My personal and professional life

2019-01-10

The things I learned about myself in 2018

For me 2018 was a year of hopes, some of which didn't realized. I was hoping for some changes, but at the end they didn't happen however there's nothing tragic in this as I only learned more about myself. In this article I take a look back of what I learned about myself in the past year.

I do not have enough experience with open source

I was told this somewhere in beginning of March and I do not disagree at all. I have contributed small patches, translations and bugs to various open source projects in the past about 20 years, I have published some of my personal projects under free licenses, but I wish I could have done more. It's true I could have contributed more, but unfortunately, I simply haven't found the time for this. I'm still a strong believer in free and open source software (FOSS), which I used since my university years, I still use and I would continue using for the time being. However, nowadays I'm not that picky that FOSS should also be free as in "free beer", which brings me closer to GNU's philosophy.

I do not read enough/your books

I was suggested to read more books by some. Yes, perhaps I could read more, but I'm still reading. And I may not be reading the same as you and you're not the one to tell me what to read just like I'm not telling you. Apart from books I'm also reading some magazines like I've been since my teenage years. And some online resources as well. With this post I'd like to thank my family and friends who gave me books as gifts last year, so there are currently about 10 books on my reading list for 2019. Sorry, the list is private ;-)

I do not have enough experience with this or that technology

I learned this in the summer. I still consider myself a curious person about technology, but I simply cannot have experience with everything out there and I believe nobody could. For me it's more interesting how a person perceives technology and how it deals with changes. Two decades ago software was quite different as well as the tools and technologies used to implement it. The peace of changes has increased as well as the persons involved in developing software. There are many persons that started software development one, two, three or more decades ago that easily adapt to new tools and technologies, because they have the basic understanding about how software is build and works. And more importantly they know they have to learn constantly and be involved. This means reading the manuals, following development progress, discussing, reporting bugs, making feature request, contributing as much as possible and generally getting involved with the community.

I'm not agile

This was something I was told before the Christmas holidays. Yes, perhaps I'm not that agile after all. I know and understand agile values and principles, but at the same time I do not share them completely.
  • I agree that individuals and interactions are more important than processes and tools, but only the later could make the former simple and efficient. Without clear processes and proper tools even best individuals would fail to interact in a way that benefits software development. I believe that such individuals would first create the necessary processes and tools.
  • I agree that working software is more important than comprehensive documentation, but I've seen software written with scarce or no documentation at all. After some time (e.g. 5, 10, 15 years) when such software stops working, has to be upgraded or has to be explained to client it first has to be reverse engineered as most probably original developers have long left the company. So, in short term and for small projects I completely support this, but in the long term and for large projects it won't help anyone. The problem is that if not written on time documentation would most probably never be written.
  • I agree that customer collaboration is more important than contract negotiation, but not all customers could collaborate effectively. Some customers do not even know what exactly they want, they do not read documents (even refuse to do so when asked) hence they do not know the software they're using and they do not properly transfer knowledge over time. These are only my humble observations, but I believe that customer collaboration should be open in terms that it should be accessible to all the involved parties now and in future. I've seen cases where software was implemented in "close collaboration" between a developer and a person at the customer through personal messages, which afterwards nobody knows anything about and doesn't want to.
  • I agree that responding to change is more important than following a plan, but responding to constant changes means no project plan and scope at all. Projects that start as a bubble and constantly change their form easily become malformed and reach out of control. Such projects usually fail. I've seen some never-ending projects in my practice and it's one of the things I truly dislike.
These and perhaps other reasons make organizations choose hybrid approaches to software development as they find agile too extreme and inefficient in large organizations and I have worked in such organizations in the past more than 15 years, so perhaps my views are twisted from this perspective.

I'm an 'advanced user'

This was written to me by a support representative. It was after asking (and insisting) for some simple (in my view) improvements in the software provided and supported by a big vendor for whom this person was working. He wrote it in the sense that it's only me that is asking for these improvements, which made it automatically clear to me that they won't be implemented. Well, if this defines me as "advanced user", so be it, but I'm quite disappointed, because I was expecting more from a SOHO device using free and open source software. I may write a separate article on this later.

I'm myself

Last, but not least I'm still myself with all the pros and cons as a person and professional. I do not pretend to be everything to everyone, I do not pretend to know everything and I do not pretend to be the most experienced out there. Everything I learned about myself in 2018 was based on some experience and I'm sure it would help me become a better person and professional in future.

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