Jan 05 2017

Negative feedback management

Category: English posts,TechnicalIuliana @ 23:03
In the software development world we have a lot of processes, standards and ways to measure quality. When it comes to code quality the  standard measurement is the WTF/minute, depicted in the image on the left. The result of such measurement is usually a feedback given to you by a superior. If the feedback is positive, you will receive a pat on the back, the responsibility of teaching your mastery to others and if you are lucky, a bonus or a raise. Giving and receiving positive feedback is a easy, but life is not only milk and honey and sometimes negative feedback has to be given and received. And it can be quite uncomfortable for both parties involved. But fear not, I took a little of my precious time to write a post about it.  Because even if you are a genius, you are human and you are most probably doing at least one thing wrong. And negative feedback is not only given for the quality of your work, but for your overall behaviour during working hours as well.
This being said, let’s begin. There are three ways to give negative feedback:

  1. officially, via a review that will affect your future career path
  2. privately in a professional/unprofessional manner
  3. publicly in a professional/unprofessional manner

Officially, negative feedback is given to you in the best way possible, wrapped up as an “ability you need to improve” (or more). The fact that you are given negative feedback, means that you actually matter to the company and somebody above you in the company hierarchy believes you can improve. The first time when you receive negative feedback might be a drama, because if you are passionate about your job you cannot stop yourself from taking it personally and feel like a failure. The emotion is similar to what you feel when you let down someone you love, only in this case this someone is you. Just allow yourself to breath, to think about it and then start working on improving the mentioned point. And the most important, ask guidance in how to do this from the one that gave you the negative feedback.

Negative feedback given privately, is a warning sign. It is one of the most embarrassing ways to receive a negative feedback and it usually means you screwed up badly, but somebody wants to understand what happened and try to help you make things better. When given such feedback, try to pay attention to what it is being said to you, hold your ground and emotions in check and try not point the finger to somebody else, not without accepting your own fault in the matter. Negative feedback given privately is usually the result of some behavioural issues, usually harassment of any kind. Depending on how badly you screwed up and depending on how short tempered your manager is, the negative feedback can be delivered professionally or unprofessionally. If the negative feedback is provided unprofessionally, the same as said before applies, there must be at least one person in that room to hold their shit together, it is better that is you. Because even if the discussion is private, the outcome will be in an official review. So, obviously it is better to say in your review that you admitted your part of the guilt, you are sorry about it and will work on improving in the future. And you can also report the short tempered manager to his manager.

Negative feedback given publicly, is clearly inappropriate. It is a warning sign for the provider of the feedback and for the receiver as well. It means there is a clash of egos there, maybe some issues that were never resolved or reported. Whether provided professionally or unprofessionally, this is one of the most uncomfortable things that can happen in a company. It reveals that the two persons involved both as problem employees. Maybe they either do not know or do not care about the internal hierarchy, or they do not trust the matter can be solved by official channels. If you are being scolded publicly, just remember school. Even if you have never been scolded by a teacher, you have witnessed it and you probably remember, that answering and defending yourself in the heat of the moment, did not do much. The same advice as in the previous case applies: hold your ground, keep your emotions in check and just take it. Just let it pass. Then think, raise the issue to the next person higher on the hierarchy and show yourself open to make things work.

No matter how good at your job you are, the fact is that we are all humans. We all make mistakes and we all have our moments when our mind plays tricks with us. When you work with the same people for a long time, conflicts are unavoidable. But you must remember why you are there for: you are there to excel at your job, you are there to teach others what you know, work with your team and make work more efficient for everybody so in the end the company will flourish and so will you. Unless the negative feedback is a backlash caused by personal issues with the person providing it, the negative feedback should always be considered an opportunity to improve yourself and others too. If the matter is personal, well… in this case things get complicated, unless you find a way to put it aside and separate personal from professional issues. Not all persons have the ability to separate professional from personal issues, but you can get better at this by talking to a counselor, for example.

