Yin meets yang
Blog Authors: Valerie Skinner 060000VKGS is part of the IBM developerWorks team, getting to know the real developers who make up the My developerWorks community and exploring the world of social networking. I'm enjoying learning what makes developers tick! I'm very interested in exploring online communities and social media and understanding real world application - how they can help people solve problems and work together.
Send your birthday wishes to developerWorks... add your birthday message here
IBM developerWorks is celebrating 10 years of IT leadership on September 28, 2009.
Do you have a birthday message for IBM developerWorks?
How do you use developerWorks?
How does developerWorks help you get your job done?
What's your favorite thing on the developerWorks web site?
Post your birthday messages for developerWorks here by adding a comment!
vskinner 060000VKGS Tags:  developerworks mydw my_developerworks rational interview web_applications 18 Comments 8,801 Views
This week I'm happy to interview David Salinas, the project and technical lead at developerWorks. Get to know him better in this interview and visit his profile to invite him to be your colleague in My developerWorks.
Tell me a little bit about yourself and what you're currently working on?
Well, I am a long time reader and first time interviewee of your blog. I have been working at developerWorks for 5 years. I joined developerWorks from a small group called Toolbox that was shutdown a few years ago. Since being with developerWorks, I have been a web application engineer that has worked on a variety of topics including search, metrics, usability, UI and numerous web applications. Lately, I have taken more of a project lead role to help drive fulfillment of our requirements from a technical perspective.
What specifically drew your interest to the IT field?
To be honest, I was drawn to the IT field by my interest in technology and communication. I was a political science guy who fell into technology due a curiosity of getting people to connect and improve our collective governance. Once I got into the classes, it completely satisfied my intellect curiosity to understand the details of how these complex systems worked and my innate desire to solve puzzles. In fact, the best in the IT industry tend to have strong desires to solve problems and pull all the pieces together. Interestingly, there is more and more convergence between political science and computer science as the IT industry has evolved. In fact, in many ways, the internet is the culmination of the tenants first laid out by John Stuart Mill in On Liberty.
What advice would you give to IT students just starting out in the IT industry?
Well, I would strongly advise individuals to study relational databases and understand them very well. This was one area that my academic background did not fully prepare me. In working with others, I have found that this skill is essential in the enterprise space. Just to be clear, I would say that studying relational databases is beyond just understanding SQL though knowing SQL is a must too. You should know how to use a database, how to create one and how to update it as well. Its especially useful to be able to know how to start with a list of requirements and build a database that satisfies those requirements while being an optimal technological solution that can be easily extended and improved for future needs. To that end, you should understand database normalization.
The other advice I would offer is to invest in your future by putting aside money. When I started off, I worked for small companies. Based on those experiences, I can tell you that having a savings for immediate emergency and long term retirement needs is a good thing. So, be wise, put aside 10% post taxed income for your future especially if your employer offers matching contributions.
Finally, I would strongly encourage individuals to increase their competency on communication for the mediums of visual, oral and written. Strong leaders require the ability to clearly communicate a vision and direction to the team and for the project. Good communication is not strictly limited to being informative but also being concise, precise and persuasive.
What project are you most proud of ?
Well, I am most proud of two projects at developerWorks. First, I am very proud of the success and achievements for our Rational RFE Community. I was involved in this project from the ground breaking and have seen it blossom to a successful offering which went public in April 2008. If you are not familiar with it, the RFE Community allows users to submit feature enhancement requests for Rational products. Once submitted, Rational commits to providing a response within 90 days to that request. More importantly, users can search, comment and vote on feature requests that are in the community. Effectively, Rational is fostering a community to build a collaborative relationship for improving and influencing their products. Second, I am proud of the My developerWorks project. We have learned quite a bit about our users and the ourselves in deploying an integrated and fully featured community offering platform built on Lotus Connections. The adventure continues since we are continuously dropping fixes and features on a regular basis. More importantly, we are in process using the latest product release of Lotus Connections. As such, we are feverishly ramping up to make this a reality for all My developerWorks users.
