Tim Murphy's .NET Software Architecture Blog

October 2015 Entries

Can Sketch Noting Help You Keep Up With Technology?

WP_20151008_12_28_15_Pro_(2)[1]

I saw a post from someone who had created a Sketchnote of one of Scott Hanselman’s talks.  It was the first time I had seen this as an defined process for note taking.  As I get older and technology moves faster I am finding that it is getting harder to keep up and remember everything I need to learn.  This approach looks like it could be part of the solution.  This post documents my findings as I start to use sketchnoting.

One of the things I noticed as I learned more about sketchnotes is that I have seen this approach used before in industry books.  Specifically the “Head First” series had the look and feel of a sketchnote.  It seems the authority on sketchnotes is Mike Rohde.  I took the time to go through his workbook and videos.  I wish I had started with his handbook.

Not being an artist by any stretch of the imagination I wasn’t sure how difficult learning this skill would be.  I’m always up for a challenge though and I am finding it fun to exercise my drawing skills.  One thing that I have found that makes it easier is to Bing other people’s drawings to get ideas.

As has been mentioned in a number of articles I perused it is difficult to take notes on a tablet.  Most of this has to do with the touch control available in most of the current generation of devices.  Of course your mileage will vary.  I have tried drawing with both my Surface Pro and HP Spectre 360 with varying success.  I think newer generations like the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book will do much better.

I took a look at Moleskines but I like having a bigger drawing surface.  I am finding that a 8 1/2 x 11 graph paper spiral note book is my sweet spot.  It makes getting your fonts right easier and better alignment.  The thinner the pens you are using for your fonts can also make things look better.  The biggest problem with some of these thin pens is that they tend to bleed ink making it harder to keep clean lines, but those are the trade-offs.

Overall I am enjoying the process and it is helping me remember more of what I am working on even if it is mostly just because I am writing more.  It takes more time, but the relaxation factor is also a benefit.  It also gives you an easy way to review what you have been learning which will re-enforce topics so I would say it indeed will help you keep up with technology if implemented regularly.  I would suggest that anyone give this a try and see if it fits your style.  Have fun.

Azure Sketchnote Collection: Pt 1

I recently started sketchnoting to better understand topics with as many new technologies and languages come out every day.  This post is simply a collection of Azure related sketchnotes that I created.  It is meant as a quick overview of some of the key components and concepts around Azure.  I’ll post more in a future post.  I hope at least a few people find them helpful and I invite feedback.

AzureCon 2015

image

Containers

image

DocumentDB

image

Azure Security Center

image

Azure Machine Learning

image

Earn Your Playing Time

FalconsWheaton20150906 (151)

It is aggravating being a coach and a parent watching other parents complain that their child doesn’t get their fair share of playing time.  I could have done this with my own son this season, but instead I told him to work harder and he is now a starter.  Those who show effort and willingness to learn will earn their playing time.  We do our children a disservice by expecting someone to give them a role they haven’t put in the work for or don’t have the skill to perform.

We have to realize this applies to ourselves as well in our business lives.  You need to show to your company that you have value and that they are better off with you as a starter.  As a developer this may mean that you need to spend your own time writing a proof of concept.  Another approach is to ask what areas the company has skill deficiencies and make an effort to gain those skills.  You should also see if you can find a mentor.  Often this will make the road easier and both of you can improve your game.

The more you show that you have the ability and drive to make the company successful the more often they will come to you first for the important projects.  Work hard, make yourself visible and earn your playing time.