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Developer Diaries

Depth Finder

Alex Barros

Employer: QA Technologies Inc.

Job: Director of New Technologies Development

DDJ: What do you like about your job?

AB: The fact that our company is not focused in one technology only. We work with a myriad of technologies in order to solve clients' problems, meaning that I am always exposed to different opportunities to use and recommend what is best for that particular situation, and not be limited to one vendor/solution. I also very often have the chance to test and create "proof of concept" samples of emerging technologies, which keeps me motivated.

DDJ: What do you find challenging about your job?

AB: To determine the optimum depth and width of knowledge needed at a particular point. You need to know enough about certain topics to have a productive discussion with your clients and peers, but at the same time you don't want to go so deep in a subject that it creates a bias against other options or prevents you from learning new things. Add that to the fact that the day still only has 24 hours, and the equation turns interesting.

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

AB: By far the amount of readily available information on the Internet. Be it an algorithm for sorting or an article about a new technology, odds are, you are going to find it on the Internet.

DDJ: What's your hobby?

AB: Aside from playing with technology, I like to buy lots of books (and eventually read them).

Mashups and Match-Ups

Bob Buffone

Employer: Nexaweb Technologies

Job: Chief Architect

DDJ: Where do you work?

BB: I work for Nexaweb Technologies Inc. We provide software, solutions, and services that enable companies to modernize legacy software to a J2EE/RIA/SOA stack.

DDJ: What do you like about your job?

BB: Being Chief Architect offers me the ability to meet with lots of customers, partners, and industry colleagues to fully understand where the industry is going with software. Also, the world of software continues to advance pretty quickly and new languages, frameworks, and best practices are helping to make software easier to both develop and use. One area that I find the most interesting today is Mashups. It means a little something different to each person but everyone has the same dream—making it easier to build, produce, and consume software.

DDJ: What do you find challenging about your job?

BB: The biggest challenge of my job is trying to match up the goals/vision of each part of the organization and bring them together to help our customers be more successful.

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

BB: Putting yourself in the customer's shoes. One customer interaction ingrained this rule in me forever. I went on a customer visit and was expecting to give a demo. After I arrived, the client said that he was going to build the sample application himself with my guidance. For the next two hours, I steered the client through every single line of code to type and every button to press. While we did finish the sample, it was a valuable lesson. In fact, try it yourself: Tell someone verbally how to do every single step to achieve something you know how to do. If the experience is trying, then you know that your processes should be made easier.

DDJ: What's your hobby?

BB: A few years back, I was into aggressive inline skating (ramps, half-pipe). It was physically rewarding; good exercise combined with a great sense of accomplishment being able to do a new trick. The downside was that I'm not 16-years-old anymore and falling hurts. Nowadays, I spend my spare time doing lots of coding on Mashups and open-source projects that I think are cool and useful to the larger development community. My blog, Rockstarapps.com, showcases some of my Mashup work as well as my JavaScript optimization tools.


Rod Stephens

Employer: Rocky Mountain Computer Consulting

Job: Owner

DDJ: You're the president of your own one-person company, but what do you do?

RS: I do software consulting, mostly in Visual Basic and C#. I've worked on an eclectic assortment of projects in such diverse fields as repair dispatch, billing, ticket sales, waste water treatment, fuel taxes, cartography, and professional football! I also spend a lot of time writing. I've written 19 books and more than 250 articles, mostly about Visual Basic programming. Sometimes I also teach introductory programming.

DDJ: What do you like about your job?

RS: I love writing. I can reach and help a lot more people with a book or article than I can by consulting directly or teaching in a classroom. I also like the fact that my writing schedule is determined by my own work and doesn't depend on other people getting their work done properly and on time. My fate is generally in my own hands.

DDJ: What do you find challenging about your job?

RS: While I don't need to worry about other developers messing up the schedule, I do need to worry about the companies writing the software that I'm describing. It's hard enough writing a good, authoritative book based on beta software, but it's even harder when vendor release dates slip. Keeping up with everything and trying to determine what will be most important to readers in the upcoming months is also very difficult.

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

RS: The Internet makes everything so much easier. Researching an obscure algorithm or software feature used to take quite a bit of legwork. Now you can pop online and find all sorts of information (much of it correct) about just about anything. Modern proofing tools that let you add comments and annotations to documents are also a huge help when writing books and articles. It wasn't all that long ago that I had to submit printed pages. Now everything's electronic and easy to e-mail, and reviewing changes is a snap. And I can save a few trees.

DDJ: What's your hobby?

RS: Volleyball is my main form of exercise.

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