Choosing a Direction…

Image of a Map

Like all of us, I imagine, I spend an amount of my time thinking about what I will do next professionally, and the more that I think about it, the more I am certain that while I might perhaps enjoy the pursuit of and attaining of a “C-Level” job in my field, either as a CTO or even a CEO in the IT / Software game, that frankly I may not want that after all.

I have blogged about this before, that I would like to develop games, that perhaps I would like to run my own company, but the third option, that I have not really talked about that much, is that I might just quite like to spend the rest of my working life as a consultant, a jobbing coder and system architect working for companies that want to effect a culture change specifically in the way that they build software, or even carry out a project that needs a fresh pair of eyes or a different set of skills.

The thing that I am bound to wonder at this point is do these kinds of gigs exist? The experience of some of my professional contacts would seem to suggest that they do. The guys who founded Juxt, who I know a bit through the Clojure community in London are essentially doing this, exactly this, by running their own company. While I was at the BBC I met a couple of consultants who were doing this kind of thing by themselves, one way or another, and I realise now that I probably should have asked them at the time how they made that step from nine-to-five into picking their own hours.

I expect that the truth of the matter is that while they pick the hours that they work specifically on other people’s projects, they spend a lot of time networking, researching, blogging and trying things out so as to be “of use”, and that while it might well look like the best way to work there are doubtless some drawbacks as well.

What might be the advantages of this third way, this consultancy life? Well, as long as I had enough work, as long as I made enough money then I suppose I could make different choices about spending time with my family than I can as a nine-to-five operative, at least when I am able to. What I do know about the people that I have met and got to know who choose this path, is that there are times when they have to be away from their families, times when the trade off for freedom is travel and distance and that it is often at short notice. If I stay in the nine-to-five world I stand a chance of seeing my kids every day or almost anyway, but what if I choose this path and while I get the freedom I am looking for, I also have to disappear on short notice for days or weeks at a time?

There is a fourth way, I suppose, which is to look for a permanent, or at least steady, telecommute position with an established company and work nine-to-five (or the appropriate time zone shifted equivalent) for and with people that I never meet in person. I am not against this idea by any stretch of the imagination, in fact I quite like the idea in some ways, but again I wonder how easy such jobs are to come by. I have taken a look at Stack Overflow jobs, specifically the “Work from Anywhere” section, and my biggest concern would be that the good jobs seem to be in the US, and as such would likely have me working a weird offset of the day. Still that might work out quite well; being able to take the kids to school in the mornings, family dinners while transatlantic colleagues were taking lunch? Something to think about.

Clearly there are no easy answers. The obvious step to take when I make my next move is to look for a CTO position, I have all the experience and knowledge that I need at this point and hopefully by the time it comes I will have another provable case study under my belt for a successful, transformative project, so I could make that step without it being an over-reach. I could take everything that I’ve learned so far and one of the two or three ideas that I am hanging on to and start my own business. There is a lot of risk, in some cases a greater or lesser amount depending on the endeavour, but certainly the idea that I am most interested in pursuing would be a lot of risk and an act of stepping a very long way outside my comfort zone. Perhaps not… And so I come back to the idea of consultancy…


On Encryption…

GBZXA BGCHS REHAV DDZFP HQFXF QKKCN YBNVH GIUIZ JFQTU AVKUZ GFINX RKLVA CYKHC MLIVP VCLCU HYDQE JOZJL KCASL UHKNH OABKN

If I gave you the key you could decrypt the above message with a deck of playing cards.

Ecrypted communications are not something that governments can defeat by banning WhatsApp and Apple Messages and Threema and Telegram and BBMessenger to name but a few…

If you would like the key, please let me know via a secure channel of your choosing and I will use the same channel to return it to you.

If you would like to be able to exchange emails with me in a genuinely secure fashion, please consider OpenPGP:

OS X
Linux
Windows
iOS
Android

Here is my public GPG key – you will need to send me your public key for me to be able to decrypt any messages you send to me that are encrypted. I also have a Threema and Telegram account, both of which count as “secure enough” seeing as this only a test message, in the end:

—–BEGIN PGP PUBLIC KEY BLOCK—–
Comment: GPGTools – http://gpgtools.org

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If wishing made it so…

I need to find a way to make the ideas in this video a reality for some of the awesome people I have worked with and do work with now.

There really can be profit and balance, growth and humanity – there is no need to work “every hour that God sends”, there is just a need to work hard while we are at work, and then not when we are not…


Manila Envelope

Well, it’s been a couple of weeks since I FINALLY got around to blogging about the experience of moving to the Philippines and so I figured it was time to add to the canon…

After five weeks in our AirBnB Condo on H.V. Dela Costa Street we spent Saturday-gone moving into our freshly found, permanent address, which is / was handily just across the street. I have always been intrigued by living in a high-rise and while I am not going to claim retroactively that this weekend’s transition has somehow fulfilled a lifelong goal or anything so grand, I have to admit that there is a certain wonder and excitement attached to our new environs that I was not expecting. For one thing, we can see the Ocean from our living room!

Work continues to be an exciting mixture of strategy and problem-solving with a large side-order of never-ending recruitment, and a smaller one of little bits of coding. Before you ask I most certainly am enjoying it. The rush of being involved in a growing and increasingly successful start-up is a drug I’ve been exposed to before, and it is no less potent this time around, but so far I am managing to make time to smell the roses as well, where I can.

