Category Archives: Professional life

C# dynamic interface implementation at runtime

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Some context first

How did I come to write a class allowing dynamic interface implementation in the first place? Ever had to work on a huge company project over the weekend? Because it is the weekend you pick up fixes what should be easy configuration changes. Then you think it will take you only a couple of hours then you will be off to the gym. I thought that yesterday and boy I mislead myself, much mislead indeed. Basically, I had to update a couple of big projects to remove fields that are null from the JSON response. All of that listening to stuff like the Ding Dong Song, Purple Lamborghini and Slipknot’s Psychosocial. On the first project I had to add a little line to have that working, so the second one should be the same right? I actually thought I would grab another task before leaving that improvised hackathon.

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Retail week hackathon 2016 aftermath

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Retail week hackathon 2016 result

Last week at the same time I was at home playing League of Legends to break away from the frustration of losing at the Retail Week hackathon 2016. I was frustrated because I was, well I still am, convinced that our idea was good enough to win. Actually, I wanted to write a post immediately after to express the mixed feelings I felt that day. On one hand, I loved the experience and the excitement of suiting up as my schools days nerd self. On the other hand I hated losing in a way that did not feel fair. I discussed about the outcome of the hackathon around and people felt like we should have won.

I still cannot believe that a system to book an hour in-store discussing with an employee about an item you see online. An employee you whose job is to sell you the said item, especially in 2016. Nowadays we are only clicks away from users reviews from all around the world. You can even have video reviews at least on youtube. I guess it makes more sense to the judges otherwise the Retail Week hackathon 2016 winner trophy would be on Poq’s trophies shelf.

When we first got the idea of the self-checkout we thought that the hardest challenge was having a working prototype. We were so wrong. We had a working prototype 4 hours before the hackathon ended. From there, we spent the rest of the time testing and fixing bugs to ensure the presentation’s success. The presentation did not go perfectly but the idea and the product were there. To be fair, I think that pretty much all the teams had a much presentation for lesser ideas which could be what cost us the gold. When the judges are involved in retail during a fashion event I guess this is key.

The self-checkout idea

We built a self checkout app that allows customers in a store to find items they want to purchase with indoor location using estimotes and geolocation to handle both indoor and outdoor app behaviour. The most interesting part is that you can scan your items so they add to your basket and when you leave the store you get charged automatically. We even built a mini-backend displaying the last paid basket.

We built a solid proof of concept even though there is some security flows that are fixable on the operational side. For the security tags, just add a device connected to the store system against which you scan your order generated QR code  to allow you unlocking the number of items you need to remove the tags from. Even further we can use security tags that would emit the value from the item barcode to enforce that someone is not unlocking something they did not buy. It is a 24 hour hackathon and still we thought about some corner cases.

We did focus on bringing people back to store. I think that we did show creativity and innovation using the latest technology. Maybe we did not manage to pass the idea to the judges but I know that this is the future of retail. Walk in a store pick what you need and go. No more queuing hassle. Basically shoplifting without the criminal aspect.

Learning and progressing

I may go next year if we put up a team again and learn from our mistake. Technical advancement is not the focus, presentation is. Coding the whole night to get a working prototype is not the focus, sugar coat is. Still it will remain a special moment to me because I did have fun. The self-checkout will be in your hands in a few years, I will do my best for it. I went, I saw, I learned, that is probably what I do best, learning. I learned things my whole life, both at school and out of it. Even now that I worked for a few years I still try to learn as many things as possible. Learning is key to evolution, it is the key to become a better version of one self.

A great way of learning is to take part in open source development, looking at other people’s code, taking on challenges. Since a few days now I am helping other developers on community based websites such as StackOverflow and Github. I had an account on both for some time but did not do much with them. The good part is that on one hand I can learn and sharpen my skills by taking on issues and at the same time I help others. Well, there is not much downside. On Tuesday I submitted my first (non-professional) pull request and it got approved and merged pretty much instantly. It was not much but it still feels nice, you can check it here.  And yesterday I got my first upvotes on a few posts on StackOverflow showing that giving time is enough sometimes.

That’s where I will end today’s post before I start spreading on random stuff, thank you for reading.

First month at Poq and Retail Week incoming

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Yesterday I completed my first month at Poq and I am quite happy with my decision to join them. It changes from prin pretty much everything. I enjoy Poq for different reasons than those I enjoyed Lodgeo at first. However the most important part is that I can express myself in terms of development. At Poq there is more room for ideas and innovation than I was used to in my previous companies. It is crazy to see that I am 25 and including internships this is already my fifth company.

