#145 Darko Meszaros the utilitarian developer
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Darko Meszaros 0:00
I wish one day, I can be a person who has a laptop. Or I can be a person who has a laptop and I get called in the middle of the night to fix things. So that was my childhood dream. And I know a lot of operations people out there are now flinching at it, like, "What? Are you crazy?" But yes, that was kind of a thing that I wanted to do. I will say it came true at one point, but it wasn't as cut out as I thought it would be. But yeah.
Tim Bourguignon 0:29
You mean having the laptop or getting woken up in the middle of the night?
Darko Meszaros 0:32
Both, you know I still remember one day I'm sitting in my bed as a kid. I'm like, "Oh, man. One day, I'm gonna have a laptop and somebody's gonna call me up in the middle of the night and call me, 'Hey, can you fix this?' and I'll pick up my laptop and try to fix it. But I can't fix this, so I get into my car and then I go and fix this." I thought that was cool. Yeah. It is. It is cool. Yeah.
Tim Bourguignon 1:11
Hello, and welcome to developer's journey, the podcast, bringing you the making of stories of successful software developers to help you on your upcoming journey. My name is Tim Bourguignon, and on this episode 145, I received Darko Meszaros. Darko is a senior developer advocate at AWS. His goal is to share his passion and technological know how, with engineers, developers and communities across the world. His focus is on DevOps and management tools. If it can be automated, he will definitely try to do so. Darko, welcome to Dev Journey!.
Darko Meszaros 1:49
Thank you very much. Thank you very much for having me. Hello, and "Здраво! Zdravo!" in Serbian as I do come from that part of the world. It means "healthy"
Tim Bourguignon 2:04
Thank you, I learned something again. Cool. So Darko, the show exists to help our listeners understand what your story looked like, and imagine and how to shape their own future. So let's go back to your beginnings. Where would you place the start of your journey?
Darko Meszaros 2:22
Okay, so I also need to state my age so people can understand how how far back this goes, or how not far back this goes. I am at the ripe age of 33. So relatively young and relatively old. And actually, my career or my first moment I've known that I want to do things with computers, was somewhere in the early 90s. And I would argue that a lot of people out there, I started on a Commodore 64 my father bought one. Back then the country where I used to live Serbia or Yugoslavia back then you couldn't legally buy a computer imported from places. So it was some some sort of a offhand deal from West Germany, we got like a Commodore 64 in the very early 90s. And in the early to mid 90s, I learned to read. And one of the first books I read was a guide on how to program a Commodore 64. And that blew my mind, right? The fact that you can just do things on screen, just type things on that big old keyboard. And things will pop up on screen, you know, I did this little there's this simple program that creates a bunch of worms on screen or, or creates like a little maze. Those are the things like I yes, computers are the thing I want to do.
Tim Bourguignon 3:52
Did you remember why? I mean, besides the fascination for typing something and having something, having the computer do something? Was it wasn't the creation part? Was it the the flexibility? The mastery over this, this TV? What attracted you there?
Darko Meszaros 4:11
I don't know, I was five or six back then. And it's like, I was fascinated just by the fact that I can put the worms on screen right. And like, I didn't have games back then I think I have had a single cartridge with like three games that came with a Commodore 64. So I wasn't really into like a video game. So the only thing I could do is kind of entertain myself, by putting things on screen. And that was kind of a fascinating thing for me back then. And that that kicked it all off.
Tim Bourguignon 4:40
So at the age of five, you say I'm going to be a programmer.
Darko Meszaros 4:43
Yeah. Well, I didn't know what the programmer was or I just knew I like computers and I want to do computers, whatever that means. So you know that that kind of took me in being you know, I came from a very modest background and that Commodore 64 so that's Commodore 64 that my father bought to me in 1990 was my main computer until 2001. That was the only computer in my house, that was the only thing I could use. So I got relatively good on using that thing. And, you know, I went to the extent of, I wanted to play a game, but I didn't have games, even still, in the early 2000s, I didn't have games for the Commodore 64. But I had a book with games in it. And for for the younger listeners here, back then a book, a game came on paper, it was basically like a listing of program lines you need to enter. And I would basically type type it all in, create a simple, like, you know, your Pac Man and clone or your space invaders clone, and it took me like, hours to do it, like just half a day for me to do that, I would then throw this game in and just play it, I would play the game. And then the problem was if I turn off the computer, it's gone. It's gone, like I've just wasted three hours. And I would do that and I would like leave the computer turned on for a while, then, you know, my sister comes in, and she turns it off, because it's wasting power. So it was it was those kind of things. But here's the thing, I started thinking like, you know, because you you write your you have, you have the true meaning of open source, right, you have to code your game to play it. And I had, you know, the look into that source code back then, you know, I just knew I knew it as code. But I figured out I can change things there, you know, I can change that my spaceship looks a bit different. And or I can change that the little pellet that shoots out, it's not a circle, it's a line. And I started doing this. And for some reason, it was fun. It was fun to break things and you know, kind of try to make them something else. So this really stirred my interest into computers and programming and all those things
Tim Bourguignon 7:01
Darko Meszaros 7:03
2001. Yeah, I know. It's weird. And to be honest, like I haven't gotten like a proper computer, I got like a very old hand-me-down 486 IBM in 2001, which was outdated massively. Only in 2004 did I get like a proper current generation computer when my mom was able to buy it for me. And so basically, my entire, let's call it more advanced career has started in 2004-2005. So up until then, it was just me trying to play with things that just don't work or barely work. But um, but I guess, because of that I have a massive love for all things old. So I have a, I have a collection of old computers, I have a collection of old consoles at home. So I keep on piling these things on for no apparent reason. I just like taking an old thing and making it work or making it do things that shouldn't. So like, one of the things I've done recently, I have a Commodore 64 here and I've I've connected it to the internet. I'm able to do some things with it on the internet. So why not?
