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[People of Bigstep] Serban Mateescu – When Music Meets Coding

The people of Bigstep are driven not only by their passion for IT, but also by their hobbies. As a company, we cherish the work they do for us, as well as their recreational activities. Meet Serban, our rockstar programmer. Find out what motivates Serban, how to overcome certain challenges both in music and in coding, and his opinion on WFH, in this new community series interview.

Hi Serban, please tell us a few words about yourself.

Hello! I've been a software developer for Bigstep for the past 4 years. Also, I play bass guitar with several bands and I spend quite a lot of time into making music-related things happen.

What’s your position within the company and how does your work day look like?

I work in the R&D department. I'm currently working on the monitoring component of the MetalSoft architecture. My typical day usually starts off by checking the status of the monitoring agents and of certain alerts that I might've set up the day before for debugging purposes. This is followed by either coding or planning sessions for future architectural changes/additions.

You mentioned you are part of a few bands. How do you manage your time and how did your hobby grow into a part-time job?

It's never been easy balancing these two activities. Luckily, though, concerts typically take place from Fridays to Sundays, so the main schedule difficulties are rather caused by rehearsals, recording sessions or various industry related meetings. I honestly can't pinpoint when it became so big, it's always been there since before high school.

What common challenges have you encountered in your work as a software developer and in music-related activities, and how do you overcome them?

The main challenge that I've experienced in both programming and music is planning. The bigger the objective, the more planning it involves. There are a few things that you have to learn by trial and error in order to become more flexible and efficient. One of these things is that the first plan is usually not the best one, because most of the time it's pretty much a less than ideal brute force approach and you risk burning out quite easily.

They say music is math. As a musician and software developer, can you share your opinion and own experience on this?

When it comes to composition, the main tool is pattern finding and expanding, regardless of genre. The satisfaction you get from a good musical structure is the same you'd get from a well-organized object-oriented program. The metaphor can go deeper that just that when you start looking into sound processing, frequencies, harmonic series, tuning systems etc. At that point, though, it's actual math that you're doing :)

How do you mix and match programming and music?

They're pretty separate. When switching, it's almost like a different part of the brain takes control. I had some projects that involved writing software for music processing or for midi related control, but that's pretty much the extent I got the two to mix.

What do you usually listen to when coding?

When working, I prefer not to listen to music for practical reasons. If the music is good, I get distracted and don't work properly. If I focus on working, experiencing the music becomes a passive activity, which can make any composition feel mundane. That being said, I have a short selection of albums that I'm familiar with enough so that they don't distract me, and know them by heart enough so that I don't miss the juicy parts. The album that I've been revisiting for the past few days is the soundtrack from FEZ, by Disasterpeace.

Which concert impressed you most and why?

First of all, I'm NOT saying this just because the story involves Bigstep and this is the Bigstep blog :D. My favorite concert that I've attended is Tool, at Stadthalle in Vienna, in 2019. The ticket was a gift for my birthday from my colleagues at Bigstep. It might sound farfetched, but I consider this show to be more immersive than Roger Water's "The Wall", which says a lot about the level of production, given that Tool's setlist was not based on a concept album.

How did you adapt to WFH? How do you think the pandemic will change the music scene?

When it comes to Bigstep-related work, my productivity actually increased a lot. I think that this ties in with the fact that I don't like having music from my headphones mask the normal, yet sometimes distracting, noises from the office and now I have all the silence in the world. Regarding the music industry, the situation right now is depressing, to say the least, but I'm pretty confident that next year is only going to be better and better.

You’ll be speaking at Big Data Week Bucharest Online Conference on October 6th. What will you discuss there?

It's my second time speaking at BDW for Bigstep and the topic is related. Last time, it was about Monitoring Systems and Anomaly Detection. This time, even though it's still related to monitoring, the objective is very different. The title of the presentation is Distributed Monitoring for the Edge Cloud and it will focus on two things: gathering data efficiently from servers/sensors/routers/switches etc. and how to create a distributed architecture in order to adapt to the ever-growing tendencies involving edge computing. I hope that the presentation will be as engaging as the last one was, see you there!

Check out the full agenda of BDW and book your ticket on the official website

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