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An open letter to all recruiters

On behalf of all candidates

Posted in Career, Business, Misc, Personal life

Dear recruiters,

Sometimes you call. In this call you offer the supposed perfect job opportunity to work in the outstanding perfect company: The company has amazing benefits, the salary is great and the environment is outstanding.

Sometimes you are serious and focus only about the position. Sometimes you are friendly and love to talk about your dog. And, of course, sometimes we can notice that you don’t want to talk. That’s ok, everybody has the right to be different. And we all have bad days. Personally, I prefer the friendly ones. Only because they make me believe that I am the most special person in the world. And when you call me in my bad day to make me feel special, you totally won. But the serious ones are good too.

There is only one thing: Apparently you have some issues on matching my profile with the job offers you are presenting to me.

Allow me to explain.

Most of the offers I get from you are “C# Developer”. And yes, I know C#. But the problem lies in the field and also the projects. Mostly this kind of position would lead me to work in a company where I will go very deep into C# and never see anything else. For example, some company where I should work on a system to control, let’s say, traffic lights. Would I work there? Maybe. But it's not a good fit.

See, I am a web person specialized on the ASP.NET stack. In my line of work I need to understand a bit of front-end so I can make a good quality back-end, matching them together in a nice result for the client. This is what I have been doing most of my career. If you doubt just check my Linked In profile. Go to my specialties and certifications so you will see that they are mostly focused on web.

But it's alright, I still like you.

I believe it’s not your fault. You might have goals to reach and you might not have enough time to check a a lot of profiles thoroughly. All of this is understandable. And it’s ok for me as I can say that I am not interested in case you offer something which is not a good fit.

But I care about you. I care about the time you are devoting with me and other candidates which are not a good fit for the positions you are presenting. We know that every candidate you interview who is not a fit makes you lose money (time = money). And your company is losing money as well.

So, here is the advice: Try to understand the position you are going to offer and also try to learn a little bit more about the candidates before the call. And don't shoot e-mails crazily about random job offers only because there is one key word matching. It's not about keywords anymore - it's about meaning. Of course, sometimes I would be motivated to change everything. It can even happen that, some day, I will really be interested to work programming for NASA and see my code going to other galaxies.

But not yet.

In my perticular case, I am focused on web. After all, I am a web person. And since I am a web person you can talk with me about websites developed and I will gladly listen to any offer you will present related with the ASP.NET stack.

Sincerely,

Davidson Sousa

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How philosophy is related with business and why we should care about it

Who do you think is able to make more damage - a bad teacher or a bad doctor?

Posted in Career, Business, Misc

Back in 2003, when I was starting my unfinished business degree, I had philosophy classes. Probably I was one of the few enjoying to listen to things we thought we would never use in our lives. Don’t get me wrong: Philosophy is a very cool topic. The main problem was the mentality we had at that time – We were all aspiring to become executives in some company right after the university. In addition, as far we thought, an executive doesn’t need philosophy.

That was a horrible mistake, but I will get to that later.

One day our professor turned to the class and asked a question which I will never forget. “Who do you think is able to make more damage – a bad teacher or a bad doctor?”. The whole class answered what seemed obvious: The doctor. The professor asked why and we all said that a doctor’s mistake could cost lives while a teacher’s mistake can just make a person not understand some subject.

The right answer is the bad teacher and it’s simple to understand why: While a bad doctor will make the mistake a couple of times before his license will be revoked, a bad teacher can stay in the school for decades teaching badly, damaging the education of hundreds of students. In the end, we would have many uneducated people wandering around the job market. And, in the best case scenario, the bad teacher will have his license revoked only after an entire year of work with, for example, 40 students.

We were all surprised with the explanation and we understood at that moment how important a good education is.

Now, I believe you might be confused about why I mentioned that an executive not needing philosophy is a horrible mistake. Let me explain.

Philosophy is the study of problems related with existence, moral values, knowledge and the mind. The advantage of the philosophical thought is the way the problems are treated. Mostly the philosophical thought is overloaded of logic and rational thought, which differ itself from the religious thought. And what an executive must be in order to succeed?