I am starting to hatch a plan to take Lee-Anne and the kids to the beach in a couple of weeks time, preferably for a long weekend, and we are already talking in looser terms about exploring some of the more far-flung parts of the archipelago, with particular reference to Palawan and her white sand beaches and relative lack of people in general. I have heard people talking about Hundred Islands in the North and Mindanao in the South and it does appear that we might well be in a position to fill our free time quite admirably without ever repeating ourselves or actually leaving the country for some time to come, though the prospect of places like Singapore, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, not to mention the Thai beaches and even Japan being so much closer than they have ever been before is all very tempting as well. Once our Philippines visas are through – they are being processed at the moment, and that may take “some time”(tm) – I suspect we will gad about the South China Sea quite a bit, given half a chance…

For now I need to get back to the recruitment grindstone – finding software engineers locally is a bit of a relentless process, at least finding good ones is, even more so than back in London, and even reaching out to networks back home bears the difficulty of persuading anyone that moving to the other side of the World makes for solid decision making. From what I have seen so far I am not only certain I made the right decision in bringing our family out here and taking this job, but I am already much more excited about the future than I thought I could be. I just hope that I can get some other quality people enthused about the road ahead, as growth is happening and I am going to need to feed that growth with more output and better output, one way or another. Don’t get me wrong, I’m certain that we’ll find people given a bit of time and a bit of luck, but there is no doubt that it’s the biggest challenge I have on my plate for the next couple of months.


Going Home…

As you may or may not know, dear reader, I have been experiencing a little turbulence in my career of late. A little over six weeks ago I gave my notice at Vivastreet after a year of highs and lows and a great deal of stress, a decision made when it became clear that I was not likely to be able to achieve the things that I set out to do by remaining there. In many ways it was a very difficult decision, in others it was very easy – is this not always the way – but by the time a day had passed I was quite certain that in terms of career and my personal happiness and health it was the right way to go.

Clearly this decision has led to a job search, and in fact the day after I handed in my notice I spied an interesting staff role at the BBC, which I applied for and promptly forgot about, as the deadline for applications was weeks away. To my genuine delight, about ten days later, I received an invitation to have a telephone interview, which I took and must have done quite well with as this led to a coding test and finally a face to face interview with three members of the senior engineering team on News. Despite the complexity and time cost of the process, which I would say is probably inevitable with an organisation of the BBC’s size, the entire process was challenging and fun, and as I left New Broadcasting House after the interview I was quietly hopeful that I had done and said the right kind of things and that there was a good chance that I would be offered the job.

Well, yesterday afternoon I verbally accepted and today I had written confirmation of the offer, which I have also formally accepted, and so now I am officially going back to the BBC. I have entitled this post “Going Home…” for a very specific reason; in all of my twelve years in software engineering, despite some other really excellent experiences, the only place that I have ever felt truly at home, truly in sync with the culture, the ethos and the goals of the organisation is the BBC. Now it is fair to say that I am a ridiculous fanboi for the BBC anyway, and while I am not unconditionally on their side, I have been known to fight their corner in a rather partisan manner, when the organisation has been criticised by others, long before I ever worked for them.

I can’t easily explain to you how much of a thrill I know it will be to walk into work at New Broadcasting House every day, to feel that I am contributing to the workings of an institution that is dear to my heart and feels, to me at least, to be one of the foundation stones of modern British life. I am not a very patriotic person, one might say I have a quiet love for my country; the kind of honest love that sees her faults and is not afraid to own them, but I do have a strong attachment to much of what I would call Anglicana. Tea, cricket, the Lake District, English Literature, the British Museum, Red buses and of course the BBC (to name but a few of the things that strike a chord with me in particular) – these are all things that matter to me, and they matter because they are the expression of the character of my country.

There is no question that today, now that I know where I am going to be working, I feel a lot less stressed than I did yesterday. Yesterday was filled with uncertainty, so much so that I fluffed a telephone interview with another large organisation that would in many ways have been a great opportunity, but today my mood is not just improved by the security of “I have a job”, my calm and happiness are magnified tenfold by “I (will soon) work at the BBC”.

Right, now to go and hang up the washing…


I love XKCD, no really, I LOVE XKCD

You know when people use “lol” and a little part of you thinks “no you didn’t”? Well, I realise that it is hard to believe when someone claims that they did, but I just got some very funny looks in the office, because this did make me, genuinely, laugh out loud (and for a long time at that).

XKCD for 05/10/2012

(Here is a link to the original page)

That is all
.
EOT


Also…

.EOF


I went for a run this morning…

…unlike my normal MO, I can’t prove it, ‘cos my GPS went wacky and then my running app crashed when I got home, before I could save the data.

I am somewhat miffed that having mentally prepared for getting up at 0-My-Goodness-600h, and then actually done it, got out of the house in a timely fashion and made myself run 3.42 miles i do not have the data, not really becuase I want to __prove__ it to anyone (let’s be honest 12.333 minutes/mile is nothing to crow about), but because having the data has been one of the mainstays of my being able to motivate myself.  What can I say, I’m a geek.  I like data, numbers, graphs, trends and the such like.  I get excited when I can see that over time the trend is that I run faster and further, and missing a data point like today’s run (in which I clawed back a whole minute from last week’s effort) is just a bit, well, “meh!”.

Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to try again tomorrow – I am planning to reboot my iPhone just before I go out in the hope of having as much memory available as possible, seeing as the old 3G I have is now at the blunt back-edge of the iPhone tech-tree and even if “turn it off and turn it on again” shouldn’t work with something made my Apple, the simple truth is that it does 😉

Roll on April and my chance to bully an iPhone 4 out of O2, or make my own destiny if they refuse to play ball!

Enjoy your Wednesday 🙂


Don’t Drive Angry…

Wishing a happy and overcast Groundhog Day to all my American Chums – here’s hoping that the Groundhog sees not his shadow and your winter can start to end.

Now I’d like to take a moment and say a prayer for world peace 😉


Saw this and had to re-post…

…particularly as the creator provided embed code!

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