I just learned how to learn

Few months ago, a friend of mine advised me to take part of a refreshing online course named “How to Learn” on the worldwide Coursera platform. The MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) concept was familiar to me but I didn’t have the chance to explore it very well. He told me how it would’ve helped him when he was at school. At this exact moment, I knew this 4-hours a week course could benefits my current studies (and everything else!).

 

Last week, I finished the course with so many new concepts that I can easily apply them all to my day-to-day tasks/responsibilities. The course is written and animated by Dr. Barbara Oakley and Dr. Terrence Sejnowski, Professors of Engineering at the University of California in San Diego. Both teaches us several concepts about our brain and how we should use it.

 

In this course, I’ve learned several concepts. I want to share with you some of them:

  • Sleep is important. It eliminates toxins from your brain and helps you to master new materials.
  • You can easily stop procrastination by targeting the right cues and stop them.
  • It’s so easy to learn new materials by grouping chunks of ideas and recall them instead of trying to retain everything.
  • To create long-term memory, you have to activate the diffuse mode by doing something relaxing after a focused moment.
  • In an exam, starts with harder problems then go to the easier ones; we need to reward our brain before using it efficiently.
  • By seeing the big picture of the material to learn, it’s easy to absorb and retain it.

If you have at least 4 hours, for 4 weeks, take a quick look at the FREE How to learn course. It’s instinctive, easy and made to be very understandable (they teach exactly as their materials).

 

When completed, you can order a certificate (around 45$) and put it on your desk at the office 😉

 

Lead by example

Lead by example

I used to admire many of my acquaintances and friends for their ambitions, dreams, personalities and specially their skills. I love the way they create, they interact each other and how they manage things.

 

I spent the last years focusing on how I could be as good as they are with their lifes. And then I realized I was wrong. I was wrong trying to imitate the way I could handle my life’s events. I was also wrong in how I could be better at what I do for living. I realize I had something that few of my acquaintances have, a passion for the leadership.

 

Now, the only thing I understand from them is that the leadership is based on examples. How you handle a hard situation, how you fix things up, how you manage a crisis, how you see failure in adversity, how you motivate your team when you face major issues.

 

You have to be a person others want to follow.

 

Here are 10 ways to lead by example I recommend you to apply to your life :

  1. Take responsibility. Blame costs you your credibility, keeps team members on the defensive and ultimately sabotages real growth.
  2. Be truthful. Inaccurate representation affects everyone. Show that honesty really IS the best policy.
  3. Be courageous. Walk through fire (a crisis) first. Take calculated risks that demonstrate commitment to a larger purpose.
  4. Acknowledge failure. It makes it OK for your team to do the same and defines failure as part of the process of becoming extraordinary.
  5. Be persistent. Try, try again. Go over, under or around any hurdles to show that obstacles don’t define your company or team.
  6. Create solutions. Don’t dwell on problems; instead be the first to offer solutions and then ask your team for more.
  7. Listen. Ask questions. Seek to understand. You’ll receive valuable insights and set a tone that encourages healthy dialogue.
  8. Delegate liberally. Encourage an atmosphere in which people can focus on their core strengths.
  9. Take care of yourself. Exercise, don’t overwork, take a break. A balanced team, mentally and physically, is a successful team. Model it, encourage it, support it!
  10. Roll up your sleeves. Like Alexander the Great leading his men into battle, you’ll inspire greatness in your company.

Source: http://www.soulcraft.co/essays/lead_by_example.html

What does developer really needs in a day job

These days, being a developer requires more than programming skills. It requires leadership, desire to learn, good social skills and way more. However, on the other side, developer asks for more than a normal day job responsibilities.

I am going to share with you some of my thoughts based on my own experience and a post I sent on reddit few days ago. Those needs don’t represent every single developer’s needs in the market but target many of them current working for a company or looking for one.

 

1. Gratitude from teammates/superiors

Gratitude doesn’t only need to come from superiors. Developers need to receive and offer gratitude from/to every colleague that collaborate with them. It shows how they appreciate working with you and it shows how you appreciate working with them.

Developers need to feel the effort they put into work is appreciated and gratified. They need to perceive the extra hours they put into an exciting project is worthing it. That isn’t complex at all; good work, congratulation, well done…

Gratitude can also be offered as compensations, new responsibilities or bonuses.

 

2. A decent role and responsibilities

Developers need responsibilities as for almost everyone else in a day job. However, they need to be involved early in a task in order to suggest and share their opinions. Some of them wouldn’t need as much as the majority, but still, they will ask for minor responsibilities according to their professional aspirations.

