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Ask HN: What is the best money you have spent on professional development?
524 points by sondog 11 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 540 comments
I'm a software engineer with a budget for professional development, I'm looking for a good way to spend it. I'm curious what other people have found valuable, it could be a book, MOOC, conference etc

The single best thing I did for professional development was see a therapist. In tech, our jobs are knowledge-based. You can't hammer a nail into a board while you're sitting on the couch with your child, but you can certainly think about software architecture. I've found that my job bleeds into my personal life, and vice versa, and I believe it is far more common than most people realize. Stress piles up and it affects not only your home life, but your work life.

Taking the time to talk to a professional and become introspective and conscious of my own mental health has provided me with more value than all the books and conferences and talks I've consumed put together.

In a similar vein I went and did a degree in psychology at night. Nobody in work got it; HR refused me extra leave because they didn’t think it was relevant to my competencies ... but definitely the single best thing I have done for my career in terms of having one and having a great personal life too. Even today people ask me “what do you use it for?” to which I ominously reply “I’m using it right now” - gets them every time :-)

Do you have a bunch of textbooks that you would recommend reading? :)

That's a good question - it's a while ago and the only one that really jumps out is The History of Psychology by Leahy because understanding psychology is as much about understanding how we understand the mind in the context of society, and to do that you need to know the history. Not what you were expecting ...

I highly recommend reading up on Hans Selye's biological model of stress and the HPA axis. Also worth checking out Freudelberger for the seminal article on burnout and Maslach for the formal treatment.

Organisational psychology is great but so contentious an area it's helpful to have a good teacher.

I highly recommend looking into Biopsychology, which is essentially the interplay between our mind and body and even how our mind distributed through the body.

Favorited ... ensuring I’ll never get back to it again.

Seconded. In particular, I've come to recognize the growing confluence of woke politics and tech management as major impediment on my ability to do my job well. Reading up on career coaching and psychology has certainly helped, but can also serve to overcomplicate the situation. My therapist provides highly personal and much more practical guidance in accepting the bs.

How do “woke politics” prevent you from doing your job well?

How familiar are you with the term? Perhaps I used an offensive slur for convenience and should reconsider the phrasing? In my experience, over-emphasizing "social responsibility" that has nothing to do with the product tends to put less competent managers in power. Less competent managers tend to favor less competent engineers. And it's a vicious cycle.

I do know the term — I’d define it as generally being aware of the historical struggles that various groups have gone through and realizing how that impacts them today.

It feels like you’re dancing around your word choice and I’m having trouble understanding exactly what you’re saying, especially as how being aware of power struggles impacts your ability to presumably software engineer well. They seem pretty orthogonal to me.

When you say “social responsibility” putting “less competent managers in power,” are you referring to affirmative action? Or something else here?

Affirmative action is about policy and the law. I was referring to a newer trend wherein middle management assumes the role of thought police and decides for others how well educated they are in "historical struggles that various groups have gone through and realizing how that impacts them today."

BTW I absolutely appreciate your concern for fairness, and encourage you to read up about the history of corporate governance and the financial scandals that arise when lawlessness infiltrates management.

I’m sorry to keep coming back for more info, but can you please give a concrete example of this and how it prevents you from being able to do your job well? I haven’t experienced middle management thought police so I’m curious what your experience is here.

In terms of financial scales and lawlessness infiltrating management — are you talking about things like Enron? How this is connected to “woke politics” I can’t figure out.

I'll pass - can't figure out how well you know about Enron and its similarity to other financial scandals, ripple effects of management incompetence, and corporate governance in general. I don't think it would help to provide just one or two examples at this point.

That's such a bizarrely condescending comment.

What on Earth are you trying to talking about?

It's reasonably clear what this person is struggling to articulate, if we're being honest with ourselves. I've met a few like 'em before.

Thank you. I love to see the intersection of many fields of engineering, science, finance, and mass media here on HN. A truly amazing resource. But yes I struggle with the semantics when they blend together too much. I struggle to see how, when petty Us vs. Them battles flare, it's generally in circles where these fields all culminate into one. I struggle to see the sleazy culture of east coast advertising and stock-trading types (bigots from the 50's and 80's) infiltrate technology as a profession, specifically in Silicon Valley. I struggle to see that "social responsibility" and/or spiritual awakening is being packaged and sold like McDonald's.

I'm not giving concrete examples about my job, nor my thoughts on Enron in this thread. Sorry if I exaggerated the point but I do find it offensive to get a grilling about my private life. Not woke at all.

It's not "being aware". It's being required to police your speech to shield your managers from imaginary accusation of offending some group - where claims of offense usually come from people not even belonging to that group, but just enjoying the whiteknighting and the grandstanding. Being required to spend time on changing your code because suddenly established industry terms are deemed "offensive" by some busybody who would never even see this code and never had and never will since would have a look on it. Being dragged into political power games which one has no interest in and would rather concentrate on writing good code. Having work with people being promoted for reasons other than professional competency, and being denied opportunities for reasons other than professional competency. Etc., etc.

That's an interesting way to put it but I can definitely relate. When the people talk about abstract lofty political ideals all the time, it might well be the case that they have no idea what they're actually doing, or it could be a way for them to mask/deflect from the fact that their actual engineering skills are very limited. It creates a vicious cycle and a culture that drives people who actually want to do great work away.

That's just office politics, only centred around a particular hype.

I'm not sure what particular hype you are referring to. I think of "wokeness" as ultra-generic.

>I think of "wokeness" as ultra-generic.

It really is. Those who embody it may have "Resist" in their Twitter bio, yet their purported values align with virtually all of the 1%, the corporations, the banks, the media companies, academic institutions, sports teams, celebrities, etc etc.

It would be hard to be any more generic.

Remember the time those two new fathers were overheard making dongle jokes at a conference and the twitter outrage mob got them fired for it? Things like that worry me. They don't prevent me from doing my job, but I could understand how someone prone to anxiety might get hung up on it.

One might also remember that the Black woman who posted about it on Twitter also got fired by her employer. "Woke politics" are an easy target for free-floating anxiety, but the real concern for 99% of us is that we have virtually no rights at work.

Publicly internet shaming someone for a middle school joke overheard at a conference is less professional than making the joke, and I buy the argument that it would "interfere with her doing her job." It'd be different for a more direct or egregious joke or if someone on stage said it.

Apparently she's been a lot more quiet for the past few years to the point that she's harder to google without second order effort. This backs up that what she did was unprofessional and interfered with her job, but I'm torn over this because it also means she got silenced. Then again, are "dongle" jokes the hill you want to die on? Or TWSS? This was in 2013 before the term "woke" was even popularized.

Not sure what her race has to do with this, though.

But at least she got silenced for doing something blatantly wrong. She took their picture, posted on a public forum without addressing the people or anyone else locally.

This is why this type of call-out culture is bad. You attack first, the damage is done, often excessive damage, without addressing the issue locally. It would have been different if they had done something wrong, she gets ignored by the police, THEN calls them out.

The other issue with these public witch hunts is they are random. Some people get no traction, others hunted down. This lack of consistency is a horrible way to enforce rules which may or may not have even been broken.

Generally they undermine patterns, and without patterns in our lives, life itself becomes quite the burden. When it happens but you aren't aware of it, you start to degrade in various ways and if you pile the unknownness (what is happening? why do I feel this way? why am I not getting done what I want to get done?) on top of it, it's not a fun time. At least, that's a factor I've read about recently; plenty more factors and angles. That's not to say that changing patterns is inherently bad, but changing too much at once or a change that must be synchronous and immediate vs. gradually and asynchronous are very different processes for us humans.

By the way, it might also be a misspelling (work politics vs woke politics); but coincidentally this applies there as well but to a lesser degree.

This is a really interesting perspective I haven't run into before. It definitely captures a subtractive strain of political and social thought I find incredibly frustrating. The lefty "woke" variant is hotly criticized lately, but its libertarian and conservative siblings have had their moments in recent years. Something in it speaks to everyone.

Of course, dismantling order is a poor substitute for refining order, and while the idea of starting over from scratch is seductive, I'm not convinced the "post-dismantling" environment is a good one for building better things (regardless of your definition of "better").

Unfortunately, the thirst for hard resets seems stronger now on all sides than I've ever seen before, which disappoints me to no end. Everything grows out of something else. And if you can't picture how what we have today could become what you want tomorrow without resorting to burning it down, you probably aren't ready to build something better from scratch. The least you can do is let the thing stand while we figure out how to make it work for everyone.

> How do “woke politics” prevent you from doing your job well?

I’m a hiring manager and where I work we have an unwritten “understanding” that if your candidate recommendations don’t include any women you are a sexist.

I just make sure I include a few female candidates even if none in the recruitment pool are capable because it’s not worth the trouble.

However, I imagine that for many “by the book” hiring managers this causes significant anxiety and stress.

It's uninclusive to put one very specific brand of politics in people's face all the time with the unstated message that if you think a little differently you had better be quiet about it.

Some people can find that to be distracting.

Can you be more specific? I'm not sure I understand how that's affecting you from being able to do your job well.

I'm not OP but I am politically engaged with not 100% the same opinions, so sometimes I get annoyed by the environment and have to remind myself not to care.

Imagine your workspace was full of aggressive pro-Trump messaging. A bit distracting maybe?

Sorry I didn’t see the username change.

But I don’t understand how a workspace that was full of any kind of aggressive messaging is healthy even if I agree with it? That sounds pretty toxic to begin with.

It's especially frustrating if you generally agree with the goals but think the aggressive messaging is a bad look.

Any constructive feedback is generally received as "this person must be a closet white supremacist". Better to grit your teeth and remain silent.

Imagine also your coworkers casually mention they'd gladly shoot any pinko commie liberal they'd encounter, good that there are no such people among us! And then discuss how liberals are filthy amoral idiots only worthy of being spit on. And you happen to be a liberal. And even though you know they're probably joking, and they most certainly don't mean you, would it influence your work relationship with those people a little? Would it make you more distracted and less motivated?

And what if they get their suspicions - say, you couldn't bring yourself to praise Trump as much as others - and then your promotion, which one of your Trump-loving managers has a decisive voice on, does not come through, would you wonder why? Would it impact your work? I think it might.

