The day in a life of a software engineer

Don't they just eat, sleep, code, repeat?

Well not exactly…….there is a whole lot in between! Software engineers aren’t just people who spend their days behind a computer, being little hurmids and growling at you if you approach them for a question!

No there is so much more to a software engineer than meets the eye!

So here’s a walkthrough of a typical day as a software engineer, in this case myself at Rapid 7 🙂

6:00am  Wakey Wakey!

This is the theme song to my mornings, provided by my wonderful alexa. Time to get my arse into gear and get some get some nutritious porridge and a hot cup of tea, to get the engine going.

6:15am  Gym time

After getting some breakfast it’s time to take a walk to the gym!

I go to Queen’s PEC centre, which has all the facilities needed. Depending on the day I’ll either do swimming or lift some weights, or at least attempt it 😀

7:15am  Second breakfast!

After sweating half a stone off me, I’ll walk back home to get a shower, cleaned up and a second breakfast thrown into me…I’m secretly a hobbit by the way 😀

7:40am  Time to hitch a ride!

I’ll either get a lift into the city with my housemate or jump on the always pleasant metro bus. The latter gives me the perfect opportunity to read a few more pages of my book ( Currently Stephen King’s “IT”, pretty frightening stuff….I always was feared of balloons).

8:00am  In the office!

Normally at this time there is a few people in, some of the super risers, like the SEALs of the software engineering world.

For me, I will go make myself a lovely cappuccino ( yes I do dabble between a tea and coffee ) from our fancy coffee maker. I embrace the strong aroma to perk me up and then begin by going through my personal “to do” sticky notes that I have on my board. This can range from “Ask Manager ‘A’ for more requirements” to “Resolve migration issue with database schema ‘B'”. Generally just to calibrate what takes precedence for the day.

8:10am – 8:30am  Reading up on the latest trends

I tend to look at the latest youtube videos and blogs on java, python and javascript, the latter being only when I know I have frontend work to do on our backend tool for support.

8:30am – 10:20am  Coding! (aka googling stackoverflow for help)

This is my most productive time of the day, as the coffee has kicked in and I have minimum distractions due to the lack of people in the office (Our office tends to be a mix of early starters or late finishers, super flexible!). By 10:25am, my team will be fully in, ready for stand up!

10:25am  Get up! Stand up time!

Here our team discuss what we did yesterday, what we are going to do today and if there is any blockers/issues affecting us on our projects/features. Generally, it’s quite a short meeting ranging from 5-7 minutes.

10:30am – 12pm  Design discussion and more coding!

After standup, I tend to have a short discussion with my team lead at our desks. This discussion is mostly about the design patterns and structure used so far on the feature and identify areas we can improve/ reuse along the way. Once we have identified areas, I’ll note these down as “TODOs” for future stephen to resolve, but for now, I put on my noise cancelling headphones and crack on with more coding!

12pm  Lunch aka third breakfast

Once 12pm hits, my stomach immediately goes into making the gorgeous sounds of a whale!

I either join some of my teammates for a spot of lunch or make my own. The range of choices is absurd in belfast! but generally speaking you can’t go wrong with a nice boojum burrito to tide you over till dinner time!

12:45pm  Ping pong pool!

I’m fortunate to work in such an awesome company, that they provide us with fun facilities to do throughout the day. Our belfast office has an awesome ping pong table, a pool table and an awesome arcade machine!

Generally I always lean towards the ping pong table, nothing quite like taking your debugging frustration out on the table! I end up looking like monica out of friends by the end of a good match!

1pm -4pm  It’s bruce almighty time!

During this time I tend to try be as productive as possible, however, this isn’t always the case! I love being a team player within our awesome team, I’ll jump from my own work to help our interns with a deployment to production and also resolving customer issues as they come in. Thankfully our team is just one big family, happy as a pig in muck to answer any questions and join in on some of that vital rubber ducking programming!

This period is just chaotic but I do enjoy the spontaneous nature of this time period, as I like thinking on my feet and enjoy changing up my routine constantly! Never the same day twice in Rapid 7!

