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...
- You want everyone to like you, be happy, and feel good.
- You value camaraderie and goodwill.
- You don't feel there is a single right answer, since everyone has a different perspective.
- You're sensitive to the emotional vibes and political undercurrents in the workplace.
- You're not comfortable with confrontation and carefully arrange your communications with people to avoid upsetting anyone.
- You explain yourself alot.
- You use alot of emoticons ;-)
- Motto: Don't be mean.
Now, what about the people you work with? Are they feelers or thinkers? Signs to look for:
- You want to do what's right and what's logical.
- "Logical" is one of your favorite words.
- Facts and data combined with reason lead you to clear conclusions - there is a right answer if you can find it.
- You view work as all about getting things done - getting the right things done.
- You love solving problems and puzzles, learning and challenging your intellect.
- Your communication style is direct, precise, and succinct.
- You're not afraid to argue for what you think makes sense - you're not worried about hurting feelings.
- You say what you mean the first time.
- Motto: Don't be stupid.
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?
This week get to know Matt Holitza
and hear about exciting new things happening around Jazz
and Application Lifecycle Management.Tell me about yourself and what you're currently working on...
I'm Matt Holitza, I live in Broomfield, Colorado, where I live with my wife Leanne and my two sons Mason (9) and Jack (5). I'm a solution marketing manager for the Rational brand. Specifically, I evangelize the practice and associated tooling related to Application Lifecycle Management (ALM). I'm currently working on the Jazz million seat march, an initiative to share the power of the Jazz
platform with the world by offering a free community edition
of our flagship product, Rational Team Concert, for a team of up to 10 developers.How do you stay in touch with the real life challenges customers are facing?
Well in many ways, before joining IBM I was a Rational customer for about 10 years, so I can draw from my own experiences in that regard. But nothing is more valuable than talking with customers. I frequently attend and speak at the local Rational User Group meeting and also a member of the global Rational User Group. I stay linked in to the popular ALM community sites like developerWorks
and CM Crossroads
. I also frequently attend trade shows, which provides me with a great opportunity to hear from practitioners and managers about the challenges they are face on a day-to-day basis. In addition, for the past 2 years I have planned the change and configuration management track for Rational's annual conference, Innovate. This provides me with an opportunity to work directly with our customer presenters as they prepare for the conference. Before working at IBM, you were a QA manager, how does that give you a unique perspective?
I was a QA Manager in my last role, and I've served in many different roles in my career including a COBOL developer, a test automation lead and a Rational ClearQuest administrator, to name a few. As I mentioned earlier, I frequently draw on my own experiences as a sanity check when I'm working on new assets or campaigns. In the software development world, probably more than any other software discipline, the decisions to purchase new tooling is very heavily influenced by practitioners, team leads and first line managers, so my broad background keeps me grounded and more pragmatic. I do often think about how much easier my job as a QA Manager would have been if the Jazz products were available 5 years ago.
How do you think software development will be different in 5 years?
Wow, that's a great question. I think the trend toward distributed development will continue, and at the same time the current concept of outsourcing will dissipate in favor of an expert sourcing model where organizations will onboard and leverage experts wherever they may be located. I also think that Agile practices and tools will be the predominant method of delivering software. To support a distributed Agile paradigm, the application lifecycle management tools will have to evolve so organizations will be able to more effectively collaborate from remote locations. I know that IBM Research is working on a project named Olympus
which is intended to take development collaboration to the next level.Tell me a little bit about Rational Team Concert - what's the coolest thing about it? What is the best-kept secret about it that you wish more people knew?
Well, I've talked a bit about Team Concert
already. I've been around Rational for a long time, either as a customer, or now as a member of the marketing team, and I have to say that Rational Team Concert is, by far, the best product we've ever created. Rational Team Concert(RTC) is a lean ALM solution. It has integrated change management, source code control, build automation, interactive planning, real-time dashboards and out-of-the-box Agile process templates.
The coolest thing about Team Concert is that it's free for 10 developers and that it can be adopted as either a full solution or as a collaboration hub for products that a customer may have already invested in. It comes with an out-of-the-box integration to Subversion and Git, which are both popular open source version control tools.
My favorite feature is the interactive release planning
. It allows distributed teams to plan, estimate and monitor their releases and iterations as if they were co-located. This planning component comes with a schedule risk assessment feature which allows release managers to predict whether they will be able to deliver on-time using Monte Carlo analysis based on bottoms-up estimates provided by the developers.
