Spiritual writing

Its been six months since I started working as a professional in  the IT industry,

In these six months(mainly due to a fatter wallet), I got an opportunity to order and read a lot of great books. As an experiment that turned out really great, I copied good lines from all the books into a small diary.

In this article, I want to share some of these amazing lines. They make even more sense when read in the context of the entire book so I recommend that you buy and read them from start to end.

James Shore writes in The Art Of Agile Development

If your organization puts a barrier between your work and success, don’t just put up with it – find a way to remove it. It’s your best path to success.

Tired people make mistakes and take shortcuts. The resulting errors can end up costing more than the work is worth.

When you make more mistakes than progress, it’s time to take a break. That’s the hardest time to stop. You feel like the solution is just around the corner – even if its been just around the corner for the last 45 minutes – and you don’t want to stop until you find it.

Be careful not to let dedication override your good judgement about when you’re too tired to make useful contributions.

Everybody is doing the best job they can given their abilities and knowledge. Rather than blaming people, blame the process.

In some organizations, inflexible demands to ‘make it work’ are questionable attempts to squeeze more productivity out of the team. Sadly, applying pressure to a development team tends to reduce quality without improving productivity. In this sort of organization, as the true nature of the schedule becomes more difficult to ignore, management tends to respond by laying on pressure and ‘strongly’ encouraging overtime.

The problem with the traditional model of testing is that the one who introduces the bug doesn’t feel the pain and so doesn’t really learn from his mistakes.

Things that seem nitpicky to programmers – such as the color of the screen background, or a few pixels of alignment in the UI – represent polish, professionalism to customers. This goes both ways: some things that seem important to programmers, such as quality code and refactoring, often seem like unnecessary perfectionism to customers.

Steve McConnell talks about software construction in Code Complete 2

Important developments often arise out of analogies. By comparing a topic you understand poorly to something similar you understand better, you can come up with insights that result in a better understanding of the less-familiar topic. This use of metaphor is called ‘modeling’.

Programming assignments in school are devised to move you in a beeline from beginning to end. You’d probably want to tar and feather a teacher who gave you a programming assignment, then changed the assignment as soon as you finished the design, and then changed it again, just as you were about to turn in the completed program. But that very process is an everyday reality in professional programming.

For production software, garbage in, garbage out isn’t good enough. A good program never puts out garbage, regardless of what it takes in.

“The best is the enemy of the good.” Working towards perfection might prevent completion. Complete it first, then perfect it. The part that needs to be perfect is usually small.

Software development is a conundrum. The people who are experts in the problem domain-the domain experts- are rarely qualified to write software. The people who are qualified to write software – the programmers – don’t always understand the problem domain.

Programmers should speak the language of the domain experts, not the other way round.

We stand(in a stand-up meeting) so that our tired feet remind us to keep the meeting short.

Network and hard drive latency are much bigger bottlenecks than CPU performance in modern computing. In other words, if your program talks over a network or writes data to a hard-drive – most database updates do both, it probably doesn’t matter how fast your string concatenations are.

The following lines are from Dilbert comics, which I have voraciously devoured

There’s always a right answer and a management answer.

I spend a lot of energy hiding my opinions from people, for their own good.

Context is the natural enemy of management baloney.

It frightens me to think how many people believe ‘natural’ is the same as ‘good for you’.

Tarun Khanna’s insights about India and China in “Billions of Entrepreneurs” were amazing

China and India are inverted mirror images of each other. Their complementarity creates grounds for an economic cooperation that has already begun, as native entrepreneurs tap into each other’s backyards in a reprise of their long-term historical co-operation rather than their recent four decades of hostility

For the first time since the rise of the west, entrepreneurs in Asia can ignore New York and London almost entirely, and still build companies worth billions. The economic center of gravity is moving towards the east.

India’s villages remain mired in casteism, a centuries-old institution impervious to change. Indeed, the only institution capable of effecting economic change in rural India is private enterprise, impervious as it is to caste, responding more to lucre and self-interest.