If you were stuck on a technology deprived island, what single technology could you not live without?
Telephone (or VoIP). I know... sounds pathetic that I did not mention email or text messaging, etc. I have found that most of the complicated technical and business issues of our day really require for people to talk to each other. Quite frankly, email and instant messaging are just not the ideal mediums for most of those situations. As such, I would need to have phone capabilities Besides, with a phone, I could call 911 since my three hour tour went awry to get me stuck on this technology challenged island. Who has time for being on a hand woven hammock that resides between two lush palm trees and cast a cooling shade while looking onto a view of pristine beaches with the soothing melody of gentling lapping crystal clear water anyway?
Besides what you do at work, what other interests or passions keep you going?
Oh man, I do not think I want to bore your readers. : ) I am a big SciFi guy, RTS gamer and avid reader. On the SciFi front, I am waiting for the next season of Dr. Who. I just recently learned about the Firefly series thanks to a friend. On the gaming side, I have been playing Supreme Commander for a while. I have a Nintendo Wii for which I spend hours playing Metroid, Mario Galaxy and Mario cart. The latter of which my friends and I have fun beating each other up on weekends. As far as reading, I currently have 3 books going.... Death by Black Hole (Neil deGrasse Tyson), Ender's Game (Orson Scott Card) and Robot Dreams (Issac Asimov). I just finished Negotiate to Win (Jim Thomas) for which I would recommend if you want to increase your negotiating skills.
Star Wars or Star Trek?
No contest.... Star Trek. Its equivalent to the modernity of Aesop's fables in a future setting. It illuminates our ideals of a better tomorrow where we do not self destruct due to our tendencies for conflict, malice and division. Instead, we collectively grow to understand each other, uphold the categorical imperatives of equality, justice and leverage the opportunities that our diversity offers to conquer problems that limit a better future for us and our progeny.
Share YOUR predictions and ideas about the future of developerWorks, developers, and technology
IBM developerWorks is celebrating 10 years of IT leadership on September 28, 2009. It’s fun looking back, but what about forward?
What does the future holds for developers and IT professionals?
What technologies do you predict will hit it big in the next 10 years?
What do you want IBM developerWorks to do in the next decade?
Post YOUR predictions and ideas about the future of developerWorks, developers, and technology here by adding a comment!
vskinner 060000VKGS Tags:  myers-briggs personality personality_on_the_job 8 Comments 17,668 Views
So it's time to get back to my "Personality on the job" series of blog posts. I'm afraid I've gotten stuck on this particular one, since it is more challenging for me. Why? well...
Are you a feeler or a thinker? Just writing that sentence feels too black and white, too pigeon-holing. To label someone as a "thinker" or a "feeler" seems to imply that thinkers don't feel and feelers don't think. So before I even look at this from a Myers-Briggs perspective, just know that's not the case! We all think. We all feel. And I'll say it again, these personality elements are not either/or - it's a continuum. Before I dive in, I have to give this caveat: I'm a feeler. So some of this comes from my POV, naturally!
What about you? Are you a feeler or a thinker?
You might be a feeler if...
You might be a thinker if...
Now, what about the people you work with? Are they feelers or thinkers? Signs to look for:
Feelers may come across as warm and touchy-feely - they're not afraid to dole out hugs. Feelers may spend alot of time on how to present things to people or how to deal with a situation to assuage other's feelings. It's not that they don't want to do the right thing - they just want to do it in a way that makes people feel good. Feelers are often concerned with dealing with other's feelings and not upsetting the apple cart. They don't just look at the facts, they look at the human dynamics.
Thinkers focus on facts, logic, what's "right". Thinkers may not be as apt to talk about what they did that weekend and like to get down to business. They want to do what's right and don't generally worry about how it will make anyone feel. They speak their mind and often seem to be very confident of their position - after all, it's the only "logical" conclusion.
Now, once you understand where you fit and more about the people you're working with, how can you work better together?
