Welcome to my new, and I admit it, FIRST blog!
The truth and nothing but the truth... I'm not a developer and I'm not a techie, so don't expect any geeky posts from me. But I love geeks! I've een working with all kinds of technical geniuses at IBM for the last ten years, from web developers to ISVs to our brilliant team of people here who made My developerWorks possible. And I find that us marketing professional types (I fall in that bucket btw) have a nice yin-yang relationship with technical types. We appreciate each others' strengths and complement each others' weaknesses. Opposites attract and that's why I've named my blog "Yin meets yang".
This year I've had the privilege of working on the launch of My developerWorks - working with a multi-faceted crew, collaborating on everything. So while I'm no techie, I can't resist blogging out here on My developerWorks, because I want to get to know the technical community up close and personal, plus I want to share ideas about how to get the most out of My developerWorks because that's a topic I'm passionate about!
So what can you expect from my blog?
Tips, hints, and tricks on how to use My developerWorks -- things like how to find people who "know stuff", how to amp up blog readership, and how to build your inner circle.
My explorations, discoveries and thoughts about social media, social networking, and Web 2.0.
What I'm learning about playing nice with others and getting things done in a 21st century, fast-paced, highly-matrixed virtual team workplace.
My thoughts about personality in the workplace (I am a geek about Myers-Briggs testing, okay?).
Discussions about working OTTO (that's what we at IBM call "Other than traditional office) - I'm starting to work from home and still learning how to make it work for me.
I'd love to get to know you better! So please, come get to know me on my profile and add me to your colleagues. And on my blog, please leave comments, and let me know if there's anything you want to hear more about!
This week, I'm bringing you an interview with Susan Visser,
a seasoned blogger and social networker with unique insights on DB2 , certification, and publishing. Learn more about Susan in the interview below. And don't forget to visit her profile
on My developerWorks and catch the latest on her blog
.Tell me about yourself and what you're currently working on:
I'm working on expanding the collection of books that are available to help train people on any of our information management products! These books include the retail books that you can purchase on amazon.com (including kindle versions) as well as the custom books that IBM gives away for free at events. One of the more recent books that published is IBM Press' DB2 pureXML Cookbook
.What inspires you in your work?
I'm inspired by people! I find something truly amazing about every person I interact with. I'm blessed to be sitting in the Toronto Lab, surrounded by 2500 brilliant IBMers. I like to help people realize their dreams of becoming authors and try to help promote the work that others do.How do you think the publishing world is changing with new developments in technology like online publishing, ebooks, blogs, kindle, etc?
I don't think the publishing world has quite figured out what to do with all the change that is happening in the world right now. Actually, I'm not sure readers have figured out what they should do with all this change either! The one thing that hasn't happened is a slowdown in published materials. In fact, I'm constantly overwhelmed at the amount of content that is available on every topic. One thing for certain is that literacy skills are more important now than ever before!How are you using social networking today?
Social networking has always been important in my life... but now I'm able to connect with more people than I could just face to face. I use my blog to tell readers about something that has come to my attention that they may wish to know about. I use Facebook to connect with my family, friends, and work colleagues on a variety of topics. I use LinkedIn for my professional network. I've been using ChannelDB2 and PlanetDB2 for years now but I am fully embracing the rich features available in My developerWorks! There is a thing as too much, so there are a few social sites that I'm not using.Tell me about your blog on My developerWorks...
I started my blog in 2005! Does that make me an early adopter? I like to write and connect to people, so blogging was a natural progression in my career. I'm on the education team and was constantly being told that there were a lack of skills resources available to our customers. I knew that this wasn't true, so my intention was to use my blog to broadcast about the vast collection of resources that we have available. I like knowing that I help people find what they need to keep their skills current. My only complaint about blogging is that the tools are not always stable or flexible enough for me to be really creative in my posts.So far, what do you think about the update of the My developerWorks environment to Lotus Connections 2.5?
I've been actively using and teaching people about the amazing features that exist on My developerWorks now that it is on Lotus Connections 2.5. The only thing that could improve the environment is by having more people registered and using the site! The more the merrier!What publications or websites do you regularly visit?
The first website that I visit most regularly is PlanetDB2.com
which is a collection of blog entries from the IM community. Nearly instantly I'm aware of what is on the mind of all my fellow bloggers. I use the ibm.com/developerworks/mydeveloperworks/blogs
site for the same reason, but this community is much broader than what I get on PlanetDB2.com. The second site that I visit most often is amazon.com. I like to monitor the books that we've published and the reader comments that the books receive. I like to stay on top of what the competition is publishing and promoting.What gadget that you currently own, can you not live without?
It isn't really a gadget, but I don't think I could live long without the internet! Sure, I go on vacations where I don't use the internet for an entire week... but I'm wishing I could! A gadget like the Blackberry would be perfect for me... but alas, the price is too high for Canadians, so I connect to the internet via laptops at work or home.- Thanks Susan!
This week get to know Allen Montejo
as he shares what he's been working on as a J2EE application developer and what the IT industry is like in the Philippines. He's definitely inspiring as he looks at ways that technology can improve the world!Tell me about yourself and what you're currently working on...
I'm a software engineer with almost 8 years of rigid software development experience using different technology as required for the project, building software from scratch to maintenance and to its evolution. I am new to IBM and was hired as IT specialist and am currently assigned to a project as a J2EE Application Developer. Currently I am working on the web application project that is used for smart and fast information research in many different field. The project was built using IBM enterprise development tools which is the Rational Application Developer (RAD 7). I never used this tools before I came to IBM and I was amazed how easy it was to use and how fast to learn the tools for development. I am quite fan of J2EE open source tools and technology such as Eclipse, Netbeans, and Oracle JDeveloper but with RAD it has many cool features that can boost development productivity. IT Firms should try using this tool for their business since it helps productivity. Aside from being a software developer in our team, I was also given a chance to get involved with project management which gave me good benefits in the end. I learned about IBM's software development processes from enhancement, maintenance to full release. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? How did you end up choosing a career as an IT professional?
Actually in the Philippines, we have this custom that our parents are the ones who decide what course to take in college. Though I was interested and had a great desire in computers and computing, they decided for me to take Accountancy since at that time the course was in high demand. But then accidentally when I was trying to inquire and enroll to different Universities, I was always getting denied because the course was already full in capacity. I was determined to go to college and hopefully to land a better job someday because life in our country is very difficult when you don't have a degree finished. And so I enrolled to Computer Science without asking permission first to my parents, and this is also the profession I always wanted.
I chose this career because I believe that technology will always evolve and human beings will always find ways for a better life through the help of technology. And also I am very curious about how computers work and how it will change or help our lives in the near future.What's happening in the Philippines related to technology? What's the high tech climate like there?
Currently there are a lot of foreign IT Firms starting to establish business in our country and also local companies starting to embrace software development type of business. Our new government is starting to automate their processes for fast and accurate results to the selected agency services that have a critical function, like what we had in the last May 2010 election, it is the first automated voting system to be successfully implemented.