4pm – 5pm  Meeting time

We don’t tend to do a lot of meetings, we tend to leave those to the team lead, so that they can let us crack on with outputting awesome code! However, sometimes we are needed as a full team to discuss certain aspects of the project and how we go forward. We like to do retrospectives, as it allows us to have an open discussion about what we are doing right as a team, how we can improve certain aspects going forward and generally just outputting any concerns that may be causing an issue with productivity and efficiency as a team.

5:30pm  Home time

Time to call it in for a day!

I’ll pack up my laptop and leave the office, heading towards the bus stop, ready to crack out my current novel and blast a few pages on the bus journey home. However, if it’s an awesome day (like it has been for a while), I like to walk home from the office. It’s a lovely 40 minute walk down by the river lagan, enough time to clear the head and appreciate the views along the way!

6:30pm  Dinner time

Once I’ve arrived home, I’ll crack on with making dinner as soon as possible (especially since I share a house with two of my best mates), just to avoid the issue of clashing with their cooking! I’m generally a plain jane when it comes to cooking, standard meat and veg. However as of late, I try to dabble into vegetarian food and some spicier cookups, just to improve my skills. I’ll be no Gordon Ramsay that’s for sure!

7:30pm – 8pm  Relaxation

I tend to take a half an hour out just to tune out and relax, whether that be with my housemates watching the latest game of thrones episodes, to just heading into our cinema room to play a few video games on the playstation.

8pm  – 10pm Cinema? Books? Blog?

As a household, we like to see the latest films out in the cinema (currently waiting for the next john wick!). If there is nothing out, we generally just do our own individual projects in the house. I tend to dable between programming for a self project, improving my guitar playing, reading up on my novel or blogging of course!

Sometimes I be guilty of jumping on and helping our US customers with any issues they may have, but this is a rare case 🙂

10pm  Bed time

Normally by 10pm or prior i’m snuggled up in bed, ready to watch an episode of the sopranos (which I highly recommend) or with my novel.

So hopefully this has given you a great insight into the life of a software engineer. I have tried to be as consistent as possible, but with working in such a fast paced industry, my day to day is not always the same!

SH


Tenerife

June 11th - 16th 2017 (long overdue I know)

Day 1: Departure and Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

It was 8am on a sunday morning, the excitement of a holiday making me feel like a little kid on christmas eve!  I could already feel the warm heat hit my face as I exited the plane at Tenerife South–Reina Sofia Airport.

The flight over (as far as I can remember) was pretty good for a ryanair flight. Your usual cramp seats and luggage charges, they would attempt to consider your coat as luggage if they could!

 Got to get that plane window shot! 

As I landed off the plane, the heat that I felt was just as I imagined!... within minutes I was slapping on factor 50 sunscreen. Being the typical pale irish, I ended up looking like a squashie sweet by the end of the day!

After gathering up the suitcase and getting a super duper seat ibiza car, I was on my way to the capital of Tenerife for my first stop -  Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

The drive from the airport to Santa Cruz was quite pleasant, taking just 40 mins or so. I eventually found the hotel after numerous wrong turns and misdirections by google maps of course ha. The hotel was Hotel Colón Rambla, a lovely 4 star hotel within the center of Santa Cruz. The room was your standard hotel setup, bed and tv plus an ensuite with in bath shower. Benefit was having a balcony overlooking the back which had an awesome swimming pool!

After getting settled into the hotel, a short stroll around Santa Cruz was in order.

Since Santa Cruz is up north of the island, it is relatively where a lot of the locals live and work, with less tourists about, i could enjoy the typical spanish cuisine and culture around the city. So less chance of me bumping into the typical british tourists enjoying their pints of beer and football tops!

From the hotel, I walked down to the seaside of the city (there is no beaches here) but more like ports and shore walls. 

