Developer’s Life – Every Developer is a Captain America

Captain America was first created as a comic book character in the 1940’s as a way to boost morale during World War II.  Aimed at a children’s audience, his legacy faded away when the war ended.  However, he has recently has a major reboot to become a popular movie character that deals with modern issues.

When Captain America was first written, there was no such thing as a developer, programmer or a computer (the way we think of them, anyway).  Despite these limitations, I think there are still a lot of ways that modern Captain America is like modern developers.

So how are developers like Captain America?

Well, read on my list of reasons.

Take on Big Projects

Captain America isn’t afraid to take on big projects – and takes responsibility when the project is co-opted by the evil organization HYDRA.  Developers may not have super villains out there corrupting their work, but they know to keep on top of their projects and own what they do.

Elderly Wisdom

Steve Rogers, Captain America’s alter ego, was frozen in ice for decades, and brought back to life to solve problems. Developers can learn from this by respecting the opinions of their elders – technology is an ever-changing market, but the old-timers still have a few tricks up their sleeves!

Don’t be Afraid of Change

Don’t be afraid of change.  Captain America woke up to find the world he was accustomed to is now completely different.  He might have even felt his skills were no longer necessary.  He, and developers, know that everyone has their place in a team, though.  If you try your best, you will make it work.

Fight Your Own Battle

Sometimes you have to make it on your own.  Captain America is an integral part of the Avengers, but in his own movies, the other superheroes aren’t around to back him up.  Developers, too, must learn to work both within and with out a team.

Solid Integrity

One of Captain America’s greatest qualities is his integrity.  His determine to do what is right, keep his word, and act honestly earns him mockery from some of the less-savory characters – even “good guys” like Iron Man.  Developers, and everyone else, need to develop the strength of character to keep their integrity.  No matter your walk of life, there will be tempting obstacles.  Think of Captain America, and say “no.”

There is a lot for all of us to learn from Captain America, to take away in our own lives, and admire in those who display it – I am specifically thinking of developers.  If you are enjoying this series as much as I am, please let me know who else you would like to see featured.

Reference: Pinal Dave (

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Developer’s Life – Every Developer is the Incredible Hulk

The Incredible Hulk is possibly one of the scariest superheroes out there.  All superheroes are meant to be “out of this world” and awe-inspiring, but I think most people will agree with I say The Hulk takes this to the next level.  He is the result of an industrial accident, which is scary enough in it’s own right.  Plus, when mild-mannered Bruce Banner is angered, he goes completely out-of-control and transforms into a destructive monster that he cannot control and has no memories of.

With that said, The Incredible Hulk might also be the most powerful superhero.  While I don’t think that developers should get raging mad and turn into giant green destroyers, I think there are still great lessons we can learn from The Hulk.

So how are developers like the Incredible Hulk?


Well, read on my list of reasons.

Keep Calm

“Don’t make me angry.  You won’t like me when I’m angry.”  Bruce Banner warns everyone he comes in contact with, and this can be a lesson to take into the real world.  Don’t think of as fair warning, and now you are allowed to yell at people.  Think of it as advice to yourself.  Very few people (including developers) good do work when they have steam coming out their ears.

A Little Intensity is a Good Thing

A little intensity is a good thing.  In the movie “The Avengers,” Bruce Banner says he is always angry.  Instead of letting it get out of control and turn him into The Hulk, he harnesses that energy to try to find a solution to their problems.  As a developer, when something is frustrating you, try to channel that energy into beating the problem, not beating up your co-workers.

It is NOT all about You!

It’s not all about you.  In another scene in “The Avengers,” Bruce Banner’s tendency to transform into The Hulk becomes a liability to the rest of the team.  He has to rely on his team members to save themselves (and him) from himself.  Developers work as a team as well.

Constructive Anger

So far, we have discussed The Hulk’s anger like it is a bad thing.  But anger can be constructive, too.  When there is a huge evil to be fought, The Incredible Hulk is a fighting machine.  When there is a huge network or server problem, incredible developers join together and do amazing work.

The Incredible Hulk can be scary – no, let me put it another way – he can be intimidating.  But that just means that the lessons he can teach us all, including developers are about controlling ourselves in tough situations, and rising to the occasion.