I’ve written the above from my professional experience. I remember my first negative feedback and I remember my last. There is one recurring recommendation managers keep giving me: to be less blunt. But from overall personal experience I know that some people do not react unless they are hit with the naked truth. The best I can do is to try to know my colleagues as best as I can, thus I can modify my behaviour depending on them. I guess, we all just have to be understanding, considerate and flexible after all.

Stay safe, stay happy!

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Jan 02 2017

Tinder adventures

Category: English posts,PersonalIuliana @ 20:58

This post was here before in a different format and it generated so much hate I had to hide it for a while until I made a decision about its new shape that maybe will be better than the original one.

I occasionally use Tinder. Chastise me if you wish, but I live in a small city, I have a peculiar character, my group of friends and acquaintances does not contain any eligible bachelors  and my hobbies are mostly solitary, thus I have really limited occasions to meet new people. Tinder is but a way to initiate a first contact with someone safely and analyze the person before I decide if I want to meet him in person. (Yeah, apparently no matter how much it pisses me off, I am definitely hetero.) The first interaction based on Tinder is online which is quite nice. Behind a device  and talking with somebody that they might never meet, people tend to be really honest or a least act as the version of them they want to be and this is the best version of them, otherwise … they won’t be getting any. All the guys I met on Tinder and decided to meet in real life up until now were quite nice. Some of them turned out to be weird in a way that was incompatible with my weirdness, but decent guys nonetheless. But there is an issue I would like to address.

Grammar: when you flirt in writing, you’d better know your grammar. I do not know what type of women can be found on Tinder usually, but I am an educated woman with a career, peculiar character and little time on my hands. I am unfortunately smart, so I need mental and physical stimulation to be turned on. So if you make grammar mistakes like using your instead of you’re when you mean you are, believe me, you have blown your chance to ever meet me. The only time when mistakes are allowed is when the language in which you chose to communicate is not your native one. You can imagine how fun is online flirting in Romanian, because Romanian is not an easy language. For me it’s gotten so bad that I just can’t exchange written messages with Romanian guys. It’s such a turn off that I basically given up using Tinder in my country, unless the guy is a tourist.

First I thought this is something temporary, and that I could get used to it, I mean … it was quite clear what they meant. But the last two guys that I was interested in, were like this: one was a guy that got his speaking and writing start in German and has an excellent English knowledge and a sweet Polish guy I met this week in Vienna.

So yeah, I have a big problem. If I want to settle in this small mountain city and make a life here, I will probably have to accept the fact that I will be a loner. Or meet someone in my numerous travels and hope they will love me and this city so much that they will decide to move here, or that I will love him so much that I will decide to give up my small mountain city.

I have no idea what my future will be like, but I can only hope it will be good. I will try my best to make it so, but when it comes to matters of the heart, it does not depend only on me.

Stay safe, stay happy!


Jan 01 2017

Iuliana’s log, stardate 13301.11

Category: English posts,PersonalIuliana @ 23:58

I must confess I kinda cheated. I started one of my planned activities for this year already. This year I will more spare time, than I had starting with 2001 and I intend to use it wisely. I intent to continue growing emotionally and intellectually, try to be the best version of myself so far. This means I have to develop some healthy habits. It’s not like I did so bad until now and I have a list of new year resolutions. I do not believe in that “New year, new me stuff”, it has never worked so far, and it won’t now. I am not that disciplined, so I can’t make decisions over night and stick to them, I can just take baby steps.

So I decided that this year I should run more, thus I started on the 31st of January 2016 with a short run of 3Km at -4 degrees Celsius. I did the same thing today and I intend do this for the following 28 days, because that is how long it takes to grow a habit.

I am in a point in my life where the fight for survival is won, and so is the fight for a career, thus it is about time for me to settle down. The hunting for a home was also started last year as well, because the sooner the better. I think this activity will be quite challenging and it will be quite interesting since I have a friend that is an architect and knows exactly what questions to ask to make sure I get the best place.