Regarding our climate, Philippines is one of the country in Asia which is most visited by typhoons, we even have up to 4 different typhoons in a month. We have PAGASA (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration) a government agency that monitors our weather and typhoons. Unfortunately, currently the agency still uses old technology and approaches for monitoring change in weather. But I think our current government administration is planning to upgrade the technology on PAGASA. Actually when I heard the news I posted a suggestion to our new elected President on Facebook to use the IBM supercomputer which can perform 34 trillion calculation a second
, which I believe is the perfect solution to our unpredictable weather change. Hopefully they will consider my suggestion. ;-)
What's the most challenging aspect of being a Software Engineer (and how do you handle it)?
Aside from technical and logic formulation which I find challenging and interesting in my daily work, I think the most challenging situation I'd experience as a software engineer is negotiating and communicating with a client that has no good background in software development. I find it very hard and time consuming for us to make them understood the process development must undergo. Explanation and solution recommendation is a bit tricky since they do not understand technical terms we use. The only solution I implement when I encounter such situation is patience and transformation of technical terminology to layman's terms or to their perspective to better understand things and to synchronize with development team.What's your approach to keeping your skills current? What new topics or areas are you learning about right now?
Reading tech news is one of my hobbies and becoming part of my daily routine. I also get myself involved and participate actively on tech forums and group mails which I am interested in. Collaboration and sharing ideas with the group of people that have the same interests as I have is the key for keeping the skills updated and concurrent. And of course reading tech books to achieve new skills because in our profession we cannot afford to be left behind, it is a constant learning process.
Currently I am quite interested on the declarative languages such as Python and Ruby, I'm playing with it in my free time. I'm also exploring new web frameworks and design patterns. And for IBM, I am learning how to manage and handle the software life cycle and processes.How do you use developerWorks?
Well, developerWorks is one of my resources to keep my skills updated, keep in touch with people with the same interest as mine and to keep me informed what is concurrent news at IBM. I also use developerWorks to update my working status online. What I like is that it has a feature to automatically update to my other networking accounts such Facebook. I hope soon it will cater auto update to other networking sites too.How are you using social networking today?
I'm using social networking to keep in touch w/ my distance friends and relatives. I also use it as a resource in my profession, to gather different information and data, collaborate and share my thoughts and experience in certain topics.Can you share something about yourself that most people don't know about you?
I think my principles and beliefs in doing things in life - my work may be futuristic but I'd still prefer to live and implement life in ancient ways. :-)- Thanks Allen!
This week get to know Joseph Amrith Raj, a WebSphere specialist at Wipro Technologies in India. Connect with Joseph on his My developerWorks profile
and on Twitter
.Tell me about yourself and what you're currently working on...
I'm currently working as a WebSphere specialist with one of the India's Top3 MNC, Wipro Technologies. This role deals with WebSphere products such as WAS, WMQ, WMB and WPS. I've had good exposure to SOA and Clould Computing and I'm slowly making steps into the latter technologies. I'm pretty fortunate to work on different middleware and WebSphere products like web, application servers, mq, brokers, process server, LDAP etc. over the last five years. I'm presently working on an SOA and Websphere related project and some migration work.What's your favorite aspect of your work?
You don't just upgrade the software products you are working on but you also upgrade yourself as well. Isn't that a challenge to keep you up and running? At this point in my career, I try to analyze the presently implemented architecture designs and those provided by architects to see how I can put my knowledge in it and how it’s going to be with the future technologies and products, because one day I'm going to be in the architect's shoes.What advice would you share with students or IT professionals just starting out in their career?
What's your approach to keeping your skills current?
- If you are starting your career, please come with a goal. Dream big...work hard...start believing. Everyone is just you, when they started their careers.
- If you want to enhance your skill, don't wait for someone to give training or teach you.
I always choose a new skill that is related to my present skill. I have a simple 4 step approach to gain a new skill:
You have quite a few certifications - what kind of benefits have you seen from being certified?
- Get a book which teaches you concepts
- Get a trial version and test your conceptual understanding
- Get the next level of the book/documentation and try it
- We are very lucky to have discussion boards and social media where you can ask and get help, in case you face any issue. Use them and help others.
In my view certifications are not only to show our skill but also it gives confidence to your employer or clients, that this person is capable of doing my job and i can bank on him. You work hard for months and months and reach a level, and then you need to face competition from a person who is as motivated as you. Certifications can provide you an edge. How do you use developerWorks?
I come here for articles and to see what people have been discussing in the forums about different products and the issues they have faced. I can say 40% of my knowledge is from developerWorks articles and tutorials. I follow developerWorks on Twitter
as well.What new topics or areas are you learning about right now?
Presently I am reading about Cloud Computing and SOA convergence in the enterprise. It's Interesting to see how a technology and skills I have can extend and take me into future technologies.
Another area I'm learning about is how business approaches IT, with present developments in BPM technologies.Do you have any big plans for the future? Where would you like to be in ten years?
Yeah!, I'd love to see myself as CTO before I retire. Next ten years? I want to be an Architect in middleware technologies. Also, if possible I want to move to Europe. What are a few of your favorite publications, websites or blogs?
I'm not a big fan of reading but have few site/blogs which I follow. I use Google reader to subscribe and get updates from the sites, I like. A Google bookmarks list of sites: http://goo.gl/lists/GOKBWhen you're not working, what hobbies or interests do you enjoy?
I love playing soccer so obviously I watch the matches on weekend and Manchester United is my favorite. Also I watch Tennis and Formula1. While not working I'll spend some time on updating and interacting with my blog network and listening to music.
- Thanks Joseph!
I'm excited to share this interview with Anthony English
! Anthony is an AIX expert from Australia who writes a popular blog on My developerWorks called AIX Down Under
.Tell me about yourself and what you're currently working on...
I'm a Sydney father of (only) six children, and my wife and I home school them.
I've been working primarily on AIX systems since 1991, and in the last couple of years have been doing contract work in the finance, retail and manufacturing industries. It's a chance to work with lots of good people and learn to take advantage of virtualisation on IBM Power Systems. My most recent project was building two Power6 570s (one for DR) from the ground up without ever seeing them. They're hosting some 24 X 7 public-facing web sites with WebSphere, DB2 and Informix on the back end.
What first drew your interest to technology?
I used to take clocks apart as a boy, and put them together again, with intermittent success. When I started working, "computerisation" was the buzz word. What I worked on was producing mailing lists using real letters and envelopes using CTOS. These days I'm used to taking on new technologies and I'm quite excited when I have to troubleshoot problems. I have nightmares about workarounds. Can't stand 'em. There's nothing so permanent as a temporary solution.How did you end up being an AIX expert?
My colleagues and clients might have an opinion about calling me that! I'm no expert, but I am keen. I've learned a lot from my mistakes and I've developed a strong interest in finding simpler ways of doing things. I think AIX and virtualisation on IBM Power Systems can help build environments which are flexible, consistent and stable.
I'd say laziness is my big motivation. In a way my goal is to do myself out of a job. I like to set things up so that people are not fighting fires all day. Maybe I should write a blog post: "From firefighter to autopilot."So you started a blog called AIX Down Under - what inspired you to start blogging on My developerWorks?