Working with feelers:
Be patient with them. When you're in a meeting understand that social niceties must be exchanged before starting work. Think about your tone when communicating with them - even if you know you are right, try not to be intimidating or harsh. Speak their language, think about things from their perspective and you'll find you get things done more quickly because there is no distraction of ruffled feathers. Know that they will spend energy on how to present something, how to communicate something, and how to work with all the different players of the team to get something done - even if you view this as a waste of time, expect it and be patient with it. Don't forget to publicly acknowledge and thank feelers - this builds the kind of feel good culture they crave. A feeler may have a warm, casual, perhaps too friendly persona - don't take it personally or assume they're not serious about their job.
Working with thinkers:
Use facts, data, and logic to make your case with thinkers. Only after you've won them over to your way of thinking, can you talk about the best way to accomplish something with the people involved. Focus on why something needs to be done and what needs to be done - "feel good fluff" and "team spirit" may seem like filler to a thinker. Give thinkers room and time to analyze. Don't ask them to guesstimate. When you're working on a project, let them consider things and come up with a rational answer - they want to decide based on facts and reason and not their gut. A thinker may have a somewhat cool, distant persona - if you're a feeler, don't take it personally or assume it means anything about the way they feel about you. Realize it may take a little bit longer to get to know a thinker on a personal level.
My personal experiences...
I'm a strong feeler, but hey, I think too! I believe feelers and thinkers can form wonderful partnerships at work if they learn to play off each others strengths. If feelers can put their "feelings" aside to listen to facts and logic provided by thinkers, together, they can build an air tight case. Then, feelers can help package and sell the story with their intuitive understanding of interpersonal dynamics and office politics.
As a feeler, I'm still learning to push past my natural weaknesses. Sometimes I force myself to ask for things and say things, even when it's uncomfortable, even when it might cause stress, because it's the best thing for the business. I'm also trying to develop a thicker skin when I'm dealing with someone that might seem a little gruff and realize that it's probably not because they don't like me personally - they're also just trying to do what's best for the business. All in all, examining and understanding myself in this area has done nothing but help me out!
What about you? Are you a thinker or feeler? How does it affect your style at work?
vskinner 060000VKGS Tags:  interview open_source mydw my_developerworks developerworks social_networking 6 Comments 6,815 Views
I've always been a little curious about what a developerWorks zone editor does all day. I've imagined they must have some secret knowledge about the world of developers and what makes them tick. So I was looking forward to hearing from Barbara Wetmore, the editor for the developerWorks Open Source zone, to find out how she cranks out new content and what kinds of hot topics to expect from the Open Source zone in the future.
Learn more about Barbara Wetmore in this interview below and go add her to your colleagues on her My developerWorks profile.
As the zone editor for the developerWorks Open Source zone, what's a normal day like for you?
Think circus act. Specifically, juggler. At any given time, I have content coming and going and hovering in between.
I receive about 30 proposals for new articles each month. I can accept and publish at most only 8 to 10 of those. So I am constantly evaluating proposals, researching the subjects of the proposals, determining whether the proposals map to our content priority topics, conferring with experts, and making decisions. Once I've made a decision, I get authors started with instructions, article templates, and graphics and sample code guidelines. As those authors are composing, I support and nurture them by answering any questions they have and reviewing interim drafts. And then when authors complete and deliver their final material to me, I transform their material to XML and HTML, fix formatting errors, and edit the content of their article. I work with other editors on the developerWorks team to accomplish the final content and production editing. Once an article is published, I make sure it is promoted in venues such as the developerWorks newsletter, relevant groups on My developerWorks, and Twitter.
My days are unpredictable. I never know when a proposal is going to come in. Some days, I get none. Other days, I get five in one day! On any given day, I can be reviewing a proposal from an author, getting another author started on an article, and receiving and editing an article from yet another author. Hence, the juggling act.
What future technology would make your life easier?
