Code Artisans

Code Artisans: This Ex-Veteran M'sian Freelance Developer Shares His Tricks Of The Trade

“What sparked my interest in Artificial Intelligence is when I realized that ‘they’ (machines) are far more powerful and capable of solving real world problems that we can’t,” said Mohammad Nurdin. “I always believe that great minds sees the future, and poor minds are always complaining about the past. I believe AI will help me change the lives of many.”

As such, Mohammad Nurdin went onto establish IntelliJ, an Artificial Intelligence company that’s looking to empower machines with cognitive abilities and to also solve real world problems. As such, he has now developed a preference for using the Python programming language and C++, as they both support functionality like complex math computation and data analysis.

For now, they’ve developed a simple mobile game for the Android platform called BeatMeIfYouCan (will be released soon) that makes use of the Machine Learning technique, and players can only win the game if they figure a way out to win the artificially intelligent gaming engine.

Machine learning brings an iterative aspect to computation, and such models are able to independently adapt as they’re exposed to new data sets. They’re able to learn from previous computations to produce more reliable, repeatable decisions and results.

Image Credit: IntelliJ Facebook page
Image Credit: IntelliJ Facebook page

Their team is also currently working on an iOS and an Android app that makes use of sentiment analysis to predict the percentage of wins political candidates are able to achieve in a specific area. However, in a previous interview Mohammad mentioned that further details couldn’t be provided due to a confidentiality clause.

Although Mohammad recently established his own company, he’s been working for a period of 5 years as freelance developer and he also held a more traditional development position in the industry for 2 years.

During this time, he worked at Penril Datability Sdn Bhd where he had the opportunity to work on a lot of cool projects like the M2uPay hybrid app for both iOS and Android platforms for Maybank Bhd, he also assisted development on the Bii project and on a standalone app called uPASS mobile, that used secure numbers and cubic symbols instead of the usual TAC number.

While he was working for Penril, he also worked on a significant number of projects for Jabatan Pembangunan Wanita (JPW), Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia (KKM), UEM Group Berhad (UEM), Kementerian Pelajaran Malaysia (KPM) and other clients.

Describing his career thus far, he said, “It’s definitely not a bed of roses. I had those days when I cannot see a future at all, at points I fell so hard that I didn’t think I could ever get up again. But those made me stronger. And here I am today, to face even harder challenges.”

Image Credit: IntelliJ Facebook Page. Mohammad, second from the left.
Image Credit: IntelliJ Facebook Page. Mohammad, second from the left, at the back.

He also mentioned that the most challenging project he ever worked on was when he was developing a Sniper mobile game that made use of the OpenCV technology for Dekatku Sdn Bhd, where he worked as a Team Lead for Mobile Technology. The Open CV technology enabled the app to track users’ faces through facial recognition or machine learning. The purpose of the game was to shoot someone using the camera but speaking on the project he said, “It was really difficult to develop especially when there are more than 2 people at the same time as we had to calculate triangulation between the humans.”

The Developers’ Guide To Freelance

Given that Mohammad had to work on numerous projects simultaneously (sometimes) during the course of his career, one skill that he had to pick up and hone was time management. However, he confessed, “The most challenging/difficult task that I have to do daily is to manage my time.”

And in order to get around it, he prioritizes the most important things, and ensures that he never delays or postpones. “If you fail to plan, you will plan to fail,” he added. Simultaneously, he also has to keep following up with his team to ensure that they’re all on the same page especially during project development. He also mentioned that the technical aspects only contribute 15% to a successful project but 85% of the success is a result of communication, leadership and negotiation.

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Image Credit: Mohammad Nurdin

And he also highlighted that these four skills—communication, negotiation, leadership and technical skills (CLNT)—either make or break a freelance developer’s (or any developer, really) career in Malaysia.

If developers lack the communication skills to present their abilities and projects in layman terms, and they always stick to technical jargon, they’ll end up alienating the clients who won’t understand what’s being said. And he also advised that freelance developers shouldn’t always say yes when dealing with things that’s beyond their control, as a developer you should learn to negotiate and pick your battles.

While having the right mixture of technical and soft skills matter, he lamented that freelance developers in Malaysia lack the control over quality assurance and related costs. “Freelance developers are sometimes treated like they have no choice but to take certain jobs, even though they can’t deliver it. Some freelancers, who don’t know the business, cut down the service price without considering the impact on the IT industry,” he said. “They play out the prices for two reasons, they know that they won’t be able to deliver the job properly or they just want to win the rat race by offering cheaper services.”

Despite such trials and tribulations of the industry, he continues to soldier on because of his passion and vision to truly influence and impact the world that we live in. Often, it’s his vision that seems to be the biggest misconception people have about him but to that he said, “Let my success make the noise.”

Inside Mohammad Nurdin’s Toolkit

PyCharm IDE for python development
Github For Source Code Management
Stackoverflow The go-to place when dealing with coding problems
Slack Communication tool for team members
Spotify For good vibes while coding

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