tips to learn how to program with severe ADHD? [closed]

I have a difficult time trying to learn how to program from straight text-books. Video training seems to work well for me in my past experiences with PHP. I am trying my hardest to stay focussed and ...
28
votes
7answers
18k views

What do you do to improve your logical programming skills? [duplicate]

Do you think that only the programming pratice will help you to improve your logical programming skill or do you train your brain with puzzle games, trying imagine how universe works, playing ...
28
votes
6answers
928 views

What do you do if you've had a series of bad employers? [closed]

So I've had a series of really bad experiences and am wondering what I'm doing wrong. I started out as a part time programmer at a major university. I developed a problem with my wrist and asked (...
27
votes
12answers
2k views

Techniques for getting off the ground in any language [closed]

When I start learning a new language, I have a couple of simple implementations that I like to complete to familiarise myself with the language. Currently, I write: Fibonacci and/or factorial to get ...
27
votes
3answers
2k views

What personal milestones can you use to measure growth in your programming abilities? [closed]

How can you determine objectively, over time, that you are getting any better at producing code? For example, I may sit here and feel that "I know <language> now, and I use <technique> ...
26
votes
11answers
984 views

Why is it you never get as much done as you'd planned? [closed]

I always start the day thinking "I'll easily get this done by the end of the day" and set what looks like a realistic target. So why do I never hit it? The task always ends up taking 3x longer due to ...
26
votes
6answers
2k views

How do you maximise the knowledge that you gain from a programming book? [closed]

Not because I care how long it takes someone to read a book, but more because I'm interested in how people get the knowledge from a book (or I guess other sources) into their brains in the best, most ...
25
votes
11answers
1k views

How do you cope with the dynamic nature of high-level software development? [closed]

I consider myself a high level software developer. I enjoy reading a lot, and it's helped me over the course of my career. I think I am doing well. Right now, I spend a lot of time learning new ...
25
votes
3answers
9k views

On the path to Enlightenment: Scheme, Common Lisp, Clojure? [closed]

A lot of people smarter than me keep writing about when you learn Lisp it makes you a better programmer because you "get it". Maybe all I hear about Lisp(s) changing your life is just a big practical ...
23
votes
11answers
15k views

How necessary is it to learn JavaScript before jQuery? [closed]

In my opinion, when I looked at JavaScript, it looked like not my cup of tea. When I came across jQuery, I loved it. I sat and watched Nettuts+ 15 days of jQuery screencasts, 1 year later and now I'm ...
23
votes
8answers
2k views

Is it necessary to understand what's happening at the hardware level to be a good programmer?

I'm a self-taught programmer, just in case this question is answered in CS 101. I've learned and used lots of languages, mostly for my own personal use, but occasionally for professional stuff. It ...
22
votes
11answers
2k views

Should I be concerned that I can't program very fast without Google? [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: Google is good or bad for programmer? I'm currently in college to be a software engineer, and one of the main principles taught to us is how to learn for ourselves, and how ...
22
votes
11answers
5k views

How to write efficient code despite heavy deadlines

I am working in an environment wherein we have many projects with strict deadlines on deliverables. We even talk directly to the clients so getting the jobs done and fast is a must. My issue is that ...
22
votes
13answers
1k views

What are your suggestions on learning how to think? [closed]

First of all, this is not the generic 'make me a better programmer' question, even though the outcome of asking this question might seem similar to it. On programmers.SE, I've read and seen these get ...
22
votes
8answers
8k views

How to improve programming skills as a Junior without Senior [duplicate]

At the moment I'm 23 and working as a junior programmer at a software service provider. While I'm really happy with my job and my colleagues, I sometimes would love to have someone who could tell me ...