Molecular transport. Definitely. Will somebody please hurry up and invent/perfect this technology? I have some implementation ideas. Let's use the cell phone to accomplish the transport, make it our personal portal. Feel like going to Paris for lunch? Punch in the destination code for Paris and voila', your molecules are disassembled, sucked in through a special adapter on your cell phone, sent at the speed of light through the air, and reassembled on a sidewalk cafe in Paris with a baguette and a glass of wine and some fruit and cheese. Got a meeting back in the States at 1:00? No problem. Dab the corners of your mouth with your napkin at 12:55, punch in the destination code on your personal portal, be at the conference table in time for the opening remarks.
Think of the possibilities. No more highways. They can be turned into bike trails. No more carbon emissions. No more rushing around or waiting in traffic jams. No more separation from family. Or instant separation, if desired!
Internet technology transformed the world. We're accustomed to that world now. It's time for a new transformative technology. Let's get going with molecular transport! I want to go to Paris for lunch!
Do you know your Myers-Briggs or Kiersey personality type? Care to share?
ISFJ (see http://typelogic.com/isfj.html). My husband is the exact opposite. ENTP. Turns out that's supposed to be a good match. Indeed. We've been married for 30 years.
What kind of topics and technologies can we expect the Open Source zone to focus on in the future?
I've been the editor of the Open Source zone for less than a year now, and one thing I've learned is that there are more open source projects out there than I could ever possibly investigate! We're always going to cover the biggies, the projects within the communities for which IBM is a major contributor: Eclipse, Apache, PHP. But there's room for other projects as well. And I like to let my audience define what they want to see us cover. I used our developerWorks Twitter account earlier this year to solicit topics from open source developers and users and as result, we published articles on Android, CouchDB, Django, and others. Cloud computing is going to continue to be a hot topic, as well as mobile technologies. What else? Readers, you tell me! Use the Comment field below to let me know what you think the hot topics are in open source and what you want to see us cover in 2010.
Do you have any "lessons learned" about personality on the job?
If you're obnoxious and competent, you can get away with being obnoxious. If you're obnoxious, but inept, you're a goner. Nice, but inept? You'll eventually be gone too. Being nice and being competent is always the better way to go.
How are you using social networking today?
You know, I started at IBM 30 years ago with a typewriter in my office. I moved onto to a "dumb" 3277 terminal attached directly to a mainframe (oh, those were the days!), and then stared blankly at the machine that replaced that in the mid-1980s. "PC? What's that?" Now I'm banging away on portable computing equipment 14 hours a day, and yes, despite initial resistance, I am participating in social networking. I tweet on Twitter, both personally and as the developerWorks Open Source zone editor. I share my life with family and friends old and new on Facebook (my kids don't approve, but too bad; they don't own Facebook). I connect with professionals on LinkedIn. Right now I am participating in a Smart Work Jam sponsored by IBM. And of course, I am a member of My developerWorks! I just can't get into virtual worlds. Too old, I guess. The last video game I played was Pac Man on some huge console-like machine in a bar on the Carolina coast. And I'm still not convinced anyone would want to pay attention to my drivel on a blog, so I've never blogged either.
I confess, I do like social networking. Sometimes it is too overwhelming, though. Too many people coming at me all the time. My favorite thing to do still is to walk alone in the woods in the morning. And then to meet with a few good friends for coffee. At the coffee shop! The real coffee shop! With real coffee and real conversation, accompanied by big, broad smiles and twinkles in eyes.
- Thanks Barbara!
vskinner 060000VKGS Tags:  developerworks academic_iniative students student_portal interview ai 6 Comments 6,516 Views
When I first moved from academia (as a college student) to a cubicle it was a jarring leap. At times I felt my nights working in restaurants, juggling trays, cooks and customers, had been better preparation than my days skimming textbooks (although one spectacular writing professor stands out as an exception). I regret that I didn't take advantage of things like web sites, professional associations, and mentors to better prepare me for a transition to the professional world.
