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Developer Diaries

Playing the Market

Janusz Winowski

Employer: Self-employed

Job: Stock-exchange investor

DDJ: What is your job?

JW: I work on my own as a stock-exchange investor in Krakow, Poland. My main and real job is to develop my computer program, which helps make investment decisions, to achieve repeatable results on financial markets in a long term. So in fact, I work as a programmer. I also find time to develop other programs (numerical analysis, data conversion, reporting tools, automatic unit testing, parsing, vector graphics), but I treat it rather as a way of not forgetting some programming techniques, which I will maybe need in the future.

DDJ: What do you like about your job?

JW: What I like most is that the list of my new ideas gets longer and longer, so "the list of orders" is never empty and every new day looks different than the previous one.

DDJ: What do you find challenging about your job?

JW: The most challenging element about my job is that I invest real (not virtual) money and the money is mine (not my rich uncle's or godfather's).

DDJ: What have you found that makes your job easier?

JW: PC Lint, C++ Builder, C/C++ Users Journal, and Dr. Dobb's Journal.

DDJ: What are your hobbies?

JW: My hobby is sport (tennis, running), and tourism (walking, climbing). I have run marathons, but now I have no time to prepare for them.

Karma Bank Deposits

Bob Cummings

Employer: Associated Bank

Job: Senior Programmer

DDJ: What is your job?

BC: I have two jobs. At the bank, I work on the "one off" projects. Sometimes a business unit will want something that is beyond the scope or available bandwidth of their IT unit. At night, I am self-employed, working remotely with research ecologists all over the U.S. developing simulations.

DDJ: What do you like about your job?

BC: At the bank, I love the variety of different projects. It definitely keeps me from becoming bored. The work with the scientists is very rewarding; it feels like I am making deposits in the Karma bank. One simulation I worked on has been used for everything from trying to manage the Southern Pine Beetle infestation in the Appalachian Mountains to simulating the effects of Global Warming in Siberia.

DDJ: What do you find challenging about your job?

BC: Convincing the front-line end users—the tellers, personal loan officers, and others—that change is not always a bad thing. They are the people who will have to face the angry clients if something goes wrong and all of a sudden their debit card no longer works. With the simulations, I am usually working directly with a professor's grad students, gathering input data and testing. Trying to keep the students focused on the project from a distance while they live the college student lifestyle can be a challenge. Ah, to be that young again!

DDJ: What have you found that makes your job easier?

BC: I think it is the network of people I can draw on to help solve problems, bounce ideas off of, and learn from. It seems no matter where they work, or what business they support, most software developers love to solve problems and help each other.

Half Art, Half Fire Drill

Kevin Tang

Employer: Cybernet Systems

Job: Research Engineer, Project Manager, and Proposal Coordinator

DDJ: Where do you work?

KT: I work at Cybernet Systems, a small business R&D contractor for the government in Ann Arbor, Michigan. We develop robotics and software prototypes, mainly for the U.S. Department of Defense.

DDJ: What's your job there?

KT: I am a Research Engineer, Project Manager, and Proposal Coordinator, who programs mostly in Java. So my job is to wear as many hats as possible and make deadlines. I am currently working on a simulation toolset for designing next-generation vehicles for the U.S. Army.

DDJ: What do you like about your job?

KT: I like the work we do, not just because it is interesting but also because I find it meaningful. I enjoy our flexible and casual work environment, and appreciate the high degree of independence and responsibility that comes with the job.

DDJ: What do you find challenging about your job?

KT: Context switching between various tasks ranging from programming to sponsor communication to getting contract deliverables out the door is challenging. It ends up being half art, half fire drill.

DDJ: What have you found that makes your job easier?

KT: Open-source software (like Berkeley's Ptolemy II, and Gnuplot) and automated software build tools (like Apache Ant). Those tools complement our business model, which is to make innovative technology at the lowest cost and in the shortest time.

DDJ: What's your hobby?

KT: Playing sports, hiking mountains, and exploring places on my bike.

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