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It is rather unfortunate that in the ever changing and rapidly improving world of technology, we hardly remember the geniuses who through their inventions laid the foundation for many of the conveniences and features we now enjoy in our favorite communication devices.

This article is a tribute to the ten people who made these discoveries and an attempt to bring their achievements into the limelight.

1.      Marty Cooper

Did you know that Cooper was the first to file the patent in 1973, when he was already working for Motorola for the “radio telephone system”. The Cooper’s Law is his brainchild and to think that he himself was inspired to come out with the patent was Star Trek and its Captain Kirk is indeed revealing.

2. Mike Lazardidis
 

The original article was posted by Michael Veksler on Quora

A very well known fact is that code is written once, but it is read many times. This means that a good developer, in any language, writes understandable code. Writing understandable code is not always easy, and takes practice. The difficult part, is that you read what you have just written and it makes perfect sense to you, but a year later you curse the idiot who wrote that code, without realizing it was you.

The best way to learn how to write readable code, is to collaborate with others. Other people will spot badly written code, faster than the author. There are plenty of open source projects, which you can start working on and learn from more experienced programmers.

Readability is a tricky thing, and involves several aspects:

  1. Never surprise the reader of your code, even if it will be you a year from now. For example, don’t call a function max() when sometimes it returns the minimum().
  2. Be consistent, and use the same conventions throughout your code. Not only the same naming conventions, and the same indentation, but also the same semantics. If, for example, most of your functions return a negative value for failure and a positive for success, then avoid writing functions that return false on failure.
  3. Write short functions, so that they fit your screen. I hate strict rules, since there are always exceptions, but from my experience you can almost always write functions short enough to fit your screen. Throughout my carrier I had only a few cases when writing short function was either impossible, or resulted in much worse code.
  4. Use descriptive names, unless this is one of those standard names, such as i or it in a loop. Don’t make the name too long, on one hand, but don’t make it cryptic on the other.
  5. Define function names by what they do, not by what they are used for or how they are implemented. If you name functions by what they do, then code will be much more readable, and much more reusable.
  6. Avoid global state as much as you can. Global variables, and sometimes attributes in an object, are difficult to reason about. It is difficult to understand why such global state changes, when it does, and requires a lot of debugging.
  7. As Donald Knuth wrote in one of his papers: “Early optimization is the root of all evil”. Meaning, write for readability first, optimize later.
  8. The opposite of the previous rule: if you have an alternative which has similar readability, but lower complexity, use it. Also, if you have a polynomial alternative to your exponential algorithm (when N > 10), you should use that.

Use standard library whenever it makes your code shorter; don’t implement everything yourself. External libraries are more problematic, and are both good and bad. With external libraries, such as boost, you can save a lot of work. You should really learn boost, with the added benefit that the c++ standard gets more and more form boost. The negative with boost is that it changes over time, and code that works today may break tomorrow. Also, if you try to combine a third-party library, which uses a specific version of boost, it may break with your current version of boost. This does not happen often, but it may.

Don’t blindly use C++ standard library without understanding what it does - learn it. You look at std::vector::push_back() documentation at it tells you that its complexity is O(1), amortized. What does that mean? How does it work? What are benefits and what are the costs? Same with std::map, and with std::unordered_map. Knowing the difference between these two maps, you’d know when to use each one of them.

Never call new or delete directly, use std::make_unique and [cost c++]std::make_shared[/code] instead. Try to implement usique_ptr, shared_ptr, weak_ptr yourself, in order to understand what they actually do. People do dumb things with these types, since they don’t understand what these pointers are.

Every time you look at a new class or function, in boost or in std, ask yourself “why is it done this way and not another?”. It will help you understand trade-offs in software development, and will help you use the right tool for your job. Don’t be afraid to peek into the source of boost and the std, and try to understand how it works. It will not be easy, at first, but you will learn a lot.

Know what complexity is, and how to calculate it. Avoid exponential and cubic complexity, unless you know your N is very low, and will always stay low.

Learn data-structures and algorithms, and know them. Many people think that it is simply a wasted time, since all data-structures are implemented in standard libraries, but this is not as simple as that. By understanding data-structures, you’d find it easier to pick the right library. Also, believe it or now, after 25 years since I learned data-structures, I still use this knowledge. Half a year ago I had to implemented a hash table, since I needed fast serialization capability which the available libraries did not provide. Now I am writing some sort of interval-btree, since using std::map, for the same purpose, turned up to be very very slow, and the performance bottleneck of my code.

Notice that you can’t just find interval-btree on Wikipedia, or stack-overflow. The closest thing you can find is Interval tree, but it has some performance drawbacks. So how can you implement an interval-btree, unless you know what a btree is and what an interval-tree is? I strongly suggest, again, that you learn and remember data-structures.

These are the most important things, which will make you a better programmer. The other things will follow.

One of the biggest challenges faced by senior IT professionals in organizations is the choice of the right software vendor. In the highly competitive enterprise software industry, there are lot of vendors who claim to offer the best software for the problem and it can be really daunting to narrow down the best choice. Additionally, enterprise software costs can often run into millions of dollars thereby leaving very little margin of error. The real cost of choosing a wrong software can often result into losses much more than the cost of the software itself as highlighted by software disasters experienced by leading companies like HP, Nike etc. In such a scenario, senior IT professionals despite years of expertise can find it very difficult to choose the right business software vendor for their organization.

