Communication Like Technical Skills Need To Be Worked On !

Do you work in the Tech Industry? Are you a software engineer, a data scientist, a graphic designer , ML engineer , Dev Manager, Test Specialist, IT Architect, Client Solutions Specialist, Digital Sales Specialist … no matter what you do, communication is a skill that does not time out!

This equally applies to any role where you have to collaborate and work with people, which covers a lot of areas.

Hybrid work environments, remote working, more time spent on screen, on video, has increased significantly. For some this has been overwhelming and one area that has suffered is communication. The way in which you communicate with others and portray yourself on screen has an impact. Your working environment is made up of people, voices, opinions, strategies, problems, solutions and a whole range of ways in which to communicate the latter. Most of the time there are complex scenarios that need to be investigated, shared, questioned and communicated to small or large groups. In all cases, there are some simple ways in which you can improve your communications.

In the last 12 months I have co-facilitated multiple 12 hour courses spread over 3 morning online sessions, titled “Advanced Communications for Technical Leaders”. These are highly interactive sessions, all done over video, Webex in our case, to help participants improve the impact of their presentations as well as their ability to influence and align with others. In the engineering space, as we have moved in some cases, completely remotely, being able to fully participate in discussions is ultra important.

I am right, therefore, you are wrong !

One area I think we are all familiar with is the scenario where nobody agrees and the ability to move forward seems like it is blocked. Sometimes, it turns into arguments, people can let their emotions get the better of them, and the positive outcomes that were the goal seem that bit farther away.

The ability to work on how you align in your communications allows you to be much more genuine in how you might deliver your thoughts. By allowing yourself to be curious about what others are saying and thinking is key to alignment. Agreeing and aligning, are not the same thing ! Understanding that “gap” and asking questions and summarising what you think is being said is a worthy thing to try and focus on.

My Camera Is Staying Off !

There are times when many of us have our camera off during online meetings. Sometimes it is a necessity, and sometimes it is out of habit. However, if you want to have more impact with your communications, and more favourable outcomes then having your camera on is one of the simplest steps to do that.

Centering yourself on screen and ensuring you can be heard clearly is key to this. Investing in a front light and an external microphone can significantly help, its not just for streamers you know ! It is the reason why they do it, to have better impact.

Eye lock is another technique that is favoured by those wanting to engage deeper, and that is essentially looking direct at your camera. Having your camera on and having eye lock are 2 very simple ways that you can improve your online meeting communications.

Maybe you disagree ? If so, have a look at the technical leaders you work with and see how they choose to be present and communicate online. They want to communicate with impact and do it because they are after positive outcomes, and having a camera on when communicating is a small part of helping with that.

Have More Impact In Communications, Try The 4MAT Model Maybe ?

So you have a presentation to do or need to communication something complex or need collaboration? The 4Mat model is a great tool to focus your thoughts.

The Why ! What is the purpose, reason or benefits of what you are communicating? What is the motivation ?

The What ! Are there facts, models or examples you can provide for what it is that you presenting? Let yourself clarify what you are talking about.

The How ! What actions need to be taken, and what are the tools , methods or processes that can enable them.

The What If ? How can the communication be improved upon by identifying risks, asking questions and looking at contingencies.

When you use something like the 4MAT model you have enabled yourself to be open to what you are communicating fully. You have done your best to help those around you understand what is being said, and that is the basis for which your influence and your ability to align can merge to help for better communications.

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.

George Bernard Shaw

Some thoughts on how communication can go wrong from Tim Pollard. Do we want to punish each other with slide deck presentations. It is not all about the formula of eye lock, body language and a dozen other things. He talks about “Retelability” , the ability for someone else to convey your message because you been so clear and compelling in your communications to them.

Is Anyone Out There ?

Why does it matter, because no matter what I say nobody is listening to me! That can be a reason why people don’t bother with trying to improve communications, because maybe it is someone else’s fault. This sounds harsh to say this, but it is a visible reality for many. Maybe there is only one way to do something, and it is my way. Maybe you don’t really know what someone is saying, but you have spent the last few minutes thinking about what you are going to say next and that’s whats going to matter. Maybe you get stressed when you have to communicate ideas or collaborate with people because it’s not your job. In any case, nobody is listening !!!