Logic and rational.

Mostly, in the corporate world, the companies are targeting the “bad doctors” – those professionals who didn’t bring results. For example: Developers who were unable to deliver some project; Designers, who couldn’t finish some art in the way the client wanted; Testers who couldn’t identify some bug in the project. And so on. Firing any of them would be just the easy way to solve the problem but, since we should be logic and rational, there are some points that we should consider. After all, philosophy teaches us how to deal with any situation – personal or professional:

  1. Why were they hired if they lacked knowledge?
  2. How did they get the materials/documentation? And from who?
  3. Was the environment good for them to work?
  4. Does the department have high number of hires and dismissals?

As you can see it’s no easy task to identify the problem. If I would be in this position I’d start to investigate the department itself. In that way I could:

  1. Be sure they really had the knowledge to join the company
  2. Check if the materials/documentation was giving full condition for a good work
  3. Know if the environment was motivating enough for success
  4. Check if the department has a low rate of hires/dismissals

Why? Because it could be a case of “bad teacher”. Or bad management, if you prefer.

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Unprofessional people and the oxymoron effect

Why is it bad to have colleagues like this and how to deal with them?

Posted in Career, Workplace, Czech it out!, Personal life

The first time I heard the word oxymoron was during a job interview in 2010. We were talking about my skills and how it was my previous job when he asked me if I had some difficulties here in Prague, while working. At that time I said that I didn’t notice anything so drastic but, yes, I had some problems. At that time thought it could be culture related since I am from Brazil. When I described which problems he said that I was facing a common oxymoron around here. I asked what is it and he gave me some examples. The last example was “Czech professional”.

Disclaimer: I am not targeting any nationality, but as I live in Prague the percentage of local oxymoron is higher. For sure someone living in a different country will see this pattern in a different nationality.

Oxymoron, if you don’t know, is when contradictory set of words appear in the same sentence. Like civil war, noisy silence, living dead, seriously funny and so on.

The problem I was facing was related with people who were thinking they own the office space and you would break the status quo. We all know people like this, no matter the place in the world they come from. I have 2 examples very vivid in my memory:

  • A person who goes beyond his/her job description and gets activities from other people thinking it’s doing something good, but then blames others when things start to be problematic because of his/her own proactivity (“this was your job!”);
  • A person who treats the office like his/her home and takes everything personally (“I’ll not do anything for him/her because he/she screamed at me last week”).

Of course, there are situations where both examples are in the same person.

When people behave as mentioned above the office starts to become a toxic place. And it’s easy to notice: The team leader (or manager) only needs to pay attention on where is the bottleneck. Sometimes, in some projects, a bottleneck is caused by performance of 1 or more team members. But in a toxic office the performance is not the issue, but the person itself.

If you want to recognize this behavior you should pay attention to:

  1. Self-proclaimed office stars (“Nothing would work without me”);
  2. The one who makes himself/herself busy by getting tasks from other colleagues, and blame them when something goes wrong;
  3. A person who takes everything personal in the office;
  4. The classic apple polishers.

How to deal with them?

If you are not a team leader or manager I’d recommend you to report it. The leader should be responsible for this kind of conversation. But, still, it’s difficult even for the leader as it doesn’t depend only on him. The person should be willing to understand the issues and change. Not everybody has enough self-awareness and also not everybody would be willing to accept that he/she is part of the problem. But as we say back in my country, there is always an old shoe to a tired foot. Which means this person might be a perfect fit in another department or company.

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Leave the office! See what you need to work anywhere you want

Do you know those days you don't want to be in the office? Here is what you need to work anywhere you want!

Posted in Career, Workplace, Misc, Tutorials, Personal life

When I started my career as software developer all I could have was a big desktop computer. It was an Intel Celeron 300 MHz with 32 MB of RAM and a HDD of 4 GB. Such beauty would never let me to have the mobility I am able to have today, although I am still far from being as mobile as I want.

But what do you need to become a “work anywhere professional”?