Reference: Pinal Dave (

Developer’s Life – Every Developer is a Wonder Woman

We have focused a lot lately on this “superhero series.”  I love fantasy books and movies, and I feel like there is a lot to be learned from them.  As I am writing this series, though, I have noticed that every super hero I write about is a man.  So today, I would like to talk about the major female super hero – Wonder Woman.

Developers are mostly men.  It is a male-dominated field.  This is changing slowly, but I don’t think that means we should over-look Wonder Woman.  She had a lot of great powers that remind me of developers, and that we can all learn from.

So how are developers like Wonder Woman?


Well, read on my list of reasons.

Developer’s Read Ahead

Wonder Woman had telepathy.  She could hear what other people were thinking.  How many of us could use that power in our daily lives?  Developers often work with co-workers or clients who are not tech-savvy, and have a hard time expressing their needs and desires.  We might not be able to develop telepathy, but we can certainly try to see things from their point of view and try to understand their needs.


Wonder Woman’s main super-tool is the Lasso of Truth.  Once caught in it, super villains are forced to tell the truth.  It would be nice to have the Lasso of Truth in real life, but we also must consider ourselves bound by it, too.  Lying to get out of a difficult job is never good.  Lasso yourself and promise to be honest, always.

Super Speed

Wonder Woman had super speed.  Developers can also impress with their ability to finish tasks in an unbelievable amount of time.  It is never good to sacrifice quality for speed, but this is certainly a skill that reminds me of many developers I know!

Eagle Eyes

Wonder Woman had eagle eyes.  She could zoom in on details from far away and catch evil-doers.  Developers may not have binocular-like vision, but they often catch mistakes that untrained eyes would never see.

Developer Heals

Wonder Woman had amazing healing powers.  She was not a frail woman – she could recover from injury at lightning speed.  Developers do not often have physical jobs, so I am thinking about their abilities to recover after a particularly difficult project, and be so excited about solving the problem they are full of energy for the next one.

Wonder Woman was, well, a woman.  It is tough being the only woman/minority/tech guru in the room.  But no matter your reason for being the “odd man (or woman) out,” remember that your unique perspective brings something very important to your company.  Never underestimate yourself, and don’t let other’s forget your worth, either.

Wonder Woman has not had the same kind of popularity as many other super heroes, which I think is a shame because we can still learn a lot from her.  What are some of the powers you wish you had from Wonder Woman, or any other super hero?

Reference: Pinal Dave (

Developer’s Life – Every Developer is a Harry Potter

Harry Potter might not be a superhero in the traditional sense, but I believe he still has a lot to teach us and show us about life as a developer.  If you have been living under a rock for the last 17 years, you might not know that Harry Potter is the main character in an extremely popular series of books and movies documenting the education and tribulation of a young wizard (and his friends).

Throughout the seven books and eight movies, Harry Potter learns to face his fears, trust his friends, and grows as a person.  This series was so beloved because of the real life lessons each story contained.  So what can we learn about developers from the world’s most famous wizard?

So how are developers like Harry Potter?

Well, read on my list of reasons.

Never Give Up

Never give up.  Harry Potter faced some astounding obstacles in his life – first, losting his parents, living with his horrible aunt and uncle, and facing He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, the most evil wizard in all history.  Developers may not face pure evil brought back to human form, but they certainly do not give up in the face of difficult problems.

Have Dependable Friends

Rely on your friends.  Throughout the books, Harry learns that he cannot stand up to his troubles alone, and that he has to trust his friends to be by his side.  Developers may not have gone to wizarding school with two of their closest friends, but they know that teamwork is extremely important to job performance.

Fake it until You Make it

Fake it until you make it.  Harry Potter was just eleven when he faced his first challenge in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.  Think back to what you were doing when you were eleven years old – certainly not battling an evil wizard!  Developers often face challenges they have never heard or seen before, but that doesn’t mean they give up.

Go with Faith

We choose “good” every day.  In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the students are sorted into “houses” by a magical hat.  When it is Harry’s turn, he hopes with his whole heart to be sorted into Gryffindor, not Slytherin.  Throughout the series, this choice makes Harry question his own motives – is he good in his soul, or good by choice?  In the end, he learns that we all have to choose “good,” and wanting to choose, it is as good as being good in your soul.  Programming problems may not be the choice between good and evil, but developers often have to choose between a quick patch and a permanent solution.  Wanting to do a good job and developing a permanent solution may not be easy, but wanting to accomplish it is half the battle.

