Friday, September 30, 2011

Get a Highly Specialized Engineering Job

I recently found myself reading this article Get a Tuenti Engineering Job. I felt specially identified with this part:

"lot of the skills we look for, while taught at top universities, aren’t used that commonly in work at many European companies"

There is no doubt, Tuenti is right. In order to keep our programming skills as sharp as they should be consider programming contest training.  Following my own advice I´ve just signed up for this web site: .

I´m going to practice one of this problems or similar 15 or 20 minutes per day, but I am also going to give it a little twist. I will use C/C++ or Python to make of it a richer exercise.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Introduction to Drools

Motivated by my soon to begin MBA studies (Sept 28th, I´m so happy about it) and my almost repulsive feeling towards developing "end-user oriented" Web applications without any interesting business logic behind, I am more than decided to get out of the sterile web development business and get into the BPM world. I am expecting to see that  happen before 2012, hopefully...fingers crossed.

That said, I've reading about Drools lately  and it seems pretty interesting. Keep reading.

This is an extract of the article An Introduction to the Drools Project By N. Alex Rupp

"Why use a rules engine?

The business world is full of cliches about change, how everything changes, how change is the only thing you can depend on. In the technical world, this isn't exactly the case. We've been collectively trying to solve the same set of problems in software for thirty years--sometimes more. In the last decade, IT folks have been inundated with literature about rapid/extreme/agile development ideologies that stress the importance of flexibility and change.
But business needs often change faster than development teams, their processes and the technologies they rely on can keep up. We're getting better at it, but business tacticians still find themselves crippled as they try to realign their IT departments to support the shifting needs of their business. There's a lot of friction and frustration involved in this process.
Lost in Translation
As smart as IT personnel are, they are susceptible to the "telephone" effect. IT efforts often add as much friction to the execution of a business plan as they do value. Unfortunately, by the time the development teams fully understand the rules which govern decision-making in the business and are able to capture that decision making power in software code, the rules have changed. The software is obsolete before it has even reached the market and it needs to be refactored to support the new requirements. If you're a developer, you know what I'm talking about--we call this aspect of the development cycle "feature creep". Very few things are as frustrating to developers as having to build a system on shifting soil. As a software developer, you often have to know as much about the business as the executives do--sometimes more.
Imagine for a moment that you're a business leader. Your company's success often hinges on your ability to notice changing conditions in the market and figure out a way to take advantage of the new environment before your competitors catch on. Every day you have access to more and better information about your market, but it might not matter. Bold and clever insights and the "information advantage" can easily be squandered in the 6-9 months it might take to complete a development cycle for a new product. And when the product ships, chances are it's either feature-light, over budget, past due or some combination of the three.
To make matters worse, at the end of the development lifecycle, the market conditions could be fundamentally different than they were when the project was concieved. Now you're forced to comply with new legislation, you've lost your marginal advantage, and three of the five people who designed your software system have left the company--or worse--HQ is moving the entire department overseas. You're going to need to explain the complexities of the business to people who might not share your native language. If things don't work out, you could easily find yourself straddled with a poorly documented legacy application that you don't understand, that doesn't address your immediate business needs, and all the while orders are coming down from on high to "leverage existing assets".
Where did your strategy break down? Where are the places you might have done better? Recent literature onextreme programmingagile development and other lightweight processes stress the importance of automated unit testing and feature prioritization. There are other principles your developers are familiar with, which can help them respond to your changing needs and shorten turnaround time for their porjects. Most of these principles, like system decomposition, have been around for decades and are aided by up-and-coming additions to the Java platform (like the Java Management Extensions library). Many of these principles, like Object-Orientation and Role modeling, are built right into the Java language.
But Java's still a pretty young language, and the Java platform is by no means complete. One technique that's gaining traction in the Java community is to separate the business decisions of your executives from thetechnical decisions of your developers, and to keep those business decisions in a central data store, where they can be managed and altered in real-time (that is, business-time). It's one strategy you might consider.
Why should your development team have to capture in code the subtle and complex rules that guide your decision making as a business executive? How can you convey the subtleties of your reasoning to them? If so, is it prudent? Probably not. Something might be lost in translation, like the bottom line. Why take the risk that the logic governing your decisions (the executive logic) will be misrepresented in the application code or even in the testing code? If it is, how would you verify that--would you learn to program and write all the unit tests yourself, or would your customers test the software for you? It's hard to keep one eye on the markets and the other in the software code.
It makes more sense that these rules should be centrally located in a place where you can manage them directly, in an intuitive format that you can easily understand, instead of scattered throughout the application in software code where you can't get at them. If you can keep the executive logic out of your software and trust your developers to make the right technical decisions, you will notice the difference. Your project lifecycles will be shorter, and your software will be more adaptable to the needs of your business. Instead of trying to steer the titanic, you'll feel like you're in a tri-hull racing cat."

Monday, September 19, 2011

Monday, August 29, 2011

Stockholm, Sweden - It feels like home to me

I just came back from Sweden. I visited Lund, Malmo, Helsinborg and of course, Stockholm. I must say I loved this country. It´s tolerant, prosperous, green and full of easy-going people.