The basic checklist is this:

  • A nice place
  • Good devices
  • Internet connection
  • Tools
  • Concentration

Now, let’s talk about each item.

Place

The place must be nice, preferably with a table where it's possible to place all your devices (more on that later), and calm unless you have a good concentration level (more on that later). Most of people think of places like Starbucks or McDonalds but, actually, it would depend on the kind of work you do and how connected you must be. For a writer, who doesn’t need to be online all the time, work in the woods would be a nice thing. But for a software developer, who depends on internet connection, it would be a bit more complicated.

Good devices

The very basic is a notebook and a mobile phone with a good data plan. In my particular case I have a 17” Lenovo as main computer and a 10” ASUS Transformer as side computer. If I am traveling or going to a place where I know I will need a computer, I take the ASUS. The keyboard is comfortable enough to write and the touchscreen replaces in a very nice way. In addition, I have Visual Studio Express here and it works fine for me.

Another thing to keep in mind is battery time. My Lenovo can work up to 3h with Wi-Fi turned on while my ASUS works up to 10h in the same conditions. Given that I assume I will not find sockets anywhere I go a good battery time is very important. Not to mention that I can it also to recharge my phone, at least to keep alive for longer time (if necessary).

Internet connection

You have 3 possibilities here: Connect over Wi-Fi, use your mobile data plan and share the internet with your notebook or work offline.

It’s clear that Wi-Fi is the best alternative here. However, you can’t expect to find free Wi-Fi with a good speed anywhere. And I am not even talking about how unsafe that would be. Connect over mobile and sharing the internet to your notebook is to be the best option if you have a good (big and fast) data plan, except if you are on roaming.

Tools

The idea here is to have everything to make the transition from your portable machine to your stationary machine as seamless as possible. Except, of course, for some software you can’t install on both due hardware limitations.

Assuming that you have internet connection, you can make use of tools like a private VPN, online file services (OneDrive, DropBox, Google Drive), online repository (TFS Online, GitHub) and others. As a developer, I consider all of them important, although I don’t have a private VPN. Yet.

Concentration

The best here is to be self-aware: If you know how much concentration you are able to have in the moment you decide to leave the office, you will pick the perfect place for you. For those who can work only in a silent environment a Starbucks would not be the best place.

Conclusion

My case is a very specific one. I love what I do but I am far from being workaholic. But sometimes I need to work on something small or go somewhere where I could use a computer. Today, for example, I started this article watching children play indoor soccer in the morning. It was noisy, messy and I was using my ASUS on my laps. Luckily, that place had a good internet connection and I could save this text in my OneDrive in order to finish on my notebook later.

Keep something in mind: Find balance. It doesn’t matter if you have an outstanding data plan if you are abroad most of the time as you will need to use roaming. Or even, you have the best of everything but you can’t concentrate in a café.

And remember: The best alternative is always the alternative that suits you.

 

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How to drive a web developer crazy in 20 easy steps

Be sure this works all the time. But don't do it unless you want people to hate you

Posted in Career, Misc

Let me tell you something: Once upon a time, I wanted to be a biologist. That was a long time ago. Then things changed and I became a programmer. Not bad for someone who wanted to make research the whole day but did not have enough patience for the results.

Little I knew about the problems I would face as programmer. In addition, they are quite different when you move from desktop to web development. A very common problem for web developers is dealing with the design team. We understand they follow the requests of the client but in 100% of the cases they just think we can do miracles with their graphics while creating the website.