It was really by popular demand. A few colleagues found they were getting lots of free and unsolicited advice from me on how to set up their systems. They gently suggested to me that there might be someone out there in cyberworld who really was interested in what I had to say.
After some years of working with all different kinds of people - some great people with wonderful abilities - it's a good thing to share around what they have passed onto me. It's also a chance to help out people who have lots of enthusiasm but not so much experience to show how they can make their systems work better. I'd also like to believe that some people appreciate my Aussie sense of humour. I do, anyway.What's been the most interesting or surprising thing about blogging so far?
I wrote a post on the most famous of all Unix commands - the one which will wipe out your system. I called it "rm -r and your career". Five minutes after I put it on my shiny new blog I managed to wipe out the entire post and had to reconstruct it using Google searches, one and a half sentences at a time. See what I mean about people being able to learn from my mistakes?How do you use developerWorks?
Primarily reading the excellent articles. It's a great source for hands-on examples of doing things which the official man pages simply can't cover. I've got some articles in the wings myself. I think it's a great way for people to see how things work and hang together in the real (virtual) world. Even a task which you're told is very simple can be daunting until you see someone step through it.Are you a gadget guy? Any new gadgets that you are adding to your wish list?
The i-don't. Gadgets? No, not really. I actually grow veges, coach cricket and read books, (you know, printed on real paper) especially the classics. I was catching the bus to one company in Sydney recently and that gave me the chance to read the whole of Dickens' and Jane Austen's novels and a good dose of Shakespeare (the bus driver took the long route that day). I also have a strong interest in mediaeval philosophy and theology, and have written the odd article in that field, which is perhaps not so common among geekdom.What are some of your favorite websites/feeds/twitter accounts to follow? https://www.ibm.com/developerworks/mydeveloperworks/blogs/AIXDownUnder/?lang=en
(of course! I'm its most frequent visitor.)https://www.ibm.com/developerworks/mydeveloperworks/blogs/InsideSystemStorage/?lang=en
In the AIX spacehttp://ibmsystemsmag.blogs.com/aixchange/http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/wikis/display/WikiPtype/AIX+Virtual+User+Group+-+USAhttp://twitter.com/aixmaghttp://twitter.com/cgibbo
(and every word written by my compatriot, Chris Gibson)
Anything produced by Nigel Griffiths, especially his Wiki movies: http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/wikis/display/wikiptype/movies
And, to prove I have a life outside of AIX:http://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/onbiz.cfmhttp://www.cts.org.au/articles.htmhttp://www.newadvent.org/summa/http://www.chesterton.org/Do you have a motto or a philosophy that guides you?
I'm not much of a doomsdayer. I have a great deal of hope for the future, and I think that's important in a world where the emphasis is sometimes more negative. True hope gives joy and peace, whatever is going on around you. I also find people face things best when they know the truth, spoken with clarity and charity.
Now if only I could condense all that to a bumper sticker.
This week, I'm bringing you an interview with Chris Walden, the new developerWorks Open Source zone
editor who is doing quite a bit of interesting work around open source software on My developerWorks. Learn more about Chris and join in on the open source software collaboration by visiting: his profile
, his blog
, the Real World Open Source wiki
, and the Real World Open Source group
Tell me about yourself and what you're currently working on...
I've been into technology all of my life. My father spent his life in the electronic manufacturing end so I had access to things like calculators (when the were driven by red LED displays) and other gadgets as they came along. I tinkered with programming starting in High School because a friend of mine had an Apple IIe. I had an idea early on that computers were about problem-solving.
My technical career began on the support queue at CompuAdd where I quickly developed the skill of cutting away possibilities and zeroing in on the source of the problem. This was back when memory was $10 a meg and you actually tried to fix them rather than always throwing them away. From there I moved to a value-added reseller doing field support, which was invaluable. I spent time as a sysadmin for a couple of small companies, running mostly Novell and Windows NT. I spent time with the Texas Lottery Commission and then finally at IBM, starting as an architect and then moving into the editorial staff of developerWorks.
The editorial work has been a huge surprise for me. It was an opportunity that I had not expected and I've been enjoying the change of pace immensely. I've spent the last year plus working as the content acquisition editor of the Web Development zone. My role is essentially to determine what content will be useful for people who are interested in working with Internet-based technologies and causing articles on those topics to be written. I work with the author to help them refine their ideas into something that I feel will resonate with our audience and then help get the article into shape for publishing. At that point I hand it off to our talented production editors to get into final shape for posting on the web. It's very much like editing a section of a paper-based technical magazine; it simply happens to be delivered electronically.
However, this month I have moved from being editor of Web Development to editor of Open Source. I'm actually swapping with the other editor. We realized that our backgrounds and interests complimented each others' areas and so we arranged a switch. I've actually had my eye on Open Source since I moved into developerWorks so I couldn't be more excited!
Tell me about your favorite (or most interesting or challenging) IT project...
Gosh! There's been so much. I think, though, that the work project that I still think back on from time to time was the Y2K change-out at the Texas Lottery Commission. I was placed in charge of the workstations. There were several challenges. First, our biggest issue was that the stations in most need of replacement belonged to the people in the lowest strata. There was a little political fall-out about those people getting new machines while the directors had to make do with what they had. Secondly, there was no uniformity to our software. The machines were a hodgepodge of software which had been installed and managed one at a time.
My answer was that everyone would get their machine swapped. We'd start with the people at the top, then roll their machines down to the next level, and so on until the final machines fell off of the bottom. This was popular, because everyone got an upgrade. I also used the opportunity to move to an image-based approach to the operating environment. We divided the drives into operating space and personal space. People kept the data in their personal space and the operating space could be re-imaged at any time. It really cleaned up our environment and made it a lot easier to work on people's machines.When did you first start using open source software?
I discovered open source about ten to fifteen years ago. I always struggled with the cost of keeping my home computer system going. I had access to great software in the places that I worked, but I couldn't afford to keep my home system quite so shiny. In addition, my own curiosity takes me in a lot of different places technologically. So I had a rather insatiable appetite for software, which cannot be legally satisfied commercially.
I had tinkered with Linux, but hadn't quite gotten it to work. However, I had discovered things like Pegasus email and the Netscape browser which I'd begun using. Finally, about Redhat 4, I got Linux to run and started trying to use it to do work. When I was at the Texas Lottery Commission I actually switched at some point to a Linux desktop, because we were a Novell shop and Novell was already supportive of Linux at the time. I haven't run another desktop since.What makes you so passionate about open source?
I struggled to learn about some kinds of technology because of cost. As I said, I was curious about everything from programming to system security to graphic design and media editing. I was uncomfortable with stealing software to learn about it. However, when the software is free, you can have as much as you want. I don't have to choose a particular area of software to specialize in so I can afford it. I can get into anything and everything as my whim dictates. It's actually given me a bit of a reputation in some areas of my life outside of work as a Jack of All Trades.
To give you an idea, I've used open source projects to:
create business documents
surf the web
edit complex audio
run live sound for theatrical events
do 3D modeling and animation
touch up photos, adjusting skin, red-eye and even removing major objects from a photo
write theatrical scripts and screenplays
remotely support a network and workstations
create a full-color magazine
build and manage complex web sites
broadcast an online radio show
That's quite a list... and it's incomplete. I just love the fact that anyone who is willing to apply their mind and their time to learning something new can be rewarded. Technology is no longer just for the wealthy. It's for everyone. Anything becomes possible.