And yet, I've heard things like these (not about Trump, it was even back when Trump was a TV personality) from many people. Did it impact my work quality? I really hope not, as much as I can help it. But I certainly didn't enjoy it.

This for me as well! I used to think that if I was inward-looking enough I could handle all of this myself. But outsourcing this kind of work to a professional has saved me so much time and trial&error with how to take care of my mental health.

Is it possible for you, without sharing personal details that you would rather not share, to give a more concrete and detailed account of the value that your therapist has provided to you?

I've also always regarded myself as introspective enough not to be able to benefit from therapy. And, while I'm open minded to the idea that I am wrong about that, I just have trouble imagining or envisioning what I might be missing.

Imagine you've lived in the same house your entire life. There's a big couch taking up half the living room, but one of the legs is broken. When you were really little, it tipped over when you sat in it, so you just learned to walk around the couch over to the not-very-comfortable armchair and sit there instead.

This was so long ago that you don't even remember learning not to sit in the couch. You don't think about how much room that couch is wasting or how much time you spend walking around the couch to get to the chair. Sometmies you stub your toe on the way around, but everyone trips every now and then. You've been doing this so long that it is completely unconscious. Hell, you can and do navigate the room in the dark.

Friends ask you about your living room furniture and you—completely honestly as far as you know—say it's all fine. You describe your chair in detail. It's not perfect, but it's serviceable. Certainly lots of other people have furniture that's in worse shape. At least you don't have any of those problems.

Then you sit down with a therapist for a few hours and they say, "Hey, what's up with that couch?"

this is such a good description of the process. i laughed and it also definitely stung a little bit :) therapy is 100% worth it

> also definitely stung a little bit :)

The sting is how you know it's working. :)

Great analogy for physical therapy too!

Leave it to munificent to explain things clearly. Every time :-)

The kind of advice you'll most likely receive won't be like anything you'd hear from a friend or family member. A therapist thinks critically and draws your attention to the language you use, ideas you'd not previously considered etc. I'm a very reflective person and therapy's helped me make sense of it all.

Not the OP but I have similar experiences and am also very introspective. For me, my introspection dealt a lot with what my thoughts were and how I behaved, but I had a lot of feelings that I had suppressed so deeply they never really came into consciousness. Therapy helped a lot with that.

> I've also always regarded myself as introspective enough not to be able to benefit from therapy.

Not the OP, but as an introspective person, I've found it was actually my introspection that predisposed me to benefiting from therapy. For me, my issues stemmed from negative self-talk, which is a misfiring of introspection. I would read the world and assign negative interpretations to how I was treated or how I messed up -- all the while subconsciously congratulating myself for being a self-aware person.

Therapy was a way for me to correct this misfiring feedback loop. My perceptions of the world may or may not have been correct, but the central idea is that I was assigning inordinate weight to the negative perceptions rather than the positive, which caused my emotions to spiral. This led to a pattern of catastrophizing.

Breaking out of that entailed a third-party grounding me and giving me more balanced interpretive options, and reminding me that my reading of the world was only one of many possibilities and not even necessarily a correct one (the limitations of introspection are sometimes astounding).

The part that's the most helpful about therapy was moving past interpretation, and employing positive techniques and taking action to deal with the world positively (doesn't matter if the interpretation was true or not). These actions encompass things like setting boundaries, or writing stuff down and interrogating them from multiple interpretive lenses instead of accepting them at face value. The act of taking action also helps dispel a lot of self-fulfilling prophecies. [1]

For me and likely for most introverts, negative self-talk is our weakness. Distorted introspection, while seemingly honest, is at the root of many negative emotions. It's very hard to fix feedback loops from within (since the thing you're using to fix them is the very thing that's broken) -- so engaging professional help is often very useful.

[1] An abstract example of this would be (not true of me, but to illustrate the point): Say I was passed over for a promotion and I start building narratives as to why. Maybe it's because I've been wronged in this way or that, or there's discrimination, or I'm not part of the inner circle. All of these things might be true (or not)... but if you think they're true and you respond unproductively by sulking, you're not going to make progress. Instead, you can change the framing and tell yourself maybe it's true, but let's give room to other interpretive options. Maybe it's because I don't really sell my ideas enough, so let's work on that. Maybe I'm really not ready so let's try upskilling. And the end result is that you move the locus of control from things you can't control to things you can control, which improves your overall well-being. And though there's no guarantee, because you've improved yourself in all these ways, your negative self-fulling prophecy might even turn out to be a positive one (but again, there's no guarantee). At any rate, by electing to deal with the world differently, your mental state improves, which causes you to present differently to the world. This in turn has the potential to start positive feedback loops.

Me, for 40 years: I overanalyze things until it sucks the joy out of life and makes me feel paralyzed. I should spend more time analyzing why I do that.

Therapist, in one hour: Maybe analyzing even more isn't the solution here.

This was an interesting read because it's exactly what I talked about in my session yesterday, but would never be able to explain with my own words. Thank you for sharing, and I'll bookmark your comment as a resource to guide people to when they're on the fence about therapy.

If you're in Australia, find a therapist using the thing I built: https://www.oktotalk.com.au . If you fill out the questions, the site might be able to recommend you someone good straight off. Otherwise one of our staff will help you through the process. We try really hard to bypass that "I tried 4 therapists before I found the right one" thing, and get you in with someone right the first time.

Here's the 80/20 of getting the most out of a therapist, drawn from watching thousands of people get great results over the last 5 years:

* talk to several therapists on the phone for 5 or 10 minutes first. You're going to be hesitant and uncomfortable, it's their job to put you at ease, they're the professional. You'll learn a lot quickly about them, and about the mental health process. If you have an uncomfortable 5 minute chat, you're going to have an uncomfortable hour, so skip that therapist. Go with your intuition, either say "heck yes" or "no".

* make a plan, work the plan. Write out your goals. The way to do this is "present situation" -> "desired situation". Everyone forgets the "desired situation" because they've got so much negative mental energy tied up in "present situation". Anyway, take your goals to your therapist. Put a circle around the one you need to address first. Insist that it gets addressed, or 6 sessions will go by and you'll realise the only change is to your wallet

* ask for homework, do your homework. You're in therapy an hour a week and out of therapy 167 hours a week. Your therapist can't compete with that. What you do outside therapy matters greatly

* if after 3 sessions you haven't established a good working relationship with your therapist and seen a bit of forward motion on your goals, get a new therapist. It could improve but statistically it's unlikely. This is an evidence-based cut-off.

Mental health is health, stay healthy!

I've spent a lot of time with therapists but they've only had the effect of being a sort of guard rail to keep me from falling too deep when I fall; it doesn't seem like they have helped me make any lasting improvements.

Based on what I've heard from friends and on this thread, it sounds like it's possible to get a lot more out of talk therapy?

What's your range of experiences been like with better or worse therapists, and how do you know when you should look for a better one?

I've seen three therapists. The first two were a complete waste of time, the third one completely changed my life for the better (incidentally, this started out as couple's therapy for my failed marriage).

It's basically like in any profession: 80% are mediocre, 10% are so bad you never want to try again and the last 10% are the gold you're searching for. There's also a question of whether you go along with a certain type of person, but there's also clearly excellence at work.

I knew I was onto something very early on. She went directly to work, stabbing into the wounds with massive empathy and brutal honesty. She described herself as her goal being "getting rid of me as soon as possible", which contributed to my trust in myself not just being a money cow for her. But the most starring fact was that I couldn't hide. She broke through all my layers and facades and went directly to the core issue of me not accepting myself as I am.

I think these are signals to watch out for (plus: a waiting list so long you usually don't get a place with the good ones), so good luck and YMMV. In any case, it's a pain finding a good therapist, but it's still worth it.

But before you get or continue a bad therapy experience, be sure to try out Leo Widrich and his blog. He's the only other therapist I didn't see who helped me grow to being a better version of myself.

My experience with therapy is similar to yours, albeit with one therapist (so far). The guard rail is not a bad thing, but all in all the process does not seem to lead to actually solving deeper issues.

Interestingly, in talk therapy it seems to be the patient's own talking that helps, rather than how the therapy is done or who's the therapist. Mark Manson sums the research up nicely in this piece:


Turns out that any way to examine and express one's thoughts and emotions that otherwise run unattended is helpful. Therapy, journaling, meditation.

Still, to me this is by it's very nature limited - to what you can consciously dig out and express. If the issues that cause trouble are not conscious, tough luck. Like trying to fix email infrastructure issues by rigorously applying inbox zero.

Perhaps lasting improvements in such cases require forms of therapy that involve consciousness altering techniques? Psychedelics are recently making a comeback in therapy. "How to Change Your Mind" by Michael Pollan is on my reading list:


> being a sort of guard rail to keep me from falling too deep when I fall

This is a dead give away that you are functioning too close to your emotional limit. The therapist serves the purpose of the guard rail, because it is the most pressing requirement.

> lasting improvements

To make improvements , the first requirement is breathing room.

Once you feel like you have that space, you can leverage your therapist to start putting things into place. The general routines and thought processes needed for healthier lifestyles can be found on page 1 of a google search.

The real value of the therapist is two fold. As a man, it is opening up enough to truly identify the real problems as they exist. The second is helping you prioritize and shape those 'Google page 1' solutions into one that perfectly aligns with your current lifestyle.

You might just have a not-so-good therapist, but, making space for self-improvement is central to actually making any progress.

Two cents: real change is not a lot of fun while it's happening, because change is hard, and makes some simple things take a lot more time and energy for a while.

From Angels In America

“Harper: In your experience of the world. How do people change?

Mormon Mother: Well it has something to do with God so it's not very nice.

God splits the skin with a jagged thumbnail from throat to belly and then plunges a huge filthy hand in, he grabs hold of your bloody tubes and they slip to evade his grasp but he squeezes hard, he insists, he pulls and pulls till all your innards are yanked out and the pain! We can't even talk about that. And then he stuffs them back, dirty, tangled and torn. It's up to you to do the stitching.

Harper: And then up you get. And walk around.

Mormon Mother: Just mangled guts pretending.

Harper: That's how people change.”

Have you tried cognitive behavioural therapy? It’s a fairly powerful set of tools that work quite well for a lot of people, though not everybody admittedly ...

