Jan 04 2018

10 Commandments Of A Career

Category: English posts,TechnicalIuliana @ 23:18

I don’t know if 11 years of experience in programming and three published books can be considered a career, but in this 11 years I got promotions I did not chase or even wanted so this must count for something. I do not know if I did anything different than others that try to succeed, but my attitude and hard work got me from a low place to a place higher than I even dared to dream so I thought it might be useful for others.

So here there are, the 10 commandments of my career.

1. Do your best. Sounds easy, sounds simple, but it is difficult to do your best. Especially on your bad days. The truth is you will spend at least 8 hours at work, you might as well use it properly, to deliver quality products and acquire quality knowledge.

2. If you do not like it, change it. Nothing is perfect in this world, thus companies are not either. You will get defective management, defective products to work on, defective people to work with. But nothing changes its state without interference and stimuli. So do your part: speak up and act. You would be amazed how much much you can change. A strong warrior is forged in battle so be thankful for the battles you have to take part of.

3. Ask. Do not expect people to know or care, what you want or need. If you do not ask, people will rarely know what you need and give it to you. There are also people who are shy and can’t say no, even if they don’t really want to give you something. So ask and insist when necessary.

4. Read your contract, know your rights. This should be obvious, but many people skip this part. You have more rights than you think. There are rules put in place to protect you from bullies that are high up the corporate ladder, because with great power sometimes it’s not the great responsibility that comes, but great assholeness. So know them and invoke them when necessary.

5. Never stop improving. This should also be obvious, but some people get cozy at their jobs and get complacent. The only constant in this universe is change. So ride the change like a surfer rides the ocean. Keep your mind fresh and open and enjoy all the wonders of changing time. People who are reluctant to change fade into the background of the company, those who welcome it shine like the sun.

6. Speak up.Do not be afraid to voice your concerns and make proposals. Be open. Be creative. Even in companies that are known to have rigid hierarchy and fixed processes, exceptions can happen when good ideas are strongly voiced. Provide feedback whether is positive or negative. People like being complimented for their good work and even if uncomfortable, people accept that they have to improve. Those that do not want to improve, will most likely quit at some point anyway.

7. Establish boundaries. Be explicit about your do’s and dont’s. For example, it’s ok to state upfront that you do not like overtime, or working in shifts. Preferably do this at the interview, but if you were ok with this at first and then later some changes in your life  make you incompatible with this sort of activities, do not be afraid to communicate it. Contracts are not always explicit about your responsibilities and anything you are asked to do that is not in there, you can be negotiated upon.

8. Work with friends, not colleagues. We are humans, not robots. We make mistakes, we change, we have good days and we have bad days. Know your colleagues. The key to a productive team is to figure out when people are having a bad day and not pushing them and to figure out when they have good ones to challenge them. Also, building trust and friendship with your colleagues leads to a more comfortable working environment, that ultimately… does not feel like work. The truth is, for at least 8 hours a day we share the same space, breathe the same air with a select group of people. The key to a good collaboration is to know their strengths and weaknesses, and harness any of them to build a quality product.

9. Learn from the best. Learn from the worst. Learn from mistakes. And teach others. We are humans, we have genius epiphanies and brain farts. We have cheerful moments and we have low ones. Every experience is learning experience. From the best, copy behaviours that will make you the best. From the worst you can learn what not to do. From mistakes you can learn what was tried and failed, so you will know what not to try. And yeah, preferably learn form mistakes done by others. And teach others. We all die not knowing a lot of things. But be generous with your knowledge, share it so we all die knowing more things. ;)

10. Keep it simple. To make things complicated is easy. You don’t even have to try too much, just take something that you know and build it in your own personal way, thinking that you will never share it with anyone. To people that do not know what you tried to build and how, it will look complicated. The hard part in any domain is to build complex things in a simple way, so that others can understand it and contribute to it. So keep things simple. Implement complicated things in simple ways. Simple is the most practical way after all.

I know some ideas in the above paragraphs might related or even repeated. But, as Aristotle says: “We are what we repeatedly do; thus excellence is not an act, but a habit.”

Stay safe, stay happy!


Sep 08 2017

So I read the Google manifesto…

Category: English posts,TechnicalIuliana @ 12:12

Before going on vacation the Google scandal of the 10-page “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber” document was just starting. A guy at Google created this document in which he criticised the politically correct Google environment and the discrimination happening in the name of the political correctness. And that manifesto made it to the internet. I was preparing for a vacation like no other, in which I was to detach myself completely from my working environment and from the passion that I dedicated myself to for the last 16 years of my life. So I postponed reading the Google manifesto until getting back.

