2018

For a number of years I’ve maintained what I call my Pragmatic Investment Plan (PiP). It’s a collection of things that ensure I have to invest at least a little time each quarter into my career and industry. While it’s always been somewhat aspirational, in that I don’t often complete everything, it does give me a little prod every now and again and stops me becoming too stagnant. My first few PiPs were done annually, but after I started seeing ever decreasing completed items I moved to quarterly and had a lot more success. Read on →

In the IT industry we are reputed to be serial job hoppers. While this may seem a little unfair, if it applies to you then you should consider where you’re spending your limited additional time and effort. First, a disclaimer: you need to invest enough time and effort into your current job to stay employed. Now that’s out of the way let’s look at our normal days. All those extra hours and hard work you put in everyday? Read on →

A few jobs ago, as the number of daily meetings increased, I picked up a tiny meeting tweak that I’ve carried with me and deployed at each place I’ve worked since. End all meetings five minutes early. Instead of half past, end it at 25 and instead of on the hour (complex maths ahead) end at 55. My reasoning is simple and selfish, I hate being late for things. This approach gives people time to get to their next meeting.

I’m not a morning person. I never have been and I doubt it’ll suddenly become one of my defining characteristics. In light of this I’ve always had a dislike of the daily stand-up happening first thing in the morning, instead over the years I’ve become to much prefer having it at about 4PM. A late afternoon stand-up isn’t a common thing. Some people absolutely hate the idea and with no scientific studies to back me up I’m essentially just stating an opinion but I do have a few reasons. Read on →

The summer conference submission season is slowly subsiding and after reading through a combined total of a few thousand submissions I’ve got some hastily compiled thoughts. But before we get started, a disclaimer: I don’t publicly present. My views on this are from the perspective of a submission reviewer and audience member. And remember, we want to say yes. We have slots to fill and there’s nothing more satisfying than giving a new speaker a chance and seeing the feedback consist of nothing but 10’s. Read on →

2017

One of the difficulties in technically mentoring juniors you don’t see on a near daily basis is ensuring the right level of challenge and learning. It’s surprisingly easy for someone to get blocked on a project or keep themselves too deep in their comfort zone and essentially halt their progress for extended periods of time. An approach I use to help avoid this stagnation is the keeping of a “Development Diary”. Read on →

2016

2015 is long over and it’s time for a little belated reflection over its last three months. Firstly we’ll cover reading. In general I try and read one tech book each month. In Q4 I totalled 5 - Violent Python TMUX (PragProg) Exceptional Ruby (PragProg) Rails, Angular, Postgres, and Bootstrap (PragProg) The REST API Design Handbook Of those I enjoyed (the beta version of) Rails, Angular, Postgres, and Bootstrap the most. Read on →

2014

I changed jobs midway through 2013 and quite quickly discovered that I’d been a little too buried in my role and not been keeping up other parts of my technical interests. As a first step I decided to put a very basic Pragmatic Investment Plan in place. Mostly as a simple way to ensure I actually started to get involved in non-work things again. Firstly I set myself the task of recording which books I actually read. Read on →

2013

The most interesting links in my twitter feed this week have all been about VMWorld 2013 and the new technologies VMWare is making available in vSphere 5.5. As I don’t actually use VMWare at work (we’re using KVM and AWS at the moment) very little of it is immediately relevant to me - but then I spotted the ‘VMWare Certified Associate - Data Center Virtualization’ announcement. There is some combination of both being stuck inside waiting for family to arrive and pure envy about all the new cool stuff that tempted me in to watching the (free) VMWare Data Center Virtualization Fundamentals training course, reading the exam blue print and making an attempt at the exam. Read on →

2012

The aim is to, at the least, achieve all these goals. The time allocated is from December 2012 to December 2013. Read (and hopefully Review) 12 Tech books Building and Testing with Gradle - Short Review Puppet Types and Providers - Short Review Resilience and Reliability on AWS - book review Cisco Routers for the Desperate (2nd edition) The Phoenix Project Effective monitoring and alerting Beginning Puppet Cloud Architecture Patterns Bandit Algorithms for Website Optimization Heroku: Up and Running Extreme Programming Adventures in C# Micro-ISV (Vision to reality) An Introduction to Programming in Go Pro Puppet 2nd Edition Write 50 blog posts. Read on →

