Category Archives: Career

Feedly Blog Manager

I didn’t start getting into blogs until about a year ago. So I missed the whole Google Reader era.  I always thought blogs were useless for some reason. I still feel that way about certain kind of blogs but technology blogs are very useful in my opinion. It’s a good way to pick up on what others are doing. So when I started getting into blogs I noticed that I was having to bookmark a lot of pages. Not only that but I also was having to visit these blogs to check if anything was updated. I was talking with a co-worker and he said he use to use Google reader but Google shut it down. He said he recently started to use Digg Reader. I looked at Digg and also Feedly and decided that I would go with Feedly. Nothing against Digg I just thought Feedly had a bigger user based and there had to be some reason behind that.

After using it for over a couple of months now I would have to say I am glad with my decision. Not only is it a great blog manager but you also get a lot of neat features for free. The main feature of course as it shows you only posts you have not read yet. This is nice so you know I have ten new blog posts to read. Then you don’t have to filter them out yourself Feedly does that for you. Also you can read the post inside the application so you don’t have to bounce from site to site. This can be nice but you do miss out on certain content like comments. If you are not into those then this might be the way to go. Another feature of the free version is it updates the blogs every four hours. For me this is fine I don’t check posts every day even sometimes I get to it once a week.

Another thing I like about Feedly is there Android application. It seems really well made and I am able to read posts while on the go. The posts just like the website open up inside the application so I don’t have to bounce around. Also you can go to the website just like you go on the site version.

Feedly also offers a pro version which you can upgrade for only 45 dollars a year. That is a decent price and you get a lot more features. So if you are really into blogs you can do things like send them to your Evernote account or get your blog posts 30 minutes sooner than the free version. In my opinion the free version is more than what I need but others may like the additional features.

So if you are looking for a blog manager I suggest you at least check out Feedly. It’s free, easy to use and works great.

Switch Jobs often burnout

I was reading this blog post today and it said switching jobs often is a bad idea and will lead to a burnout. I really disagree with that statement. Over the winter break I read The Passionate Programmer and some really good points where made on this exact subject. I think it’s easy to think if I stay at one job and work my way up I will be in a better place. It makes sense because you will learn the business inside and out during that timeframe.

I was in the same mindset until I read that book. One of the points that was made that after some time wether it be three years of five years you become a liability to your company. If all you do is work with the same set of developers the ideas that are passed around are usually very similar ideas. It’s very hard for the human to change a routine after they get comfortable. I have lived through real world examples of this. I came from one job thinking I was using the latest and greatest technique’s but soon discovered I had a lot to learn. The point is if you want to be the greatest asset then you need to pick up the skills from all the jobs you have worked at. If you sit at one job your entire career you wont have all those experiences.

Another point in the post was moving up the chain developer to manager to director. I’ve been developing for over five years now and that’s never been the case in my experience. Most companies will either have that already in place or hire an outside person if somebody does leave. Positions or titles are not added just because you are ready to move on. Again if you come in with experience from many companies maybe some big name ones to you are a greater asset. Instead of having to work up the ladder you start at a higher level. It should not take your four to six years to learn what you have to do for your job. This isn’t school you should already have knowledge of how to do your job you really just need to learn the business rules behind it all.

Here is my favorite one you have to start from scratch. I don’t believe this to be true at all. Sure you need to rebuild your profile internally with the company but you start at some level. I don’t know of any developer who leaves their current position to start up at a lower position. Most of the time you are hired either at the level you were at or a higher level. So you are really starting with all of your personal knowledge. So you never start from scratch unless it’s truly your first job ever.

Sorry but if your a good developer your code will prove itself. Along with your knowledge. Every company I have been part of when a new person started you could easily tell if they had what it took to perform at their job. They didn’t have to prove anything that’s what the interview is for right? Also these days a lot of developers have an open source profile so if you want proof at what they can do look there. Otherwise ask for their background usually that’s enough to prove wether they are good or bad.

To sum it up I really feel that this block in the blog is wrong. I feel that switching jobs every three years is a good idea to keep your skills sharpened. I also feel doing so doesn’t lead to a burnout but makes your pumped again to start your next adventure. This way of thinking seems like the traditional thought process not what is happening in today’s market.

Technology Recruiters

Ever since I started my technology career I have talked to recruiters on and off about job opportunities. If you are somebody new the the industry or have never worked through a recruiter you may not know the advantages or disadvantages. I have been on both sides of the fence to. Being with a company who was working with them to find talent and being the talent. While their role in the world is critical they have both advantages and disadvantages. It’s really hard to tell this until you have worked with them for a while. You start to pick up on the idea that they need you probably more than you need them. This is especially true when the market is good.