In Canada, therapy is very expensive. About $150/h in the major cities.

Meanwhile all my American friends get free therapy. Weird how that breaks the narrative about US healthcare.

I don't know who these American friends that get free therapy are, but as an American, I've never heard of that. I do know people who pay two thousand dollars a month for health insurance for their family and it INCLUDES therapy. But that seems pretty different.

Please tell us more about these American friends. I'm an American and this "free therapy" is completely foreign to me. More and more therapists aren't in-network because dealing with insurance is a pain in the ass, so even if you've got insurance you end up paying out-of-network which might cover $50 of that $150 session.

Not sure how your friends are doing that. I had to stop therapy because I couldn't afford it.

I pay $180 and have to manually claim it. Nothing is covered until I hit my out of network deductible of $1200? Then it's 60% covered. So yeah, not cheap here!

It's not free in America, it's covered by many employer health insurance plans (and probably costs more than $150/h). I imagine many Canadian employers also offer supplemental insurance to cover therapy.

mental health is probably one of the worst aspects of a very dysfunctional US healthcare system. Somehow your friends ended up with an incredibly generous health plan (by the way, not "free", I'm guessing very expensive for their employers), but I assure you this is far from the norm.

I mean sure, all the tech elites in the US get the best medical care out there, far better than those in so-called "welfare states" such as the Scandinavian countries. However such conditions are bound to their job and thus not applicable to the general cases. Don't think this is what the "narrative about US healthcare" is about. If you work in big tech in the US you live in a paradise-like condition far removed from the masses, this is pretty much widely known isn't it.

How does that work?? As an American, I must know.

It's $150 in the us also. Insurance occasionally covers it, making it ~$10-50 co-pay.

Transparent plug but also sincere offer: I'm a psychotherapist. (I'm also a psychiatric researcher, which made me something of a data scientist, which is how I ended up on HN.) I work in private practice, dealing mainly with relationship and mood issues, and I've seen no small number of men and women in the kinds of fields that make up the HN readership over the course of my career - tech, STEM, etc.

It'll surprise no one to hear me say that I agree with locochef about investing in oneself through therapy^, but I also want to say that one of the most fascinating and simultaneously scary aspects of my work is seeing day in, day out the degree to which human beings excel at having stress pile up while ignoring it, denying it, believing themselves to somehow deserve it, "tough it out" to nearly-lethal degrees, or being kind of unaware of it entirely. A corollary of this observation is that the people (or the couples, or the families) who decide to see a therapist "early", when the challenge / problem / dilemma isn't yet at crisis level, are often the ones who benefit most. Like someone said down thread, it's like any other part of health: it costs less to not eat those cheeseburgers now than to have the bypass surgery later. Small investments made somewhat early can forestall a lot of ugly shit down the road. Frankly, if half the shit I help people with every day was taught universally in the fifth to tenth grades, I'd be out of a job (but happily so).

If anyone has general questions about therapy or related topics, I'm happy to answer if I'm able (or give you a nice "I have no idea" if I don't). Email in bio.

^ Sometimes! It's not for everyone, nor even for the same person at different times of their lives, and it can be harmful or end up being something you regret. But I agree in a general sense.

Disagree. I know not everyone is lucky to have close friends but as someone who has always dealt with things alone, I feel guilty and vulnerable the few times I've spoken to therapists. Even years later I regret going.

I don't want someone who is impartial or non-judgmental. If I'm going to pay someone I want actionable advice from someone who has been in my shoes. Having friends who know me, who come from different backgrounds, cultures, countries does way more for me. Them saying "schoolornot, knock it off, you're acting immature" does way more for me than laying on a nobody's couch.

I'm not knocking it but it's not for me.

In my opinion, part of the value in a therapist is that they don't know you, so they can provide advice not clouded by a shared history or any loyalty to you.

Therapists don’t generally give advice.

Coaches do that.

Absolutely, I've grown hugely as a person since starting therapy, it facilitates you cutting the shit about yourself, examining yourself and the world around you and how you it influences you and you influence it.

OP said they have a professional development budget, so it's presumably from an employer. Cute non-answer notwithstanding, I don't think their employer is going to allocate professional development resources for therapy.

What about their response makes you think it was a non answer? I specifically opened this thread to share the exact same experience, as therapy has helped my professional life much more than any book or tool I ever bought.

OP is asking what they can spend this budget on. Assuming it's from an employer, therapy isn't a valid answer to the question they're asking.

The problem is you're dismissing a valid suggestion based on an assumption you came up with yourself. I understand your point but I feel like it was misplaced here.

Exactly what I came to say.

It's an entirely reasonable assumption given that the OP said that they've a _budget_.

Actually, if your employer has a EAP (Employee Assistance Program), they do!

On a similar note, philosophical life coaching: https://www.pamelajhobart.com/

Read her site, you'll either immediately say "that's for me" or "absolutely not," and either way you'll be right. Does both phone and email coaching ("Interlocutor as a Service"), which is strange but super interesting and (for me at least) surprisingly effective

I started seeing a therapist mostly about my trust issues with women, and it ended up being 90% work-related topics we discussed. Oftentimes I thought I was up against the world and I sucked, and my therapist would bring me down to earth and almost allow me to think that I'm doing a good job, and that I'm a good engineer no matter how many other, better engineers are out there.

Ironically, the word "architecture" comes from designing and constructing buildings. Likewise, someone who frames houses can become preoccupied with beams and rafter angles while not operating a saw or driving in nails.

I guess what I'm saying is, everyone - including construction workers - should take your advice.

I 100% Agree. Spending time for yourself and having someone to help you do that is key nowadays to avoid burnout. Thank you for sharing your story :)

You really made a good point ,even i have observed how psychology really helps in looking,observing things and changes perspective about everything

how does one find a therapist? Like what search terms and what kinds do we need advise as someone who works on the tech field.

Starting therapy earlier this year was possibly the best thing I’ve done for myself in years. It took about 3 months of weekly sessions to properly “notice” what a difference it was making, but now it’s blindingly obvious, and I’m so glad I did it.

I found my therapist through https://www.bacp.co.uk/ — I’m not sure which country you’re in, but there’s bound to be similar directories out there.

I set their filters to find therapists who deal with issues relevant to me, and within a practical distance. After that, I just systematically went through each of their profiles, read their bios, and narrowed it down to a shortlist of 10.

I then picked two based on gut instinct. I had an introductory session with them both, and immediately “clicked” with one of them, who I’ve been seeing ever since.

Is therapy the same as counselling?

There are many different types of therapy, of which counselling is one of them.

My therapist works specifically in “Person-centered therapy”: https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/therapy-types/person-cent...

If you're in the US, Psychology Today's "Find a Therapist" tool [0] is excellent and lets you filter by a number of things including whether they accept your insurance plan, location, gender, specialty, and so on.

0: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists

Depending on where you live, ZocDoc can be a great way to find a therapist: https://www.zocdoc.com/

I'd recommend searching "psychotherapist" or "psychologist". Psychiatrists seem to be more focused on prescribing medication than helping you work through your issues.

Likewise. Just about general life stuff. Understanding yourself better helps you out in all aspects of life.

How did talking to therapist help dealing with mental health like that?

+1 for therapy. Best $10K I ever spent. Over 18 months I ever spent.

Can you please tell us what kind of things were discusssed? Not going into your personal details, just general idea would be great.

A lot of people here who haven't talked to a therapist are wondering the same in unison.

Sure. I can't remember exactly what led me to this point, but I remember going to workout with my personal trainer & feel really angry towards her for no particular reason. I realized in that moment that I was not OK, and I booked a session with a cognitive behavioral therapist. I basically started with "I'm super angry & don't know why", and went from there.

Fully agree. There are therapists who also do coaching.

I once did a two-day workshop on negotiation techniques, which covered not only methods but also helped me to become more comfortable dealing with the psychological stress that's induced in many negotiation situations. So far I'd say the course (which was free as I won it as a prize in a business plan competition) is directly responsible for at least 50-100.000 € of additional revenue that I made in the last years, simply because I negotiated more effectively.

I'd highly recommend honing this skill as it will also help you as an employee, as even small gains in salary can add up to quite a lot of money over the years. For freelancers and entrepreneurs negotiation is also important of course and will greatly help you.

Adding to that, even if you don't like negotiating, it's helpful to understand the tactics used by the other person so you can counter them (or at least be aware of it).

For instance, my favorite tactic when someone is pushing hard to sell me something or negotiate is the "Appeal to the authority" (i.e. "Let me first talk about it to my wife (or co-founder) about it."

Another popular negotiation tactic is to get asked between option A or option B, where in fact you could simply respond with "option C is more what I'm looking for".

>>For instance, my favorite tactic when someone is pushing hard to sell me something or negotiate is the "Appeal to the authority" (i.e. "Let me first talk about it to my wife (or co-founder) about it."

In the UK, some sleazy sellers of things like double glazing won't even start discussing the sale unless both husband and wife are present to prevent this tactic.

Suddenly time to become poly. "Uh, let me ask my second husband about this too..."

I laughed so hard, it's difficult to breathe.

Omg it would be legendary

Sales people use essentially the same tactic: "i have to call the boss/check with my manager" and then "i tried but they said that's too little, but we can do £X; so I'll get the paper work" ...

Seems you either overpay or have to put up with the silly games and don't know if you're overpaying.

If the system were seeing optional efficiency it would give us all the info about BoM cost and hours worked and C-suite wages, dividends and profit rates, that would enable us to make informed decisions.

This is when you tell them to gfy. Another problem in the UK is that anyone can claim they can do glazing, they can show you fake portfolios and use tactics like above to get you to sign a contract. Then consumer rights will let them to try to "fix" the job until you give up and if you report fraud to police they'll say it's not a crime to do that. Being a poor glazer is not a crime.

Appeal to the Authority

Is different than

Appeal to Authority

Wow that's crazy.

Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss. This relatively short book has made more of a difference to my personal livelihood than maybe any other pice of literature or advice.

You really don’t realize how much negotiating you do in day to day life. Its good to be comfortable with it.


One key component that Voss spends a lot of time on -- if your counterparty comes out a negotiation feeling like they lost, everyone loses.

