I often think soft skills don’t get talked about a whole lot. Was thinking about this last week and noticed this twitter thread.
I often think soft skills don’t get talked about a whole lot. Was thinking about this last week and noticed this twitter thread.
“We need to have this feature shipped next week”, “we got to add this feature the competition has, or our customers will not use our software”. I have heard these words so many times over the last few years.
My work now primarily involves maintaining software which gets no new features. Just minor tweaks to fix issues which now surface due to data scale not considered for before. A few tweaks to database indexes. No new features, just small improvements and bug fixes.
I considered this peaceful work. There is an urgency to get the issue fixed as the customer has been waiting to generate that report, but improving software already used by a lot of people gives me immense joy. Customers hardly write to us anymore asking for new features to be added. They know what the software has to offer and are happy with how it fits into their day to day workflow. What makes them not happy is when the software is not available to be used or displays a blank screen when generating reports.
Focusing my time on availability and speed aspects of the software, rather than rushing to ship new features has been an area I did not think I would enjoy spending time on.
Sketch published this blog post a few days ago. Why we’re proud to build a truly native Mac app.
I went through Twitter that day and there was a lot of discussion about the post, with people on one side of the camp stating that Sketch was “Feel’n the squeeze from Figma.”
Is having a platform-native app a competing factor? For me, the answer has always been “it depends”. Based on the type of software you are building, native vs cross-platform could be a significant advantage. I would want my coding editor to be a native app. I have tried cross-platform solutions, and they have not been a joy to use. Same with a graphic software program or my web browser. Native has the advantage of not having to go through another layer of abstraction before getting to the action I want to perform.
If your software has a collaborative feature though, then you need to be cross-platform. Not everyone uses a Mac. I hope more software companies considered building native apps for each platform they want people to use them on. I have tried a few electron based apps and they are not what I would call “enjoyable software”.
My daily commute now includes 1 hour 20 mins train ride. 40 mins each way. In Mumbai, India, I would hardly get space to get in and stand. Now, here in NSW, Australia, I have been lucky enough to live in a suburb where I a place to sit down for the entire journey. A welcome change.
I like listening to podcasts on the way to work and on the way back catch up on my Youtube subscriptions. I am always running behind on my podcast episodes, though. From the 12 podcasts that I listen to, I usually get through 4 or 5 episodes during the week, as new episodes include themselves in the playlist.
There is Spotify, which creates excellent playlists for me to enjoy. Some days I switch from listening to podcasts to Spotify and monday reminds me of being extra behind on the podcast playlist.
I have now come to peace with the fact that I might never catch up on all the podcasts that I would like to listen.
My engineering manager James, asked me this question last week “What job would you want to do two jobs from now”.
I was thinking about this a lot last week. I even asked this question to my sister during our phone call over the weekend, and she said that’s a great way to look at career progression.
I have never really given this a thought until James asked me this question. I enjoy building software. I enjoy the whole process from wireframes to thinking about user flow to creating the frontend to writing the backend code. I also enjoy the process of setting up the server and ensuring that the app was up and running. It’s all an enjoyable process in the quest to building software which helps people accomplish the task they set out to do using the software.
I also do enjoy performance monitoring. Part of me wants to focus on ensuring that the software provides good user experience and speed is a significant factor towards good UX.
After giving it a lot of thought, one thing I would enjoy working towards has to be building excellent frontend experience for users and monitoring its performance and usability. Seems like a lot when I think about it, but that’s a goal I want to move towards getting better at.
More weekends like this too. Coffee, burger and writing code.
You buy Nova, and you keep it forever. You do not need to pay anything more for the software to keep working forever — it’s yours. In addition, you get one free year of feature and bug updates. After that year, you can pay a steeply discounted price to continue to receive another year of updates — but that is totally optional.
Maintenance is often the most challenging part of software development. Ensuring that the software keeps working/improving and remains bug-free after the initial version is shipped is the most time-consuming part.
I wish more companies did this. You buy, keep it forever at that major version. All future versions come at a cost, which users of the previous version get to buy at a discount.
Not many people read this blog. I don’t write that often either. I should. I enjoy the process of putting my thoughts down.
A few weeks ago, someone asked me what I write about here. Nothing, in particular, I said. Whatever I feel like, it’s usually about tech or travel or something personal. Should I pick a topic and continue to explore it further or keep it general the way it is right now? I have often asked myself this question and have also chosen the keep in general route. It’s more fun for me that way.
I have not written here often though. I should. I miss writing.
The last few months have not been easy. COVID has taken its toll. Somehow writing was the last thing on the mind. Recording podcast was also the last thing in mind.
I miss recording. I packed my mic during my move and am yet to unpack it.
