##strongER trec taking up large codebases

I have grown from a sysAdmin to a dev
I have grown from web and scripting pro into a java pro then c++ pro !
Next, I hope to grow my competence with large codebase.

I feel large codebase is the #1 diffentiator separating the wheat from the chaff — “casual” vs hardcore coders.

With a large codebase, I tend to focus on the parts I don’t understand, regardless that’s 20% or 80% of the code I need to read. I can learn to live with that ambiguity. I guess Rahul was good at that.

In a few cases, within 3M I was able to “take up” a sizable brown field codebase and become somewhat productive. As I told Kyle, I don’t need bottom-up in-depth knowledge to be competent.

In terms of count of successes taking up sizable brown-field codebase, I am a seasoned contractor, so I would score more points than a typical VP or an average old timer in a given system.

  • eg: Guardian — don’t belittle the challenge and complexity
  • eg: mvea c++ codebase — My changes were localized, but the ets ecosystem codebase was huge
  • eg: mvea pspc apportionment/allocation logic + price matching logic
  • eg: mtg comm (small green field), integrated into a huge brown field codebase
  • eg: StirtRisk personalization — I made it work and manager was impressed
  • eg: StirtRisk bug fixes on GUI
  • eg: Macq build system — many GTD challenges
  • eg: Moodles at NIE
  • eg: Panwest website contract job at end of 2016
  • ~~~ the obvious success stories
  • eg: AICE — huge stored proc + perl
  • eg: Quest app owner
  • eg: error memos
  • eg: RTS


  • I would say t_trauma is a form of t_stigma, but deeper, more impactful
  • stigma — stems from PIP and bonus
  • “esteem” and 1stAid are positive, but 1stAid have immediate impact.

Many of these posts are a subset of PIP or Mgr^Contractor. My self-esteem crisis is invariably triggered by these two sources, but ..

.. in terms of severity PIP is 10x heavier than peer comparison.


tsn: esteem hazards^boosts

With the exception of c++, socket(mkt data), py(devops), c#, MSVS … looks like majority of ventures out of my tech sweet spot java/SQL/scripting… presents esteem-hazards (like health hazards) but dismal prospect in terms of self-esteem boost.

high-risk, low-return ventures, in terms of self-esteem?

Looking deeper, the esteem-hazard is really nothing but one mgr’s assessment. For my recent painful jobs, I continue to dismiss/ignore the possible boost to self-esteem —

  • I conquered some of my biggest technology fears — MSVS; c++ crash management; c++ large code navigation.. Other people may not agree, but my own experience proves that these challenges are harder than high-level dev (like web/scripting..). My fears about these c++ challenges were more deep-rooted .
  • OC — I built real mileage in c#. I even proved myself stronger than some c# veterans when I created a simple web server to dump log files for everyday troubleshooting.
  • Macq — I invented elegant solutions for splunk even though boss wasn’t impressed
  • .. many more
  • see more pointers in https://bintanvictor.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=27139&action=edit

##[19] am competent at..as a professional thanks2tsn

Background — When I listen to a professional musician or comedian from some unfamiliar country, I wonder if they are actually good. Similarly, when I consult a doctor or dentist, I wonder if they are qualified.

“Self-respecting programmer” — Yi Hai’s motivation.

I have been tested and proven on the big stage i.e. U.S. tech interviews + GTD

  • [p t w] java/c++/c#
  • [w] algo
  • [w] coding test
  • [t] SQL
  • [t] socket
  • [t] unix power user
  • swing
  • [p] web app developer across php, javascript, java
  • py, perl (and shell/javascript?) — are these professional games?
  • [t = long tradition over 20Y]
  • [w = worldwide contest]
  • [p = a well-known standard profession]

## nothing to be proud of ] %% life@@

See also [2] ##4 qualities I admire in%%peers #!!status and
[1] ##envy Them constantly; !!celebrat`family,achievements..