Tim Bourguignon 8:17
Why not indeed? I personally missed the the C64 era. I was born a bit before but my dad bought an apple two, by the way. So So we went the other route. But one thing i have i've I have yet to to really understand. All the guests speaking about the C64 speak about this book they had, that right away explained how to program the C64. Yeah, and this is this is something I've never seen somewhere else. Yeah, this is fascinating. In this in this consumer world that we have right now, I guess it's the only the only example I have of a device being delivered right away with a way to programming.
Darko Meszaros 9:01
Yeah, we think documentation for granted these days that you have all that information. Now, mind you, the Commodore 64. And the computers from that age were very limited in what they can do. So it was easier to digest all of those things into a small little book. But it came with all of that. And because of its limitations and the way you work with it, you usually just spend time reading that book. And it was really well written. You read that book, and you try to do things from that book. So I think that's a win. And I think a lot of modern modern pieces of software or projects that come out should learn a lot from that by giving people a very easy way to get into things, you know, without having to stress too much about it.
Tim Bourguignon 9:49
Just imagine if you bought a MacBook nowadays, and here came a manual on how to use Xcode and create your first app at the same time.
Darko Meszaros 9:57
Yeah, I mean, okay, you know, computer have gone from being thing that you have to know how to use to becoming a commodity. So I get that. But I think, you know, things are going in a good direction we have your Raspberry Pi's, you know sold as educational computers. And usually when you buy Raspberry Pi, you get access to magpie, like all of those magazines and you get some books with it. And this is what you kind of show your kids you change, you know, checkouts scratch or sketch sketch, yes, check us sketch, and you can build something with it. And so the Raspberry Pi coming from where it come where it's coming, it's trying to emulate that thing. It's trying to, to be the thing that the Commodore 64 or an acorn, acorn, Acorn Electron or, or is that expectrum. Back in the day were as they were really computers that enabled people to be a thing that used to be called the bedroom coder.
Tim Bourguignon 10:50
So it seems to be as long as you're in the, in the, in the niche of the of the low level coding and tinkering with the with the hardware and the software at the same time, then you have this this connection with with the creative side, as and as soon as the the level, the flight level goes higher, then you lose this connection. And then you start getting manuals about how to use the, the axles or whichever, whichever spreadsheet stuff comes with the computer.
Darko Meszaros 11:23
Absolutely. It's absolutely, yep, I agree. I agree with that. And one of the things that also kind of, you know, computers are made for a different audience today than they used to be. And that's one thing. But speaking of the limitations of them, I that's one of the things I like about old computers is that those computers have so little kilobytes of memory that you can count the kilobytes on, you know. And it's, it's, it's complicated, right? Because the way you can do, the way you need to the things you need to do to make them do what you want, are much more complex, or much more much less abstract. But it I find some very, you know, some satisfaction in that, like I am, I'm by no means an excellent developer, I've developed for my own, you know, my own needs and utilities, but like, I dabble in, like assembly for the Commodore 64. And I just love the fact that like, you have to count CPU cycles when you do those things, because it's that down. It's that low, it's kind of feels very cozy, I can't explain it.
Tim Bourguignon 12:31
I feel you I worked in the healthcare industry for a while and, and we're sending sending packets from one machine to the other. And really having some design discussion about how to use this one bit.
Darko Meszaros 12:44
I have this much time during my you know, my screen, refresh that refresh. But the the there's a there's extra CPU cycles during the the horizontal frame shift or whatnot. And like, I can use that to do something else. And you can use that to calculate the specific math for my triangle to be drawn. I love that, right. And we've moved away from that nobody cares about, you know, having extra CPU cycles, nobody cares what CPU cycles are anymore. To an extent. So things have changed. And mostly for the better. Don't get me wrong. I'm just reminiscing on the old things, but I prefer having my nice modern computer, they can do two things at once.
Tim Bourguignon 13:28
That's true. That's true. I'm sure there are some some some very smart people who still care about the CPU cycles, and absolutely tinker with it.
Darko Meszaros 13:35
Tim Bourguignon 13:36
I leave them the all the fun, they can have my party. Very cool, okay. So, can you describe this, this, this period and period between 2001 and 2004? When when you probably discovered internet and discovered then this, these 286 and then and then modern computer, and how it influenced the way that we you learn maybe the way you discovered more of this computer world, etc.
