Monday, May 28, 2012

Out of a job for the moment, but back into hacking

Ouch, rough week. My position in Adelaide was made redundant just as I started to get some traction. Doh.

This week's focus:

  • Go and dust off ruby, and rails skills, with the intent of building a linked data recipe mashup. Turns out in all of the waiting, someone has just gotten all of the data and done the linked data thing with it; the thing which stopped me dead the last time. Coughing up a workable UI for getfridged should be a snap, and gives me a chance to update my knowledge to Rails 3.0.
    Status: We're already sending pull requests on github, I'll hopefully be back up to speed within 2-3 days.
  • After the rails bit, make sure I can still hammer out python. Something quick and dirty in python/gtk; talking to tracker over dbus might be the go to display neat statistics or information about your local desktop PC.
  • Job applications: I've already put quite a few out there, and a few promising contacts so far.

    I've split it into two areas - happily looking at a wide variety of PHP related work; just to get back to something I love and to continue eating. While that's happening, I'm also putting our feelers around the architecture side of things - I was getting pretty darned good at breaking down communication barriers and Getting All of the Enterprise Java Developers to Talk on Friendly Terms.
    While I would certainly need a crash course to go from "intermediate Java" to "highly productive enterprise Java developer"; I can actually work well in a project role with the design of services, diving deeply into a domain and comprehending a data model.
I'm particularly proud of the work I did - building ValEx for 5-6 years from an idea in a back room of a small Adelaide business into a twice acquired, market leading platform.

I really ramped it up when my focus changed from ValEx only to RP Data transitioning to a SOA - I kicked down barriers, established communication between Dev, QA & business teams spread across Adelaide (2 teams), Brisbane (3-4 teams?), Sydney (2-5 teams/projects/etc?) & Offshore (2 teams?), and wore no less than 3 hats at all times (Solution Designer,  Developer, Project Manager, Data Modeller, Architect, Tinker, Tailor, but not yet Candlestick maker)

Some of the projects I did included:
  • Rewriting & integrating an existing RP Data product in a SOA fashion, integrating with 3 different legacy platforms.
  • Delivering parts of the RP Data consumer strategy - first in New Zealand back in 2011, and a much delayed linking of legacy platforms which I had been championing for some time more recently
  • Fixing the address search problems within RP Data by an extra 8% or so, and advocating for a practical implementation of the next steps.
  • Providing guidance to LIXI on improvements to the LIXI Valuation Standards, given the updated release of the Property Pro Supporting Memorandum 2012
  • Providing detailed technical guidance on how LIXI can meaningfully adopt OWL or Linked Data related standards, continuing the discussion started by NICTA in 2008.
  • Establishing stable identifiers on a number of diverse data sets, as initial steps towards linked data in the enterprise; amid a number of legacy ETL processes and other quirky things.
  • Providing real world, usable QA controls (assess a transaction against external data sets, route and alert humans to abnormal information) based on linked data in a fairly complex workflow system.
  • Finally delivered an incremental business intelligence improvement, plus helped coax some of the operational reporting onto something more like a SDLC, mostly by sending people pictures of Yetis whenever an SQL fragment was emailed, not put under version control. Pro-tip: Don't feed the SQL Yeti.
... and that's just the last twelve months of what I can remember. My biggest fault was not being able to explain it consistently and clearly enough - there barely seemed to be any time!

I miss the ValEx development work more though. I fondly remember making it snow over Christmas (which then promptly nuked the performance of all FF2.0 or lower users, oops); of hacking code all day but finding the really interesting problems to solve only at the union hotel after hours; of putting in the hard yards to get two major and several other important banks integrated, and efficiently working; of being able to walk into any section of the operational business and having friends who I could help by making computers work for them, every day.

I guess that interaction paid off well - there was such a rapid outpouring of support from everyone in Adelaide - from when I found out Thursday morning, and word spread a bit; right up to the last few moments on Friday.
I could not seem to make it ten minutes without someone offering a heartfelt condolence, or pushing a drink into my hand, or offering to help me get my foot in the door somewhere.


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