I crossed into the new year cuddled with my cat, under my soft blanked in my own bed, while all my friends on Facebook posted pictures from the parties they were at. Last year I was at a party too with a group of very good friends, I was so glad to be with them that I never thought about posting pictures on Facebook. It’s a sad world we are living in, when how we appreciate any personal experience depends on how much others appreciate it. I might be old school or I might be selfish, but a lot of my personal experiences I’d rather not share but with the persons that I experience them with.

I entered the new year wishing all my friends and family a good new year, better than the previous one, not as good as the one after it.

The year 2016 ended with some new experiences. I have visited a very good friend from college and met his 3 years old daughter. The kid was amazing, as the other 2-5 years old kids of my friends. I think my generation is compensating a lot for the mistakes of its parents and I think the result will be incredible. It almost make me sad when I think I might not get the chance to have my own kid, but I will get involved as much as I can in the life of these kids. I’ll be the fun aunt that teaches them cool stuff and educates them without them even realizing it. I’ll contribute to this generation as much as I can. I also visited my family and although I managed to stay in the same room with them and chat for about 4 hours, it does not mean I will be repeating this soon. They think I might though and they already started calling me for any insignificant thing, especially to remind me to go to church on Sundays.:| My mom is in denial, she does not believe that my belief in God died fifteen years ago and that I haven’t entered a church since then.
And since I am talking about family, I had the honor to spend a few hours with a branch of my family that I have not seen since I left for college. I suspect that these people are the ones that my family borrowed money from, to support me during the faculty for a while, so I took advantage of my visit to thank them. I also had to occasion to meet a young man, that is a relative through alliance. I haven’t seen this guy in fifteen years as well, and I barely remember him as a boy. He is a man now, tall, slender and quite good looking. He’s just another one of those guys the universe seems to parade in front of me, to let me know that there still are good looking and nice men in this world, but not meant for me for one reason or another. It’s getting quite funny really, it’s like I’m just strolling through an art museum and not being allowed to touch the exhibits. :))

This year I will switch from being a technical author to a technical reviewer. I decided to take this opportunity, because I am not ready to have only one job and because I am not ready to leave the editorial world yet.

And this is the first entry of 2017, I know it’s not the best, but I will get better as soon as interesting things start happening to me. I won’t disappoint, promise. ;)


Dec 24 2016

Happy Holidays !!!

Category: English posts,PersonalIuliana @ 17:24

I am currently in what I might as well call my home-town, because all my best friends are here and so far I’ve lived here the longest. I left for Iasi on Thursday evening, so that on Friday I could take care of some bureaucracy of my accident. The solution apparently was easier than I thought, a document was made to transfer all the procedures to Sibiu. Those guys from over there will love me.

I will be spending the whole Christmas period with most of my friends here. I really hope I will have the time to drink a beer with each of them. I already started last night with two bottles of wine with a really awesome woman that I am proud to call my friend. When I won’t be drinking or partying, I will be playing with the child of my best friends, a little daredevil girl with a lot of energy and a lot of of smarts on her. I am happy to see her grow and become more and more ware of the world around her. She managed to block my iPhone yesterday and learned to use the Mac to search for images and YouTube clips with Pocoyo. And I showed her a few karate tricks. I think in a few years we might be training together. :D

It is quite warm in Iasi, there is not a lot of snow and there is a lot of fog. The grass on the hill visible from my friends’ apartment is a dark and sad green, but inside the apartment, there is a joyful atmosphere with the little kid laughing from time to time and the American jolly carols playing in the background.

But enough about me. This post is about you, my dear friends. I am very thankful that a lot of my friendships survived this year, even if there is a lot of physical distance between me and a lot of my friends. It seems that we are all good adults with the same set of values and our friendship grows strong in spite of the physical distance between us. I am very thankful for new friends as well and may our friendships grow as strong and as beautiful as my older ones. I wish you all Very Merry Christmas to you and your families, may you all be happy and healthy and have the best time during the Holiday. This will probably be my last entry for the year, so I also wish you a Happy New Year!

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Happy Holidays!


