ASHLEY_DAVIS: Oh, thanks Dan. It's a, it's really exciting to be here. First time on a podcast. So feeling slightly nervous, but keen to get into it.
DAN_SHAPPIR: Well, I can appreciate. I think I told you this time is my first time interviewing on my own, so we can both be nervous together. And Ashley, I believe that you're coming to us from Brisbane, Australia?
ASHLEY_DAVIS: Yep, that's right. What we call the Sunshine State in Australia.
DAN_SHAPPIR: It's right on the East Coast, correct? More or less in the middle.
ASHLEY_DAVIS: Yeah, a little bit above the middle on the East Coast.
DAN_SHAPPIR: I think I told you before we started that I was thinking, hey, that's probably pretty close to Sydney, Australia, but it turns out that it's actually Australia distances close is a relative term. I think it's what like a 10 hour drive something like that?
ASHLEY_DAVIS: Something like that. It's like nowhere in Australia is close to anywhere else basically, except if you're in the southeastern corner, you're about five or six hours drive from anywhere there, down there. But if you're anywhere else in Australia, in Brisbane, in Adelaide, Darwin or Perth, you've got basically a half a continent or a continent to cover to get anywhere.
DAN_SHAPPIR: That's kind of like the inverse of the situation of where I am. I'm located in Israel and here everything is packed up or close together. So yeah, the drive from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem for example, it's just one hour and those are the two major cities in Israel.
ASHLEY_DAVIS: I did live in the UK for about eight years so I know what it's like to kind of have big cities within a train ride so it's a very different environment to live in.
DAN_SHAPPIR: Yeah I'm sure. By the way, how is the COVID situation over there?
ASHLEY_DAVIS: It's good in Queensland. In Brisbane we've got very few cases. We've had our borders locked down for quite a while, quite a few months, so we've had very limited travel between states and incoming from other countries. So it's been kept under control pretty well. We've had a bit of a hot spot down south in Victoria, where they've had an extended lockdown for many months to try and get this under control. But I think we're very lucky in Australia, given that we've got hard borders around the country in terms of, you know, we're surrounded by an ocean and that we've got quite a small population compared to many other countries, we've managed to keep it under control a lot better than a lot of other places. So my heart goes out to everyone, everyone who's suffering. It's a really difficult situation to be in.
DAN_SHAPPIR: Yeah, for sure. Good to hear that things are not so bad and even are improving over where you are. And by the way, I think you're also heading into springtime, correct, in terms of the seasons?
ASHLEY_DAVIS: Yeah, we don't really have that distinct seasons in Australia. I mean, especially up the north end of Australia. So it's just in winter it's a little bit cool and in summer it's very hot. But the days are heating up now, but it'll be at its hottest here over Christmas and going to January.
DAN_SHAPPIR: That's probably also better in terms of COVID, you know, less flus and stuff like that.
ASHLEY_DAVIS: And the, I think you call it the La Nina effect is back again after a few years. And that brings with it a lot of wet weather, a lot of storms. And we've really just experienced it the last couple of weeks. We've had about three big storms, lots of hail, lots of lightning, not in my area but in a lot of areas around here, there's been damage to houses and cars.
DAN_SHAPPIR: Oh my, I think I actually saw a picture of like hail balls that were fist size or something like that.
ASHLEY_DAVIS: Yeah right.
ASHLEY_DAVIS: Yeah that was just just on the south side of Brisbane in the last couple of days I think.
When I went freelance, I was still only a few years into my development career. My first contract was paid 60 bucks an hour. Due to feedback from my friends, I raised it to 120 bucks an hour on the next contract. And due to the podcast I was involved in and the screencasts I had made in the past, I started getting calls from people I'd never even heard of who wanted me to do development work for them because I had done that kind of work or talked about or demonstrated that kind of work in the videos and podcasts that I was making. Within a year, I was able to more than double my freelancing rates and I had more work than I could handle. If you're thinking about freelancing or have a profitable but not busy or fulfilling freelance practice, let me show you how to do it in my DevHeroes Accelerator. DevHeroes aren't just people who devs admire, they're also people who deliver for clients trust them. Let me help you double your income and fill your slowdowns. You can learn more at devheroesaccelerator.com.
DAN_SHAPPIR: I think that, you know, listening to what you're talking about, I'm kind of, you know, amusing for me because I see a lot of parallels between your career and my own.
ASHLEY_DAVIS: Oh yeah?