Something else I should mention is that Team Concert isn't just for Java shops, it is truly technology agnostic. Team Concert can be used for teams developing Visual Studio.Net, System z or Power (aka System i).What advice would you give a software development team considering moving to Rational Team Concert?
Team Concert is built using open standards, and as such allows organizations to gradually adopt it as their central change and collaboration hub for development, while still leveraging the investments they've made in their existing tools. So teams don't have to rip and replace, they can adopt Team Concert incrementally.How are you using social networking today?
I use social networking to connect with our customer communities and other ALM communities. Social networking helps me keep apprised of noteworthy happenings in the ALM world. I also maintain several communities on Facebook - We have a very active Team Concert Facebook fan page
. I also leverage Twitter
to share new offers, videos and promotions with the ALM community.Are you a gadget junkie? What type of gadgets do you use?
To my wife's angst I'd consider myself an early adopter and so yes I am a bit of a gadget junkie. My favorite gadget is my iTouch, I can now use it as a remote control for my home laptop to watch my favorite TV shows on hulu.com and have since eliminated cable. I also like to hike, for that I use my Garmin Forerunner GPS watch to tell me how far I’ve gone, how high I’ve climbed, average slope, but most importantly now I can also give my boys an exact answer when they ask me “How much further daddy?”- Thanks Matt!
This week get to know Loiane Groner, a member of My developerWorks
from Brazil who is sharing what she knows about Java and reaching out through the IBM Academic Initiative. (And if you haven't already heard, developerWorks is now in Brazilian Portuguese - check out the new site
!) Learn more about Loiane in the interview below and find her in these places: My developerWorks profilePortuguese-Brazilian blog
, English blog
, and My developerworks blog Twitter
Java User Groups where Loiane is coordinator/leader: ESJUG
and CampinasJUGTell me about yourself and what you're currently working on...
Well, I'm Brazilian, 23 years old; I have bachelor degree in Computer Science, 4 years of experience in design and development of Java applications. Currently, I'm working at IBM Brazil as Systems Analyst/Java Developer in an international project (health care customer). I'm an IBM Academic Initiative
Ambassador. It is a voluntary work and this project provides to universities IBM tools, courses, lectures and a relation with IBM that help universities to graduate students with better qualification and ready to the market. I’m also JUG (Java Users Group) coordinator/leader of the following jugs: ESJUG (Espirito Santo Java Users Group) and CampinasJUG (Campinas Java Users Group) Why did you decide to go for an IT career? How did you get started?
This is a funny story. When I was in High School, I decided I wanted to go to Law school. But I did not like to memorize all the dates and facts about History to pass in SAT tests. I always liked Math and Physics a lot, and in senior year, I resolved I'd like to go to a computer/math school. I always liked computers (my parents gave me my first one when I was 10 years old), so my final decision was to do a major in Computer Science. I did not know anything about algorithms, and my first class about it in college was not so good. Some classmates have already heard anything about it, and everything was new to me. I studied a lot, and I learned it, and I fell in love with computer logic and algorithms in my first semester. In my college senior year, I won a merit award (Senior Year Computer Science Student - 2008), and I did make my parents very proud. I'm glad about the decision I did made some years ago, and I can say I love my job. What inspires you in your work?
I'm very fortunate. I have/had the opportunity to work with brilliant minds. These amazing professionals are my inspirations. So I study and work hard to be like them in the future. What do you want to learn about next?
There are many Java
frameworks I want to learn. I know a little bit about Hibernate, Spring, Struts, JSF, iBatis, and I want to learn more about these frameworks. I also want to learn about some programming languages, such as Phyton and Ruby, and study more about C and C++ languages. And I want to learn about UNIX OS. You blog in both Brazilian Portuguese and English! Is that tough? What is your favorite thing about blogging?
I started to blog in Portuguese, which is my first language. I write the tutorials for myself, my blog is a log of everything I've learned. My job requires some English knowledge, so I decided to start to blog in English to improve my English skills and vocabulary. I know I have a lot to learn about it, and some readers are helping me. This may sound a little awkward: recently, I tried to first write a post in Portuguese and then, translate it to English, but it is very hard to do this way. It is easier to write in English first and then translated it to Portuguese. It is interesting how our brain works! I think the best way to learn a foreign language is to learn how to think in it; forget you know your mother language and try to communicate only in the language you are learning. This method has been helping me a lot.