Darko Meszaros 14:06
So it's, it was I would like to say somewhere April 2001 of my mom picked me out of class and like, hey, let's buy you a computer. I was over the moon. Well, I mean, that's the best thing that's gonna happen to me in my life. That's it. We actually bought an IBM dx4 486 and 100 megahertz, 16 megabytes of RAM and one gigabytes of hard disk storage computer with a 14 inch monitor. All CRT and like that's a computer from 1984. Right? It's that old. It was almost 10 years too late. But hey, that's the thing we can afford. And I know we paid a lot of money for a CD ROM drive. I remember back then we there were no, I think euros were still nothing in function everywhere. So we paid 150 German marks for a CD ROM that was like one of the most expensive parts of that thing. And I was running Windows 95 on that Windows 95. And that's the first time I really got into like, computers like, like PCs, like the thing that most people use back then. Even though Windows XP was just about to be released, or was already released, I was rocking a Windows 95. And, you know, that helped me I, you know, I, I can I can, I can laugh about it, but it's like it was all outdated. But because I wanted to do all of the great things that my friends who have good computers do, like I wanted to play all the games I wanted to, I wanted to, I don't know, listen to music, listening to music was difficult back then I couldn't listen to mp3 users like that. And I wanted to do all of those things, but I couldn't I was very limited in what I can do. So that kind of prompted me to say, Okay, how can I make my, my weak 100 megahertz 486 do the things I want. So this has kind of like prompted me to, to see, is there a the right driver tweaks I can do? Is there something I can do purely in DOS because it gives me more RAM. So I started doing things that I you know, didn't have to worry about on a . So I've learned more and more. And even back then I didn't have internet, right? The Internet was not a thing, at least for me. So but I had a friend who had internet. So I went to his house to kind of search for things that's kind of interests me about my computer and my games and all the stuff, then I would try it out. So it the limitations really helped me try to push them out of the way. And you know, one of the problems I find myself right now in is I have so much computers and things around my house and I have access to basically unlimited compute power. And I don't have to try back then I had to really try to do something, right. So I wanted to do something in like, I wanted to keep on programming and basic. But I didn't know how to run basic on a Windows PC. So I had to figure it out, figure that out. Turns out there's q basic. Okay, learn q basic, but then oh, let's do some Pascal. And then I was kind of like just playing around trying to make my own things. It's, again, very limited. But it If anything, it made me respect what is out there. So I had massive I still do I have massive respect for, for what what people have out there and what they can use and, you know, always keeps me wanting more one thing to have, you know, all the computers out there in the world if possible.
Tim Bourguignon 17:36
What skills Did you did you transfer from your C 64. Time to this modern time with big air quotes?
Darko Meszaros 17:44
Yeah. Well, in my programming skills, right, again, you couldn't translate basic, your your Commodore 64, basic to Q basic or anything like that. But I was like this kid that was always interested. I know, my mom worked with some developers back then in the 90s. And they were highly skilled in what they did. And they were doing COBOL. And some basic and I remember, I still have this book at home, it's a it's a guide to Visual Basic six, no Visual Basic five. And I got that. And I even got the CD that comes with it comes with it. And it had like the visual basic studio to install. And I know I went through that book, oh my god, I love that. And I you know, I cannot say that I know Visual Basic today. But for my use cases, the ability to create like little widgets and buttons and click a button. And I remember I made I made a game. And it's it's it's massive air quotes game. So it is just, it was a it was a quiz. Like, you could choose out of three different paths of questions. And you can answer them correctly. And they were all hard coded and nothing like it just if you click this button, that's the correct answer. But I was amazed that I could make things that like, Oh, I can make things look like Windows. And that was that was a massive thing for me. And I loved it. I thought that I was I was gonna be the best thing out there. Like, I know, I know. That old computer got me so much into computers because again, I stopped I talked to people who use computers and who had that as their main job. And I dreamt of doing that. I was like I was like sitting in my room and like, Oh, I wish I could one day. You know, I wish one day I can be a person who has a laptop. Or I can be a person who has a laptop and I get called in the middle of nights to fix things. So that's what's my childhood dream and I know a lot of operations people out there are now flinching at that like what are what are you crazy? But yes, that was the kind of thing that I wanted to do. And I will say it came true at one point but it's not. It wasn't as cut out as I thought to be but, yeah
Tim Bourguignon 19:59
you mean having laptop or getting woken up in the middle of the night?
Darko Meszaros 20:02
Both. You know, I still remember to one day like I'm sitting in my bed as a kid. I'm like, oh, man, one day, I'm gonna have a laptop, and somebody's gonna call me up in the middle of the night and call me Hey, can you fix this? And I'll take off my laptop and try to fix it. But I can't fix this. I get into my car. I'm gonna go and fix this. I thought that was cool. But yeah, it is it is.
Tim Bourguignon 20:25
It is definitely cool. Yeah. So what path didn't take you in this direction of realizing this dream? How did that go?
