Auto-evaluation and meaningful software

When I was a kid, when I was asked what I wanted to do I would say Batman or fireman, I am not quite sure if it was the appeal of being some kind of hero or a will to help people. As years passed by I was taught that if I get my A levels I could do whatever it want even football player which I was dreaming about after a couple of nice seasons in my club. But a school rugby game crushed that dream after my ligaments broke during my last year of high school.

After that injury I had time to think about what I would do next, and the first thing that came to my mind was that I like computers, I like the possibilities it gives with the right tools.  You can play games, message people on the other side of the world, see things you can only dream of. At first I thought I would learn software development because it would allow me to create video games that I used to play much more than I do now. That’s how I sent my candidacy to a few schools and universities, got accepted in almost of them then picked Orsay Institute of technology that I entered at 17 and left two years, a run in the Institute office as students representative and a diploma later.

After that I wanted more, I wanted to go more in depth in the IT world, digging into complex software and algorithms, and went for 3 years of engineering at the ESGI in Paris. Those were 3 cool years, I had a lot of fun both in scholar and extra-scholar activities and I learned a lot, especially thanks to the school/work alternate system that got me in the work world before I got on the work market.

On september 2013 I was told by my then CEO at Creova that there was a company that was interested in my skillset in London, he got us in contact and I moved to London for the Lodgeo challenge about a month later. It was certainly the best decision  I could make. I met a lot of great people that had a possitive impact on me both professionally and  personally which makes me pretty happy to be there.

The main thing I learned since I started development is that the designing of a meaningful software is as hard as it is complex, and the implementation can be nightmarish. Actually, the more you try to provide a clear and intuitive user experience the harder it gets. Over the past months I realised that I want to make software development easier for others, make it easier to build nice quality code than rubbish. If coding gets easier, it will enable anyone to focus on designing robust software to solve tomorrow’s problems. I don’t pretend to do it for at a global scale, but at least if it can help the dev next desk or next door I will be happy.

Slack is fucking amazing !

I don’t know if it’s the fact that after becoming TechHub fussball champion a couple weeks ago or me conquering the Breakfast club pancakes challenge yesterday but I feel like Slack is the best thing ever for all the startups out there.

I was having some code compiling when I decided to get a go at Slack that people told me about and I did not see anything great in there. TechHub members have access to a common slack to get all the latest updates about TechHub and what happens in its community, but I never saw it as more than another social network. Creating a Slack account for Lodgeo was the first of several steps that now get me to think it is a must have for a startup.

Why, you will ask ? First of all, for small teams it is completely free. Then from 10 users on the cost is not that big considering all you can do with it (illimited integrations). Yes, Slack allows integrating with tons of tools that are for most free of use or with low costs for smaller teams. At the moment I integrated some dev oriented components such as Github or Jira to have easy-to-access heads up for any projects you want to keep an eye on, along with marketing oriented components like Intercom. For those who do not know those names well, Google is your best ally. You can even create your own Slack integration, I will look into those possibilities that seem infinite later.

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Slack homepage

I cannot convince you to use Slack for your company with words as I wasn’t when I was told about it, but if you are that’s great. You should just go and have a look by yourself, even if you don’t have a startup you can just have a look and feel that fire inside you. Ok it may be the pancakes talking here.

Finally Lodgeo V2 is coming to the Apple store

 

phone3Yes. Finally. Lodgeo V2 is coming. This is not advertisement but after months of developing that almost new product and literally tons of testing we will finally publish that major Lodgeo release that I have been mentioning in previous posts. For months and months and months we have been balancing between adding the freshness of a new user experience and maintaining the solidity that we had in the past to get an application that is both edgy and robust. Now it has been accomplished even though still perfectible, we will aim at bringing more sexy features very soon.

I cannot discuss those incoming features but good things are definitely coming and the Lodgegoers are already working on those. Here is a little video to get you waiting until the release.

 

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.