Jan 04 2018

10 Commandments Of A Career

Category: 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!


Oct 16 2017

Happy Birthday to John Mayer!

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 20:29

My favorite singer is celebrating his 40th birthday today. As you will probably figure out soon I’m a little obsessed with this person. John Mayer is an amazing guitarist, I am expecting to be one of the names in the music hall of fame, next to Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, BB King and others. I think he is one of the best guitarists of the century and I am glad I was born in this day and age and have my ears caressed by the sounds he can make a guitar produce.

He also has an amazing voice, and he’s quite handsome for his age, of course. But this has nothing to do with my “obsession” for him. I think I just like him as an artist because he is really good at expressing how he feel through music and sharing it with his listeners.

My dear John Mayer, thank you for your whole existence and your dedication to music. Being able to listen to you sing live was the highlight of this year. I hope you live for many years from now and continue making beautiful music. Please take care of yourself and continue making your dreams come true! Happy birthday!


Oct 15 2017

Spring Stereotype Annotations

Category: TechnicalIuliana @ 21:18

Having finished writing my third  Spring book, it was about time I should start writing technical posts as well. Being an accessible online person, quite a few people that read my books find mistakes or have interesting questions. I am really happy when people find mistakes, this means that they are actually reading the books, taking them seriously, including reading the references to the official documentation, which is more on point and more detailed than a book written by an “external” will ever be.

And I am happier when questions that question my own understanding of the framework are risen as well. Because this motivates me to dig deep into the documentation, to ask other technical people I know what their opinion is. It is an opportunity for communication and debate.

The last question I had from a reader was about the @Configuration annotation. He asked why is this annotation not mentioned as being a stereotype annotation in the book and if this is not a mistake on my part. He gave me some links to some official documentation and his opinion about the matter. After I queried  multiple resources, including my technical reviewer, who is a Spring  trainer for Pivotal this is the answer I came up with.
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Sep 08 2017

So I read the Google manifesto…

Category: 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.
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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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Aug 26 2017

The long way back

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 10:33

In the Atlanta airport I met Kyle, that is a half Irishman, half Scottish American. I should have figured out his origins by the fact that he started his day with three Bloody Mary drinks. We had a nice chat about people work ethic and mountains. I then boarded the plane and wrote one of the entries for this blog. I think I also slept a little. I can tell you for sure that time flew as well, because the time to land came quite quickly.

In Washington Dulles I had a lot of time to spend, because on the way back is when the time zone difference causes a lot of trouble. Back to Europe I was flying with United Airlines which is a more lower cost version of Lufthansa with a crappy site that did not allow me to check in and choose my own seats. So I ended up in 45 E, between a handsome Russian and a nice English woman.

I went through all the customs and flying formalities and here I was with only one bag and a lot of time on my hands. So I stopped in a bar and asked for a beer and a meal and went back to blogging. I keep hoping that when I get home I will have other subjects to write about, so I want to finish all vacation entries before I come back. Also I just do not want to risk forgetting more of the thoughts I am having now.

By the time I had to board, entries up to and including the 21st of August were already done. Then, because the movies and TV series provided by United presented no interest to me, I continued blogging. And now here I am, seven hours later, almost all entries are done. What they are missing are some pictures, maybe. But aside from that all the data is in. I have about seven hours of wait in Munich. That is where all the entries will be polished and then published on the blog. I will get home at 06:00PM, so I’ll have just enough time to take a long bath, watch Game of Thrones and console the cat for my absence. Then I will doze off to sleep and I will wake up into my routine weekend life.

It is weird how wasting so much time in airports does not feel so bad. I was expecting to get crazy bored. I guess blogging can be quite time consuming, especially the way I do it. Honestly, I doubt somebody will actually read all my crazy and boring thoughts. But who knows, maybe in some other part of the world there is a stranger or a friend stuck for hours in an airport. And they do not have a blog, or are not as passionate about writing as I am, but they are passionate about reading. So here it is, enough material to kill a few hours. You are welcome.

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Aug 23 2017

The US adventure(part 13): beach day

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 9:44

For this vacation I had one beach day planned, the 23rd of August. So in the morning, I got dressed into my beach attire, checked out from the hotel and moved my ass to the beach. Parking+beach chair=45$, so if I see “free” written somewhere one more time I’ll kill somebody.

Anyway, I’ve made myself comfortable, covered my body with sunscreen and I just enjoyed a full day of doing nothing. From time to time I took a break to play in the ocean. My chair was next to the lifeguard, so I could not swim too much because apparently the rule is for the water to not go over your knee. Oh well…

It was a really relaxing day, just listening to the waves, playing in the sand and in the water. At that moment I wished I could have stayed one more day, but the plan was already done, I had to be in Kings Mountain that night and I had a 4 hour drive ahead of me.

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