Do you recognise any of this in yourself or others? Communications can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be hard, and it can be highly enjoyable as a way to learn and stay curious. I for one, am constantly trying to improve and learn as I go. What can you do to help influence others, to join the conversation, and not feel isolated.

Listen ! The old saying of having 2 ears and one mouth for a reason ! Listening is exactly that. Giving yourself the permission to just listen. Not think of what you are going to say next but seeing others perspective, and being able to then agree based on knowing what has been said. We don’t always agree, but by listening we open ourselves up to opportunity of aligning.

Consult ! Be open and be able to ask questions. Try and gather the facts as a group, and get the ideas going around certain options and how they might pan out or not.

Lead ! Be clear in your communications and use positive language. I try to use “and” rather than “but” for example. You still get your point across. Summarise what is being said and try and focus on actions not just problems.

What More Can We Ask Of Ourselves

Developing our technical skills in the tech community can be really rewarding and we get excited about using new technologies and getting projects over the line. There is an equally interesting opportunity to work on communication skills, in a manner that will bring about better and positive outcomes as well as build better relationships with colleagues.

Let me leave you with Louise Evans speaking at TedxGenova a few years ago, talking about how we own our behaviours around communicating. How do we sit in different “chairs” along our communication journeys, and where do we spend most of our time, either helping, judging, being mindful or ….

I hope the above has been helpful to you. As always, be kind !

Vectors & Vector Spaces 101, for Quantum Computing

If your a classical developer you will have a basis in maths of some form in any case. To become a quantum developer you have to either refresh your knowledge or get back to learning some linear algebra. We start with some vectors and vector spaces.

To Vectors We Go

The vector is one of the most important mathematical quantities in quantum computing. It has both direction and magnitude. Consider below we have a vector V with x and y components,

\begin{equation*} V = \begin{pmatrix} 3 \\ 5 \end{pmatrix} \end{equation*}

Visually this is 3 units along the x-axis and 5 units along the y-axis pointing in a direction no matter where its tail starts.

In Quantum Computing , vectors are used to show a particular quantum state. These are called state vectors and are visualised using a Bloch Sphere.

The Bloch Sphere ( a.k.a The Unity Sphere )

The Block Sphere contains all the possible points, the state space, that represent a quantum state to which our state vectors can point. The red vector below for example |y> corresponds to a superposition between |0> and \1> . Imagine the red vector below being able to move and point to any point inside the sphere, representing a different quantum state essentially.

Quantum States And The Bloch Sphere | Quantum Untangled

A 3 minute video on the Block Sphere …

The Vector Space

A vector is an element of a vector space. A vector space is a set of objects where 2 conditions hold.

The first condition is that a Vector addition of 2 vectors with real numbers in the vector space V produces a 3rd vector with real numbers in the vector space V

\begin{equation*} \begin{pmatrix} x_1 \\ y_1 \end{pmatrix} + \begin{pmatrix} x_2 \\ y_2 \end{pmatrix} = \begin{pmatrix} x_1 + x_2 \\ y_1 + y_2 \end{pmatrix} \end{equation*}

The second condition says that the scalar multiplication of a real number vector and some real number value n, is also in the vector space, for all n contained in the real number set.

\begin{equation*} \left\lvert \begin{matrix} n|v \\ \end{matrix} \right\rangle = \begin{pmatrix} nx \\ ny \end{pmatrix} \in V \\ \forall n \in \mathbb{R} \end{equation*}

If you have come this far, your doing well. That’s all for now. Next up, Matrices and Matrix Operations !

Entanglement – Quantums “spooky action at a distance” ? Well .. no.

The topic of quantum entanglement is an important thing to understand in quantum physics and important to know for quantum computing. In classical computing we work with definite values that are observed the same for however long they exist. In a quantum system the values are not in a defined state.

But what does that really mean ?

Albert Einstein used his colourful commentary when he called quantum entanglement “spooky action at a distance”. When I first started looking at quantum my brain almost broke because I was under the impression that 2 entangled particles were actually connected to each other in some way that when one changes the other changes instantaneously. Surely, this is how we will communicate over massive distances as this evolves. It’s like magic! It is spooky or uncanny but thats not quite how it works.