Darko Meszaros 20:37
Well, actually, it that that part of the world realized I kind of became a thing that used to be called a system administrator later on. But I will say that I was really up to become a developer, I wanted to be a developer. But then my school system failed me. So I went to a specific, high school that kind of focuses on computers and all that stuff. And one of the professors I worked with told me, oh, to be developer, you need talent. And I was like, oh, oh, okay, I don't have talent for that, that means I'm just gonna do something else. And that's, that was unfortunate. And for a long time, in my head, I had this thing like, you know, to be a developer, you need talent, you need to be talented, like for music, right? You need to be talented. And, and I was kind of head kept up in my head and kind of avoided the path of being a developer. And I never became one, I literally never became a developer. But I went through the path of like, I want to be a system slash network, administrator or engineer, as it used to be called, because I went the path of a lot of kids back then back then, who knew something about computers, I, I fix computers, I knew how to reinstall Windows, I need to know how to install the drivers, you know, somebody comes to me, my computer doesn't work. Can you fix it, and you fix it for five bucks. And I used to do that. And I used to kind of expand on that trying to do more, let me fix two computers. Let me network computers for you. Let me install Linux for you. Wow, that's amazing. So I went to expanding knowledge. And that then kind of kept into that. And that experience got me into a job where I would fix computers like I was in a company, just there, basically, fixing broken computers, somebody brings in like, I would have to reinstall it and backup data saved. Did you know The dictation jobs? That's how I started professionally. And as I said, it's very unfortunate that they told me I couldn't be a developer, because still to this day, I wish at one point, I was an actual developer.
Tim Bourguignon 22:38
And that brings up the question what is an actual developer?
Darko Meszaros 22:41
Yeah. So things the lines have blurred a lot. And, you know, maybe maybe 10 years ago or 15 years ago, I could not call myself a develop developer. But in 2020 2021, I absolutely can I am developing infrastructure. I'm writing some cloud formation or cDk. Development, right? So yeah, it's the line is blurry. So I don't think there's a very clear cut between what I do in a developer besides developers knowing the big O notation a bit better than me, right? Yeah. So those kind of things,
Tim Bourguignon 23:17
but you don't feel bad about it anymore.
Darko Meszaros 23:19
no, no. That's, that's the beauty of of the modern world, I get to do that. If I want to develop something if I want to build and I told you I am. I've never been a professional developer, but I've developed for myself, because I enjoyed. So anytime I needed a tool to help me build something, or to do something, I would just spend some time and make it right. It's, I was a utilitarian developer, just making things for my own. And I enjoyed that. And I find it fun and but never have developed something that's kind of like a production grade system. Right. So I haven't not made anything for money. Let's call it that way.
Tim Bourguignon 23:56
Okay. One of the former guests of the show, said that building your own toolbox is really a milestone towards becoming a professional software person. Let's put it this way. Not necessarily a developer, but it really building your own toolbox, or maybe a software Craftsman craftsman. really having gone through the motions of creating your own tools, and really knowing what they do and how they work and why they're working this way.
Darko Meszaros 24:23
Yeah. And that's what I do. Right. That's how I started. That's how I get into programming languages now. A lot of people out there I don't know what the best programming languages, you know, don't ask me about, oh, should I start with this? Or somebody said, somebody said this very smart thing on Twitter, which is the best programming language is the one you're good at. So that's my answer. And I tend to change them a lot. I would teeter totter, teeter teeter totter, between your TypeScript, and your pythons and c++ and C and, and rust and all of those things because, again, I have no professional need to know a single language. Just try all of them. And I have preferences of course, but um, it's great i, by knowing development, I know some programming, you kind of liberate yourself from things. You. If I need a tool that does something with it with enough effort, I can make it. I can do something with it. But yeah, that's kind of the superpower. I love that I have. Mm
Tim Bourguignon 25:24
hmm. Amen to that. Yeah, exactly. And yeah, if I could choose, I would kind of go towards C sharp, that's really my my language of choice. But nowadays, I feel going toward pythons way more. Because with Python, I can create tools really fast and be productive. And it's not in my way. And so I totally relate to what you're saying. The language is the one that suits your need right now.
Darko Meszaros 25:50
Yeah, I agree. Like in high school, I did C. And I did Pascal and I did C sharp. In high school, that was kind of kind of the languages we were taught. But like, I never stuck with C sharp, it's not because C sharp is bad. Any means it's not a bad language, I just didn't find a use for it. And Python, Python was like kind of the ever present language. Now, of course, I have gripes against Python either, like the fact that it's tabs instead of braces, but there's no perfect language, like no matter what you say, there's no perfect language. So, and me again, I don't have a reputation to protect as a developer, because I'm not a developer. So I can say I can say things like, I like TypeScript. Because it's a, it's a strictly typed language. I don't know why that is important. But I like it that way. So and I don't like Python, because it's not strongly typed language. Now, developers out there might scream at me like, Why did you say that? Yeah, yes. But I'm not a developer. Nothing to protect. So. So in that sense, it's fine.
Tim Bourguignon 26:53
What what are you going to do? Take the take away my developer license?