Any new technologies that you think are about to break into the big time?
I think that Cloud computing is going to be a big game changer, more than people appreciate. We are just scratching the surface on the power of virtualization. As we all become more interconnected with mobile devices and advancements in the Web 2.0 approach to doing things the resources that Cloud can provide are going to make a huge difference. Anyone will have access to the kind of technological power that was once reserved for the government and large corporations.
There are areas of encryption and identity protections that I think should be making huge strides, but are so under-appreciated except for geeks like me that they haven't really broken through. Imagine if you had near complete control of your personal information by only allowing what you wanted read by whom you wanted. Wouldn't that change the game? What's on your list to learn about next?
That's a tough one. I'd really like to get further into multimedia production. I've gotten a little into video production, but haven't really had the time to develop any real skill there. I'd like to be able to be able to express myself better there. I'm trying to learn more about social networking, especially OpenSocial, and how this can be applied to connect people who should be connected.Do you have any advice to share with students or new IT professionals just starting out?
Do more than just your job. If you go in and do what you're told and draw the paycheck, that's fine, but no one is going to come up and beg you to be more than you are. You may become the living example of “rising to your level of incompetence.” Be curious! Dig into the documentation and experiment with different ways of doing things. Innovate!
I progressed in my career because I was always able to reach a little further. A large part of that was the fact that I would just RTFM (read the fine material). Learn just a little more than you have to and enjoy the chances to play with technology. It's those extra discoveries which make it fun and the fun builds your passion and skill.What do you think is something that is not commonly known about developerWorks that would benefit others?
That's a tough one. It's hard to know what people don't know. I'm going to change that around to what I think is underutilized. I think our audience doesn't take advantage of the opportunities to interact with developerWorks. They tend to quietly read the material but not jump in with a lot of comments and letters to the editor. I know that I would welcome more interaction with my audience. I think that My developerWorks falls into that category as well. It's all well and good to be a consumer, but when you actually spend a few minutes expressing yourself and sharing your wish list you help to shape what you get. It's a very open-source concept. You give a little here and there to get what you want. If you do nothing, you get what you get.How are you using social networking today? Do you see it changing in the future?
I have mostly used social networking for personal things outside of IBM. It's only as I stepped into the editorial realm that I've appreciated the value of what social networking can provide for me professionally.
I've been on MySpace, though it was really hard for me to keep up with it. I got onto FaceBook and find myself being much more active there. It think it's because FaceBook does more to get in my face and remind me of opportunities to interact. When I see an email about a comment that someone left I'm a lot more driven to quickly give a comment back.
I'm really intrigued by the new tools in My developerWorks. I've started a Wiki
and a group
called Real World Open Source to help accumulate people and ideas about how to use open source solutions in our daily life.What are some of your favorite websites/feeds/twitter accounts to follow?Slashdot
is great, of course. There's a lot of noise there sometimes, but you definitely find a core of people who are passionate about their technology. I also like to get on different lists with various kinds of news. One that I've been enjoying lately is Fast Company
. It has bits of tech news with marketing analysis and other diverse business views of the world. I've had several things that I've explored as a result of one of their articles.
Most of my exploration is less driven by specific sites and more by my own searching. Google provides. I punch in what I'm curious about and it always seems to find things that are useful. What I search for is driven by whatever is happening to me today or the problems that people have to challenge me.
Happy New Year! I'm hoping 2010 is going to be even better than 2009 on My developerWorks! And since I want to start the year out with a bang, I'm bringing you an interesting interview with Alan Harris
, whose blog "The Strange Tales of a Polyglot developer", never fails to suck me in with its honest POV.
Learn more about Alan in the interview below, visit his profile on My developerWorks
, visit his blog
, and follow him on Twitter
. Tell me about yourself and what you're currently working on...
I am a senior web developer at the Council of Better Business Bureaus in Arlington, VA. I've been developing software for about 10 years, migrating from desktop to firmware and finally arriving at web development. At
the moment, I'm working on a new offering for them based on Ruby on Rails that will dovetail nicely with the existing in-house CMS.How did you get started as a developer?
I got my start working at a Naval subcontractor in Virginia, although I spent the first year or so working directly on PCBs (printed circuit boards). I had been programming in a hobbyist capacity for quite a few years prior to this, and when I saw a need within the company for someone to step up and offer some programming assistance, I jumped on it. I worked with them as a developer for several years and the things I learned at that company have stayed with me throughout my career.How do you keep your technical skills sharp and growing?
Community involvement and a healthy dose of curiosity. This is part of the reason I started a blog here on the developerWorks site: it seemed to be a vibrant community where a lot of people were discussing interesting (and relevant) topics. I wanted to be a part of it. Beyond that, I can't help but play with new technology; I'm trying to move away from saying "I'm a C# developer" or "I'm a Rails developer"...that would be like a mechanic saying "I'm a socket wrench." The tool you're using doesn't define you, what you accomplish with it does.How do you use developerWorks?
Personally, I've been tied to the Microsoft platforms for a long time, mainly because the organizations I worked at were themselves tied to them and one goes where the work is. I've read a lot of entries on this site to learn more about IBM's offerings, as well as how people are using them. In between, I occasionally write a post about whatever might have piqued my curiosity or set me off on a Dennis Miller-esque tangent. What's on your list to learn about next?
Next up on my list is Erlang. I spent about 12 months working on the side with Erlang to develop proof-of-concepts and experiment with the "Erlang way", but had to set it aside in favor of other priorities. I see a lot of value in the "shared nothing, massively scalable" message-passing style that Erlang functions in so well and I need to devote the time to seeing what I can create with it.So, you're blogging on My developerWorks, and I have to say although I'm not a developer, I'm a big fan of your blog. Tell me about your experience as a blogger so far.
A big pet peeve of mine are blogs that talk down to you in a technical sense. I'm not out to impress anyone (nor be impressed), only to converse with other developers (and non-developers) about the state of the union with regard to web development as I see it today. I started the blog just as a way to get out thoughts I had that would randomly pop up during a day's work; I write the entries the same way I would discuss with a colleague across the table. Luckily, from what I've seen so far people seem to enjoy the discussion, so I will happily keep writing in the hopes that we can all keep up the dialogue.Your blog has an interesting name: The Strange Tales of a Polyglot Developer. From your perspective, what's unique about being a polyglot developer?
I've heard it argued that a polyglot developer is a jack of all trades and master of none. What I have found from my observations of others is that they often have an excellent grasp of how best to solve a problem with the least amount of code possible. In the end, code you develop is code that you or someone else has to maintain. If I can write something functional in 10 lines of Erlang, I won't use 20 lines of C# or 15 lines of Ruby. Knowing that these tools are out there as well as how best to apply them is a recipe for a valuable team member in my opinion.
Are you a gadget person? Have any gadgets you're a fanatic about? Or new ones you'd like to get your hands on?
