Following my recent announcement of being a GDE for Cloud Emem Jonah (@ememjonah2) got in touch with a few questions about what motivates me to be a software developer.

Emem is a Program Assistant (PA) in the current Google Africa Developer Scholarship 2020 program and among other tasks runs the weekly Happy Hour activities on our Slack workspace. Following are her questions and my remarks on each. This spotlight was published during the happy hour session on Friday, 2nd of October 2020.

Kindly use the comment section below the article if you would like to know more about anything mentioned.

Tell us about Yourself

"The only frontiers are in your mind"

Hi, my name is Jochen Kirstätter, also known as "JoKi". I'm a software craftsman, blogger, community founder, and speaker. Although I have been awarded as Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) for Developer Technologies and as Google Developers Expert (GDE) for Cloud I neither work for Microsoft nor for Google. These awards are a recognition of my community contributions, mu passion to share knowledge, and my activities to engage with their respective services and products over years.

What inspires You?

Nature and infinite curiousity. Being able to explore and discover any kind of things as part of a daily learning experience is a fantastic motivator. Whether it is about living creatures in nature, complex relationships in science or interesting research and developments in technology, it's all about learning. Especially as a professional craftsman in software development.

How does your typical day look like?

After waking up the kids in the morning to ready them for school I take roughly an hour to go through the latest emails, tweets, and Slack posts of GADS 2020 that happened during the night. Concluding I might read a few technical articles and have a look at current learning video or course I'm attending. Then it's either driving to the office or staying for Home Office to work on customer assignments and projects. Usually I would skip lunch to keep an eye on my weight and to avoid a heavy stomach during the afternoon. The afternoons are also full on software development. After returning home I would usually take a break to spend some time with the family - like 3-4 hours between dinner time and after all kids went off to bed. Depending on my fatigue level I would use the late night hours to catch up on community activities like GADS, MSCC and GDG.

Of course, there are days off and days that I spend on writing articles for my blog or reserve for other activities.

What do you do when you are not coding?

Reading. I'm a big fan of the Amazon Kindle and I have an Unlimited subscription which allows me to read a lot of books and magazines for a little fee per month. Most of the time I'm into sci-fi and fantasy stories but also biographies. Recently I read about JRR Tolkien and at the moment I'm into the John Carter series of seven books. Next up, I'm going to read about Nikolas Tesla and his achievements during the last century.
If time and weather allows I might consider some scuba diving here and there. Looking forward to have my two elder kids joining me soon under water.

What do you do when you get stuck?

I'm practicing my Google-Fu and search the internet for similar reports on the problem I'm dealing with. Clearly, there are low chances that I possible could be the first and only person being confronted with a problem. In the rare case that nothing comes up I reach out to my network of community friends and experts and ask them. And if anything else doesn't offer a solution I reach out to the official support of the supplier.

FYI, most of the time it usually turns out that I didn't pay attention to the documentation or I might have missed to read something. Reading is super important in software development.

What advice would you give someone who is just starting out?

I would like to speak about two advices to ease your life.
First, learn to read information correctly. Don't just skim certain articles and tutorials but take your time to actively read the information. I've observed it many times in previous ALC programs and during GADS 2020 that numerous learners got stuck because of not reading what's either in the instructions or in the error response of the system.

And second, chunk up your day into small units of let's say approximately 30 mins. Each unit is then reserved for one(!) single task. Disable all kind of notifications and distractions on your computer and mobile while you're working on an assignment, doing a code lab, or reading a tutorial. Personally, I check my emails only four times a day to respond. Also, schedule learning units and block your time just for that.

Thanks Emem for those interesting questions and I hope that some of my thoughts and experience might give our learners here in the program some inspiration.