Why programmer should have a blog

Recently a few people were asking me why I have a blog. Some of them were not programmers. It reminded me about the draft of this post, which I have for more than a year now. I planned to extend it, but I think keeping it short, and maybe edit in the future would be a better solution.

The reasons why I have a blog:

Hi, I’m Jakub and I work for Microsoft

Blue badge

After I got my degree in August I moved to Redmond, WA to start my new job at Microsoft. I work for Azure App Platform Team. My official position is Software Development Engineer (SDE).

It has been a month since I started. So far, my team, work environment, the product and development process are great.

My team

MS team

My team (which is part of Azure App Platform) is working on the new Azure Portal. People in my team are smart. All of them. Moreover, they are really passionate about things they are doing, and they really care. I am working with Steve Sanderson, the creator of Knockout.js and one of the best technical speakers. The team is very diverse: people from many different countries all around the World, with a quite few girls among them.

My team is working in Agile.  The working culture is generally: “Get the job done”. People are in the office usually between 10am and 5pm. Some are coming later, and stay longer, others come early and leave early (there are also people who come early and leave late). If somebody feel the need to focus and don’t being interrupted then he/she is working from home, and it is not a problem.

What is the best, I am not implementing some spec written by somebody 5 levels above me. I need to implement an idea, add my contribution, suggest changes etc. When I asked a question what are the expectations from me, my lead and my manager told me that they expect me to suggest some ideas how to make the product better, how we can improve it, and what we are doing wrong. This is exactly what I was looking forward to!

Work environment

MS workspace

The building I am working in (Microsoft Building 44) is designed for Agile interactions. There are white boards everywhere. We work in Open Spaces (around 15 people per room). Microsoft is changing approach, and moving from private offices/cubicles to open spaces. What is cool, there are 3 conference rooms ‘attached’ to our Open Space (2 small, 1 big), and if somebody needs to work in peace, he/she can use one of them. If all are occupied (which does not happen very often), there are special ‘focus rooms’ (with desk and chair) in the building.

I have great machines to work on: HP Workstation Z420 (Xeon E5-1650 v2 3.5 GHz, 32 GB RAM, 128 GB SSD + 256 GB SSD + 1 TB SATA) with two 24″ monitors DELL Ultrasharp U2415, and Microsoft Sculpt keyboard and mouse. I have also ultrabook Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (i7-3667U @ 2 GHz, 8 GB RAM, 240 GB SSD). I have adjustable height desk, and very comfortable Haworth Zody Task chair.

The product

MS Azure Portal

The new Azure portal is a Single Page Metro Web Application. One of the main goals of the new portal is to make it easy for adding extensions. My team is working on the Framework, which is being used by other teams to create front-end for underlying Azure infrastructure. What is cool,  every extension is working as a standalone application in a separate iframe. Extension authors do not need to work with HTML and CSS a lot. They just use controls (e.g. list, combo box or checkbox) created by us, and communicate with them through TypeScript/JavaScript. Update of the view is performed by Knockout.js. Check Justin Beckwith’s post about the new Azure portal architecture. If you have not seen it yet, check the Overview of the new Azure Portal with Vishal Joshi and Scott Hanselman and Vishal and Scott create a new startup with the new Azure Portal. To get started with Azure, check my previous post, and get a free trial. Moreover, we need (and we appreciate) your feedback!


MS technologies

We use HTML5 and LESS for our View layer. LESS is very handy in maintaining big style sheets.

We use TypeScript (which compiles to JavaScript). Strong typing, and abstraction over JavaScript inheritance (TypeScript classes) is very, very helpful in building large-scale application. To be honest, I do not know how we would be able to maintain the new Azure Portal using raw JavaScript.

Our main JavaScript Framework is Knockout.js. This allows us to prepare generic, reusable controls that can be used by other teams without the need of interaction with the DOM.

Our unit test framework is QUnit. For integration tests we use Selenium.

We use git for source control management. As Continuous Integration Server, we use Jenkins.

