Connect back end to front end
Monday, October 10, 2005
I've never been able to explain to my mom what it is I do professionally. I actually stopped trying after the first co-op job I held at Hewlett-Packard (Then called Hewlett-Packard, Panacom Division).
It wasn't always hard to explain - In my last year of high school, I was a dishwasher
. As my title said, I washed dishes. I.e. People ate at the local Red Lobster restaurant and used plates while eating and I, as the dishwasher, cleaned them by the process of washing them: I used a little water, some soap, and voila, a clean dish.
As time ran its course, my professional activities got a bit more complicated to explain in one sentence.
However, if you do something similar to what I do and I give you the elevator pitch, you'd understand right away when I say "I implement new functionality for a FIX engine"; or "I helped port (for the Bank of Montreal) a Tango application to a J2EE architecture implementing the MVC pattern using Struts"; or "I contracted at CIBC developing the back end infrastructure of a Brio Datawarehousing application using Java (J2EE and J2SE) and Brio APIs."
I used to be the guy at chic parties explaining what I do for a living. In between the caviar scooping and the martini drinking, most people glazed over and some were polite enough to node affirmatively and kept asking for more details.
I now don't like to talk about it too much and say "I do computer stuff." To which answer you can get various type of responses - The most common ones I get are as follows:
- "Ah, You are programmer."
I cringe to hear that - I do program, but I'm not a "programmer." But, I node, smile and say "Yes, I am a programmer." Inside of course, I keep wondering what's taking so long to get my Manhattan made and I also keep counting in my head the many specifications I've written and the few systems I've architected, etc., etc.
- "Ah, you work with computers - I have this problem with my computer. How do I fix...?"
To which, I say: "I heard about your problem, but I do the other type of computer stuff." I think its polite and vague enough to continue on with the more interesting topics: how about those Brazilians in the qualifying rounds for the World Cup?
Mind you that I don't like to talk about what I do, not because I'm not proud of my chosen field, because I am, but I don't like to bore people anymore: It's my gift to society.
And speaking of society, we are a society of specialization - At some point, each of us will be so specialized that we will know nothing about anything outside of our field. More or less, like the PhD joke: they eventually know so much about one thing, that they will end up knowing nothing about anything else :)
So, what am I working on now? For this one time, I can actually explain it with a picture: if you look at the red squares in the image below (taken from swift.com
), that is exactly what I'm currently working on:
The more elaborate answer:
- There is some client that is used to place orders in this massive world wide network of computers - I haven't changed much in this application, but I've used it to do some testing of a few changes that I made in #2.
- FIXConnector is a C++ application that serves as a bridge between a FIX Engine and the yellow cloud called "SWIFTNet Link." This is an existing application that our team is now encharged of updating and fixing.
This past week, a colleague of mine and I had to figure out a way to test some new functionality that was added by someone else. For obvious reasons, I can't go into details, but suffice to say that it was a change that modified some communication stuff between the yellow cloud and the blue boxes - Extremely interesting stuff.
- SWIFTNet FIX Hub, is a complex application that does a lot of things. Among them, handling messages that implement the FIX Protocol - In this application, I actually made a few changes to all the FIX protocol versions (4.0, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, and 4.4)
Anyway, if your mom or grandma asked you about your daily work, how would you explain to her what do you for a living? Considering that your job title didn't exist 10 years ago. Or that your industry hasn't been around for more than 3 years or so (I.e. Wi-Fi or VoIP anyone?).