Actually, I'm not much of a gadget person! Now if a new programming language comes down the line, I'll try it out, no question. I even tried LOLcode
. The shelf life of gadgets tends to be woefully short, but C++ is still alive and kicking. Hell, so is COBOL. I'd rather invest my time in code.What are your favorite Twitter accounts to follow?
For a good pick me up, the "S--t My Dad Says" tweets are always a good time; same with "The Real Shaq". For web development I love following the Smashing Magazine guys as their tweets are 90% links to really informative and unique stuff that people are experimenting with. I also follow the 37signals guys as I have a real appreciation for "opinionated software."
What do you like to do when you're away from a computer screen?
Away from a computer screen I like to spend my time practicing Krav Maga and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I'm a huge billiards fanatic and I'm growing to appreciate bowling, although I'm less likely to embarrass myself with the former. I've also been a drummer for more than 20 years, so I try to devote a little time to making music when I can. - Thanks Alan!
Cloud computing is only getting hotter, so I wanted to bring you an interview with Dustin Amrhein
, a technical evangelist for WebSphere emerging technologies and an active member of My developerWorks
contributing to the dialogue around Cloud computing.
Learn more about Dustin: Profile on My developerWorks
- Blog on My developerWorks
Follow the latest news and join in group discussion about Cloud, at Cloud Computing Central
Tell me about yourself and what you're currently working on...
I've been at IBM for nearly four years now. The first three years of my career I was a software engineer on the WebSphere Application Server product. Now I'm a technical evangelist for emerging technologies in WebSphere with a specific focus in our cloud computing technologies. My job is to make sure that our cloud computing technologies are well-known and from a technical standpoint are well-understood.How do you see cloud computing changing the middleware landscape for developers and IT professionals?
When we talk to our customers it is truly eye opening how much time and resource they invest in configuring, deploying, and managing middleware infrastructure. The truth is that this infrastructure is just a means to the end of making their applications available for their users. Cloud computing can help to easily and efficiently manage the lifecycle of this middleware, thus allowing users to concentrate on the business value they provide in their applications.
What are some of the most common challenges that you're seeing involved with getting cloud technologies up and running in client environments?
There's always odds and ends from a technical sense that can present challenges to those implementing new solutions. However, our clients understand this and more importantly they understand that they can overcome these technical issues. The single biggest and most consistent challenge I have observed with respect to embracing cloud computing is the cultural change that is sometimes required in an organization. Cloud computing is a significantly different way at looking at the problems IT
organizations deal with, and many solutions require buy-in and participation from numerous technical factions within the enterprise. Sometimes this means teams that are not used to working together have to do just that, and sometimes it may mean redefining a group's job responsibilities. In my experience so far, these cultural challenges seem more difficult to embrace than any technical issues.Specifically with WebSphere CloudBurst, are there any tips/hints you would offer users getting started with the appliance?
I would tell any new user of the appliance to make sure to involve the right teams very early on in the adoption process. First of all, WebSphere CloudBurst
works on a "bring your own cloud" model. This allows users to leverage their existing investment in hardware, network, and storage infrastructure, but it also means that users need to define a pool of this infrastructure to the appliance. The process of defining this in the appliance is very simple, but users will probably need to work with their physical infrastructure team to determine which resources are eligible for use in the WebSphere CloudBurst cloud. Another thing to consider is that WebSphere CloudBurst gives you the opportunity to customize the operating system that will be used by the WebSphere application environments dispensed by the appliance. Users will want to involve the team responsible for operating systems to ensure that any environments dispensed by the WebSphere CloudBurst Appliance adhere to all organizational policies and procedures.
[Learn more about customizing with WebSphere Cloudburst in this article series
]What has been your most memorable demo/project that you've worked on for CloudBurst?
Any time I get a chance to go and speak to our clients it is memorable because each and every time I learn quite a bit about their wants and needs and how our solutions can address some of them. That being said, there are two stories that really stick out in my mind.
The first is the story of how our own WebSphere Application Server test team has seen marked improvement in their operational environment as a result of using the WebSphere CloudBurst Appliance. This team adopted the appliance before it was even made public and has been using it for nearly a year now. WebSphere CloudBurst has given them many tangible benefits including decreased time spent managing operating systems, decreased deployment times, and increased hardware utilization rates. In addition, they were able to leverage existing hardware assets by simply installing VMware ESX hosts on top of existing machines, and existing software assets because when all is said and done their applications were still running in the same WebSphere Application Server container, that container just happened to be running in a virtual machine. It is also interesting to hear about how this team has been able to introduce the WebSphere CloudBurst Appliance to their environment in a gradual manner. They did not rip and replace, but instead they have augmented their existing provisioning and management approach with WebSphere CloudBurst. This is a usage story that I think would be of interest to anyone thinking of adopting the appliance, and the good news is that you can hear more about it at IBM Impact 2010
In addition to this story, there is the story of a very large insurance company that was really impressed with the maintenance capabilities of WebSphere CloudBurst. This company was not satisfied with their process for applying fixes to their WebSphere Application Server installations. The process was human-driven, had to occur in the middle of the night, and simply took too long. Using the appliance they were able to schedule and automate the application of fixes to their WebSphere Application Server environments, and they reduced the time to install these fixes from approximately 30 minutes down to about 4 minutes. Needless to say, they were very happy with the results.You keep up many sources for WebSphere - blog, space, group, twitter, and youtube channel to name a few.... what's your secret in keeping so many many sources of information going?
Our team works hard at sharing as much information as we can about what's going on in WebSphere. I think the reason we have been able to keep our drumbeat going with so many sources is simple. We are all genuinely excited about the technical and business value that the WebSphere portfolio has to offer, and we are eager to share this information with as many people as possible. We all want to make users understand why to choose WebSphere offerings, and once they have chosen one of our offerings, we want to arm them with as much technical information as possible so the time-to-value is significantly accelerated.What are some of your favorite websites/feeds/twitter accounts to follow?
From a website perspective, besides the ones our team maintains, I follow some other IBM sites like the Cloud Computing space on developerWorks
. I also follow The Server Side
, and technology sections on Digg
. I read lots of blogs, and I have found the easiest place to find a wide collection of blogs from many different authors is Ulitzer
. I like just about all of the Twitter accounts I follow because I appreciate the wide variety of ideas and opinions that are ever present.Are you a gadget person? Any gadget that you currently own that you can't live without?
Actually, I'm not too much of a gadget person. I will say though that I've slowly become addicted to my iPhone, and I would have a hard time getting by without it, especially when traveling!How do you use developerWorks?
I use developerWorks to spread technical information about WebSphere's cloud offerings through both my blog and articles. Lately, I've been using the new community features of developerWorks to expand my community network and interact even more directly with our users.- Thanks Dustin!
This week get to know John Pape
, a member of the IBM WebSphere Application Server SWAT team, blogging on My developerWorks and using social networking to connect and share his experience. Learn more about John in the interview below and connect with him on: My developerWorks ProfileJohn's Random Musings blogFollow John on TwitterTell me about yourself and what you're currently working on...
I am a member of the IBM WebSphere Application Server SWAT team. My team focuses on acute product defect support, mainly focusing on crit-sits. My job entails me traveling to customer locations as helping them get through the tough times they are having with WebSphere Application Server, WebSphere Virtual Enterprise, and WebSphere eXtreme Scale. We also do remote engagements as well. What inspired you to pursue a career in technology?