Darko Meszaros 26:57
Exactly. Yeah, take my developer hat, please. So there's, there's so many great languages out there. And again, depending on which one helps you do the thing, the best way. And also, I mean, have fun with the language. I mean, okay, of course, don't choose something super unoptimized, or some something that will cause problems with you, I would say that, there's a couple things you need to know about choosing the language, choose the one that you're good at, or that does the job for you, in this case, the one you can have fun with or it's relatively easy to write. And also the one that makes the most sense, right? If I'm going to write a web project, I'm most likely not going to do it in assembly, right? Even if I was like, amazing in 6502 assembly, like I can just do all the things with it. I think that would not be the best use of my time and efforts. Unless it's really, really fun.
Tim Bourguignon 27:51
You're not building a web server on your C 64. anymore?
Darko Meszaros 27:53
No, not No, no, no. I think I think well, wait, I'm not sure.
Tim Bourguignon 28:01
And there goes your next weekend.
Tim Bourguignon 28:08
Yeah, indeed, Indeed, indeed. So can you take us to the on your path toward AWS, and in what led you to being a Developer Advocate there you go to us today.
Darko Meszaros 28:21
So just just to say, but before my AWS career, because I spent the last five years at AWS, but before AWS I was, again, the thing that used to be called the system administrator, I'm not sure if people call it that I'm sure people do. But I used to be the person who was maintaining your servers. And I was I was a fan of that. And to be honest, like, I have not worked with the cloud before joining AWS I have not, I know that the cloud exists, I know that it's there. I know that it's important, but have never touched it. I was always this you know, they call it the server hybrid. I had my own data center, I had my racks and I was all maintaining that but I loved scale. And you know, the first time I've seen like virtual machines, I thought that like oh wow, this this this is the best that you can go better than virtual machines. And I love the fact that I can launch five virtual machines maybe or six you know in a day do something with them and turn them off amazing. Love that. And then I kind of kind of kind of my knowledge initially was just kind of focused on Windows and Microsoft I'm, I'm a Microsoft Certified engineer, etc. And and I slowly moved into Linux. And not because Linux is better herder, right? It's because I've started using Linux and in a way that I like the terminal. I like typing things. I remember my Commodore 64 days I like I like things when they're simple. So I started doing more and more on Linux. And that kind of got me jobs focused around Linux and Unix and all of those things. From then on, I think that is the thing that I kind of brought with me to Amazon, right? They Amazon reached out to me because I had a lot of experience in a lot of different systems. And they reached out to me to become a premium support engineer, you know that person, when you have AWS premium support, you call on the phone and yell because your Elastic Beanstalk doesn't work. I was that guy. And I suspect we spent two years in AWS premium support. And that was an amazing place to be, because it's full of excellent engineers. And it's, it's, and it's not just like, oh, let me answer the phone call. And I have a script of things I need to tell you and ask you and fix your problem. No, it's it's I am there. And a customer comes to me and just sends me an email saying it doesn't work. That's it. And I now have to try to intelligently deduce what exactly doesn't work. So it's, it's you have to deal with a lot of vagueness, a lot of ambiguity, people coming to you without, okay, my cloudformation template died. Okay. Okay. Okay, then let me try to figure it out. So I hadn't hadn't had a chance to work with a lot of first of all amazing customers, I got to see how they build things, how they break things, and also got a chance to work with engineers who just like are out of this league on how much they know, the cloud. And I came there completely as a cloud novice, not knowing anything, just completely new to this. My first two years at Amazon were there. And it was it was fun. It was it was engaging. It was it was something I really enjoyed meant a lot of good people there. And really grown personally, professionally. And personally. And, but I wanted more, in a sense that I wanted to not just help people troubleshoot things, because I've done that for the last two years. I want to help people build things. How can I help people take the next step? You know, or actually, how can I take the next step and actually help customers and help help the people using AWS build things on AWS, better, and this is where I've transitioned to the role of a solutions architect. And a solution architect, I actually, for that role, I moved from Ireland to Germany. So I'm currently based in Berlin, Germany. So this ran, and I moved from Ireland to Germany, for the role of the solution architect. And that role basically helps me to help me to talk to a small group of customers, right, a very specific subset of customers, but to kind of take them through their entire cloud adventure, right? Just to take them from, oh, we're attempting to use the cloud to Oh, let's build the product on the cloud, or let's let's migrate this thing, or let's build something completely new on the cloud and help them make the right decisions along the way?
Tim Bourguignon 33:02
How did it feel to go from the support to now being the driver of the story?