I know …. hold … keep going … your almost there !

So, whats happening?

When two particles are in an entangled state, there is no action that occurs, that is when one changes state it does not exert a change on the other, which would for example allow a message to be sent instantaneously.

What happens is that after changes occur in state to the 2 entangled particles, say one on earth and one on a satellite in orbit, if you then bring the data from both together, after the fact, there is an uncannily perfect correlation between them. They don’t have the same “value”, but their “values” is correlated. The act of observation causing a quantum wave collapse …. another topic I will cover later.

In my previous post we talked about superposition, well entanglement is a special form of that. It is in this ability of quantum systems to have these multiple states, that with certain types of problems we will ( it is thought ) have extra ability to solve them either at all or quicker, over using classical computing.

This 8 minute video from the Scientific American gives a good overview of the inner workings of a quantum computer.

Quantum Computing is good for certain types of problems, for example when your trying to find a needle in a haystack, this is where quantum computers shine…

Scientific American

If you have some more time you can listen to Neil DeGrasse Tyson and friends on the topic of quantum entanglement. It starts with an analogy to the wishing bone experiment, and is a nicely relaxed explanation and fun discussion. Just about 10 minutes in, Mr. DeGrasse Tyson has a classic penny drop moment, or does a great impression of someone having one… it’s probably the latter. Enjoy!

My Quantum challenge ?

It’s time to become a quantum developer. And yes I will update my linkedin profile to say that! 😉 I will endeavour to learn everything I can in the area of quantum development using IBM’s resources and its software libraries. Where possible I will share all the links out and you can follow along. My “beginners mind” is set and ready to go ( Shoshin) .

Shoshin : It’s the open-minded attitude of being ready to learn; without preconceived notions, judgement or bias.

To follow along then keep an eye out on my blog or follow me on linkedin where I will share the blog post links and updates.

The Basics of Quantum Computing .. Quantum Superposition

I am the first to admit that a deep understanding of quantum physics is not something I have, and my goal ( or your goal ) of becoming a quantum developer does not necessarily need it. No more do you need to know the inner workings of transistors or microchips in order to be a classical developer using java, the same applies for quantum. However, let us delve into some basics, that will help us with the nomenclature of the software libraries we will use.

Quantum States Poster Wall Decor - Buttered Kat in 2021 | Physics poster,  State posters, Chemistry education

The Nobel prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman is attributed to the quote “If you think you understand quantum mechanics, then you don’t understand quantum mechanics”, and he was the leading physicist in the area, so let’s not get too caught up if we don’t fully understand everything. Try and develop a sense of meaning, as if you were going to try and explain it to someone else.

(Quantum) Superposition

The noun superposition is defined as “the action of placing one thing on or above another, especially so that they coincide.” Quantum superposition means that any two quantum states can be added together (superposed) and a valid quantum state will result. Or, that any quantum state can be defined by one of more quantum states.

Now … using this idea of superposition , let us take the example of sets of coins. We write out their states ( H – heads, T – tails) first…

2 coins – HH, TT, HT , TD – 4 results

3 coins – HHH, HHT, HTH, HTT, THH, THT, TTH, TTT – 8 results

4 coins – … – 16 results

5 coins – … – 32 results

So, as we add a coin each time the number of results that we can have are 2^n .

Whereas the n (classical) coins are in only one of the 2^n possible results, n qubits can be in a superposition of all 2^n possible results. ( we will dig into qubits later )

The Probability Difference

In the case of a set of coins, the state that they can be in is a 2^n space. And they can only hold that one particular state, even if we don’t know what that is. As we explained above on superposition , quantum computers can hold superpositions of 2^n distinct logical states, which means they can solve problems potentially exponentially faster. These values can be positive, negative or complex numbers unlike probabilities which are positive or zero.

Quantum Circuits

Where does superposition come into developing quantum algorithms. If you take sound waves for example, one is noise and the other is a cancellation tone to remove noise like in noise cancelling headphones, then the principle of superposition and interference is used to result in cancelled noise.