That's why I am excited to put the spotlight on new resources for technology students in this interview with Laura Niemi. Laura's focused on the developerWorks outreach to students, and so I wanted to hear, straight from the horse's mouth, what's new for students this year.
So, the fall semester's officially kicked off... What's IBM doing for students this year that's new?
We put a renewed focus on students as an audience we want to reach out to - they are the developers of the future that we, our customers and our business partners need. Last spring we conducted a survey asking students what they want from an IT portal, what technologies they need skills in, what formats they prefer their skill-building materials in - all sorts of information that helps us meet their wants and needs. Over 1500 students from 46 countries replied - a terrific response.
We want to make sure that students can find the resources they need from IBM, on developerWorks and elsewhere, so we enhanced our Student Portal and added news items, more beginner learning resources, a community page with a number of social networking links, and information on Professional Certifications geared towards beginners. We're now working on additional enhancements and would love to hear from students via our Student Group on My developerWorks or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
What kinds of things do technology students need?
Technology students today need a broader set of skills than ever before. Businesses are looking for people with an interdisciplinary focus, not just a detailed technical background. Communications, business, economics, social sciences - all these fields deepen a person's background and make them more valuable in the workplace. Creativity, problem-solving capabilities, collaboration - you need all of the above since the world is so interactive. You can't work in a vacuum.
How can developerWorks help?
My developerWorks is a great place to get started - set up a profile and use the community to network with IT industry professionals, fellow students and professors around the world.
What are the top three things you would advise a student to do this year to take advantage of what IBM offers?
First, understand the job market that exists today, with all its challenges. Get experience - from your classes, projects and work experiences - that focus on technologies the market needs.
Second, focus on networking, both to learn about the IT industry and make contacts in the field.
Third, take advantage of the developerWorks skill-building resources through the Student Portal. Encourage your professors to join the IBM Academic Initiative and take advantage of our no charge offerings designed to prepare you for the IT marketplace.
I'd like to add a postscript to Laura's responses... If you want a glimpse into the everyday world of IT professionals, what kinds of jobs are out there, what people are working on, and where they get inspiration, subscribe to my blog's RSS feed. Each week I enjoy interviewing a new member of the My developerWorks community. These are multi-faceted people, with a variety of skills, experiences, and passions working on all sorts of projects, giving you a peek into what's happening in the IT professional world. You can also add them to your colleagues in My developerWorks and contact them with questions.
vskinner 060000VKGS Tags:  social_media groundswell developerworks dw social_networking forrester 4 Comments 4,385 Views
Very cool! developerWorks has entered the Forrester Groundswell Awards competition in the Business to Consumer "Supporting" category, for web sites that help customers support each other to solve problems. The Forrester Groundswell Awards are all about examples of excellent and effective use of social technologies to advance an organizational or corporate goal.
As a My developerWorks fan and someone trying to learn more every day about social technologies, I'm proud to see developerWorks in the running.
Check out the IBM developerWorks submission here: http://groundswelldiscussion.com/groundswell/awards2009/landing.php?sc=4
And don't forget to add your review or vote on your favorite entries for the Groundswell awards!
vskinner 060000VKGS Tags:  smart_work collaboration mydw lotus interview my_developerworks india cloud smarter_planet 1 Comment 5,248 Views
This week, get to know Antony Satyadas, an active blogger on My developerWorks, sharing smarter collaboration insights. Learn more about Antony in the interview below, follow his blog, and visit his profile to ask him to be your colleague in My developerWorks.
Tell me a little bit about yourself and what you're currently working on?
I have been in the IT industry for 25 years with a blend of experience in solution consulting/architecture, applied research, teaching, marketing, and intelligent systems modeling. I co-founded a couple of startups in healthcare and intelligent systems, spent 5 years in design office automation in India, architected solutions for BellSouth, Perot Systems, and IBM and been doing a variety of worldwide business leadership and marketing roles in IBM for the past 9 years. I live with my wife and two kids in Lexington, MA. My current focus is on bridging the business-IT gap by leveraging situation aware smart clients on the cloud, identify collaboration patterns and drive global competitive initiatives.
