Oct 30, 2008

Benefits of working from home - VI - Mange my time


Have you ever needed to ask (embarrassed) your boss to let you leave early so you could go to the doctor or to address some personal issue?

Well, not have to do this is another benefit of working from home :) as (usually) you are in charge of managing your own time!

Of course this is not an "all or nothing situation". Even when I had a "traditional" job my bosses were kind (or intelligent) enough (I bet they were both :) to let me deal with my personal issues during my working time if that were necessary.

My point is that nowadays all I have to do is to get organized so I don't miss any meeting, pair session and/or a dead line and everything is fine :). It's even better as I can choose the best time (a time in which I'll get less traffic, that is not to hot, etc.) to do my personal stuff.

Thats it! Even though being far from a comprehensive list of the advantages of working from home, I finally reached the last (but not least) advantage I wanted to blog about. In the next posts I'll talk about some drawbacks.

Do you have any other advantages in mind? Please, share with us!



PDC Talk: The future of C#


A very interesting PDC talk (by Anders Hejlsberg) about the future of C#.

As a teaser, just some subjects covered in the this talk:

  • More dynamic constructs
  • Optional / Named arguments
  • Concurrency
If you work with C#/.Net you can't miss this one!


Oct 22, 2008

Never give up

At least this seems to be the main approach of hackers.

In the last couple weeks I received at least 7 messages from the same sender, with the exact same contents:

It's in portuguese (at least) and says something like: "Hey dude, here are the photos!".

What photos? I don't remember asking any friend called "gabriel" to send me any photo ;) even more with supposedly annexed photos linked to files like "fotos_237.com" on a very suspicious server (at least the guy wrote my name correctly)! No thanks !!!

In this same time range I got other "phishing" emails like:

Another email in Portuguese, pretending to be from hotmail trying to foolish me to get in panic and click on a link. 

This one (also in portuguese) is supposedly a "Virtual Card" from a girl named "Carla". It even includes a "copyright" notice in the end of the email.

Well, maybe may mommy would be tempted to clink on these links but not me. Anyway, this kind of threat is getting more sophisticated as time passes so pay attention where you put your mouse :).



Oct 21, 2008

Oct 17, 2008

Benefits of working from home - Part V - Show me the money


I've always the feeling that my investment in computer hardware/software was somewhat a waste of money; you see, usually I get a pretty descent machine and stick with it for at least 3 years; so every 3 years I spend a lot of money to get a new one and I didn't get a direct return from my investment (not to mention that most of the day it keeps turned off), and to be fair, I should take internet connection fees into account.

Since I started working from home I may say that this is the first time I am getting a direct¹ (and measurable) return from this investment. It's even better, now it's easier to justify new hardware, software and other gadgets to the financial department, i.e, my wife :).

In other words, now my computer generates income and I feel compelled to invest more money to keep it up to date.


¹ I mean, direct, because I always studied a lot in my home computers so, at least indirectly, they always gave me a financial return (even tough it is hard to measure how much return I got).

Oct 15, 2008

Running Sharpen tests faster...

As you probably already know :), Sharpen is a tool (developed by db4o) that aims at easing development efforts by translating java source code into C#. This tools make it easier to provide native solutions in either Java/.Net platforms.

While talking about how to run Sharpen test suite in this post I told that I'd show how to improve these tests startup time.

After a long wait, here it is. So let's go.

If you tried to run Sharpen tests you probably noticed that whenever you launch them a new Eclipse instance starts also (with it's full GUI) and this is one of the culprits for these tests to take longer than necessary to run. The good news is that it's (relatively) easy to configure Eclipse to not display any GUI at all (since all feedback will be given through the main Eclipse window).

To do this, once you checkout all required projects from db4o SVN, just Right Click sharpen.ui.tests project and select Run As / Run Configurations menu.
Now, in "Run Configuration" dialog,  right click on "JUnit Plug-in Test" and select New.

If you followed the previous steps, "Run all tests ...." should contain the right value (sharpen.ui.tests). Just make sure that you have the latest JUnit selected on "Test Runner" dropdown.

We are almost there... :)

The next step is to click on "Main" tab (1), then select "Run as Application" checkbox and select "[No Application] - Headless mode" in the dropdown (2) and finally, click "Run" button (3).

That's it :)

Notice that now sharpen test suite starts faster.

Many thanks to a great friend (Rodrigo) for sharing this information with me.

See you.

Oct 13, 2008

Benefits of working from home - Part IV - DIY


How many times a developer approached you to ask something he/she could have
easily find by himself have he/she bothered to spend 10 minutes to do a google search?

And let's be fair, how many times you feel compelled to do the same? I have to confess that even being a firm believer of
"search before asking" principle, sometimes I do find myself doing the opposite: asking before looking for information.

And this lead us to this post subject: Working from home gave me more incentive to do "the right thing" :), i.e, to look for solutions prior to asking the guy next to me - after all there's no such thing as the "guy next to me" :)

At db4o we do exchange lots of information/knowledge but since we are not at the same room (and in most cases we are at different timezones also) it's more practical to do a quick search and try to fix/solve issues by myself. Only after spending some time in my own research I think about asking the gurus.

This attitude (searching before asking) leads to a better understanding of the subject and other developers will not be interrupted to explain. Of course (IMHO) there are times (and subjects) that requires someone with more knowledge to guide other developers.

Anyway, I do believe that the process of explaining some subject may help you to get more insight about it and I do appreciate helping other teammates to improve their knowledge (Nowadays I'm learning more than helping :).

What do you think?