In the quantum circuit below, which we will develop, the same principles apply. We start with a superposition and then we apply an algorithm by creating a quantum circuit to apply interference on the superposition to result in our solution.


When we are talking about quantum development using for example we are talking about developing these quantum circuits. Next up, entanglement.

My Quantum challenge ?

It’s time to become a quantum developer. And yes I will update my linkedin profile to say that! 😉 I will endeavour to learn everything I can in the area of quantum development using IBM’s resources and its software libraries. Where possible I will share all the links out and you can follow along. My “beginners mind” is set and ready to go ( Shoshin) .

Shoshin : It’s the open-minded attitude of being ready to learn; without preconceived notions, judgement or bias.

To follow along then keep an eye out on my blog or follow me on linkedin where I will share the blog post links and updates.

Quantum Computing vs Classical Developer – Fight.

Hi, I’m Andrew. Im a Classical Developer.

IBM Q Experience Strives To Bring Quantum Computing To Masses - Quantum:  Machine Learning & Analytics

In the embryonic world of Quantum Computing I am a Classical Developer. No violins, no greek legends, just a keyboard, a mouse, a laptop, and a bunch of screens.

It seems that pre-quantum computing has taken on the common term of Classical Computing ( just like in classical/quantum physics). It had to happen, the same way pre-color film photography was renamed “black and white photography” , after the advent of color film. I can imagine the job adverts of the future on linkedin or or where ever, looking for Senior Quantum Engineer’s with a smattering of classical skills. Or classical engineers looking to bootstrap their quantum career in the next quantum startup. So what’s the big deal?

The Superpower of Quantum Computing

The limitations of classical computing is entirely determined by the state of all its bits. We know this. Two states. So 2 to the power of N bits, and we are done. The Summit supercomputer in Oak Ridge National Laboratory developed by IBM , is incredibly powerful but is still limited in that it could not model the immediate state of a caffeine molecule for example. Quantum Computing has a much broader range of states that is defined through the idea of superposition. A quantum computer can take advantage of an exponential number of states and this is its superpower over classical computing. There is a-lot more, but let’s keep it simple for now. The video below will level you up a bit.

One of the perks of working in IBM is you get to see emerging technologies and to use them, and if look back over the past 100 years IBM actually defined them. We have spent decades transforming our software industry enabling us to leverage the infrastructure improvements over time. Mobile app development was not something that was even in our mindsets before we had the devices to develop on. The same applies for quantum computing in my opinion. We are only just trying to understand how we create the assembly languages and frameworks where we can create algorithms to solve problems in the quantum space.

My Quantum challenge ?

It’s time to become a quantum developer. And yes I will update my linkedin profile to say that! 😉 I will endeavour to learn everything I can in the area of quantum development using IBM’s resources and its software libraries. Where possible I will share all the links out and you can follow along. My “beginners mind” is set and ready to go ( Shoshin) .

Shoshin : It’s the open-minded attitude of being ready to learn; without preconceived notions, judgement or bias.

To follow along then keep an eye out on my blog or follow me on linkedin where I will share the blog post links and updates.

24 March 2021 – Cloud observability and app monitoring with Instana – IBM Cloud and AI Meetup Dublin

Upcoming event tmrw 24 March 2021 is the Cloud observability and app monitoring with Instana event, which will delve into the how it integrates with Kubernetes. Instana is an IBM Company and was acquired in late 2020, and is an APM solution designed for the challenges of managing microservice and cloud-native application

If Want to learn about cloud, kubernets or are you already knee deep in Kubernetes, Docker containers or writing your own operators, well the this meetup might well be for you. You join the meetup, and get notified of upcoming events.

If you want to learn more about Observability, APM and Montoring then you can checkout Sai Vennam from IBM Cloud, who can clear up what they means and they should not be used interchangeably.

Some useful reading:
Read the IBM and Instana acquisition blog →​ Explore free Observability guide →…
Explore free APM guide →
Explore free AIOps guide →
Check out IBM Cloud Pak for Watson AIOps →…

This is IBM Q.