DAN_SHAPPIR: So I gather you that, like you said, you got so excited about it and you discovered that it worked so well for you, and then you ultimately wrote a book about it, I think.
ASHLEY_DAVIS: Yeah, that's right.
DAN_SHAPPIR: Yes, I did.
DAN_SHAPPIR: By the way, just to say that that closures are one of my favorite programming language features. Any language that doesn't have closures these days feels kind of stunted to me.
DAN_SHAPPIR: Just a question, is it kind of scary to implement your own algorithmic trading application? I mean, if you have a bug, you can lose a lot of money very quickly. No?
ASHLEY_DAVIS: Yeah, there are checks and balances in place. So I mean, my main system, I don't have an API from the broker that I can use anyway. So for a while I was using doing like screen scraping and browser automation to get my trades in. But that that hit some problems that meant I couldn't do that anymore. So now what I do is I run my code on the weekend and it gives me a list of trades to place during the week. And so I can get into the market first thing morning, place those trades manually. And I used to use conditional orders to get in, which meant I could place trades on the weekend, but again, various problems with those, you know, through experience means I don't want to use them anymore. So I place my trades manually provided everything is looking okay on the Monday morning. And then I use automatic stop losses and profit targets to get out of the market. So it's, it's as hands off as it can be, but there's no, I mean, the problem with trading is you get, you get emotional about it and you, and you, you can be irrational about it. So I wanted to eliminate, completely eliminate that and work off a strategy that had been back tested and, you know, analytically shown that, you know, that there was a mathematical edge that, you know, if you just run it long enough, it's a, it's gonna, you know, it's going to give you slow, steady profits. This has been a bad year with COVID in the stock market, so don't ask me about this year. But besides that, over the last few years, it's gone really well.
DAN_SHAPPIR: Well, you still have a shirt on your back, so I guess it's still OK.
ASHLEY_DAVIS: Funnily enough, the shirt that I'm wearing on my back at the moment was sent to me by Manning. They sent me four shirts at the beginning of the year, so that's kept me going all year.
DAN_SHAPPIR: Well, you know, they say I remember seeing this comic strip on that said where this guy is talking to a programmer and says that, I see by your shirt that you just came back from a conference. And he says, yes. This was a strip from before COVID. So he goes, I don't think you actually buy shirts, do you? You just go to conferences. And he says, well, I try to time my conferences so that I don't even have to do the washing.
ASHLEY_DAVIS: Well, you can't do that this year, can you?
DAN_SHAPPIR: Yeah, no, not this year. This year, it'd be fun.
ASHLEY_DAVIS: I'll tell you what. I really miss the meetup community in Brisbane. I mean, we do some online meetups still, but it's just not the same.
DAN_SHAPPIR: Oh, I definitely agree. I participated in something like two or three online conferences this year. I actually spoke at them, but it's definitely not the same. My favorite thing about conferences is the face-to-face, is the meeting up in the hallways and meeting new people and discussing stuff, and that's just not there with online Chrome. Well, you know, they tried, but it's not the same. And so I definitely agree with you. It's it's one of the things that I miss the most that and just traveling around, which I also enjoy. I sometimes think that Google Maps is trolling me whenever they send me that monthly update of this is where you were. And it's just this red dot on my house. And yeah. So anyway, you mentioned this application, this data processing application that you've written called DataForge. Can you elaborate on that?
DAN_SHAPPIR: but so, so I can interrupt you for a second, just to clarify. So DataForge notebook is it what exactly? Is it a library? Is it an application? How do you actually use it? What is it exactly?
DAN_SHAPPIR: So if I understand correctly what you're explaining, it's sort of like an enhanced node JS type environment where I actually type commands at the prompt, but in addition to the built-in node commands, I also have operations to draw graphs and process various file formats and stuff like that, and additional libraries that are already preloaded, as it were.
DAN_SHAPPIR: It's mostly about implementing existing algorithms and stuff like that, correct? And adding support for additional data structures and data formats.
DAN_SHAPPIR: It might be interesting for you, but Charlie Gerard, I don't know if you've, you've heard about her. She actually lived in Australia for a while. I think, uh, she just released a book about using TensorFlow JS. So that might be interesting for you.
ASHLEY_DAVIS: Yeah, definitely.
DAN_SHAPPIR: So they're both, they both were created by the same person.
ASHLEY_DAVIS: Yeah, that's right.
DAN_SHAPPIR: And just, and just Hillsburg, I think his name is pronounced.
