Closet Coder

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Pairing Post Mortem - @thecommongeek - Learning and Mentoring

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I had a great pairing session with @thecommongeek tonight. It was my first live-remote pair programming and I wanted to to a little “post mortem” on it to record my thoughts.

We spent some time on introductions and then jumped into a problem. Since my box was all set up, I typed. I’m more experienced than Dennis as a coder, so I viewed it as the potential to mentor him a bit. I also learned from him both in the “how to be a better mentor” department and the “how to pair better” department.

First off, the good:

  • As has been stated before, Google+ Hangouts are awesome. Low setup, easy to communicate and “meet” the people you’re pairing with.
  • ScreenHero is great software. It seemed like it was super easy for Dennis to control my box when needed. Loved it. No problems with setup.
  • Dennis is a great guy and I had a pleasure getting to hear about his journey becoming a coder. I hope the session was an encouragement to him!

The ‘could have gone better’:

  • If you’re ever the more experienced coder, let the less experienced coder do the typing, even if you’re dictating nearly every word. I got to the point that I was typing AND talking without much feedback towards the end. That’s when I knew it was time to wrap up the session and do things a little differently next time.
  • Pick a problem that you’re both somewhat familiar with – We picked Conway’s Game of Life even though neither of us had much experience or knowledge of it. It went well enough at the beginning, but it seemed like lack of understanding the basic rules made it difficult to visualize what the problem was we were trying to solve. A good portion of the evening was just figuring out how Conway’s Game of Life worked and what the nuances were. If you’re trying to get better at your craft, pick a domain you both have some knowledge of, even if it’s “create a blog app.”

Next time we’re going to let Dennis get his machine set up and drive most of the typing. I think this will help quite a bit. I also think having some knowledge of Conway’s Game of Life might make it easier to talk about the next time. I’m looking forward to our next session in 2 weeks!

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