Reference: Pinal Dave (

Developer’s Life – Every Developer is Like Transformers

Transformers may not be superheroes – they don’t wear capes, they don’t have amazing powers outside of their size and folding ability, they’re not even human (technically).  Part of their enduring popularity is that while we are enjoying over-the-top movies, we are learning about good leadership and strong personal skills.

There have been four Transformers movies, and before that a long-running children’s cartoon.  For now, though, let’s focus on the most recent installment – Transformers: Age of Extinction.  What can this action-packed movie teach us about developers?

So how are developers like Transformers?

Well, read on my list of reasons.

Best Use of Resources

Work with what you have.  At the beginning of this movie the main character, Cade Yeager, finds what looks like an old, beat-up semi truck.  He is just trying to make a little cash for his family, but this semi truck ends up being the leader of the transformers, Optimus Prime.  Developers may not have a powerful robot hidden inside themselves, but developing the skills to be the best at your job is often like finding buried treasure.

Be a Leader

Be a leader.  In the third movie, Optimus Prime appeared to die, and the rest of the Transformers were lost without him.  In this movie, set years later,  Optimus Prime returns and his loyal brethren return to fight beside him, no questions asked.  Now that’s leadership!  Developers often work behind the scenes for companies, but it is important to take leadership where necessary.

Don’t Underestimate Anyone

Don’t underestimate yourself or others.  The climax of this move rests on the bad guys underestimating the hero, calling him a “nobody.”  He proves them wrong by releasing the Transformers on them.  In the work place, it is easy to feel daunted by a task, or to bite off more than you can chew because you feel like the only person capable of accomplishing the task.  It is important to remember that everybody working together can accomplish much!

Take Action

You have to take action.  A lot of the emotional core of this movie rests on one man who feels out of his league.  He’s not sure what he has gotten himself into, and he’s not sure he can succeed – but even with these doubts, he forges ahead and does end up victorious.  We may face problems in our lives that seem insurmountable.  The important thing to remember is, doing nothing and failing is far worth than trying and failing.

Can’t Please Everyone

You can’t please everyone all of the time.  At the beginning of this movie, the world viewed the Autobots as the bad guys, but they rescued humanity from the Decepticons yet again.  In the real world, the director of this movie (Michael Bay) was openly mocked for “beating a dead horse” with this sequel.  However, it is one of the highest grossing movies of the summer, raking in over $200 million so far.  Developers will also face this kind of challenge.  They might not be the most popular individuals at a company, and they often make unpopular, difficult decisions.  But these are the kind of choices that have to be made, and at the end of the day, they have to go home knowing they did the right thing (just without the $200 million).

Reference: Pinal Dave (

Developer’s Life – Every Developer is a Iron Man

Iron Man is another superhero who is not naturally “super,” but relies on his brain (and money) to turn him into a fighting machine.  While traditional superheroes are still popular, a three-movie franchise and incorporation into the new Avengers series shows that Iron Man is popular enough on his own.

As a superhero with a lot of tools, a lot of technology, and a lot of smarts, there are some pretty clear connections we can draw between Iron Man and developers.

So how developers are like Iron Man?

Well, read on my list of reasons.

Choose Your Bettles

Iron Man chooses his battles wisely.  He doesn’t fight every super villain, or wait in dark alleys for small-time crooks, he goes after the specific enemies.  Developers also know that no system is going to be perfect, and to focus on “battles” that will help solve the most immediate problems.

Do not Give up

Iron Man doesn’t give up, even when he has the most ridiculous odds stack against him (that just makes the final battle scene even more exciting).  Developers are also known to be stubborn and never give up until they have conquered a problem.  There is a reason they seem so addicted to caffeinated drinks!

Keep on Improvising

Iron Man is always trying to improve himself (and his suits).  Significant parts of the second and third movies, in fact, were set in his workshop as he tinkered with better suits.  Developers might regret that there is no “super suit” they can put on that will solve all their server issues while they take a nap – they ARE the suit.  They are always learning an discovering new powers of their own.

A Lone Hero

Iron Man can be a loner.  He works alone in his shop, with only a robot (with a British accent) as an assistant – and has built some of the coolest technology in the superhero universe.  Developers also come up with amazing things on their own through hard work and inventiveness.

