Thursday, 27 August 2009

Podcasts for designers and developers

A good way to learn something while you would otherwise be bored commuting or doing the dishes is to listen to podcasts by other designers and developers. There aren't a huge number devoted entirely to Flash, but you can also learn a lot by listening to how people do things in other technologies, so here are some good podcasts grouped by theme. All these podcasts are free; the best way to listen to them is to subscribe in iTunes. You can find most of these podcasts on the iTunes music store, or failing that in iTunes go to "Advanced / Subscribe to Podcast" and paste in the feed URL.
  1. Specifically focussed on the Flash Platform, there is only really The Flex Show and (I'm guessing for a limited time) also Summer of Flash. We have a great blogging community, so there should really be more. For Rich Internet Applications in general, there is also RIA weekly.
  2. The .NET world is frankly spoiled for decent podcasts, with Elegant Code, Hanselminutes, Herding Code, .NET Rocks!, Spaghetti Code and The Thirsty Developer. I normally skip the epsiodes devoted to the minutiae of .NET and listen to the more general chats about programming techniques, best practices etc.
  3. For Java, I've only really come across Java Posse, but it is excellent, and covers a broad range of topics, not just Java.
  4. Boagworld is really the one and only listenable podcast I've found about web design - like Flash this is a topic that I thought would generate more content.
  5. About programming in the general, there is the excellent Stackoverflow podcast with Jeff Atwood and Joel Spolsky, two very smart and funny developers.
Well, that's all the ones on my battered old iPod - I recommend checking a few of them out. Any suggestions for me? Stick them in the comments...

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Are you a Flash outlier?

Just finished Malcom Gladwell's book Outliers (in audio form - you think I have time to read a book!?). The book is about success, and how external factors converge to give some people an advantage for success in a particular field. The best example in the book is the fact that in the late 1960s Bill Gates was probably the only teenager in the world to have unlimited access to a computer terminal, thus giving him a massive head-start on everyone else his age. So this got me thinking - what factors give one Flash designer or developer an advantage over another? Obviously no single factor can determine success, but I think the examples listed below don't hurt.
  1. Age. What's the ideal age to be a successful Flash developer? From my observations, most the well known developers in the blogosphere and conference circuit are between about 32-38, meaning they were born between about 1971-1977. This is also the age range of most the CEOs, CTOs and Creative Directors of Flash shops, that I have met. Why is this the case? Well, these people were in their mid-twenties when Flash became popular. They had the skills and the life experience neccessary to grab chance, and establish themselves as experts.
  2. Mix of design and development skills. In the early days, there weren't really designers and developers in the Flash world, there were just "Flashers", so to have a mix of both skills was a definitely advantage. I'd argue that Flex changed all that, and largely for the worse.
  3. Able to work in Western Europe or North America. Flashers seem to congregate in certain geographical areas, such as California, South East England and Toronto. While there are Flashers in many other places, these areas are a great place to start your career because it's much easier to find work.
  4. Education. Happily I don't think it makes a huge difference where or even if you went to college. Flash is a real meritocracy in this respect.
  5. Able to write English well. Many of the most well-known Flashers are probably not the greatest developers out there, but they are able to communicate what they know effectively and this brings it's own rewards.
Anyone else read this book? Can you think of any more factors that come into play? Suggest them in the comments!