IBM’s Quantum Computer, the IBM Q, jokingly called the Chandelier, has pure gold on the outside, and is kept at very cold temperatures. The bottom, where the quantum chip resides is 15 milliKelvin ( that’s -459.633 Fahrenheit or -273.135 Celcius ).

Quantum mechanics is a branch of physics that studies things that are really small, are really well isolated and really code. IBM Q is built based on what on this branch of science.

Superposition is a key part of how it works. If you take a penny, its either head or tails. If you spin the penny, and while it’s spinning … what is it? It’s in a state of both. Superposition is the idea that it is in both states.

Entanglement in the quantum world, means qubits are connected. If you look at one qubit and it has one value, then the other qubit it is entangled with would also have that same value!

Interference is another concept that is used to amplify the right answers just like you would in wave theory for destructive or constructive interference.

Meet the scientists behind the IBM Q quantum computing systems as they answer 50 questions, one for each qubit in IBM Q. Learn about qubits, dilution refrigerators, even the secret handshake to get into the lab. And get their answer to “what is quantum?”

Inventing at the Summer of Patents Event in the IBM Dublin Campus Thinkspace. 12+ Teams. 50+ Inventors.

by Andrew Penrose, Mihai Criveti, Clea Zolotow and Jim O’Keeffe

The morning of Friday June 28th brought together IBMers from across IBM in Ireland divisions – those mostly based at IBM Dublin Campus in Damastown, and teams also travelled from our Belfast Office to attend at our Summer of Patents Event.

Inventing @
IBM Dublin Campus

The attendees represented by inventors from Watson Health, Watson Weather and Content (The Weather Company), Security, Global Technology Services, Global Business Services, Watson Services, Innovation Exchange, Cognitive Applications, Talent Management Solutions to name a few. Instead of availing of the flexibility afforded by remote working, especially on a Friday in June, this group of inventors came together to add their names to the list of those contributing to IBM’s success in patenting and innovation.

Ireland Technical Expertise Council ( ITEC) Initiative

The event was organised by ITEC members, the Irish affiliate to the IBM Academy of Technology. This is a community of selected IBM top technical leaders organized to advance the understanding of key technical areas & trends, enable attract & retain the technical community, and engage our clients in technical pursuits of mutual value.

Through ITEC, an initiative was created for this event lead by Mihai Criveti, Andrew Penrose and Clea Zolotow.

Andrew Penrose MC’d the event in the Hamilton Auditorium and began by running through of the process. The objective was to remain together for the first 30 minutes and then split into patent teams, each with a seasoned mentor, to work through ideation and the steps of patenting for first timers as well as those who have already gone through the process to an IDT board.

Andrew Penrose MC’ing the event in the Hamilton Auditorium.

Our executive sponsor for this event, which all Academy initiatives have, is Sean Brady, Vice President of the IBM Cloud Customer Hub (Europe, Latin America, Canada). Sean spoke about the importance of protecting IBM intellectual property and “that events like this are important not only locally but globally, bringing inventors from all parts of the business together”.

Clea Zolotow introduced the audience to patents in general, ideation tactics and the importance of ‘prior art searching’ before you go down the line of really getting into a disclosure’s detail. “If you don’t know, a disclosure or invention disclosure is the information you compile together to determine whether patent protection should be sought for the described invention.” The conversation flowed from GPS enabled dresses to VR motion rigs to ensuring that inventions are relevant and are white boxes rather than black boxes.

Clea Zolotow presenting on Ideation and Patents.

Mihai Criveti re-introduced the work of the Ireland Technical Expertise Council, and detailed the work of the IBM Academy of Technology and it’s place within the IBM ecosystem of communities and influencers.

Team Formation, Patents, Prior Art and Novelty

At this point, we broke out into teams of four with a mentor in each group and moved into the IBM ThinkSpace, to get into the patent workshop proper. This involved the following format which worked out quite well:

  • 30 minutes of ideation in order to brainstorm idea’s within each of the teams. There are many techniques for this, but more often than not, it’s the work that is done in each of the different areas and by different people that you will find the gold seam.
  • 30 minutes on “Prior Art” and the importance of doing this up front.
  • 30 minutes on “Patent Background, Novelty and Value Proposition” for IBM
  • 30 minutes on “Invention Summary” and “Invention Detail”

We closed out the day event with a group photo below. Over the month of July inventors will meet in their teams and in August we will have a submission event where we will submit our inventions for scrutiny and if successful will move forward to work with patent lawyers.