Dec 21 2016

The meaning of my tattoos

Category: English posts,PersonalIuliana @ 1:24

I’ve worked on my books for two years and I managed to function with 3 to 5 hours of sleep during this time. I was expecting to sleep a lot after getting them done. But then the accident happened and I had a little bit of insomnia and nightmares caused by that. When this was done, I was actually able to sleep and I was quite happy about it. But the previous Friday something changed. Something curious happened that I cannot write about yet, maybe because it is hard to define it. And since then my insomnia came back. And my dear friends and readers you will benefit from this, until whiskey starts to work properly as a sleeping pill. Because I am going to start writing often again. So, here goes nothing.

Recently somebody I met asked me about my tattoos. And I surprised myself giving different explanations for them and explaining why I will probably never get them removed. The best thing about my tattoos is that, aside for being anchors to memories they are symbols of personal beliefs, perfect representation of who I am and who I hope to continue being. As time goes by, they gain more meaning, they grow as I do. I have a friend that has an 18 years old son that wants a tattoo and he is terrorizing his mom with this. Until now I could not advise her how to convince him to think about this very well, but I hope this post will do it for me. Let’s discuss them one by one.

The Atom
This is my first tattoo. It represents my acceptance of the fact that little is under my control because everything that happens in this world is the result of the interaction between these little particles. It also depicts my passion for science in general and my curiosity regarding what makes things tick. I do not think I will ever change my mind and stop liking science, unless something happens to my brain, like cancer or a lobotomy. So there is no way I will ever consider removing it. This tattoo is an anchor for the second biggest change in my life so far: moving to Sibiu. I had this design for four years on my computer, and every now and then I looked at it and planned that someday I will imprint it on my skin. And when the moment fit I did it.
Darwin’s evolution tree
This is my second tattoo, it is a simple version of Darwin’s species evolution tree. The full design did not fit my hand. :D When I had it done I thought about it as a mark of my evolution from the feeble and fragile girl I used to be to this stronger version of myself, that I finally admire and love. It is also an anchor of the Colectiv incident. It is a sign that life goes on (if I would have chosen to work in the Bucharest office for this company, I would have been in that club that night), it’s my monument for the lives affected by that fire. Currently it is still a sign of evolution. Great minds accept that they do not know nothing for certain and they must always be curious and willing to learn, grow, evolve. This tattoo reminds me every time I look at it that vehement beliefs are symptoms of a narrow mind, so I should manage to keep my integrity while accepting that there is always a little chance that I might be wrong. So I must keep my mind flexible and growing. I never want for this tattoo to stop representing me.

Still alive, still able to love

When I decided to have it done, it was supposed to be an anchor for the memory of the first man I ever loved and that died 15 years ago. The original design had some roman numerals under it: the date of this birth and the day of his death. But the tattoo artist expressed his concern that the characters will blend in time, so I gave them up. After I had the accident the tattoo changed its meaning. Shortly after the accident, I also had to give up trying to win the heart of a man I loved, as he was not meant for me, nor good for me.(although quite a nice person after all, but a little broken, as all of us are) But meeting him, gave me hope that there is still a chance for me to love and be loved, because honestly I kinda gave up the hope of this ever happening to me a long time ago. So this is how this tattoo gained its full meaning. I am still alive, still able to love. And I have all the time in the world to find the person that fits me best. And until I meet him I will continue improving myself so he gets to meet the best version of me.

This is the meaning of my tattoos. There will probably be more, because as time goes by, I will change, more and more things will define me, more and more events will leave their mark on my mind and soul. So I will probably decide to mark them on my skin as well. They are not art, they are not something that make me special in the eyes of others. They are made for me. They say something about me, something that I hope will never change.

Stay  safe, stay happy!

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Dec 20 2016

Company given rank and how much it matters

Category: English posts,TechnicalIuliana @ 1:01

I’ve been promising for a while to start writing technical posts, but until I’ll have some time to write some code, I do have a few ideas regarding management and internal hoochy-moochy that happens inside IT companies. Bare with me, it might be either fun, either instructive, depends on how my mood changes while I write. Also, do not expect a small post that you will read in five minutes, you know I rarely do that.