Once a while in a young person’s life she(he) find herself (rather than her life) despicable in every way —

  • studies
  • dating
  • body image
  • fitness
  • team sports, not part of any “gang”
  • ….When we grow older we have some of these same “whiplashes” + some new whiplashes, which we use to beat ourselves up:
  • profession
  • home location, home size, school district
  • personal investments including properties
  • monthly saving rate
  • plenty of life-chances available to me throughout my life

I think in such a situation we desperately need concrete, tangible evidence of personal achievement (not necessarily visible to other people). Here are some evidence to congratulate myself and defend myself against the whipping:

  • wife and kids — see [1]
  • SGP citizenship — see [1]
  • education credentials — see [1]
  • personal finance — see [1]
  • profession — see the first list in [1]
  • knowledge + experience about diet and wellness — see [2]
  • introspective or expressive writing and blogging — as a versatile coping, self-improvement, self-discovery device
    • English proficiency — I struggled for years and now I’m able to use English for expressive writing — something unimaginable in my teenage years.

self-hate due to hearsay 300k salary #XR

.. You seem to feel the (hearsay) income level of 300k is the minimum you need to feel good about yourself. In that case, your worry and negative self-assessment about income is misaligned with reality.

A bit of real statistics to chew on – rank all countries by GDP per-capita. Most of the top 10 richest countries have population below 9 million including Switzerland and most of the Northern Europe countries.

Q: How many countries are richer than U.S. *and* with a population above 20 million?
Answer: zero. Japan, Germany, UK, France,  … are all less rich than the U.S. Now, I believe you don’t want to compare with developing countries like China, Korean, Taiwan, India, let’s first focus on rich countries —

  • I believe half the American families earn less than 60k combined income, so do you think half the American families are struggling to survive every day?
  • I would estimate (based on my knowledge) more than half the *families* across the rich countries earn less than USD 60k, but you are implying that a single income of 300k is the minimum you need?
  • USD 300k single income would put you in the top 2% in any rich country, but you feel that’s the minimum you need?
  • USD 300k is higher than at least half the doctors’ and lawyers’ income across the rich countries, so you seem to say most doctors and lawyers are struggling to survive based on their income
  • My wife’s income is about SGD 30k. A regular teacher’s salary in Singapore is about SGD 50k. Singapore is, by most rankings, more affluent than the U.S. and teachers are a large, white-collar workforce. By your standard, even a 500% increase in a Singapore teacher’s income would still be too low for you.
  • In one of the most expensive cities of our world – London, a USD 300k salary would be top 2%. I know from many sources that London finance IT salary is lower than New York. A 700-pound daily contract rate is “extremely rare” (unheard of to many people) but it works to be only USD 230k, but you would think that’s not enough to survive. Mind you, London is more expensive than New York.
  • Some would say London is still cheaper than … Hongkong. A UBS VP position I tried was at HKD 1.2 million, about half your minimum standard.
  • I have friends in Shanghai and Beijing – the most expensive Chinese cities (along with Shenzhen). A 300k USD salary would be one in 500 jobs over there, but you think it’s barely enough for you. They would guess you live in a city where home price is 10 times higher than Shanghai/Beijing but in reality, your home is more affordable — A comparable apartment (not a 2-storey house with backyard) in Beijing/Shanghai would cost at least USD 1.5 million.

You are living in an ivory tower (and refusing to step out to the real world) if you hold on to that irrational and negative view. You sound like a guy complaining about his 10-room, 3-story mansion. It’s not depression but hallucination.

If you carry this habit into parenting, then beware — your kids could be top of their class but you may still feel they are not good enough because they didn’t win a gold medal. Would be tragic. I think Chinese parents are demanding but most are not at that level. We love our kids and accept them. We ought to love and accept ourselves.

I recommend [[compassion and self-hate]] by Theodore Issac Rubin, my favorite American self-help writer. His books changed my life. I feel good to know he is now 95. I’m grateful to Dr Rubin; I’m grateful to my dad; I’m grateful to Buddhism teachings; and I’m grateful when I answer your questions — I often get a chance to look into myself. I thank our creator to give me the analytical powers (though not as powerful as Dr Rubin) to dissect the layers and uncover the core issues in my psyche. As I endeavor to answer your questions I often reach a deeper understanding of my own pains, stupidity, irrationality and unfairness to myself and love ones.

##OK,%%spare time had low ROTI..how about Theirs@@

I often feel bad that all of my efforts in my spare time had no tangible ROTI, but look around, who fared better?