2008

In the past I’ve written up a small list of general goals to help measure my technical progress. Over the last few years I’ve become a lot busier and this habit fell by the wayside. But no more! I’ve got a quarter left and I’m going to try and complete… Write and publish a technical article. Attend two technical events. Read and review 3 books. Write and publish two Perl modules. Read on →

Thanks to everyone who sent me leads and links to relevant job adverts but since I posted that I was out of work I’ve started a two month contract that began this week and runs until the end of Feb. It’s my first contract role (and it’s not a typical one by any stretch) and it’s taking a little time to get used to considering I’ve spent most of my working life as a permie. Read on →

As of 6PM yesterday (or midnight - depending on how you interpret my employment contract) my current role is redundant and I’m no longer a member of the working world. It was a mostly good 28 months and I was lucky enough to work with some damn smart people. This wasn’t unexpected. Between the Register articles and a generously lengthened consultation period most of us were pretty sure we’d be on the market again soon. Read on →

2007

A tech friend of mine has spent the last four months in Chennai doing the ground work for his first VC backed start-up. He’s got a years funding (at Chennai costs), he’s just got the building (including decent aircon and a generator - which were apparently harder to get than you’d think) and now he needs to grow his tech team from five to about thirty over the next couple of months. Read on →

2005

The aim is to, at the least, achieve all these goals. The time allocated is from October 6th 2005 to midnight October 5th 2006. I’ve archived my 2004⁄2005 PiP and it can now be found on the 2004⁄2005 Pragmatic Investment Plan page. Note: This page is actually getting a surprisingly high amount of traffic so I thought I should add some comments and an attribution. The original idea for a Pragmatic Investment Plan comes from Dave Thomas and Andy Hunt, the Pragmatic Programmers, to be specific the very interesting slides from the How To Keep Your Job presentation, if you’ve never seen them and you work in a technology field then I suggest you spend some quality time with them, they might just save your salary in years to come. Read on →

2004

Because if you have a good one you won’t realise how good they are until you get a complete doozy. A while ago i had the luck to work for a very insightful manager, lets call him Mike (his parents did). It took him about an hour to figure me out and from then on he played me masterfully, always the right amount of trust to ensure i was confident about my work but with enough challenge to both make me think about what i was doing and push me into giving more than the pay rate warranted. Read on →

While I’m in this navel gazing mood (which shouldn’t last very long) I thought I’d say a little bit about the oddness of being a system admin in a corporate environment; it might be the same in academia but I’ve never done that. Firstly you have the contradictions, in most companies, and heavily so in a small team/company, you are supposed to be open and approachable. But you also have to manage your time, their requests and the sanctity of the live environment. Read on →

“You described them as teenagers.” “But I don’t think teenagers are the way they are because of their age. It’s because they have nothing to lose. They simultaneously have a lot of time on their hands and yet are very impatient to get on with their lives.” Quote: Neal Stephenson - Cryptonomicon This is an odd thing to post about online, especially considering that this is a public blog and that I know at least two of my co-workers read this site on a semi-regular basis, but I need to get this off my chest and see where it leads me; and it’s my site dammit! Read on →

The aim is to, at the least, achieve all these goals. The time allocated is from September 1st 2004 to August 31st 2005. Update: I’ve closed my 2004-2005 PiP early and I’m pretty happy with where it is. I’ll put a newer one up soon. Note: This page is actually getting a surprisingly high amount of traffic so I thought I should add some comments and an attribution. The original idea for a Pragmatic Investment Plan comes from Dave Thomas and Andy Hunt, the Pragmatic Programmers, to be specific the very interesting slides from the How To Keep Your Job presentation, if you’ve never seen them and you work in a technology field then I suggest you spend some quality time with them, they might just save your salary in years to come. Read on →