Category Archives: Office Life

Troubleshooting Tools to Give Thanks to this Thanksgiving

thanskgiving

[Once a week I snoop around the office, bothering my coworkers with questions on what they’re reading, listening to, consuming, or any other random inquiries I’d like to subject them to. Sometimes they even respond.]

Debug, de-stress. This week we’re giving thanks to these troubleshooting tools that keep us sane. We chose troubleshooting tools not for the alliteration value (though, that was a happy coincidence), but to find time-saving ways you can stay on top of your coding projects this holiday season. See below as we show our appreciation for developer tools we can’t live without. What other tools do you use to debug and de-stress? Tell us about them in the comments section below.

Chad, Sr. Sales Engineer

Fiddler2 helps make debugging web service calls easy.

Paula, Director of HR

Don’t even need to think about that one – System Restore Manager!

Ozgur, Development

I’d definitely list Fiddler and WireShark as some of the top troubleshooting tools that I am thankful for.

Aviva, VP of Technical Services

I mostly use the debugger in Visual Studio or custom code I write myself. Although it’s not a development tool, Procmon can be helpful, for monitoring activities on the filesystem and registry.

Stephanie, Technical Services

Total Commander is great. The program does a ton of stuff, but I really like its Continue reading Troubleshooting Tools to Give Thanks to this Thanksgiving

5 Ways to Make Programming Less of a Nightmare

Credit: HubSpot

Programming can be scary.  There are plenty of things that can go wrong, from haunting errors to seemingly supernatural result inconsistencies.   To help keep the ghosts in the machine from getting the best of you, here are some tips my co-workers and I have picked up over the years.

 

 1)  Make a rough draft

Just like writing a paper, programming requires some forethought.  When you’re given a new programming problem it is always tempting to start coding right away, especially if you are in a rush.  However, taking the time to make an outline of your program first will save you lots of headaches later.  Even if it is a seemingly simple problem, think about what methods and helper methods you are going to need, what variables they will take, and how they will interact.  It is generally easier to debug code errors than logic errors, so work out the logic as much as possible before starting to code.

2) Listen to music

Having also tried TV, audio books, and silence, the best way I have found to stay productive while coding is to listen to some upbeat music.  It seems I am not alone in this opinion, as the internet has many playlists labeled specifically for programming. (In fact, we have a few of our own you might like.)  Music drowns out background noise but can easily be tuned out, keeping you focused and helping the time go faster.  So to prepare for your next coding marathon just put on your headphones.  Before you know it you will be halfway through your code and typing in beat to the music.      Continue reading 5 Ways to Make Programming Less of a Nightmare

Meet the Team: Seth

Hello and welcome to our Meet the Team series, in which we aim to give you deeper insight into the minds and personalities of those who make up this eclectic, close-knit group. We are developers, marketers, and technical support engineers, and at work we craft everything from Microsoft reporting APIs to mobile email applications. And outside of work? Let’s just say racing against the machine during hackathons, building architecturally sound beer towers during retros, and paddling down the Charles during the warmer months are simply the beginning.

SethMeet Seth – our quality control man, subscriber of (and living) This Developer’s Life, most closely personified by a strong spring lager, and powerless to the smile a clever line of code brings.

1. What do you do?

I’m a software engineer on the OfficeWriter team, so I spend my days hunting bugs, implementing cool new features, and trying to come up with new products.

2. What are you listening to right now?

Lake Street Dive – Clear a Space

3. If you could build any app, what would it be and why?

A contact de-duplication/management app that actually works well.

Also a bus/train app that just shows all departure times at the nearest stop…why do I need to choose a stop? My phone knows where I am!

4. When you were 5 what did you want to be and why?

In my early years I wanted to be a nature and wildlife photographer, working for National Geographic.  I was always going around taking pictures of landscapes and animals.  On our family trips to national parks, my younger brother and I would always get as close as we could to the wildlife (including a grizzly bear once) to get a good photo.

5. If you were a beer what would you be and why? Continue reading Meet the Team: Seth

Fall Career Fairs: Have You Got What it Takes?

