Dr. Dobb's is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Channels ▼


Developer Diaries

Saying No

Ben Leslie

Employer: Open Kernel Labs

Job: Vice President of the engineering department

DDJ: What is Open Kernel Labs?

BL: It's a spin-off from Australia's ICT research body, NICTA. We provide microkernel-based embedded operating system and virtualization technology.

DDJ: What's your job there?

BL: I'm responsible for the development of our product, OKL4, as well as the customization and support that we provide to our customers.

DDJ: What do you like about your job?

BL: The best thing about my job is seeing the ideas and technologies that I worked on as an undergraduate at UNSW being commercialized and used in real products.

DDJ: What do you find challenging about your job?

BL: The most challenging thing in this job is saying "no." There is always a steady stream of new ideas to incorporate into our product, and new hardware to port our platform to, but there is never enough time to pursue all of them.

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

BL: Having a great team of engineers to work with goes a long way to making my job easier.

VoIP and the Improv

Jonathan Palley

Employer: Idapted Inc.

Job: Cofounder and VP Product/Technology

DDJ: What's your job at Idapted?

JP: Idapted is an online language learning startup headquartered in Beijing, China. I oversee the development of our products and technology platform. We are a small team, so I also spend a good deal of time coding.

DDJ: What do you like about your job?

JP: Integration and convergences. Our company is about integrating different fields, business models, and technologies to create an entirely new type of service. One of my key job functions is to find the innovation at the convergences. It is thrilling and I believe one of the futures of innovation. For example, we merge the distributed call center business model in the U.S., the latest research and ideas in language learning, and the recent advances in VoIP and web technology to create a learning service and platform that is entirely novel. Yet, each component is well established. The novelty is how they are brought together.

DDJ: What do you find challenging about your job?

JP: What I like about the job is also the challenge. Everyone I manage and work with is doing something different. We have so many different moving pieces, different perspectives (both culturally and professionally) that it is a constant challenge to keep things "in sync" and bring out the strengths of each.

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

JP: Work on something you are passionate about with people you enjoy working with.

DDJ: What do you do when you're not at work?

JP: Improvised Theater. I'm one of the founders of Beijing Improv and I play in performances, lead workshops, and attend rehearsals. Not only is improv fun and very different from my job, but also it really gets to the core of what creativity and human interactions are all about. Improv is not about being "funny" or "quick witted." Rather, it's about how you work with other people in a constructive, spontaneous, and creative manner. I find that I never stop learning things from improv that can be applied to both my professional and personal life—while at the same time, I never stop laughing and having fun!

Ruby Everyday

Nick Plante

Employer: Ubikorp Internet Services

Job: Freelance software developer and partner in a web application development studio

DDJ: What's your job?

NP: I write web applications. The bulk of my work is using Ruby on Rails at the moment. Sometimes, I'm working as part of a larger team, and other times it's just me, which means I'm often doing everything from project management to architecture, implementation, and testing.

DDJ: What do you like about your job?

NP: I really enjoy being a generalist. I like working with new technologies and being able to choose the right tools for the task at hand rather than being locked into something inflexible. Working directly with clients is great, because you're working on something that really matters to someone, and helping them realize their vision. This is particularly true of early stage startups where there's a lot of great feedback; it's a very interactive process and never boring.

DDJ: What do you find challenging about your job?

NP: Being self-employed can be difficult in that you're involved with everything from business development to customer support, and some days it feels like that takes away from time better spent coding. Also, staying up to date with the latest technology developments can be a full-time job in and of itself. I try to make as much time as possible to cut my teeth on new ideas and contribute to meaningful OSS projects.

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

NP: Ruby is great. I've never enjoyed writing code so much in my life...The best thing about Ruby is that we have such a smart, passionate community of like-minded hackers.

DDJ: What do you do when you're not working?

NP: Good music, good books, independent films, traveling, and dreaming of alpaca ranching.

Related Reading

More Insights

Currently we allow the following HTML tags in comments:

Single tags

These tags can be used alone and don't need an ending tag.

<br> Defines a single line break

<hr> Defines a horizontal line

Matching tags

These require an ending tag - e.g. <i>italic text</i>

<a> Defines an anchor

<b> Defines bold text

<big> Defines big text

<blockquote> Defines a long quotation

<caption> Defines a table caption

<cite> Defines a citation

<code> Defines computer code text

<em> Defines emphasized text

<fieldset> Defines a border around elements in a form

<h1> This is heading 1

<h2> This is heading 2

<h3> This is heading 3

<h4> This is heading 4

<h5> This is heading 5

<h6> This is heading 6

<i> Defines italic text

<p> Defines a paragraph

<pre> Defines preformatted text

<q> Defines a short quotation

<samp> Defines sample computer code text

<small> Defines small text

<span> Defines a section in a document

<s> Defines strikethrough text

<strike> Defines strikethrough text

<strong> Defines strong text

<sub> Defines subscripted text

<sup> Defines superscripted text

<u> Defines underlined text

Dr. Dobb's encourages readers to engage in spirited, healthy debate, including taking us to task. However, Dr. Dobb's moderates all comments posted to our site, and reserves the right to modify or remove any content that it determines to be derogatory, offensive, inflammatory, vulgar, irrelevant/off-topic, racist or obvious marketing or spam. Dr. Dobb's further reserves the right to disable the profile of any commenter participating in said activities.

Disqus Tips To upload an avatar photo, first complete your Disqus profile. | View the list of supported HTML tags you can use to style comments. | Please read our commenting policy.