My Report Card…

I have been designing and developing websites for the past eight years. I would like to think that I’m good at it. But, the moment I start to gain confidence and think that I have some talent, images of past American Idol contestants telling Simon Cowell that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, that they really do have talent start to pop into my head.

One thing that shakes my confidence is the fact that I work with two really smart guys on my team. I mean really smart; the guys at Enron may be “The smartest guys in the room”, but my boss could hold his own in that room.

After eight years and a lot of geek books on the shelf, I still feel like I don’t know anything. I’m a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none type guy. I know ASP.NET and C#, but not like Dino or Scott. I know Flash and ActionScript, but not like Keith or Shane. I know HTML and CSS, but not like Veerle or Molly. I know SEO and Web Marketing but not like Matt or Barry.

I often wonder which is better. Is it better to be a Renaissance man or would one be better served to be a master in one area of focus? I imagine that the Renaissance man would have an easier time finding a job, because after all, there are more areas he can get plugged into. But, the master would probably command more money.

If I had to give myself a grade in each area the report card would be as follows:

– CSS Layouts: B-
– JavaScript: C
– C#: C
– Flash: A
– ActionScript: B+
– SEO/Web Marketing: B+
– XML: C
– PHP: D
– Ajax: D

I think I will revisit this geek report card each year and see how I have progressed. I would like to improve my PHP and Ajax skills.

Before I finish this post I think it worth mentioning that I do realize that there are more important things in life than to be the uber nerd. That it’s more important to score high marks in being a good husband and now father. That it’s more important to spend time in the Good book than any geek book.

8 Responses to “My Report Card…”

  1. steve says:

    I totally hear ya here. I am also a jack-of-trades master of none. Frequently when delving past the surface of a subject into something considerable and meaty I find myself groping through acronymns and jargon that I I’ve never heard before in my LIFE. It took me months to figure out POJO meant plain old Java object…

    I have given this topic serious CPU cycles… and I think I have calculated something very significant. There is no one solution that fits all problems equally… BUT, because we are humans and can’t be masters of all it is FAR better to be masters of a few key skills and put those to work. This is something I’ve needed to work on because I like to learn about something new after I learn of its existance. But I could kill myself going on this way. It’s like at the gym when I see somebody working on a muscle group that I wasn’t hitting that particular day, I have to resist the urge to do that muscle group too… and then do another one I saw… it’s like I don’t want to fall behind anyone else.

    True, we coudl learn every popular modern web application and development language and framework… and then we’d be divorced and have no viable work for ourselves. How much better it would be to learn a few key skills (HTML/CSS, FLASH, PHP or AJAX/DOM) and then solve problems with those more focused skills.

  2. Chris says:

    This is a good post. I tend to think that being the jack of a number of trades, but not all necessarily, iis the trick. I also work with a guy that just makes me feel like a newbie. I think the trick is to remember what your strengths are and really focus on using those as often as you can.

  3. Golgotha says:

    Steve, dude, you sound like me at the gym; I always kick myself for not working out one more day a week.

    “We could learn every popular modern web application and development language and framework… and then we’d be divorced”

    You wana hear something REAL sick. My wife actually has a picture of me reading a TCP/IP book on the beach in Jamaica. And it was our honeymoon! I’m not that bad anymore, that was when I was young and trying to acquire every certification there was.

    “I also work with a guy that just makes me feel like a newbie.”

    I’ve come to realize that not everyone on the team can be Shaq or D. Wade. You have to have a James Posey in there too. Guys that just perform a certain roll, but will never get a shoe contract.

  4. Ben O. says:

    Yo, at least you scored well in the ever popular “Bronco Fan” category.

    Ben O.

  5. mark says:

    Oh man, now you’re getting me excited.
    I just bought my ESPN Fantasy Football 2006 mag. the other day.
    I Can’t wait!

  6. Jussi Hirvi says:

    Hi, I came to your blog from a page which was about “Trifecta” css buttons. That looked great. However, in your blog, the yellow “Trifecta” buttons show wrong in my Mozilla 1.2.1 (Mac). The button texts are all on the first button, and the other buttons have no text at all. :-)

    Also, your blog loads slow, and at least my Mozilla redraws the screen very many times before the page is ready. I notice this especially “well”, since my connection is slow. Probably the complex css makes it slow.

    Best regards from Helsinki,
    Jussi Hirvi

  7. rv says:

    i am the same with you, i feel my talents are way behind what they actually are and i start comparing my crap to others then i don’t feel as bad…except my thing is audio, my site is done like trash but i am starting to get the hang of the web shit alittle…
    luv that Line Rider/driver game…too much fun!



  8. WildWex says:

    Agreed – ‘skills’ and ‘tools’ are only part of what’s useful in life. Learning to communicate and team with others whom have skills that you don’t is what can make all the difference. Decide what you want to do – what motivates, what inspires, and then go for it 100%.

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