Darko Meszaros 33:08
Okay, so I actually had to take a step, step back, because with my premium support genes and the teachings, I was taught there, I was immediately I'm gonna help the customer do all the things. It's not how it works, because your time is much more limited when you were a solution architect. Like I wanted to troubleshoot things with customers like, Oh, please show me your console. I want to see Oh, yes, let's let's dig into the logs. That I thought like, okay, so who this is not going to scale? So I had to take a step back and look at things a bit higher up. Okay, let's, let's actually see, what can I do here to make a bigger impact? So basically, what happened is that I have to just kind of approach things from a higher level. And of course, the benefit of me is that I, I came from premium support. And I could actually ask people to from premium support to help me I was asking if I had a customer with problems, I could I could I can ask them say, Hey, can you support my customer. But it was great. It was great. the only the only massive difference in this case was, of course, that troubleshooting part. But it's also the the fact that I had to know more in premium support, you have to know a lot about a specific topic, right? I was covering some services, specific services, and I needed to know a lot about something. And Amazon taught me all of that. It's not like I came with that knowledge there. I, I came with a knowledge of being able to learn, and Amazon just did the rest. So I learned deep, deep insights into cloud formation, codedeploy, Elastic Beanstalk and whatnot. But then as a solution architect, I had to broaden that. I didn't have to know all the itty bitty details. About your data analytics platforms, but I need to know that what can you use? And how do you create a data analytics platform. So that was, that was a big change for me and I got to play with things I never thought that I would be doing.
Tim Bourguignon 35:13
So expanding your knowledge, like the this T shape, ideas really broaden in a little bit of everything, to be able to help the customers maybe sketch out what they want to do really put the pieces in place. And then when they want to go deep, then somebody else takes over. If needed, really needs the knows the details of each and every specific area.
Darko Meszaros 35:38
Exactly, exactly. So that was the whole point. Right? So I got to grow in that sense. Now. I still kept my specialties, right. That's still that's why I love doing DevOps and management tools. Because those are the things I'm the deepest in, but I can I can with confidence, talk about things that I am not an expert in, in a sense, I cannot tell you the details how Sage maker works, but I can tell you, why should you be using Sage maker or X or Y and Zed? So how can that help you? So that that was kind of the thing that has changed?
Tim Bourguignon 36:10
Okay, and now the next step forward, developer advocacy, is clear.
Darko Meszaros 36:16
Next, well, so it came, it came from solution architecture, because one of the things that we as solution architects tend to do is we tend to record webinars, and we tend to speak at events, you know, you don't remember the time when we used to actually see people and yeah, we use these things called venues, and we would talk in front of people. And I used to I that once I remember, somebody asked me if I can do an introduction to developer tools on AWS, for a meetup or an event in Berlin. And it was the first time I asked to do something like that in public. And I was just like, I lost it. I'm like, Oh, wow. Okay, let me I'm gonna stand in front of people. And I'm gonna do it. I remember, I remember walking that then they through public transport and getting into public transport. And just like, listening on my headphones, the speech about the similar topic and trying to remember the details, I need to cover this, I need to cover this. So I was so frustrated. And I got there and I got like, I don't know, I got 100 people in the room, which was for me, just a shocker, like wow that's so many people. And I stood there. And I just started talking. And it was like, I had a script, I had a thing I needed to say. But I completely ignored that. I just started talking about stuff. There's stuff related to what I want to talk about. But it was in a in a very informal tone, it was in a very, let me tell you things. And it turns out to be good. People really like that I had people approached me afterwards, just you know, shake hands and will thank me for the photo for a very honest discussion. And that was so exhilarating. I love that I was like, Oh my god, I love this, I want to do this more. And that kind of got me hooked. And you know, I was still a solution architect and started doing those things on and off. And like, oh, there's an event here. Let me see if I can speak. And I, you know, had friends in the developer advocacy team. And I would like, ask them, Hey, you know, if there's a chance for me to speak somewhere, let me know, I'm very happy to do so. And more and more opportunities came and went. And I started speaking of things, and I was I you know, I come from Eastern Europe. So I kind of know a few languages in region. So it kind of show up at events in the region. And, and that that's kind of how it happened. The speaking to the developer advocacy team, they're like, Hey, would you like to join us to do this full time? Yes. So I was super pumped about it. I I, like I love this job so much that I just I can't say, right. It's, it's so great. I enjoy what I do to the nth degree, right? It's just like, I there's nothing, okay. Every job has its problems, of course. But like, in the macro scale, there's nothing I can I should change about my job right now. Because it just gives me the ability not just to talk on stage and travel. And no, it gives me the ability to talk to a much wider audience about much wider topics because they're all the develop product because it's not just me to scream at the camera or to yell at you from the from the stage. It's also to step back and listen to you like the fact that I can be your voice within Amazon if you have a problem with a specific subset of services or a problem with this. Let me know I will know who to reach at AWS and what to tell them based on your use case. So ultimately, my my job is trying to make AWS better and make make it is the best place for developers right so and I am I am very sincerely trying to do that.
Tim Bourguignon 39:51
That is awesome to hear. Thank you. How has the the past year been for you? being at home and not being able to reach out to the community as you used to.