I'd like to think that I've always had a talent for working with computers. Technology has always fascinated me, whether it's a new smartphone, operating system, or browser. New technology is a bright and shiny toy for me!What are you doing to make the planet smarter? How do you personally relate to IBM's Smarter Planet story?
My personal efforts to make a smarter plant are two-fold: 1. I'm working with other IBMers to help make more technical content available to our customers via social media like Twitter
and My developerWorks
and 2. I am part of an internal effort at IBM called BlueIQ which aims to promote social software adoption inside IBM. I see the effective use of social software as a means to work smarter and thus produce a smarter planet. You seem to be a pretty prolific author, not only are you blogging, but you've also written articles and Redbooks. What inspires you to write so much, and how do you make find the time or make it a priority?
Writing is a big thing for me. I see authoring as a great way to give back to the technical community that brought me up, so to speak. In my job at IBM, I see lots of different types of problems and to be able to take these experiences and share them with other colleagues and customers to help them avoid them seems like such a small thing to do but, the benefit can be enormous!From your perspective, what's the most exciting thing happening related to WebSphere software right now?
Personally, I'm excited about grid computing and distributed caching. I think more and more customers and perspective customers are realizing the value of using a product like WebSphere eXtreme Scale to help save their company money. Since grid computing can be done complementary to cloud computer technologies like CloudBurst, I think it's a very relevant topic in the enterprise today. Besides WebSphere, what other technologies are you fanatical about and why?
As I mentioned before, grid computing concepts like distributed caching and data grid applications are my current interest. There are lots of new innovations in this area right now. Additionally, I've taken a great interest in the use of social networking in the enterprise. I think there are many lessons to be learned around the concept of Enterprise 2.0 and business collaboration technology. Your article about how to get an answer in forums is great! Do you spend a lot of time in developerWorks forums?
Less than I'd like to but, yes. I try to regularly contribute to the forums on developerWorks. I hate to see a question go unanswered!How are you using social networking today?
Internally, I make _HUGE_ use of our Lotus Connections deployment. I also use an internal Twitter-like clone called BlueTwit. Externally, I break up my work and personal life by using Twitter
for technology and IBM-related stuff and Facebook for my family and friends. I also use LinkedIn to keep track of my professional network. Lastly, I try to blog regularly on the My developerWorks site. What are some of your favorite websites/feeds/twitter accounts to follow?
I keep track of the WebSphere support RSS feeds
so I can stay on top of current fix availability. I also watch the developerWorks RSS feeds
for new content. On Twitter
, I follow various IBMers related to WebSphere and Lotus products, Blackberry tech blogs, and my favorite NHL team - the Carolina Hurricanes!
Do you have a must-have gadget - something you can't live without?
My Blackberry. It's always glued to me. When you're not working, what hobbies or activities grab your attention?
Outside of work I enjoy watching hockey, coaching soccer, and inline skating. - Thanks John!
This week I'm bringing you an interview with Eitan Gal
, the manager of the IBM Innovation Center
in Israel. IBM Innovation Centers help ISVs, developers and students learn about new technology, as well as helping IBM Business Partners build and integrate solutions, close deals and grow business. I wanted to interview Eitan because he can share what happens at an IBM Innovation Center, as well as giving the scoop on a lot of exciting activity happening with ISVs in Israel. Tell me about yourself and what you're currently working on...
I have 25 years experience in the IT industry, started as an IT programmer at Intel IT here in Israel. I am with IBM for the last 11 years, in the first three years I was part of Lotus Sametime development team and since 2001 I am proud to be part of the Israeli IBM Innovation Center
(IIC) team. In my first three years at the IIC, I have worked with IT architects from local ISVs in the Telecommunication area such as Amdocs and Comverse. In 2004, I became the IIC team manager. Today we are a team of eleven professionals, IT Architect and Technical consultants, covering the Israeli ISV market, which is one of the largest ISV communities in the world, with about 3,500 local high tech ISV companies. The Israeli IIC is part of the Global Technology Unit (GTU). The GTU's mission is to evaluate and develop partnership for IBM with local ISVs, whose innovative solutions are incorporated in IBM products and services, ensuring a strong value proposition for both IBM and the ISV in joint sales initiatives. What aspect of software and solution architecture do you most enjoy?
As the IIC leader, I enjoy being part of the GTU team which assesses new ISVs for partnership with IBM. In addition to looking at business aspects, we explore the full technology potential of IBM Hardware and Software, which can be adopted by the ISVs in their solutions. The process requires deep understanding in the ISV solution architecture, and in IBM products which can potentially bring high value as part of the ISV solution. One of the end results of the assessment process is a technology road map, which we build jointly with the ISV. This road map outlines the IBM technologies that the ISVs will adopt according to a time line plan. In 2009 we evaluated 160 new ISVs, and performed around 200 Technology enablement projects, most of them took place with new ISVs. From your perspective, how is the software industry unique in Israel?
In two aspects:
1. Israel has a concentration of more than 3500 local ISVs, in a country smaller then New Jersey :-). In the last 15 years over 250 companies were involved in M&A transactions. More than 90% of ISVs influence is outside of Israel as the local market is very small. Most local ISVs are looking for partnership with IBM, and see IBM as a partner which can bring global reach.
2. I think that part of our culture is risk taking, and local ISVs are early adopters that are willing to try new technologies and new product releases. This can be useful for these ISVs, but can sometimes put them in a problematic situation. It is important to understand that the Israeli high tech landscape is rich in entrepreneurial activity and early stage companies that are facing the decision about which platform to support. So we have a unique opportunity to work with these entrepreneurs at very early stages and in 2009 we increased significantly our activities with them through IIC events dedicated for this community.What is the most interesting thing about IBM Innovation Centers that you think more people should know about?
We are one-stop-shop for ISV's IBM hardware and software needs for the local ISV market. We cover products in all IBM brands, with our primary focus on WebSphere, Information Management, Tivoli, System X and P. In addition to our IIC experts, we have Technical Business Partners which expand our support capabilities in areas where we are not experts. We also engage other IBM organizations and the IBM Lab whenever needed. In addition to product support we provide assistance for ISVs in the different certification processes available, such as "Ready for....." programs and the IBM Industry framework programs.Do you have any plans coming up at the IBM Innovation Center in Israel soon that you're excited about?
We are excited to enter the Cloud space, In 2010 we plan to have some new exciting Cloud Products such as CloudBurst, and iDataFlex. We also evaluate the Cloud for Developers offering for our ISVs.
Which technologies or products does your IBM Innovation Center have the most expertise in?
Websphere and Information Management are the software brands we're strongest in. On Websphere in addition to the WebSphere Application Server we also support the Business Process Modeleing products such as Websphere Modeler, Process Server and Websphere ESB. In the Information Management area, in addition to the mainstream products such as DB2 and Data Stage, we have started in 2009 to support Cognos, and we see very high potential in the ISV market for Cognos.Are there new technologies or products you want to learn or expand for 2010?
