LET'S TALK ABOUT

W I T H   R A D I M   H A L F A R  ( C Z E C H   R E P U B L I C )

Hey, my name is Radim Halfar, I am 29, and I live in Ostrava, the 3rd largest city in the Czech Republic. I recently married the most fabulous woman in the world, and we live in our great flat where we keep in touch with our neighbours playing chess, cards in the evening, having fun playing cornhole or even enjoying VR. I studied IT at VSB – the Technical University of Ostrava, and my thesis was all about the graphical editor app for iOS. Currently, I am working at Avast, and I like it.

How did you get to what you are doing?
It is quite a funny story…

I always wanted to be a lawyer, but as I heard what it is all about and how much you have to learn, I changed my mind. (Obviously, every programmer is lazy and wants to avoid learning. Do you remember an engineer who had scripts for even making a coffee in the duration of the walk from his desk to the coffee machine?) As a student, we had lessons in software engineering, and I met a co-founder of AstrumQ in 2011 who talked about iOS apps and how cool it is. I was eager about it, so I attended an iOS engineer, and I was in. I took a loan to buy a mac and started. It was a hard start since I knew nothing, but what’s better than learning from my faults?

How would you best describe what you are currently doing and what you would like to achieve?
I am currently making other developers lifeless and more painful. Frankly speaking, I do read a lot of code and do a lot of code reviews, which means helping people understand the code style and most important rules which apply to the code and the chosen architecture.

Despite that, I try to improve all soft skills needed for an engineering manager, having one-on-one, talking to people, listening to their problems, and trying to help them as much as possible to resolve all their day to day issues and concerns.

What inspired you most to become a programmer?
My curiosity to learn something new and produce something that would help people and ease their everyday life. I must admit I also like the way programmers can work. You have an idea, open a notebook, and you can work from anywhere at any time. So again, the freedom of work.

What do you consider most important in the IT-sphere, and why?
I think it’s a variety of focus areas. You can work on anything you would like to from smartlocks to unreal engines on VR. You can help people in so many areas, including health and lifestyle, which is very important these days. Without IT, you can do nothing these days.

Everything is IT-based, and we are dependant on IT. As I mentioned focus areas, I still hope there will be massive progress in healthcare systems providing diagnostic tools, examination tools, and other programs or systems that can help prolong human life or replace a body part that’s not working correctly. That’s focus areas, inventors, people thinking big who make the most crucial part of IT-sphere.

What do you enjoy about working as a programmer?
Freedom. You can do whatever you want, keeping in mind you are going to either entertain or help people. The most satisfying feeling is the moment when the end-user likes what you did.

Have you always worked as a programmer?
Yes and no, my first part-time work was in horticulture, then in a DIY shop. First time I dare to call myself a programmer was at the university while working on my first iOS app.

Have you already made a significant programming error?
Sure thing. Multiple. Let’s pick a funny one. We organized a conference, and I wrote apps for Android and iOS, presenting speakers and the schedule. It went wrong, and
there were last-minute updates, which I did, but I made a typo but a funny one. Whenever there was a loading screen, you could’ve seen “Donwloading” instead of “Downloading.” Since then, I was nicknamed by our designer Don Wloading.

Why did you decide to develop for iOS?
First, I heard about it, it sounded fancy, and I was so eager to learn something new and beneficial. I also loved new technology at that time, so it was a challenge for me, and I like to accept any challenge.

What do you think are the most significant benefits of iOS?
I think it’s stable, fast, reliable, and you don’t need to care about a type of your phone, tablet or PC. It brings a bunch of technologies, complements and it helps you. With iOS 14, it takes care of your online privacy and brings you a lot more. You’re getting regular updates, not paid, not based on your phone brand.

How do you perceive working with a device whose OS is iOS?
I think it’s enjoyable to work with such a device. The problem is the toolset you have to develop for it. I am not saying that xCode or other tools are bad, but comparing it
to IntelliJ makes a difference. I must say I like iOS, macOS, iPadOS and WatchOS. Those systems are brilliant, and the capabilities it gives you are far beyond what I was thinking about five years ago.

What do you think about the IT-sphere?
Nowadays, IT is everywhere. If you take a look at any company, it either has a webpage, or an accounting system or any other form of an IT product. I think IT will grow at the time and will affect us more and more. I think we’re getting closer to sci-fi movies of the last century. The only thing I am worried about is the unlocking of the secret chamber. We might get to the point where there is no way back. I hope that human sense will protect us from our curiosity.

What are the key advantages and disadvantages of international cooperation with IT companies?
The key advantages are that you learn a lot and meet many people from various cultures and backgrounds. You can have the technical knowledge, but people and their expectations vary among Asia, Europe, Africa, the US and Australia. All those cultures have different expectations on quality, time and costs, but one thing never changes, they expect you to be an expert doing your job.

