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The More You Need to Know, The Harder it is to Remember

This is part 3 of Hack Your Brain to be a Better Developer, my talk from AdieCon 2020.

There’s an error code that I get sometimes in Android Studio. I can remember now what it is, but for years - yes years - I’d see it, realize that I’d seen it before, and not be able to remember how to fix it.

The issue with human long-term memory isn’t storage, it’s recall. The more often you remember something, the easier it is to remember it. The less often you deal with something, the harder it is to recall.

Keep your own personal Stack Overflow.

There are a plethora of note taking apps (make sure you’re not violating your work’s data privacy though!), but text files in a central location you can grep are just as good.

Some of the things that I keep:

Error Codes - group by IDE & language if you can
Common APIs & requests - especially ones you use to answer customer tickets!
“Basic” questions - I always have to look up ternary operator syntax!
Good code examples - From code reviews or open source projects, tagged with why you liked them (ex: Clean Factory Setup, or Mocking Date/Time)
Set up instructions for specific devices - Android vs iPhone, your different smart speakers, etc

Workspace setup - your dot files, the settings of software you use on a regular basis if you can export them. These should definitely be backed up to an external HD or cloud. In the first 2.5 years at work I used the same computer. In the last year I’ve gone through two more. Trust me on the importance of backing up!

Where you can update open source documentation, team or company specific wiki’s, do it, but a just-for-you source is also worthwhile.

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