The outcome of a successful negotiation is that a fair deal is struck, and everyone feels good (or at least not bad) about it.

There are very few situations in the real world that are true one-offs, where you'll never have to interact with that counterparty again. Consequently, scorched-Earth is a poor long-term approach.

I was part-way through the book and I needed to sell some things on Gumtree. Normally I'd expect some low balling at first and then accept below the asking price.

However using what I'd read in the book, I got the asking price for all 4 items I sold!

His Masterclass was awesome too! And I definitely recommend listening to the Audiobook vs. reading it. Hearing his tone of voice and watching his body language made such a difference in understanding his point.

Chris Voss also has a Masterclass on negotiation. I imagine it's probably similar to his book, but it's very good.

It's basically verbatim.

The audiobook is good as well, you can hear the tone of voice, which is useful.

I looked it up and saw it was read by Michael Kramer. It's worth it do just hear his voice.

For a moment I thought you said Cosmo Kramer... That'd be something hahaha

Totally agree about listening to the audiobook!

Seconding this book. I took grad school level negotiation classes and this book added as much or more value when I've negotiated for pricing, salary, etc.

Interesting, I found the author so off-putting I didn't make it more than 50 pages. I'll have to try again based on all these +1s.

That book paid for itself ten times over by the time I had finished reading it, practicing on insurance renewals and utility bills.

It's incredible how much you can save on your bills! I read the book and called my ISP. I was polite and didn't threaten to leave or do anything aggressive and ended up paying less for faster service.

Another vote for this book... it is very good. I negotiate contracts, price, and terms & conditions as a significant portion of my job.

comfortable with it?

When I was purchasing a car this helped a lot too! Salesmen are much more experienced than me since they negotiate every day, but even accounting for that it is easy to see what they are doing with other customers and easy to see through the attempts they make on myself. The most common one of course is the "time limited" deal... As if I just happened to show up on the only day there is a sale...

The fun part is you can turn that technique against them and it works like a charm.

I've repeated this a few times now: dedicate a day to car buying and call 10 of them up telling them I'm buying a car TODAY, with these precise specs. No upsells entertained. And I let them in on the fact that I'm calling all the others and expect to make a decision by a set time. Always remain super polite but stay firm. In a way I suspect many appreciate this because I'm not wasting their time, it's a quick decision on how eager they are to fill their quota. But it's fun to see how much the "final price" evolves over the course of a few hours…

A lot of car salesmen ignore buyers like this. They see it as a waste of time to get pitted against each other. I’ve gotten the best results by starting with the dealerships with the lowest prices on TrueCar and then baiting them to invest time in me. Then they’re more committed and eager to close. Show your teeth later in the negotiation.

They're free to turn down the business, and only time will tell if it was the right call. Personally I believe revenue is revenue, and salesmen generally need a lesson in humility, but then again I've never successfully ran a car dealership.

Yeah this. I've tried this in various ways (not with cars, with other things) but usually they just hang up on me. I've never gotten deals that are better than what I could have gotten in other ways.

Depends on inventory and the value of the salesman’s time. This can work if it means they don’t have to waste hours selling you.

The problem though is the lack of real commitment. If you can guarantee you really are going to buy a car today and really will take the lowest offer, plenty of dealers would reply. Without a guaranteed commitment it’s just a negotiating tactic and they know it.

If I’m a salesman I’m OK making less on a sale if my time investment is practically nothing.

There’s a service you can use that has a $500 service fee that will bid it out for you. Dealers will reply because they know you’re serious (otherwise you’re throwing away $500). I can’t say if you get a good deal, but you definitely get quotes.

I like this approach. I check the inventory on a dealer's lot through their website, pick the car I want, learn what I can about it, and show up ready to skip the first steps. I ended up buying my current car from a no-haggle dealership since they had the best price even after factoring in negotiation (they had an overstock of the car I wanted and the new model year was about to be released).

I did this with my previous car, a 2016 Subaru BRZ.

I e-mailed three dealerships in town. I said I wanted a BRZ, Limited trim, Black, with a manual transmission, and asked what their lowest price was. MSRP for this configuration I believe was $29K. One dealership didn't answer at all, the second offered $29K, the third offered $26K and included all the dealer-installed options like the cargo mat for the drunk, auto-dimming mirror with HomeLink, and wheel locks.

I definitely went with the third dealer. Didn't even feel the need to haggle any more than that.

I've had luck with this technique as well. I generally make a deadline a few days out though which gives me a little time to work the phone without being overwhelmed. Some dealers do NOT want to deal this way ("You need to come here to get the best price"), but enough do deal over the phone to make it easy enough.

Now, the best way to save money on cars is to play the meta-game! Looking for a car which is not as popular or rare will give you much more bargaining power. End of model year, end of platform, etc are other good deals. Also having many dealers to compete works better than manufactures with less dealers (I have 10+ Ford dealers nearby, but only 1-2 VW dealers for example)

never buy from dealership at retail prices period.

go to a smaller dealer and ask them to buy a car from wholesale auction for you and you cover their costs. that way their margin js transparent and is negotiated upfront. You will be lucky to get 5-10% discount from retail prices, but wholesale prices at Manheim can be 15-30% less than retail, even more if you are willing to buy less than perfect condition car

There was a fascinating EconTalk episode about the economics of a car dealers.


One interesting point was letting the buyer successfully negotiate to an absolute rock bottom price, but then making back the margin on financing.

That is why you never say cash or commit to financing until the deal is close. Also a dark hack, all car lot have a disclaimer that there is surveillance video and audio equipment on premise. This means you have been notified of surveillance, they can and do bug the cubicle. When they go back to talk it over with their manager many times they are reading you by your conversations going on in the cube and your body language.

I worked in counterintel for a while, so I have had a lot of fun with car dealers over the years. I won't buy a new car (still drive an 87 Suburban Diesel) but from time to time my wife let's me know it's time for her to get a new car. Anyways knowing that they can and do run surveillance can actually be used to your advantage.

Try it one time, when they go back to the manager, say to the person with you, let's leave, I am not going to get what I want here and restate what you know the car is worth based on research. Leave enough meat on the bone for a decent commision and profit, but cut it close to a good deal. Get up and watch them be on the other side of the cube before you can even fully stand up. Manager will have miraculously come back 10-15% over the amount you stated. If you are not willing to walk from the deal, you are not getting a deal.

I’ve tried that and they wouldn’t budge. I got rock bottom and I offered to do financing if they would go lower but the incentive structure of the individual sales person didn’t match that of the dealership so no go

You showed too much commitment. In either situation they knew your were going to buy. The trick is to keep one foot out the door until you're locked in on price.

I had the same experience. The dealer knew I was ready to walk, but it was as simple as "computer says no lower". I sold them a car, and saw it listed the following day. My napkin math said that the margin was close to 0 on the car in the first place,once they had paid £30 to tax it and a salesperson an hour to talk to someone and take their details.

> and saw it listed the following day.

The car business is a giant recursive function where cost can be added at every step.

The sales price may have been low but the dealer has lots of ways to add pure profit:

* sub-prime loans with high interest

* gap insurance

* alarm systems

* extended warranties

* window tints, undercoats, towing hitches, etc.

The buyer might also have a trade in which conveniently starts the whole process over again.

The "Forbes list of Billionaires" has several car dealers in it.

Right, that's exactly the point. There was almost 0 money in the pure sale. All of the money is in high interest loans (via kickback from the financing), waterproofing treatments, "extra" insurance, service plans managed in house. The profit on a car night be negligible, but a cheap car sold with gap insuranxe is likely a days salary!

I keep hearing "they make money on financing" but I don't see how that's possible. I've bought three new cars financed, and every time the finance person puts my info in and gets finance "offers" from 4-5 big banks plus their in-house financing, and just lets me pick the one with the best rate -- usually most of the finance offers are under 5%, with the best one being under 1%. One time I went to one of the offering banks directly and got a worse rate than they offered me through the dealer! Maybe they're making commission on the sale but it can't be much.

Hi! I work in auto finance. About my company: we finance in the USA and we focus in "sub prime" (aka bad credit), but we are a "full spectrum" lender.

Dealerships TOTALLY make money on the financing. In your example, it might be $1000 - it sounds like you have pretty good credit, and the margins are thin there. You should remember that if someone is leaning YOU money, they just want a reliable investment for their portfolio - they'll make their money on the next guy.

If you are getting <1% offers, that is probably financing from the manufacturer (that is, Toyota Financing is lending money for a Toyota, at a Toyota dealership). These deals are HOT because Toyota Financing's #1 job is to sell Toyota's - making money is #2 or #3.

Also, did you buy a warranty or gap coverage? Cause that is profit for the dealer, too.

You probably think you got the "best rate" because you SAW ALL THE OFFERS. Nope. Dealerships see the rate from the bank and can bump it up. Did Wells Fargo offer you 2%, well, let's show him 3% and I keep the difference.

Also, yup, getting a "direct rate" is difficult. The bank doesn't really know the car you are buying, and they might see that you were already approved at the dealership and give you a WORSE rate DELIBERATLY simply to maintain a relationship with the dealership.

Thanks for the info, I appreciate the insider perspective.

Getting a higher rate directly from the bank does not necessarily mean that the dealer is not making any money on your loan. It is likely that the bank just offers better rates through their dealer partners because: 1. it's less hassle than dealing with retail customers, and 2. the dealer market for loans is more competitive.

I mean yes, I'm sure they're getting something, but the margins are so thin I don't think it's even worth considering. Consider a $50k car, dealer offers you 1% via bank. At best the bank is only taking half of that (0.5% is already ridiculous for a not-really-secured loan, considering new car depreciation), so over a 5yr loan the dealership makes... $1250. That's, what, one week of salary for one of their salesmen? I just don't think it's as much of a factor as we think it is. People talk about the dealerships handing out $10k discounts because "they make their money on financing" but the math just doesn't support that unless you're doing credit-card-interest-level loans.

Usually people cite the financing incentives when people mistakenly use the "cash is king" strategy when trying to negotiate on a car, but it isn't the only way they're making money. Dealers make significant money from manufacturer kick-backs and service too.

