Reverse Engineer Your Manager

End of 2020 I gave a talk at DroidCon APAC 2020 titled “Reverse Engineer Your Manager” . The title is a bit tongue in cheek (how else will conference organizers notice your talk?), a more honest title would be: How to work successfully in a large (tech) organization. In the talk I give 5 directives for career success. Everything is based on my experience at Rakuten, moving through engineering ranks from application developer to principal application architect.

Make It Explicit

Recently I did some pair programming and code review with a developer, we added deep links into our Android application. All in all that's a pretty simple task. During the cycles of code review and pairing I realized that I first recommended to use one technique during pair programming, just to argue against it in a later on in code review. That made me think - Do I have some type of split brain thing going on here?

Master Your Tools

Today I found “Most tech content is bullshit” by Aleksandra Sikora. Good title, right? 😁 In a nutshell her post says: all information on the internet is written by people who don't really know. And I'd say she's right about that. Still we point to them and say “this is the authoritative source, we should follow it!". I have seen & heard the same hand-wavy arguments, from junior, senior, tech leads, engineering managers, architects - really any job title and level of seniority.

Work @ Rakuten Tech in Covid Times

I haven't worked from the office since 20th of February, that's a little over 2 months. The one time I stopped by at the end of March to pickup a testing device and a big monitor I met about 4 people out of ca. 70 in my department. The office is a ghost town, with tumbleweeds and all. We've all adjusted our lives significantly, we learned to cope as organization and as individuals.

Curated Media Vol 3

The best of timeless media since Volume 2. Everything is worth a read, listen or watch - good writng & good content. Enjoy! Open House (n+1) Jeremiah Moss’ visceral description of gentrification in the East Village. How it feels when they come and take over. Utterly unblemished, physically fit, exceptionally well dresssed, as bland as skim milk and unsalted saltine crackers. Insta-apartments. First come the cleaneres, sending up the chlorine tang of bleach, followed by the movers with their tidy plastic totes, followed (at least once) by professional furnishers.

Effort Estimations and other Fairy Tales

Disclaimer: This is based on conversations, anecdotal evidence and personal opinion. This is not backed by statistical evidence. But neither is the cargo cult around estimations (to my knowledge). 🤷🏻‍♀️ Estimating is Guessing I work a lot with technical product managers and one question I get a lot is “how long will this take”. My honest answer: “I don’t know”. I’ve had this conversation many of times over in the last year, it always goes more or less like this:

Curated Media Vol 2

The best of timeless media since Volume 1. Everything is worth a read, listen or watch - good writng & good content. Enjoy! The second bakery attack (short story) Time oozed through the dark like a lead weight in a fish's gut. I read the print on the aluminum beer cans. I stared at my watch. I looked at the refrigerator door. I turned the pages of yesterday's paper.

Curated Media Vol 1

The best of media of early 2020. Everything is worth a read - good writng & good content. Enjoy! Avalance School (NYT) A man at the end of the table asked the class if anyone had seen the 2014 movie “Force Majeure.” I was the only person who had. Another man asked what the movie was about. I didn’t say it was about the ongoing shame and denial experienced by a husband who abandoned his wife and children during an avalanche scare.

Code Camp CV Advice

CV fresh out of freeCodeCamp I saw this career advice question on freeCodeCamp: I’ve been applying for jobs and I am getting really frustrated since I am rejected each time I apply. Perhaps there is something wrong with my resume Last year I read hundreds of CVs and conducted close to a hundred technical interviews while hiring developers for my company. My key takeaway is: Hiring is tough - on both the candidate and the interviewer.

Notifications and Meetings

So I shut them down. No more banners, no more app badges, no more sounds, no more jumping dock yelling at me about IM, email, calendar, … well no app interrupts me anymore - unless I chose to. The payoff after one day: it felt more productive than usual. I wrote properly worded emails, a report, reviewed 3 pull requests worth of code, drafted a proposal on how to improve our documentation and helped out some engineers by arranging a training for them.