##past jobs: how fast I figured things out relative2teammates

GS — Initially I was much slower than my colleagues. After 18 months I was 80% as fast as them. Everyone needed to learn and memorize lots of details in a big system. Without that "mileage" you can’t be as fast as the rest.

I relied on my colleagues to give me pointers and detailed explanations. Otherwise it was too many details to wade through by one self.

Citi — no comparison — No "team mates" per-se. I had two old-timer colleagues who were very familiar with the system. I was not benchmarked against them.

I didn’t need to understand the ins and outs of the 5-year old codebase. I never became productive with it.

95G — not slower — i joined this greenfield project from beginning (luckily). I was as fast as the other consultant. Also, I designed a few key components, so I had the "original designer" advantage.

Barclays — not slower — i joined this greenfield project from very beginning (luckily), replacing a half-finished c# system. I had very few "team peers" to benchmark against. I designed one of the most valuable and complex components, so I had the "original designer" advantage. Huge advantage. I basically name my price when it came to effort estimates.

I did read some old code to replicate the logic, but I was fairly fast, and no team member ever read the same codebase anyway.

OCBC — not slower — I was seen as slower, but actually I became 70% to 90% as fast as the other team members. I had to spend many long hours on the existing codebase but it’s a small codebase (1 man-year) so I was able to get a hang of it over a few months.

I also designed some minor modules, where I had the "original designer" advantage. The other c# developers had to come to me and understand my designs.

Stirt — I was much slower than the old-timers, but I was not slower than the new joiners. I should have given up earlier. It was hopeless. Codebase was rather opaque and you need to ask many people to understand it.

Other new joiners seemed to ask only within their own team, but I stick out my neck and asked all around my team. It may have made me look slower and /greener/, but I was trying to learn faster. Did I learn faster than them? Not enough time to show.

Macquarie — The benchmark was my predecessor + my boss. I think I was much slower than them. My boss only complained about it in the 2nd year, months after paying me a small bonus.

ICE — not slower — I’m probably faster than some team members. I feel confident how fast I can figure things out now. There are many team members to compare, so from Day 1 it was crucial to meet the average standard.


GTD skill is harder,lasts longer in c/c++ than cleaner languages

In terms of troubleshooting, C++ is 90% same as C, which is a low-level language, close to the hardware.

In contrast, higher level languages strive to have the low level details encapsulated, so developers only need to deal with a simplified, standardized, cleaner façade. Some call it a virtualization.

Eg: sockets

Eg: c++ threading vs java threading

%%top3GTD concerns as lead dev #instru/code reading..

Below are my biggest concerns when considering a lead dev role. Actually, many of my peers often hints “My role (as a mgr, or architect, or app owner..) is even harder” but I think they are Not more effective if asked to play the hands-on developer role.

  1. code reading — requires focus and stamina.
    • In addition, taking ownership of a big code base requires determination and confidence
  2. instrumentation — using prints or special tools, troubleshooting, error reproducing, ..
  3. pressure due to major feature not completed by impending deadlines

Note none of these is tested in any interview!

  • How about firefighting? I tend to panic but my peers aren’t stronger than me technically!
  • How about design? Not really my weakness. My peers’ designs are not necessarily better than mine
  • knowledge of generic tech (rather than local system knowledge)? I’m actually stronger than most peers
  • quality, attention to details? is usually my strength
  • fine tuning? Most peers are not good at this
(not ranked) bonus peers are .. generic or local nlg?
code reading no impact some are stronger  local sys nlg
investigate boss needs answers usually no diff  local
deadline yes ?  local
firefighting yes not stronger  local
design somewhat visible not stronger  some generic

gdb skill level@Wall St

I notice that, absolutely None of my c++  veteran colleagues (I asked only 3) [2] is a gdb expert as there are concurrency experts, algo experts [1], …

Most of my c++ colleagues don’t prefer (reluctance?) console debugger. Many are more familiar with GUI debuggers such as eclipse and MSVS. All agree that prints are often a sufficient debugging tool.

[1] Actually, these other domains are more theoretical and produces “experts”.

[2] maybe I didn’t meet enough true c++ alpha geeks. I bet many of them may have very good gdb skills.

I would /go out on a limb/ to say that gdb is a powerful tool and can save lots of time. It’s similar to adding a meaningful toString() or operator<< to your custom class.

Crucially, it could help you figure things out faster than your team peers. I first saw this potential when learning remote JVM debugging in GS.

— My view on prints —
In perl and python, I use prints exclusively and never needed interactive debuggers. However, in java/c++/c# I heavily relied on debuggers. Why the stark contrast? No good answer.

Q: when are prints not effective?
A: when the edit-compile-test cycle is too long, not automated but too frequent (like 40 times in 2 hours) and when there is real delivery pressure. Note the test part could involve many steps and many files and other systems.
A: when you can’t edit the file at all. I have not seen it.

A less discussed fact — prints are simple and reliable. GUI or console debuggers are often poorly understood. Look at step-through. Optimization, threads, and exceptions often have unexpected impacts. Or look at program state inspection. Many variables are hard to “open up” in console debuggers. You can print var.func1()


%%GTD xp: 2types@technical impasse#难题

See also post on alpha geeks…
See also post on how fast you figure things out relative to peers
See also ##a few projects technically too challeng` 4me
See also https://bintanvictor.wordpress.com/2017/03/26/google-searchable-softwares/
see also https://bintanvictor.wordpress.com/2017/05/29/transparentsemi-transparentopaque-languages/

tuning? never experienced this challenge in my projects.
NPE? Never really difficult in my perience.