NarayanMurthy’s early career involved working in France for a software company for three years, donating his assets to charity, and travelling through Europe back to India. An eventful sojourn in Bulgaria convinced him that pure socialism was not the answer to mankind’s problems and that redistribution of wealth, without first creating it was a dead-end road.

The Chinese view of intellectual property contrasts sharply with the Western perspective. In a Chinese student-teacher perspective, copying is a form of tribute to the master.

I couldn’t read beyond the first 20 pages of Amartya Sen’s The Argumentative Indian due to its repetitiveness, but those few pages had a few good thoughts

There is no heaven, no final liberation, nor any soul in another world – it is only as a means of livelihood that Brahmins have established here all the ceremonies for the dead – there is no other fruit anywhere.

The borders of scientific knowledge are not drawn along geographic lines.

Just consider how terrible the day of your death will be. Others will go on speaking, and you will not be able to argue back.

Raghuram Rajan’s thoughts on the global economy in Fault Lines are highly insightful

When easy money pushed by a deep-pocketed government comes into contact with the profit motive of a sophisticated, competitive and amoral financial sector, a deep fault line develops.

I have used the word ‘education’ so far, even when I refer to employability, but a better term is ‘human capital’, which refers to the broader set of capabilites, including health, knowledge and intelligence, attitude, social aptitude, and empathy that makes a person a productive member of the society.

The primary role of the government is to ensure that the superstructure that facilitates private activity – including public security, the functioning of markets, and the enforcement of contracts – functions efficiently.

Even though Adam Smith did put self-interest at the heart of capitalism when he wrote “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest”, few businesspeople are entirely without concern for the impact of their activities on their societies.

Most of us do not work for money alone. Some want to change the world, others to create objects of art and culture that will endure. Some strive to gain fame, while others are content to do good anonymously. For many people, though, the visible effects of one’s work are its greatest reward.

Cuddly Koalas, rainforests and destitute children inspire hearts, minds and donations. Causes such as global trade imbalances, exchange rates, and even food scarcity are unlikely to have the same public appeal and will not be taken up by NGOs.

Edward Yourdon spills the beans on Dilbertism in IT in Death March

Motivation is often just a managerial euphemism for (unpaid) overtime.

There is nothing more discouraging to any worker than the sense that his own motivation is inadequate and has to be ‘supplemented’ by that of the boss.

You seldom need to take Draconian measures to keep your people working, most of them love their work.

One of the basic principles of politics is that individuals and organizational cultures automatically resist a change in the status quo, even if they can be convinced intellectually that the change is important and necessary.

Money, benefits, comfort and so on are ‘hygiene’ factors – they create dissatisfaction if they’re absent, but they don’t make people feel good about their jobs and give them the needed internal generator.
What does produce the generator are recognition of achievement, pride in doing a good job, more responsibility, advancement and personal growth. The secret is job enrichment.

These lines from Man’s Search For Meaning are among the most heartbreaking ones I’ve ever read. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone who doesn’t read and wants to start.

No man should judge unless he asks himself in absolute honesty whether in a similar situation he might not have done the same.

For the first time I saw the truth as it is set into song by so many poets, proclaimed as the final wisdom by so many thinkers. The truth that love is the ultimate and the highest goal to which man can aspire.

It is not the physical pain which hurts the most(and this applies to adults as much as punished children); it is the mental agony caused by the injustice, the unreasonableness of it all.

Under the influence of a world which no longer recognized the value of human life and human dignity, which had robbed man of his will and had made him an object to be exterminated (having planned, however, to make full use of his first- to the last ounce of his physical resources) – under this influence the personal ego finally suffered a loss of values. If the man in the concentration camp did not struggle against this in a last effort to save his self-respect, he lost the feeling of being an individual, a being with inner freedom and personal value. He thought of himself then as only a part of an enormous mass of people; his existence descended to the level of animal life.


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