Hello. This article is part of a series where we speak with professional software developers, ask them what it’s like to write code for a living, and perhaps gain a few insights into the software development industry along the way.
Today we’re talking to Danish developer and MVP Jens Fudge. Apart from being an excellent developer Jens is also an actual genuine Olympic Champion having won a Gold Medal for Denmark in the 1992 Summer Paralympics! As will become clear during the interview, Jens was not content with ‘just’ a gold medal Jens has a broad range of interests, is also a superb motivational speaker and author plus a very decent down-to-Earth guy too. It never ceases to amaze me the wonderful depth and breadth of talent and humanity we are lucky enough to have making up the development community.
Hi Jens, thanks so much for taking part, I really appreciate it
What would be your brief evening news summary of who you are and what you do?
I am a Danish person with lots of interests. My day-job is working as a freelancer with Delphi development, and teaching Delphi. In 2012 Anders Ohlson from Embarcadero at the time, asked me to receive the status of Embarcadero MVP.
I really enjoy helping others, which is why I also teach Delphi, and attend conferences as a speaker. I also like to learn, so I attend conferences as an attendee.
Which Embarcadero product(s) do you use a) the most b) regularly?
RAD Studio – Delphi.
How and/or why did you become a developer?
Originally I studied biochemistry and molecular biology, but I was distracted doing other things. So I quit that, and later studied Computer Science.
Do you think you will ever stop being a developer? If so, what would be next?
I will probably never quit being a developer. I at the moment spend almost all my work time as a developer, teaching Delphi is a small part of my worktime, and lately I have found myself working as a mental management coach for elite sports (World Championship and Olympic level).
What made you start using Delphi/C++ Builder?
Not what, who. Dr. Cary Jensen gave a one-day seminar in Copenhagen around 1995. All attendees received a CD-ROM with Delphi on it. Thanks for that Cary.
If you could give some advice to a student who is considering a career as a software developer, what would it be?
Take the time to learn the process of building Tests for your code. At least learn the principles of Test Driven Development.
Tabs… or spaces?
Spaces [Jens was the only developer so far not to take my deliberately baited question and write paragraphs discussing why it should be spaces or tabs!- IanB 😁]
What’s the best day you ever had as a developer?
Many days, but maybe the first time I saw the main sign in Oslo Railway Station. The sign showed which trains were scheduled for which destinations on which tracks for 20-something tracks.
I built the software for that (well, maybe not alone…).
What’s the worst thing about being a developer?
When the customer calls you and says that there is a bug in the software, costing millions of dollars per hour until it is fixed. Or maybe it is having to keep up with all the new technology coming out all the time.
Work from home, work from an office, work in an open plan / shared space? What do you prefer and why? Do you get to choose?
I dislike working from home, I have my own one-person office, but at customers I work with the team in open plan offices. I’m fine with alone as well as open plan.
Tell us something interesting we don’t know.
The longest real word I know (and can pronounce) is Hypoxanthineguanosinephosphoribosyltransferase.
I brew my own beer, my own wine, and of course my own mead.
In 1992 I won the Gold Medal at the Paralympic Games in archery
I approach life with the mindset, “if there is something I have never tried, I’m probably good at it”.
I have had champagne with The Queen of Denmark, she actually invited me over.
If you could wave a “fix the tech industry” magic wand what would you change?
Too many platforms.
Have you been to Silicon Valley? If so, how was it? If not, have you ever wanted to?
I have never been, I have never had any desire to go.
Have you ever met any famous/well known tech figures? Who was it? How did it go?
Yes. It turns out they all are human beings. I have met a lot of the top figures in the Delphi community, and I have taken a lot of them to Legoland (The original one in Denmark) and taught them archery.
If you could live your life again would you still become a developer? Why?
Yes, probably. As long as I can still be a freelancer for different companies. I love learning and by changing work-domains very often I get to learn a lot. As examples, I know how to determine whether or not to build a cement factory at a given location, I know how to run a railroad station, I know how to run an international airport, I know what kind of underwear is permitted (or rather what kind is not permitted) at international weight lifting tournaments, and many more work-domains. That is fun.
How many coffees do you drink a day and is it enough?
Not that much, only around 10-ish.
Are you a night hawk who codes until late in the evening, a morning person who gets up early and right into or do you keep to some sort of regular office hours?
I try to keep to some sort of regular office hours. Most often the customer wants me in the office at the same time-frame the rest of the developers are there.
In your career have you ever “pulled an all-nighter” to deal with something which absolutely had to be done?
Yes, a few times. The most pressing was building software for the airport in Oslo, there were some bugs in displaying information on the monitors. The system was huge, and involved a lot of processes talking to each other, so the hardest thing was to find which process was actually the fault. I wish I had heard of TDD at the time 😉
Describe some other things you’ve done in your career which might give readers a background into what makes a developer.
I have tried to keep up with at least some new tech stuff. I try to learn stuff every day. I ask questions. I enter myself as a speaker at various conferences, and more than once I have picked a subject to talk about that I have no clue about. Forcing myself to learn. Don’t tell the conference people this 😉 [Oops, too late! 😉 – IanB]
What is the most stupid question you get asked (none of these count!)