The coolest thing about blogging is the networking. You meet a lot of people from all over the world. And some of them you can meet in person - and maybe become real friends. It is very nice when you go to a conference and someone tells you they read and like your blog. It is an amazing feeling when you write a post and someone leaves a comment that it helped to solve a problem. It is a great reward! How do you use developerWorks?
I use developerWorks as a source of knowledge. If you google about Java (or any related technology), you will find an entry in developerWorks website. It is great for students and professionals. (developerWorks is now in Brazilian Portuguese - check out the new site
!) What are some of your favorite websites/feeds/twitter accounts to follow?
Some interesting twitter accounts: ibmacademicbr
(IBM Academic Initiative - Brazil), KathySierra
(coauthor of Head First Java and Head First EJB), martinfowler
(author of Refactoring: Improving the Design of Existing Code), developerWorks
(that is a lot of interesting links), jduchess
(a java users group for female developers). There is a lot more (I follow many interesting people, it is hard to list all of them). When you have free time, what hobbies or activities do you like to do?
I love computers! So I spend a lot of my free time in front of it: blogging, programming contests, playing games. I also like to spend some time with my family and my dog (pomeranian puppy), and I love to travel.- Thanks Loiane!
Send your birthday wishes to developerWorks... add your birthday message here
IBM developerWorks is celebrating 10 years of IT leadership on September 28, 2009.
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Post your birthday messages for developerWorks here by adding a comment!
This week, I bring you an interview with Hazem Saleh
, a developerWorks author and blogger, who has carved out a reputation for
himself in the world of open source technologies. Learn more about Hazem in the interview below and visit his profile
on My developerWorks to add him to your colleagues.Tell me about yourself and what you're currently working on...
My name is Hazem Saleh. I have five years of experience in JEE and open source technologies. I am an Apache MyFaces committer. I created and contributed in many components in the MyFaces projects such as Tomahawk CAPTCHA, Commons ExportActionListener, Media, PasswordStrength and others. I am the founder of GMaps4JSF (an integration project that integrates both Google Maps with Java ServerFaces). I am the author of the "The Definitive Guide to Apache MyFaces and Facelets (Apress)" book. I am a technical articles writer. I am a JSF public speaker. I am now working for IBM Egypt as a staff engineer in an E-Gov project in Qatar.How did you get started in the IT industry?
I started working in the IT industry once I graduated from the Faculty of computers and information System (Computer science department). I worked in free lancing and in a Canadian company in Egypt called (NTG) before joining IBM Egypt (TDC - TCG).Describe your favorite IT project
I like working in frameworks architecture, design and implementation.What has your experience been like working with the Apache MyFaces Project?
I contributed in the Apache MyFaces project with many patches, and I was the creator of many components like (the Tomahawk CAPTCHA, the media, the passwordStrength). I also contributed in many other components such as the MyFaces Commons ExportActionListener. I had the chance to be an author of the definitive guide to Apache MyFaces and Facelets book
Working with the Apache MyFaces team makes me learn a lot of best practices, design strategies and problem solving techniques. I was really honored to be selected as a project committer.
The real benefit of working in an open source project is that your ideas are always validated and enhanced by other people from the open source community. Every day, you hear a lot of ideas and learn a lot from different experiences of a very talented technical people.
In the Apache MyFaces project, there are many subprojects under the MyFaces core (Trinidad, Tomahawk, Tobago, ExtVal, Orchestra) and all of them offer many cool features to the JavaServer Faces community.You wrote an article on developerWorks recently: GMaps4JSF in the JSF 2.0 Ajax world. What inspired you to work on this project and write this article?
JavaServer Faces offers a clean web programming model. It gives the web developers a higher level of abstraction that allows them to build powerful web applications by just using a set of components without even knowing their implementation details.
GMaps4JSF gives the JSF developers a level of abstraction that they need when using the Google Maps APIs inside their JavaServer Faces web applications.
I have the pleasure to be the founder of this project. I wrote an article about it on developerworks to let the people know about the library and how to use it inside their JSF 2.0 applications.What new technologies do you want to learn about next?
Flex and GWT.How do you use developerWorks?
developerworks is my first class technical reference. It contains a lot of good materials in all technical aspects. developerworks articles, tutorials, forums and blogs help me learn new stuff. I usually use developerworks forums for finding solutions to the issues I usually face in my daily job.What inspired you to start blogging on My developerWorks?
