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Developer Diaries

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.

Globe Trotter

Guy Vider

Employer: BMC Software

Job: Global Practice Manager

DDJ: What's your job?

GV: I manage the technical aspects of every deployment of the BMC AppSight Problem Resolution System worldwide. I also design and develop "glue" applications to assist with deeper integrations with customers' ancillary software.

DDJ: What do you like about your job?

GV: Being exposed to different design, development, implementation, testing, and support methodologies every week, at every new account. This job affords the rare privilege of conducting a personal comparison study between some of the best R&D teams in the world. Compared to a regular developer's job, this job is like being locked in a candy store.

DDJ: What do you find challenging about your job?

GV: The personal challenge is the amount of travel. This position calls for global travel, and as anyone can attest, air travel in (and out) of the U.S. is not as fun as it used to be.

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

GV: I found a myriad of online tools that make my travel life easier: sites that assist in managing trips, hotels, cars, etc. I also make it a habit to study new environments and methodologies before arriving on site. Developers like to speak to people who speak their language. Sites like MSDN and CodeProject make my professional life easier.

DDJ: What do you do away from work? Do you have a hobby?

GV: My current hobby is blogging. I started a travel/tech blog (The Traveling Tech Guy at www.guyvider.com) where I document and share some of my travel and technical experiences, recommendations, and stories. When at home, I frag away on my XBox 360 or try to teach my Mac to do new things (Mono for Mac—cool!).

Asking the Right Question

Greg Amerson

Employer: Genuitec, LLC

Job: Senior Eclipse Technologist

DDJ: What is your job?

GA: Sales support, right? Isn't that a developer's real job? :) Actually, my number one job is to think of better ways [to] deliver useful software tools to the developer community. Most days, that involves working on a team doing Eclipse plug-in development.

DDJ: What do you like about your job?

GA: Several things...Getting to deliver software that people really care about. Helping the half-million MyEclipse users do their everyday jobs better. I love it when other people look smart to their peers by using our software. Interfacing with third-party companies to help them extend MyEclipse. Staying up-to-date with the ever-changing Java Enterprise software landscape.

DDJ: What do you find challenging about your job?

GA: Two things: "asking the right question" and "software trade-offs." Banging code isn't hard and lots of people can do it. Being able to ask the right question, define the requirements, manage business risk: That is what is difficult. Software trade-offs can also be hard. Nobody likes to hack, but you must always be delivery- and end-user focused enough to make the hard choices and write ugly code if you have to solve a problem.

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

GA: Working with really smart people. Not thinking that I have to solve every problem myself, but instead leveraging the shared knowledge of all my teammates.

DDJ: What is different about your job than other places you've worked?

GA: Relentless delivery. We have had over 50 product deliveries since I've been a member of the Genuitec team. We love to constantly be shipping software, and it drives everything we do. If on a particular day, I can solve a problem by deleting 300 lines of code, as opposed to having to write 500, that is a great day.

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