I’m in my 10th year of experience in the IT field. I have worked on a lot of different type of projects, I taught at the university for a while, did some consulting and even written two technical books.  The company I work for currently has knighted me at the beginning of the year and therefore I am now called a software architect. My diplomas say that I am an engineer. And I find the term  software engineer much more suitable, because engineers break down problems into smaller problems and provide solutions or they concoct contraptions to make life easier and work more efficient. This is what I’ve been doing since 2010, concocting contraptions to make my work easier so I can be payed for being lazy.

But back to the original point. Last week, the company I work for sent me to a training/workshop where some guys were explaining something that I cannot currently write about and at the beginning of the workshop asked all of us to present ourselves. These guys were just there for the workshop, we will probably never see them again and the plan is to provide our own implementation for the thing they talked about. Nevertheless my colleagues started giving super details, their full names and full titles within the company. I just told them my first name,  the project I work on and the reason I was interested in the workshop. All done in 20 seconds or so. Bam!

I never liked labels, maybe because I was given so many while growing up (crazy, poor, weird, teacher’s pet, geek, nerd, etc). I do not like titles either. Unless you are freaking royal, then… oh well, you can have your title and shove it where the sun don’t shine. I have been doing architect work since 2010 when I had a full project on my hands, and I had to migrate it to some new technologies. And I did that and only missed the deadline because I broke my right hand and I had to program for two weeks only with my left hand. And I am right handed.(Since then I kinda started doing a lot of things with my left hand too, so now I think ambidextrous fits.) Returning to the original idea, bragging about your title when it does not fit you, is quite ridiculous. You can call yourself a manager, but you’re not doing much managing if your team members keep leaving. You can call yourself and architect, but if your solutions are crappy you’re not doing much … architecting(sic!). You can call yourself a web developer, but if you cannot develop a responsive web interface, allow me to have my doubts. And plus, a title given by the company you work in is as valuable as your wife knighting you the best lover in the world.

This is why I used to make fun of my architect title at the beginning. People who do not know me well, did not get my sarcasm. Many of my colleagues took my Lync status (I am architect, therefore I am God…) as bragging. I do not feel like an architect when I do not have architect specific tasks. So I present myself as a developer or engineer. It suits me better at the moment.  The way I see it, presenting myself as an architect, when I do little architect work, would be like presenting myself as Miss Romania, after I gained 20 kilos. So I do not present myself as an architect. I let others do it.

Another term I totally loath is expert. In the company I work for people like to use it a lot. I just started on a project called Regulator, people I interacted with, already started calling me The Regulator Expert. Then I switched to something called XBRL, I became The XBRL expert. Seriously???

I am no expert, in anything. Really. But what I am good at is keeping things simple and keep learning. Everything I do, I try to make it so simple that anybody with a little motivation could understand it, use it and maintain it. Why? Because I am lazy, I prefer the work to be self explanatory, than for people to bother me with questions. The other reason why I prefer not being asked questions about my work is that I kinda’ lack social skills. So if I develop something, expect tests, proper documentation with three types of UMLs  and some extra schemes drawn in Google Drawings. Anything to keep you away from me.

Also, company ranks mean nothing if you are not up to the task. And I’m the kind of asshole that even if you are a manager, if you are a crappy one, I will treat you accordingly and eventually tell you to your face, because negative feedback is also a thing.  :D

This being said, there is a post about negative feedback in the works. I hope you will enjoy that too.

Stay safe, stay smart!

