Archive for the 'technology' Category

5 Tips to Help Improve Developer Productivity

Recently I started thinking about some things I could do to improve productivity when developing - most of them are pretty obvious but can be easily forgotten.

1. Eliminate Distractions

Software engineering is a discipline where train of thought and flow are really important and anything that breaks these affect productivity. When you  sit down to complete a task try to eliminate as many distractions as possible - close your email client & twitter client, turn off all notifications relating to twitter, facebook, google + etc. and try to get into a flow for a block of time. I find the Pomodoro Technique is a good way to keep focused. The Pomodoro Technique is simply:

  • Choose a task to be accomplished
  • Set the Pomodoro timer to a certain length of time (for me it is 45 minutes)
  • Work on the task until the Pomodoro rings
  • Take a short break (5 minutes is OK)
  • Every 4 Pomodoros take a longer break

2. No podcasts or talk radio

For a long time I used to listen to podcasts or talk radio shows - I was convinced that they were just playing in the background and not affecting how quickly I got tasks done. Over a period of time I started to become conscious of my behavior when listening to them and found that if when a podcast referred to a subject that interested me I would find myself on some webpage relating to the subject finding more information. Instead I have created playlists on Grooveshark and stations on and have replaced podcasts with music which helps to keep my mind on task.

3. Document Technical Solutions

As software developers we spend our days figuring out technical problems, when we implement the solution it feels so familiar that it feels unforgettable - this is usually not the case. On numerous occasions I have come across the same technical problem 6 months or a year after I encountered it the first time and while it is usually quicker to figure it out the second time around it still takes time so when you come across a technical problem you should document the steps you took to solve it.  It might be a good idea to start a blog to help build your profile. If there are small snippets of code that you think you will reuse on a regular basis you can just use a site like to keep them easily accessible.

4. Focus

Being productive at a particular task is only one part of overall productivity - ensuring you do the highest priority tasks is probably more important. Ensure you have a list of tasks that are sorted by priority so that when you get one task finished you know the next task you move onto is the next highest priority. There are always certain tasks you enjoy doing and others that you don’t - try to complete the tasks that you don’t enjoy first or at least don’t leave them til last.

5. Environment & Hardware

“A carpenter with a blunt saw” - I have felt this way a number of times over the last few years where I have found myself using hardware that was barely capable of running a web browser  and development tools that were more of a hindrance than a help. The price of hardware has dropped significantly over the last few years and many of the best tools for  development are now free so figure out what are the best tools to get your job done and try to make sure you have them. If you are more productive with 2 monitors (most people are) buy a second monitor or a third one if you find that better. Ensure your development machie has sufficient RAM and a decent processor. Ensure the development tools you are using are the right tools for the technology you are working with. And finally ensure you have a decent sized desk with a decent office chair.

These are just some tips that have helped me - any other tips?

Videos from the Web 2.0 Summit 2010

I am just making my way through some of the videos from the Web 2.0 summit - brilliant line up of Speakers and topics. This is the full playlist from the conference:

GTUG - Dublin October 2010

I have joined the group GTUG . I have only have missed one meeting so far from three. The meetings are held the last Tuesday of the month and in the impressive Google Offices in Barrow Street. What do I hope to gain from joining the group:

  • Get to meet some developers from Google and other companies that are working on different Google API’s and to listen to them share their experiences.
  • See what is new, up and coming in Google, Android etc.
  • See the famous offices and get some Pizza….

Thoughts so far:

It is extremely interesting to listen to the Google developers and the to hear the rational and way of thinking behind some of the API’s that they work with and write. This week Google App Engine was being discussed and it fairly fights its corner as a one stop shop for hosting and developing your application on. The most impressive things about App Engine were it’s performance and cost for a heavy usage application, read the humble indie blog post.

The guys from hittheroad demoed their application with is a really nice way to find your way around dublin, I will be downloading the Android version when it comes out, I have a feeling that Google Maps themselves will want to roll this into an update in the future, perhaps they will be bought out.

It was good to see a student in their final year coming up with a good application for testing your Android application in the cloud.

Successful Applicant for Free Software Development


We are happy to announce the successful applicant for our Free Software Development offer is Newmarket Solutions. We will go through the specifics of what we will be working on here on the blog over the next few weeks. We are looking forward to it.

Get your Web Application Developed For Free.

What ?
We are offering any Irish company or individual the opportunity to apply for free software development to the value of 5000 euro.

Why ?
We have seen some excellent initiatives from the Irish tech community to help Irish Startups over the last few years starting with App School from Contrast in 2008, last year we had IQ Prize from IQ Content and Outvesting in December - we want to do something similar in 2010. It also gives us a chance to showcase our capabilities and build a profile.

Who can apply?
Any company or individual based in Ireland can apply. Have a look at the conditions below before you apply to make sure you are happy with them. We will choose an interesting project and the person / company who we feel deserves it most.

What kind of project?
We are open to suggestions, the project could be:

  • A new web application.
  • A prototype to flesh out ideas or to help with market research.
  • An Adobe Air application to offer desktop functionality to an existing web application.
  • A flex web application.

We are now accepting applications using the following form: Apply Now.

Note: Deadlines have been extended. Application process opens on  Wednesday 3rd February 2010. The deadline for submissions is Wednesday 17th March 2010 the chosen project will be announced on Monday 22nd March 2010.

If you have any questions you can add a comment below or drop us an email to


  • We will choose the technologies.
  • You will need to pay any associated costs i.e. (graphic design, domain names, hosting, etc).
  • You will own the application entirely.
  • Our decision on chosen project is final.

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