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Wild Abandon with Perfect Precision

While agency life will often demand a fast-paced working style, sometimes it's important to set aside a few more minutes to prevent typos and ensure a stronger finished product.

Morgan Hughley

When Likes Disappear

While eliminating the Like feature on social media may be a step in the right direction for everyday individual use, companies will now need to reevaluate their social media marketing plans.

Morgan Hughley

Boston Conferences Every Marketer Needs to Attend

When immersed in client work and glued to a desk for long periods of time, it’s possible to become stuck in a pattern of delivering projects that may meet client expectations, but lack the true innovation needed to push the work to the next level. Sometimes it’s not only beneficial to step away from the office for a moment but absolutely necessary in order to refresh the mind and deliver better ideas. Conferences and tradeshows are great opportunities to leave your desk for a few days while still remaining engaged with the marketing world.

Morgan Hughley

The Multitasking Myth (Part One)

I can’t multitask. Well… neither can you.

Dan Zarzycki

Access Your Data Archive

It’s no surprise that the real conglomerate of our personal data is Google. But did you know you can download the data archive? Learn how to access your data.

Morgan Hughley

Influence the Right Way

Companies are relying more and more on influencers to spearhead conversations with their audiences in order to spark interest in their brands. However, in order for an influencer marketing campaign to be successful, it has to be planned out correctly.

Morgan Hughley

How to Go Off the Grid for Two Weeks. For Real.

In modern agency life, it seems impossible to take a vacation without taking work with you, but it can be done. Here’s how I did it.

Meghan Gardner

Flexbox

As a back-end developer, it can be hard to style a web page. CSS is not very intuitive and around every corner there’s a “gotcha.” Flexbox is a fairly new CSS technology that once mastered, can be much easier to use.

Dan Sudenfield

How to (Successfully) Lead Your First Tech Meetup

There are a number of reasons you might want to start a technology meetup. In order to narrow the focus a bit, we’re going to approach this from the standpoint that you work for (or run) a company that is interested in the idea of hosting a meetup.

Brendan Butts

How Do You Fix a $75,000 Mistake?

As a new marketing manager for a practice group within a consulting firm, I had a lot to learn. And a few of those things, I had to learn the hard way, like making an error that cost the company many tens of thousands of dollars.

Meghan Gardner

Developing as a Developer

I’m betting most developers didn’t write their first line of code in school, or on the job. It’s more likely than not that they wrote those first lines of code after encountering a problem that their computer couldn’t solve on it’s own. Maybe that problem was making repetitive changes to a large text document, or like me, they wanted to write an AOL chat bot that would talk on their behalf. Whatever the reason, it’s personal projects that help define a developer and refine their skill set.

I love problem solving and I believe this is a trait I share with most developers. Spending an afternoon refining my solution to a complex coding problem feels no different to my brain than if I spent the afternoon playing Sudoku. There is something alluring about the slipping into the flow of coding to solve a problem and coming out hours later with a solution. You might think this would be exhausting but it’s exactly the opposite. It’s invigorating.

I know many developers that spend just as much time, if not more, working on personal projects and open source initiatives as they do at work. You might have heard that contributing to an open source project (or starting one of your own) is a great resume builder. Why is that? These projects have an intrinsic value that goes well beyond the personal satisfaction of building something with your own hands (or well, fingers).

Just like my first experience with writing code was developing a chat bot for AOL in 1993, much of a developer's experience and expertise comes from the time they spend working on personal projects. Bringing a project from the ideation stage all the way through to completion builds an enormous amount of skills that can be applied to other projects.

Have you ever spent a couple hours working on a problem, growing more and more frustrated as you were unable to find a solution? Perhaps you were trying to get fields in a spreadsheet to calculate correctly, or you were trying to put together a piece of Ikea furniture.

Finally, you have an ‘ah ha’ moment and figure it out. If you had to do the same task a week or two later, would it take you the same amount of time? No, of course not. You worked hard to figure out the solution to this problem, and you have that solution ready the next time it’s needed. It’s unlikely you’ll ever totally forget how you managed to get those spreadsheet values to calculate. Even if you do forget the specifics, you’ll have a jumping off point that has you a few google searches away from a solution.

There are so many solutions that developers accumulate over their careers. Each one of these solutions can be abstracted and applied to a number of situations. The more solutions a developer has enacted, the more solutions they have available to them when they encounter a problem.

Just recently I spent several hours working on a new design for a website I created in 2008. It’s a simple game listing website that has fallen woefully behind the times. Opening it on a mobile device results in a cringe worthy presentation of something I spent days making look great. I wanted to make the site responsive, and I wanted to use the same CSS framework we use at Alipes. I don’t do a ton of front end design work, so I knew this would be an excellent chance to bolster those skills.

I got stuck fairly quickly with my CSS not rendering properly. Eventually I figured out that I wasn’t calling a javascript function that the display was relying on. This wasn’t something I had seen us use at Alipes and I had no solution ready. I did however have a good deal of practice reviewing source code and googling. Most of which I have done for personal projects.

The very next day a fellow developer encountered the exact same issue at Alipes and we solved the problem within minutes. Great success!

Personal coding projects remind us why we started coding in the first place. They give us a chance to spread our wings and explore new languages, new possibilities and new solutions. They are incredibly important, and contribute in large part to a developer's overall skill. If you are a developer and you are looking to improve, make sure you have a personal project to help fan the flames of that exploration.

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