It was a pleasant walk and view of the city. Especially seeing the Auditorio de Tenerife Adán Martín, a magnificent piece of architecture that has become the symbol of the city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

After the walk along the shore, it was time for food! I tried my hand for the first time some tapas, small meals that go nicely with a large stein of sangria!

As my memory serves me right I tried the following:

  •  Tortilla Española (Spanish Omelet) -- I adored of course, it had potatoes!
  • Croquetas de Jamón (Ham Croquettes)  -- little fried balls of cheese and ham, perfect for nibbling on!
  • Patatas Bravas (Bravas Potatoes) -- one word! gorgeous!

After being filled with sangria and food, it was time to head back to the hotel and hit the hay, tomorrow was gonna be a big day!

 Pretty straightforward day :)

Day 2: Teide 

The excitement still hadn't worn off and I was buzzing to get ready on my adventure across the island to see the legendary Teide National Park.

Just a little background on this park. This park holds Mount Teide, which is a volcano and also highest point in Spain at an eye watering elevation of 3,718 m. Lucky for me, the last time it erupted, was in 1909.

So at 10am, after getting a quick shower and dressed in my shorts and t-shirt, making sure I had plastered myself from head to toe in factor 50 sunscreen, I thought I was prepared for the heat!.......until I walked outside haha

Quickly jumping into the car, a quick pit stop and a breakfast at a small restaurant/petrol station set me up for the rest of the day. As I bid farewell to the lovely Santa Cruz city, I headed off towards the national park!

After an hour-ish drive, with multiple stops to enjoy the view, I had arrived at the national park entrance.

It was amazing! The sheer size of the volcano was breathtaking, I felt so insignificant against it!

So to really see it, in all its beauty I travelled a bit further towards the volcano, eventually landing at the bottom of it. Now there is two options about going up this monster of a volcano, you can do the good old fashioned walk/climb/crawl up it. But since I was pushed for time and energy, I opted for the lazy way and just using the cable car which took me to the top in 10 minutes compared to 40 days later via a sloth crawl ha

The cable car was such thirsty work, I rewarded myself to a nice wee can of cider at the top, to celebrate my victory over the volcano!

Thirsty work!

After conquering Mt Teide, it was time for a venture down to the car and continue my journey over to the south of the island. This was a breathtaking drive, seeing all the previous lava lakes and ash remains from the 1909 eruption. This took roughly an hour and 10 minutes, before arriving upon the Costa Adjes district which is just NW of the famous Playas de Américas. 

Once arriving upon Costa Adjes, I eventually found my hotel Los Olivos Beach Resort, which I would base here for the remainder of the trip. Another gorgeous 4 star hotel, this time located perfectly near the Playa De Fañabé beach, perfect for running from room to beach in under 2 mins.

After settling in for my stay at the hotel, I nipped across to the Tony Roma restaurant for a spot of dinner!

Obviously went down a treat, as I couldn't help myself to a sneaky "wee" dessert.

Love at first sight!

After consuming 1000s of calories, it was time again to hit the hay! As tomorrow I was gonna fulfil one experience off my bucket list!

Conclusion of day 2!

Day 3: Finding Nemo

So today was the day! I finally get to do an experience I only ever dreamed of! Can you guess from the title?

If not, here's a clue. It includes flippers, fish and a breathing apparatus similar to darth vader......deep sea diving of course!

At 9am, ready and prepared to go "swimming with the fishes", I awaited a lift from the lovely worker from the awesome Diving Tenerife Scuba. These guys were awesome, coming all the way out to lift me from the hotel and out towards Marino Tenerife, near Las Galletas.

Once we arrived, I was run through the safety procedure and risks etc. Then fitted to the teeth with the scuba gear, I was ready to take the plunge!

We boarded the boat and was taken out to sea, just off the coast by a mile or two. With each beginner diver was a fully qualified diver, so I felt right as rain and safe all the same! Now, one thing to note, was that the pressure would build up in your ears when you go diving obviously, similar to a plane ascending into the sky. There is two main ways people combat the "ear pop", either via yawn or holding your nose till it pops.