Darko Meszaros 40:02
Yeah, it is it is. It has been interesting, I must say it has been like a big change. You know, it's, it's not like it's, I think a gradual change. Like you can say, Oh, well, things slowly change to this. No, it just literally from the first of March, you're not going anywhere sit at home. It has been the difficult change, I must say, you know, all of a sudden, I have to look at the camera. I cannot see people's eyes, I cannot see people nodding or disapproving of what I say. Okay, how do I deal with that? How do I keep looking people in the eyes when there's no eyes? So like, for example, I, for my camera, I put googly eyes on my camera, so I can look at the movie eyes wide. Because otherwise, otherwise, I was just looking at the screen. And like it's not good. So I tried to focus on the camera. And to be honest, like I believe that I made made a really good transition. So I had a really nice couple of things, couple projects I ran, I ran streams, I still do with my buddy kobus. So we do like weekly streams. I've done a bunch of YouTube videos, I've even made a YouTube channel, I have over 1000 subscribers, which is like the big thing. So I started doing kind of those virtual things. So of course virtual conferences and all that stuff. This is kind of a bittersweet thing. I missed the fact that I I cannot go and meet people in person, I cannot go and meet my fellow developers, engineers, people who love the cloud, and shake hands and talk and have a beer and all that stuff. But at the same time, I have a I have a much wider access to much wider audience, I can speak to people from far away, and I can help them and they can help me etc, etc. So it's kind of a it's kind of a bittersweet, like a dual edged sword, right?
Tim Bourguignon 41:50
Indeed, indeed. I wonder how it's going to start again, I have already some some conferences lined up for the for the summer. Yeah, who really say it's going to be on site? I'm not sure.
Darko Meszaros 42:02
I truly hope that that will come back. Because, you know, when I go to a first conference on site, that it's, then it's going to be the moment that I say, yes, it's it's good. Now it's we are, and I'm under no impression or under no illusion that things will be exactly the same as they were, you know, things have changed, then thanks to COVID. But, you know, still just the fact that I can go and talk to people is the thing that I want to be able to do. So I am looking forward to that summer or that often or that winter, when we get to go and sit in the same room and talk about technology.
Tim Bourguignon 42:42
Absolutely. That's the definition or the etymology of the word conferences, really sitting together and talking about stuff. And this is what I've not seen in the online world. We got some some elaborated YouTube sessions with talks where you cannot interact with the with the presenter, but no discussion.
Darko Meszaros 43:02
no discussion. And you know, I give props to all the all the conference organizers, everybody who's trying because it's a difficult time, I give them props for trying to do that. And I fully support that what they're doing and how they're trying to do it. It's just not easy. It's it's very difficult to replicate the fact that you can have a hallway track, right, we always like to say about the best track at that reinvent or wherever is the hallway track. And no matter how much virtual hallways people make in their online platforms, or discords, or slacks or whatnot, it's still not the same thing as just, you know, going there with a slice of pizza and a beer in your hand just like listening to people talk about something. It's like, Oh, I missed that. And, yeah, and I'm sure that's gonna come back. And I'm pretty sure that that's going to come back, we'll just have to wait it out.
Tim Bourguignon 43:52
We will indeed, that's something I've missed. Also in in onsite conferences, is this time to think so you watch a talk. And then you ponder about it, you think about it. And then maybe a day later in the venue, you you you see the speaker, and there you can really ask the question you needed to ask, not in not right after the session. Yeah, not when the session is ended. And the speaker says, Do you have any questions? You never get the nice questions there. Yeah, did they after and that, that's where conferences are really showing
Darko Meszaros 44:24
exactly, because I'm looking forward to that people were listening to when people listen to you. They really don't know what to say, immediately after you're done. You just threw a lot of information at them. And they're just like, thunderstruck. Like, okay, who, what do I do now? You know, having having that time to kind of digest, because the best questions I've got from people at conferences were like, an hour after my talk, I wouldn't stand outside the mingle and somebody would approach me Hey, what about so those things are the things that missing and in the virtual world, no matter how I like the the benefits of being able to do this in my pajamas. The fact that once we are done, I have no downtime. I have no like, Oh, I have to take the public transport to go somewhere else, or I have to get get on the plane, or I have to go travel, I immediately after that I can start doing something else. And that's the problem. We miss these buffers, people, you know, people I used to, we, as a developer advocates used to travel a lot, right? We used to go visit customers in different places. And one of the best things about those things is is the fact that you have these one hour downtimes basically, when you're sitting in a plane, or at the airport, just doing nothing of just trying to get to compile your thoughts. And I think that's missing right now. And that's one of the things I really need.
Tim Bourguignon 45:39
Absolutely, absolutely. And also also on the other side, I've had the chance to our to do a couple paid talks so far. And really what I what I discussed with the with the organizers was always you're not paying me for the one hour talk that I'm going to give, I'm going to be there for one day. And that's why you're paying me I'm going to be there and interact with your your audience and your your attendees. And they're going to be able to talk to me for the whole day. And we're going to interact and build ideas, etc. And not just for the impulse I'm going to give and that is dearly missing. Yeah. Now all both presentations, all conferences you do are just like literally, I'm gonna yell at you for 40 minutes, and I'm gonna go away and that you will not unless you reach me on Twitter or LinkedIn, we're not gonna talk again. And that's not that's, that's more lectures or YouTube talk. Yeah.
Darko Meszaros 46:30
I mean, they have places don't get me wrong. They have all balled their places in the world, but I prefer shaking your hand.