We have code review process supported by CodeFlow. It is required to have at least 2 reviews before code can be checked-in/pushed to the repository.

Building process is supported by MSBuild.

Behind the scenes, we use bunch of other JS libs, e.g. q.js, inject.js, d3.js, hammer.js or ZeroClipboard.js.


After 1 month I love it! There are many challenges, and interesting problems to solve. I am still new to the project, and I didn’t discover it entirely yet. What I can say now, I really like the people from my team, the software development process and work environment in my team.

Probably I will be writing about my work on this blog. Stay tuned!

MS sign

Master of Science in Computer Science

After 1 year and 8 months of being a Graduate Student at Kansas State University and Research Assistant at SAnToS Lab Research Group I got my Master of Science degree.

Courses I took:

In my first semester as a Graduate Research Assistant at SAnToS Lab I was working on integration Bakar Kiasan with GNAT Programming Studio (using Python and PyGTK).

In Summer 2013 I started my actual research work, which is captured in my Master Thesis: A Model-Driven Development and Verification Approach for Medical Devices. The main problem of my research was to propose translation of AADL/BLESS models to SPARK Ada programming language. I created PCA Pump Prototype for BeagleBoard-xM platform, by translating already existing models (using translations developed by me), and performed verification (static analysis) using SPARK Verification Tools.

This is a video from my defense:

Unfortunately, QuickTime crashed 3 minutes before the end. Fortunately, you can catch up with slides.

I created additional video with PCA Pump Prototype demonstration. Pump is developed in SPARK Ada, and it runs on BeagleBoard-xM platform.

Patient Controlled Analgesia (PCA) pump is a medical device, which allows the patient to self-administer small doses of narcotics (usually Morphine, Dilaudid, Demerol, or Fentanyl). PCA pumps are commonly used after surgery to provide a more effective method of pain control than periodic injections of narcotics. A continuous infusion (called a basal rate) permits the patient to receive a continuous infusion of pain medication. Patient can also request additional boluses, but only in specified intervals. It prevents from overinfusion. In addition to basal and patient bolus, clinician can also request bolus called clinician bolus or square bolus.

My Master Thesis in PDF format can be found here. LaTeX source is available here.

I spent 2 years at Kansas State University (4 months as an Exchange Student, and 20 months as a Graduate Student). I had very good time and I learnt a lot. I really recommend to get Master degree from a different University than you get your Bachelor. Wroclaw University of Technology (where I got my Bachelor) is more practical. Graduates are ready to work at the industry. Kansas State is more theoretical and research oriented. I had an opportunity to experience both and I am very happy with that!

I am back!

Last two months were super busy for me. The end of semester (with compilers course‘s project), applying for a PhD studies, Christmas, New Year’s eve in Poland, and a job interview. I will tell you more about all of those things later in separated posts. Maybe not all, Christmas and New Year’s eve experience I will keep for myself 🙂

I am happy that all above is accomplished and I can get back to my routine (programming, blogging, reading books and learning new things).

It is worth to summarize the last year, which was quite successful:

  1. I started Master of Science in Computer Science program at the Kansas State University.
  2. I started this blog.
  3. I created twitter account and started using it.
  4. I co-organized dotNetConfPL (with Michal Franc and Pawel Sawicz).
  5. I almost maintained 4.0 GPA (I have 3.8 for now).
  6. I applied for Microsoft Student Partner position, but Microsoft rejected me.

The main goals for this year are:

  1. Graduate with Master of Science degree from Kansas State University.
  2. Start a new job.
  3. Run dotNetConfPL 2014.

I also would like to finally attend Dev Day conference in Kraków, but I am not sure if I will be in Poland on September 26.

During ‘the break’ I came up with a lot of ideas. I have 6 drafts for blog posts, 5 topics for a blog posts on the to do list and tons of ‘new, cool things’ to check out. When you get busy, because of School, work, personal issues etc. – don’t worry. Take a break, get all of more important things done and once you get back, you will be more happy and motivated than before.

don't just wish for a great 2014, make it so