Also 1% sounds too low for an independent bank loan, even with the now-cratered loan rates. I am guessing that is probably a subsidized loan through a manufacturer's bank. Manufacturers have long offered artificially low rates through their own banks to help move product.

100%. There are lots of small dealers that will be super happy to go pick up a car at auction for you. I highly recommend this if you want the best price. If you don't really care, it is significantly faster and easier to just go to a dealership.

I’ve heard of the same, but with email. Spec out the car you want, timeframe you are wanting to purchase, and copy dealerships on the email. Tell them the lowest price gets your business.

Fascinating. Can you follow up with more info on how the day progresses? You play one dealer against another or use some other technique?

So first I do my homework. Get my own financing. Know exactly what model I want. Then I look online for all the dealers selling this vehicle, note the place, contact info, leave room for the name of the rep I'll be speaking to, price, etc.

Then I call each one, telling them I saw the online inventory had the vehicle in stock but since I'm buying today I just want to check if that's still the case. That already reduces some of the options: many dealers will leave attractive but outdated inventory to generate leads, and then try to upsell.

I start from the cheapest option I see online and work my way through the list. As I encounter the higher priced versions, I voice a slight disappointement that another dealer X is selling the same model for $Y. That's when they can choose to match or stay firm. Either way I thank them for their time and tell them I will be calling back within a couple hours to let them know.

During this time, I often get callbacks with counter-offers. I note the value, thank them and let them know I'm finishing my list.

Once I have a winner, I go back and call all the others, starting with the most pricy, to let them know I've made my decision, and that I respect their time so didn't want to let them hang. Things get interesting at that stage, as more counter-offers appear. At that stage, you can also visit in person to thank the salesperson as you're on the way to the lowest offer: sometimes they end up with yet another counter offer.

Having your own financing means you're not stuck with their shell game. Only when you go to doing the paperwork, you can negotiate financing rates and see if they can beat what you got from your bank. But the sale price is already set at that stage so it's safe.

The whole point during this process, it's super important to remain humble and friendly. Even though you control the process, any smugness will kill your options. And to tie this back to the thread, that's a skill you can improve with negotiation training (and it benefits more than just car buying).

That's great. Thanks for following up and filling me in. I'll be in need of a car in a few years, so I'll have to give this a try.

You don't really pit them against each other in the sense that two dealers are going to duke it out on a conference call or something.

You just state what you want at a price and then walk away if you don't get what you want. Some will flat out tell you "i can't beat that price, go for it" or they won't even bother responding to calls or emails.

When you have other options, it changes the power dynamic of the relationship and gives you a ton of leverage. The dealership needs you to purchase the vehicle and that can't happen if you walk away.

Cool. Thanks for clarity.

It's a cool exercise and it's certainly nice to play their techniques against themselves, just make sure the time you're putting into it won't affect your opportunity cost

How much is a day off work going to cost you? If you can save more than that by negotiating go ahead.

Let's say one day might shave you $1k off, but 2 days of effort might save you $1.5k, consider the diminishing returns. Or just consider it "education" or "entertainment"

Most people don't have that kind of flexibility in their salary. You get paid a certain amount per month. It doesn't increase if you work more.

I came here to say negotiation. I recently did a two-day workshop on negotiation as well, and it was invigorating and really got me jazzed up about my job. I'm a manager, so I spend a lot of time negotiating with other teams and with external vendors, and negotiating with my employees vs my peers vs my superiors is also a skill I needed to hone. The workshop itself really let me see what was happening under the hood.

It was a really great thing and I highly recommend it to everyone.

As many others have said, books are the best things I've spent money on, but let me say more:

Do books sometimes say things that are obvious? Yes. For example, when I first read Martin Fowler's book Refactoring, I had been renaming variables and moving methods from one class to another for years. But he gave a new framework for thinking about something that obvious. I've found the idea of separating out my coding flow between adding functionality and improving code really helpful.

Can you get the material for free? Almost always, yes. But it takes time to find the right material, and our time is valuable. A typical industry book is $40-$50, and a typical text book is $100-$150. The authors of these books have spent time organizing the material in a helpful way that you would otherwise need to spend.

For some topics though, it's not just a matter of time savings. I'm working on a topic now that doesn't really have many useful books, so I'm having to read technical specifications produced by industry groups, which lack context and are pretty opaque. I'm missing having a book that explains these ideas in a coherent fashion.

I have tried a few MOOCs for professional development. I've found they can be helpful for a superficial understanding, but they don't encourage the deep understanding I get from reading through a book.

> For some topics though, it's not just a matter of time savings. I'm working on a topic now that doesn't really have many useful books, so I'm having to read technical specifications produced by industry groups, which lack context and are pretty opaque. I'm missing having a book that explains these ideas in a coherent fashion.

I know a couple of tech book authors, and this is how they all got started on their first book. :) There was no good book, they did all the work of becoming an expert, and then curated their learnings into a book for others.

There are two groups of engineers - if they embark on opaque documented problem - one will write a book and share everything they learned, the other - patent the ideas and make sure nobody else uses them without paying.

Two thumbs up for Refactoring by Fowler. Exactly. Even if you already know know the 300 odd refactorings he documents... The fact that his names let you talk about them with your team or more easily treat them as abstractions is a powerful win. That book is one of the best investments you can make.

> A typical industry book is $40-$50, and a typical text book is $100-$150.

If this is out of some people's budgets, check eBay. Also some thrift store chains have certain locations that are book focused.

You can get older edition textbooks for practically free. It's not like Claude Shannon's equations have changed. The old editions are effectively just as good.

I've picked up plenty of classic books, HBR, Drucker, Christensen, Moore, etc ... $2-3 in fine condition. To be honest, half the time it looks unread. Then you can donate them "back into the stream" when you're done for others.

Also hit charity shops near to universities at the end of the academic year.

About 15 years ago when I was utterly broke I bought 20 text books (good ones like https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/introduction-algorithms-third... ) for .50p a book (they didn't know what they had so I gave them £20 for the lot instead of £10, would have done more but I really didn't have it).

> If this is out of some people's budgets, check eBay.

Just google "library genisis" ;)

Back in the 90s tech futurists were talking about having "the library of congress on the size of your finger nail".

Now we actually could do something in that realm (LoC is about ~10tb and there's 1tb microsd cards; we're probably talking "within 5-7 years" without any exaggeration) but there's so many courts and laws stopping it from happening, the great cambrian explosion of knowledge has been held back.

Every local library could store the full digitised book contents of the LoC[1] for about $5,000.

That this isn't happening is a crime.



1. I get about 200 TB based on 40 million books, OCRd at 5 MB per book. A 2 TB SATA 5200 RPM drive runs about $100, and the full collection would fit on 50 such drives. Full optical scans are ~10x larger. The LoC's collection includes another 130 million non-book items. https://www.loc.gov/about/general-information/

Interesting. I web searched and Google told me 10TB so I went with that.

I think we're still within the information revolution and to put it into perspective let's look at the textile revolution.

Clothes used to be expensive. Someone maybe owned 1 or 2 sets, often passed down from their parents. You could easily illustrate your wealth by wearing many layers of fine material. Simply owning many clothes was sufficient to signify great power and prestige.

Then the textile revolution came and today durable well fitted clothes are cheap. Unless you're a fashionista or have children, they are almost unmeasurable in ones budget (children used to wear dresses because it was a practical solution for one garment throughout growing childhood)

But this took generations AFTER the mechanical loom and all the technology existed. The society of clothes making also needed to be overhauled and that took arguably a century.

That's where we're at with information. Our industrialism can create the material requirements for the storing and transmission of information readily, sustainably and cheaply. However our cultural and societal overhaul to accommodate it is still maybe only a 1/3 done.

After the printed word became really cheap with the advertisement supported penny presses of the 1830s it still took about 100 years of public education advocacy before you could safely assume every adult knew how to read. These things take decades because it's a function of generational churn. It's at the pace of human lives

I have a partially written book on this interplay I'll eventually finish one day... maybe people will be able to pick up used unread copies for $2 - I look forward to that day.

Clothes always had a social signalling component. The signalling dynamic shifted, becoming both increasingly accessible, capable of defining increasingly finer social groups, esspecially those not associated with high-powwer or high-status groups (nobility, royalty, clergy, miltitary, artisans, merchants).

Fads-as-signalling shows up in many places if you look for it: https://old.reddit.com/r/dredmorbius/comments/62uroa/clothin...

Information is ... somewhat trickier. Clothing is manifest and overt. Information ... mostly isn't. (Memes, logos, jingles, musical hooks, and slogans being prime exceptions.) Possession of specific information becomes a credible (expensive to obtain, hard to falsify) indicator of strong group identity --- whether you're talking about membership within a religious sect, programming subspecialty, profession, banking cabal, political party, or neihbourhood gang. Various fandoms seem to be a reasonably benign (for now) expression of this.

Denis Didrot despaired at the overwhelming abundance of information facing him and his fellow Encyclopédists, in 1775. https://www.historyofinformation.com/detail.php?entryid=2877

The total number of titles in Europe at the time was about one million. Today, one millon titles are published per year. (http://www.bowker.com/tools-resources/Bowker-Data.html) On average, that's one book per 330 Americans. Who read fewer than one book per year, on average.

What does it mean to publish if what's recorded is never read? The old WORN drive joke (write once, read never) has fangs.

Or if different cultures (religious, geographic, professional, political,...) share no common literary or informational references?

> What does it mean to publish if what's recorded is never read? The old WORN drive joke (write once, read never) has fangs.

The mere act of publishing itself is a form of capital and political and social exercise regardless of who reads it.

This is a deep rabbit hole and I don't have time to go into here (there's 2 chapters in this mythical book I speak of on it) but I'll point you in two directions, both centered on xerox

1. As a brief premiere look up the scholarly work 'Xerox Project: Photocopy Machines as a Metaphor for an “Open Society”' - or look into how the open society foundation supposedly helped defeat apartheid south africa and bring down the soviets via copy machines and cottage publications.