Rafael Mumme, from the .net magazine, wrote an amazing article about the 20 things that drive web developers crazy. They are so real that I’ve seen at least 20 of them in the last 2 projects I was working on:

  1. Add rounded corners to every single element on the page. While you're at it, add shadows and gradients too.
  2. Use the same PSD as a starting point for every project. Hide unused layers, but don't delete them. Make sure your PSD is at least 100MB.
  3. Use sIFR on every piece of text. Bonus points if you choose a font that's very similar to Arial.
  4. Never use the same dimensions on elements. Give each a different font size and colour (for black, use #000000, #111111, #121212 ...).
  5. Use a lot of breakout images with transparency. Web developers love graphics breaking out of boxes and columns. Bonus points if you add text wrapping around images.
  6. Add a modal window. At least half the site should happen in a modal window.
  7. Add a Facebook Connect button. It's just a button. How hard can it be to implement?
  8. Hide important PSD layers. Later, tell the developer that they missed a hidden element.
  9. Create buttons with rollover, active and clicked states. Then don't tell anyone you've done this. Create a separate file for them and send it on at the last minute. We love surprises.
  10. Tell the developer about some fancy functionality you read about somewhere on a blog. Then tell them to build it, because, if you saw it somewhere, clearly it's possible.
  11. Add a carousel. Oh yeah, and make sure it's a full-screen carousel.
  12. Use Lorem Ipsum instead of real copy. And make sure the reserved space is not big enough for real copy.
  13. Randomly merge PSD layers. Why not? (But don't merge too many. It'll take you further away from the magic 100MB target).
  14. Name all your files 'final', plus a date and a random letter (final-2010-12-01a.psd, final- 2010-12-01r.psd, final-2010-12-02b.psd).
  15. Don't worry about making changes once everything is signed off. When we're done with a page, send another, completely different version of it. And tell us that those changes are necessary and essential for user experience.
  16. Don't name or organize your PSD layers and folders.
  17. If you're designing a form, forget about error and success states. We'll squeeze that stuff in somewhere. We love guessing your intentions.
  18. When you're designing a website, don't invite any developers for brainstorming or design meetings. Make sure we're the last ones to see the layout. Show it to the client first, so it will be too late to introduce even a modicum of sanity into your work.
  19. We should hang out more, so during QA don't use bug tracking software. Come sit with us for an entire day and point out changes you want made over our shoulders. Use the opportunity for some impromptu design updates as well.
  20. And finally, this is the most important thing: don't learn anything about HTML, CSS, JavaScript or browser issues. The less you know about it, the more important we seem.

Image from ShinyShiny.tv

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Microsoft announces a new developer certification - Get ready for Metro!

Yes, that's right: Microsoft Certification for Metro Apps!

Posted in Career, Microsoft Certification, Metro

I've already spoken about how a certification is important for your career and also about the reinvention Microsoft made with its certifications. Now, I am going to be more specific about software development.

Microsoft  announces the new Microsoft Certified Solution Developer (MCSD) credential for developers and one of its changes is the fact they are going to focus much more in the cloud. But basically this early-to-market certification addresses new skills for a broader audience, including next generation developers who thrive on bleeding edge technology.

Needless to say, these new certifications will focus on the Visual Studio 2012 development (the RC was some time ago). I was testing the beta version (when was still 2011) and all I have to say is: It's great! But one of the few things which really caugh my attention was the Metro Style Apps.

We are going to have more anouncements during the next few months but the first one is already there -  MCSD: Windows Metro Style Apps. This new certification is for developers who want the skills to create the beautiful, elegant and fast apps that are expected in today’s exploding marketplace, using the Windows 8 platform with Visual Studio, HTML5, and C#.

You can start working towards the MCSD: Windows Metro Style Apps certification today by prepping for the beta exams that are coming out this summer. Here’s a free ebook from MS Press to help you get started: Programming Windows 8 Apps with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript (First Preview).

How excited I am with that? A lot. First because I am really lookinf forward for a Metro certification. Second, I will apply my web knowledge to develop such apps.

Well done, Microsoft. Well done. :)

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Associate, Expert and Master: The reinvention of the Microsoft certifications

Microsoft has reinvented the certifications in order to validate the skills in a deeper way. But how does it look?

Posted in Career, Microsoft Certification

This is the case when the article is old – due how fast the information flows nowadays – but gold. Microsoft is changing all certifications. Again. And, at this time, they call it reinvention. You might have a feeling of déjà vu if you saw the change from the .NET Framework 3.5 to 4. But now there is cloud technologies! So let’s see how it works.