¯ Summer Of Patents 2019 Inventors

Introducing The Inventing Teams

Faisal Ghaffar, Mark Levins, Sean Brady

Our executive sponsor Sean Brady joined Mark Levins, STSM and Ireland IDT board member, Faisal Ghaffar and Kruno Plecko to ideate and talk go through the workshop. Mark coming from Talent Management Solutions, Faisal a Data Scientist & Applied Researcher from the Innovation Exchange and Kruno an Applied Research Engineer all in the IBM Cognitive Applications division.

Yuri Barssi, Panpan Lin and Mark Wallace

Mark Wallace (mentor), Ruben Kos, Panpan Lin, Yuri Barssi and thought about IBM Assess, an application for pre-hire and employee assessment testing. The followed their scrum planning techniques with sharpies and post-its to brainstorm and explored ideas to solve some of the pain points associated with assessment testing while looking for some novel applications of the capabilities IBM has in this area.

Andrew Penrose, Nerijus, Ivan Gualandi, Massimiliano Gallo

Andrew Penrose worked with Nerijus Verseckas, Ivan Gualandi and Massimiliano (Max) Gallo, who all work day to day on the IBM Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture. We thought about ideas spanning crop yields and analytics, to satellite imagery, smart farming devices and climate change. Our division is part of The Weather Company and as such we have access to the largest amount of weather data on the planet. Along with this, we are involved with IBM Pairs, a platform, specifically designed for massive geospatial-temporal data (maps, satellite, weather, drone, IoT), query and analytics services.

Maire Regan, Gerard Cregan, Seamus Brady

Sonya Purcell ( not pictured ), Pragya Singh ( not pictured) , Maire Regan, Seamus Brady and Gerard Cregan got together and talked about support queries and their validity in certain cases.

John Delaney, Christopher Chavez Lopez, Gabriella Bacelli, Sean Keogh

John Delaney along with Christopher Chavez Lopez, Gabriella Bacelli and Sean Keogh delved in the area of productivity and tooling around translation, particularly automated.

Sinead McMcahon, Mark McGloin, Eoin McCann, Krishnaveni Mayuri
William Chatham , Liam Harpur, Lin Zhao, Dario Chimisso

Mark McGloin worked with Sinead McMahon, Eoin McCann and Krishnaveni Mayuri an investigated ideas in the area of agriculture. They also explored ideas to help patients in the medical sector and in for children in the insurance sector.

Liam Harpur and team comprising of William Chatham, Lin Zhao and Dario Chimisso used random work brainstorming to ideate to start with. Dario came up with a random work “Surfboard” … that lead to 15 characteristics of surfboards…. “sleek for speed”, “leach for safety” . From the derived characteristics they came up with 15 patent ideas ! They had plenty of fun converting the ideas .. mental gymnastics. They they selected on derived idea to start working on. Ideas are everywhere.

John Leonard, Cathal Dineen, Peter Poliwoda, Ju Park, Clea Zolotow

Clea’s Team or as Clea likes to call it the A-Team, was comprised of Peter Poliwoda, Cathal Dineen, John Leonard and Ju Park. Comprised mostly of Watson division employees, and Clea being from Global Technical Services.

“The team is amazing with their depth and breadth of knowledge. The ideas generated are not only good for IBM but also will make fantastic apps as well!”

– Clea Zolotow, Distinguished Engineer & Master Inventor working in Technology Innovation and Automation
Paul Dermody, Brian Daly, Shane McCarthy, DJ McCloskey

DJ’s team Paul Dermody, Brian Daly and Shane McCarthy also opened dug deep during ideation and came up with ideas in the areas of AI in healthcare, Wellness, Genomic Data Analysis and Leverage, Climate Crisis/Green Tech, AI in Human Communications and Workflows.