DAN_SHAPPIR: I totally agree. We're starting to run towards the end of the show, but before we, before we move over to picks, I know that you have another book out, I think also on Manning about microservices. Can you tell us briefly about that?
DAN_SHAPPIR: That sounds really, really, really good. And I definitely agree that providing practical information about microservices, especially in this day and age, is very pertinent and very, very useful. So thank you for that. And with that, I will push us to picks.
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ASHLEY_DAVIS: Yeah, but just what you were just talking about, did you use like a Babel plugin to implement that?
ASHLEY_DAVIS: That's really cool. Yeah, it's just probably just two things I'd like to mention. One is that, just for myself really as a side project and because it's useful to me, I've been developing a can, a Trello style, can band board extension for visual studio code. But I'm also using this as an excuse to get into some live streaming. So I'll give you a link to my, my Twitch feed that you can put up in the show notes, but if people want to learn, you know, about TypeScript coding, actually see someone trying to do test driven development with TypeScript using Jest. And then ultimately building towards this this Kanban thing we can use basically to edit our Kanban boards within Visual Studio Code backed by Markdown files. So you have all your kind of to-do lists and stuff like that in text files, in Markdown files, but you can edit them using this nice UI. So I'm going through the process of building that and I've just started live streaming it and it's really fun. So I'll share that link with you in a minute. But I also just wanted to end up with just saying, you know, a few things sort of toward some advice to new developers or people who are aspiring to get into development. Go for it. Writing these books, you know, like has really allowed me to sort of get back into the position of how do I see this from a beginner perspective? And I want to write my books, minimal jargon and really, really orientated it to make it easy for people to break in really into areas that they might traditionally have been excluded from. So it really gave me a chance to kind of, you know, basically get back in the beginner shoes and kind of look at it from that perspective and coming into these books, you have minimal experience. And I just try to make it easy to read. But it's allowed me to see that perspective in a way that I hadn't been able to see, I guess, for a long time, which was an interesting learning experience for me. But my advice for new devs when I speak to new developers is basically the best skill that you can have to progress as a developer is persistence. Like, like if you can, if you can keep up a little bit of coding every day, like even if it's just five minutes, 10 minutes, 20 minutes, that's the starting point that that's building a habit of coding. And that's going to ensure that you retain the knowledge of the things that you're learning. So it's just practice, practice, practice, you know, build projects. It's all, it's all good to do tutorials, watch videos, read blog posts, all that kind of stuff. I, you know, I still especially love reading like full proper books when I'm trying to get into a new technology or a new language or something like that. But the real way to actually getting into it is to just code every day. And if you can throw yourself into it, and if you can be passionate and always be coding, just never giving up, that daily habit, that daily time adds up and you'll be an experienced developer in no time. So I just, yeah, just.
DAN_SHAPPIR: I totally agree. Interestingly few episodes back, we had Danny Thompson on the show, who's a person who not only broke his own way into software development, but also helps a lot of other people make their way into this field. And in fact, one of his mantras or one of the basic rules that he tells everybody who's trying to enter software development is what he calls his ABC is always be coding. So I definitely agree with everything that you've said there. I think, I think, you know, you got to get your hands dirty. That's the only way that you can actually learn.
ASHLEY_DAVIS: And I think if you, if you find yourself really inquisitive and just really into it and loving coding, like, like it just makes that, that time go really quickly. Like you just, it won't, it won't be boring. It won't be hard. You'll just be in the middle of it and it'll be, you know, you'll just be immersed in it, so you don't even notice if it's, if it's hard or not, that's the, that's, that's, I think that's how you know, if you're, if you're going to be really successful as a developer, if you, if you really love doing it, you're going to you're really going to get on well with it. But at the end of the day, it's just that persistence. Just keep trying, keep going and be nice to people, show respect. I think soft skills have been very underrated in our industry and are very important. Because at the end of the day, I think with hard work, anyone can acquire technical skills. It's just that matter of persistence. So if you can do that, if you're on the path to doing that, then start looking at your soft skills. How do you speak to people? How do you relate to people? Can you put yourself in their shoes? I think all that's really important as well.
DAN_SHAPPIR: I totally agree. Before we finish, if people want to get in touch with you, what would be the best ways to go about it?
ASHLEY_DAVIS: Oh, yeah, so the best way is probably Twitter. So AshleyDavis75. I'll give you a link for that as well that you can put up. And my live stream on Manning is AshleyDavis.
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