As you could see on the blue pyramid, we still have 3 levels of certification, but with different names. They are:

Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate (MCSA)

The Associate level is the prerequisite certification necessary to get your Expert level certification. This certification validates the core skills you need to get your 1st job in IT. We could slightly compare with the Technology Specialist (MCTS) that we have today.

Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) & Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD)

The Expert level is Microsoft’s flagship set of certifications validating that your skills are relevant in the constantly changing tech environment. The Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert (MCSE) is the destination for established IT Professionals who have expertise working with Microsoft technology solutions. The Microsoft Certified Solutions Developer (MCSD) is the destination for established Developers who have expertise developing solutions with Microsoft tools. Does that sound familiar? Yes! IT Professional (MCITP) and Professional Developer (MCPD).

Microsoft Certified Solutions Master (MCSM)

After you have achieved your Expert level certification, Master is the next destination. This certification is for the select few who wish to further differentiate themselves from their peers and achieve the highest level of skills validation. But this one is a bit dubious for me as we already had Master (MCM) but only for server technologies. I don’t know if they will keep it in this way or if they will also extend that for developers (which would be great!).

But don’t be fool thinking it’s only this. Since Microsoft is moving almost everything to the cloud this rearrangement seem quite right for the purpose. For example, if a person wants to become an MCSE: Data Platform he/she will have to be MCSA: SQL Server 2012 and then make 2 exams. To upgrade from the previous certification the person must make 3 transition exams. Seems harder, hum? I can’t wait to see what they will do with the developer certifications... :)

More information:

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Prove yourself with a Microsoft SQL Server 2012 certification!

Data management is very important and the amount of data is growing every year. There is a market demand!!!

Posted in Career, SQL Server, Microsoft Certification

Since some time ago we can notice a natural migration to the cloud. The cloud makes the integration between different devices much easier as all data would be stored there. Microsoft SQL Server 2012 gives organizations the foundation to the cloud-ready information platform, quickly build solutions and extend their data from the server to the cloud with advanced capabilities for mission critical confidence. But where are the professionals?

While the data is growing fast the number of IT professionals is growing very slow. Even now there is already a good demand of professionals with SQL skills able to work with cloud. But are they qualified?

To answer that Microsoft has created the certifications which assure the professionals must have a deep understanding of the chosen technology. And this is assured by:

  • Designing certifications that test the skills that employers and hiring managers acknowledge as most essential to their employees’ success on the job.
  • Developing exams that focus on the real world use of Microsoft technologies in organizations.
  • Delivering our exams using appropriate security measures, so employers and candidates know that each certification earned carries solid value in the marketplace.
  • Defending our certifications by keeping our design, development and delivery processes secure. 

This all means that when you earn a Microsoft certification, your employers and peers know that you have up-to-date technological knowledge, and can bring more insightful problem solving skills to the workplace.

So, what are you waiting for? Go and get your SQL 2012 certification!

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Carrer move: From .NET Developer to Microsoft Certified Trainer

When the crisis comes it's time to make a career move. That's why I went to the education field!

Posted in Career, Czech it out!, Personal life

There were some changes since the beginning of the year. From the moment that Europe got hit really hard by the crisis I was wondering about my next career move. There was a very low demand of .NET Developers last year and some HR managers even suggested me to move to Java since its demand was much higher. But I didn’t and still don’t want. Nothing against the technology itself, it’s just that I love the Microsoft stack.

Also, if we talk about place to live, Czech Republic isn’t such a friendly country as people might wonder. Don’t get me wrong, the country is wonderful. But if you don’t speak the language you will get into troubles with very simple things. Ok, there are some websites like expats.cz which helps a lot but you can check with any foreigner living in Prague: Czech people seems to complicate a lot their lives over there.

So, the first change was my return to Brazil. Not for life, but for just 6 months. The reason was the crisis – which I have mentioned above – and also invitation from my friend to come to São Paulo and work in a training center with him. Technically I would come to “save his life” as he prefers to teach Database related topics but lately was teaching.NET stuff. As result I am working with him as a trainer at Ka Solution, which is the largest Microsoft Gold Certified Partner for Learning Solutions (CPLS) in Latin America, since January.