Note this post is more about peer comparison (recrec blog), less about my spare time usage (open blog)

For the record my spare time effort did produce some tangible outcomes

  • coding drill in github and wordpress. I think most of my friends didn’t bother to record. Their practice is short-term.
  • yoga, jogging
  • blogging on housing (and school districts) — our real needs. The time spent convinced me to live in Bayonne
  • blogging on personal investment — complex. The time spent directly affected my investment decisions
  • blogging, discussion on boy. The time spent directly influenced my views, decisions and communications with family members
  • helping friends (Deepak,Ashish,YH) with job hunting
  • helping my kids with sports, piano, renzi
  • –less tangible:
  • studying risk systems, data science, crypto-currency? Helps way-finding and navigating the job market

mgr role limitation:没当上经理,但换工作/国家 更容易

我选择一直当程序员, 有个好处就是比较容易回新加坡工作,过几年再来美国也容易。

当经理的就没这么灵活。 他们不能太频繁换工作,因为简历会受影响。经理的空缺,数目也低得多。很多类型的经理职位,只在中国, 不可能在另一国家找到同类职位。比如鲁诺所任职的国营企业,比如某同学任职的外资企业中国分公司总裁。

公司招聘经理非常谨慎,招聘程序员则比较简洁迅速。 这对我找工作很有利。

[17] GTD=reasonable ] stirt/OC/Macq

Update — In ##what actually determined%%past job satisfaction  I concluded that respect(zbs) was the #1 determinant of my job satisfaction. In these 3 Singapore jobs, my efficiency and zbs were insufficient compared to whatever their benchmark is. Even in java, theoretical, complex domains, without distractions … my colleagues could be superfast. Even if I get a lot done, I can still be seen as under-performing — low respect low bonus. Consider GS.

Update — my RTS GTD/effi was lower than Singapore, much lower than Stirt and Macquarie.

It’s kinda hard to measure 2 developers’ output. Given my background within my past teams, I now feel I did reasonably well on GTD, not super productive or super slow. Some periods in OC and Stirt were highly productive. My productivity was not excellent in Citi, Verizon, even 95Green, not higher than in Stirt. Conclusion — my GTD productivity self-assessment is swayed by my income and boss’s assessment.

  • In OC, I took care of Guardian, Quest, Excel interface, Bloomberg and other part of GMDS. I wrote the web-based log viewer in WCF…. I think my OC 1st-year GTD productivity was reasonable, probably higher than Citi, and not lower than barcap.
    • The donut bonus was at least 50% due to manager relationship.
    • In contrast, at 95Green and Barcap my GTD was not much higher, but the value of my output was higher than team peers. I spent my spare time on c++, swing, c#, quant…
  • In Stirt and Macquarie, manager felt I was good enough to be transferred to other teams — sign of respect
  • Stirt — I had lower value-add than the veterans, but probably higher value-add than most new joiners. Technically I was rated competent by everyone, otherwise they wouldn’t set up the transfer. My Stirt GTD effi was clearly higher than at citi and not lower than Barcap or 95G. Perhaps only lower than GS.
    • One /speed bump/ was the perfectionist team lead who approves everyone’s commit
    • Another speed bump was lack of online resources for hacking (i.e. self-study).
  • Macqarie role has very high requirements in terms of communication, leadership, but in terms of technical expertise I was clearly appreciated, otherwise they wouldn’t hint the internal transfer, and they wouldn’t pay me a $10k bonus.

## lasting achievements as a techie@@

Backdrop: Technological innovation is fast (less so in commercial banking, i was told) so “lasting” means … maybe 5 to 10 years (rarely longer)?? Few achievements meet this criteria.

See also http://bigblog.tanbin.com/2010/09/accu-and-longevity-compare-with-civil.html, http://bigblog.tanbin.com/2011/02/classical-engineering-field.html

– open source — software have real lasting values. I guess you can learn to Read their source code — usually in C.
– [L] contributions to foundation modules such as VM/CLR, compilers, threading library, GC, STL — real lasting values

What skills contribute to lasting value-add to an organization?

– tuning – DB — needed in many big and small systems
– tuning – low latency systems — more rare
– [L] instrumentation i.e. refactor/design a given (complex) system to make it easy to trace and follow
– [L] ? introspection – tend to be rather powerful in many new languages
– ? interpreting bytecode; decompilers
– ? system security; white hat hacker

[L = I feel most of these skills are low-level]

In theory almost everything can be learned by a young guy in a few years provided they get full (rare!) access to all source code and manage to make sense of it all. However, look at how many bright young people become kernel developers even though so much open source operations systems exist.