Silly me can only do it via yawn and me being the eejit that I am, decided that 10 metres down I'll combat this ear pop by yawning.....big mistake stephen!

The respirator came popping out and I immediately started swimming straight up, holding my breath! Lucky enough I had my guide with me, who provided me with her piece until I regained breath and managed to get mines back in. After learning from my mistake, we were well on our way down the sea! observing the fishes, turtles and some sharks too! It was an experience that I will never forget! (pity I cannot find the go-pro footage, but when I do, i'll be sure to add it in here).

After 45 mins of deep sea diving, it was time to head back to shore! Once I got dried off and clothed up, I got left back to the hotel. From there I got some lovely tapas and spent the rest of my day by the gorgeous beach, chilling and enjoying the waves. Eventually getting dark enough to enjoy some strawberry daiquiris by the sea side, still a warm cosy temperature compared to portrush, that's for sure!

Calling it a day, I was off to rest for the last day, which would conclude with pure adrenaline fun!

According to google, our chauffeur went completely off road! 

 

Day 4: Siam Park and Playas de Américas

Up at a lovely time of 8:30am, I went for a stroll down the beach and later getting some food before hitting the water park!

I set my sights on Siam Park, after seeing multiple reviews and hearing words of mouths, I couldn't leave tenerife without giving it a go! It was like something you seen in florida, the theme being of an asian culture, with each water ride being more thrill inducing than the previous.

Siam park also includes one of the largest man made wave pools in the world and boy, did it not disappoint! It also includes a super fast drop slide at the height of 28m, called "The tower of power", which plunged you through a shark tank! (you've probably seen it a million times on facebook by now).

It had everything for all thrill seekers, so I of course, was definitely as pleased as punch. After 5 hours of non stop fun and adrenaline, it was time to leave siam park and head towards Playa de Américas. After eventually finding a parking spot, I had to get myself some food at the Hard rock cafe! (yes i'm that person that has to go to every hard rock in each new city).

The food was pretty superb! A lovely cheeseburger and fries, followed by an ice cream sundae!

After paying the bill, it was time to enjoy the last remaining hours on this lovely beach by heading to playa de las vistas. A lovely sandy beach, filled to the brim with tourists of course!

Soaking in the remaining daylight rays, I managed to even out the sunburn and get my feet wet for the last time in Tenerife. For now it was time to head back to the hotel and get an early night's sleep, for the flight home was for 4am (eugh, could I not just of stayed).

Obviously Google was drunk that day!

Day 5: Departure Day :( 

After getting up at 3am and driving to the airport, which was a nippy 40 minute drive, the lovely seat ibiza was left back with the car attendant. I'll never forget you blue! you were awesome!

At 4:30am, the plane had arrived at the departure gate, I felt the dread of coming home to that shitty rainy weather of Ireland. I was so tempted to do a runner and live my life out as a bartender in an irish pub on the beach, wouldn't that be the life? But alas, Ireland was home and it was time to head back to the green island. Until next time Tenerife, you were awesome!

The infamous flight home photo :(


"I hate these blurred lines"

No, I don’t mean that catchy Marvin Gaye rip off tune by Robin Thicke.

It’s in your head now ain’t it? Hahah.

Ok, maybe I am, but somehow I found myself humming this catchy tune on the way to work today, after collecting my daily cappuccino from cafe nero. Then a line from the song got me thinking….

I hate these blurred lines”

Immediately, my mind was transported back to my teenage youth ( yes i’m still a young one!! ). I saw myself dancing to this tune at the teenage disco, trying to attract the attention of the girls next to me and hopefully spark up a conversation about my horrible dance moves!

It was a much simpler time back then, where you were more concerned about what excuse can I tell the teacher about forgetting my homework or getting the latest akon song via infrared to your nokia 3310. We were all a social bunch of people back then, always seeing each other in person and catching up on what happened in the latest shows and football scores. Keeping that presence of being with friends, kept the brain and soul happy, always seeing them in person and laughing the day away.

That was until an epidemic hit that changed the social landscape forever….

