Dave Rael From Developer On Fire: Becoming A Famous Programmer

Written By John Sonmez

Today I did a video with Dave Rael, an amazing developer from the amazing podcast “Developer On Fire”. In this amazing interview, we discussed a lot of things.  For those who watch my channel, you know how much I talk about taking action and why it is so important to change your current situation. A lot of people absorb a lot of content passively but they don't actually end up putting that thing in practice.

Dave started his podcast and, now, he is experiencing a huge success in his career and also personal fulfilment. He also gave an amazing interview for Simple Programmer's website, which you can check below.

Wanna know more about my talk with Dave? Watch the video and read the interview below!

Interview with Dave Rael From Developer On Fire

Q: How is podcasting like writing software?

There is a steep learning curve and lots of technical things to know.  Most of what you do in the mechanics of producing a show has predictable and deterministic outcomes, but there are things that derail what should otherwise be easy.  I have not yet lost a recording (thought I’ve heard lots of horror stories of podcasters who have), but I’ve had episodes with degraded audio quality because of incorrect settings or recording the wrong microphone.  Things can go horribly wrong because of one little thing wrong in a way that seems insignificant when viewed in isolation.  Dealing with people is the hardest, but the best part.  It’s also true in both content creation and software that you can’t tell if you’re solving the right problem without giving something to your users (or listeners), getting feedback on how it does or doesn’t work for them, and making it incrementally better over time.

Q: Why are there programmers from so many different languages, tech stacks, platforms, and paradigms on Developer On Fire?

That is deliberate.  I did not want the show to be about a specific way of approaching software.  This can be seen as not embracing John’s advice to have a niche and become and authority there, but there are stories to tell in all parts of the software development community.  I love that I have spoken with such a diverse group and gotten so many different perspectives.  The things that we have in common as developers are much greater than our differences and I’m glad the show reflects that.  In addition to that diversity, it’s very much an international show.  This enhances the value of knowing how much we have in common across many different axes.

Q: What’s the best thing about being a podcaster?

Human connection.  It’s wonderful that I get to talk to people from all over the world and get personal into how they think and the things that matter to them.  I went to a conference in Oslo this summer and got to meet several people face-to-face with whom I had spoken and I was recognizable to many people I admire.  After giving my talk there, a podcast listener came up to the stage and wanted to take a photo with me to show her husband, also a listener.  It’s rewarding to have experiences like that.

Q: What’s the worst thing about being a podcaster?

Audio editing.  The editing is a chore.  I really enjoy the rest of it.  Writing show notes is pretty fun most of the time, unless there’s a reference made by a guest that I can’t find easily.  Sometimes I feel exhausted after the interviews, but they are still pure joy.  Sometimes I feel energized following them.  It is usually hard to stay at my computer after doing an interview, either because I need rest after putting so much into the conversation or because I just can’t sit and can’t focus because I feel like moving.  I never look forward to editing, though.

Q: Where can I go to find out more about Developer On Fire, engage with like-minded listeners and guests, and give feedback, including recommendations for guests?

On the website, you can find the feed to subscribe, the listing of all the episodes, and a link to the community on Facebook.   The community is a great place for interaction and getting involved with the show.  Many of the past guests, and of course the host, hang out there.  The community may be moving to another home, but it’s on Facebook for now.  Commenting on particular shows on the show notes pages is always welcome and a great way to engage and taking Pinal Dave’s commenting challenge is what got me started on taking action.  I can also be reached on Twitter as @raelyard.

Q: What books do you recommend?

I ask all the guests of Developer On Fire for a book recommendation, so I’ll start by staying that I have a huge list of books recommended by awesome software people. Each show notes page has the recommendations from that guest and there’s a compiled list of the recommendations from all the guests.  My recommendations from my episode of Developer On Fire as the guest are available on the show notes page for that episode.  I’ll go ahead and recommend a few others, here, though, too.

      • Body By Science – John Little, Doug McGuff: This book is great for someone, like many programmers, who wants to spend a small amount of time in physical training with big results.  It also goes deep into physiology and why the approach to lifting weights in the book works and works well (and why running just to run is a bad idea).
      • The entire Harry Potter series – J.K. Rowling: Especially if you have kids, this is fiction you need to read.  I read these with my daughters and it was a fantastic experience in sharing wonder and fun, but also learning about how to take action and become a hero despite all your doubts and fears and humble beginnings.
      • Interview With the Vampire – Anne Rice: More fiction that makes you think – a surprisingly deep exploration of the psyche of a person who finds himself with immortality and his struggles with insecurity, the need to take victims to feed himself, and in interacting with other vampires.  Anne Rice’s vampire lore is different than the traditional, so you learn with Louis about his nature.  The Vampire Lestat was good, too. Queen of the Damned went a bit off the rails and the quality suffered and I didn’t finish the rest of the series, but the first one is one of my favorite works of fiction.
      • The Mythical Man-Month – Frederick Brooks: A visionary ahead of his time, Fred Brooks pointed out the problems in our thinking long before we even had them.  This is not a book that is a unit with a single theme, but a collection of essays, though there is a cohesion of thought.  The best and most insightful is the “No Silver Bullet” essay.
      • The Cucumber Book: Behaviour-Driven Development for Testers and Developers – Matt Wynne, Aslak Hellesoy: While mostly a manual on how to use Cucumber, the spirit of Behavior-Driven Development shines through.  There are more recent books with a more direct treatment of BDD, but this one is special to me as the place I learned a lot about what it means to express intent as a team.  Both authors have been guests on Developer On Fire.

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