SoftArtisans TeamComing to a college near you.  We’re seeking inventive college students with object-oriented programming under their belts, a penchant for amassing new skills and those who don’t mind a few BBQs.  Think you’ve got the coding chops to work in this dynamic office? Then we want to meet you. If your school is not listed below, drop us a note, and tell us why you dream in C#.  Links to projects, coding samples, and other ways to showcase your craft are the best way to catch our eye (wink, wink).

Internships | Co-ops | Full-time.  We’re big on hands-on learning and career development. In years past we’ve had interns work on product demos, pick up a new programming language, and share their expertise on our blog. Your work will have a direct impact on the company and product. Interested? Stop by our booth to chat with one of our engineers!

Who we are:  A close-knit, dynamic, and agile team.  We work hard: Crafting artful code while solving challenging problems. We play hard: Office foosball, board games, cookouts, and company retreats. We’re encouraged to develop our skill sets by attending conferences and classes.

What we do: We aim to make business people more productive through all of our products. As a leading developer of Microsoft Office reporting software, we build scalable enterprise solutions.  Our products are OfficeWriter (an API for reading and writing Microsoft Office documents) and FileUp (a secure and easy-to-use File Transfer API).

Find out more about internship and career opportunities at SoftArtisans and how to join the SA Crew (and get in on those BBQs) by interacting with us on all of the usual social media hotspots or visiting one of the career fairs below.  Looking forward to seeing you then!

FALL CAREER FAIRS

Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

12:30 – 4:30 pm

Rochester Institute of Technology

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

11 am – 4 pm

@RITCareerFairs

RPI

Friday, September 27, 2013

10 am – 3:30 pm Continue reading Fall Career Fairs: Have You Got What it Takes?

#Inbound13: Seek Out the Things That Might Not Work

#Inbound13
Be Remarkable
Seek Out the Things That Might Not WorkOne Republic

The sweeping theme of this year’s Inbound conference by HubSpot, a conference dedicated to marketing professionals, was “Be Remarkable.” A show-stopping lineup of speakers and classes covered how to better manage and be remarkable within your inbound marketing. Last year, I felt there was a heavy emphasis on goal-setting in relation to your marketing efforts, whereas this year the emphasis seemed to lie heavily on context – the idea of knowing where your buyers are in the marketing funnel and then creating personalized content accordingly. This ties back to HubSpot’s core emphasis on customer-centricity and keeping the customer and their needs at the center of all of your marketing efforts. Delight and surprise. Using that school of thought, you will create relationships with your audience/customers, who ideally will become advocates for your brand and product because you provided them with something of value.

The one downside of the conference was the long lines to attend the classes the first day. However, in true HubSpot fashion, they listened to the attendees gripes and opened up more conference space along with repeating some of the popular classes. HubSpot’s main focus is on education – educating and empowering the customer. With a ton of classes and three days worth of learning, it’s easy to get lost in the swamp of information, which is why I did the heavy lifting for you. To better manage the onslaught of information and help myself put it into context (See what I did there? Heavy sigh. I know, bear with me. No more cheesy references. I promise.), I like to look for patterns and group items into categories. These were the large umbrellas I found the talks and classes fell under, along with the big ideas to take with you from the conference.

Inbound13: Nate Silver

Overarching Themes of the Conference:

Context:

Content is a staple to your marketing, bar none. However, context is not to be overlooked. It is the framework upon which you build your content. Context allows you to take into consideration the buyer’s experience at every stage in the buyer’s decision model. Use context to be a resource. Just as HubSpot is a resource for marketers and marketing strategies, so too should you be for your customers. You need to keep your customer at the center of your marketing. “Engaging with context” is key to building those customer relationships. In other words, you need to take into account where that person is in the buying cycle, how they have interacted with your site, if they want to talk to you right now or if they are just researching. You need to take into account who they are, what their needs are, what content they’re interested in, what information they’re seeking, and how they want to be interacted with. You can’t treat every person the same, because everyone is different, with differing needs.

Customer-centricity:

This falls within the realm of providing context to your content marketing. Put your customers at the center of your marketing efforts. Solve for the Customer (SFTC) was a phrase which popped up over the course of the three-day conference. In other words solve for the customer versus solving for the transaction. In the algebraic sense, solving for “X” puts “X” at the focus of the equation. That is what you are basing all of your moves around, all of your content around. Instead of approaching the marketing/sales process as a transaction, as a means-to-an-end, approach it with the customer at the center.

