Help me to help you

Published May 09, 2018

One frequent question i get asked is something like this 'I am doing an Android project , can you help me'. And frankly ,even if i am confident i am a coder with a good track record , i am not confortable answering Yes.

Why? Because as an experience coder i know that a problem well presented is 50% solved. And that is not the case here. I dont know if its about a 1 to 1 session , a freelance collaboration. I also dont know if the mentee has coding skills or he just need someone to implement his idea.

My advice is to present in one line who you are , ( your position , your skills ) , and what kind of assistance you need. Then based on this you can optimize the collboration before the meter starts. I see a significant part of the audience are independant people , many students actually and tight an budget. To make the best out of the session , i think it makes senses you try to indentify first topic where you are not good enough , and write down specific questions. Even you could ask for some workshop on some topics to isolate learing concepts from implementing them in an application ( because some time will be wasted on things like deployment , compilation ... ) Even for a 1 to 1 session , having a STRATEGY is important to optimize costs and make collaboration more enjoyable.

The worst scenario i have see is someone working on a partly coded application by sometone else , which was not working , which he did not understand the code ( there where new concepts for him like concurrent programming ) , and on top of that he had a tight deadline. This is in my view the typical 'head for failure scenario' because there is just no variable you can adjust. ( time ,budget , difficulty level )

Had he time i would have said :Ok , you dont understand multithreading , let's code something simple from scratch so that you can understand the concept and object from this application ( which is buggy and does not work so no way i can do that directly on the app because you will pay a hefty bill and will be disappointed )

Had he budget i would tell him: Ok let's spend 1-2 day fixing this for your deadline but ... this was obviously too expensive.

Had he written the code 100% himself he could at least understand what he has done and be more concise in the 'what's next to do'

So in summary , my advice is have a strategy , prepare your session , dont let time bind all variables together so that no one can help you anymore.

Have a nice day

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