A role can be as small as responsible for keeping a framework up to date. It doesn’t need to be a wide company head office position. My definition of a developer role in a day job company boils down to be involved in the whole task process from brainstorm to delivery. It’s that simple.

Also, developers deserved to participate to the company success by contributing to it from near or far.

 

3. Feedbacks

Oh well! Feedbacks! If you have few minutes, you can read on one of my last posts, I’m a huge fan of feedback. I love giving and receiving feedbacks. Not only from my superiors/colleagues, even in my personal life with my friends.

Feedbacks are important in every aspect of developers work. They encourage and motivate developers to be better and to prove themselves to everyone else. Whether positive or negative, feedbacks need to be part of your company. You have to give as much negative as positive feedbacks. You can’t, I repeat, can’t only give positive feedbacks to any developer. This demonstrates how you’re accepting anything from anyone. This is bad, you know.

Negative feedbacks absolutely need to come with facts and, the more important, solutions. You can’t throw them without assisting the target with appropriate fixes. It’s called bad management.

 

4. Time to explore new technologies

These days, there is around 10 new development frameworks coming out each week. You couldn’t survive as a top company without research and explore new technologies. By giving some time a week to your development team, you’ll push your business into a new stage you’ve always dreamt of.

This could be as simple as a 2-hours break each Fridays afternoon, to look for new technologies you can implement in your company. This is something some of the developers are doing outside of business hours, however, give them some business hours and they will absolutely prone to bring you new things that will tempt your clients.

 

5. Option to telecommute

We all had nightmares with freelancers working outside of the office. Yes, this can easily be a nightmare. But in a day job position for a developer, the option to telecommute is a plus that could make your developers thrilled to work for you. In 2014 in the UK, they had the highest rate of home workers with 13.9%. This is pretty huge. Whether for family or location purposes, you should always give it a try. Most of the developers will be more productive at home.

Even if it’s only a day per week, not everyone will take this opportunity, but the ones that will take it will be grateful for that.

 

6. A decent number of colleagues with same/greater level of experience/skill

Have you ever played a sport with a friend who has way more skills than you? It’s the same analogy in a development team. Best developers are looking for better developers to exchange with, it’s that simple.

In general, developers will be more challenged and entertained working with same/greater level of experiences/skills colleagues.

 

7. Decent hardware/software

I can’t miss this one. All developers have hardware/software preferences. Whether is OS, keyboard, screens, IDE choices, each developer has specific needs. All developers will be more likely to perform with an optimized environment, specially with their own needs. (I’m certainly not the only one thinking like that, see my Reddit post)

 

Well, those points aren’t for everyone. But every time you publish job offers on the web, don’t forget that many of the developers have specific needs. Several of them would love to have a significant role, interesting responsibilities and of course gratitude.

Think about it, we are very good at developing new apps, but we can be more than happy and motivated with a bit of those ingredients. It’s not that complicated.

The day I discovered Personal Branding

My introduction to personal branding

Few months ago, I attended a local PHP meetup with a friend of mine about personal branding. I asked one of my friend at the meetup few minutes before it begins: “What is exactly the personal branding ?”. None of us were able to answer this question.

Then, Frederic Harper started to talk since he was the main speaker. He got through the subject like if he was representing the board of directors of the personal branding crew. We were now able to answer the question and we wanted to know more. Great talk @fharper !

The book

After the presentation, he mentioned he wrote a book about it and I wanted to learn more on being an influent developer. Well, I bought his book and I just finished it today. I strongly suggest you to buy this book — either the ebook version or the paper one — this is going to light you up about this great journey of being successful, specially in development environment.

How-to create a new custom module in Magento

Hey! It’s been a long time since I wrote a technical post! I just got a new job opportunity and it took all my time off.

I’ve been thinking about writing something on Magento since I’m currently learning it. This gonna be quite basic but there it is.

 

How to create a new basic Magento module

 

1. Create your module configuration file

First of all, you need to create some folders in your local/ directory, under app/code.

folders

For the creation, you only need to create the module configuration file, located in the etc/ folder, in your module and you fill this file with the following base code :

[wpgist id=”744ab0019c90bc83d29f”]

 

2. Activate your module

You have to activate the module in your Magento configuration files, located in your app/etc/ folder.

Name it NewNamespace_NewModule.xml (to easily find it if needed) and insert the following code in it :

[wpgist id=”6d963372529c472b0e95″]

It’s that simple ! You can easily enable or disable the module by changing the <active> from true to false.

