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Interview with Florin Coros

Software Architect | IQUARC

Tell us a few things about yourself. Where did you study, where do you work?

I have started my studies in Bistrita, my home town. I graduated high school there from the Informatics Class, at one of the most prestigious schools in the county. Then, I went to Cluj-Napoca, to study Computer Science at “Babes-Bolyai” University. I also graduated a Master of Science at the same university in Artificial Intelligence field.

Immediately after graduation I’ve started my professional career. I had to choose between working in the industry or an academic career in the AI field. I’ve chosen the industry and I’ve started to build Enterprise Application. Now, after more then ten years I’m quite good at it and I’m still happily living and working in Cluj-Napoca.

What is your typical day at work?

In these days it varies between the three main activities that I’m doing.
When I have an active consulting gig the days are filled with design meetings and building prototypes, PoCs or vertical slices with the teams I help to start their project on a right track. We try to combine and shape the frameworks and tools to their project context, building its infrastructure.
Another typical day is my work with MIRA co-founders. Together with my colleagues in iQuarc we help MIRA to develop their product. A day at MIRA is full of coding, testing and deploying new version of the product. We also take part in product design and software design meetings, contributing at shaping MIRA Rehab.
Another important part of what I do are my courses and workshops that I give. When I have a training planned the days are dedicated to prepare it to the audience specifics and needs or actually to give the training.
Now, that i’m writing about it, I realize once more that I like a lot my working days 🙂

What inspired you to be active in the community?

I think it started with attending to the community events. I started with RONUA, then CodeCamp afterwards with big conferences like IT Camp or CraftConf.
As advancing in my career I started to realize more and more how important communities are in our very young industry. From the communities we get the new ideas, we hear about new tools and techniques, we find our solutions and answers to our questions. I think we would feel with our hands tied if someone would take away our favorite blogs, google or stackoverflow.
With this, my involvement came from the desire to give something back, to share what I am working on with others because I think my experience, my ideas or my knowledge may help others, the same way theirs helps me. This is one of the things that motivates me to put a lot of time in writing a technical blog at onCodeDesign.com.
At the same time I wanted to act to make things happen. We felt that very experienced software professionals would need a space where they can interact and learn from each other, so we’ve tried to create this with RABS. We wanted to have in Cluj the IDesign Master Class, so I’ve helped Sergiu to make it happen. I liked a lot the idea behind the code retreats, so I have organised the Global Day of Code Retreat in Cluj for the first time and I’ve supported it since then.
For me, one of the most motivational factors to continue contributing to the community is the satisfaction I get when I see the ones attending to my talks or reading my blog find my content interesting or helpful.

I had to choose between working in the industry or an academic career in the AI field.

From the communities we get the new ideas, we hear about new tools and techniques, we find our solutions and answers to our questions.

Are there any things you wish you knew at the beginning of your career?

Hm… nothing comes to my mind. I think that the “unknown” we have at the begging of the career is the biggest asset as a junior. It gives the courage and energy to try things, to explore and to gain experience. I have tried many things. Some worked, many didn’t. I have learned also from the ones that didn’t, so it was good that I’ve tried them and it was good that I didn’t know they won’t work.
I value a lot the saying that if one has ten years of experience, but he repeated the same year ten times, it is like he experienced only one year. If I were to give an advice to someone who starts a career in programming, it would be to change the context constantly. After a year and a half or two years he should change something. The programming language, the technology, the field, the type of application, the team, the role, the specialization,… something. I think is the only way of gaining experience.

Could you recommend some books, resources that young IT professionals might find useful?

Yes! My blog of course 🙂 I’ll compile a list with my favourite blogs and I’ll put on my blog. I’d be afraid not to forget one now. I think I can also collect some talks that I find worth watching.
Coming to books, on top of my list is “Clean Code” by Uncle Bob. I think it is a must for any developer who writes code as a profession. I’ve made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t write code with people who didn’t read this book and their code says that they should. So far, I’ve managed to keep it by convincing my co-coders to read it (I’ve also bought many copies of the book and made it a must read present 🙂 ).
Other books I value a lot are: “Code Complete” and “Software Estimations” by Steve McConnell, Martin Fowler’s “Refactoring”, or “Growing Object-Oriented Software Guided by Tests” by Steve Freman and Nat Price, “The Art of Unit Testing” by Roy Osherove, or the “TDD by Example” by Kent Beck just to mention a few…

What you do to “recharge your batteries”? What are your hobbies? Do you have time for them?

I am a GO player. I like a lot when I manage to play a game with patience. I like how it disconnects me. I’ve enjoyed a lot the recording of the match between Lee Sedol (the world champion) and AlphaGO (a software GO player made by DeepMind (Google) ) from this March. I’ve simply found it fascinating. I still have a few games to watch from that match, so not enough time as I’d like 🙂
Beside this, I also like to travel to new places or to go to rock concerts. I try to make my holidays in a new place each time.

If you could go back in time and choose a different profession (outside of IT), what would it be?

Hm… I can’t think of anything else. Maybe its because I’ve been doing this for too long and now my imagination is limited to it. Maybe a professional GO player?

What do you think about ITCamp, and what brings you here?

It is a great conference. For Cluj developers, especially the one from Microsoft world, is like a festival we have each year. Its the holidays we get, somewhere in May. We have two days were we can hear ideas from international speakers in our home town and it is the opportunity we have to make us heard.
Another thing I like about it that it evolves from year to year. It tries something new each time, so it gets better. I think this is one of the ingredients that keeps it among the most important technical events in the region.

If I were to give an advice to someone who starts a career in programming, it would be to change the context constantly.

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