As second change I became Microsoft Certified Trainer. Check the details on how to be a MCT here.

I am enjoying quite a lot this routine of trainer. I would say that the main difference between a trainer and a developer is the level of stress. While the developer is constantly under pressure the trainer’s life is much more relaxed. The trainer has, of course, a huge responsibility since he is the one who will share his knowledge with others creating, then, a new set of developers per class.

Of course, I am aware of this responsibility and I guess I am doing well.

Another difference is the money at the end of the month. As developer, generally, it doesn’t matter how much you work as you will always get the same money. As trainer I feel it’s quite fair to get some coins according to the amount of classes I get. If I work a lot, I get a lot of money. If I work less, I get less money.

Until this moment being a trainer is financially advantage for me.

I have to think about my next move. As I am not planning to quit the education area I guess an English speaking country would be quite interesting. England and Ireland are some of the obvious choices. But we will see.

Stay tunned!

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How to improve your resume with a Microsoft certification

It's not so hard as you think, you just need to be organized. Check out how to have your Microsoft Certification

Posted in Career, Microsoft Certification

I had 17 years old when I heard for the first time about the Microsoft certifications. From that time I started to think about having one. But there were 2 problems: 1) I didn't speak English; 2) I didn't know where I could find the materials to study. Few years later, already speaking English, I finally found a way to organize the materials to study for the certifications.

Basically, a certification exists to prove your knowledge in some certain topic. But if we talk about the Microsoft certifications, there is an idea that the person who has it only passed the exam because he/she got brain dumps. Of course, many people use this way to make the exams. And, not criticizing who does it but, is this person a good professional? I mean, anyone can pass the Microsoft exam (as long it's from your field) since it is not as complicated as it looks. With that said, I will show you how you can reach your certification. [more]

Organize your study material

The Microsoft website lists everything which will be asked on the exam you will take (for example: 70-515 - TS: Web Applications Development). From the moment you have this list, collect all necessary material for your study: Look for PDFs, buy books, bookmark all websites with relevant information you see... Everything is worthy at this point. Try to have everything before you start to study as you can't waste time looking for anything during the studies. But, in case you need to complement some topic, avoid wasting time on the internet. If you open another tab on your browser you are risking to start to procrastinate.

Organize your time

You have no time. At least you always complain about that when there is something interesting to do. Actually the problem is: Some people are unable to give up some things for themselves and they don't notice how their time is misused. For example: Why not use the 30 minutes you spend on the way to work to study? Or when you go to the doctor? Or, the most obvious, during the weekend you would go to some party...

Focus

Once you finally got time to your studies, you have to get the study material (already organized) and start to work. Remember: It can happen that you have a free weekend to study and some of your friends call you asking to go to some amazing event. So, you have to make a decision: Go to the beach/party/whatever with your friends or make your shine a little bit more? You must have in mind that a certification now can result in a salary raise in the future, depending on the company you are working at. Or make easy to find another job. Thinking in this way you will see how it's easy is to have any decision.

Practice, practice, practice

Ok, this isn't new but remember: Always practice what you are learning. Today you only know that 2 + 2 = 4 because you were practicing it when you were young. When I started learning for my certifications I decided to build this blog only because I wanted to practice ASP.NET MVC. All development was following everything I was learning. Obviously I had many problems but I but that's what made me learn. And I only made the exam when I say that I had covered all study plan. As result, I have passed with 100%. Magic? No, practice.

Conclusion

It looks complicated but, as I said, it isn't. Each question of the exam has multiple choices. And since some questions contain answers for other questions I would recommend you to read the exam before start to answer. Another thing is: If you go ready for the exam you will not waste time thinking about the answers. Sometimes they are obvious and you will know the answer right away. Just study and practice and everything will be alright.

Be sure that a certification on your resume will attract the attention of hiring managers. ;-)

Practice,

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