Archive for the ‘personal growth’ Category

Life and Tech – Choices, Decisions and Options

A couple of weeks ago Friday, I shared lessons from my life in technology with a team of upcoming software developers, Life in the Tech Lane, and I got a number of follow-up questions like the one below. On reading the questions, it spurred this post as the responses needed to be long form

For that matter I got a number of questions that I would like you to address that I couldn’t easily ask yesterday. These are the questions that I have:

How did you know that software delivery is your thing, amongst all the various options?

My first taste of technology related work was in my S.6 vacation at an email service firm where I helped develop UNIX training materials, setup & troubleshoot modems for email services, and my initial foray into server scripting. I worked on this through my undergraduate course, even when I worked in a civil engineering consultancy it was all software related work. I was hooked, to the problem solving, creation of digital solutions & learning that came along with the work, making my life very interesting.

Over time, I have embraced the challenges of having to develop solutions quickly, train users, support them as products evolve, which has kept me in the line of work.

I also tried management, and found out it was not for me thus came back in the trenches. However I come with a lot more value, I understand the needs of executives in a sector, can put myself in the eyes/place of a user and have a good handle on technology.

Overall it seems like software delievery chose me, I am still engaged 20+ years later, and see a future as an older software developer/engineer by evolving myself and skillsets to maintain relevance

 Why PHP and not the other languages, I mean there is a number of new technologies and spaces being created everyday, why stick to the”old” one PHP?

I started programming in UNIX shell scripting, Turbo Pascal, Visual Basic 6 and Visual Basic for Applications (for Excel), Java 1.1 & 1.2. At the time of Java we were building enterprise web applications, however deployment was a challenge which was how one of the clients introduced us to PHP.

This is a language made for the web, with lots of libraries through PHP Classes, Stack Overflow and other sites. The frameworks, Symfony, Code Igniter, Yii simplified the process of building and maintaining custom web applications. Addoitional solutions, such as CMSes (Joomla, Xoops, WordPress) were the foundation for website development.

I used PHP for over a decade, during which I became familar with the language, quirks (that were reduced in versions 5.6 and the 7.x series), thus it became a familiar tool which I can keep using within the space for my current and future work.

I have also learnt and used Python, Ruby on Rails, Java 8 (which I use in my day job), however I find the PHP language my tool of choice to provide technology solutions as it aligns with how I solve problems. This has been made easier with the Laravel framework, which provides a great eco-system with alot of existing tools & solutions, so I can focus on business problems rather than tech and tooling.

What advice would you give me as a young profession who is in the early days of formal employment in the tech industry. I have a challenge about my career path or direction. I want and I feel more joy when doing data science/analytics work but I have failed to get the opportunity of pursuing that space and it’s for that reason that I have taken on the software development path as these are the opportunities that have been available, it’s not that I don’t enjoy it, I do but my utmost passion is data science. What advice would you give me regarding that?

  1. The best way to predict the future is to create it. A future in technology is easier to create leveraging opensource tools and technologies – thus if you want to do data science, I would suggest picking a problem you are passionate about and spend your personal development time growing it, working on it, writing about it (you need to share your lessons and paths) so that you keep growing
  2. Find opportunities within your current employer for the data science/analytics work – if opportunities do not exist, create them by talking to your colleagues, taking part in meetings/discussions or even starting the discussions on leveraging data science/analytics within your organization
  3. Take time to get better at the role you are hired to do, as that can provide the basis to growth and opportunites being taken on you
  4. Join local meetups and activities around data science/analytics to grow your network
  5. Take courses on your chosen path to ensure you are ready to take up any opportunities that come up
  6. Be persistent in finding opportunities along your chosen, do not give up it may take longer than expected

Life in the Tech Lane

I was recently asked to talk to a group of young technologists touching on career, health, finances and family. Using my own journey I am happy to share life in the Tech Lane

I am happy to talk to your teams on similar topics, or even software delivery related topics, so do get in touch

In Praise and the Pitfalls of Personal Processes

This blog post is a reminder to myself, that I need to follow the personal practices that I have setup for myself as well as laugh at a mishap I had over the weekend. This is an analysis of a set of cascading failures just like dominoes that almost ruined a work field trip, lengthening travel time from an 8 hour road trip to over 12 hours.

The backstory is I am an Wikipedia – ENTJ via Myers Briggs, an Wikipedia – Aires (the first fire sign in the Zodiac), with sufficient twist of hyperactivity and vey easily distracted, as I love shiny things so jump from one thing to another.

For this field trip, as part of my organization, I had the stationery and projector with me, wow well organized (so I thought) and was preparing for a Sunday morning 9.30am meeting at the rendezvous point. My usual practice is to prepare everything the evening before, keep things in very specific locations so that I only have to rely on muscle memory

Mistake #1: Not moving the field trip materials to the car on Saturday evening, but having them very well arranged in the sitting room

Mistake #2: Not packing my bags the night before, since oh well, this should be easy.

Mistake #3: Not charging my laptop to 100%, as I always do before a trip (8 hours long)

Come Sunday morning, I overslept, waking up at 7.30am in a panic, started to pack my bags in a hurry, with help from my wife – whom I was rushing but whose demeanor and style is not to hurry. So at 9am, I was all packed an ready (but running behind schedule) with a 1hour drive to the meeting point.

Arrived at the meeting point at 10am, but the transporters were running behind schedule too. So well, took the time to unwind and cool down from the morning rush. And well since they were late, I checked on my latop which was not fully charged and plugged it into the socket.

At 11am, the drivers arrived, and awesome, I unplugged my laptop, and placed the charger in my bag (hey I tend to leave it all over the place). When I walked to the car to validate the travel arrangements, it hit me that I had forgotten the stationery and projector at home, so panic again – fortunately it was on our route to Jinja (80km and about 75min drive), so a slight detour. But to ensure that we lost no time, we had to leave before everyone else to make up the lost time.

Everything went smooth, however I also resisted the urge to open my bag and watch a movie on the latop since we had all the time in the world. Here I was feeling very accomplished, when at the first stop in Jinja town we got a call that I had left my laptop in Kampala. BOOM!!!

Panic again, and a moment of truth, go back for the latop or get it to me in Jinja. Well I did the latter, and after a call to an available trusted boda guy, the wait began as he flew all the way to Jinja, and about 75 min later we were on our way.

What lessons do I take from this?

  1. Dr Charles B. Mukasa “Whenever you depart from established practice, you will spend 10x the effort and 10x the time”. A reminder not to depart from practices that I have set for myself
  2. A little discomfort however tired you are, especially when you are very tired, is to ensure that all is lined up to match your personal practices as this is the native subconcious memory
  3. Keep good relationships with the boda boda drivers, and have a couple of trusted ones whom you can leverage for such errands
  4. Laugh at your misfortunes, as this makes them all the less painful

Fortunately, I have settled into the field training and now back in rythmn

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