25 years and counting stars

I turned 25 last Saturday and when I look at my life it doesn’t look so bad. Partying every week, a great girlfriend, awesome friends, a cool job. Oh yeah, also a massive boat party with family and friends cruising on the Thames followed by a privatised bar party. What can I ask more ? Be a better engineer, still learning ways that will set me to make a difference for people and bringing value even from things they didn’t know they needed. So I’m just gonna keep going as I always have, moving forward, learning, demon speeding on the knowledge highway. Now I am not busy with organising my birthday anymore I can get more time on personal projects and I have a few in mind right now.

The project Islandwood seems drew my attention a few weeks ago, it could be where I will be heading but I have so many ideas all the time that it can have changed by lunchtime. Once it’s picked I will just go at it like crazy. I could also write a few tutorials as it’s been a while and there is so much I can share it’s been 6 years already I have been doing IT in a professional context now. That’s pretty dope and feel lucky to do what I like for a living, it almost doesn’t feel like working at all.

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Thanks a lot guys for all your texts, calls, pigeons and especially coming last night. I was so busy enjoying all of you that I didn't take any picture, only recorded this video. That was fuckin amazing. Hearts for all of you. Thanks to all of you I had a very happy birthday. Till next time 😉 #BirthdayOfMe #BoatParty #Popopo

Posted by Jean-Dominique Nguélé on Sunday, February 21, 2016

Standing united against the madness

Hi everyone,

Today post is a bit special, the past 48 hours were quite crazy. Terrible things happened, but some good came out of it. Terror stroke my home, Paris on a friday the 13th that never was so meaningful. A handful of people tried to bear us down by targeting places where any of us can be anytime. Places where we eat, places where we drink, places where can be together enjoying music or a football game, basically places where we live and have fun. They tried to kill the fun. They failed.

People did try to stop us from organising that vigil, but accepting it would have been a victory for those monsters. Last night we were all standing together, united and proud at Trafalgar square to show that we are not afraid. We, human beings are still here, we are not going anywhere. We will not bow to terror.

In brightest day, in blackest night,
No evil shall escape our sight.
Let those who worship evil’s might,
Beware our power, beware our light!!!

Shapeshifting in progress

A couple month ago I told myself I would write my next blog about some personal project I was working on, but then life kinda got sucked into work and since then that project got stuck into development hell. So it will be in another blog, if I write today it’s about the acquisition of an elliptical trainer I made yesterday. I thought it would be nice to just be fit again as back in the days I was playing football. I’m only 24 and don’t feel out of shape in everyday’s life, but I can feel it when I play football with friends and collegues, like I run everywhere for 10-15 minutes and I’m toasted. So I went to get that so I can enjoy playing the trickster on sundays mornings again. By the way this thing was heavy as hell to transport, I was convinced I could easily lift a wide 50+ kilos and carry it over a double kilometer back to my apartment (which ultimately I did but that was excruciating, considering). So today I decided to start the official return of JD to sports by watching a Game of Thrones episode that I started watching yesterday (5th from 5th season, just because), so just trained 40mn with 10 kilometer traveled which is nice for a first (for those that want to try that, don’t forget to constantly hydrate or the stop will be painful). So quite proud of myself and it feels fresh, just feels fresh. Bringing back that kind of activity is quite a good thing not just to enhance as a person but also as an engineer as it will help me broaden my reflexion or even clear my head when I’m stuck on an issue. Video games are good for that but online games can be frustrating sometimes and I will not mention a certain MOBA that I left the Hellish tier a couple of days ago thanks to a friend and some epic games but I’m digressing here. Also, my company Lodgeo released a new version of our app so check it out on both Google Play and the App Store. And I promise next post will be more development related and won’t be in too long. Cheers!

Wondering what makes me an engineer

What makes us engineers, as I was witnessing a lot of changes in my life recently I was wondering who I am, my diplomas and work say I am an engineer, my paycheck says I am an engineer, what do I do to prove I am an engineer and not just a mere developer ? I needed to take a step back and look at what I was and what made me an engineer in the first place. Back when I was a kid I loved drawing, I was drawing at every time of the day, all kind of things, people, animals, fantasy creations, imaginary buildings and so on. Some people saw me as an artist but those were my first attempts at creation.

Around 10, I was writing comics to tell stories but I was never happy with the result and always wanted to do better before I show it to anyone, in the end I just burnt those and nobody ever knew. I was starting to become a perfectionist without even realising what it meant. Then I started creating games on paper, that involved more thinking, I was playing those alone to make sure those would make sense before showing them to my siblings and friends. Same thing happened than with my comics creation attempt, all thrown away.

Then we had a second home computer with Windows 2000 on it, with few games, and it opened a lot of possibilities to me; I wanted to play video games for living, at the time I didn’t know it was actually a thing but the closest thing I could do was video game creator (didn’t know it was called programer or developer back then). I believed that at some point in the process I would get to test some of those creations.

Years later during high school I had to make a choice, at the time my mom wanted me to follow my grandfather footsteps so I become a surgeon, as I wasn’t about what I would do I followed that path during high school that matches the one that would lead me to IT. After I got my A levels, I didn’t really know what to do and I thought that 5 years to become an engineer was a lot. At that time I decided to go to the university in order to get a Higher national diploma of IT which would and actually did take me two years to obtain so I could secure something to be directly employed, but after I achieved that I thought “Ok, I’m 19, what’s next ?”. I didn’t hesitate long I went to an engineering school where I had the possibility to be graduated in three years. That still seemed long to me but I was just taking a year after the other. Lots of bloodshed eyes, allnighters, drinking, partying, exams and three years later that was it, I was an engineer. A few days later I had that discussion that triggered my move to London in a tech oriented startup (Lodgeo) which was the next logical step of my evolution.

Now, it’s been a year and a half I have been here, I have progressed, much more than people can imagine, a lot changed. During my second engineer school year I created a windows phone app called G-Series, quite a decent app that I released as soon as I developed it because I was so proud of it. Once released to the Windows store I got crushed by most of the users that didn’t get the app to work. Not enough testing, I had unit tests but nothing at the UI level. When I saw those critics I was pissed, all those hours spent developing, running it and bragging about how much of a computing god I am were all a waste. After a few days I decided to get back at it, I got it fixed and enhanced it, I wanted it to be perfect so nobody can criticise it. In the end, I never released that enhanced version, last month (a couple of years since I last took a look at that code) I decided to open that project and I ran it on my phone, it seemed ready to be public. I did not do any change to it, but I had a different vision, it was good enough to do what it’s supposed to do without any issues even though there was a few obscure scenarios that may never occur to an actual user that stopped me a few years back.

The reason I do not release this app then is that the market is more than crowded now with additional stuff that did not exist two years ago. At that time I realised that the perfection I was running after is not a fixed state, it’s keep on moving, failing again and again until I have something that people can use, and then make it better, more resilient to wild users. It looks like I finally tempered my vision to deliver something that works, something that people can get into their lives. That’s what I learned over the past couple of years, that continuous learning is what makes me an engineer. I am not changing into something else, I am something that needs to keep changing, evolving in order to not become stale. I am an engineer.