Opposite Ends of the Spectrum

June 4th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

I recently came from a small startup company in Houston where process was non-existent to a significantly large bank where process is king. After speaking with an ex-coworker, I came to an interesting reflection of the two ends of the spectrum. On one end, getting things done was an open field where you could choose etch your own path and very easily gets lost in all the choices. On the other end, getting things done was a pre-paved road with traffic lights, construction sites, and stop signs that get in the way of a predetermined destination. No matter what, my goal was to get to each of the checkpoints and hopefully have a successful deliverable. There has to be a happy medium, but I haven’t found that yet and would love to experience it.

My First “Third”

After four months in my new role, I’m finally working toward a release I understand and have a handle of the architecture and design of the application. I really can’t say much about the details of my job, but I create software for a part of the business of a fund of funds, in particular hedge funds. The business of a hedge fund has caught my attention, but unfortunately I’m not challenged on the technical side as I would like. The challenges touch many aspects of Michael Feathers’ book, Working Effectively with Legacy Code and I have been slowly trying to introduce unit tests to the team. Being a team lead here is definitely a challenging experience when the software and processes are already in place and the people are uncomfortably settled with them.

Wait, so what is a hedge fund? I’ll let the Khan Academy tell you the basics, it’s great!

There are other types of fund strategies that blow my mind. I’m not going to (I actually am not allowed to) get into any stories or details of what some fund managers do, but they really know how to find loopholes opportunities to make a dollar or two or billions, yes with a “B,” for themselves and their investors.

Teaching and guiding the team about best practices keeps me going and even pushed me purchase my first Android app, Read It Later, since there is absolutely ZERO service in the subways! Below are some things I have shared with the team and maybe they’ll interest you. If you’re not a software developer or have no interest in making your code awesome, you have permission to leave.

Derek Greer’s ongoing series on Effective Tests

This is perfect for Unit Test newbs and helps answer, a lot of the “whys.” Often times I get feedback about how long it takes to implement unit tests, but the return is ridonkulous. Unit tests do way more than just exercise your code – by making your code testable, it helps make it way more flexible, contain less dependency, and most of all: awesome.

Want more? Just subscribe to the Los Techie’s blog

Some GoogleTechTalks Videos on Unit Testing

If you hate reading, check out some videos from GoogleTechTalks.
The Clean Code Talks — Unit Testing
The Clean Code Talks — Inheritance, Polymorphism, & Testing

My Goal for This Month

After speaking with my colleague, about improving myself at work, I’m going to try out Pomodoro here at the bank. I’ll use KeepFocused and hopefully I’ll be able to determine where my inefficiencies are from week to week.

A Warm Welcome to New York City

February 8th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

As some of you may know, I have left the warmth of Houston, Texas and started the next part of my life in New York City. I am back at JPMorgan Chase as a .NET Developer/Team Lead.

New York City did not welcome me when I first arrived. I took a flight from HOU to MDW and the same plane was going to fly to LGA, but got cancelled just as everyone was done putting up their bags. We deboarded the plane and a lucky few of us got on a plane to ISP (Long Island). My bags were going to stay in Chicago since the flight was taking off in just fifteen minutes.

Rebooked Flight to Long Island

After landing, I did not believe my eyes, but the entire airport was SNOW. A couple of us who were trying to get to New York took the LIRR back to Penn Station where I finally got a taxi to Joseph’s place. Remember, my checked bags? I picked them up just a few days later from the airport. What a freaking hassle (Thanks Yuwi for helping to pick up my bags!)

Tonight marks the second night in my apartment on the Upper East Side. I have nothing but the things I brought with me on the plane – two carry ons and those two checked bags. Believe it or not, I am actually quite happy. I signed up for ZipCar and need to pick up my card so I can start trolling Craigslist to furnish my apartment.