Martin Stephenson, Sigmund Vestergaard, Paul Brennan, Marta Mazur

Martin Stephenson and his team of Sigmund Vestergaard, Paul Brennan and Marta Mazur also had a wide-ranging discussion that included Martin’s area of expertise in Natural Language Processing but also in the area of Smart Agriculture and areas where Machine Learning algorithms can apply value.

Stanley Dunne, Axel Louchie, Brendan McGreen, Angelo Moore

Stanley Dunne, the chair of the Ireland IDT Patent Board, worked with Brendan McGreen, Axel Louchie and Angelo Moore ( not pictured). Currently, all involved in the area of IBM Global Business Services they talked about quality analytics and ideas around it, an area with large data sets.

“Patenting is encouraged for everybody in IBM. You don’t have to be a technical guru. If you are solving problems, you are creating solutions that might well have value, are novel and are worth patent protection”

– Stanley Dunne, STSM Architect GBS Process Method & Tools
Global Business Services. Chair, Ireland IDT Board.

Stephen Kelly, Michael MacLynn, Ryan Goldblatt, Olgierd Pieczul

Olgierd Pieczul’s team travelled from IBM Belfast on Friday morning to the event in Dublin. Ryan Goldblatt, Michael MacLynn and Stephen Kelly work in the IBM Security division. Good teaming, as Olgierd works as a Security Architect, they focussed on network security management.

Ziheng Cheng, Gilles Devillard, Mutaz Alsallal, Bill Looby

Last but not least, Bill Looby worked with Ziheng Cheng, Gilles Devillary and Mutaz Alsallal. Mutaz like the members of Olgierds team also travelled from the IBM Belfast office. Like the other teams, they had a wealth of ideas that crossed over many different areas. They focused in on crowdsourced data and the area of transportation.

The Nature Of The CardBoard Programmer


You: Afternoon Chewy.
Chewy: {silence}
You: I have been context switching all morning but I am still stuck on one issue. Getting this segmentation fault when I run this python script against larger data sets. Doesn’t happen on my Mac with 10GB mem 3GB swap given to my minikube setup.

Chewy: {stares back, in silence}

You: I know! And when I deploy in my Kubernetes cluster in IBM Cloud I am getting the same segmentation fault.
Chewy: {looks puzzled}
You: Anyhow, it’s a resource issue of some kind. There are C modules in place within the python runtime on ubuntu … files ….
Chewy: { stares … silence}
You: Hang on… what’s my ulimit value. “ulimit -n” … 1024 …still has default values in the running container.

andy@ubuntu:sudo vim /etc/sysctl.conf # add the following line to it fs.file-max = 65535 # run this to refresh with new config andy@ubuntu:~$ sudo sysctl -p

You: Its fixed!
Chewy: {alway’s helpful in a pickle, stares back silently}

The Cardboard Programmer

Sometimes all you need is a cardboard cutout of your famous chosen Guru! When trying to move forward on a problem, or overcome a blocking point it’s easy to go down paths that are not going to yield results. Maybe you have X amount of things to do before you think you can get to the point where you will have some result you can analyse. Maybe you already did them. Maybe you are at a dead end. You already stood up and went for a coffee. Slept on it. But there it is, still a problem.


Rubber Duck Debugging suggests a rubber duck as per the book The Pragmatic Programmer which goes into what do you do, as an individual and as a team, if you want to create software that’s easy to work with and good for our users.  Whether its a colleague, a rubber duck or chewy, it’s a technique you probably are well aware of not only as someone in software but as a living breathing human being!


Becoming Chewy and Active Listening

I suggest actively seeking opportunities to be that cardboard programmer….or…be that active listener. It is at once a learning experience, a nice thing to do, and has a mushroom effect on one’s communication style.




I set you that challenge!

Try it for a day.

Then try and stop doing it.



Attributed to the Dalai Lama is the quote

“When you talk, you are only repeating what you already know; But when you listen, you may learn something new.”

This is the advantage of the active listener. I always equate it to reading. People absorb books and get lost in the worlds they create. We are at the height of active thinking/listening when we read. We may interpret, have different thoughts on what is happening or agree/disagree with sentiments made, but we are always learning.

An opportunity and the challenge.