skill: deepen^diversify^stack up

Since 2010, I have carefully evaluated and executed 3 broad strategies:

  1. deepen – for zbs + IV
  2. diversify or branch-out. Breaking into new markets
  3. stack-up – cautiously
  • eg: Deepened my java/SQL/c++/py knowledge for IV and GTD. See post on QQ vs ZZ.
  • eg: diversified to c++, c#, quant, swing…
  • eg: diversify? west coast.
  • eg: diversify? data science
  • eg: diversify? research + teach
  • eg: stack-up to learn spring, hibernate, noSQL, GWT.

Stack-up — These skills are unlikely to unlock new markets. Lower leverage.

GTD stress/survival on the job? None of these help directly, but based on my observation GTD skill seldom advance my career as a contractor. It could create a bit of spare time, but it’s a challenge to make use of the spare time.

I feel German’s strategy goes beyond tech skills. He treats tech skills as a tool, used to implement his business ideas to create business value. I feel his target role is a mix of architect/BA but more like “product visionary”. It’s somewhat like stack-up.


java RTTI n reflection

I feel this potentially powerful in GTD, but seldom tested in interviews.

[[thinking in java]] has a concise chapter on RTTI:

  • class object internals
  • class literals
  • new cast syntax, esp. useful in generic programming
  • dynamic proxies
  • dynamically created or hand-written null objects — a technique designed to save you the effort of checking nulls.

%% autoPtr class template

#include <iostream>
using namespace std;

struct Dummy {
	void play() {
		cout << "play " << payload << endl;
	float payload = 0.40490;
ostream& operator<<(ostream& os, Dummy const & d){
	os << "[ Dummy object "<<d.payload<<" ]";
	return os;
template<typename T> class autoPtr {
	autoPtr(): autoPtr(nullptr){}
	autoPtr(T* raw): needle(raw) {
		needle = raw;
		if (raw)
			cout << "ctor called with *raw == " << *raw << endl;
	autoPtr(autoPtr<T> & other) { //steal the resource
		cout << "copier called with other.real ";
		needle = other.needle;
		if (other.needle) {
			cout << "pointing to "<<*needle;
			other.needle = nullptr;
		}else {
			cout << "== nullptr";
		cout << endl;
	autoPtr<T> & operator=(autoPtr<T> & other) {
		if (&other == this) return *this;
		cout << "op= called ...";
		if (needle) {
			cout << " ... deleting original raw ptr *real = " << *needle;
			delete needle;
		cout << endl; this->needle = other.needle;
		other.needle = nullptr;
		return *this;
	T* operator->() {
		cout << "calling operator->"<<endl;
		return needle;
	T& operator* () {
		cout << "dereferencing this ...";
		if (needle)
			cout << ".... *real == " << *needle << endl;
		else {
			cout << ".... returning a null ptr" << endl; throw "dereferencing a null autoPtr!"; } return *needle; //how do we return a T when real is nullptr? } void set(T * const raw) { delete this->needle;
		this->needle = raw;
	~autoPtr() {
		cout << "Dtor called for *real == ";
		if (needle)
			cout << *needle;
			cout << "(null ptr)";
		cout<< endl;
		delete needle;
	T* needle;
int main() {
	autoPtr<Dummy> pdummy(new Dummy);
	autoPtr<int> p1 = (autoPtr<int>)new int(12);
		autoPtr<int> p2(new int(35));
		cout << "Testing deference: *ptr == "<<*p2<< endl;
		autoPtr<int> p3(p2);
		p1 = p3;
	return 0;

MyType a=7: but conversion constructor is explicit@@


  explict MyType(int); // would disallow
  MyType a = 77; has a solution:

  MyType a = (MyType) 77; // Static cast would invoke the explicit conversion constructor!

In general, most custom types should make conversion constructors explicit to prevent hidden bugs, but smart pointer need an implicit conversion constructor, to support

  SmartPtr myPtr = new int(77);

–A real example from CFM quant code

 FwdCurve::const_iterator iter = find( key ); //non-const itr

 QL_ASSERT( iter != ((FwdCurve * const) this)->end(), "not found" ); // original code probably before "explicit". 

// I had to change it to
 FwdCurve_iterator endItr = ((FwdCurve * const) this)->end();
 QL_ASSERT( iter != FwdCurve_const_iterator(endItr), "not found" ); //call the conversion ctor explicitly

QQ^ZZ mutual exclusion: c++/java..

Background — The QQ/ZZ framework was first introduced in this post on c++ learning topics

Focus on tough not ordinary topics in c++ or java.

QQ: By and large, tough topics in job interviews are never needed in projects.
ZZ: By and large, tough topics in work projects (zbs) are never tested in job interviews.

Mutually exclusive =>

  • effort (laser energy) I spent on textbook knowledge during job hunt basically hurts my work,
  • effort I spent on tough zbs topics for a project very seldom help with job interviews.

Therefore, some optimizing candidate would make the minimum effort to get by on projects, and channel the energy to QQ knowledge or algo challenges.

java collection in a static field/singleton can leak memory

Beware of collections in static fields or singletons. By default they are unbounded, so by default they pose a risk of unexpected growth leading to memory leak.

Solution — Either soft or weak reference could help.

Q: why is soft reference said to support memory/capacity-sensitive cache?
A: only when memory capacity becomes a problem, will this soft reference show its value.

Q: is WeakHashMap designed for this purpose?
A: not an ideal solution. See other posts about the typical usage of WHM

Q: what if I make an unmodifiable facade?
A: you would need to ensure no one has the original, read-write interface. So if everyone uses the unmodifiable facade, then it should work.

seek successor of a given node in a BST # no uplinks

Input: root node and an arbitrary node A.

We can’t start from A because by moving left/right, we may not be able to locate the successor. So we start from root and will encounter A.

I think this is a simple, barebones in-order walk entering at root. We will encounter A, and the next node encountered would be A’s successor.

Note this barebones walk requires no uplink.

assessing GTD competence with c++/python etc

See also tag t_GTD_zbs

Q: What are some of the yardsticks to assess someone’s practical GTD competence in a specific technology like c++?

Note every time I say “practical”, there’s actually some theoretical knowledge required, so a guy without a middle-school education probably can’t do a good job.

10 fundamental factors:

1. Local system knowledge

2. Troubleshooting

3. instrumentation tools and other tools

4. Devops tools for the chosen language – IDE, build, automated test

5. 3rd-party libraries in the chosen language

6. Only a small subset of theoretical knowledge is relevant to GTD

7. Practical architecture and low-level design

8. Practical tuning in the chosen language

Here are some specific areas to assess a candidate’s GTD competence:

· Finding the best way to make a (localized) change in the local system

· Practical abstraction and refactor to avoid code duplication

· (Devops) Practical error reporting

· (Devops) Practical logging and log management

· (Devops) monitoring, profiling

· Architecture to support multi-module development, often requires a language-specific architecture