I’m trying to take pictures of all the food places I visit, but it just sometimes ruins the moment. I have reinstalled Foursquare, but I will not be publishing them to anyone just for historical purposes. Enjoy some of these:
Post Snowboarding DinnerMy First Haitian DinnerRamen DeliciousnessFlea Market CafeMy First Brunch in New York

Some of my random thoughts while in New York:

  1. Don’t wear sneakers in a place with heavy snow – there’s SLUSH afterward
  2. Get some waterproof boots
  3. On my birthday, I got to see the sun (the last time I saw it – HOUSTON), I got the keys to my apartment and found out a coworker of mine has the exact same birthday as mine!
  4. I never though I’d say, “It’s 40 outside, kind of warm today”
  5. I took a black trail while snowboarding in CamelBack
My First Black Trail, Pharaoh

Yes, We Hire Developers, Too.

November 3rd, 2006 § 1 comment § permalink

We had a Robocode Competition a few weeks back. Two entries, good fun. There was a guest speaker there from NSM Alumni and after the meeting he asked why JPMorgan was doing a programming competition.

WHOA, hold up. Good question. Here at JPMC, I work for the Investment Bank Technology (IBTech). There seems to be a lack of knowledge that we have a technology presence here in Houston. Not a good thing since we’re in need of developers: newly grads and seasoned vets.

I doubt this post will go anywhere, but hey, if you’re reading it and this is news for you then I have done my job. Pass it on, let people know lots of companies, not just banks, need developers too. There’s a shortage of developers coming out of college. The dot-com bust ruined it for many, but now it’s picking back up, get on it.

Documentation Fun.

October 25th, 2006 § 2 comments § permalink

Scope of the change
//Original
StatusType getDRESS_REHEARSAL() {
return(StatusType) get(“DRESS_REHEARSAL”, new StatusType());
}

//Changed
StatusType getDRESS_REHEARSAL() {
return(StatusType) get(“DISASTER_RECOVERY”, new StatusType());
}

Please ignore the method name, it still remains. It’s everywhere in the code. Remember, this is the BBOM project. =)

Business case: Dress Rehearsal means nothing to the investment bank. The original developer misinterpreted this text and so my job was to fix it. Easy change. One line of code after digging around the code, seriously digging.

Documents I had to fill out in order to get this approved, signed off, and put in production:
Project Initiation Form (PIF)*
Impact Analysis
Code and Unit Test*
System Integration Test*
Quality Assurance Test
User Acceptance Test* (3 Regions: Evidence and Signoff)
Implementation Plan
Permit to Operate*

*Requires approval or signoff.

How much is too much documentation and processes?

Rain, Rain Go Away.

September 26th, 2006 § 0 comments § permalink

So I’m working to finish up some final documentation details and test evidence for submitting my enhancements to a project and Joseph decides to bother me. Good thing our Corporate Messaging system allows me to set myself as Do Not Disturb. I get to go heads down for about 10 minutes when the phone rings. Who else but Joseph. I pick up the phone semi-pissed.

“There’s a waterfall over here,” he says. I’m hesitant to believe, but eventually take a look. You’ll never guess…Joseph wasn’t joking. Water was kind of dripping from the ceiling. So I come over to investigate and get some laughs in. By the time I get to the waterfall source (maybe 30-40 yards away)…water is POURING on the desks, monitors, floors, etc. but that’s not it…

I walk over the “Mission Control” center, where time sensitive and priority one issues are raised, and find all the lights, monitors, and computers OFF. It looked like someone opened two firehoses above the ceiling and opened the valve!

I walk over to the hallway and toward the stairs to find there’s a river in the stairwell. On my way back, I pass a door that opens and inside I see 2-3 guys freaking out. WHY? That’s the room where all the switches are. Not one rack, but about 4-5 of them and water is POURING all over them.

Good thing, if it is such a thing, this was isolated to only 1/4 of our floor. Before I leave, there are huge plastic bags covering a few monitors and desk as a preventative measure.

It’s only 3 PM so our ENTIRE floor retreats. A few horrible camera phone pictures to come (I apologize for using them, but it’s all I got on me).

UPDATE
Joseph and I got to go home after we moved a bunch of equipment out of the line of fire water. The IT guys are going to have a ball figuring out whose computer belongs to whom. We might not go to work tomorrow since there are only a few available machines on other floors.

Where Are The Breakers?! It's Getting Closer to the Outlets Indoor Water Puddle.

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