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The people in programming

  1. How to Win Friends and Influence People
    • by Dale Carnegie
  2. The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity
    • by Carlo M. Cipolla
  3. Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions
    • by Dan Ariely
  4. Thinking, Fast and Slow
    • by Daniel Kahneman
  5. Getting to Yes: Negotiating an Agreement Without Giving In
    • by Roger Fisher, William Ury, Bruce Patton
  6. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
    • by Susan Cain
  7. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life
    • by Mark Manson
  8. The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home
    • by Dan Ariely
  9. Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High
    • by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler, Stephen R. Covey
  10. Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depends On It
    • by Chris Voss
  11. Becoming a technical leader: an organic problem-solving approach
    • by Gerald M. Weinberg
  12. Exercising influence: A Guide for Making Things Happen at Work, at Home, and in Your Community
    • By B. Kim Barnes
  13. Polarity Management: Identifying and Managing Unsolvable Problems
    • By Barry Johnson

On being apolitical as a conference organisor

For the past 24 hours I have been told that, as a conference organisor:

  • I should be careful about getting involved in US politics
  • I am supposed to stay out of politics
  • I shouldn’t try to be “politically correct”
  • I should remain apolitical
  • etc…

I am tired of hearing that over and over again. So here is my answer:

  • When I show compassion for my speakers, is seen as me being political,
  • When I want to invite a wide range of speakers with different backgrounds, is me trying to be “politically correct”,
  • When I say ‘Black Lives Matter’ and people think I am making a political statement,
  • When I want to support a good cause such as @BlackGirlsCode by asking to donate, is viewed as me “not being apolitical”,

then there is something wrong with people thinking I am being political, not with me.

Being apolitical means: not interested or involved in politics.

  • How am I supposed to stay out of politics, when my speakers are affected by the protests in the United States?
  • How am I supposed to ignore United States politics, when Belgian politicians started using their tactics, such as ‘The war on drugs’ to get votes?
  • How am I supposed to say apolitical things, when they have abused the language I speak for their political agenda?
  • How am I supposed to stay apolitical, when politicians tap into my hopes and dreams?
  • How am I supposed to be apolitical when they try to tap into my fears?

If I have to stay away from politics, then politics has to stay away from me. Politics abuses my emotions, my values, my language, my gender, my culture, my identity for its own gain. There is no boundary it is not willing to cross, so I don’t know how or where to draw a line anymore.


Politics is about us, our community, our lives. I am making a stand. Why aren’t you?

Pro-Con-Fix list, a simple tool for visualising a trade-off

There is no better feeling than an well planned meeting ending on a high note. It is true, I find that an amazing feeling. The problem is that it happens very rarely. Most of my meetings are utterly frustrating, turning into endless discussions instead of constructive conversations. More often than not I walk away without knowing what was decided (if anything was decided at all) or how to proceed moving forward with a clear overview of actionable steps. Often those discussions go hand in hand with focusing on one negative aspect that we would have to deal with in our code, without even talking about all the positive implications this would have on our system.

The idea of having to do that for the rest of my career was pretty depressing. I just couldn’t accept that this was the way I would feel about meetings for the rest of my career. It is not possible to avoid all meetings and I don’t want to be frustrated every time I come out of one. So I went looking for a better way. It has been a long and slow process, with many experiments that did not go well, but I am starting to get the hang of it.

Are your lights on by Gause and Weinberg

I loved reading Gerald Weinberg’s Becoming a technical leader, so when trying to select a new book, I looked at his bibliography. I came across this very short (129 pages) book on problem solving. I picked it up because it was so small, but I did not expect much from it. I was wrong. It is a very funny, well written book with excellent advice for anyone dealing with solving problems regularly. It also has some very nice heuristics to ask yourself when you are talking to the business and trying to understand them!

Becoming a technical leader by Gerald Weinberg

It is time for my first book review of 2020!

A while back someone told me that they saw potential in me to take on a leadership function, but I needed to learn to communication in different styles. Although I appreciated the input, I had one problem: I don’t know any other communication style than my current one… Even worse, I don’t fully understand my current communication style and the impact it has on different people.

So, I started reading some different books on communication, but I just couldn’t motivate myself to keep reading it. Then I remembered a friend of mine talking about Becoming a technical leader and how great they thought the book was. I can only say one thing: they were right. Every chapter has a Question section with thoughtful questions so you can start looking into who you are and how you lead. Besides that, it offers some wonderful advice on how to be a better leader, including how you can communicate with other people.