The main thing that inspired me to start blogging on developerworks is sharing and exchanging the knowledge with the developerworks technical community. [Visit Hazem's blog on My developerWorks
]What are some of your favorite websites/feeds/twitter accounts to follow?
Jim Driscoll's blog: http://www.java.net/blogs/driscoll/
Ryan Lubke's blog: http://blogs.sun.com/rlubke/
Roger Kitain's blog: http://www.java.net/blogs/rogerk/
Ed Burns on Twitter: http://twitter.com/edburns
Martin Fowler on Twitter: http://twitter.com/martinfowlerIn your spare time, if you have any, what hobbies or activities interest you?
Working for open source projects, playing computer games, and playing a little gym :).- Thanks Hazem!
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.Thanks David!
I've always found Carl Jung's archetypes
to be fascinating. As I've been trolling around lately in the social networking universe, I've observed some archetypes myself and thought I'd share! Let me know what you think! Do you identify with any of these?Social Networking Archetypes
You're like a sponge soaking up information all the time and you like to share that information with other people! You blog and tweet often. It may be short and to the point but you keep it coming because you like to keep up with current events and strike while the iron is hot.Make the most of your archetype
: Embrace your strength and do what you love. Other people are looking for that timely information you provide. But consider learning from the Friend and the Personality archetypes to add a little warmth and color to your social networking.The Personality
You might be fun, sarcastic, witty, or brainy. But whatever you are let's face it... you've got Personality with a capital 'P'. You have a way of expressing yourself that's unique, and you're not afraid to put yourself out there. People like to follow you not just because of information you provide but the spin you put on it. It helps if you are passionate about a topic or share lots of information but what makes you shine is the personality factor.Make the most of your archetype:
Whatever medium you choose post regularly, be colorful and be yourself. But if you're in a corporate environment - don't forget you may need to censor yourself! Be sure to know your company's social media policy so your "Personality" doesn't get carried away.The Philosopher
You think deep. You might see a news story or have a small moment in every day life and it presents itself to you as a deeper revelation. You like to share these insights and your blog posts are lengthy and carefully crafted. You have wise perspective that others admire and enjoy. Make the most of your archetype:
Cultivate your philosophical musings and don't be afraid to share. Jot down ideas for blog posts as soon as they come to you. Find a topic you're passionate about so you can focus your philosophical musings on a consistent topic.The Lover
There's something that you really love - maybe it's guitars or programming or horses or french cooking or astronomy. Whatever it is, you LOVE it, and that's what's drawn you out into social networking where you can share your love with others like you.Make the most of your archetype:
Choose a niche community with shared interests to make your social networking home - this is where you can find others who get fired up about the same things!The Teacher
One day you woke up and realized you possessed some expert knowledge. You might have cut your teeth and learned something the hard way. And you get a big thrill out of sharing what you know with other people. You like to help. You share instructions, tips, tutorials and helpful resources and you're always happy to answer a question.Make the most of your archetype:
Choose a niche community with shared interests to make your social networking home - this is where you can share your know-how with people who need it!The Friend
You're good at making people feel welcome. You love to read what other people write and share and then comment back. You probably have your own blog or Twitter account. And there's no doubt you love Facebook. But what you really enjoy is getting to know people via whatever medium you use.Make the most of your archetype:
Decide whether you want a wide social network or a deep one. If you want a deep one, pick a site or tool that you really love and connect with people in that environment. Consider choosing a niche - a certain topic you're passionate about - to build your relationships around.
This week's interview with Naveen Balani
- a software architect and developerWorks Master Author
- is especially timely, given the start of the 2010 Devolothon, a 14 city tour in India
. developerWorks India is often on the cutting edge, trying unique things - connect with fellow IT professionals in India by joining the developerWorks India group
And now, onto my interview with Naveen Balani. You can learn more about him in his My developerWorks profile
. And in Naveen's blogs
on My developerWorks. And in his many articles on developerWorks
. Tell me about yourself and what you're currently working on...
I work as a Software Architect with India Software Labs, Mumbai. I am part of WebSphere Business Services product development team and currently working towards our next release of the product.What has your IT career journey been like? How did you get started? Did you choose a specialty or did it evolve?