My family and all time friends are still living in Caracas, but Caracas just does not feel like home anymore. It is really sad, it really is, but it´s also the awful true of having been born in a country where you actually feel like half of the people are your enemy -- consequences of Chavez rhetoric -- and I do not want to be dramatic, but I think that we, the good guys, already lost that war too many years ago. Revolution of the Apes  and the Apes won as simply as that. I know it sounds like I'm not being tolerant, but the problem with apes is that they are very aggressive, you cannot talk to them, they like 'jungle cities' and they all blindly follow a smart Ape who hates "good guys". Well, enough talking about Venezuela...

I've been living in Madrid for almost three years and I certainly like it here. I really do, so why thinking about moving to Sweden? The first thing to say is that I still have  pending things in Madrid that will take about two or three years to have them ready.  So not seriously thinking about moving to Sweden until I'm 30 (currently 27) that said, Madrid is great, Spain is great, economic projections of Spain not so great.

I have a terrific  life here, good friends, good job, nice weather, excellent food but -- there is always a but --  in some point of my life I am going to  need  to start making some real money. Of course you can do money anywhere, but the thing is, how big is the reward for the same effort.  I seriously do not like living to work, I'm really not that kind of person. Being and engineer -- and I am a good one -- should allow me to earn enough money to have quality of life and at the same time save enough money to buy a house to say something-- I think we all agree that I have a better chance to make money in countries like Germany, England or as I believe Sweden.

I've been in Berlin and London, word class cities, but they did not feel like home,  for some reason Stockholm did. I liked very much the food, being surrounded by water, perfect size, not so big without being small. It has subway of course,  the people are highly educated, and I have to say it great looking girls. Even the average girl is pretty, so yes, a girl just a little over the average looks like a Victoria Secret´s model and there are many of them. If I am single at 30s it would also be a great place to find the love of a blonde. Right now, lets just say I am focused on my MBA goals and financial audits if you know what I mean.

Another thing to add that makes Stockholm even greater you can do summer or winter sports in or very near the city. That´s a big plus to me.

You never know where life is going to take you, but I would not bother at all if it takes me to Sweden, it feels like home to me...

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Josef Ajram - Where is the limit?

I know, I know. It is a little wear writing a post about a guy. I'm willing to accept the jokes whatsoever.

Josef Ajram, you have to read about this guy. In fact, you have to read his book Where is the limit? Whether you are an athlete, a trader  or a cook, you will find this personage fascinating.

I am not going to talk about his life, achievements, etc. That you can read in his page.  Josef is an example of how to enjoy life, about doing the things you love and being the best at it. Work, sacrifices and more work. Do it right and  you will enjoy the process as you will enjoy the reward.

I've been captivated by the stocks markets since I worked for the Colombia Stock Exchange in 2008. I was part of the development team of the website. Despite not working directly with transactions, I did get involved with stocks basic knowledge. Three years later I found myself  even more attracted to the financial economics.

It is hard to tell, but I think this guy, Josef, gave me the final push I needed to start studying again. I  am a software engineer, but I signed up for an MBA specialized in finance starting Sept of this year (2011) at the  Instituto de Estudios Burs├ítiles. It translates as something like Stock Market Studies Institute.  Even when I chose the MBA and not a specific degree in stocks, I wanted to be close to that world.

I'm still working for an IT Consultancy, but now I am also one step  closer to something I feel passionated about. Passion I've lost for the IT field. That's the main reason behind the MBA, I need a change, I need a new goal to feel I am moving forward.

The bad part,  the MBA costs a lot of money -- a least it is a lot to me --. To start investing, trading or whatever I need money. If you are curious I will need about 10.000 €. It is not betting, this amount is for operational purposes not to risk the whole thing.

My goal? Start trading sometime next year. Make a living out of trading? I don't think so, not in the near future. Just to have  something that is completely mine. Even if you own a company, you still need a team, clients, etc. You are not alone on it. What I find completely attracting in the trading world  is that it is only you "against" the world. Like running a marathon, achieving the goal lies on you and you only.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Skydiving Madrid

I am not afraid of heights so jumping from a plane was a really easy decision. I never did it before because until now I've never found the appropriate companion for it. Doing it alone should not be half as fun as jumping with good friends.

The experience itself, exciting of course, but I think I expected kind of more adrenaline running through my veins. The reason? Leaving aside the fact that you are falling from 4000 meters height, you still have a parachute  -- actually two -- and the whole situation is always under the control of a professional with proven experience. To say better, I had more chance to die in a car accident coming back home.

So I said it, excitement to me is much related to control and risk. Do not think about risk, like risking dying only. You can risk money, time, reputation, etc. Control or the lack of it is about facing unexpected situations  -- not necessarily dangerous ones --  Tandem skydiving you go up, you go down that's it. Speed sensation wasn't that great. I missed that really magical feeling that freefall is supposed to produce. Still this is the closest I'm gonna get to feel like flying so I'm glad I did it. I believe that jumping alone with a wingsuit should be the kind of  excitement I would appreciate, but of course that will happen when you can buy miscellaneous skills like buying pills. We all want to be skydivers, surfers, moto-riders, etc. But this kind of stuff requires commitment and sacrifices that aren't part of my genetic code.

I'll be happy with being able to try different things at least once. Rafting, climbing, motocross are on my wish list.

Would I do it again?  For free of course, for a really good friend maybe, for a really nice girl no doubt!. But come on, 300€/ 1 minute ride. Once is enough.