 

You have now an activated empty module in your Magento installation. You can now conquer the world ! I’m kidding but you can now create new modifications for your store without impacting the core of Magento. It is necessary to not modify the core files in case of any updates or a security patches.

 

I strongly suggest you to take a look at these Magento expert bloggers, for any questions :

Where are the opening hours ?

Last Saturday, I was looking for the closest and nicest cheese factory for a nice diner. I found it through Google Maps… not that surprising. I got into their website. Its design was not that bad and the UX could be way better. However, I could easily saw that their cheeses were beautiful and looked delicious.

The first step of being able to eat a delicious meal this night was done. The next one was to know if I could make it before it closes (remember, we were Saturday night). The answer wasn’t that easy to find.

 

Why are you hiding the main and the more important information in a little footer menu item ?

God, It took me almost 15 minutes to finally realize that the store was close and I had to go for another store. It’s so easy to put in front page the opening hours. We will easily locate you and purchase products without frustrations.

 

Please, make your opening hours visible. That’s the only thing I’m asking for.

– A desperate customer.

How to let WordPress get_term_by() to return the right term

Today at work, I spent 30 minutes to fix a minor issue on a WordPress site. I wasn’t able to get the appropriate term ID for a specific language.

 

I was trying to fetch a term, based on the current language (with WPML extension). Everytime I use the get_term_by() WordPress’s function, it didn’t return me the current language term ID. It keeps returning me the default language term ID.

 

I found the solution on a WPML forum post written by Marco. I just wanted to let you know how I fixed it.

 

I just disabled the WPML’s adjust_id functionality in order to let me choose exactly which term language I’m looking for.

Here is the gist :

[wpgist id=”4c0deb41ec1db9c40c8f”]

 

Let me know if you’re experiencing similar issues.

Source: https://wpml.org/forums/topic/get_term_by-not-working-as-expected-cant-get-term-on-another-language/

4 little steps to create an habit

Habits are powerful. They can either make us extremely successful, or they can utterly destroy us. The difference is in what type of habit we chose to learn. If you’re in the habit of getting up early every morning and exercising before you head to work, you have a good habit. However, if you wake up every morning and the first thing you reach for is a cigarette, you have a bad (and very unhealthy) habit.

 

So, what exactly is a habit and how can you create good habits?

 

A habit is a behavior that you develop through repetitive actions. Once you start acting on that behavior, it usually becomes a subconscious action. When your brain receives a certain trigger, and you start acting a certain way because of that trigger, you have a habit. Think of the cigarette example in the paragraph above. Once the habit is developed, most people who smoke don’t consciously reach for the cigarette. Their brains are already moving their body in the direction of the cigarette. That’s a habit.

 

Many people have heard that it takes twenty-one days to develop a habit. Fortunately, that’s not true according to the article The Fastest Way to Make Real Change on Oprah’s website. Let’s look at a few easy steps you can follow that will help you build good habits that’ll last a lifetime.

 

Step 1

Think about the habit (behavior) you want to create. Why do you want to form that habit? Hopefully it will benefit you in some way. For example, you might want to develop a habit of going to the gym every day. You’ll obviously receive health benefits from going to the gym, you’ll feel better and you’ll look better.

 

Step 2

Begin practicing the behavior you want to develop into a habit. Repetition is the key to developing a habit and it’s best to repeat the desired behavior at the same time every day. That’ll make the habit form quicker and easier. Just prior to acting out the desired behavior, associate the time of the day and the behavior with a trigger. For example, if you want to go to the gym every day after work, leaving work will become that subconscious trigger once the habit is formed.

 

Step 3

Pay attention to any behaviors that might prevent you from following through with your habit. Again, if you want to go to the gym but it’s cold outside, making an extra effort to ignore the cold and getting to the gym will help keep you on the right track towards forming your habit.

 

Step 4

Reward your desired behavior. When you’re finished at the gym, take a moment to think about how you feel. You feel energized, motivated, and upbeat. Those are all rewards for going to the gym. As your gym habit forms you’ll begin to crave those rewards.

 

There it is. Just a few easy steps that you should follow consciously for a while and soon you’ll notice yourself thinking less and less about “programming” that behavior. As you think less about the behavior, your subconscious mind will take over more of the hard work of making sure the action happens. Once you’re there … congratulations! You’ve formed a new habit!