Here are some of the proven ways of short-listing and selecting the right business software vendor for your organization,

·         Understand and Define The Exact Need First: Before embarking on a journey to select the software vendor, it is critical to understand and define the exact problem you want the software to solve. The paramount question to be asked is what business objective does the software need to solve. Is the software required to “reduce costs” or is it to “improve productivity”? Extracting and defining this fundamental question is the bare minimum but necessary step to go searching for the right vendor. It will then form the basis of comparing multiple vendors on this very need that your organization has and will help drive the selection process going forward. The detailed approach involves creating a set of parameters that the software needs to meet in order to be considered. In fact, consider categorizing these parameters further in “must-haves”, “good to have” etc. which will help you assign relevant weights to these parameter and how the software’s fare on each of these parameters

·         Building The List of Vendors Who Meet The Need: Once you have defined your need and distilled that need into various parameters, it’s time to built the list of vendors who you think will meet the need. This is akin to a lead generation model wherein you want to identify a large enough pool and then filters your list down to the best ones. There are multiple ways of building a list of vendors and more often than not, you must use a combination of these methods to build a good enough list.

o   Use Industry Reports: We discussed the IT intelligence offered by leading industry firms Gartner and Forrester in How To Keep On Top Of Latest Trends In Information Technology. These firms based on their access to leading software vendors and CIO network publish vendor comparison research reports across specific verticals as well as specific technologies. Gartner’s Magic Quadrant and Forrester’s Wave are a very good starting point to get an insight into the best software vendors. For example, if you were looking for a CRM solution, you could look for Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for CRM and look at the vendors that make the list. These reports can be pricey but well worth the money if you are going to invest hundreds of thousands in the software. Having said that, you don’t have to trust these report blindly because how these firms define the best software may not match how you define the best software for your organization

o   Competitive Intelligence: If you are a smart professional, you are already keeping tabs of your competition. Chances are that if you are a big organization, you might see a Press Release either from your competitor or their vendor announcing the implementation of new software. Extrapolate that across 5-10 key competitors of yours and you might discover the vendors that your competitors are choosing. This gives you a good indicator that the vendors used by your competitors must be offering something right.

People are optimistic about problem solving, but in most cases this is easier said than done. How do you do it?

In Adobe’s 2016 global study on creativity in business, 96% of people identified creativity as essential to their success, both in terms of their income and the value they bring to the world. Moreover, 78% wished they were capable of thinking differently, believing that they would progress through their careers more quickly if they did.

According to Malcom Gladwell, the world's most successful people have one thing in common: they think differently from most everyone else.  In his book, How Successful People Think, Malcom opens with the following:        “Good thinkers are always in demand.  A person who knows how may always have a job, but the person who knows why will always be his boss. Good thinkers solve problems, they never lack ideas that can build an organization, and they always have hope for a better future”
Too often we attribute creative and “different” thinking to natural, innate characteristics that belong only to the lucky. The truth is that you can study how ridiculously successful people think and incorporate their approach into your world.

 

Snippets and Quotes from Tech Innovators.
 

Tech Life in Alabama

Software developers throughout Alabama, particularly in Birmingham have connections to Fortune 1000 companies in their backyard. Protective Life Corp., Health South Corp., are just a couple of the big players in town. Alabama also sports several Air Force Bases such as Maxwell, Abston Air National Guard Station in Montgomery, and Birmingham Air National Guard Base.
  To teach is to learn twice. Joseph Joubert
other Learning Options
Software developers near Montgomery have ample opportunities to meet like minded techie individuals, collaborate and expend their career choices by participating in Meet-Up Groups. The following is a list of Technology Groups in the area.
Fortune 500 and 1000 companies in Alabama that offer opportunities for IBM developers
Company Name City Industry Secondary Industry
Protective Life Corporation Birmingham Financial Services Insurance and Risk Management
HealthSouth Corporation Birmingham Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals and Biotech Hospitals
Vulcan Materials Company Birmingham Agriculture and Mining Mining and Quarrying
Regions Financial Corporation Birmingham Financial Services Banks

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the hartmann software group advantage
A successful career as a software developer or other IT professional requires a solid understanding of software development processes, design patterns, enterprise application architectures, web services, security, networking and much more. The progression from novice to expert can be a daunting endeavor; this is especially true when traversing the learning curve without expert guidance. A common experience is that too much time and money is wasted on a career plan or application due to misinformation.

The Hartmann Software Group understands these issues and addresses them and others during any training engagement. Although no IT educational institution can guarantee career or application development success, HSG can get you closer to your goals at a far faster rate than self paced learning and, arguably, than the competition. Here are the reasons why we are so successful at teaching:

  • Learn from the experts.
    1. We have provided software development and other IT related training to many major corporations in Alabama since 2002.
    2. Our educators have years of consulting and training experience; moreover, we require each trainer to have cross-discipline expertise i.e. be Java and .NET experts so that you get a broad understanding of how industry wide experts work and think.
  • Discover tips and tricks about IBM programming
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  • Save on travel expenses by learning right from your desk or home office. Enroll in an online instructor led class. Nearly all of our classes are offered in this way.
  • Prepare to hit the ground running for a new job or a new position
  • See the big picture and have the instructor fill in the gaps
  • We teach with sophisticated learning tools and provide excellent supporting course material
  • Books and course material are provided in advance
  • Get a book of your choice from the HSG Store as a gift from us when you register for a class
  • Gain a lot of practical skills in a short amount of time
  • We teach what we know…software
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