I learned so much over a short period of time and I brought some of my touch to the team. The only victim so far is my Yoda programming that my coworkers wiped away after a few code reviews. I yearned to come back to C# development in a company ever since my first internship at Itop. And now I really enjoy all the improvements of C# went through since 2010. And C# 7 brings a lot in terms of making a code more concise and easier to review. Working with colleagues with a strong experience in development will impact me and lead me making it to another level.

3027105_Hackathon_VISUAL

Talking about new step, I discovered a few days ago that in two weeks from now I will participate to the Retail Week Buzz hackathon where I will represent Poq with other coworkers. It is a big deal to me as it will also be Poq’s first participation to a hackathon as a company. Actually it will also be my first hackathon which is quite exciting.

Together we will try to figure how retailers can use technology to drive online shoppers into store locations and create a truly seamless customer experience in the process. This is a big challenge considering all the things we can do using mobile and web apps not much is left for the shops. The obvious reason to go to a shop is because good that is either not available online or not working. We will prepare ourselves to bring up an idea that can make a difference in the retail world and deliver on September 15.

Until then I will slow down on my League of Legends side project that I started a few days ago. There is some progress, I have some of the key logic elements in place. Hopefully in a few months I will have a first version available.

Menorca, dawn of my Lodgegoing

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Hi everyone,

So much happened since my last post, me going in Menorca for holidays just after signing for a new company, France losing to Portugal the Euro’s final. I was watching the game with my girlfriend from a bar called Su Païssa. We were chilling and drinking, having a good time then Eder’s goal happened. I was a bit pissed by how I felt Les Bleus gave the title to Portugal but happy for Cristiano Ronaldo. This guy probably never even dreamt he would ever get a major gold with his national team, and I have the utmost respect for the hard work and dedication he puts in the game.

Hard work and dedication are values that I believe should always be rewarded or at least recognised. It does not matter that it is football or work, if values that allow moving forward are promoted a business can go forth and grow in a virtuous circle. The more recognition for one’s quality work, the more quality work will follow. It is not the only thing that matters though but it plays a big part. Those are thing that I deem essential whenever I sit behind a keyboard or stand in front of a whiteboard.

Dedication is what wakes you up every single morning and go get more and more information about the world around you so you can adapt to it and think about a way to make it better. Hard work is the application of that dedication in your work wether it is personal or commercial. Often after a lot of time offering that dedication and hard work to a party the time may come to move on to a different challenge. A challenge that may be more rewarding at multiple levels.

After a few weeks of search I was trying to find an environment that would allow me to express my skillset to the fullest. An environment where I would be able to take on challenges nobody else tackles. An environment where hardwork and dedication would be rewarded. An environment where I would be back on tracks with my planned learning curve. An environment where I would have a highly talented team to help me progress as an engineer, as a developer and as a person. I can happily announce that I found such an environment as I signed a contract with Poq last Thursday.

Now I am enjoying a well deserved holiday in Menorca with my girlfriend before going back to London for a last week at Lodgeo. Menorca, sweet little island near Majorca in Spain. Menorca where I have the best of views whenever I wake up and do not think about anything else, just clearing my head. Menorca where I am writing this article. You were free to stop reading after the Poq announcement. Bonus for the patient readers, a selfie with my girlfriend having drinks.

Menorca

Menorca

Changes, changes everywhere

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Long time, no post. Over the past month or so, there has been quite a few changes and a lot of events. So many things that I did not even get the time to get on a computer during my free time wether it was for a League of Legends game or to work on a personal project. I have been quite busy and there was a few reasons behind that.

The main one is that I decided a few weeks ago to leave Lodgeo to take on a new challenge that would be more fitting to my progression as an engineer. I had that need to make a big change as I was feeling like I was on the verge of becoming stale as an engineer, going to the gym, reading more and more about the latest technologies, mind training, meditation and so on. I even went to the color run whereas the last time I did a run back in middle school it was quite bad, now I did better so it’s ok. Even though I could feel the positive effects on me I felt like something was missing.

This weighted quite a lot when a few days after a discussion with my boss about the future projects our company has for the future seeing them not being fit for my progression, I decided to leave my job and handed my notice a couple of weeks later. Some might say it’s a stupid or arrogant move to leave without having found another position first. They may be right. Others told me it was quite bold.

It could be seen as a rather impulsive move when it was actually decision that slowly built up over the months and I did not realise until a few days before I sent that letter. Big changes are coming for me as I am also considering to move in with my girlfriend within the next months. Some might say that only time will tell if I was right in my choice, my opinion is that I am right and I will not look back, only up since this is the only way to progress.

Sometimes even if it looks foolish you need grab that parachute and jump off that comfy plane you are in so you can live some exciting adventures, my job search provided me with so many exciting possibilities, both humanly and professionally. As the Bronze LoL player I am, I can say: “Worth”.

Jean-Dominique Nguele and friends

After the Colour run, Team Giashgoldtit’