Software Engineering, Project Management, and Effectiveness
This is a roundup of my top posts on this blog for 2010. My top posts are based on value rather than pure traffic, although I use traffic as an input. I base the value simply on feedback, reuse, contribution in a domain, hallway conversations, etc. The goal is simply to surface some posts that you might have missed, remind you of some of the posts that you may have found useful, and to let you know which posts others found to be useful.
While going through my stats, I did find some surprises. For example, I didn’t expect my 40 Hour Work Week at Microsoft to hit 20k views. I expected posts like Agile Security Engineering, Customer-Connected Engineering, or Microsoft Application Platform at a Glance to potentially see that kind of traffic. And while I wasn’t surprised that my Trends for 2010 post had a lot of traffic, I was surprised that it was 30k views. That just seems like a lot of traffic.
Top 10 Blog Posts of 2010
Runner ups …
I put together a trends map in my trends for 2011 post.
I took a look across consumer trends, Enterprise trends, market trends, and what's on the minds of CIOs, CFOs, and CEOs. I also drew from my experience from talking with key folks on what's going on, including many customers and what they're focused on. I included a round up and distillation of many sources, so you can drill into even more.
The post is long, but I've saved you several hours, if not days, of research and bubbled up several key sources that will help you create your own map of trends. I designed the post to be very scannable so you can hop around pretty fast.
Trends are your extreme advantage. By knowing where the action is, you can focus your energy for better results. You also avoid surprises. You can also reshape your job to be more relevant, and you can use market insights to follow the growth, or create new growth. As cycles of change get shorter, one of your best skills to build is anticipation. Anticipation helps you respond over react. Key tip – The Art of the Long View teaches us to have multiple long views.
Explore trends for 2011.
This is an updated Windows Phone 7 Developer Guidance Map. I’ve updated it to include a map of some of the key resources available from the App Hub Content Catalog. The App Hub Content Catalog includes several articles, code samples, tutorials, and tools. For the purposes of this map, I didn’t include the articles. I kept the focus on code samples, How Tos, videos, and training (but I did add a tools section this round.)
Microsoft has an extensive collection of developer guidance available in the form of Code Samples, How Tos, Videos, and Training. The challenge is -- how do you find all of the various content collections? … and part of that challenge is knowing *exactly* where to look. This is where the map comes in. It helps you find your way around the online jungle and gives you short-cuts to the treasure troves of available content.
The Windows Phone Developer Guidance Map helps you kill a few birds with one stone:
Download the Windows Phone Developer Guidance Map
Contents at a Glance
Mental Model of the Map The map is a simple collection of content types from multiple sources, organized by common tasks, common topics, and Windows Phone features:
App Hub Content Catalog I’ve included a list of the key resources you’ll find in the App Hub Content Catalog below to give you a quick sense of what to expect, and so you can easily see the additions to the Windows Phone Developer Guidance Map v2.0. (Note - I included the articles list from the App Hub Content Catalog, but these are not in the Windows Phone Developer Guidance Map.)
Special Thanks … Special thanks to Adam Grocholski, Allison Kent, Constanze Roman, Christopher Kilbourn, Dan Reagan, Dragos Manolescu, Georgia Pettigrove, Kevin Lam, Mark Chamberlain, Paul Enfield, Pete Brown, Srinivas Iragavarapu, Will Clevenger, and Yann Riche for helping me find and round up our various content collections.
Enjoy and share the map with a friend.
My Related Posts
The patterns & practices Windows Phone 7 Guidance is now available on MSDN.
Learn how to build a Windows Phone 7 application that uses remote services in the cloud. The guide describes a scenario for Tailspin, a fictitious company, that has decided to use Windows Phone 7 as a client device for their existing cloud-based application. The guide provides design patterns and explains key capabilities of Windows Phone 7, while walking through the design decisions and trade-offs of the client application and integration with remote services.
“Good habits are formed; bad habits we fall into.” -- -Unknown
If you’re on the path of personal development, I have a special list for you. It’s my list of insightful personal development books. It’s a collection of the personal development books that I’ve found to be the most useful or effective.
My collection of personal development books covers a range of topics, but they all boil down to improving you or your situation. On the “you” side, it’s about improving your thinking, feeling, or actions. On the “situation” side, it’s about adapting, adjusting, or avoiding. Adapting is changing yourself to fit the scenario. Adjusting is changing the situation to play to your strengths. Avoiding, is just that, staying out of situations that aren’t good for you (if you don’t like roller-coasters, don’t get on them.)
Why Personal Development? We’re growing or dying, climbing or sliding, and there’s no in-between. Life’s not static, and if you like what you’ve got, aim for more, and you just might keep it. To survive and thrive in an ever-changing world, means growing the skills that make the difference, and making the most of what you’ve got.
The more you learn how to make the most of what you’ve got, while playing to strengths and limiting liabilities, while creating experiences that accelerate your growth, the better you set yourself for success … by design. Success by-design is repeatable. Success by default or lucking into success is not. One of the keys to a productive and happy life is self-efficacy, which, in a nutshell, is your belief that “you can do it” … in other words, you have the confidence and competence in your ability to reach your goals.
NLP and Personal Development One of the tools that many Microsoft executives, leaders, and managers have used is NLP. NLP stands for Neuro-Linquistic Programming. NLP is basically a set of principles, patterns, and practices for modeling human excellence. For example, one of the techniques is “modeling”, which is about learning how to duplicate an expert’s success by modeling their behaviors, language, strategies and beliefs. This is key because if you just copy their actions, you’re missing the mindset, questions they ask, their lens on the situation, etc., which all contribute to their success.