Time to get back to recording and writing. I have said this often before, though. 🙈
I wish all companies followed this advice. Sadly I hear that not many do.
I heard these words today. “Best Code is No Code At All” and I could not agree more.
I had more thoughts to share about best code being no code at all, but I came across this article written on codinghorror.com and could not agree more with the entire post.
My favourite parts of the post:
As a software developer, you are your own worst enemy. The sooner you realize that, the better off you’ll be.
Every new line of code you willingly bring into the world is code that has to be debugged, code that has to be read and understood, code that has to be supported.
If you love writing code— really, truly *love to write code*— you’ll love it enough to write as little of it as possible.
Food for thought for all the future projects and tasks I work on.
COVID-19 is affecting almost everyone. A quick look at the stats here and the number of cases around the world are on a constant rise.
The pandemic also means that many of us are now working from home. Although a good thing for the greater good, I hope all employers are lenient with their employees for a few weeks while they come to terms with the new way of working.
Having worked from home the last ten years and now from an office, I thought I would share my experience working from home the previous week.
Working from home the last week has been stressful vs before the pandemic. Working from home before was a choice, and the mind did not go racing thinking about the future. Your future, your family and friends future, the future of your work and the future of the entire world.
Working from home is not the same now. For a lot of people, it means having to juggle family life, looking after kids, looking after parents while also concentrating on getting work done.
I see a lot of tips and tricks on getting work done from home, and some of them are quite helpful, but I do agree with this twitter thread.
Having been not so productive the last week, here is my plan to get more work done in the coming weeks.
Get ready and start work by 8:30. Means waking up a bit early to make breakfast.
Stay away from the news. If I achieve this one thing, I think I will be a lot more productive in the coming weeks.
Focus on one thing and spend 30 mins just working on that task before walking around the house for a short break.
That’s it for now. I hope you and your loved ones are keeping safe and healthy. Take care 🤗
Macbook Pro 13 inch - 2017 - without Touch Bar - with crappy keyboard
Make 2020 the Year of Less Sugar was one of the few articles I read at the beginning of 2020.
One of the best things you can do for your health is to cut back on foods with added sugar. Our 7-Day Sugar Challenge will show you how.
Read any research paper about sugar and its side effects and everyone will tell you sugar is something you should avoid.
I tried the sugar challenge at the beginning of this year, and its effect has been nothing but life-changing. I would highly recommend you try it too.
Am I avoiding sugar entirely from my diet? No. I love cakes, hot chocolate and a few Indian sweets(gulab jamun I am looking at you) way too much to give up on sugar. I have just been mindful about how much sugar I consume on a day to day basis.
Found this really well made video here.
I have been thinking about recording a podcast for almost a year now. Jan 2nd, I finally decided this year I am going to give it a shot.
Here we go:
I initially thought of getting an external mic to record episode 1, but later realised that would be too much commitment from the get-go.
I remember reading this post from gaping void which said, you don’t need the best tool to get started, you need to get started, and that’s what I decided to do. Using the iPhone and using mic from my SoundSport® wireless headphones
Following up on my previous post about Infrastructure as Code (IaC), I have been working with Github Actions the last few days, and I am excited about making it part of my daily workflow on how I deploy software.
As of now, I am using it to deploy my application to ElasticBeanstalk. In future, the aim is to automate server setup and deploy to Linode and DigitalOcean.
How does the YAML file look like as of now? Github Actions YAML
We use Bitbucket Pipelines at work, but I have not had time to extensively work with it due to a lot of work being done by the DevOps team. Github Actions is my playground for learning DevOps skills this year.
The last few months, I have had good discussions with a colleague at work about how infrastructure as code is the future of how we set up servers and manage deployments across multiple servers.
The last two weeks during the holiday season, I could not agree more with him. More and more, I see the benefit of having Infrastructure as Code as practise more of us should follow.
I looked at a few options.
Not having to log in and set up servers from scratch will be a considerable change in how I build software going forward.
I read this meme yesterday describing 2019. The first half of 2019 and the second half of 2019 felt like two different years, and I could not agree more.
Having spent about two months this year in India and the rest in Vietnam, New Zealand and mostly Australia, for me the first two months and the rest of 2019 did feel like two different years.
I wondered if I would be as excited about writing these birthday posts as I was five years ago, and the excitement continues. Having to think about the year that was gives me great joy and documenting it is something I immensely enjoy.
From the goal I had set for myself in 2019, some I managed to achieve. 😊
Things I failed at 😔
I moved from India to Sydney, Australia this year. Moving to a new country had its own set of challenges. A lot of lows and a few highs. I remember being in Hong Kong airport in Feb on my way to Sydney and almost booking tickets to head back to Mumbai. Staying away from my niece, family and friends for a long time was not something I wanted to do at that moment.