I actually honestly believe that when someone asks me a question, it’s because they don’t know the answer, and they are keen to know.
After winning the Gold medal at the Paralympics, a TV-interviewer asked me how I felt. I did think at the time it was a stupid question.
Do you quote for work with clients? If you do, without revealing anything which would make you uncomfortable what sort of process do you use?
I try to work by the hour with an hourly price.
How do you stop clients/program managers/managers from ‘feature creep’?
I work by the hour, so I don’t try to stop them 😉
Describe a typical coding session for you. How does it start? Do you take breaks? Do you have any rituals/habits to accompany it?
I try to understand the domain first. What is it I am supposed to create? Then I try to get a rough design in my head. No rituals, but frequent breaks if I remember.
Do you listen to music while you code? If so, can you tell us a few tracks/artists/performances?
I do not listen to music while I code.
Do you use any methods or techniques such as Agile, Scrum, Kanban, TDD? If so, why? If not, why?
I use whatever the customer wants me to use. I like TDD a lot, and actually have a 1½ day course on the subject.
Do you track bugs? If you do, what do you recommend?
Get Nick Hodges to stare them down. They will run away.
What’s the best question you’ve ever been asked at an interview and how did you deal with it?
At a job-interview for freelancing the customer told me, that he was going to choose me or one other person. Just the two of us were in consideration.
Later in the interview he asked: “Can you write bug-free code?” It was a fair question, that I answered honestly. “No, I cannot write bug-free code, I can do my best to avoid bug, but I cannot and will not guarantee no bugs”. He then smiled and said: “Fine, you get the job, because the other guy said he could”.
Have you ever had a technical interview which went super-smooth – if so, what’s your advice for others? If you’ve had a disastrous interview what went wrong and do you need a hug?
Neither really, but I have had questions while teaching and at conferences that were within the subject, but I didn’t know the answer. I tackle that kind by answering “I don’t know”.
A good software developer:_________________________________________
A person willing to learn and willing to share.
A bad software developer:___________________________________________
A person trying to keep knowledge to himself in the belief it adds value to his person.
iPhone, Android, Other – and why?
I have both, mostly to see how different things work on different platforms.
For a developer: PC vs Mac? Why?
I have both, mostly to see how different things work on different platforms.
What is the one thing you would like to be remembered for?
Tough question.. being open minded and helpfull
What is the best developer/hacker/tech/geek movie?
I love a lot of movies and series. Almost anything sci-fi, like Dr Who, Star Trek, Star Wars, and many more.
No developer should be seen without:_________________________________________
A towel, at least on May 25th.
If a movie was made about your life, who would you want to play you?
Do you have a book, product or service you’d like to mention?
I do, I have written a book called “Choose to be a winner”. You may find a description on https://choosetobeawinner.com/english
I have some training courses that I frequently run, and now run them online. Trying to get back into classrooms or maybe a mix.
I do this in collaboration with Alfasoft in Sweden and Norway and with Nohau in Denmark.
What about user groups and conferences?
I am on the board, actually I am president (elected this year), of the Danish Delphi users group, and I try to get great speakers (the top speakers in the world really) to come to our bi-anually workshop.
I also go to conferences, to learn and to teach.
I am going to EKON 25 https://entwickler-konferenz.de/program-en/ where I am going to give two talks. One on how to build a REST Client to a public REST API using Delphi, and the other thing as not tech at all. It’s a talk about Imposter Syndrome, what it is, why it creeps up on you, and what to do about it.
I have also been asked to join Cary Jensen on his Panel about FireDAC
What do you do in your spare time (assuming that’s a real thing)?
I really enjoy archery, so I have taken the education to be a national archery judge, so I am out there judging archery competitions.
I also like coaching archers, especially kids (14-20 ish) but also adults. I love coaching them mostly on the mental game. I am sometimes hired, to do seminars on that for National Teams, and individual coaching for a few top archers up to World Championship and Olympic levels.
Recently, I was given the opportunity to spend an entire week teaching archery to disabled people, that was awesome, and I am trying to get my foot in the door to make this a recurring event. As earlier mentioned I also brew my own Wine, beer and mead.
Do you have a website people can visit, if so, what is it?
https://choosetobeawinner.com but it’s not about programming 😉
That was a great interview. Thanks for talking to me Jens. I’m particularly grateful for you mentioning the talk you’re presenting on Imposter Syndrome.
Part of the reason for these interviews is to try and help remove some of the mystique and get under the polished presentations common in the tech industry in the hope it will encourage people who are considering a career in software development where they might otherwise have been deterred. Imposter Syndrome is extremely common often affecting even the most seemingly erudite, well-known people and can stifle talent needlessly. It’s perhaps the biggest tragedy of the tech industry (and many others). Keep reading these interviews to see what it’s really like to be a developer and, if you can, catch Jens’ talk at EKON 25.