 

Resources quoted in the text
http://www.oprah.com/spirit/The-Fastest-Way-to-Make-Change-How-to-Change-Your-Life

Please: Listen, Question and Provide Feedback

Since I’m getting out of my comfort zone by doing challenging things every day, I’ve learned some important tips I want to share with you.

As part of the degree I am studying for at night, I discovered three concepts that need to be put into practice at your work and in your entire life.

These concepts aren’t just for directors or CEOs; they are for everyone that needs to develop a better communication method which contributes to a healthy environment. These three actions are the keys to leadership and management and will contribute to being a kick-ass leader who motivates and supports your team, because without roots, you can’t go very far.

 

Listen

Don’t listen just to listen. Adopt the active listening. This is the greatest way to prove to the speaker you understand and you respect his or her words. Don’t interrupt the conversation too often; give the speaker the time to clearly express his ideas and propositions.

 

Do it right… The speaker will have more chance to listen more effectively the next time you say something.

 

Question

Ask the right questions. By doing the first step right—by listening actively—you’re most likely going to ask good questions. Ask yourself if this question worth it before asking it.

 

And, yes, please, ask open questions. It’s better for everyone to have an open conversation that leads to better communication and creates opportunity to generate new content.

 

Provide feedback

I think this is the most important point. Without any feedback, your partners, colleagues, friends and even your dog can’t know if they are doing the right or the wrong thing. We all need to get and to give positive and negative feedback in our communication with other. This feedback guides us down the difficult path of success.

 

Listen, question and provide feedback.

These are the main dynamics you should consider and apply to your day-to-day communications.

Looking for the Best Web Hosting?

You’ve been assigned the task of building a new website for your sister or simply searching for the best web hosting for your new and awesome App you’re currently working on. At the outset, you always have to ask yourself one question How can I find the right one according to my requirements?

 

Very important fact you need to know: Web hosting is like a girlfriend/boyfriend, perfection doesn’t exist.

 

If you’re in the quest of the perfect one, you’re gonna hit a wall and realize that you’re gonna have to prepare yourself before proceeding further.

 

At the moment, finding an affordable web hosting package is not very difficult. Here is my point of view regarding what to consider while searching for a great web hosting:

 

First things first, define your requirements

Here are some questions, you should first ask yourself before making a decision.

  1. Should I host a single or multiple websites?
  2. Do I need a huge plan?
  3. Will I be able to maintain a web hosting server?
  4. Is it for a client? If so, should the client be the owner of the web hosting or not?
  5. Do I really need it?
  6. Can I host my site at another one?

 

Is your new hosting popular?

Nope, we aren’t in high school. It may seem ridiculous, but it is really important to consider the answer of the following question: Is your selected web hosting famous and up to the mark?

I’ve already hosted a number of my clients on Linode VPS provider few years back and I really loved it. However, with the passage of time, the competition is becoming harder and harder and new companies offer better plan and implement new high tech dashboards you’ve ever day dreamt of. Since few months, I have been hosting my new clients on DigitalOcean, which is really nice and the community is awesome.

Don’t forget the master rule, perfection doesn’t exist. My best choice mayn’t be the best for your requirements.

 

Where is it located?

Ping latency is very important in this era of technology. As of this NY Times article, “an eye blink is just too long to wait”. You have to pick a server that is located not very far from your target visitors’ city in order to increase the chances of keeping your visitors attracted.

 

Does it have a decent dashboard?

You absolutely need a user friendly and decent dashboard to manage your hosting settings. Make sure to try it before proceeding further in your process.

Try it, feel it, consume it. You need to love it. It’s going to be your master tool for you as well as your potential clients.

 

Why they charge me hourly and not monthly?

Hourly plan is very useful if you’re gonna having an expendable or temporary scalable website. You can easily increase your network bandwidth or anything else on the go.

Eventually, it’s all the same, but consider going to an hourly server if you’re not sure about it. It’s trendy these days.

 

Why the hosting specs is not that important anymore?

Because every company offers the same specs. If you’re hosting your websites on a limited disk space plan or limited domain name parking, please go outside and search for something better and state-of-the-art. However, you must still consider the specs, for example the bandwidth speed/limit, RAM etc.

 

Finally, in 2015, choosing a new web hosting is more than the specs.
Trust your first impression and your feelings when you visit the company website for the first time.
Ask your colleagues, friends or even your local community. Nothing is better than someone else’s recommendation. (“Hey, try this hosting company; the helpdesk assistance is so fast and great”)

Please share your thoughts on your website hosting company!

 

Here are some of my favorite or soon-to-be host companies: