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Celebrating 100 Posts

This is post number 100 on my website! To celebrate I am going to take a look back at my previous posts. My prior posts add up to approximately 70,000 words or 250 pages – that is the size of a book! At approximately one hour per page that equals approximately six weeks of full-time effort, which sounds suspiciously low. (Certainly the more technical articles or the ones requiring more thought often average more than one hour per page.) Creating that much content might seem impressive or daunting starting out, but from my vantage point I see that it is just the natural outcome of consistently writing articles one at a time over a period of two and a half years. This corresponds to what I have heard from authors who have published multiple books: the key to completing a book is to write a little each day. As long as you are always making progress, you will eventually finish.

I am going to start my retrospective by listing my top seven posts that have received the most traffic (page views):

  1. Running WordPress 2.0 under IIS: This is one of the first articles I wrote. It provides detailed, technical how-to information on a topic that has been of continued interest. As a result, this post has received the most traffic by far – double that of the second-place finisher.
  2. Strategies for Effective Code Reviews: I thought and worked hard on the ideas that went into this post so I am happy to see it occupying the number two position.
  3. How to Achieve Peak Performance: This article was written for one of Problogger’s group writing projects, and I am sure that its position in this list is due in part to the extra links and traffic the post received as a result.
  4. Overtime Considered Harmful: Perhaps one of my more provocative articles, at least with employers. Given that I feel that some common I.T. industry practices such as overtime are counter-productive or discourage the development of expertise in software development, I am happy to see this particular article appear in the top seven.
  5. How to do Root Cause Analysis: Slow and steady wins the race. This article did well but not great when it first came out. Over time, however, the traffic it has been receiving has been increasing, and it has gradually earned enough views to put it in the number five position.
  6. Top Five Essential Practices for Developing Software: This post was also an entry in one of Problogger’s group writing projects. While not the most insightful article, I feel it is a good starting point for juniors. I do feel the article is a good reflection of my underlying motivation to help others grow into better software developers.
  7. Advanced Uses of Java 5 Enums: This is a very technical how-to article on a narrow topic. I was certainly surprised to find this in the top seven: it beat out a number of other technical posts on topics I thought would be of more interest.

As I looked back at my prior 99 articles there were a number that stood out for a variety of reasons:

  • How to Write Good Unit Tests : This article was used as reading material for an university computing science course (UBC CS310).
  • Are You a Rule Maker or a Rule Breaker?: I still find the insight I relayed in this article to be useful for myself today and I really liked the diagram I produced for the article. I would like to use more diagrams and graphics in my articles when appropriate, but producing them is sometimes difficult and usually time-consuming.
  • EnvGen - the Environment-Specific File Generator: I have created a number of open source software programs that are available (for free) from my Software page. Of these, I am the most pleased with EnvGen, which not only scratches an itch I had at work, but has received kudos from other coworkers who have found it equally useful.
  • How to Handle Null Values in Code: This post generated a surprising amount of discussion and debate – I did not think the topic would be that contentious. I always wanted my site to be a place where intelligent and useful discussions take place, so I was pleased to see it occur in this case. Of particular note is one comment by El Gregorio which convinced me that I was incorrect in using Java asserts for precondition checks. While I want others to benefit from my site, I also treasure the opportunities I get to learn and grow, so thanks to El Gregorio for that comment.
  • My Vision for IT: In this article I articulate my vision for what I want to achieve with my website. Even though I wrote it two years ago, it is still mostly on target. I have recently been doing some reflection on my values, vision, and mission for myself as a software developer and have refined or altered some of what I mention in the article. I hope at some point soon to produce an article to share my most recent thoughts.
  • Error Handling and Reliability: This article and its predecessor Fail Fast or Degrade Gracefully? nicely demonstrate how I have been learning and evolving my understanding and viewpoint over time. Learning and growing as professionals is an important theme of my website, so I am pleased to have some articles that demonstrate my continuing growth.

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