Neil Sainsbury

Fumbling my way through dev, mgmt, maths, life.

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Don’t let where you work define you

The largest company I have ever worked for was BlackBerry, which I think at the time I left had around 15,000 employees. What I always found interesting was many of the people I worked with at BlackBerry seemed to define who they were (at a personal level) in terms of their employment for BlackBerry. That is, they mixed their personal and professional lives to the extent that you could no longer separate them.

To give some examples, the people I knew would use their personal Twitter accounts regularly for corporate messaging - they would re-tweet positive articles about BlackBerry, respond to people asking device related questions, etc. And all of this would be intertwined with personal tweets - pictures of their kids, a holiday snap, etc.

I would regularly see it go beyond Twitter. Personal views would merge with companies views about all manner of topics. A lot of people I knew at...

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Don’t be so hard on yourself

Why is it that so many intelligent and hard working people are so hard on themselves? The opposite seems also true - a great many genuine underachievers and lazy people seem utterly content and extremely confident.

I don’t think I’ve ever known a truly intelligent and hard working person who could not readily declare their previous work as rubbish or lament missed opportunities and wasted time. It’s not hard to detect a pinch of melancholy when Newton wrote “I was like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.”

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Java Developers

There’s something wrong with Java developers. I’ve been working with Java now for over 10 years. I’ve also had the good fortune to work with a number of other languages as well - C#, C, C++, Python, Lua, Objective-C - which I think has helped immensely in understanding where Java developers are going wrong. A lot of people say Java is a terrible language. I disagree. Java has its faults, but I think when you look at what it is in particular that ticks many people off it’s not the Java language per se, but the way it’s used.

The biggest problem I’ve encountered over the years looking at Java code is that it always seems to be the product of someone who fancies themselves as an architect. They must, because so often I find I’m reading code that looks more like a plan for something that solves a problem, rather than something that actually solves a problem. It’s not a subtle distinction...

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Leonardo da Vinci at Thirty

I’m currently reading Charles Nicholl’s wonderful biography Leonardo da Vinci: Flights of the Mind which I’m thoroughly enjoying. I’m up to the section of the book that discusses Leonardo’s move from Florence to Milan, which took place when he was roughly thirty. What I find interesting about this part of his life is how relatively undistinguished Leonardo is and how full of self doubt he must have been. While he had already started to make his mark as a painter (and a musician, of all things), he also had a lot of baggage - among other things many unfinished paintings and a somewhat sullied reputation for cavorting with young men. At this time he penned a letter to the Duke of Milan, Ludovico Sforza, describing all the wonderful services and devices he could provide specifically in the field of engineering and warfare. However, there is very little evidence to suggest he could actually...

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