Defcon Social

I still remember vividly when I found out about the new craze going round school called “bebo”, sitting on the wall outside school waiting on the bus. This foreign word made me look like a confused donkey at my friend, “What in hell is this bebo that everyone keeps talking about?”

Eventually I found out on the bus home how quickly everyone was getting “online”. Everything started to shift drastically, everyone had to have the latest social media, from MSN messenger to facebook. It was exhilarating and exciting that we could connect anytime and anywhere, spending your nights waving at each other over MSN, even when we just lived down the road from each other. The whole concept of “online friends” was exciting and powerful, where the more you had the more popular you were……

….or so it seemed.

As the craze went on and became the norm, we slowly lost our sense of being social in real life and in school. Childhood friends hid behind walls of text on a computer screen, meeting up for an 18th involved setting up a facebook event, where all the friends went from “going” to “not interested”. Where the hundreds of online friends you had, would never appear to just talk over a cup of tea in person.

The thought of just talking in person soon made people shutter, getting that shocked response of “What? You don’t have WhatsApp? Facebook? Twitter? Instagram? Pigeon Mail?”

But yet everyone was still “online”, always “happy”, ready to do what they were told by their digital friends. However in reality, I saw bright bubbly people become more disconnected than ever before, isolated and battling severe depression, at such a young age too.

This increase of isolation, jealousy and depression heightened expedentialy with the rise of instagram, where it was more like a social media hunger games. People competing to battle it out to get the most likes, just by starving to death, borrowing to debt and filtering beyond recognition for the selfie likes. Just for that coveted goal of being an “insta” influencer, which in itself is still just as absurd to me since I first heard it.

The Millennial Matrix

This trend of being in the matrix and plugged in, where the red pill is considered “fake news” and thousands continued accepting the program and took the blue pill. Well it continued on through the rest of my life. It even followed me into my career and work.

I find myself 100% guilty of accepting the program when I first moved to belfast and started working as a software engineer. I got properly hooked on all of the social medias especially on the work slack.

I found myself being that guy, the one always online, at weekends, late nights and early mornings, ready to jump at that “defcon one” customer deal, where they could walk out at anytime if the problem wasn’t resolved then and there.  It cost a lot as I look back, I scarified a lot of time with my family, friends and my previous significant other. I never realised what I was doing to myself and others until I got a reality check when numerous significant events happened to me at once and I decided to book a week off work to go home.

I decided to help out around the family home, to be in the countryside again, a hundred miles from my connection to the digital world… my laptop which sat in a locked drawer in work. The longest I had been without it! It was pretty tough!

But it was the kick I needed up the arse to live in the now and moderate my addiction to the online world.

Lukewarm Sober

I’ve slowly controlled the addiction. After multiple burnouts, stress induced panic attacks and “I’ll just spend the day in bed” episodes. I decided enough was enough, to get back to my former self, the always optimistic and cheerful person I use to be prior to being plugged in. So this is what inspired me to create my own blogging website (hypocrite I know ha) , to channel my output into something creative and productive, rather than scrolling for hours instagram, facebook and slack to see what I’m missing out on, even if I couldn’t take part.

But anyways, this brings me back to that line “I hate these blurred lines”. If you blur the lines between two things, you make it harder to tell them apart, where they become so similar that we can no longer tell the difference. The difference between your digital life and real life. This also goes for your work and life balance, take the time to have a reality check in. It’s much better to have the real world rule more than the digital world, just for your own sanity.

This isn’t a complete one sided attack against the online social media either, I can see and appreciate both sides to the coin. It has made it possible for us to get connected to distant people and keep up to date with round the world events. I’m just getting my point across that it’s more like a realisation that our generation needs to have a balance, like any indulgence such as alcohol or junk food.

Just don’t get lost in it, you are Neo!

For me? I took the option of asking for both pills in the end. 😉

Until next time!

SH

 

Note: My first blog post! a bit of a serious post but one that I’ve been thinking of quite a lot. Hopefully you liked it 🙂