Professional Development

work, work and life balance

I have been quiet here for the last couple weeks, more a reader than a writer. For me one of the more interesting articles of late was Wife of the mISV - Surviving the Business. When I showed it to my own wife, we shared a laugh and a moment of knowing silence - yeah, this one hits home.

Imagine the following. You're working as a software engineer on some pretty deadline-driven projects. You typically have a lot to do during the regular 9 to 5, enough in fact that you've been known to bring some of it home over the weekend, you know, just in case you got some downtime. You have got a significant other and your combined schedules are such that both of you are really always looking forward to the weekends, when you are both available at least most of the time.

Then, an opportunity turns up. One involving work and circumstances that make it very intriguing for you. The only caveat: The way to make it work is to do both jobs together for a while. Your dayjob (telling yourself, not to bring work home anymore on the weekends) and then the new job, on contract-basis in the evenings and weekends. What would you do? And for how long?

Hi Ho Silver! Away!

Remember the Lone Ranger? Believe it or not, I actually watched it as a kid. I don’t know why he was called the Lone Ranger, he always seemed to have Tonto - his Indian sidekick with him. Often, I code alone (I thought about rewriting the "I Drink Alone" song to "I Code Alone" but I had only had 1 small cup of coffee when I wrote this) and I’ve been thinking of some "tricks" to help me with my lonely quest.

Diary of a side project

All the way back in January, I wrote here about my goals for 2006. Although it’s too soon to do a full recap, I’m sure you’ll all be glad to hear that I seem to be making better use of my time this year, my software is still improving and sales seem to be on a gentle upward curve. Irritatingly, I’m still waiting to go home, but that one’s out of my hands.

But, the reason for bringing this back up wasn’t for an update on my progress over the last couple of months, it was because of the remaining goal: to learn more. I suggested that rather than trying to learn a little bit of everything this year, I would focus those few spare brain cycles on just Flash and Ruby on Rails.

Like nails on a chalkboard

You know the feeling... someone says something in a meeting that just grates on you. You know it's not true and now you have a choice. Do you nuke them, politely point out where they've erred, or do you simply forget it and go on with life? I had the opportunity to review a slew of Project Management books recently and Applied Software Project Management by Andrew Stellman, Jennifer Greene was one of them.

Their phrase "All developers are created equal" grated on me in this way and initially I went with the third route, but when they recently wrote an article for OnLamp titled What Corporate Projects Should Learn from Open Source and then it made Slashdot, I had to respond.

Distributed Everything

Yesterday, I came across this article from Venturepreneur Partners discussing the idea of "Web 2.0: Where everyone, virtually knows everyone" and I thought how applicable it was... not just to this little community, but where technology seems to be leading us in general. Five years ago this concept was possible but unlikely and ten years ago, this was just impossible, but now not only are we a more mobile society in general, but we have the opportunity to be more connected than ever. As Clarence Wooten puts it:

The experience lead me to think about Web 2.0’s impact on social circles. In the physical world, social circles are groups of people who happen to frequent the same places and know the same people — either personally or professionally.

If you haven’t already noticed, Web 2.0 has enabled the formation of “virtual social circles” — circles that are so geographically sparse that they can only exist virtually.

Startup Myths?

Sometime last week I squeezed in a couple hours to read Bruce Judson's Go It Alone. It's sort of motivating book for people starting companies. Conveniently (or maybe to prove a point) the author elected to start a couple companies himself, which apparently worked out okay for him.

Anyway, I said the book is sort of motivating, because really, as I have been having a chance to digest the material, the initial excitement is fading and I am understanding less and less where I stand in this regard. As I am writing this, it is well past midnight, my alarm will go off in about five hours. I am recalling Rusty's comment on the previous post of this happy series. If he only knew.

Interview: The Wall Street Programmer

This is the fourth in a series of interviews we're making available to the CodeSnipers community. It's quite a bit different from our previous ones which focused on Open Source developers, Project Mangers, and general community contributors. This gentleman is a bit more fired up and has something to say. Without further delay... we have the Wall Street Programmer.

When your blog launched in November '05, you titled it "Thoughts, insights and justified profanity from a Wall Street Programmer". What are a few aspects that make software development on Wall Street different from other places and/or industries?

Sofware development on Wall Street seldom follows the fads and keyword technologies of proper software shops. Only now is the season of the dying breed of C++ developer being replaced by a new wave of Java centered managerial decisions. This is enirely too late as compared to other software developer domains. As I've stated in my post about traders, much of the software here is seen as a necessary evil...a means to an end. Just write the thing in whatever way is fastest, make sure it's relatively stable and runs fast, and shove it out the door...

Interview: Chris Shiflett of Essential PHP Security

This is the third in a series of interviews we're making available to the CodeSnipers community. We have been working to track down people who we thought had something valuable to say about the software development community, tools, practices, or direction. Some of the names you will recognize immediately, others you've probably never heard of, but all of them have made an impact in one way or another. Without further delay... we have Chris Shiflett author of Essential PHP Security.

Security is one of those things that many developers think to "bolt on" after the main system has been developed. What is the proper way to think about web application security?

Security isn't much different than other abstract concerns such as performance, maintainability, and reliability. None of these characteristics can be added very easily to an existing application - they need to be considered during every stage of development. (It's like trying to add wisdom to a child.)

They're also difficult to measure. The measure of an application's security is its ability to predict and prevent security problems before they are exploited. It's an ongoing process that begins with a solid design.

Starting it

A while ago, I found myself stubborningly exclaiming that I will not stop. That was more than two months ago. Time flys when you do not have much of it available. In this week's post I want to take a look back to see what happened since. In addition to that, I think it's a good idea (and the appropriate time) to offer some views (guesses) regarding future developments.

Where do your responsibilities end?

For those of you who don't know, I live in the Washington, DC Metro area.
For those of you who don't know, snow - ANY snow - completely terrifies and paralyzes the city.

While I was watching the news this morning, I caught an interesting quote. In DC and parts of Maryland, homeowners are *required* to shovel the sidewalks in front of their houses. If they fail to within a certain number of hours, they get a bill from the city for the shoveling along with a $25 fine. While this isn't huge, I thought it was fascinating that although you are allowed to exert no control over it, you are still responsible for the sidewalk's condition. Sounds quite a bit like programming against third-party systems, huh?