Use the tools you have

My last post spoke about considering an expensive laptop as an investment. But what if you cannot afford one? Easy answer: use the one you have.

When someone starts out as a photographer, they can easily feel discouraged when they see those gorgeous shots captured by professional photographers – presumably with a fast lens and an expensive camera. This amateur photographer can feel discouraged that they cannot afford that expensive equipment. That person was me two years ago. That was when I got advice from someone I look up to for their fantastic bird photography.

I asked the pro photographer, “How long have you been shooting?”

They replied,

Never count it like that, my friend. Count it on how much progress you made! Time does not mean a thing. Never… Some people have been shooting since ever. But no progress!

Release yourself from that gear/time thoughts. Work on your knowledge and understand what you want to work on.

Use the tools available for you and make something good out of it!!

Now, I did not become a wildlife photographer and settled for programming. But this photographer’s advice has stuck with me since. I try and apply it to other areas of life, including software development.

Besides, you can get great shots on a cheap camera, as long as you have the right skills and attitude.

the best camera is the one you have with you

I believe it comes down to where you focus your energy. Some people focus their energy on what they do not have. That is not a great way to live. Rather, focus your energy on better things – like how you have been blessed with a strong, analytical mind or how you can sort a linked list (if you are a programmer).

On a related note about using what we have, I see many folks trying to reinvent the wheel (so to speak) – especially in programming. The end-user will hardly bother about whether you used Gatsby with GraphQL or whether you coded the <html> tag, all the CSS, and the JS by hand. Some folks feel proud that they did not use a framework. For me, the importance and energy should be on giving the end-user a great experience. So much so, they say “wow” – at least in their mind.

Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.

Arthur Ashe

Another thought on that – build tools to help developers improve their workflows. Rather than starting from scratch each time you build a project, perhaps think about how you can use that time and energy to build something useful that other developers will be able to use. I am not a great open-source developer, but some of my open source work and writing have been used by framework authors to create successful web frameworks.

Feel free to take this advice for what it’s worth.