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Lessons from last night

Having now experienced someone having cardiac arrest in a restaurant, here’s what they don’t tell you in the training:

  • You will forget your training (you aren’t a professional) so just do compressions and don’t worry about the rest
  • The crowd will be an obstacle. Managing the crowd is as important as managing the victim. If you have a leadership skillset and can issue instructions instead of doing the CPR yourself, focus on managing the crowd. Get them to shut up so the caregivers can focus on the victim.
  • If you aren’t doing the CPR, the caregiver giving the CPR is probably having a lot of self-doubt. Reassure them that they are doing it correctly. And by correctly, I mean doing compressions.
  • No one knows what an AED is (see also). And despite your training, you will forget to ask for one but that’s okay because it turns out most restaurants and businesses do not have one (which is not okay).

Get trained in CPR (see also) and review your training regularly. Remember, it is the victim’s emergency and not yours. Stay calm and take action.

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Learn or become irrelevant

I can’t seem to remember much of yesterday. I know it was stressful. I know I was looking at code until my eyes blurred. Then I broke for some continued professional development (CPD). What is CPD? CPD is the training and education you receive while at work. It could be night school, seminars, or online learning. As a programmer, my industry changes and moves so quickly that I must constantly educate myself else risk becoming irrelevant. Here’s some CPD I received while working at The Learning Company eons ago:

  • First Things First Time Management Seminar by Covey Leadership Seminars
  • Systems Testing & Quality Assurance Tech Seminar by Advanced Information Technologies
  • Software Project Management by Educational Services Institute in association with The George Washington University
  • Basic Supervision by Keye Productivity Center a Division of American Management Association
  • E3s QA Day – An all day QA Conference and open forum with influential persons and trend setters from the gaming industry‚Äôs quality assurance field (sponsored by Advanced Quality)
  • How to Develop and Administer a Budget by Fred Pryor Seminars
  • Bondware training by Nashville-based EdgeNet

I met Sid Meier at E3’s QA Day. That was very cool!

I once helped a client improve a website that tracked their client’s continued professional development. The idea behind the site was to make sure that the user didn’t cheat the system by turning on the lesson then walking away to watch television. It was quite a challenge! It also inspired me to make sure that I was continually developing my own skills.

Continued professional development can be returning to your roots and reviewing the basics. For instance, when I teach someone to juggle, after getting them to juggle three balls, I often have them return to only practicing with one ball. This gives the the opportunity to relearn with a better understanding of the end goal and helps break bad habits formed while trying to learn the concept of the end goal. It’s amazing what habits and prejudices we form and accept as rule when in fact those premises are wrong. For instance, I’ve been working with ColdFusion since version 2 became version 3. Adobe has just released the ColdFusion 9 beta. There are plenty of habits from CF3 and CF4.5 revolving around best practices and crossbrowser compatibility that no longer apply to current versions of ColdFusion. For instance, I still twitch at the suggestion of using CFGrid even though I shouldn’t. I’ve been working with PHP for a very long time. My habit had been to declare public methods for classes with var until I took some time to re-read some documentation on classes and learned that var had been deprecated for public. Breaking habits is only one aspect of continued professional development. New technologies, better techniques, improved optimizations form all the time. We must set aside time to learn otherwise the experience we have gained over the years will be declared irrelevant due to the lack of inclusion of the latest buzzword.

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Start the year off with professional development

Is training and professional development something you are going to get around to one day? Why not make it today? Resources abound for honing our career skills. iTunes has free podcasts from iTunes University. A quick Internet search should produce abundant articles and videos useful to whatever your line of work.

I am taking the next 30 minutes for professional development. In my case, I am going to begin learning Eclipse so that I can move away from Notepad++ and CFStudio5. This will be a step toward moving my development environment to a portable hard drive so that I can work on any machine anywhere I go. I know learning to use an editor sounds silly. In my case, shouldn’t "professional development" be about learning about new software testing techniques, algorithms, or another programming language? Not necessarily. Anything that you learn which makes you more efficient in your career or makes you more valuable to your company is professional development. Even if you already know and use Eclipse, watching these videos make teach you something you don’t realize you are overlooking. Retraining on a tool you already use and know can help break bad habits or reveal better ways to use the tool.

Update: See Darren Schall’s discovery on Eclipse workspaces as an example of using a tool for awhile and then discovering its hidden power.