2014 is behind us all now, and so is ThoughtWorks for me. I’ve left after 12.5 years which is a huge amount of time with one employer. I’ll recap the year in this blog entry…

My Sabbatical

April, May, June and July saw me take my 10-year anniversary sabbatical (12 weeks paid leave). My wife and I went travelled through Japan, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Cambodia, Singapore, Thailand, Spain and the UK. We were even in Ireland for a couple of hours on the flight back. I’ve never been afraid of the travel aspect of life in ThoughtWorks and over the years accrued a lot of air miles and hotel points. They mostly all got redeemed during the sabbatical, I’m pleased to say. We also took some Air BnB residences while in Japan and Vietnam. AirBnb is an awesome service. Hilton chain hotels overseas are a deal more sumptuous and generous than ones in the US (yay having Hilton Diamond status - free booze abroad).

The biggest technology thing that eased our trip was T-Mobile’s generous free data coverage worldwide. Seems they’ve negotiated some fairly slow rates with telecos in other countries and perhaps allowed to keep the lions share of an offered upgrade to 4G. The rates almost everywhere were way slower than the old 2G speeds, but it was great to have coverage. Here’s my daily cellphone data usage for the 10.5 weeks away from the US in megabytes:

Some hotels had wifi, but we didn’t use it if there was a charge. Both the AirBnb places we stayed at did. The UK usage is a bit low as I was SIM-swapping constantly. Incidentally, T-Mobile are renegotiating with Vietnamese telecos presently:

Apart from the big flights, we were only booking about two weeks ahead during the trip. It allowed us to pivot, like when we landed in Japan and the Thai coup happened (we downsized the Thailand leg). We wouldn’t have made it to Singapore at all if we were not doing some form of just in time planning.

The iOS app “Day One”, was great. With a shared dropbox account (you can’t ordinarily share directories with DropBox’s Apps folder) we were able to document our journey in realtime without that being too intrusive. DayOne because iPhoto streams leaves me feeling uncomfortable for a number of reasons. Apps like Expedia’s performed much better than Hipmonk’s over slow connections. The Expedia app got us out of a tricky situation in a Phnom Penh hotel lobby (our room had been given away - they’d not logged in to see the online booking from a week before). We managed to hastily rebook a Raffles hotel (a great hotel) within 10 minutes of starting looking, and jumped in a tuk tuk to get there. Google Maps works everywhere very well, but got us lost in Shanghai, perhaps because of incorrectly sourced data on the Hotel we were aiming at.

Speaking at MERGE

September also saw me present at Perforce’s MERGE conference in San Francisco. Mine was a keynote following Jez Humble’s. When we knew we were both presenting, we tried hard to not make our presentations copies of each other’s. We had lunch together after Jez’s presentation and before mine - at the Chieftain - an Irish pub serving fantastic but life-shortening foods from home.

Selenium reaching 10

I co-created Selenium with Jason Huggins, and in October we got together to mark the 10th birthday, socially in Chicago at the ThoughtWorks head office. There were some video contributions from other movers and shakers who couldn’t make the party, including a very funny one from Simon Stewart (who has led Selenium 2 development for many years).

Leaving ThoughtWorks

Ultimately I feel I had done all I could do within ThoughtWorks. I was happy to take on tough client missions - particularly brown-field ones that had work to do in conjunction with a bunch of existing (sometimes legacy) systems and code. I was placed in a series of large well known companies - even ones your grand parents would know of - in very interesting consultative roles. I made many friends - many hundreds within ThoughtWorks itself, and a lot from client engagements over the years.

The research side of ThoughtWorks is astonishing. The internal software development and Agile/PM mail-lists alone are a significant loss for leavers. ThoughtWorks has a “Technology Radar” that’s well known. Martin Fowler (Chief Scientist) and Rebecca Parsons (Chief Technology Officer) lead a committee and community effort to push the radar out four times a year. Seeing what was being collated, distilled and edited into each edition was a privilege. As was occasionally feeding into that cycle. AngularJS was notable amongst the things in the radar that I was championing as much more promising than other JavaScript micro-frameworks.

Before the formal radar, ThoughtWorks had a less formal way of pushing technologies in front of enterprise developers - Ruby on Rails (2005/6) was one. Before that in 2003/4 there was Dependency Injection - I had a hand in that having co-created PicoContainer, after having a few hundred conversations about Inversion of Control in the years before that. There there was Selenium (2004-) as mentioned.

A constant for my time in ThoughtWorks has been my advocacy for Trunk-Based Development. There was a moment in 2007 where I documented a Branch by Abstraction and got a lot of readers, and within a few years had ramped up my writing on the TBD topic, recognizing that it’s really the thing that most readers visit my blog for. Jez reported that he’s only ever encountered Trunk Base Development in his time as an enterprise developer. Lucky him in my opinion. Up until the client I was at that caused the Branch by Abstraction writeup, so had I, but I’ve managed to flip most of the sizable ones to it since after varying degrees of advocacy.

I’ve pundited many more things and they’ve not come true, or not yet :)

ThoughtWorks will push on without me. The same machine that championed Agile from the earliest days, pushed/pushes BDD, mocking innovations, Lean, will continue to innovate and lead. Rather than an being an insider, I’ll just be a receiver like everyone else. Thanks for having me ThoughtWorks - stay in touch!

HedgeServ

I’m now the Senior Director of Engineering at HedgeServ. Different problems and challenges for me. The business wanting to grow and simultaneously push an innovation cycle is where I’m going to help. Specifically, how can IT can support that change and expansion agenda, and remain calm. The existing development teams, with techops help, have done a fantastic job of defining a scalable platform, and being able to pivot based on client needs, and we need to not risk that solid core, as we push ahead.

HedgeServ has a hiring agenda all through 2015, with Python and Ember being the chief skills for otherwise polyglot candidates wanting to arrive in pre-existing teams. We want to press Continuous Delivery and eXtreme Programming pedals a little more every month through 2015. To help that we have the super-skilled Noah Sussman on board as Distinguished Engineer to help steer that. Dave Blodget is with us too (ex Senior Director of Global Infrastructure Services in Expedia) to do Senior Director of Global Infrastructure and Operations for us. New York is our head office but we have development, QA, DevOps in Boston, Dublin, Cork, and Sofia too. Reach out if you want are interested in that world and are local to our offices.



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Published

January 6th, 2015
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