Oct 11, 2008

Benefits of working from home - Part VIII - Working Time

One really great advantage (IMHO) of "traditional work style" is that usually you have very clear separation between work time/free time. Basically your working day finishes as soon as you get out of the office (ok, I known, in development, many times the solutions come to our heads at home :).

Working from home is a very different experience and you can find yourself working a lot more than you'd expect/are willing to :(. The problem (again, IMHO) is that it's hard to separate the matters; you see, the work is there, you are there, and the rest you can guess.

Of course other factors like your productivity, how your manager and you decide on what to do and how long it is expected to last, etc. also plays an important role and can turn your working experience more pleasant or more like a nightmare.

In my specific case, I participate in deciding which tasks I'll be working on every week so I am the only one to be blamed when my working days extends a little bit.

And theres an aggravating factor: I am kinda addicted to computers/programming and sometimes I get so excited to see the outcome of my code that I can't just stop :)

So if you are going to work from home, pay attention to these pretty common pitfalls to avoid getting trapped into them.

See you.


Oct 7, 2008

Benefits of working from home - Part III - Time efficiency

In my last post I was talking about not being required to commute to work and I pointed some related benefits.

Today, I'm going to talk about some more benefits (directly related to the previous one), so let's go.

As I explained in the previous post I used to spend 2 hours in traffic; well, since I started working from my home this was not an issue any more and not wasting my time on traffic jams made it possible to do other things (like sleep more, post more frequently, etc. :) and spend less money with gas, but (IMHO), more important than all, it made it possible to spend more time with my family.

Prior to joining db4o, I used to wake up at 7:00, take a short breakfast and drive to my work so I rarely joined my wife/daughter at breakfast. At lunch time I was not with them again (since it would take me 1 hour to go to home and another one to get back).

Now, even though I usually wake up at the same time, instead of having a (lonely) fast breakfast and going to my work I just go down to my office and start working (usually I put may email/web reading up to date) then 1 hour latter my daughter wakes up and we (I, my wife and my daughter) can have breakfast together. Them, at lunch time, we can have lunch together again :)

Pretty nice!

At the end of the day when my daughter returns from school I'm finishing my working day and we can spend a little more time together.

Well, as an interesting tv ad says:

Have a good breakfast: U$ 20,00; getting out to have a good meal: U$ 50,00; to be with your beloved ones at these moments: has no price! :)
See you!


Oct 5, 2008

Back to Vista x64


Some time ago (sometime around 10/2006) I installed Windows Vista (a release candidate at that time) on my home machine in order to "try" it (to be sincere I've installed various Vista beta/release candidates).

Performance was not impressive but since I'm a software developer (and I didn't used the machine to work anyway) I decided that it worths to be able to experiment with new API / functionality so I kept it.

Some time after that it was released so I got a copy and installed in the same machine.

On 10/2007 I joined db4o and started to work from my home which means that my machine now plays an important role in my development productivity and I decided that I'd rather go with Windows XP (x86 or 32 bits) again (due to the performance impacts I got with Vista x64).

Well, one year passed and I got a new machine (a pretty fast one, lets say) and so I decided to give Vista x64 a try again.

In the first days I do got some BSODs (which made me feel frustrated) but after spending some time searching I found some suggestions regarding memory configurations; after applying such changes (I just set the times after memory manufacturer specifications and increased memory voltage by 0,1 volts) it became stable (no BSOD since them). 

I can say that I'm satisfied up to now; no hardware or software conflicts, performance is pretty good (much faster than my previous machine running Windows XP - I know, XP would run even faster on this machine).

See you.


Oct 3, 2008

Benefits of working from home - Part II : No need to commute

In the previous post I just said I'd think aloud about advantages/drawbacks of working from home.

Let's take the half-full approach and present the advantages first starting with not needing to commute.

Well, before joining db4o I used to live in São Paulo - Brazil, so this point is pretty easy one ;)

Anyone that knows just a little bit about São Paulo knows that it has a very bad traffic! Usually, in the days that the traffic was not that bad, it used to took me no less than 1 hour from my house to my work place (and I was fortunate enough to not live that far from my job). So 2 hours of my life was spent in a car every

Also, not being required to commute (and so avoiding traffic jams) made my expenses with car maintenance
drop a little bit and getting involved in a car crash less likely.

As a bonus of not commuting I don't have to find a place to park in a, usually, crowed place :)

So, IMHO this is a huge advantage.

The next post will be closely related to this one but I'll talk about my working time.

PS: Do you work from home? What are your opinion about the subject?

See you!


Oct 1, 2008

Benefits of working from home - Part I - The dream job

As I posted here, some time ago (to be more precise, exactly one year ago) I joined db4o and started to work from my home; that was not an easy decision/move but (thanks God and some really good friends also) I took it.

Since one year has passed, I think it is a good time to review this journey and rethink whenever its paying off or not.

In the next posts I'll discuss (shortly) some advantages and some shortcomings (from my point of view, of course :) regarding working from home. The order in which these topics are presented has no particular meaning.

Keep in mind that my opinion is largely influenced by the place I live in, the environment I am inserted into and the kind of work I am involved with, so, what I see as an disadvantage you may well see as an advantage :). Don't worry, we are not supposed to agree on everything.

Another important point is that some teleworkers (as people that work from home are called) usually do work "part time" in a real office; that's not my case; I am working 100% of the time from my home and the nearest fellow is at least 100 Km (and the others are 1000 Km) away.

To start with, here are a couple of interesting articles to read.

Hope you find this information useful/fun :)

See you.


[edit: added link to following posts]

  1. This post
  2. No need to commute
  3. Time Efficiency
  4. DIY
  5. Show me the money
  6. Manage your own time
  7. Alone in the office
  8. Working Time
  9. Infrastructure
  10. Epilogue