I started my IT career in year 2000. I have always been keen to learn about new technologies and wanted to specialize on software design and architecture. Early in my career, I used to spend most of my time researching on various technologies and contributing articles, white papers on it.
I started off with a services organization where I was involved in designing and developing solutions for banking and insurance firms primarily on Java and J2EE stack. I was always looking out for opportunities where I could work on challenging assignments and get to design and architect solutions and products. Over these years, I have played various roles right from a developer to an architect and have worked on product development as well as designing and architecting solutions. What IT project are you most proud of?
I would say all projects that I have worked on have helped me in my career in some way or the other. Early in the career, I worked on various services engagement projects where I was implementing solutions for US Banking an Insurance firms. One particular implementation of a security algorithm that I did seem to be still being used in there various banking solution.
Next, I would like to mention about a BPM workflow implementation project, where I was involved in architecting and realizing an end to end BPM work flow solution, where we wanted to replace customer’s exiting process and fully automate it. Being in startup firm, you handle lot of responsibilities and I owned the entire business process solution and database design. There were various design challenges, integration challenges and various strategies that were required in terms of planning and execution to make it successful. An interesting thing about this project was this was the first BPM work flow implementation for a particular environment and stack which had it own challenges.
The other project that would always remain special is Business Service Fabric, which I have been working on since its inception, which got acquired by IBM in 2006. Product development is completely different from software services engagements and working with this product has immensely helped me to increase my technical knowledge over these years.
I love your blog post where you share about your philosophy of "Just go for it", as a technical author of over 50 articles. Do you have any personal techniques you use like goal setting that help you succeed?
I always try to keep myself updated on new ongoing trends and technology. I usually try to learn something new every year and then come up with a blog, white paper, book or an article or some medium which I can share with the community.
When I started, I never had set any personal goals about the number of articles I need to publish. I simply have a passion for writing and I feel publishing your work in some medium is best form of sharing your technical work and giving back to the community and collaborating with them. Obviously you need technical acumen, but what are the other important skills to be a good technical author?
I feel you should have a deep understanding about the subject you want to write about. When you write about topics, you must know your target audience and target it to the right audience level, beginners, intermediate or advance levels. A good technical author should aim at simplifying existing technology information or write about topics in simplified terms. What new technologies or products are you learning about this year?
I am planning to get myself updated on Spring framework 3.0 release and update my article on Spring series which was widely appreciated by the readers. Last year, I wrote a book on Apache CXF
, this year. I am planning to write a book on advance web services development. I also plan to write learn about Apache Incubation projects - Apache Shiro framework and Apache Aries.How do you use developerWorks?
I think, this is best answered on my blog
. Apart from publishing articles and tutorials, I use developerWorks to read blogs and articles, look for the resolution of issues in forums or respond to forums whenever I can. I haven’t utilized much of the My developerWorks capabilities as I intended, but have created blogs on dynamic BPM and semantic web, created groups on BPM to form a community group around BPM to share their experiences and knowledge and to stay connected with the developerWorks community. What publications / websites do you read / visit?
Apart from developerWorks, I visit Infoq.com
, The Server side
and read community blogs on various technologies.When you're not working, what interests or passions do you enjoy?
When I am not working, I like to read about any topics that interest me, watching movies, listening to music, catching up with friends. At some point, I would like to write a movie script and direct it. :)
In this week's interview, get to know Byron Kidd
, an Australian born software engineer working in Japan since 1996. Initially employed as a web applications developer he branched out into mobile development as it was taking off in Japan with the release of i-mode in 1999. He is currently employed by Acoustic. Inc.
as a Senior Software Engineer, primarily developing video streaming solutions for Japans many mobile devices. He's keen to assist foreign developers and businesses who want to understand and enter the Japanese mobile market.
Learn more about Byron in the interview below, invite him to be your colleague on Byron's My developerWorks profile page
and check out his blog, The Gaijin Coder
.What project are you most proud of ?
I take pride in all my projects and don't like to ship anything till I'm 100% satisfied that its the best it can be, much to the frustration of those around me. Rather than the big achievements I'm most proud of little utilities, applications and hacks I've developed over the years for myself and my team to improve the speed and quality of our work. Tell me about the biggest problem you've solved?
How to balance an advancing career with being a husband and father of two. Once you've solved that you've done it all.What are you currently working on?
