Off-Leash

It has taken 17 years for me to write my first blog post. I've been the consummate lurker - always around, but never saying much. It's not that I've never had anything worth saying, it just never ranked that high on my list of things to do. How many people could really benefit from the whole exercise anyway? I never realised that it would take just one to make it seem kinda worthwhile ...

One night, about a month ago now, I was killing some time at Stack Overflow when an interesting question about Symfony2 caught my attention. It was a good question - one of those where you could see the poster had worked hard before digging themselves a hole so deep they needed a hand getting out. So I weighed in with a comment and we started working on his problem.

The level of expertise demonstrated by the poster was not particularly unusual - he had a fairly good idea about what he wanted to achieve, but the path he had taken so far was not going to lead anywhere. His choices showed that while he was thinking logically and doing a LOT of reading, he wasn't well enough equipped to really understand it all. But, his attitude was right, so I invited him to a chat room and pulled the problem to pieces for him before handing him a possible solution.

A couple of days later he got in touch via email to thank me again and offer help in his area of expertise should I ever need it, and again a couple of days after that with a really well-planned roadmap for his project which was light years ahead of the route he started with. He had taken elements of the solution I gave him, and combined them with some really solid ideas of his own. Crucially, he had realised that he needed to get a good foundation of programming fundamentals under his belt before moving any further forward - which is exactly what he proceeded to do. Professionally, he's growing in leaps and bounds.

This guy is incredibly passionate about programming, and is excited by syntax, patterns and techniques in a way that only another code geek could understand. We correspond fairly regularly, and he continues to express his deepest, heartfelt gratitude - and it's this that got me thinking that maybe it would be worthwhile to write a litte now and again. If one chance meeting at Stack Overflow could have such a positive outcome, maybe others could find something of value if I started blogging.

So here I am - packing a few odds and ends into my own little corner of cyberspace and we'll see what comes of it.

If you find something useful here, it's thanks to Adib and his contagious enthusiasm.

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