What are you doing to make the planet smarter?
Figuring out how I can work smarter by having the right work life balance... Just kidding, half kidding i guess :-) I have been working with several customers and business partners helping them figure out how to leverage smarter collaboration as a strategic asset to lower cost, and establish cultures of innovation. So how can a clinician work smarter by collaborating with a researcher? Teachers and students in academia. Government leaders and constituents in federal and state government organizations. Tellers and advisors in banks, contact center agents with their customers, subject matter experts, marketers and sellers in this globally integrated enterprise 2.0 type firms. Recently I was with bunch of CIOs from the ASEAN countries, in Singapore doing a smarter collaboration jam using virtual linux desktops. Lots of fun. One of my pet projects is how we can bring sanity to Smarter Cities by helping villages get smarter, using IT as the catalyst, as a cottage industry in emerging growth markets. Another one is on cost reduction strategies that can lower TCO and drive rapid ROI. I care a lot about us mere mortals, people in this smarter planet, duh :-)
Now we are getting ready for the Smart Work Mandate videocast and Jam Sept 16th thru 18th . This is going to be lots of fun. I would like every one of you to sign up for this here: http://www-01.ibm.com/software/solutions/smartwork/virtual/?cm_sp=CTA08-_-EV100-_-8340
How did you get started in the IT industry? What advice would you give to students or new graduates just starting out?
I got started in 1984, with Hindustan Computers Ltd in India, offering design office automation solutions using CAD/CAM/ Micrographic systems in India. Those days, our focus was on design office automation for organizations who had design and manufacturing shops – from shipyards and defense establishments to electronic, energy, and automotive industries. I would encourage students to pursue their passion, think out of the box and take risks - be an entrepreneur, and be ready to explore emerging growth markets. IT has revolutionized our world and it will continue to do so with more leaps and bounds in the years to come.
Since you've been a part of the IT industry, what has surprised you the most?
Kind of a paradox. On one hand, the ability of IT to drive productivity and transform us from the Industrial mindset to a knowledge driven economy that has leveled the global playing field. On the other hand the fact that we often solve part of a business problem, create new problems, and continue that cycle again and again.. But hey that is life i guess.
How do you use developerWorks?
Its a destination, a place i visit every day to find out new things, share my thoughts and more recently meet new people and communities.
What is your favorite thing about blogging? What's your biggest challenge?
Ability to express your thoughts and share widely right away. It is fascinating. One interesting Challenge is to be able to type once and repurpose in multiple ways across social media networks. We are getting better at this, but we have ways to go i guess
What are some of your favorite websites/feeds/twitter accounts to follow?
Given my competitive pursuits, I frequent eweeks, blogs and other sites where there are conversations about our competitors. Recently we set up a community model to create alerts based on feeds and pings from a variety of sources. One of my favorite tweets is by Mr Shashi Tharoor, the current Indian Union Minister of state for External Affairs. He was once lined up to become the Secretary General of the United Nations. Shashi is a great role model for every government leader in terms of how they should use social software to know the pulse of their constituents. This is also about participatory policy making, becoming a smarter government.
Any new technologies that you think are about to break into the big time?
Big fan of smart clients on the cloud – the ability to have choice of access and interaction devices, anytime, anywhere. I would place big bets on gaming and cognition oriented architectures and how they can lead the new wave of innovation in this smarter planet. I believe we need the right balance of automation and self-service to make this happen.
What future technology would make your life easier?
Virtual Smart agents who can do my work, who have situation awareness capabilities, and the ability to mashup multiple communication media and channels.
Besides work, what other interests or passions do you enjoy?
Couple of years back, few of us formed the Kerala Information Technology Alliance (http://www.kita.in; http://teamkita.ning.com). We have been executing a 12 point programme. I enjoy bringing entrepreneurs together, mentoring the Gen Ys, exploring the edges of my social networks, and tackling challenges in public sector... And of course having fun with my family.