Having immersed myself in the development of mobile Java applications for Japanese mobile phones from NTT Docomo and Softbank over the past few years I'm currently taking a break to investigate Apples iPhone SDK. While the iPhone still has a tiny market share in Japan its not a platform to be ignored.
Google's first Android phone made its debut in Japan in July and at times when I'm butting heads with Objective-C I think I should have made the decision to roll over my Java skills into Android development instead of tackling a new and foreign way of doing things.
I'm a firm believer of getting on board while the technology is young as the learning curve is a lot less steep when a technology is in its infancy than after it has become established and matured. There is less to learn in the beginning and once you've mastered that you can grow along with the technology. A newcomer to development today faces a wide array of established technologies, languages and frameworks so that simply knowing where to start is a challenge in itself. Are you a gadget person? What type of gadgets do you use?
Japan has some of the coolest gadgets in the world and I love those gadgets but rarely purchase them for myself. Once I get over the wow factor of a new gadget I step back and realize my "want" for he gadget is much greater than my "need" for it. When I first settled in Japan I had a thing for electronic dictionaries but, as my knowledge of the language increased, and I didn't feel the need to carry dictionary everywhere, I went back to a printed as its so much more comfortable to use. (Japanese gadgets aren't renown for their intuitive user interfaces.)
I've owned a stack of bicycling computers (cyclometers) over the years, but have outgrown the need to know every last statistic about my ride. Preferring now to enjoy the ride and listen to my body instead. Recently I've taken up running but have resisted the urge to purchase running related gadgets.
I think as many of the functions various gadgets provided in the past move online all you really needs is a single simple gadget that can access the internet and we all already have this gadget, its your mobile phone.How do you use developerWorks?
I began using, and continue to use, developerWorks
for the tutorial articles. I had found myself a comfortable job utilizing the skill set I had developed over the years, never having to step outside my comfort zone, but around me technology continued to advance at an astonishing rate. I was slowly turning into the modern day version of the gray bearded mainframe jockey. "These kids and their Ruby on Rails, in my day we coded CRUD by hand, in the snow, the way God intended, and we enjoyed it." When I finally came to that realization and snapped out of it I discovered IBM developerWorks. The introductory articles on various topics were a perfect size and written to a level of detail that allowed me to sift through the details of a lot of technologies very quickly before determining which ones to focus upon more deeply. As I devoured the content I realized that I should have been setting time aside to read one or two articles per week to keep my finger on the pulse of new and advancing technologies. I still try and peruse a few articles per week often, on topics removed from my specialty to build a well rounded view.What are some of your favorite websites/feeds/twitter accounts to follow?
When it comes to websites I show very little loyalty. My RSS reader is full of feeds all grouped into individual topics to the point that I've forgotten the names of most of the sites providing me with information. I now have a much more article based, rather than site based, view of the web.
I use delicious for my online bookmarking, tumblr for simple hassle free blogging, Google reader for my RSS reader, and of course developerWorks to keep up with technology outside of my specific field. As for Twitter .. I still don't get it .. but automatically duplicate my blog posts there for those who do get it.Email or text messaging?
Japanese mobiles have used email since the introduction of i-mode in 1999 and as such I've never been a fan of SMS. When I returned to Australia for a short period I could not get my head around SMS nor the need for SMS to email gateways. I was unable to fathom why you couldn't attach photos to your messages, or why sending an SMS to certain services cost an arm and a leg. The concept of not using email was totally alien to me.
As for the state of the mobile web outside of Japan at the time I was astonished by the sad state it was in, but what has been even more astonishing is the rate at which the west has been catching up over the last 2 years.
I blog about the state of the Japanese mobile internet from a foreign developers point of view on my blog The Gaijin Coder
.Star Wars or Star Trek?
Dr. Who! Thanks Byron!
Sometimes I get lucky... recently Susan Visser connected me with Sam Lightstone, author of Making it Big in Software, and luckily, he agreed to an interview. Sam has a unique perspective to share on developing your career in software, so I hope you enjoy it! (And if anyone else has suggestions for people to interview on my blog in the future, pass them along!)
Learn more about Sam Lightstone:His profile on My developerWorks - add him to your networkSee book reviews from: Dr. Dobb’s, JavaRanch, i-ProgrammerJoin the Facebook Fan ClubJoin the LinkedIn GroupFollow the blogBook overview and reader reviews on Amazon.com
Tell me about yourself and what you're currently working on...
