Conversation with a Consultant

Posted on November 4, 2011 by Brian Jaress
Tags: people, work

This is a chat log in which names have been replaced with titles and timestamps have been removed.

Brian Jaress: Oh, I had a question for you that I forgot to ask.
Brian Jaress: [Project Manager] said that you would be helpful because of your experience,
Brian Jaress: and you also mentioned having a lot of experience,
Brian Jaress: but I don’t actually know what type of experience it is you have.
[Consultant]: The kind of experience that makes me grit my teeth when I see a lack of design insight.
[Consultant]: Answer something for me seriously.
[Consultant]: Do you consider yourself to be a senior level developer, mid level developer, or junior level developer?
[Consultant]: (hard blows here, I’m trying to be “on the level”.)
[Consultant]: so far, (to be fair) I am not engaging in a deep level.
Brian Jaress: I don’t consider myself to have a level.
Brian Jaress: Do you mean visual design, software architecture, or code level design?
Brian Jaress: I’m trying to find out what type of experience it is that you’re offering.
Brian Jaress: Are you an experience coder, and experienced project manager, or an
[Consultant]: I am letting you carry on through your existing development practices as you have a general level of competency and we really need to get the job done.
Brian Jaress: experienced something else?
[Consultant]: Well, if you worked for me directly, I would mentor you into being an excellent programmer. I think you could be an excellent programmer, though I think you have just admitted, you may not be completely familiar with what that means.
[Consultant]: As it is, such a thing is out side of our scope
[Consultant]: I honestly don’t say what is on my mind because A) I don’t believe you are of a mindset to fully appreciate what I have to offer out side the scope of getting a specific task done
[Consultant]: B) Adding significant design insight actually requires a deep philosophical discussion regarding the nature of code, the nature of a task, and the nature of the business drive behind the requirements of that task
[Consultant]: its sort of a rabbit hole.
[Consultant]: I think you’re intelligent, capable
[Consultant]: but not deeply familiar with programtic theory
Brian Jaress: It’s fine that you make decisions about how much you want to say.
[Consultant]: or with a wide enough professional background to make certain things intuitive
[Consultant]: :)
Brian Jaress: But I was looking for some thing like “My experience is in writing code” or
[Consultant]: ahah
Brian Jaress: “My experince is in project management.”
[Consultant]: my experience is in writing code, building teams who write code, architecting complex frameworks in code
[Consultant]: and driving business interest in good technology that depends on code
[Consultant]: I work at many levels.
[Consultant]: I love technology
[Consultant]: I love code
[Consultant]: I love programmatic theory
[Consultant]: I love the philosophy of code
[Consultant]: I love the nature of efficient elegant code to solve complex business requirements
[Consultant]: code to me is like spoken language
[Consultant]: some speak like they are illiterate
[Consultant]: some speak like they are poets
[Consultant]: some speak with a general effeciency to be clear and concise
[Consultant]: I think you are a practical coder (for instance). I appreciate your ability to get things done
[Consultant]: I think you could improve your design effeciency. I really like engaging on that level. If we had the time, opportunity, and your interest, I could make suggestions that would make you excellent in ways that if I described them your current (acceptable) coding style would make you feel awkward :)
[Consultant]: I’ve been programming since I was about 9ish
[Consultant]: in highschool I would skip class just to screw around with languages
[Consultant]: by my twenties I would spend days, sometimes with little sleep obsessing about what I could do next with code
[Consultant]: then I moved into automating unix environments, later writing complex applications for large data companies (like American Express)
[Consultant]: after that I became an IT Director for a telecommunications company
[Consultant]: I built a call center in India
[Consultant]: that was fun
[Consultant]: so, I code.
[Consultant]: though these days more design
[Consultant]: and business side stuff
[Consultant]: (happens eventually)
[Consultant]: so that’s my story, in brief.
Brian Jaress: Are you going to be working on our code?
[Consultant]: I would like to get more involved with design direction.
[Consultant]: I would rather not be involved in the day to day side of development
[Consultant]: I like to implement complex features from time to time
[Consultant]: but there is really something to having someone who A) is an advanced developer B) not actually spending all their time hacking out issues or features.
[Consultant]: I tend to use my experience now in a more architectural perspective.
[Consultant]: I can see things that you will spin your wheels with for instance way before you actually start any programming
[Consultant]: I know what will cause problems before looking at the API (having done so many different kinds of transactions for instance)
[Consultant]: I know that establishing a “Context” (programing philosophy concept, I don’t know how familiar you are with “ideology” that sounds funny but its serious stuff and will make you a ninja)
[Consultant]: that sounds fun doesn’t it? Not just being a programmer, but being a programmer ninja?
[Consultant]: (lol, being a little funny, but I’m sure you’re aware that there are some serious degrees of coder skills out there in the world)
[Consultant]: …I know that establishing a Context is a much better way of customizing the embedded experience than simply passing a movie ID.
[Consultant]: Consider that a context may have one or move movie ID associated with it (say, when a site wants to lock down our widget to just their titles)
[Consultant]: and associating a content specific newsletter, or other provider specific nuances goes better with a “context” than a specific title (for instance)
[Consultant]: This is something I would have brought up and thought through in great detail at first mentioning of the business need.
[Consultant]: (I’m just bringing up something we referred to today, you handled it in a way acceptable to the requirement. With a little pre-planning you could have made it work in a larger way with about the same amount of effort.)
[Consultant]: …from there I would still like to work with you (or other developers)
[Consultant]: for actually getting the classes, and the logic, and the records all doing what they’re supposed to.
[Consultant]: In times like this, I would like to knock out a few issues
[Consultant]: If I could A) build in my environment (which I haven’t really spent time correcting, it may be something small…) and B) check in to the source tree
[Consultant]: I would be taking care of the simpler items (building my code base familiarity) while you guys focus on the parts your deeply invested in.
[Consultant]: Without knowing [Senior Advisor] deeply, I would say I’m his counterpart
Brian Jaress: Are you not able to do check-ins?
[Consultant]: He seems to have a lot of excellent development and business technology experience. I’m that guy for the [Client] side.
[Consultant]: no, still not able
Brian Jaress: I don’t know what permissions [Senior Advisor] gave you, I thought you had that.
[Consultant]: [Senior Advisor] said he gave me access, but it still doesn’t work.
Brian Jaress: Is it a permission problem.
Brian Jaress: ?
[Consultant]: I’ve emailed him about it, he may not have gotten back to it
[Consultant]: When I check in it makes me authenticate
[Consultant]: I use the same username/password as when I configured the client
[Consultant]: which allows me to check out
[Consultant]: but it doesn’t like that
[Consultant]: it just presents the login box again and again until it fails
Brian Jaress: Is this through a GUI client, then?
[Consultant]: TortoiseSVN is my client
[Consultant]: (Windows)
[Consultant]: check out works fine
[Consultant]: check in fails
Brian Jaress: You might want to try with the command-line client.
Brian Jaress: Even if it still doesn’t work, the error might be more informative.
Brian Jaress: You can also email me the connection info you’re using.
Brian Jaress: [Project Hosting] is a little funny sometimes, and I would
[Consultant]: okay, I’m getting the grails development environment set up on a linux virtualbox (to see if I can resolve this build issue)
Brian Jaress: not be shocked if something about the URL, for example
[Consultant]: I’ll try that
Brian Jaress: causes it to allow check-outs but not check-ins.
[Consultant]: all right, that might be helpful.