Tim Bourguignon 46:36
Yeah, hopefully in fall, it's going to work out that yet. Knock on wood, knock on wood. Okay, Darko, if you if you look back on your your story, which we we just brushed over. And you had to pick a one. One learning maybe not an advice, but one learning one thing you said that was really forming for me, what what would you like to highlight?
Darko Meszaros 46:57
So I have two things I like to share with people. And this was this was actually taught to me by by more experienced people who have been longer in the industry or actually have been longer alive than I have. So when it comes to big companies, ITs, startups, no matter where your work, don't take things too seriously. And I know that's very cliche. And but but it is it's not, you know, the company around you might act very serious. And they may it may be that but ultimately, it's people, it's people think, think seriously, your relationship with people, right? take seriously your friendships, your colleagues shape your career, camaraderie is take that seriously. But if you don't ask for an email today, it's going to be there tomorrow, right? Nobody's going to unless you know, it's something critical. But in most cases, it's going to be okay. The world is not going to fall apart if you do not answer an email today, tomorrow. So save yourselves your you know, your patience and your, your, your nervousness and whatnot, and just leave it for tomorrow. And the second thing, I love this, this is actually, this is one of the things that kind of made me into what I am right now, weirdly enough, I was one day speaking, I had a chance to speak at a conference in the United States, and I was still in premium support. And a team called me like, hey, do you want to join us in the United States for a conference? And I've never been to the US. I've never flew out of Europe before. And I'm like, Oh, no, you know, I'm in premium support. Nobody's gonna send me to United States. That's ridiculous. And the colleague of mine, like, hey, do you know that if you don't ask, there's no chance you will leave? But if you if you ask, you probably will not go but there is a chance that you will go, Okay, I asked, and I went. So if you want something, just ask for it. Right? Ask for it nicely. Be polite. State the reasons why you believe this should happen or not happen. Ask. And if you don't ask, there's zero chance that will happen, right? So make sure to try to fight for yourself in a sense that ask for things that you think you deserve. And that you you need or you should do amen to that. Exactly. Yeah.
Tim Bourguignon 49:12
colleague of mine. Put it this way. You have to earn the answer no
Darko Meszaros 49:17
exactly, yeah, yeah. Absolutely.
Tim Bourguignon 49:20
Otherwise, it's no anyway. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. It's been cool. Um, Where can the listeners find you online?
Darko Meszaros 49:27
Okay, so I'm most active on Twitter and LinkedIn. So I guess we will put the social media information in the show.
Tim Bourguignon 49:34
We will, indeed.
Darko Meszaros 49:35
So you can find me on Twitter, LinkedIn. On top of that. I have a YouTube channel where there's a bunch of videos of my bald face talking about technology, actually, bald head, bald head talking about technology. And since recently, kind of a thing I've started doing is I've started doing blog posts. Now, all blog posts are technology related. They're not strictly AWS related. So I have things from how to set up vim to how to Install a Windows 2000 to actual cloud formation. So I have a blog, rup12.net. And again, the link is going to be down below so feel free to check out the blog. It's a very simple, a bunch of bunch of bunch of brain dumps from my head.
Tim Bourguignon 50:15
Any place where people can see you live?
Darko Meszaros 50:18
so you can see me live every Wednesday at 1pm. So, yeah, Wednesday at 1pm on twitch.tv/AWS it's gonna be me and my better half kobus Bernard, who's basically a clone on myself. him and I him and I talk we have, we have a show, a show called devbeardops. You're will get why. When we talk about DevOps, automation, all those fancy things in a very laid back banteresque spot.
Tim Bourguignon 50:46
Awsome. People, next Wednesday, 1pm CET
Tim Bourguignon 50:53
Darko. It's been awesome listening to your story. Thank you very much.
Darko Meszaros 50:56
It's been been a pleasure. Thank you very much for having me.
Tim Bourguignon 50:58
And this has been another episode of developer's journey, and we'll see each other next week. Bye.
Tim Bourguignon 51:05
I love Darkos story. I have often heard that more constraints, not less is necessary to trigger creativity. How does working on a Commodore 64 when the rest of your friends aren't discovering Windows XP sounds for a constraint? Darko had a very interesting path toward Developer relations, a path that resonates very much with Wesley Faulkner's story whom we had on the show last December in Episode 131. Very, interesting. I love this
sentence Darko said:
the best programming language is the one you are good at, the one have fun with, and the one that makes sense for what you want to do with it". There is so much arguments on social media but which language is best, but what that we can sometimes forget that it's not about the tool. It's about you as a person. It's about what you want to do with it. It's about your customers. Never let anyone tell you otherwise. So how did you like Darko's story? And what do you like about the show? If you really want to make my day? Take a second to tell me about it. I really cherish all the comments and reviews sent my way. You can reach me on Twitter. I'm @timothep or use the comments section on our website. DevJourney.info. And on April 1, and this is not an April, April Fool's joke. Darko published a picture of his new Apple M1 laptop
with a comment:
"Fun fact. This is the very first time ever that I bought myself a new laptop." I guess that means we only need to wake him up in the middle of the night. And then he will be living the dream, right?