2. As a cornerstone of the first step of the modern LGBT rights movement in the 1950s. "ONE magazine", one of the first LGBT magazines using a specific Xerox machine as best I can determine either in Mar Vista or Venice california. Shortly there after, the Mattachine society, a second LGBT rights group, used the same copy machine to do their publication as well. The machine was also used to fight anti-mccarthyist blacklisting publications for the film industry as well. A similar effort happened for civil rights in Jim Crow south (I live in LA so I can do better research on the LGBT stuff since I can drive to the physical archives)

Even if nobody ever read any of these and the publications went into the garbage can, the maturation of thought and the coalition building as a function of the geographic space necessitated by the access to the machines had meaningful political ramifications.

You can also read the book 'Notes from Underground: Zines and the Politics of Alternative Culture' for a decent deep dive on this.

It's all fascinating stuff.

Xerox machines also played a crucial role in the Pentagon Papers story.

You're familiar with Elizabeth Eisenstein? *The Printing Press as an Agent of Change.

> That this isn't happening is a crime.

I agree and like the discussion you guy's started from my seemingly innocent comment.

I add one argument why I think scientific papers and nonfiction books (Library Genisis) should be free (and legal) ...

You often hear the complaint that so many people are uneducated and believe in conspiracy theories (or other stupid things). This is (imho) problematic for a democracy.

Giving free access to books and papers could really help.

Also a lot of research is founded by tax money and papers are by far the most expensive literature....

Re: Uneducated / conspiracy theories... I think you are discounting the general public’s desire to seek knowledge outside of what the ‘engagement’ driven algorithms feed them.

The algorithm’s prime directive is at odds with serving quality books and papers because they are not as engaging relative to fiction passed as non-fiction (lies) and misinformation.

I started this by downloading all of the books the LoC put out until 1918 (locserendipity.com). Full text sources in an external drive took up around 200 GB.

I have gotten a lot of books via alibris.com (no affiliation, just a happy customer), a marketplace for used booksellers. I got a brand new $170 statistics textbook for about $35 because it was intended for another country; thinner paper and crappier binding, but the same book. I've also gotten used books that were indistinguishable from new books.

Not as cheap as ebay, but an enormous selection with pretty reliable quality ratings.

Tech books for the Indian market have been a good resource. The books (and maybe exercises) slightly differ to the US prints to keep control of the market.

I acquired a huge stack from an Amazon UK seller for literally pennies each.

>>The books (and maybe exercises) slightly differ to the US prints to keep control of the market.


They are mostly a little low quality books in terms of paper quality, photo graph color etc. Every thing else is the same.

I buy a lot of books as I stay in India. US publishers partner with local publishers and get it printed and sold for cheap.

The academic text books are known to have different test questions so US students can't buy (relatively) dirt cheap "foreign" prints. The text might be the same elsewhere in the book though.

One thing you can also do is specifically look for the international edition. These will often be paperback and non-color, but otherwise have the same content. I've found some popular comp-sci textbooks for ~20% the cost of the cheapest paperback US edition.

I always check for a used book first. I got a basically unused copy of the original Dragon Book for $9 shipped. The spine even still cracked when I opened it. Some student out them probably didn't do too great in their compiler class...

>>Do books sometimes say things that are obvious?

There's a difference between things being obvious when a concept is exposed, and being proactively aware of a concept and having it as a practice/hobby.

Unfortunately the difference between these two things is huge.

Books are the cheapest and yet a high quality way of learning things, getting clarity and in general being exposed to rich quality of concepts. You could sure spend wandering in the wilderness learning things by experience over years. Or you can get them learning a book.

Books aren't even that expensive, given how much they give you on the longer run.

I completely agree. I've learned more through books than any other medium.

They take time and, for me, it took a while to realise how I best learnt. I don't like reading technical books cover to cover, not on the first read at least. I try to look through the index for concepts that catch my interest, either because I realise I know nothing except the term (so that makes me feel a bit ignorant and curious to check it out) or it's a concept I can visualise being applied more easily.

Usually from there I will read something I don't know what means and go look for that. When I've scanned through a bit to catch my interest then I start reading from the first chapter.

It took me years to realise I didn't have to force myself to sit down and open a book from page 1. It's a bit obvious and stupid but I believe I'm not alone in having to learn myself how do I like to learn.

> Can you get the material for free? Almost always, yes. But it takes time to find the right material, and our time is valuable. [...] The authors of these books have spent time organizing the material in a helpful way that you would otherwise need to spend.

This is one of the best things about books.

Yes, I can find all the material on the web, sometimes even all at the same site. But web writers usually cannot resist the temptation into putting in a ton of links, turning the material into a directed graph.

There will usually be many ways to reach a given node, some that reach it before you have read all the prerequisites.

There is often no good way to know if you've actually visited all the nodes. You might have taken a fork 10 nodes ago, and the other branch goes to places that nothing in your branch links to. Unless you remember that you need to backtrack 10 nodes and try the other fork, you miss all that.

I want the author to figure out what order I should visit the nodes to get everything there in a good order for learning, and then provide a way for me to effortlessly follow that order.

With a book, that's easy: start at chapter 1 and read to the end. A web site could do that, but for some reason most do not.

I had the reaction when reading a preprint of Domain Driven Design. It was packed with ideas which were just coming into focus in my own mind after 10 years in the industry, but I didn't have names for them or have them systematized. It's a terrific feeling reading a well-written book like that and going 'Yes! Yes! Yes!'.

(Since then, as with many things in our industry, it seems the book has been turned into a buzzword consulting/training money grab. Sigh.)

When I first read the DDD book almosty 15 years ago, I think it took me 2 or 3 reads to get it into my head. I really like the first half that can be used purely for a design perspective, and the second half for communicating with the business people to do business domain modelling .

Other books I really like are

The Design of Everyday Things by Don Norman, it is a good read and lets you talk to a lot of UX'ers as I have found more than a few that have used this book for their thesis.

Enterprise Integration Patterns by Gregor Hohpe and Bobby Woolf, which is old but in world of streaming procesing a lot of the patterns can be reused.

The Site Reliability Engineering books or their free counter parts found on https://landing.google.com/sre/books/

edited to add a couple of newlines.

The book itself has turned into a consulting money grab, or DDD as a concept?

It looks like (to me) there is a DDD training industry, along the lines of, or as a part of the “agile transformation“ training industry.

Which in and of itself isn’t bad I suppose, but part of me feels that these are cynical attempts to unscrupulously monetize ideas who’s time has come by bombarding credulous middle management with buzzwords.

Seconding this question as a reddit remindMe.

Yesss! Feel the same way about books on topics like Deep Learning, django, etc. Book form is much better.

I completely agree with everything you say here. Well put.

If your budget is a few hundred, an IntelliJ Ultimate license. For me it's a force multiplier. Built-in highlights of things that can be improved (e.g. linting) is a bonus. In the end, things like VS Code are just text editors.

I mean, you can't get a warning that the `[]` syntax isn't available in your old codebase's flavor of PHP (5.2) in VS Code. I think.

Alternatively: Take time off. If you have enough money to live on for a month, take it. Make a list of things you'd like to dig into, or just spend a month doodling. Or take half days off for a month and participate in something like Advent of Code. You can challenge yourself in various ways, like use an unfamiliar language for the month, or a different language every day. Do some tutorials and make stuff in Pico-8, embrace the limitations and embarrassingly unreadable code, which is amazing at the same time because you wrote it and it all fits in your head. Just throwing it out there.

Second this.

I pay for Intellij Ultimate out of pocket, work would buy it but frankly it's easier to just have my own license and I use it a lot outside of work.

vscode is fantastic at what it does but one is a wheelbarrow, the other a dump truck.

> I mean, you can't get a warning that the `[]` syntax isn't available in your old codebase's flavor of PHP (5.2) in VS Code. I think.

You can get warnings when syntax isn’t available in your script’s flavor of shell in [neo]vi[m], emacs, or GNU ed with shellcheck, I’d be mildly surprised if there wasn’t a similar editor-agnostic linter for PHP.

I just tried this in VSCode using Intelephense and it detected the invalid syntax just fine ("PHP 5.4+ syntax found."). I've never done PHP development, but it only took a few clicks to set it up (install extension and go into preferences and change the language version).

Since VSCode is just using LSP under the hood, that means it would also work fine in Emacs, [neo]vi[m], Sublime, Atom, etc.

In the long run, I don't see how IntelliJ will be able to compete with LSP, as it gets polished up.

First of all, Intellij (and Visual Studio) are more than just LSP. They're debugging, source control, static analysis, test runners, profiling tools, database tools, etc.

Secondly, the state of LSP clients is a long way from matching Visual Studio or Intellij. When LSP is competitive with the major IDEs, I'll happily switch, but I don't see that in the next 5 years at least. As an example, try opening UE4 using any of the LSP implementations.

I'm well aware of the differences between IntelliJ and LSP, I've been an IntelliJ power user for years and have written plugins as well. Currently I've transitioned back to Emacs for most of my day-to-day coding, since LSP provides good enough completion, navigation, and static analysis, and DAP provides good enough debugging and test running. The rest of your list are non-issues for me, e.g. every editor I know of has good source control tools, and most profiling I do is not in an IDE, it's using special-purpose profiling tools.

LSP and DAP are open protocols supported by most editors and IDEs. I have a hard time believing that language implementers won't prioritize their implementation over IntelliJ. Which is a good thing, our development stacks should be open and free.

> Im well aware of the differences between IntelliJ and LSP

Apologies I didn't mean to imply you didn't, I only meant to point out that LSP isn't the only factor in choosing an editor. For some people,(e.g. me) lack of some of that tooling is important.

>since LSP provides good enough completion, navigation, and static analysis

My experience using lsp with clangd as the server on a large project was that it flat out didn't work. Try opening UE4 for example.

> The rest of your list are non-issues for me,

That's great for you, but others do use those tools regularly. It's also a feature that those tools work out of the box, consistently, meaning that a coworker can (occasionally) drive by commit/run/compile on my computer.

> I have a hard time believing that language implementers won't prioritize their implementation over IntelliJ.

Intellij/VS are going to keep improving in that time. As much as I'd love for all of my tooling to be open, I don't see that as realistic in the near future based on the current state of the tooling. I'd love to be wrong though!

The way I like to think of it: VSCode is a text editor with plugins, Jetbrains is an IDE.

I spent some time with vscode to install all the correct extensions properly. And for me back is currently on par with Jetbrains tooling, with the added benefit that vscode is faster.