A Team Player

Iron Man also knows he needs a team.  While this famous loner tries to ignore outside help, he also swallowed his pride and joined the Avengers.  No matter how much developers may like working on their own, they also know they have to cooperate with a team to come up with even bigger solutions.

Have Fun

Have Fun.  Not once does it appear Iron Man is not enjoying himself – and since his alter ego is billionaire Tony Stark with a multimillion dollar company to run, if he weren’t enjoying himself he could always quit and live an (almost as) exciting life.  Developers may or may not have the freedom to quit their job at any time, but I know many who would not quit even if they were millionaires, they love their jobs so much.

I think that many more pages could be written about Iron Man/Tony Stark, but instead, I think we should all go watch the movies again.  What other similarities do you see between our favorite “genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist”?

Reference: Pinal Dave (

Developer’s Life – Every Developer is a Sherlock Holmes

I have been thinking a lot about how developers are like super heroes, and I have written two blog posts now comparing them to Spiderman and Superman.  I have a lot of love and respect for developers, and I hope that they are enjoying these articles, and others are learning a little bit about the profession.  There is another fictional character who, while not technically a super hero, is very powerful, and I also think stands as a good example of a developer.

That character is Sherlock Holmes.  Sherlock Holmes is a British detective, first made popular at the turn of the 19th century by author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  The original Sherlock Holmes was a brilliant detective who could solve the most mind-boggling crime through simple observations and deduction.

Modern interpretations of Sherlock Holmes stay true to the original’s almost magical crime solving abilities, but have added action, adventure, and modernity.  Recent TV shows and movies portray Sherlock Holmes has having not only almost superhuman detection abilities, but fighting skills that could rival Spiderman or Superman.  It are these near god-like qualities I’d like to compare to developers.

So how are developers like Sherlock Holmes?

Well, read on my list of reasons.

Superlative Skills

Be the best at what you do.  Sherlock Holmes does not pretend to be mysteriously gifted, or just able to use natural abilities.  He does not hide the fact that he considers himself exceptionally talented, and that he has worked his entire life to hone those skills to make him into a “super detective.”  There are a lot of parallels here with developers.  While there is nothing supernatural about devleopers’ skills, many do spend their whole lives honing their talents, often starting at a very young age.

Core Skills

Most Sherlock Holmes adaptations (and certainly the originals) show him solving crimes without the benefit of modern forensic techniques.  His extreme powers of observation allow him to find things others have missed, and his sharp mind can interpret the details.  Developers also have extremely sharpened skills, and can think of solutions that others cannot.  They also spend their whole lives perfecting these skills through use and study.

Strong Team Player

The original Sherlock Holmes mainly used his partner Watson as a prop to explain details to (and to also explain the plot to the readers).  Current TV shows and movies have Watson playing a much larger role in finding clues, interpreting data, and interacting with the public.  Developers also find themselves working in teams, whether they need someone to listen to their theories or an extra set of hands and eyes for the actual “dirty work.”  Holmes and Watson work as a pair, and developers should, too.

Keep an Arm’s Length

Keep an arm’s length.  Sherlock Holmes often has little emotional involvement in a case beyond his desire to find the solution.  This “anti-hero” attitude has made him beloved to audiences because it has a hint of rebellion to it.  Developers should definitely care about the work they do and try their best at every task, but it is also important to keep a good perspective on your work.  If you are spending hours of overtime trying to enhance one tiny aspect that no one else will notice (unless you brag about it), it is probably time to turn off the computer and go home.  Staying fresh will keep your mind sharp and help you perform at your best!

Keep Your Imagination

Try to keep your imagination.  This can sound like conflicting information, after “keep an arm’s length.”  Sherlock Holmes, though, often solves unsolvable cases because he is not afraid to try solutions that anyone else would dismiss as obviously wrong.  To quote Sherlock Holmes himself: “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.”  You can take this attitude into the world of developers by trying to find solutions “outside of the box.”

Sherlock Holmes may not be a traditional superhero with a cape, the ability to fly, and a radioactive spider bite, but he still has some amazing skills that developers often share.  His insights into murder mysteries and kidnappings can also be taken into the IT world and used to become better at your job.  Can you think of other ways developers are like Sherlock Holmes (or your own favorite fictional character)?  Share them in the comments!

Reference: Pinal Dave (