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Dec 17 2016

Iuliana’s log, stardate 13351.18

Category: English posts,PersonalIuliana @ 20:44
  • I was mentioning to a friend that every two weeks or so I cry because of loneliness.  So he said I should get out and meet someone, get married so I won’t cry anymore. But… actually, there is no warranty that the crying will stop. What if I make a mistake, and choose to stick to a person that makes me cry from a different reason. What if I still feel lonely? How will I explain to that person that I feel sad and alone and it’s not because of him and also, that he cannot do anything about it? So yeah, I don’t think I want the most important reason that I will marry to be that I want to feel less alone. Because loneliness is not something that you feel only when you do not have a partner in your life, loneliness is something you feel when you are misunderstood, when you just don’t fit in a certain group as well. And you can also feel alone when you are not at peace with yourself.
  • My second book is so close to being published that it scares me. It scares me because I will have less work to do. I will come back from work and have the time to read a book, go biking or hiking or go out into the city or around the city. And when all the books are done, all the bike tracks have been exhausted, and all the pubs visited… what will I do then? And while doing all these things, where will my mind go? This is the part that scares me the most, because my mind likes the dark.  My mind has already started to drift to places where it shouldn’t. I try to keep her at bay, but with so little work left to do it has already started analyzing what the future might have in store for me, what dreams may come. And it is scary, because aside from work, there are so many things I kept on stand by for so many years, that it is really difficult to start on them now. And him, I can’t stop thinking of him. And it’s not even love anymore, I do not yearn for his presence, the thought of actually meeting him scares me. I just remember some moments, I try to remember how his voice sounds and I really, really hope he is doing really well and he is evolving mentally to a stable and beautiful character. If you know where I can find a tutorial about how to forget somebody and stop thinking about them, let me know. I’ll be very generous with the reward. ;)
  • This week, I’ve been delegated to Frankfurt. I had the occasion to meet a lot of new people and to interact with my colleagues in a more non-professional way, at the Christmas party. It was a really nice party, but I was reminded again that I really have to work on my social skills, because in a big group of people I feel like whale in a sea of sand. I think I could manage being in a big group of people if nobody would know me, but when a lot of people know me, that’s a problem. Actually, more than one problem. Problem number one: I know them and they know me, but we are in a different environment than usual and I do not know what is accepted as normal behaviour and what is not. Should I go say “hi!”, should I try to engage in a conversation, should I just let them come to me? Because Germans are weird people, they have the ability from switching between personal and professional very easy and I have no idea sometimes what context causes the switch.  Problem number two: they know me, but I do not know them. This year I have given a few presentations at company level and apparently one of them was quite memorable. So my German colleagues know me, but I do not know them. And they come to me to say hi, and they talk to me like I should know who they are and I get embarrassed because I don’t and try to remember if I ever met them in person and if I should know them and maybe I seem like an asshole to them.  So yeah, that is why in a large multinational group  I need alcohol, because I need to turn off that part of my brain that thinks about how intercultural clashes can be avoided and what should I say so I don’t look stupid or inconsiderate.
  • I keep thinking about buying an apartment, it is not an easy task and it will require a lot of time and paperwork and money, obviously. The problem is, people are assholes or if they are not really being paid by how well they are doing their job, they do it in a precarious manner. The real estate agent I contacted to view an apartment, did not reply my last email, the one containing all the questions from my architect friend. Because I won’t buy an apartment that she does not approve of. And if her questions will remain unanswered, I won’t even consider buying the apartment. It’s quite simple.
  • I am coming back from Frankfurt with two big bags of black mushrooms and a bag of Wakame algae. I simply love these things.
  • I realized that people like to put labels on everything, including people and they desire to be labeled themselves. No idea why, but oh well…
  • I bought some souvenirs from Frankfurt for a few of my friends and I realized,  when it comes to my male friends I have no idea what to buy them. Women are easy: books, perfumes,  massage oils or simply funky socks will do. But men… men are a whole different matter. And if you want to prove them that you care about them, you should care about the gifts, you should know what to buy them… But I do not know because my social skills and inspiration when it comes to this are like my surgery skills. Totally missing.
  • It has been a full week and I can barely wait to get home. I want to sleep within my own sheets, I want to smell the mountain air of Sibiu and I want to drive my new car. And I want to start running again because my left foot is starting to misbehave again.
  • I wanted to do so many things next year, but I realized that I have to prioritize. So here’s the list of TODO’s  for next year:
    • learn German
    • learn to play guitar
    • go to US on vacation (visit Smithsonian, Big Cat Rescue reservation and go to a John Mayer concert, if I could meet him, that would be awesome too)
    • get certified as a Spring Architect

Stay safe,  stay happy!