Author Archives: Azat

About Azat

Entrepreneur, 12+ years in IT and web development expert: NodeJS, JavaScript, MongoDB, Ruby on Rails, PHP, SQL, HTML, CSS. 500 Startups (batch Fall 2011) alumnus. http://azat.co http://github.com/azat-co

MMAT: My Teaching and Learning Approach

MMAT: My Teaching and Learning Approach


In our day and age, learning is more important than ever because things change so rapidly. I learned a taught a lot of things during my career which led me to discover that the best and the most effective learning method is to use MMAT: Motivation, Methodology, Action and Time.

Motivation is number one. It’s the answer to a “why?” question. Without it, we won’t do anything else. People who constantly remind themselves of their WHYs are more motivated and can overcome any other difficulties like finding the best methodology.

A good methodology (or learning structure and material) is important because without a good strategy and know-how we will drown in a sea of ubiquitous information. We simply will never accomplish our learning goals due to analysis paralysis. And yes, sometimes it take a lot of time to find the best methodology. Don’t get caught up in never ending search. Perfect is the enemy of done so just pick something good enough and stick with it for a while.

Next is the action. Action is what separates theory from the real results. Action clarifies. It shows what’s working and what’s not, what’s important and what’s not. Action brings up new questions. Action turns new learning into habits and then into identity (which makes things automatic — a second nature).

There are so many fake teachers who never worked in the industry and yet teach people business, marketing, finance, computer science, literature. A lot of their teaching is plain BS that’s better to ignore because it can actually harm the real doers.

Lastly, time. Time is needed to soak up the skills, to ruminate, to muse on them to come up with novel ways to think and work. Sometimes it’s more practice and action. Sometimes it’s stepping away and then coming back to the new skill after a short break (e.g., space repetition).

The bottom line is that once we’ve acquired the methodology, we should aim to take a lot of action. A lot! And we ought to be prepared to wait, be patient and give time for our new skills to sharpen. It can take years. The luckiest will master the skills and they’ll become second nature. We can remind ourselves of our motivation to keep going.

Why I’m Getting a Second Master’s Degree from HEC Paris

HEC Paris

Why I’m Getting a Second Master’s Degree from HEC Paris

Two months ago, I applied and was accepted to a master’s program at a prestigious business school (ranked #2), HEC Paris. The degree is title Master of Science in Innovation and Entrepreneurship (MSIE). It has 10 normal courses, 10 practical project-based courses and one large team project. The master’s program lasts about one year and a half. Thus the program ends in 2020. However the graduation will be in 2021, because HEC has only one graduation ceremony which is held in its beautiful Paris campus.

I finished my first Master’s degree in 2007. It was Master of Science in Information Systems Technology from the University of Northern Virginia. I don’t like traditional universities and degrees. I’m a strong proponent of modern online education like Node University or Udacity. I taught at the Hack Reactor coding academy and I’m a huge fan of vocational schools that teach practical trades as oppose to abstract and theoretical knowledge unnecessary for the real-world jobs. Needless to say, that there are a lot of materials available online via YouTube and blogs. So it might come as a surprise that I’m getting a second masters degree. However, I decided to commit to getting a second Master of Science degree for the following reasons:

  • Motivation: When you pay 10s of thousands of dollars or euros you are more motivated to continue and finish the studies
  • Focus and pre-filter: Someone with a good reputation already did the selection for me. I avoid ads or possible distractions form web surfing when I’m on Coursera.
  • European perspective: Living in San Francisco and Silicon Valley area for the last seven years I understand that we live in a bubble here. SF is not the entire world which has other, bigger and more real, problems. It’s nice to hear and learn another perspective on business and innovation.
  • Content: Things change fast and after 12 years, it’ll be nice to become a student again and get a nice broad overview of current methods and techniques in entrepreneurship in a nice distraction-free format (reading blogs or watching YouTube is a pain!).
  • Experience: the MSIE program is mostly (50%+) project based which gives actual experience instead of just being abstract lectures.
  • Brand and Network: HEC Paris is number 2 business school in Europe with a large and global presence, brand and alumni network. Brand is great because it attracts best student (for peer learning), best coaches (for projects) and best faculty (for lectures).
  • Convenience: The MSIE program is 100% online with weekly live calls, chat rooms, forums and online proctored exams. I don’t like the idea of being confined to one location and a set time for lectures for the next two years. With this format, I can travel often or even more to a new place all together.
  • Relatively cheap: The MSIE, HEC Paris program cost only 20,000 euros comparing to ~$30–40,000 USD for master’s from Harvard Extension or $150,000 USD for Wharton EMBA.