Can you share your setup? I love VS Code and it would be great to optimize my workflow.

So worth it. I got PHPStorm when I started working at Automattic. I'd been developing in PHP for several years at that point, and didn't see the point in an IDE. But my previous job had been a low-end local company.

At Automattic, the expectations were so much higher. They'd give me a 3000+ line, 20+ file codebase to review, for example. There was plenty of time to complete the task, but with so much code to deal with I needed to very quickly develop some skills and tools to keep it all straight.

I learned a lot of keyboard shortcuts for PHPStorm for quickly noting filenames and line numbers in my review sheet, and wrote several macros for quickly writing out repetitive text. These things were essential because it was so easy to get lost or distracted even by flipping between my notes and the code. I could end up going through the same file 4 times if I wasn't careful (on a first pass, that is - it was normal to take several passes through a code base).

Does anyone have any tips or resources for getting more out of the Jetbrains IDEs? I've been using them for years but I still feel like there's so much I'm not taking advantage of.

Jetbrains has a lot of videos on youtube. eg this Intellij one has a bunch of stuff I never knew existed https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9AMcN-wkspU

Start with going through the settings [1]. You will learn some new things along the way.

There's also a great WebStorm Guide [2], with many tips applicable to other languages as well.

[1] https://darekkay.com/blog/intellij-idea-settings/

[2] https://www.jetbrains.com/webstorm/guide/

Thanks, I'm wondering if there are more tutorials about writing plugins. There are a few shortcuts that do not exist and I'd love to implement with a plugin.

In 2014, I have written a just for fun plugin in about 2 hours (check out my write-up [1]). I've followed the "How to make an IntelliJ IDEA plugin in less than 30 minutes" [2] guide back then. Unfortunately, this guide seems to be outdated, but now there's an official guide [3].

[1] https://darekkay.com/blog/what-the-commit-plugin-for-intelli...

[2] https://www.cnblogs.com/meetrice/p/5184827.html

[3] https://jetbrains.org/intellij/sdk/docs/basics/getting_start...

Hi thanks a lot for the links! I wonder if it's as extensible as say Vim/Emacs.

My personal favorite is "find usages". You can destroy dead code which makes life a bit better in a large codebase. The pretty basic auto refactor is also nice

It seems like there are just a lot of those small things you get used to that are really nice

As a vscode user, I opened up pycharm to see if I like it at all. It asked if I wanted to update ideavim plugins and I said yes. Now looking at ~200% CPU usage for about a minute. Still can't open my folder[1].

There's nothing I hate more than work software that I have to tinker with to keep working. Maybe it doesn't deserve the reputation it has for being a resource hog, or maybe it does?


I agree. I got license for the JetBrains All product pack. It's been a huge boost in my productivity for Python and C++ because the refactoring tools make mundane things so much faster.

Also, templating is incredibly powerful. I avoid copy / paste in favor of typing or generating things out. Copy/Paste is a really bad pattern and the overhead of having to put the code in makes me think about abstracting it much earlier than if I just copied and pasting things.

I've been using jetbrains products for years and just bought the personal ultimate license this weekend. Their products are great and their support his excellent!

I've only had one support interaction but it was fairly poor. Their keyboard layout support didn't correctly honour the keyboard layout in macOS that I used, and the response was "file a bug", pointing me to a public issue tracker where I found someone else had reported it 6 years previously. I think that bug has been open for 8 years now – I got an email when another poor customer found it and asked if there was any update. All the issue asks for is for their products to honour the keys the OS says are being pressed.

I think this is a must have for large projects. I wish their search options where like in a search engine though. VS Code is fine for quick edits but feels too basic to handle large codebase.

I actually was wondering if clion is worth the money..

I found that (for me !) it was less useful to invest in learning to do new things, as opposed to investing in being more efficient and / or having my work time more pleasant.

Make your work feel like pleasure and there is no limit to what you can achieve. So maybe don't only think "what can I be better at ?" but also "how can my life be better while I work ?".


A proper training session with a high level debugger for a language I wasn't used to, debuggers often have esoteric interface and "hidden" features, but learning to use them comfortably will make your life so much easier and pleasant.

Buying a license for a good IDE (in my case, intellij). I use vs code 70% of my time but when I need to work on more complex pieces of code or debugging it just change your life.


Buying a proper "high quality" laptop, notably the screen (real matte screen because screw glares, and 2k/3k/4k resolution because you look at text all day so crystal clear font rendering matters a lot).

A great chair with proper support because my back hurting at the end of every day is not ok.

A switchable sitting / standing desk ( https://www.autonomous.ai/product/standing-desk ).

Quality noise cancelling headphones (Bose QC 35).

Unless you buy a cheap brand I don't think the matte / glossy holds up anymore. A good quality screen can have a degree of gloss and still offer superior quality to matte. Crystal clear rendering of fonts is a given. Having said the above, I think there's actually very little competition out there that beats MacBook Pro's etc.

It doesn't hold true for me personnally. I have a true matte screen laptop, and its color absolutely suck (they look like a t-shirt that went in the washing machine way too many times), but it has absolutely no glaring whatsoever and it feels a lot more comfortable.

Same way e-ink is much much more pleasant to read a book in the sun than even the most expansive amoled screen.

I have a MBP, and often end up working in the dark or turning my screen brightness way up just to fight the glare. That said, the only thing matte gives you is diffusion of light, and often at the cost of actually being brighter (but again, more diffuse) than the glossy. Personally, I still prefer matte.

Is it possibly very bright where you sit? Blinds may make your life a lot more pleasant.

I love my Bose QC 35! The problem lately is I can't find any current music that is appealing to me. Alas, I must be getting old.

What do you mean by current music? I have absolutely no idea what kind of garbage is pushed on teenagers these days but a lot of new music is produced.

Anything after '73 is highly suspicious to me

I'd be thrilled to spend $1,000 on any of these if I knew for sure they'd work, but the Expected Value of a tool (or any other investment) falls very fast when I consider how little hard evidence I have to go on /for my particular context/.

For books, the dollar cost is so low that I can buy it, invest 15 minutes in evaluating it, and not feel bad walking away. At least 25% of books are worth the time and cost, which is plenty.

One of the upsides of living in the EU: As a consumer you can, by law, return any* online purchase for 14 days after delivery for a full refund and for any reason. It's pretty great.

*exemptions include event tickets and clearly personalized items

I absolutely understand, which is also why I waited way too long to buy them.

Which one do you doubt and what are your questions ? I would be happy to provide more about my experience so you can decide if it matches your need.

Thanks a million! IDE: How do you estimate which one is going to be best /after/ you invest in the training? I have been really trying to get better at emacs, for example, but it still feels clunky a lot of the time so I only use it for org-mode. I also switched to VS Code and honestly don't see what the hype is about - but does that mean I just need more training? From who? ("If brute force isn't working, use more of it!")

Hardware: I bought a gamer laptop (for use with Ubuntu) recently because it had a GPU, but was shocked to discover that I never got used to the keyboard. Again, I thought that I would get better, but it really hasn't. Fortunately, my Kenesis keyboard /was/ something with a continuously rising learning curve (I'm not hopeless, contra the evidence above!) But now I'm doing a lot of work in Looker which tries to do extraordinary things in the browser, but brings my machine to a crawl. My Mac-using coworker says it's less of an issue for him, but I can't quite bear to drop $2k just for that one application. That said, the value-of-my-time-over-1y calculation suggests I should. But does "good computer" just mean a Mac?

Monitor: What would be a good monitor buying guide? I'm happy with mine now but don't know what any of the specs mean for the future

Chair: This is like the definition of "YMMV" but how would you go about evaluating chairs, esp in the covid era?

Standing desk: I've been procrastinating on this one because while I understand how to measure things, I foresee myself visiting a half dozen diffent sites with different ways of representing the size/specs of their desks and getting pretty overwhelmed. And that would be the hardest thing to return.

Quality noise cancelling headphones: OK I guess I have no excuse here.

Thanks again, you've already forced me to think through several mental blocks and realize they are real but entirely surmountable. Any answers (from anyone) to the questions above would also be appreciated!

Not OP but:

IDE: Use IntelliJ Community Edition (or whatever Jetbrains IDE matches your project). Print out a keystrokes cheat sheet and tape it on your desk. Try to do stuff as a series of snippets, autocorrects, autocompletes and refactorings rather than pounding out the code (this is especially relevant in Java where it can save you like 90% keystrokes).

Example: don't start a new method by writing the new method. Start it by calling it somewhere with arguments, then alt-enter (auto-correct) to create the method, with the types and arguments already filled in.

Chair: get Herman Miller Aeron or Mirra (cheaper), second hand

Standing desk: I use cardboard boxes on a regular desk. I take sitting breaks when I'm thinking but not actively typing. Pomodoros also work (stand 20, sit 5 or 10). Don't use your phone when you sit.

I could add from my experience.

> IDE: How do you estimate which one is going to be best /after/ you invest in the training?

I had put off using a paid IDE for years. However the recommendation for IDEA tools kept growing stronger among my network. So I just took the plunge with their JetBrains (for Java). And what worked for me was I was full on using their IDE. Including running the app/web-server from within IDE. The great thing is they have 30 day trial period and so I learned most of the right way of using it. i.e., keyboard short cuts, navigation etc., Towards the end of the trial period I could sense a clear increase in my productivity. From then on buying full version was easy decision.

With their DataGrip product it was something similar. Good thing is their trial version allows 30 minute sessions. I kept on using it for a month or so until I was annoyed with repeated restarts so bought their full suite of products (the difference between two tools and full suite is something like ~10$/month).

> Laptop. MacBook's keyboard + Trackpad has been a game changer for me. Especially the trackpad. It's incredibly easy for me to navigate using trackpad. From exclusively Linux for ~12 years I've gone full on Apple ecosystem over last 3 years. Now not just Laptop I can also vouch for their bluetooth keyboard, trackpad and iPhone-11, and AirPods Pro.

If you're in EU, every single one of these you can try for 14 days with no engagement, often 30 days if bought on amazon.