I read the document on the plane on my way back and I realised there is a lot of blogging material in there. Because here we are in the time where political correctness dictates which people are allowed to speak their minds out loud and which are not, unless they want to risk being fired.
Continue reading “So I read the Google manifesto…”

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Sep 05 2017

I love writing technical books…

Category: TechnicalIuliana @ 23:23

… and messages like the ones below make all the effort worth it.

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Apr 08 2017

git unpack failed: error Missing tree solution

Category: English posts,TechnicalIuliana @ 19:18

More than a year ago, I convinced the company that I work for to switch from CVS to Git. This was not done as I wanted it, because … management… and thus a lot of stupid issues appeared. I did Git support for more than a year, and all this time 80% was Eclipse support, because the EGit Eclipse plugin is … a mess.  Now after more than a year later, a new problem appeared. When people tried to push their changes, a nasty pop-up appears:

And after you get this pop-up, doing it from the command line, doesn’t do it either:

C:\work>git push -v
Pushing to ssh://gigi.pedala@git:29418/gmp-parent
Counting objects: 91, done.
Delta compression using up to 8 threads.
Compressing objects: 100% (85/85), done.
Writing objects: 100% (91/91), 44.68 KiB | 0 bytes/s, done.
Total 91 (delta 41), reused 0 (delta 0)
remote: Resolving deltas: 100% (41/41)
fatal: Cannot receive pack: error: unpack failed: error Missing tree 07b3431321048e15dccc9e022e258b93252894ef
To ssh://gigi.pedala@git:29418/gmp-parent
! [remote rejected] HEAD -> hotfix/H5.14.0.XX_ADV_XMW_branch (n/a (unpacker error))
error: failed to push some refs to ‘ssh://gigi.pedala@git:29418/gmp-parent’

If you search for a solution on the internet for this, you will most probably be told that your repository is corrupted and that the only solution is to re-clone it. Or you will be required to execute a lot of commands… that might do nothing for you.

Two days ago a colleague of mine from Frankfurt had it. As I was in the office I took the other Git expert in the company with me and went to his computer to dissect his repo. And being the nice person that I am, I will share the solution with you. We ran a git gc

git gc
Runs a number of housekeeping tasks within the current repository, such as compressing file revisions (to reduce disk space and increase performance) and removing unreachable objects which may have been created from prior invocations of git add.

Basically, when you do a push, git packages the information and tries to send it to the remote. Problem is that, whatever is sent to the remote in this case, cannot be unpacked because a git tree is missing for some reason. If you try to do a git show on the tree with the SHA1 code mentioned in the error, all the information is there. So what is happening? Well, git gc will help you here, because when trying to repack the information, you will get a set of errors like these:

cannot unlink file .git/objects/pack…”

Apparently Eclipse, or any other program, or even Windows holds a lock on the repository files, which prevents packing, and obviously incomplete information is send to the remote which cannot unpack it, thus the upacker error problem. I mentioned Windows here, because I haven’t heard anybody having this problem on a Unix system yet.

The solution for my colleague was to restart his computer(we closed Eclipse, but some java processes were still hanging and keeping the files locked so we took the easy way out) and before opening any other program execute git gc. The operation executed without any errors and he was able to continue his work, and do any remote operations he needed.

So this is the easiest solution: restart the computer, do a git gc and go about your work as usual.

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Apr 04 2017

Head Hunters … I despise them

Category: TechnicalIuliana @ 23:14

For the following two months I will be replacing my manager, so I’ll do less code(he hopes none at all) and more people/project managing. I’m scared like hell, but I’ll do my best to fill his shoes and make sure all the projects will be stable and maintainable in his absence.

While he in on parental leave, apparently I should hire two more people in Frankfurt. Until now, the way people are hired here was a mystery to me. And I was quite confused how some people ended up working here when they seemed quite .. unsuitable for the job. It’s not a critique, it’s an observation. The bigger the company, the bigger the chances some people do not fit their role, and even bigger the chances for nobody to notice it. But I digress. So, this company is using a head hunting company to find potential candidates.