At the end of the day the recruiters goal is to get you into the highest paying position possible. The reason for this is one it makes you happy but two it also makes them happy. They get a percentage of your salary in most cases. So the higher you make the higher they make. You are kind of in it together in that respect. Not only are they trying to get you the highest wage possible but they also want to make the process as easy as possible. This way you don’t have to worry about all the boring paper work. Once they get to know you and know what your looking for they do a pretty good job of only sending your opportunities that fit your needs. So you don’t get bothered by every possible opportunity out there. Sometimes you will get an email about a job that you would not be interested in at all but that doesn’t happen to often. The recruiter also makes the interview process very easy. They set it all up all you have to do as show up. They work with the client so you don’t have to. Companies like working with them when talent is short. It’s hard to find programmers these days. At least ones that are able to hit the ground running. So working through a recruiter they can get a lot more heads in the door.

Even though they do a lot of really good things not everything about working with them is great. Since they make their money based on if you accept a position sometimes they work extra hard to make the new position sound great. Even though you went to the location and were not overly impressed. Also they do a great job in some cases of convincing you why your current job isn’t the answer and the one they are recruiting for is. Another drawback is the initial offer you would get. Yes you are both working to make the most but the company doing the hiring is trying to pay you market rate plus pay the recruiter for their services. So they are trying to save as much as possible. They may have a little money in the budget for this purpose but the cost to get an employee is high. So they try to start off as low as possible. That money has to come from somewhere so it’s possible that if it was just you they would give you a little more starting. I have nothing to prove this theory but when thinking about it it does make sense. From an employers standpoint sometimes recruiters just throw resumes at you. They may be a qualified person they may not be. This happens more and more in a hard to find talent market. Since their connections are already employed they have to really work to find resumes to send you. This process can take more time than one would desire. Also the fee that employers have to pay depends on who they hire. If they are hiring a Sr level person that fee is higher than say a Jr level position. So that is also something you have to take into consideration.

Working with recruiters have both advantages and disadvantages. If you work with one or many you will start to see these things over time. It’s not all bad but it’s also not all good. At the end of the day you need to do what is best for you. Wether that be getting a new job or staying where you are at. It starts to look bad if you change jobs every year just because you could get a better raise. At the same time it looks bad if you have never changed jobs. I hope this post will help you see that recruiters need to play both sides of the fence. So even if they try to convince you to do something you still have the power to make the choice. Make sure the fit works for you not just them.

What makes a leader

I have been in the software industry for over six years now. I have seen some good leaders. I also have seen some bad leaders. Having always been under some type of manager in my careerI have noticed a trend of what really makes a good leader. I have alway been under a person who code could wether they were still coding or not doesn’t matter. As long as they could code that is what type of person I am talking about. The first trait I think about in a great leader as they have an ability to bring everybody on the team up or even past their standards.

The hardest thing to do as find time to train others. As a Sr. engineer you are always feeling the time crunch. You feel that if you spend the time training somebody that is time spent away from getting productive things done. While that is true at first over time you will start gaining that time back. For example if you have a Jr. engineer starting and he is not familiar with the framework you are working in. That person could spend hours if not weeks learning. Even through the learning they may not be learning the same way as you did. Instead it’s smart to spend time training as you go. So you start them off with a small ticket and help them through it. Then start giving them more complex tickets. While doing this you will see that person start to grow and ask less and less questions. This will not only allow you to have your time back but will also make the team more productive. This is because you have somebody else who can do the same type of tasks you do. This will happen over time. I have seen some project leaders not able to do this and everybody else on the team suffers because of it. Time to get new features done are slower because each person has to go through the learning process in a different way. The biggest trait through is communication skills.

A great leader is able to communicate very well. They are able to send a message out and have it be so clear that nobody has to ask questions. Not only are they able to communicate through text wether it be email or instant message they are also able to communicate verbally. For example maybe you are running into a super complex issue. They are able to come over without knowing the solution and work through it in a way that both will understand. It’s becoming even more important these days to have great communication skills. It can really make a difference on wether a project is successful or a failure.

I really feel that you can tell if somebody has leadership skills when you first meet them. Sometimes it takes longer but over time it will start to stick out. If you are a bad leader people may not say anything but they are able to tell. If you are a good leader you may get approached more for advice or help. If you are always to busy to share your knowledge then you are not a good leader.