For this month's Developer Spotlight interview, we sat down with our very own Infrastructure Engineer, Jamie Sinn!
Q: Where did you go to school/what is your background in engineering?
A: My involvement in the engineering community and interest in engineering stems all the way back to participating in FIRST Robotics Competitions as a kid. FIRST really guided me towards hands-on engineering projects and helped me grow my engineering network over the years.
I’ve been programming since I was a young kid, with a heavy focus on backend/performance systems, as I never really had the skills for design/frontend development. Because I loved breaking things and fixing them, I soon realized I was most interested in infosec, and I ended up getting an Honours Bachelor of Information Systems Security at Sheridan College.
While I was still a student, I had my favourite internship at FIRST headquarters where I worked on security, and for the competition itself like game design for the 2020 FRC season!
Q: What’s your favourite thing you’ve ever built or worked on as an engineer?
A: DevCycle. We launched DevCycle after I joined the company, so I’ve been involved in the core architecture from the beginning, which is always a really special process. I’m also truly putting my effort behind something that I think is really valuable here. We have the power to shift the accessibility of feature flagging and make it something as standard as unit testing in a developer’s workflow, which I think is super impactful.
Q: What is one tool in your current stack that you could not live without?
A: Probably any Jetbrains IDE. I’ve used them for 10+ years, and (in my opinion) they are the best IDE you can get for most cases (Visual Studio would be the exception IMO). We use Macs here at DevCycle, and Jetbrains provides the most consistent experience across Windows and OSX which helps streamline your entire workflow, and makes the developer experience really positive.
Q: What are you learning right now?
A: Development wise, I’m currently trying to learn Rust, and expanding my experience with Go. I’m able to learn these mostly through books – I can usually read the book, and just start building projects in that language and learn from trial and error. I highly recommend any books by No Starch Press for this kind of stuff!
Outside of the development world, I’m trying to push my non-engineering knowledge towards some business validation stuff, which is important in a security role like mine to help our senior leadership team make decisions.
Lastly, I’m done with my PADI Open Water Diver course! I’ve been taking the course for the last few months and the final step is open water diving. (I’m probably going to complete it sometime in May, given that we live in Canada and I’d rather not dive in the lake right now.)
Q: If you could give any engineering related advice to your younger self, what would it be?
A: Don’t give up when you’re told no – find a different way to pose the question.
Q: What do you do to get "unstuck" on a really difficult problem or bug?
A: I usually try to find out how a similar problem has been solved in a different language or with a different use case. We don’t work in vacuums – the engineering world has more solutions than problems, so looking at other examples and making use of shared resources is always a good option.
Q: Describe your best (physical) environment to code in.
A: 3 monitors, a keyboard with mechanical switches, a mouse, a good ergonomic chair (specifically my Autonomous ergochair), and most importantly, no white lights (warm lights and yellow tones are better for me).
Q: What’s the largest roadblock or challenge you’ve ever had to navigate in tech?
A: Years ago, I built a tool that’s a networking router that automatically configures itself based on certain networking environments you have. When building it, I had no physical access to (or ability to) simulate every possibility of it, so I had to make a lot of calculated guesses. As a result, it still doesn’t work to the best of its ability today. But it’s still solid given the limited access/ability I had while building it.
Q: What’s your least favourite thing about being an engineer?
A: You’re always working. Your head is always focused on how to solve the next problem, and sometimes the solutions will come to you in unlikely and undesirable situations (i.e. in the middle of the night when you’re trying to sleep). This is true for both work, and not work problems!
Q: What’s your favourite part about your job/being an engineer?
A: You’ll never have the same problem twice. Even though it may look like the same problem, it’s always a different problem that requires a slightly different solution.
Q: What’s your coffee order, and where’s the best place to get that coffee from in Toronto?
A: A White Laotian Caramelized Coffee with 1 espresso, 2 milk, 1 sugar from Mos-Mos (specifically the one in Commerce Court).
Q: Outside of work, how are you involved in the tech community?
A: I’m very involved in FIRST Robotics to this day. In my opinion, volunteering with FRC is the most valuable thing that I can give back to the tech community because of how much it’s helped me and how much I see it helping the next generation. I spend most of my vacation time in March and April helping out at various competitions, and really enjoy volunteering my time at such an impactful organization.
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