We are going to expand our support capabilities in two areas: Cloud related technologies on both the HW and SW side. With products such as CloudBurst and Cloud offering for developers. In addition, we plan to enhance our "vertical" Skills, which are Industry related skills. One of our main missions is to increase our ISVs presence in the different Industry Frameworks offered by IBM. How do you use developerWorks?developerWorks
and My developerWorks
demonstrate our technology strength. I see developerWorks as our face to IT professionals....in many occasions people that were introduced to the developerWorks site were amazed by the content they could find there and IBM's involvement in Open Source. We actively promote developerWorks and My developerWorks to our ISV community; it is our team's main resource for technical information, and often IIC technical consultants refer ISVs to developerWorks for technical information they need.In your spare time, if you have any, what hobbies or activities interest you?
Reading..... .Swimming and Jogging.......outdoor activities...... jogging in a beautiful park near Jerusalem, near where I leave. Woodworking and Iron works, I have a small nice workshop, and have my works album in Facebook.- Thanks Eitan!
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-_-8340How 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 guessWhat 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
). 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.Thanks Antony!
This week, get to know Ben Lieberman
, principal architect of BioLogic Software Consulting. Ben is a long-time author of developerWorks articles too numerous to mention, with the majority focused on UML and software modeling. He's also started blogging on My developerWorks. Learn more about Ben in the interview below and you can also find out more about him here: Profile
- Search for articles by Ben Lieberman
Tell me about the biggest problem you've solved...
To date the biggest problem I have solved was the ability to automatically program cellular mobile units in the field. The problem involved integration between three separate systems (billing, over-the-air signaling, and mobile equipment database), and making sure the transaction to the mobile unit worked correctly 99+% of the time!What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on multiple projects for the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), putting your tax dollars to work. Of interest to me is the current project to integrate a rule-driven engine for the management of mine health samples with the existing centralized data management system.What inspires you in your work?
Primarily the ability to work with motivated teams, on interesting and challenging projects.
Describe your favorite IT project
My current favorite is the mobile workforce support application (Source-Forge: Maestro) I am in the process of designing and coding; I think this project will totally rock ... as soon as I can really devote myself :-) Learn more about this project in this developerWorks articleHow are you using social networking today?
Not much, I have a partially complete Facebook page, and I am registered in LinkedIn. Otherwise, I'm not a big fan of texting, IMing or other interruptions to my day. On the other hand, I do participate in Blogs, online journals, and discussions!What are some of your favorite websites/feeds/twitter accounts to follow?
I am registered for several Podcasts (try out "This Week In Science"
, very cool), and I like to follow the NASA space shuttle RSS feed
. I am an occasional visitor/contributor to various Java websites (Java Ranch
is one of the best for new Java coders - and even old hands!) Do you know your Myers-Briggs or Kiersey personality type? Care to share?ENTJ (although I have INFJ tendencies).
Of course, if you check out my personality type it reads as "Field Marshal" - so toe the line sailor!
What type of gadgets do you use?
iPod Touch (when my teenage boy lets me use it), MacBook Pro, and your basic cell phone; I am "small electronic gadget" impaired. I am the target of much derision from my more tech-headed friends.What's the coolest piece of tech news you've heard lately?
The launch of My developerWorks
of course! Well, that and the Hubble space telescope repair.Thanks Ben!
Keith McDonald is a great example of a developer taking his area of expertise - DB2 - and finding a creative way to share it. Get to know Keith in the interview below and add him to your colleagues on his My developerWorks profile. You can also follow him on his blog and Twitter.
Tell me about yourself and what you're currently working on...
I am a software developer at IBM Canada and have been so since 1997, when I was an intern. I was born and raised in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia, but I've been living in Toronto for the past thirteen years. I care about good design (both internal and external) and the transformation of research into real products that make customer's lives easier. I believe in keeping up with the state of the art in my field and applying what I learn from doing so.
I have worked on DB2 for Linux, UNIX, and Windows since version 5. I have spent the last ten years developing workload management technology for DB2, starting with Query Patroller in DB2 version 8.1 followed by Workload Manager in DB2 9.5. I am currently working on some of the next generation workload management technologies for use with a future release of DB2 for LUW.
Describe a normal day for you.
Lately, a typical day consists mostly of writing and testing code for a future release of DB2, participating in team Scrum meetings, answering emails, taking in education sessions on new technologies like ISAS and DB2 pureScale, and writing specifications for new features. Every day after work, I will typically spend four or five hours studying some aspect of db2top (the interactive snapshot monitoring tool that comes free with every copy of DB2 for LUW, even the free Express-C edition) and writing a blog post about it. It usually takes two nights to craft a single post and I publish a new post three times a week. Eventually, I will have covered every feature and will start blogging about a new topic.
What's your favorite aspect of your work?
My favorite aspect of my work is the group of people with whom I get to work. They are not only extremely smart and professional, but also free of the arrogance that sometimes comes with such intelligence. People at work share what they know and communication is open and honest. At work, I know I can ask questions and get answers that help me solve problems more quickly than I ever could trying to do everything on my own.
Do you have any advice you'd share with students or new IT professionals who are just starting out?
Work-life balance is extremely important, especially if you enjoy your job so much that you could happily spend all your time doing it. Make time for your health and have a hobby that gets you out of the house regularly. Find a way to share what you learn in your job with your fellow employees and perhaps a broader audience if the information is not proprietary. Find a way to get in contact with the users of the products you make and listen to them. Do not let your skills stagnate.
How are you using social networking today? How is it changing the way you live your personal or professional life?
I have had an awareness of social networking technologies for a while now (I used to get blank stares years ago when I would talk about Twitter), but I was not really a participant until recently. At first, like many people who complained about not wanting to hear about the minutiae of other people's lives, I didn't see the full potential of social networking. I liked using Facebook to catch up with people I hadn't seen in years and I liked reading tweets from the small set of people I followed, but I contributed very little to the conversation myself. My view changed when I started posting to Twitter last month. All of a sudden I was having conversations with complete strangers who shared an interest in the technologies I write about. I finally figured out that to get the most out of social networking, the conversation has to go both ways - you get out of it what you put into it.
As a blogger you focus on DB2. Can you share what inspired you to start blogging?
I had wanted to start a blog for a while, but could not think of a topic I could blog regularly about. When I started using db2top, I noticed that it had dozens of "hidden" features and only a few pages of documentation. I knew it was a popular product among DB2 for LUW users, but I couldn't imagine that such users were getting the full value out of it given its limited documentation. I personally don't like to read mountains of documentation at one time, but I figured a regularly-occurring blog post explaining one feature at a time might be able to sustain someone's interest and get more people to realize just how useful and powerful this little tool is. According to a recent blog post by Susan Visser, the free ebook Getting Started With DB2 Express-C has been downloaded over 83,000 times. Every one of those DB2 Express-C users has a powerful monitoring tool at their fingertips but I imagine many are not aware of it or at least not aware of all that it can do and I hope to change that.
Do you have any bloggers you look up to in particular?
I have always liked the writing that Joel Spolsky does in his blog Joel on Software. His original essays from ten years ago when I first started reading his blog made me rethink everything I knew about developing software. Unfortunately, he quit blogging not too long ago, but his old material is still relevant today.