Sydney has been kind. Lots of new memories, lots of fresh food experiences, and getting back to flatting has been an exciting change. From having to cook dinners on some nights, ironing clothes to figuring our rent each month. A lot of exciting changes. I remember being scared of these changes in Jan this year when I was thinking about the move. I am glad it was not as scary as I imagined it to be.
Although I do continue to miss family and friends back home, meeting and spending time with people in Sydney has been remarkable. A lot of Whatsapp and voice calls were a personal highlight of this year.
If anyone asked me a few years back if I would consider taking up a full-time job, I would have answered “no” without giving it a second thought, but here I was six weeks after moving to Sydney, applying for full-time opportunities.
I initially told myself and a few friends that this was going to be a scary move. Its been long since I worked with an organisation of 5+ employees, and here I was signing an offer letter to join a 200+ company. (as I write this post, the company has now 300+ employees)
Working with ELMO has been great. The first few weeks were spent in panic mode, trying to learn Symfony framework and brushing up on Design Patterns. I have also had the most exciting programming based conversations this year and learnt so much about what it takes to write good code.
I also learnt the importance of using a debugging tool this year. Although I had read about Xdebug before, using it daily has been a big personal change for how I write software.
Tools I spent the most time with this year: Symfony, Xdebug, Docker, Bitbucket Pipeline, Github Actions, AWS Code Deploy and Vue.js.
This year has been terrible when it comes to travelling to new places. Although I am quite happy about exploring South Island in New Zealand a whole lot. Rented a caravan with and drove around South Island for 5 days.
Visiting India in August to surprise my niece for her birthday was also a personal travel highlight of this year.
Goals for 2020
I hope you all have an excellent 2020. 🙌🏻
Want to travel across Vietnam for three weeks? I remember these words from my conversation with Mayur a few months ago. I had just heard about my Australian visa being approved and I was deciding on when to book tickets to make the first entry. But here I was in January booking tickets to visit Vietnam in June.
Anthony Bourdain’s list of recommended places from the TV show No reservations was the theme of the trip.
“Want to do Cambodia as well?” There were so many place in Vietnam we had planned to cover, three weeks seemed about right amount of time to cover these places, so we decided against visiting Cambodia. We also decided that we will cover most of the journey on motor bikes.
Internet seems to have different opinions about how to go about getting a visa to Vietnam. From India, most European countries have a VFS centre one can visit to get visa, but Vietnam was not on the list. We asked around and a friend recommended that we visit vietnamvisapro.com. Fill in some basic details, pay $6 and wait to get a letter which lets you board the flight from your country to Vietnam.
I was a bit skeptical about the whole process. I have never not had a visa to the country before I left the port of origin, unless the country offered visa on arrival to Indian citizens. I remember telling my flatmates, either I am back after three weeks or in two days.
The letter from the website worked and Vietnam as it turns out has the most efficient visa process. I had my visa in 6 minutes after handing in the documents at the visa counter after arrival.
Yes!!!! We were in Vietnam. Cám ơn! Vietnam Immigration department. Xin chào Vietnam!
We landed in Hanoi and made our way to the hotel. Hanoi as it turns out is really crowded and not at all how I imagined it to be. Not having looked at pictures but relying on how the place was described by people was a blessing in disguise. Hanoi surprised me by how beautiful and well organised some things were.
A quick walk around the town on day 1 and the first stop was Bun Oc – Snail Vermicelli RiceSoup - – 36 Luong Ngoc Quyen, Hanoi . We must have been lucky to get to eat at this place on the day we landed, cause we did not see the lady at the same place the next day and on the last day of the trip.
Next day, we rented some motorbikes from the place our hotel recommended and made our way to Cát Bà Island. The fun part, not one of us checked the weather report and that was not a good thing. We got to experience heavy rains and got completely drenched. After taking shelter below a few cross over bridges, we had to decide between travelling back to Hanoi or find some rain ponchos. Four rain ponchos later, we had ourselves and the bags covered. Made it in time to not miss the ferry to take us to Cát Bà Island. Had to say bye bye to my favourite shoes.
Cat Ba was great. A touristy island with the town centre filled with people enjoying karaoke after sunset. The weather was not so kind though. With heavy rainfall the next day, we decided to get the rain ponchos back on and ride back to Hanoi.
An overnight stop over in Hanoi to enjoy Pho at a local recommenced place, we were off to Ho Chi Minh City the next day .We hit the jackpot in finding the perfect hotel. “It does not get better than this” is what we kept telling each other. If you are looking for a place to stay during your visit to Ho Chi Minh, please give Saigon Domaine Luxury Residences a try. I for sure am staying at this place, if I ever plan a trip to Saigon again.