I'm a Senior Technical Staff Member in the DB2 development team. Over the past decade I've been fortunate to have some pretty varied positions, including senior management roles, code design and development and some research collaboration. I've enjoyed them all. I'm currently working on several of projects to increase DB2's processing efficiency, working with the DB2 team, but also with folks in our research and storage divisions.
What first sparked your interest in technology?
It was all around me growing up. During the Great Depression my father dropped out of high school to get a job and help support his family. When WWII started he enlisted in the Canadian army and used his time there to develop skills in electronics and photography. After the war he started a television repair business. He couldn't afford to buy the equipment he needed, so he bought a few "build it yourself" kits and constructed his own vacuum tube tester, frequency generator, multimeter and oscilloscope. The television repair business didn't last long, and my father pursued his passion in photography (more specifically 'lithography'). So we had all this electronics and photographic equipment in the house, and my dad wanted us to understand it. Every know and then, at breakfast or supper, he would pull a pen out of his pocket and start drawing a schematic on the back of a napkin to explain a concept. These were simple ideas about electronics and circuits, or how a camera works, but as a child I felt these were the most interesting things in life. My father started a "family tradition" that every child would get a science kit for their 10th birthday. Being the youngest of 6 kids not only did I grow up playing with my father's gadgets, but all the science kits my older siblings had received were still lying around! Electronics kits, chemistry sets, microscopes - you name it. I was soldering circuits and developing my own film by the time I was 10 or 11. When I was about 13 I started programming BASIC on my brother-in-law's hand made computer that used a cassette tape storage device and a teletype for input and output. Personal computers were very new then. By 1982 I was 14 and studying programming at school on a Commodore Pet. I still remember how happy I was to use a floppy disk instead of a cassette tape!
How did the idea for your new book, Making it Big in Software, originate?
It was really about giving something back to the community. When I was in 4th year Electrical Engineering in 1991, the department held professional seminars on Friday afternoons. These were usually on technical topics like VLSI design. One day a speaker came from Newbridge Systems in Ottawa and gave us a talk about professional life after graduation. It really made a huge impression on me, and I decided that if I ever could I would return the professional courtesy and volunteer to speak to students about professional life after school. The problem is that school teaches us technical skills, but there's really no place that people are taught how to thrive professionally so they can maximize their impact, and optimize their careers. Once you know how to do it, a small deliberate effort over time can propel you to significantly higher positions of influence, higher salary and most importantly a more satisfying career. That's what Making it Big in Software is all about. In the late 1990's and early 2000's I began a series of talks at universities. The material I compiled for those talks became the basis for the book.
You have a list of 17 big names that you interviewed for your book. I'm sure that was fascinating. Was there anything they shared that really took you by surprise?
There were lots of surprises both in the personal histories and in the career strategies that these people use, and of course some great personal stories. I'll share four things that made an impression on me. First, it's true that most of the people I interviewed rose to fame and fortune. However, the person who may have made the biggest impact was Ray Tomlinson, the inventor of email. Ray invented in email in 1971, but her wasn't credited with it until a journalist tracked the invention back to him in 1994. For over 20 years he got no recognition, and his massive contribution really didn't impact his career in a positive way. Even so, Ray is one of the happiest and most content people I spoke with. He's still working at BBN and programming. I found that very inspirational. Secondly, I think a lot of people have a feeling that the great days of computer science are behind us. The big killer apps have been coded, the great technologies are now commodities. But several of the people I interviewed expressed the contrary feeling that we're actually on the cusp of a profound transition in software, driven by mobile computing, cloud computing, social networking and increasing computing power and bandwidth. That means that software as a profession is going to keep accelerating. Third, I have come to believe that effective time management is a cornerstone to effective careers. So it was pretty amazing to me to see how messed up some of these very successful people are in managing their time! What they've lacked in time management they've compensated for by surrounding themselves with good people and being goal oriented. Finally, fourth, I was pretty floored when Steve Wozniak told me he programmed the BASIC interpreter for the Apple computer in binary! He had no money, no tools, not even a compiler. He couldn't even afford an Intel processor. With just 1's and 0's he changed the world.
What are some of the unique challenges of working in the software industry? What are a few significant changes happening?