I looked at other Master’s programs. In particular, I researched Wharton Executive MBA (WEMBA) in San Francisco. They fly all the faculty from Pennsylvania ever other week. I even took a few courses form the same program. The requirement of being tied and having to come to SF every other week for two years is too limiting for me. The price is very steel.

I looked at master degrees from Harvard Extension and even took a course from them. I didn’t like their approach. It’s too rigid with the focus on minute details, fact and rote memorization. The requirement for home assignment for some courses are too arcane (must be only in MS Word with certain font size and margins). The fact that they require students to come to every live webinar every week (missing even a single webinar is not allowed) is very depressing and limiting. The platform is clunky (can’t download videos for online viewing).

I like the HEC Paris uses Coursera which is one of the best platforms for online courses. The MSIE content is relatively new and the approach is more practical. I’m in cohort 4 which means that it’s only fourth batch of students. If I’m not mistaken, cohorts 2 and 3 are still studying and haven’t graduated. Being in the 4th cohort means that university and Coursera ironed out all the kicks and perfected the program.

The application process was lengthy but totally doable: few essays, video cover letter, bio, experience and two references (done by email). The Coursera and HEC Paris staff are responsive and all the logistics ran smooth so far. The students have incredible backgrounds and I’m sure we’ll learn a great deal form each other in addition to the lectures and projects.

I’ll try to keep writing about my journey through this innovative and practical Master of Science program.

Acquisition of Node University by DevelopIntelligence

After 2.5 years of starting my online school for software engineers Node University and growing it to one of the best resources on Node.js, APIs and AWS, I’m happy to announce the acquisition of Node University by the tech training company DevelopIntelligence. 💰😎🍾 I’ve known and worked with DevelopIntelligence for many years. They deliver outstanding in-person tech training to Fortune 500 companies. The synergies and future of combining in-person with online training are massive. I’m sure the new team will take Node University to the next level! 🚀

Azat’s Management Philosophy

Azat’s Management Philosophy

Have you ever wondered what your manager is doing all day? Are you guilty of secretly thinking he/she is playing Candy Crash and attending endless stream of useless meetings? If yes, then you are normal. Management is often invisible and hard to understand. We have tons of books and courses on management but too few good leaders. Sadly, many of us had a bad boss and too of us had a great boss. This post will share my approach to being a good leader.

My management philosophy revolves around three things but one of them is the most important because if we get it right, then all other parts will fall into place. One thing that I care about the most, and which is my main job, is people. I coach, mentor and help people to grow in their careers. I find their strengths and talents. Most people are not that great at self awareness and self observation because their insecurities, desires or emotions interfere with the clear perception of reality. Observing people from outside as a manager or peer gives much better results—a much cleaner and fuller picture.

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Why GraphQL is Taking Over APIs

Why GraphQL is Taking Over APIs

A few years ago, I managed a team at DocuSign that was tasked with re-writing the main DocuSign web app which was used by tens of millions of users. The APIs didn’t exist yet to support our new shiny front-end app because since the beginning the web app was a .NET monolith. The API team in Seattle was taking the monolith apart and exposing RESTful APIs slowly. This API team consisted of just two engineers and had a release cycle of one month. Our front-end team in San Francisco released every week. The API team release cycle was so long because a lot of (almost all) the functionality had to be tested manually. That’s understandable. It was a monolith without proper automated test coverage after all—when they modified one part, they never knew what can go wrong in other parts of the application.

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Practical Node.js, 2nd Edition: Colored Print Book is Ready

The Practical Node.js, 2nd Edition print book is finally ready. It turned out the biggest thickest book I ever wrote (500+ pages). Practical Node, 2nd Ed. is even thicker than React Quickly.

My publisher Apress did a great job with design. They printed in color which means readers can see colored code, colored pictures and colored everything. This is never heard of in tech publishing (in my humble opinion).

Practical Node is the same book that was the top seller on Amazon when you search for “node.js” for many many months. Now this book is updated and better with THREE more new chapters and all code in ES6+.

Practical Node.js, 2nd Edition

Practical Node.js, 2nd Edition

I got only 10 free author copies from the publisher but they are awesome (pics below). If you want to buy from Amazon, here’s the link: https://amzn.to/2QsUucg. You can also buy digital and print directly from Apress: https://www.apress.com/us/book/9781484230381.

