Recruiting Software Developers – Initial Contact

I regularly get emails from recruiters trying to get me to change jobs. Unfortunately, many of the emails are not very good, wasting my and the recruiters’ time. So here are 5 tips for recruiters on how to write a good email, as well as some advice for developers. Continue reading

Coursera Course Review: Software Security

I just finished taking the course Software Security from the University of Maryland via Coursera. It was a relatively easy course (at least if you know C) that gave an overview of the following areas: buffer overflows and other memory attacks, web security (including SQL injection, CSRF and XSS), secure design, static analysis, symbolic execution, fuzzing and penetration testing. The instructor, professor Michael Hicks, was one of the more pedagogical lecturers I have listened to, and the whole course was quite enjoyable. Continue reading

Lessons Learned in Software Development

Here is my list of heuristics and rules of thumb for software development that I have found useful over the years:

Programming bookshelf



1. Start small, then extend. Whether creating a new system, or adding a feature to an existing system, I always start by making a very simple version with almost none of the required functionality. Then I extend the solution step by step, until it does what it is supposed to. I have never been able to plan everything out in detail from the beginning. Instead, I learn as I go along, and this newly discovered information gets used in the solution.

I like this quote from John Gall:  “A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked.”

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Book Review: Clean Code

I finally got around to reading Clean Code by Robert C. Martin (Uncle Bob). It is often high on lists of the best books for software development, and for good reason. Clean Code is an excellent book that all programmers should read. Here is what I liked and didn’t like about it. Continue reading

Coursera Course Review: Computational Investing Part 1

I recently finished the Coursera course Computational Investing Part 1 by professor Tucker Balch at Georgia Tech. The focus of the course is on portfolio analysis and selection. Almost all the analysis uses the daily closing prices of stocks as the starting point. The concepts are not particularly difficult, and the programming exercises give you good hands-on experience with the different analysis techniques. The assignments are in Python using several tool kits for time series analysis (NumPy, Pandas and the QuantSoftware ToolKit). Continue reading

Programmer Knowledge

What is the half-life of programmer knowledge? It is quite common with claims that the half-life is something like 5 years. In other words, half of what you know about programming will be obsolete in 5 years. A similar sentiment is: “Programming sucks, because what you knew a few years ago is useless now”.

At first, this seems plausible. After all, there is a steady stream of new programming languages and technologies coming out. However, I think it is wrong. Programming knowledge is much more long-lived than some people realize. Continue reading

5 Reasons Why Software Developer is a Great Career Choice

This week I will give a presentation at a local high school on what it is like to work as a programmer. I am volunteering (through the organization Transfer) to come to schools and talk about what I work with. This school will have a technology theme day this week, and would like to hear what working in the technology sector is like. Since I develop software, that’s what I will talk about. One section will be on why I think a career in software development is great. The main reasons are:

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