May 26 2017

The unexpected

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 1:39

This year started with some plans being broken, so I kinda got used to the idea that nothing interesting is going to happen. Thus I just drowned myself in work. At least that was the plan, and it seemed to work, at least until the 23rd of April.

On the 23rd of April, at 3 am, I was going to bed after a full workday. As I closed my eyes, a notification appeared on my phone, because I forgot to put it on night mode. One of my favorite bands, Switchfoot, was singing in Vienna.

Opening the concert was Lifehouse.

So I got up, went to my desk and bought the ticket.

In the morning I printed it and looked at it more attentively. And that’s when it hit me. The concert was taking place at “The Filene Center”, Vienna, VA 22182. And the ticket was 55$. When I bought the ticket, it kinda bugged me that the price was in dollars, but brushed it off and clicked Buy.

Yeah, apparently there is a town named Vienna, in Virginia, US. I started laughing and thought bitterly that I have just thrown 55$ out the window, because the ticket was not refundable. But then, slowly, an idea formed in my mind. What if I go? But wait, it’s US, and I missed John Mayer’s tour in Europe. That was one of my biggest regret of the year. But what if…

So I checked. He was singing in Camden, New Jersey, on the 18th of August. And Camden is only 3 ours away by car from Vienna. And then it was set in stone. So I made myself the best birthday present ever. I bought myself a ticket to the John Mayer concert happening on my birthday.

This is how I decided to go to US. I did not plan it for half an year. I did not consult with anyone. I am going there alone. I already got my US Visa. The interview took three minutes. The waiting in queues and prints taking took 40 minutes. Driving to the embassy and back took 10 hours. But this Wednesday, I had my passport in my hands with the US Visa. So I extended my vacation and bought the plane tickets.

So… there is no way back, I am going to US. I am scared and thrilled at the same time.

Honestly, after the two previous years, I thought there is no way this year can be just as great. But apparently, it looks like it will be even better.

What else can I say? Sometimes a mistake done at 3 in the morning can turn into an beautiful plan. Talk about butterfly effect…

Stay safe, stay happy!

Tags: , , ,


Apr 08 2017

git unpack failed: error Missing tree solution

Category: 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.

Tags: , ,


Mar 17 2017

Made my day

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 0:05

I’m going to a rough period at work, I’m struggling a lot to get some work done and nothing seems to work. And my manager got sick so I had to deal with the hellfire of some releases being late. Today I was at the gym, and left without my equipment knapsack. So yeah, I am that tired, and that out of this world. I went there and I have no idea how I could focus, because all I was thinking of was how to tackle down the problem I had at work.

No I’m not an workaholic, but here’s the thing: my career, my problem solving skill, my ability to deliver high quality code and solutions is the sole source of satisfaction for me at the moment. Seriously. I was not able to buy a ticket to a John Mayer concert, the sabbatical is not happening, neither is learning to play guitar and I’m sort-of broken hearted as well. Believe me, work is all I have at the moment. If work does not bring me the satisfaction I need, I fall down into the darkness of low self-esteem and depression.

It is during this times when I start thinking about who I am and what I am actually doing. And I remember that all I wanted to become was the perfect wife and mom, I wanted the family I never had. I wanted somebody to love me and a couple of hyper-active kids. And what did I get. Apparently… the ability to make money, to inspire people, to motivate and lift them up. And I have no idea how I’m doing it, because I cannot do the same for me, at least not now.

But tonight, after a bad and disappointing day somebody’s words made my day. One of the people that bought my book, left me some messages on hangouts telling me that she likes one of my books, that she is very impressed with my work and that will help her prepare for the exam.

It is not the first time I receive thanks for one of my books. And sometimes they come at the moments then I need them the most. Thank you Sindiso Mpofu, you made my day!


Jan 21 2017

My own Git meme

Category: TechnicalIuliana @ 19:30

Tags:


Jan 05 2017

Negative feedback management

Category: 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!

Tags: ,


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!

Tags: , , ,


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!

Tags: , ,