Jul 17, 2016

How to find outstanding people to work with?

A few years back, in 2010, I gave a talk to the graduating class of DIET as part of the IEEE Gold program. The topic was about "How to craft a successful engineering career?".  I had just finished little over 3 years at Microsoft and was looking forward to the next phase in my career. My talk was partly based on my own experience and partly based on what I thought were the key traits of successful software engineers. Among the slides, there was one about getting ahead in your career, where I emphasized on working with people who do outstanding work:

Recently, someone chanced upon the presentation and asked me the exact question - How to find the best people to work with? As I think more about it now, the advice to work with outstanding people seems obvious but is not very actionable. 

  • How do you find outstanding people to work with? 
  • What if they do not want to work with you? 
  • Do you really have the skills to work with such people?
  • How to create situations that require you to partner with the best?

I do not have best answers to these questions except my own experience. I will begin by highlighting that most times people don't chose their first job and make the decision based on companies coming to their university, grades cut off and city to work in. More often than not people find themselves in jobs they don't see themselves doing for more than a few years.

At the beginning of my career, my first job was not the most challenging and exciting role that I had imagined it to be. It was not pushing me enough to learn and I very soon grew out of it. As I was still very new at the company, I decided to explore more teams and their focus areas that would excite me. Not the easiest thing to do when you are just a few months old in your first company but the best and sometimes the only way to proceed further is to have an open discussion with your manager, but at the same time continuing to do good work in your current role. Your manager needs to feel invested in you and continue to believe in your good intentions to deliver outcomes for your current team. Managers and employers usually support career discussions if they are based on the need for more challenges and wanting to contribute more. This is one way to start exploring teams and people you see yourself working with.

Another tactic you can try is to figure out who is the most technical & outstanding person (or skills you relate with outstanding) within your team. Try to create and propose projects to work with them. It is often hard to do so as they may have limited time or different personalities. But I have found that there is a lot you can learn by being around such people.

If you cannot figure out the best people that you have something to learn from in your own organization you should look outside in the community. Attend meet-ups and professional conferences to network with people. Look for ways to contribute to an open-source project. By going beyond your immediate workplace you are more likely to find someone you would be energized to work with, learn and feel satisfied.

Sometimes, it may be the case that you may have a skill gap to reach where you aspire to reach and people you wish to work with. Ultimately, you have to also remember and answer the question for yourself that 'Why will outstanding people work with you?' When I decided that I wanted to build a career in research, I realized that getting a PhD is the minimum qualification. That meant going back to school for my doctoral studies. After I finished my PhD, I found that several new opportunities opened for me in academia and industrial research.

To work on outstanding projects and people, we should always aspire to do outstanding work ourselves. No matter what the role or the job, always strive to give your 100% and aim to be the best in the world at it. As they say - don't half-ass anything, whatever you do, always use your full-ass.

Jul 8, 2014

Vulnerability Disclosure for Node.js Applications - CashCube and WEPL

This post is about two Server Side JS injection vulnerabilities that I found in CashCube, a node.js application which does personal money management and WEPL, a node.js based REPL.

In CashCube, the vulnerability is due to the use of unsanitized input in the eval command, this enables the attacker to pass arbitrary commands to the server. Can lead to shutdown of server or even deletion of files from the server filesystem. The details of the disclosure are on the github issue.

In WEPL, the vulnerability is due to a similar reason with the http request query parameter methodBody. The query parameter is directly passed to the eval function on the server side leading to possibility of command injection. The details of the disclosure are on the github issue

Jan 22, 2014

Executing OCaml Programs in Eclipse with OcaIDE

This blog post explains how to use OcaIDE to build and run your OCaml Programs. Assuming that you have installed OCaml, Eclipse and the OcaIDE plugin for OCaml, the first step is to setup the right paths to OCaml installation directory in the OcaIDE plugin configuration as shown in the below screenshots.

Once the path to the OCaml directory is set in eclipse you can create a new OCaml Project.The easiest way is to use the "OCaml Empty Makefile Project" type from the New Project Menu in Eclipse.

After creating a new project (say "lab03") right click it in the Navigator menu and click on import to add the files from the assignment in the new project.

Choose File System in the import menu to browse to the files downloaded from IVLE on your disk and check them to be added to this project.

Once you have added the files you can write your "Makefile" to build them. Right click the project and click New File as shown below.

Give the new file the name "Makefile" without any spaces or extension. Enter the following text in the file. The space after the "all:" line is a tab not a series of spaces. For more help about writing Makefile you can check the tutorial.

Once you have the Makefile in your project just right click it and select "Make Project". This would build the corresponding executable (lab03.exe here). If you get some errors make sure you gave the right path to the GNU Make installation in your system in the first step (e.g. C:\cygwin\bin\make.exe).

To execute the file just right click and choose  Run As "Ocaml Executable" as follows.

You should see some output on the console windows. If in the previous step you do not find any "Ocaml Executable" configuration click on the "Run Configurations..." menu item to create a new launch configuration.

Enter the name of the project and the choose the executable file to define a new launch configuration as shown above. Once you add the new configuration you can choose apply and run it. It should now execute with some output on the console window.

Dec 12, 2013

Life in Death

The truth of life is in death,
is this why our dreams are never met.
We go on with our lives everyday,
while the moment of truth is far away.

Life comes in its many shades,
while the blow of death is always gray.
Hopes are born with beginning of life,
death crushes them with no respite.

But is this really even life ?
filled with pain, sorrow, grief and spite.
When death is the only salvation,
why are we condemned to life's damnation.

Can you really repent your sins,
when you are bound by karma.
Will death be your salvation,
when in life you had no dharma.

Do you live to seek and find,
or to just go on with life's grind.
The seek ends at sundown with death,
when life cannot make further progress.

Death tests our regression into abyss,
filled with guilt and regret of life.
Do we really rise on the other side,
or death takes us for a long ride.

To live one must fight,
there is solace in last rite.
Does our fight go on beyond,
or does it end with the last yawn.

All our lives we move in different boxes,
the move always ends in the same casket.
Is death really the end of a move ?
or, on the other side, our journey begins anew.

When you see my cold dead eyes,
will you still care for the warmth of life ?
When the spirit leaves the humble abode,
does it travel a lonely road ?

We live all our lives divided by life,
while in death we all ultimately unite.
Is death then the only true god ?
when religions are filled with fright and fraud.

And what say we to this humble god,
not today, we are not ready to go abroad.
How long can we keep saying no ?
Does it even matter to all those in the know ?

The cycle of life and death goes on and on,
we come, we go, we shuffle around.
Life in death and death in life,
is there any difference, or, are they alike?