Dec 20 2016

Company given rank and how much it matters

Category: 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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Oct 31 2016

The epiphany

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 0:11

Friday evening, five women got in one car and left from Sibiu, Romania towards Sofia, Bulgaria. There we were supposed to get on a plane, go to Kutaisi and have two dreamy days in Ushguli and one in Kutaisi before coming home. One of them was me. I was the driver, the car was my Sandero Smile, a Dacia car, a Romanian car, made for Romanian roads. Or so I believed for 5 years.

I did not sleep much the previous night, as I struggled to finish the last chapter of my recent technical book, but the sleep I had was really good, no dreams, just deep sleep, because when I woke up at seven I was well rested and ready to go. I added a lot of caffeine and some energy drink and all was well. I was a little scared, because I have never driven before for so long with 5 people in my car. But all went well, for about 400 kilometers. That is when we left the highway to turn into a dark and unkempt road, there was asphalt but it as covered in dust and small stones. I should have known I had to be careful, I should have gone slower, but the car was stable, all was well. There was a car in front of me, so I did not turn on my night lights, so I won’t bother the driver. I should have turned them back on with the first occasion, but I did not, and this I consider it to be my first mistake and the first factor. And then there was a curve in the road. My speed was about 50-60km per hour, because I had reduced visibility, but should have been smaller because of the quality of the road. But I clearly had no experience on those kind of roads, and this was the second factor. And in that curve I tried to stay on the road, but the car slid out on the right and caught a patch of mud. I managed to get it back on the road, but continued sliding. I kept pushing the brake, trying to change direction. I could see it all happening in slow motion. The car was slowing down, but not enough so I hit the side of the bridge in the curve with the right back side of the car.Then the front right side hit the concrete parapet next to the bridge, and the car overturned to 90 degrees, on its right side. Because the curve included a bridge over an irrigation canal, and that is when the car stopped moving, sitting 90 upright on its right side, on the concrete parapet.

I was suspended in my chair, hanging and tightly kept there by my seat belt. Nobody screamed until the car stopped moving. No idea what scream was the first, but I shouted: “Are you all ok? Please tell me all of you are ok!” Because you see, if I would have been alone in my car, I would just have started crying. But there were four persons with me, with friends and family that waited for them to come back, that needed them, that loved them. I did not have that, I really do not mater that much to anyone, that is how my parents raised me. I’m not sure that is what they intended it so, but they always had little hope for my future, so a child, then an adolescent interpreted their words as the worst: that she was worthless. Those women had friends and families that love them to bits and I’ve met a few of them. One of them had a small child. One has a niece with her eyes. One has a brother that means the world to her. One has a boyfriend that loves her so much and they have more than 12 years together. I have no connections like that. That is why my first scream was about them, because if any of them would have been hurt, I would have probably died of a broken heart right there and then, only not to face the persons in their lives, as the person that hurt the one they love so much.

After all of them confirmed they are ok, I felt the smell of gasoline. I stopped the engine quick. I realized, we won’t be able to get out of the car. So I called 112 (the equivalent Romanian of 911). They were quick to respond, it was difficult to tell them where we were. But I managed. Other cars stopped. They were trying to flip the car back. I asked them to stop. I realize I could just put the contact on, so the windows would work. I did that, then everybody was out. I was the last to go out. I was feeling guilty because the accident I caused ruined everybody’s vacation. We were all out and standing when the ambulance arrived, then the police. Then the fire brigade, because in Romania they take care o auto accidents too. Among the girls in the back, two of them had no seat-belts on. But they were ok. Only one of them had a few tiny scratches.

The car was taken off the road after all the pics were taken. I kept saying I was sorry and asking for forgiveness. People kept telling me it was not my fault, that accidents happen often in that area. It did not help. I wrote what happened so many times, I kept writing there were no humans hurt, but it still felt weird. Than I got to look at the car. It was totally trashed and it was a miracle all of us got out with only small bruises and some cuts. I called the insurance guys. They came in 30 minutes and as they lifted my Sandero on the platform I felt a pain in my chest. That car was my 5 year partner. I know it was just glass, metal and plastic, but I had the same attachment to it as I had for my cat. I was looking at it being dragged alway and felt like crying and I probably cried. That was goodbye, that was probably the last time I would see it. It was not about money, I can make more money, but that car… I cried in it, I laughed in it, I learned to drive in it, I probably told a boyfriend I loved him in it. We left Iasi together and made new friends that were on my right in that car. That was the end of an era, the Sandelu(that was the name I gave the car, or Sanducu) was no more. My last inanimate connection to Iasi was gone. Only friends remain now.

I do not know how others feel after they crash their cars, but I wanted to make sure those girls would make it to Georgia. I tried renting a car, no chance. Then one of them called some some friends to take take us to Bucharest to a hotel. I told them to book a hotel where they will feel like queens. I would have done anything to help them forget the scare of that night. I looked at them calling friends and families and realized I did not really have anybody to call. Except him. He wished me “God speed” before I left. I thought… maybe he should know. So I wrote him a message. He offered to jump in his car and come right away. I knew he had a lot to work and he had trouble sleeping, I really did not want to bother him. But he insisted, so I just told him to come the next day in the morning to take us home. And he did come, and I hugged him so many times I can’t remember, because it felt so safe in his arms. And he took us home. I stayed on the chair behind him, touching his shoulders from time to time, just to … I don’t know, just to have a fixed point I guess.