This one I probably can't answer you because of how personnal it is. My two best advices are:

- if there is a paying tool where you thought "yes it's cool but I don't really need that I can do without", don't do that and buy it. You will feel a lot better buying a tool that you ultimately don't need much than discovering after 10 years that you were wasting your time that a 100e spend could save you

- try a tool that is diametrically opposed to what you are used to, and force yourself to use it for a while no matter what, see if that different way of thinking works better if or if your original choice works better

Eg if you're a vim guy, don't try emacs or vs code (small steps); but intellij or similar, discover an entirely opposite way of doing things. It may convert you, or you may learn that you were right in your choice. Mostly all such tools have a free trial time. Hard part is to force yourself to use the new tool no matter what for a while.

My eye opener was debugging a hard problem in PHPStorm and noticing that instead of fighting/trying to extract information from its debugger, I was helped and supported by it. Suddenly that tool became my assistant and I couldn't do without, and I have been subscribed to jetbrains ever since (their intellisense is also miles ahead but I don't know if that alone would have converted me)

> I bought a gamer laptop

Ah, I have one too ! Love it ! Used to be Asus ROG serie, now is MSI G-serie. Awesome thing. The keyboard is the worst thing ever made for coding (especially on msi, they're steelseries keyboard, re-arranged for gaming).

I don't know your personnal situation, but if you can afford it and assuming you are a coder, buy a dedicated work laptop. Only thing that matters are screen and keyboard. Lenovo Thinkpad, Dell XPS, that kind of thing. Price in the 1000-2000 range usually. Not having anything but work on it will end up as a bonus and net positive, I promise you that (no distraction).

My current laptop is a thinkpad matte screen with semi mechanical key, if I need to show it to someone it looks terrible (and right out of the 60s), but it's awesome. If you spend more than 5 minutes a week fighting against your keyboard, you need to change it. If you need to "change position" because of the glare, change.

> Monitor

High refresh rate (120/144/240 hz, look for gamers latop they care about that), good color rendering (eg look for srgb screen) and contrast. In this one, opposite the laptop one, gamer's things are actually pretty good because rendering fast and clearly matters a lot there. The contrast is important because you want something that you can see clearly without being at 100% brightness, so the gamers 120hz/hdr compatible screen are a welcomed thing.

Do not think 60hz/75hz is enough, you won't see the difference going up but going down after being used to it makes it clear how better it is. This is a ~300e spend max.

> Chair

The rules are: it should not be an effort to be sitting in a good posture in it, and it should be your natural posture in it. If you don't sit better on it "unless I force myself to sit that way", forget it you won't do it. I bought a "medical/ergonomical" chair meant for people with back problems, for 240e.

> Standing desk

Absolutely agree, I bought one from autonomous during a sale. One thing I can tell you is it's a lie to thing standing is always better, so I would really suggest a switching that can do both. I'm still not sure it makes my life better per se, but I know at least I'm not sitting all day anymore and I don't feel terrible working standing up which is what I scared of.

> Quality noise cancelling headphones

Of the entire list this is probably the first one you should go for (if you can, eg don't need to answer your colleagues every 5 minutes). You will be very surprised by how much many distraction you didn't notice it removes and how much more centrated you become when it's only you, the screen, your mind and maybe some music.

This reminds me of a study I heard about some time back, comparing the highest performers in various trades to the average. Apparently one major predictor is that outlier performers spend more, even as a percentage of income, on their tools.

But don’t let this be an excuse to fall for the toolbox fallacy!

I assume you mean "a poor craftsman blames his tools".

Is there actually any evidence that over-focusing on tools is a common problem? I understand it could be, and we've all probably wasted an hour here and there, but I don't fear drowning in a glass of water just because I've swallowed wrong a few times

I was curious enough to look it up, apparently it's the fallacy of "I can't properly start until I have <tool X>". In that sense I think it's not at all a problem among professionals, but perhaps an easy stumbling block that discourages a lot of amateurs (the study I heard about was actual trades, where going from amateur to professional is less of a hurdle than among creative pursuits).

I might say, "A journeyman makes his tools do the job, a master invests in his tools".

Try soldering without flux and tell me tools don't matter ;/

+1 on the IDE front. I used to do everything on vim and will always find silly errors that an IDE would have found immediately. I switched to rubymine and not only me but everyone on my team appreciates it!

I am glad switching to an IDE worked for you, but for me a well extended and configured Vim setup is the best IDE on earth. Anything an IDE can do, Vim can typically do as well given the right plugin.

The general point was not "use this", but "make sure you check all sides of the dice to find which one is actually the best suited for you".

All good points, but chiming in that I'm actually going the opposite direction on VSCode. I've used VS Professional for 70% of my dev up until recently, but more and more and finding I can do the same things "lighter" with VSCode+appropriate extensions.

Agreed and when I open intellij, it's clear mentally that I'm "working", while ss code makes me mentally feel like "I'm just doing a quick edit", even after 5 hours of coding. It's juste the perfect amount of lightweight but with just all the features I need to be productive.

But at the end of the day there are always those 10+ people projects, or hard debugging case, where a heavy computing-intensive IDE figguring stuff out for you is worth every cent.

Anyway my general point is make sure your tool suits you, if you spend more than 5 minutes fighting against it every day it doesn't, you either need training on it or to change it.

My anecdote for a good IDE license. The JetBrains Go IDE Goland was well prepared for the ~Go 1.13 switch to using Go modules. Everyone on our team that was using VS Code lost a day of work retooling their env. A few of of them converted even.

I think standing desks are a waste of money. setting a timer to get up and stretch your legs every half an hour to hour is the best thing you do. I completely agree on buying a great chair though.

Your list is on point.

I'll admit that I haven't any experience with other brands, but the Bose QC35 IIs changed my work life (especially when I as working in the office).

I really should upgrade my chair and desk.

Love the headphones but the ear pads wear out every 3-6 months

Nice! I was looking for an advice like that one. I am working on a Notebook where the screen is too bright and it's really uncomfortable to work sometimes.

I was lucky enough to get paid for this but I'll say it anyway: learning to speak is the only thing of lasting value I have gotten out of startup accelerators.

I would have gladly drop a few grand to acquire that skill. In fact, I'm considering hiring a speaking coach to improve.

I've historically been a strong written communicator, but it turns out that speaking is very different from writing. In fact, I had thought of myself as a pretty strong speaker due to my experience giving scholarly presentations ... how wrong I was. Academic talks are a different beast altogether.

If you haven't seen Patrick Winston's How to Speak lecture [0], drop what you're doing and watch it now. I'll leave you with a (paraphrased) quote from his lecture: your ideas are like your children and you don't want to send them off into the world dressed in rags.

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Unzc731iCUY

Have you heard of Toastmasters?[0]

I haven't done this myself but I plan to, as I've heard good things about it, and if you live in a big city or metro area there is probably at least one group you could join. Also in many cities outside the US, for example I think Bangkok has several different ones, I know Budapest has at least two. And it's really cheap, AFAICT, in case that's a factor.

It's got a bit of a self-help sheen to it but I knew a couple guys in SF who were involved and they said it was just about public speaking. At which they were much better than I am.

[0]: https://www.toastmasters.org

I was part of Toastmasters for a while. My observation was that the pedagogy is indirect: the premise is that you are thrown into the deep end and start to speak from day 1 and get feedback from others. The problem is, depending on your cohort, you might or might not get useful feedback. Not everyone knows how to help you improve -- they can only supply perceptions. You might get an experienced Toastmaster in the chapter who is also a good teacher, but you also might not.

I found direct pedagogy to be much more useful for me personally. I took an in-person storytelling class and received feedback from an instructor who was also a practitioner. It's much more expensive, but it's still learn-by-doing (had to tell a new story every week for 8 weeks, and classes were 3 hours long each week, and like a workshop, I got real critique (positive and negative) -- so stressful) but I actually learned real technique (stuff like aspects of physical presence, using hooks, different forms of narrative arcs for different genres, etc.) The difference for me was professional feedback, and that difference was appreciable.

This may just be exactly what the doctor ordered. Thanks!

I watched this talk as it was posted on HN a while ago, though I have to say, surprisingly I wasn't very impressed with it for whatever reason. Maybe I have to revisit it to see if I can get more out of it.

I took your advice, dropped everything, and spent the last hour watching Patrick Winston's lecture. What a master class in public speaking! I'll be revisiting this lecture to take in-depth notes.

I'm really glad you enjoyed it :)

It's funny, I had the same reaction as you. I watched it once without taking notes (because it's so damn engaging!) and at the end of it, I suddenly realized that I would need to take notes if I wanted to learn this stuff!

I really don't understand why I wasn't taught this in school. It's borderline criminal.

P.S.: the "fencing in the idea" is something I do all the time now.

May I recommend my newsletter if you're looking to improve technical communication skills : http://tinyletter.com/suyash

You may! Thank you so much -- I'll be following this religiously.

I just watched this video and wanted to return to say thanks for the great suggestion. What an unexpectedly delightful lecture

I’ve just watched this lecture and I can’t thank you enough. It was one of the most useful talks I’ve ever seen.

1. Book: Nonviolent Communication, by Marhsall Rosenberg PhD. Great things are built by teams. The more senior I become, the greatest challenges involve teamwork, and the programming is the easy part. I've read countless leadership and self help books, but the simple concepts in just the first few chapters were absolutely transformative to me.

2. The Fast AI for coders course and associated book. (Maybe this shouldn't be on this list, because it's free, but it's still the absolute best place to learn machine learning from scratch.) This is a book and a set of videos that go over the same material. I work on a team of data scientists, and using information from the first few chapters of this book I've done things that are far beyond the capabilities of my teammates. Unlike most courses, this starts with practical knowledge you can use to do useful work on day 1. Then later it moves into the theory of how it works. You don't need more than high school math to get going.

3. The Coursera Deep Learning Specialization, a set of 5 AI courses. Has a certification you can use on your resume and LinkedIn.

> The Fast AI for coders course and associated book

Is it this course? https://course.fast.ai/

Yep! That's the one. Start today!

I second NVC by Rosenberg. The only problem with reading it is you then realize how violently everyone communicates

Thanks for the recommendation on the FastAI for Coders course/book. I immediately bought it based on the Amazon page and have spent the last hour reading it. I FINALLY feel like a book about AI/ML/Deep Learning gets where I'm coming from, and that's enough to get started and keep me going (at least for now).

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