Work/Life Balance:

We are multitaskers. We are constantly innovating. With so many news sources and fragmentation of media/products, we’re challenged to be on the forefront of these trends. With the abundance of information and ease of access, there is a fear you will miss out on the latest-and-greatest. Arianna Huffington, Editor in Chief of the Huffington Post, as well as several Bold Talk speakers addressed this FOMO (Fear of Missing Out, for all those out of their teenage years). Connection is at the core of what we do. However, Arianna Huffington said we are in a constant state of motion, running ourselves ragged in an attempt to keep up. Huffington along with several Bold Talk speakers emphasized the need to disconnect and reconnect with your wellbeing so that you can grow and use your leadership skills to your full potential. By first taking care of yourself, you are better able to lead and care for others.Inbound13: Arianna Huffington

Failure is Inevitable:

Failure is part of the process. Best selling author and renowned speaker, Seth Godin, addressed this in his keynote. He said, “If you’re not willing to fail, you’re not willing to succeed.” Leaders/CEOs need to foster an environment where failure is accepted as part of the road to success. Everything is built upon everything else, just like Jenga, as another conference speaker pointed out. You learn from your mistakes. Godin gave the example of a company that sunk $2 million into an unsuccessful marketing project. The CEO’s response? I just spent $2 million dollars learning what didn’t work. Now let’s learn from it and find what does. This way of thinking about a project was exactly something our CEO told me. Now, don’t get me wrong. This does not mean Continue reading #Inbound13: Seek Out the Things That Might Not Work

Monday Melodies

In preparation for our webinar this Friday on music trends, we put together a Monday playlist to give you a peek inside what’s playing at our desks and through our headphones.

Haven’t registered for the webinar yet? What are you waiting for? Find out how we’re using music data to show you ways to make your Excel reports hit all the right notes.

[hs_action id=”5329″]

Intern Diaries: Summer Send-Off

IMG_1841

A BIG thank-you to our summer interns for all of your contributions you’ve made to our products and team these past few months. You will be missed. Best of luck in your classes!

Reflections and Advice:

Shane: 1. The team is more important than the product. I’d rather be on an amazing, supportive team working on a boring project than work on an amazing project with an unappreciative team that doesn’t trust me. While I wasn’t sure what I was going to be working on this summer, I knew I was choosing a supportive team, and that has really differentiated my internship from a lot of my friends’ internships.  2. a. Look early. There is nothing wrong with starting the search in September. Most companies already have their listings up and you’ll look pretty on top of things when you’re applying in the Fall. In fact, when you get your internship in October or November, you don’t have to worry for the rest of the year, while your friends start stressing in February and March.

b. Figure out what you’re looking for. I like to think of internships like how I think of classes. You don’t sign up for any classes within your major. You pull out the registration book and think about what you’re interested in or what you need to learn more about. Similarly, Continue reading Intern Diaries: Summer Send-Off

Staff Picks: What are you reading?

Once a week I snoop around the office, bothering my coworkers with questions on what they’re reading, listening to, consuming, or any other random inquiries of which I’d like to subject them. Sometimes they even respond.

The question:
1. What did you read this weekend/this morning?
 
The answers:

Dan, CEO of SoftArtisans

1. List of ingredients on my Entenmann’s raspberry danish twist.

David, CEO of Riparian Data

1. “Who’s in Charge?” by Michael Gazzaniga

Gazzaniga is a neuroscientist explaining how we make decisions

2. A ton of articles on encryption: Elliptic Curves, Learning with Errors, BitMessage

Aviva, VP of Technical Services

1. Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

Nick, IT Admin

1. I’ve been reading about Salt, a new type of configuration management tool.

Claire, Marketing and Business Development
1. I read The Making of 158 Marimba by Jacklin Studios
Kelly Jacklin created what became the iPhone’s default text message alert sound in 1999, using LISP, Perl, and MIDI.
  Continue reading Staff Picks: What are you reading?

The Intern Diaries: Madalyn [Part 2]

This is the fourth installment of our Intern Diaries series, wherein each week our lovely interns give you the inside scoop on what being a programming intern at a high-tech startup is really like. Read the first and second post of the series or listen to this group’s first podcast.