I find that NLP is especially interesting for developers in general because you can think of it as programming yourself for success, and debugging the programs that don’t work. You can use it as a way to unleash a version of your best self, and NLP is probably some of the most advanced, most precise, most actionable, and most effective techniques that I’ve seen for personal development.
You’ll notice my list of personal development books contains a few NLP books. Brilliant NLP, by David Molden and Pat Hutchinson, is a short, simple introduction, while Unlimited Power by Tony Robbins is a hard-core, insanely deep dive into peak performance, with incredibly prescriptive techniques for personal development.
Explore my list of insightful personal development books, and if I missed your favorite personal development book, be sure to tell me about it and why it’s your favorite.
I promised my readers to share ways to read faster. One key note up front – I read for pleasure slowly, but when I read to learn or for work, I read very quickly. I only use these techniques when I’m reading non-fiction, to learn, or as part of the job.
I've learned to read faster out of necessity. I get a lot of email, and I don't like to spend time in my email. I do a lot of research while creating prescriptive guidance, and reading comes with the turf. I regularly spend $200 - $300 a month on books as well. If there's one thing I've learned at Microsoft, it's that extreme scenarios lead to the fastest growth, and necessity is often the mother of invention.
The Quick Answer to Reading Faster Before we start, if you want the short answer to reading faster, simply use sticky notes. As you read through pages, ask yourself, “How can I use this?” and turn the information into a one-liner insight or action, write it in the sticky note and stick it on the page. You can turn a several hundred page book into a short-set of actionable sticky notes. I wish somebody told me this years ago.
With the quick answer out of the way, let’s dive deeper and elaborate. My approach is extremely effective, but It's not magic. It’s simply a matter of know-how and learning little distinctions over time, that all add up. I'll share the key bottlenecks, the core process, then follow up with some additional tips.
Key Bottlenecks to Reading Faster Here are the key bottlenecks to reading faster:
3 Steps to Reading Faster These steps are optimized for reading paperbacks or printed books, but you can adjust the process to emails, articles, or whatever. Here is a summary of the steps:
Step 1. Build a mental model of the material. Before you start reading the material, you need to size it up. By making a quick mental model or map of the material, you will make it easier to learn the information or read through it faster. It’s always faster when you have a map, even if it’s just a simple, high-level idea. The point is to simply frame it out. To do this, skim the book (or email, or article) end to end. This is your dry run. Your goal is to familiarize yourself with the lay of the land (chapter names, key headings, key concepts). Think of this as mapping the terrain.
A good outcome of this step is that you know how the information is mostly structured. For example, if it’s a fat book, I flip from the back to the front to see if it’s the type of author that leads to all the best information in the back. I want to get a sense of the density of value as well. Does the author take one point and stretch it out for miles, or do they keep pivoting off the same point, or do they pack in a lot of points of information along the way. This helps me pace, know what to skip, and where to drill deep.
Step 2. Read to answer your questions. In this step, you identify questions and you use them to drive your reading. This makes your reading actionable, relevant, and engaging. Questions help you focus and they tell you when you're done. You're done when you've answered your questions.
Drive from a a baseline set of questions. Information is useful when it solves a problems, answers a question, or helps you perform a task. The short-cut through any information is to jump to the question, and use the question as a lens for the information. For example, is this email action or FYI? If it’s action, then “who does what when?” … and if necessary, “why”? Tip – You can quickly generate useful questions by skimming the back of the book or the inside cover, and from the chapter heading and paragraph headings. This is also how you can quickly figure out whether the information is even relevant for you.
Step 3. Use sticky notes to capture and consolidate insights and actions. I already gave this away, but this is gold. Sticky notes are your friend. As you answer your questions, turn them into insight or action and write a one-liner note down onto your sticky note and stick it on the page, so it sticks out beyond the page. This way, when you put your book back on the shelf, you can quickly flip back through and pick up wherever you left off, or go back and refresh your mind on the key insights. You can also type up your one-liner notes if you want to boil down your insights or lessons learned.
What’s important here is that you are creating little ticklers for your mind. Simply jotting down notes can help remind you what’s important. If it’s electronic information, such as email, or an article, or an e-Book, you can still jot the notes down on your sticky note, but you obviously won’t stick them to your screen.
If you have a tip or trick for reading faster, I’d like to hear it. I’m especially interested in speeding up comprehension. I think I’ve pushed my main bottleneck to my comprehension speed.
I added a map of Leadership Blogs, A- Z at http://sourcesofinsight.com/2010/12/06/leadership-blogs/.
Here is my short list:
Do you have a favorite blog on leadership I should know about? Tell me about it – I think of my collection of leadership blogs as a living list.
The Windows Azure IX (Information Experience) team has made it easier to browse their product documentation. Beautiful. They added a Windows Azure How-To Index of their content to the MSDN Library. I think it’s great to see a shift to more How-To and task-oriented content. I think that naming with How-To, also makes it easier to find articles that might relate to your scenario or task.
Here is the collection of How-Tos you will find when you browse the index:
How to: Build a Windows Azure Application
How to: Use the Windows Azure SDK Tools to Package and Deploy an Application
How to Configure a Web Application
How to: Manage Windows Azure VM Roles
How to: Administering Windows Azure Hosted Services
How to: Deploy a Windows Azure Application
How to: Upgrade a Service
How to: Manage Upgrades to the Windows Azure Guest OS
How to: Configure Windows Azure Connect