The main disadvantage is the timezone you work in and the distance when communicating a problem. If you’ve never been to the company’s office, people will treat you a different way than if you’d have been there.

ANDROID and iOS are in long-term competition. How do you feel about it?
I’d say it’s not Android vs iOS but Apple vs Google. They’re fighting about patents, technologies and other stuff. However, if you look at recent events, they’re also unified at a certain point (Fortnite, iOS 14 & Android 11 privacy policy announcements). I worked on both platforms, and both have pros and cons. To pick one on iOS, it’s a limited set of devices on Android, and you have better working tools (IntelliJ vs xCode).

Do you like „PROGRAMMER LIFE“?
Sometimes it’s demanding and tiring as you think through the whole day, your brain won’t stop at 10 pm just because you want it. If you are trying to solve a severe problem, you end up finding yourself at 3 am at the desk, but sometimes that’s it, and you feel satisfied that you solved the problem.

Overall I like it since you are the master of your time (besides some meetings, but that’s fine), and you can work from anywhere you want. It’s like a roller coaster, sometimes you’re down, sometimes up, sometimes twisted and sometimes even upside-down, but it’s always fun.

Does the work of a programmer affect you in everyday life? For example, how do you perceive other programs and applications?
I must admit it does a lot. If I am watching a movie or TV, I don’t focus on the plot, but catching all those aeroplanes, phones in old videos and other stuff, since it’s a glitch for me. When an app doesn’t work correctly, stucks or crashes, I am upset telling myself who the heck did write it and why. 

However, I am not the one who’d be defined as a real IT guy. I like fun and hanging out with friends, so most likely, I won’t be the one hiding my face behind an iPhone in the pub. If there’s an argument about some stuff, I’ll most likely be the first one to try to google it.

Can you tell us what technologies you like best?
I like VR, RFID, SpriteKit, Metal and Bluetooth. I love it because I think this is the future. We can achieve a lot using technologies. We already have heads-up displays in cars, so why not have “Marvel” like U shaped displays on our wrist and in front of our eyeglasses. We even have smartlocks and other stuff, so we can enhance it and base it on proximity, use projection tools and promote current smart stuff even more.

What do you think about an International Magazine focused on people?
It’s an excellent opportunity to inform, inspire and motivate people. To tell the story, to enlighten from failures already made. We are continually learning throughout our life. I can see it as an option to avoid failures made by others and, on the other hand, to get inspired by what is achieved. 

What is your opinion on education, academies, lectures, and various motivational webinars?
At this time, it’s more than essential to stay focused and keep learning. We keep learning through our whole life, and learning is necessary. On the other hand, I don’t think you have to have a degree, and that’s most likely the top most important thing. Keep learning and keep going.

Which culture is most interesting for you, and why? (European, Asian, African, American)
I would say Asia for its precision and order. However, there’re also downs in their devotion to their work. On the other hand, I also like American culture for their work-life balance.

Which amazing and fascinating countries do you like and why?
I like New Zealand for its beautiful nature, the Dominican Republic, for the Caribbean sea. Overall I love any country that’s not that hectic, and people enjoy living there. Nowadays, we only chase success and fortune, but what is that? Therefore I like peaceful and calm countries with lovely countryside and a slow pace.

Do you have any ambitions or visions?
If I should speak about my work ambitions, I am thrilled with what I achieved so far. I don’t put any expectations ahead, and I just want to do my job and do my best and be happy. I will take any challenge that’s going to appear in my life.

Which are your most significant career dreams? Have you managed to meet any of them already?
My only dream is to be happy, healthy, to ve a family and raise my kids. My carrier dreams were to be satisfied at work and to do what I like, and that’s what I am already doing. I am satisfied at work, and I am working on improving my workspace and all my colleagues to make them happy and satisfied, this is my dream.

Which quotes best describe you and why?
“An enthusiast for new technology striving for quality.” That’s me. I try to perceive all the new stuff as an evolution, but I also want it to work as I expect. I don’t want any crap, and that’s also what I want to see at work. I prefer quality over speed, and, also, I wouldn’t say I like it if people try to avoid writing the code as it should be. I think there’s a golden rule, write once, read thousand of times. If you can’t read it and understand it just seconds after you wrote it, you should rewrite it.

What kind of advice would you like to give to people?
Be happy, be kind, help each other, try to help your colleagues even if you think their questions are silly or invalid, because assisting and caring for each other makes the world a better place.

Keep in mind that the dream job is to be in the right place and to have a work-life balance. Everyone will admire your success, but enjoying the success, money, and living alone is not entertaining.

So my advice might sound a cliche, but I suggest you work hard & play hard and enjoy your life like every moment is the last one keeping in mind that the real fortune is living the life the way you like it.

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