If you prefer to free books, then here’s the (unedited) “open source” manuscript on GitHub (also code is colored): https://github.com/azat-co/practicalnode. I’m sure you can find PDF on torrents too.

Give your eyes some rest from screens and get yourself a nice print Node book for holidays!

 

Join My Node Team at Indeed in SF: Great Impact, Life and Rewards

Join My Node Team at Indeed in SF: Great Impact, Life and Rewards

As you know, about a year ago I decided to join Indeed, the world’s #1 job search website. The company mission is simple yet powerful. It’s not a gimmick like in other companies (“Don’t be evil”, really Google?). Indeed’s mission is to help people find jobs. In this fast-changing economy, this mission is paramount.

I am having a great time here at Indeed. In addition to a great mission, there are a lot of interesting projects and smart passionate people. Every day I keep learning new things. You may wonder what I do.

To be more specific about my work, I’m managing several teams in Front-End Core, part of Engineering Capabilities. The teams work on things related to Node and Front-End Developer Experience. We build the back-end and front-end infrastructure for other products and teams. Our work is important because 100s of other software engineers use our services and tools. We are at the leading edge in terms of bringing the best tools and developer experiences.

I’m hiring a full-stack software engineer with the focus on Node into my team in San Francisco. The Indeed’s SF office is convenient. It’s right off Embarcadero and across the new Salesforce Transit Center. We have a huge patio for working, chatting and getting some vitamin D. You can take a look at the office in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16Ol-s0xNPg. This engineer will be working next to me, other SF teams and with Node team members in Austin, Seattle and Tokyo. Needless to say, there are exciting travel opportunities and flexible WFH schedule.

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Triage vs. Planning

Triage vs. Planning

A discussion came up in at my work about distinction between a triage and planning meetings. My take on this is that triage reactive whereas planning is active.

Let me illustrate this with examples. Imagine a customer-facing app like a WordPress CMS. Users use the CMS, encounter bugs, and curse. They sometimes report the bugs. An engineering team or a product manager will triage the incoming bugs and issues to sort out what need an urgent fix and what can be deferred. Bugs tend to be urgent but not always important (at least not important for the majority of users).

On the other hand, there is an important task. The CMS has a roadmap to add a paid feature that should increase company revenue and make the next year profitable. The paid feature needs to be implemented. It’s the top priority. Its implementation must be planned actively, separately and before any bugs. If not planned, bugs can take up all the time.

Thus, my suggestion is to plan and plan the priority first. Then plan the triaged work on bugs and tech debt. Focus on important first, not urgent.

Breaking Into IT and Tech as a Beginner

Breaking Into IT and Tech as a Beginner

Breaking Into IT and Tech as a Beginner

I got an email from a person frustrated that he can’t get an entry-level job in IT/tech. He knows PHP, HTML, CSS and MySQL, but he is tired of all the companies rejecting him and requiring a “perfect” expert (as he put it). That’s true that there are not that many entry-level jobs in tech. It’s hard break into tech. Most companies only interview senior engineers with at least five (5) years of industry experience.

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Tricky English Grammar for Programmers

Tricky English Grammar for Programmers

As I was editing my new book Practical Node.js, 2nd Edition, I found a few recurring mistakes that my publisher’s editor was correcting. I wrote over dozen of books but I still don’t know some of English grammar. Do you know some of these tricky rules?

  • Front-end app vs. frontend
  • Which vs. that
  • While vs. whereas
  • May vs. might
  • Login vs log in

Front-end is an adjective while frontend is a noun. For example, “I build front-end systems”, but “I work on the frontend”.

Which needs comma and it is less important than that, which is used without a comma. The which clause can be removed but the that one cannot be removed without the loss of the meaning. For example, “I like Node.js, which is JavaScript on the server”, but “Create a file that starts the Koa server”.

While and whereas are similar when you contrast two things, but whereas is a bit more formal (and less used in spoken language). While can be used for timing but whereas cannot. For example, “window is a global variable in browsers while/whereas global is in Node”, but “When it’s noisy in cafes, I write code while listening to Spotify”.

May has more probability than might. For example, “I may go to Japan next quarter”, but “I might quit Node.js and move to Denmark to study Artificial Intelligence”.

Finally, login is a noun and log in is a verb. For example, “Implement login using OAuth 2.0”, but “You need to log in to AWS console as admin first and only then create a new user”.