Need to catch up? Read the first part of Madalyn’s 7 step guide to getting a tech internship here.

perfman_hr_job_interview STEP 4: TIME TO IMPRESS

You get that wonderful email, that inspiring phone call: Would you like to come in for an interview? Hooray! Then the nerves hit. Oh no, interview! This is all that’s between you and that internship now. Just remember, don’t freak out. You’ve already risen to the top of everyone at the career fair. Your resume was put on the top of that giant resume pile. The company already strongly believes they want YOU. Why do they think that? Your people skills impressed them at the career fair; they were awed by your dazzling resume; and they have reason to believe (based on your school projects and past experiences) that you’ve got what it takes to work on a team and write good, quality code. But they don’t want a code monkey. They want an engineer. Someone who is thoughtful, and thinks deeply about the code they design.

So you got the interview. The company has thrown the first pitch and you’re up to bat. Unfortunately, as it has been true for me in the past, whenever I feel I’ve bombed the interview I’ve been offered the job, and whenever I think I’ve nailed it I’ve been rejected. So there is no sure-fire way to tell if you’ve done Step 4 correctly when you walk out of that interview room. (Aside from them offering you the job right then and there—which almost never happens).

So you’ll probably be nervous. And guess what? So will the company. They’ll be nervous for the awkwardness that is meeting new people and not knowing what to expect. Your interviewer(s) will be worried about you not being a good fit and having to interview yet ANOTHER candidate. So instead of reading hundreds of tech interview books (which can help with brushing up on those technical questions), here’s what you do:

Keep in mind that your interviewers don’t care all that much if you get the (technical) answer to every question right. They want to find someone who has good team and collaboration skills. They want to hire someone who can think through problems and who doesn’t give up. This is what you have to show them. Think out-loud; talk through problems. Show them your strategies. Draw diagrams on the whiteboard if it helps you (as a visual person, I’m always doing this, both in and outside of interviews). What you’re doing is letting them know you are not just some “computer science student.” You are a problem-solver. And that’s what really matters.

 STEP 5: FOLLOW UP

You’re done with the interview, and now the stress is over. Make sure you email your interviewers and thank them all for their time. It’s most likely that your interview Continue reading The Intern Diaries: Madalyn [Part 2]

The Intern Diaries: Madalyn

This is the third installment of our Intern Diaries series, wherein each week our lovely interns give you the inside scoop on what being a programming intern at a high-tech startup is really like. Read the first and second post of the series or listen to this group’s first podcast.

Madalyn

Hello! My name is Madalyn Coryea and I am in intern this summer at Riparian Data in Watertown, MA. I am heading into my senior year at Worcester Polytechnic Institute as a Computer Science major & Digital Art minor, and this is my second technical internship.

One of the best parts about having a computer science internship is that you get to experience working at a real company on a real team of software developers. At both of my internships I’ve been able to work at companies where I write real code that directly influences the product. This is something I especially look for when I apply for an internship. If you’re like me, and want to be a key player in “the big picture” at your company, make sure you get to know what you’ll be doing at your interviews. If you don’t ask, you won’t know what the company expects from its interns.

Key phrases to look out for are: “We have a summer project that we put the interns on,” or “We have an exciting program planned for you!” Usually this means that the company doesn’t have interns working with their real product. Sometimes these companies are just trying to establish relations with interns to make them full-time employees when they’re done with college. Other times, they are just trying to fill an “intern-quota” to make the company look better. Personally, I would feel like this is wasted time. I want to be treated like a developer, and I want to be a contributor to the software. To avoid getting stuck with a gimmicky internship, I usually want to hear, “We need developers to work on our product.” It’s worked out for me so far! And a great part about being a Computer Science intern is that we are in high demand. This is good news for us! It means we can have our selection of companies to work for. So there’s no reason to go to a boring company at an internship you think you’ll hate.

Once you have your internship, you will really learn if this is what you want to do. Is this the type of code you want to write? Is this the kind of software you want to develop? Do you like front-end or back-end or something else? With the Computer Science industry as huge as it is, there are so many areas where you can find yourself happy with your work. And since internships are a short-term commitment it’s okay to experiment with different types of jobs in software.

So how do you get this wonderful internship? Continue reading The Intern Diaries: Madalyn