Susan Potter is a wearer of many hats, but mostly software engineer and practicing applications architect (based in Chicago, IL).
Extras: Last month, Susan presented at WindyCityDB conference in Chicago, IL on Link-walking with Riak. She was a speaker at Code PaLOUsa 2011 in June. Talk: Deploying distributed software services to the cloud without breaking a sweat. She is very active in the open source community with GitHub personal repositories, Twitter4R and collection of Gists.
Our short Q&A with Susan Potter:
What is your technical background?
At university I studied Mathematics, but audited Computer Science courses while writing an experimental parallel and distributed PDE solver first in C, then in C++ and finally in Java, which didn’t have much utility other than to teach me how not to write multi-threaded or distributed software.After graduating I worked for investment banks in London before skipping off to a San Francisco startup building a B2B trading platform and have since been working as a senior software consultant for hedge funds, investment banks and technology startups all over the US.
What industry sites or blogs do you read regularly?
To be honest, I use my Twitter timeline and some private lists as a fairly reliable source of interesting, relevant and/or thought-provoking technical resources from all over the internet. However, the following links have been fonts of recent software engineering wisdom or great resources in the areas I currently practice within:
- Erlang/OTP resourses:
Steve Vinoski’s blog,
erlang-questions mailing list
- Haskell resources:
Home of Haskell Weekly News,
Control.Monad.Writer by Don Stewart
- Databases & datastores:
- Scaling & high-availability:
GitHub (yes there are other sites, but not as active or fast growing)
What are a few of your favorite development tools and why?
I recently wrote a blog post on the (types of) tools that have made me a better software engineer. In short these are: emacs, vi(m), make, gdb, UNIX commands / utilities, UNIX shells, LaTeX, Git. The blog post explains why.
What tip or advice would you like to impart to women interested in programming?
If you enjoy software development, always learning new things and are excited about the possibilities in this field, then do not let anyone discourage you from persuing it further. There will always be a job market for self-starters that can teach themselves even if they don’t have the right educational background. Make sure to back up what you have learned on your own. Open source projects, blog posts or screencasts that demonstrate your skills in the areas you are looking to get into help much more nowadays than simply having a CS degree with no public portfolio IMHO.
If you were a computer part, what would you be?
A CPU socket comes close. It provides multiple connections (mechanical and electrical) between the microprocessor and circuit board. In the technology community it seems I am always connecting people based on their interests and needs such as connecting business founders with technical founders or hiring managers with skilled developers (mechanical connections). Other times I am suggesting new architectures, software stacks, tools, etc. to solve the problems people I talk to are currently encountering (electrical connections).