You've asked two questions but in fact there is one answer to both. What makes software careers so unique is change! Change is our challenge. We work in an industry that redefines itself every few years. There's no other profession like that - even in the engineering disciplines. Think about other professions, like accounting, law, nursing, medicine, dentistry, education. Their skills and tools evolve over time, but fundamentally what they do at the end of their career will look pretty similar to what they did at the beginning. Not so with software! New languages, new platforms, new paradigms emerge all the time. A few years ago nobody was talking about social networking, cloud computing or multi core programming for dozens or hundreds of CPU threads. These are today's sea changes. That constant change will continue, and it's what makes software so dynamic. But it means all of us in the profession need to ride those waves and stay current.
I'll add another point to my answer which I think is really important for software programmers and engineers to internalize for career advancement. A unique quality in the software business is that a lot of the great innovative ideas come from the engineering teams rather than the business and marketing executives. That's what has, to a large degree, elevated programmers from their early status in the 1960's and 1970's as skilled technologists to our modern conception of software programmers as rock stars. Driving software innovation elevates your rock star status and can be a major impetus in fueling your career.
Have you had any memorable situations where you learned from failure?
I've had many. Bill Gates once said "Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.” On the software side, my early attempts to estimate how long work would take were pretty disastrous! It caused me a lot of late nights at the keyboard during my early years as I tried to make up for overly aggressive estimates. After that I spent a fair bit of time studying the best practices and software engineering literature on project scheduling and management. I dedicated an entire chapter of Making it Big in Software to avoiding software overruns. There are few things that can mess up your career worse than being consistently late. Conversely, teams that consistently on time and on quality, are golden. On the management side, my early attempts at recruiting were painful. I hired people based on their academic results in combination with feedback from past managers. It turns out that academic results are too loose an indicator and previous managers may not be that reliable either! I had to fire someone I recruited, and it was really upsetting for me. After that I became maniacal in recruiting only the best people I could find, and I grill candidates pretty thoroughly to get a sense of what they know, how they think and whether they will jive professionally with the rest of the team. My goal now is to always be the stupidest person in my group! I'm immodest enough to think I'm a reasonably sharp software engineer, and if everyone I recruit is smarter than me then I know I have a really strong team.
What role do you think social networking can play in developing a software career?
I don't think we've seen the full force of what social networking can achieve. Facebook for example, only started in 2005, and although it has grown to 400 million members, it's still evolving rapidly. These are early days. I see three main ways social networking is directly impacting software careers today. First and foremost these technologies allow people to maintain relationships in a more profound way than they could previously with email and telephone. Successful software careers are heavily biased by maintaining relationships. Who you know not what you know is a big part of that. Second, but equally profound, what you know is driven by who you know! In an industry where knowledge is king, it's critical to have efficient ways to get and filter information. One of the best filter factors on finding the most important pieces of knowledge is through your social network. During my interviews with successful personalities in Making it Big in Software, many of the interviewees, like James Gosling (Java), John Schwarz (CEO Business Objects), Grady Booch (IBM Fellow), Bjarne Stroustrup (C++), David Vaskevitch (then Microsoft CTO), Robert Kahn (Coinventor of the Internet), Mark Russinovich (Microsoft Fellow and Windows architect) and others, told me they depend heavily (but not exclusively) on their social network to figure out and filter what tech trends are the important ones. Third, I think that social networking is blurring with social marketing, and we are already well down the path of using this kind of infrastructure to market and float new ideas. The people who leverage that dynamic successfully will be able to advance their careers and their companies the most successfully.
How do you use social networking?
I use it for all three of the ideas I mentioned above. I use Facebook and LinkedIn pretty heavily, as well as my own blog on software careers, and there are a few bloggers I follow on both technology and technology marketing.
What are some of your favorite websites/feeds/twitter accounts to follow?
I've configured a Google search feed to feed me an anthology of relevant articles every few days. I subscribe the eWeek's email news, and I follow activity in the database community by subscribing to DBWORLD. I enjoy Seth Godin's blog, and was a fan of Joel on Software, though he recently stopped blogging.
Are you a gadget junkie? Any new gadgets you'd love to get your hands on?
I'm a gadget junkie wannabee! I love gadgets but I just can't find time to learn them. My kids make fun of me because I can barely figure out how to use my cell phone. I'm still amazed by my GPS watch that tells me how far I've jogged or cycled and draws a map of the route I've covered. I'm also pretty fond of my 1TB wireless backup disk that backs up the data for every computer in my house over our wireless network. I bought it for less than the cost of dinner for two. Some cliches are a little too accurate - boys love toys!
- Thanks Sam!