Proof reading the above paragraphs, I already feel like this post has gotten too lengthy.
Vietnam is definitely worth a visit. A few more days in Hội An and Saigon would be great. The food is excellent and so is the coffee culture in Vietnam. People are extremely friendly.
My friend shared a lot of Anthony Bourdain quotes with me during this trip. The one I liked the most has to be.
“If I’m an advocate for anything, it’s to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. The extent to which you can walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food, it’s a plus for everybody. Open your mind, get up off the couch, move.”
And there’s the forever of never. The dominant narrative of society is that you’re stuck with what you’ve got. Stuck in your status role, stuck in your skill set, stuck in your situation.
If you believe it, it’s probably true.
If you believe it, you just let yourself off the hook, which is comforting indeed.
And if you believe it, you’ve made life easier for the systems that would like to pigeonhole you.
But, even though it’s certainly harder than it ought to be, it doesn’t have to be forever.
I have been a long time TextMate user. TextMate was the first app I installed when I bought my first Mac. All software written thereafter was written using TextMate as the editor.
Stackoverflow released their developer survey results and Visual Studio Code was the editor of choice for a lot of people. It made me want to have a look at Visual Studio Code again.
I have used Visual Studio Code before and it always felt like a “slow” text editor. It did not feel like an app built for the Mac and things just took too long to load. I must have installed / uninstalled it three times before last week.
The most recent release of Visual Studio Code though did not feel as slow as before. It still does not feel Mac like but this time around I have started to like the features it offers in return of lack of speed.
Letting me know of unused variables, spelling mistakes, auto complete for variables, built in ESLint support, built in Terminal are a few things I like about the editor. Definitely worth a try for these features.
Mardi Gras - Sydney 2019
How has your first week been in Australia? One of my close friends asked me this yesterday. He asked me to email details about week 1. I decided to write about this here instead. Hi Mayur! 👋
If I had to sum up my first week in Australia in one word, I would use the word “homesick”. I never thought I would be homesick having travelled and being outside India for an extended period, but the thought of being away for such a long period, had me missing my family and friends a lot.
I miss playing with her(Saanvi - my niece a lot. I never thought I would miss the playtime so much when I left home a week ago.
Sydney though has been great. The weather has been good, people have been friendly and the coffee.. boy, the coffee has been great. I love the fact that there are so many cafes everywhere around and people seem to be having a great time. I am also enjoying the food — so many options. The transport system and the connectivity is something I am getting used to, but thanks to the available apps and internet, getting around has not been a problem.
Ended up buying Ikea furniture for the first time and my flatmate and I had a great time assembling it. I think we even came up with the idea of being help available to hire if you wanted someone to come and join your Ikea furniture. Is somebody already doing this? Sounds like a fun side gig.
I am planning to join a gym and get back to exercise routine soon. “Once I get a routine set here first” is the reason I have been giving myself to not join the gym as yet.
Overall, love it here. Miss family and friends back home, but I plan to go back and spend time with them as often as I can.
As I write this, I am waiting for my connecting flight from Hong Kong to Sydney. Somehow choosing a 14-hour layover felt like a good idea when booking flight tickets — things I have to leave a note to myself to avoid from next time onwards.
Ever since I returned from New Zealand, the thought of wanting to return someday and stay long term in New Zealand has always been on the back of my mind. Not something I actively went chasing though. Things in India soon settled from the initial days of comparing things between New Zealand and India.
Every time I fell sick and thought I was about to die due to not being able to breathe because of Asthma attack, the thought of wanting to move to a place with cleaner air always cropped up. In 2017, during one such attack, I decided to pursue moving to a cleaner weather country again.
I love what I do and don’t plan to stop doing what I do anytime soon. Internet and web programming has been kind to me, and few things bring joy like creating software. From the sidelines though, I have been watching AI and Robotics grow in adoption and their real-world applications. I did not want to sit on the sidelines any more and wanted to jump in.
Combing the air quality issue with wanting to also work on AI and Robotics, last year I applied to move to Australia. Relocating there felt like a simple thought. Move. Learn. Do awesome things. What could go wrong?
As I sit here and write this, the thought of not being with family and friends for this long a period has already started to sink in a sad feeling. The last nine years after returning from New Zealand has been nothing but a joy ride. A lot of ups and downs. More ups than downs. I met some great people and made awesome friends and being with family and getting to spend more time with them has been remarkable.
Is this change essential then? This question is something I sit here at the airport and ask myself. The only way to find out is to take that next flight and spend time doing that I wanted to do when in Australia 🇦🇺
When you love your work, the rest is easy.