What happens in the mind of a driver that causes a crash that endangers other persons’ life? A lot of guilt. I rethink everything that happened that day and what I could have done to avoid it. I was lucky, were all lucky, because we are all ok, physically. Mentally, will take a while. I am so relieved that we are all ok, but from time to time, a dark thought creeps out. The dark “what if”. What if one or more of them would have been badly or mortally injured? What would our lives have been then? What would have happened to me? Because I could not have lived with the guilt. I am so relieved that this scenario is only imaginary, I keep telling myself that there is no point in worrying about what could have been and to move on, but I feel guilty. I’m not sure this will go away too soon and if one of those women wants to moon, I will go get it. It’s the least I can do.

After such events people have epiphanies, about life and death and their purpose and meaning on this earth. I kept waiting for mine that night. I kept waiting for it on the way home. And along the road while holding the shoulders of the man I love and does not reciprocate, but only has a high appreciation and affection for me that he drove for four hours to be close to me in my darkest hour and make sure me and my friends got home safe, a thought appeared as clear as a summer morning light. I never thought an accident as bad as this would happen to me. I have always been obsessively careful and respected all the rules while driving. I really, really believe this would never happen to me. But it did. So, if something so bad could happen to me, even if I took all precautions, what if this is true for good things too? If something unimaginably bad had happened to me, what if something just as good, can happen to me too?

The paramedics, firemen and cops were amazing to us, their behavior and professionalism was exemplary. They kept remembering us to be happy to be alive and unharmed, because looking at the car, nobody would say that was possible. They kept talking to us to keep us calm and collected. If somebody else will ever trash talk Romanian authorities such as these, I will fight them and defend them with all my might.

28 October 2016, 21:54, A1, Kilometer 44, on the road to Vanatorii Mici, five lives were changed and linked together forever by a singular event.

Stay safe, stay happy!

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Oct 12 2016

Musical perfection = John Mayer + Akua Naru

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 9:40

No need to thank me, just enjoy!


Sep 29 2016

What means to be a good programmer

Category: Funny,TechnicalIuliana @ 20:18

A few weeks ago this picture appeared on my Facebook wall.
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And it got me thinking. Are programmers that special? We really do programming just because it is fun? And what actually means to be a good programmer? Because in 10 years of experience in this field I had the occasion to work with really good programmers that were really awful people and good people that were not that good programmers, but they were easy to work with.

So then, what makes a programmer good? His ability to write an algorithm? His ability to improve it? His ability  to work in a team? His ability to write stable, extendable, testable and maintainable code? What means to actually be a good programmer?

Because if good programmers write code for fun, this means that I am actually a good runner, because I run for fun. It also means I am a good dancer because I dance for fun. This also makes me a good comedian, because I make my friends laugh for fun. And so on. And what happens when I have a bad day and I write code and hate doing it? Does this make me a bad programmer?

I am not looking the define what a good programmer is. Because programming is not about having fun. Bill Gates did not do it for fun. Steve Jobs did not do it either, I assure you. They did it because they have inferred the potential of technology when used properly. Programming is about making the technology do the work for you. The better you are at it, the more work it will do for you. So fuck it, I do not want to be a good programmer! Because I do not program for fun, not 90% of the time. I program to improve my life and others’ too.

I do not want to be a good programmer, because I want to be an excellent programmer. And if I succeed I want my work and my effort to be recognized, I want to be adulated by the public and I do expect to get properly remunerated.


Sep 05 2016

How do you recognize applications created by me?

Category: Funny,TechnicalIuliana @ 21:02

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Well… There will always be that user, called gigi.pedala, that I probably created when  I was pissed off that something did not work as I intended…

Who is Gigi Pedala? In Romania Gigi Pedală, also known as Dorel is the guy creating trouble, that knows nothing (and he is nothing like John Snow) and most of the time does nothing. Except trouble. That he does.


Mar 10 2016

Awesome Feedback for my technical book

Category: TechnicalIuliana @ 1:34

In case you do not know I wrote a technical book, about Spring Web. From time to time, I receive emails from people reading my book and working with the code, but the email received tonight made my day:

What attracted me to your Pivotal Certified Spring Web Application Developer Exam Guide is the fact that you used Java configuration for the Spring Web Flow, and to the best of my knowledge, that is the only book in the market that currently used Java Config for Spring Web Flow. As I look further into the book I see how you encouraged the use of current and most prevalent tools for development. I love your approach, it is very upwards looking, and has the tendency of yielding a great and lasting result.
(That’s what Tim said)

So yeah, I’m a pioneer in using Java Config for Spring Web Flow. Ta da! So in case you had doubts about buying my book, I hope there are less of them now.

Stay safe, stay happy!

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Feb 19 2016

I’ll just leave this here

Category: TechnicalIuliana @ 10:41