Meet Shoaib! He is a WordPress Team Lead at Computan.  He has advanced skills in building custom WordPress themes and plugins as well as really good scripting and front-end skills.  In addition to being one of the calmest people on the planet.  In this installment of Behind The Coding Shoaib takes us through his most recent reads, how he dreams about solving problems and the secret to aging well as a developer.  

Hi Shoaib! How are you doing today?   

Hi Sajeel.  I am good thanks.  How are you? 

I am quite well! What are the last 3 things you Googled? 

Well, the last couple of things I Googled were function names. 

Why exactly? 

You know how it is.  We use prebuilt function names all the time, but even then sometimes we forget them.  A quick Google search brings them back up.  It’s the quickest and easiest thing. 

Ok! What else? 

I Googled a few AI Books.   

AI books. Are you interested in that? 

Yes extremely.  I am an avid reader and have been studying AI for over a year now. 

What are 2 or 3 books you recommend anyone curious about AI picks up? 

The 3 books I recommend are: 

Life 3.0 
Mastering Algorithms 
AI and Machine Learning for Coders 
Have you started programming in AI? 

Yes, a little.  I am trying to understand Transflow (Google’s AI Framework).  Also need to sharpen my linear algebra. 

Why? Are you going back to high school? 

Hahaha, no-no.  What I find is most of the basis of AI is rooted in linear algebra.  

That’s so interesting.  What else have you been Googling? 

I need to buy a new chair.  Getting a little backache from the current one and hoping a change can help! 

I hope! When was the last time you worked after hours to solve a hard problem? 

It’s funny.  I was having an issue with a custom Mailchimp integration I built on the University of Toronto Facilities and Services project.  I had a really challenging solution and couldn’t figure it out.  So I went to sleep.    

Going to sleep solved the problem? 

Yes! I went to sleep and dreamt about a solution! I woke up, tried it and it worked. 

Wow! You dreamt about a solution and it came true? 

Yes, it did! That has happened a handful of times in my career so far. 

I dreamt I was flying like a superhero.  I woke up but I was still not able to fly. 

That’s too bad. 

Who are 3 people you'd like to have dinner (Davaat) with at the same time and why 

My 3 sisters.   

Why your sisters? 

They live far away.  One lives in Calgary, one lives in England and the other lives with me!  We rarely get to sit together and have dinner.  

What makes dinner with your sisters so special? 

We just had so much fun growing up.  The dinner table was just a lot of fun.  

That’s nice!  

Yes.  I also wish to go to one of the office dinners. 

Why so? 

Well, I have been on the team for a number of years now.  I talk to so many amazing colleagues that I think are really intelligent people like Haseeb (Haseeb Ilyas, project manager), Hassan (Hassan Hashmi, Team Lead) and Kassem (Mohmed Kassem, project manager).  It would be a great experience for us all to sit in a room with them and others and meet in person.      
When was the last time you cried tears of laughter? 

During the Champions Trophy Cricket match when Pakistan was playing India.  It happened during Ramadan, I had a few friends over to the house for iftar.  It was an awesome night.    

That match was several years ago! You don’t cry tears of laughter often obviously! 

Nope.  My eyes are usually dry of laughter.  I am a pretty laid-back person. 

What do you love about coding? 

I like the process of getting better.  Achieving little things and incremental improvements on things.  Coding is like that.  You don’t build a castle in a day, but every day the castle gets a little closer to being ready.  That daily improvement is fun. 

And you have been doing this for a long time. 

Yes! And my goal is to do this forever and ever.  

You don’t want to become a development manager or something like that? 

No thank you 😊. I really enjoy coding.  It brings out the best in me. 

Where were you when you first saw a laptop/desktop? 

My father bought it for me! It was a Pentium 3.   

That was a supercomputer! 

It was at the time. A funny story is I didn’t know how good a computer it was when I got it. 

Like you didn’t know it’s worth? 

Exactly.  But once I found out I really started to enjoy it more.  I don’t know why, but I did!  

What did you do on it the most? 

C++ coding. A lot of C++ coding. 
What is something your teammates don't know about you? 

They don’t know my age.  I mean I’m older than most of them! 

Yes and yet you are still one of the most reliable team members. Each year you continuously improve yourself.  How do you do it? What advice do you have for younger developers? 

Coding is often seen as a young person’s game.  Because there are new technologies coming out constantly.  In my opinion, it is an old-person’s game.  The more experience you have, the more wisdom and knowledge you have to solve problems.  Those problems span the divide between different technologies.   

So the more experience you have you understand the mind of a project instead of just the task itself? 

Something like that.  With experience, you learn to look at things holistically.  That was harder for me to do as a young developer. 

What advice do you have for your younger developers? 

Work on your craft.  Love what you do.  Those are kind of cliches, but that is really important.  Every day it is important to grow as a person too.  That makes you a better developer.  If you are not growing in this field somehow then it shows you may not love your work.  That is dangerous in the development world.