What are some of your favorite websites/feeds/twitter accounts to follow?
Derek Sivers, Clay Shirky, Seth Godin, Paul Graham, Planet DB2, Explain Extended, DB2 Express-C team blog, and Zen and the Art of Programming.
How do you use developerWorks?
I read a lot of technical content and find out about much of it through Google searches or on social news aggregators like Hacker News. Much of the time, the content originates on developerWorks. Now that I have a developerWorks blog, I find myself on the site more often, discovering new technical articles directly. I am still learning the new social networking aspects of My developerWorks.
Star Wars or Star Trek?
Being a child of the 80's with an obsession with space and technology, I will always associate Star Wars with fond memories of my childhood. I was not exposed to Star Trek in any significant way until the mid-90's when I was in university and the first movie with the ST:TNG cast came out. It has become a tradition for me and the friends I made at university to see every new Star Trek movie together even though we no longer live in the same cities or even the same provinces. So I can't really choose one over the other because I treasure them both.
In my first post on "Personality on the job"
, I talked about the first principle - Accepting that people are different! The second principle is "Know yourself".
A relationship is a two-way interaction, and you are one half of that interaction. It does no good to merely observe and understand others, if you don't understand the role you are playing too. One way to get to know yourself is to take a personality test. There are many out there, and I'll include a list at the bottom of my post. But taking a personality test isn't required - start by looking in the mirror!
Here are some questions to help you explore who you are on the job:
- What do you enjoy working on? What activities make you "lose time", looking up and realizing hours have gone by?
- What makes you energized? What are you most passionate about?
- What drags you down, sucks your energy, bums you out?
- What makes you see red?
- Do you like to work in quiet solitude? Or frenetic activity with lots of people around?
- Do you jump in and solve a problem on the fly, or think about it first?
- Do you feel compelled to work through every detail? Or do you prefer to look at the big picture?
- Do you tend to plan things out in advance? Or go with the flow?
- Is it natural for you to lead a team effort? Or do you like to join in and follow someone else?
- Do you like a defined roadmap? Or do you like to blaze your own trail?
Cut yourself some slack
Remember the first principle was accepting that people are different? Now, accept that you are different. You can change some things about yourself, and probably should, but many things are just the way you're hardwired. Don't fight it - work with it.
For example... I work with people alot, but I'm an introvert and I can get worn out. As much as I wish this wasn't the case - but it is, so I have to work with it and schedule in down time when I'm not in meetings. Make the most of what you've got
Once you understand basic things about yourself, you can start to put those to use. If you enjoy working on the start of a project, conceiving it in the brainstorming phase - try to find areas where you can apply that. If you're passionate about perfecting things with testing and trouble-shooting, look for opportunities to do that. If working on detailed reports drives you nuts and slows you down, see if you can pass that on to another team member who eats spreadsheets for lunch.
For example... I've discovered, I enjoy analyzing data. That might sound dry to you, but as a kid, I loved Nancy Drew books, and I think something about putting together puzzles and playing the detective gets me going! So I volunteer to do a little data analysis when the need comes up. Know your hot buttons - then cool down
We all have hot buttons that short circuit logic and go straight to our gut. They might make us feel frustrated, angry, or deflated. Many times, these hot buttons aren't serious, just the kind of thing that irks you because of your particular personality! Unfortunately, the instant emotions hot buttons evoke can cause a meltdown over something minor. Pinpoint your hot buttons, so that when they get triggered, you can remind yourself that this isn't worth arguing about - it's just a personality quirk.
For example... Years ago, I received a flaming ALL CAPS email that was very pushy and critical and it seemed the entire universe was copied on it. I felt like I was being run over with a bulldozer. I received wise advice to just pick up the phone and talk to the person, instead of trying to defend myself in email. Looking back, I can see that this is just the way this person dealt with everyone - it wasn't directed especially at me. And since I now recognize I can be thin-skinned, when things like this happen again, I don't take a forceful style personally and get upset - just focus on solving the problem.
Want to get to know yourself better? Here are three free online personality tests:4 question personality test
(for those of you short on time...)Keirsey Temperament SorterHumanMetrics Jung Typology Test
Have ever done a Google search on your own name?
If you have, then you’re already familiar with the concept of having an “online persona”, even if you don’t think of it in those words. I also think of it like an online reputation or online resume. Your online persona is your representation of who you are in the “online” world, and to a large degree you control it!
Your online persona can be personal, like your Facebook page or Flickr with your latest vacation pics. Or it could be professional, you might be on LinkedIn or have a blog about topics related to your area of expertise. And it's also all the blurry areas where your personal and professional life overlap. When you approach social networking from a professional perspective (which is what I'm focusing on here), building your online persona is like building your online resume.
Your online persona can be negative, neutral or positive. No one wants a negative online persona. So don't go there! Be conservative about what you share and post, what you meant to be private or personal can also get noticed in the professional arena. Social Networking mistakes that can break your career Tips on cleaning up your online reputation
You may start out just wanting to keep your online persona neutral. Maybe you don't want to see anything come up when you do your Google search. It's your choice to stay "off the grid" but consider whether you're missing out on an opportunity. If you choose to, building your online persona can give you an edge in a competitive job market.
How do you start building a positive online professional persona?Find the right sites to participate in
There are general networking sites that don't focus on a specific industry, such as LinkedIn. But you may be better served by seeking out an active site focused on your industry. Vertical social networks target a specific set of users who connect around a specific set of interests. If you’re a developer, IT pro or student, I'd recommend My developerWorks
as the place to start.Set up a "rock star" profile on the sites you participate in
Connect with other people on the sites you participate in
- Add a picture - consider how the picture represents you. Think about the community you're a part of and the impression you want to leave. You may just want to "be yourself". You may want it to be more formal or casual. Think about what you're wearing, your facial expression, etc. There's nothing wrong with a fun, casual picture, as long as it fits with how you want to represent yourself.
- Include as much information as you can about yourself - specifically your professional self. What are you good at? What projects have you worked on? What company do you work at? What's your current role? What are you interested in learning?
- Spend a little extra time on your profile. Someone may be reading this like they read your resume. Edit until you're happy with how it represents you (and don't forget spell check).
- Simple steps to a great profile on My developerWorks
Share what you know (and what you think, and what you care about)
- Look for people you know, people you work with now or in the past, and look for people with similar interests to yours.
- Invite them to be part of your network.
- Join groups based on your projects and skills, and interests to expand your network.
One step at a time
- Find ways to speak out in your community, such as group discussions, comments, and blogs.
- If you're not ready to start posting videos or writing a blog, start out by commenting, rating and bookmarking.
- Sharing your experience and opinions helps demonstrate your knowledge and experience and show off your innovative thinking.
It may seem overwhelming, but you don't have to craft your online professional persona overnight! Take it one step at a time, slowly. Get to know the communities you are a part of before jumping in. Think about what you want to accomplish. Do a little research and learn before you take each next step.Now, I'd love to hear from you... Are you actively trying to build your online professional persona? If not, why not? If yes, what are your challenges or obstacles? What's working for you?