#1 complexity/opacity/lack of google help

eg: understanding a hugely complex system like the Quartz dag and layers
eg: replaying raw data, why multicast works consistently but tcp fails consistently
eg: adding ssl to Guardian. Followed the standard steps but didn’t work. Debugger was not able to reveal anything.
Eg: Quartz dag layers
Eg: Quartz cancelled trade

#2 Intermittent, hard to reproduce
eg: Memory leak is one example, in theory but not in my experience

eg: crashes in GMDS? Not really my problem.

eg: Quartz preferences screen frequently but intermittently fails to remember the setting. Unable to debug into it i.e. opaque.

effi^instrumentation ] new project

I always prioritize instrumentation over effi/productivity/GTD.

A peer could be faster than me in the beginning but if she lacks instrumentation skill with the local code base there will be more and more tasks that she can’t solve without luck.

In reality, many tasks can be done with superficial “insight”, without instrumentation, with old-timer’s help, or with lucky search in the log.

What if developer had not added that logging? You are dependent on that developer.

I could be slow in the beginning, but once I build up (over x months) a real instrumentation insight I will be more powerful than my peers including some older timers. I think the Stirt-tech London team guru (John) was such a guy.

In reality, even though I prioritize instrumentation it’s rare to make visible progress building instrumentation insight.

[17] 5 unusual tips@initial GTD

See also https://bintanvictor.wordpress.com/wp-admin/edit.php?s&post_status=all&post_type=post&action=-1&m=0&cat=560907660&filter_action=Filter&paged=1&action2=-1

* build up instrumentation toolset
* Burn weekends, but first … build momentum and foundation including the “instrumentation” detailed earlier
* control distractions — parenting, housing, personal investment, … I didn’t have these in my younger years. I feel they take up O2 and also sap the momentum.
* Focus on output that’s visible to boss, that your colleagues could also finish so you have nowhere to hide. Clone if you need to. CSDoctor told me to buy time so later you can rework “under the hood” like quality or design

–secondary suggestions:
* Limit the amount of “irrelevant” questions/research, when you notice they are taking up your O2 or dispersing the laser. Perhaps delay them.

Inevitably, this analysis relies on the past work experiences. Productivity(aka GTD) is a subjective, elastic yardstick. #1 Most important is GTD rating by boss. It sinks deep… #2 is self-rating https://bintanvictor.wordpress.com/2016/08/09/productivity-track-record/

##transparent^semi-transparent^opaque languages

With a transparent language, I am very likely (high correlation) to have higher GTD/productivity/KPI.

Stress — correlates with opacity. Would I take a job in php, SQL, javascript, perl?

Confidence to take on a gig — The more transparent, the higher my confidence — like py, javascript

Bootstrap — with a transparent language, I’m confident to download an open source project and hack it (Moodle …). With an opaque language like C++, I can download, make and run it fine, but to make changes I often face the opacity challenge. Other developers are often more competent at this juncture.

Learning — The opaque parts of a language requires longer and more “tough” learning, but sometimes low market value or low market depth.

Competitiveness — I usually score higher percentiles in IV, and lower percentiles in GTD. The “percentile spread” is wider and worse with opaque languages. Therefore, I feel 滥竽充数 more often

In this context, transparency is defined as the extent to which you can use __instrumentation__ (like debugger or print) to understand what’s going on.

  • The larger systems tend to use the advanced language features, which are less transparent.
  • The more low-level, the less transparent.

–Most of the items below are “languages” capable of expressing some complexity:

  • [T] SQL, perl, php, javascript, ajax, bash
  • [T] stored proc unless complex ones, which are uncommon
  • [T] java threading is transparent to me, but not other developers
  • [S] java reflection-based big systems
  • [T] regular c++, c# and java apps
  • [O]… but consider java dynamic proxy, which is used in virtually every non-trivial package
  • [T] most python scripts
  • [S] … but look at python import and other hacks. Import is required in large python systems.
  • [O] quartz
  • [S] Spring underlying code base. I initially thought it was transparent. Transparent to Piroz
  • [O] Swing visual components
  • [O] C# WCF, remoting
  • [T] VBA in Excel
  • —-below are not “languages” even in the generalized sense
  • [S] git .. semi-transparency became stressor cos KPI!
  • [O] java GC … but NO STRESS cos so far this is not a KPI
  • [O] MOM low level interface
  • [S] memory leak detectors in java, c#, c++
  • [O] protobuf. I think the java binding uses proxies
  • [T] XML + simple SAX/DOM
  • [S =semi-transparent]
  • [O =opaque]


GTD/KPI/zbs/effi^productivity defined#succinctly

  • GTD – make the damn thing work. LG of quality, code smell, maintainability etc
  • KPI – boss’s assessment often uses productivity as the most important underlying KPI, though they won’t say it.
  • productivity – GTD level as measured by __manager__, at a higher level than “effi”
  • effi – a low level measurement than “Productivity”
  • zbs – real, core strength (内功) of the tech foundation for GTD

##google-searchable dev technologies(!Qz):lower stress

This topic is Rather important to my stress level, my available time for learning, my available time for family….

For example, with Quartz, I must ask around and experiment (millions of times). Slow to build a coherent understanding. Slow ramp-up. (In contrast, with Python I could do that by reading good articles online.) So my productivity lag/gap remains even after a few years.

Other Negative examples – Tibrv, Autosys, Accurev, Less-known boost libraries,..

MSVS? Most of the search results are about c#, so it’s somewhat harder to solve problems.

Eclipse CDT? Most of the search results are about Eclipse java.

Positive examples – vbscript, DOS batch,

Yet, this stressor is mild compared to “performance warnings”.