Hello everyone, and welcome to my page! In this post I would like to explain the main reasons why I have decided to write a blog.
I’ve never blogged before, but right now I am at a point in my life when I would like to effect some major changes, and having an outlet for my thoughts should be helpful. For one thing, this will allow me to record my ideas and goals so that I can go back and see whether I am accomplishing what I have set out to do (obviously, self-accountability is always important). For another, I’ve had an interesting and somewhat unconventional life so far, and hopefully have acquired some wisdom that others might find useful.
Finally, I’ve been watching (or rather mostly listening to) a lot of videos from John Sonmez’s Youtube channel. I understand that there are plenty of self-development channels and podcasts out there, some of which are much better known than John’s, but over the last year his videos have been a major influence on my life. This is not to say that I agree with him on everything; in fact, I will probably have a blog post in the future where I will try both to distill those of his ideas that I find personally useful, and to outline the areas where my opinion differs from his.
Anyway, one of his suggestions that definitely seems valid is that having a social presence can greatly increase the career potential of a software developer by means of building a reputation and using the concept of inbound marketing (when people come to you with business offers because they know who you are and respect you). For this purpose it is actually better to have a blog or podcast focused on a specific technology, but right now I am still not quite certain which technology I’ll be concentrating on (in one of my next posts I am planning to discuss my plans and interests in detail), and for the reasons mentioned above having a personal blog should be valuable for me in any case.
I will tell a little bit about myself to explain the circumstances that led me to this point in my life. I was born in Moscow, Russia (or rather USSR) in 1973, where I lived until 1997. In 1996, I graduated from Moscow Engineering Physics Institute with a degree in solid-state physics. After that, I worked as a stock market consultant at a bank for a year before moving to the US to pursue a Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering (power electronics) at Penn State, which I successfully completed in 2004. For the next year, I worked at Tulane University in New Orleans as an adjunct professor, teaching undergraduate classes.
When my employment authorization expired, I became a graduate student at Tulane in order to stay in the States (since I was not able to find a job that would sponsor a visa for me) and earned an M.S. degree in computer science (artificial intelligence) in May 2007. Around this time I submitted an application to Canada for permanent residency, and moved back to Russia for a year while my application was being considered.
Around 2005, I started playing poker online to supplement my graduate stipend, and by the time I graduated in 2007, I was making pretty good money doing it, so I felt no pressure to find a job. Back in those days, online poker was exploding, and there were a lot of weak players literally giving their money away.
I got my Canadian permanent resident card in 2008 and moved to Vancouver, where I kept playing poker full time until the end of 2017. Unfortunately, the poker industry has suffered a lot of setbacks during those years, and the easy money is no longer there. While it’s still possible to make a decent living from poker with enough effort, I feel that with my education and abilities I can do a lot better. Since last March I have been studying/refreshing various programming languages and computer science topics, looking for the best area to specialize in. I believe I have a pretty good general idea of what I want to do, which will be the focus of my next few posts.