I hate head hunters. Even the term “head hunter” seems aggressive and sends me into defensive mode. I’ve been “hunted” on LinkedIn and it always felt like an invasive process. It’s a weird sensation, because they seem amiable and diplomatic, almost likeable, but pushy in a way. They push you for a meeting, they push for an answer and so on. They are oblivious to the kind of person you and they do not seem to care if you are going to fit in an existing team or not. All they care about is the technologies you know and the number of years you have in the field. If you worked for a renowned company, even better. These are they details they flash in front of their clients and they push them too for a contract, because the commission for a successful interaction is about two salaries of the person they delivered. So yeah, I guess they are quite motivated.

Unfortunately, head hunter companies are useful in a big city, with busy people with no time to maintain a LinkedIn or Xing account and no way  for companies of verifying their credentials. Head hunters are for people, what real estate agents are for houses. They are mischievous and elusive because they want to sell you something that you might discover later it does not fit you. It’s like a shop keeper selling you pants two sizes small and with a no return policy.

They are despicable indeed, but you, the professional that do not want to invest a little time in your career are to blame for this. Wrong people will get a job and wreck projects, and drive other people to desperation and  onto other jobs. Because you cannot find it the motivation within yourself, if you are not satisfied with your job, to invest a little time in creating  a proper LinkedIn or Xing profile. Or a personal site, why not do it if you have the expertise?

The “Iuliana Cosmina” brand was not born in a day. It is the consequence of more than 10 years of work. But Google knows who I am. Of course, Google only knows what I want it to know. There is no need for a head hunter to hunt me or convince me. There is no need for a company to hire a head hunter to “get” me. They just have to send me an email, or a message on LinkedIn or Xing. Because I am currently at a certain level in my career that allows me to choose my employer. I will do this based on a set of criteria. Money is important as long as it provides a comfortable lifestyle in the job area. But if I do not like the project, the team leader and feel like I do not fit the company culture or the team, I will never say yes to a job. Interaction through a head hunter is unfair, because I cannot meet the team I would be working with, I cannot test the chemistry, the “feel”. And this is important for me, because people are “feeling-based” creatures. And the difference between feeling comfortable and uncomfortable in a team, shows its teeth in a person’s productivity.

So dear head hunter, if you want to create a brand for yourself as a competent professional and be sought for your services, allow the people you propose for a job to meet the team without asking for money. Pretend that you actually want for both parties to be satisfied with their arrangement. Dear head hunter, I know you have to survive too and pay rent. But if you play the game right and build a reputation of integrity you will win much more on the long run.

And reputation gets you really-really far. And sometimes you can learn things from movies too.

“When I propose a candidate for a job I don’t do it because the person in question is the best but because he is the one the client will employ. I provide them with a head that is good enough, placed on a body they want. […] The world is full of people who pay serious money for bad pictures by good artists. And mediocre heads on tall bodies.”

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Jan 27 2017

The one with the password

Category: English posts,TechnicalIuliana @ 21:14


Today I made the internet go crazy by posting a picture of my desk. You would wonder, how? Was I naked on top of it? Was somebody else naked on it? Was my cat on it? Well… no. See for yourself.

The first reason was because there were some nail clippings on it. Somebody called them “gross”. Because nail clippings are gross nowadays apparently. For me, they are gross only if I know for sure if the nail was stuck in the ass first, otherwise they are just pieces of keratine. But that’s just me, I know a little anatomy and there are not many things I can consider gross about the human body. If you think I have a habit of clipping my nails and using my desk as a clippings collector, allow me to explain. On the bottom right corner there is a leather container, that is my manicure set. I was fixing a nail, while reading Cetin.ro, and he asked for a picture of our desks. I did not think too much, Cetin wants, Cetin gets.

The second reason is that my router password is there. I did not “not notice it”, nor forgot about it. And I assure you I am not stupid either. I just snapped the picture and thought about blurring the router password for about 1 second. But what would have been the use? The router can only be accessed if you are connected to the network already and I don’t have a real IP, nor a publicly available passwordless wireless. So I uploaded the picture on imgur and hell broke loose.

There were a lot of considerate people too, that notified me about the password and one of them, a security expert, he actually expressed his concern that I might have used the password somewhere else, and maybe somebody could use it to hack me. Rest assured guys, the router password is unique. The reason is on that post-it is because I only used it once, when I set up the router.

And there is another thing that got the internet interested: the 696969 number. :D (I know what you are thinking about)  I won’t tell you what’s that was for, but indeed it was a password for something at some point. No I  do not usually use kinky passwords. Or maybe I do. You will never know that either.

So, are we cool internet?

Stay safe, stay happy!


Jan 21 2017

My own Git meme

Category: English posts,TechnicalIuliana @ 19:30

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