Tag Archives: Life

Some random reflections on 2014

As time has moved on, I’ve lavished less attention on my blog, which is a shame… “back in the day” I enjoyed writing for it, and gained a lot of value from doing so. It’s of no particular surprise to me that I’ve spent less time writing here in 2014 than in any of the previous years; but it is a regret. I blame my schedule, a general change in the way I interact online, and a lack of inspiration. Actually, that last one isn’t quite true: I’ve often been inspired, or felt the need to blog, but have found myself mentally blocked. I need to get over that!

Anyway… 2014, looking back… a little bit of a year in review.

LEGO AndyThe major life change this year was my move to Twitter, which has been very exciting and energising. I’m thrilled to have been invited to work with a team of exceptional people under Jeff Sandquist. In particular, this year I’ve had the short-lived opportunity to work with three brilliant and talented guys I want to say “thank you” to, for making my transition to my new role such a pleasure: Taylor Singletary, Sylvain Carle and Isaac Hepworth. A special shout-out too to my close friend and colleague based in London, Romain Huet, without whom I would have found the past nine months much less fun or easy-to-navigate! The whole team has been just amazing to work with, as have all my wonderful colleagues at the Twitter office in London #gratefulpipes

The work we’re doing on the Developer and Platform Relations team at Twitter is something I’m incredibly passionate about. Connecting with the third-party community and acting as the face and voice of Twitter with those developers, listening to them and responding to their concerns, is the reason I joined the company.

I’ve been involved in the launch of a couple of APIs (most notably the Mute API), and I’m getting to work on much of the external API surface, which plays well with my background and developer experience. We’ve completely relaunched our developer-facing website and forums in the past few months, which the whole team has worked hard on. I’m happy to see the focus of discussion on the developer forums substantially improved now that we’ve moved to the Discourse platform – the user experience is far better than we had with the previous solution.

Most importantly, this past quarter we launched Fabric, our new free mobile SDK and platform for iOS and Android, and delivered a swathe of improvements to the developer experience for mobile enthusiasts. We also ran our first mobile developer conference, Flight – I was excited to be there, and I’m looking forward to seeing that experience continue in 2015.

My background in the Internet of Things and MQTT space has partly carried over into my new life at Twitter, and I’ve had the opportunity to speak at a couple of events (including Flight) about how Twitter’s platform plays into that space. However, I’ve substantially stepped back from playing a major role in the MQTT community this year; a decision in part driven by the need to refocus on my new role, partly due to some personal hostility and “burnout” with a couple of specific issues, but mostly because – I’m no longer “needed”! It has been incredibly satisfying to see the MQTT community grow over the past few years. The standardisation of the protocol at OASIS, the large number of implementations, and the ability of many other much smarter people to pick up the kinds of speaking engagements I was previously doing as a matter of course – all of these things make me immensely proud to have helped to lay the foundations for the success of that community over the past six years or so.

I’ve also been very happy to see the success of the Cloud Foundry platform and the people involved – having devoted the previous two years of my career to that nascent Open Source community, it is just fantastic to see it take off and the Foundation get started. Nice work to everyone involved.

I’ve again thoroughly enjoyed my speaking opportunities this year, and the chance to broaden my range. Obviously that has included a lot about the Twitter API and developer platform, and lots again about IoT; but I’ve also spoken on wearables, developer advocacy, and API management. I’m very happy that I got to be a part of the first Twitter Flight conference – one of my speaking career highlights.

Personally, I’ve tried to stay healthy this year (no heart scares, no falls…!); although my travel schedule has been demanding again (TripIt tells me I covered 66613 miles in the air). That did at least include a couple of trips for fun, rather than being all about business 🙂

The next year looks to be busy with more events to speak at (and organise!), and much more to do around the Twitter platform. As an historian, a sociologist and someone with a keen interest in the intersection of technology and people, I’m very excited to be a part of this wave of change.

Happy New Year – here’s to 2015!

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My next steps – joining the Cloud Foundry team

I’m very excited to announce that, from April 10th, I will be joining the Developer Relations team for Cloud Foundry at VMware.

This is a thrilling opportunity for me for a number of reasons.

  • from a technology perspective: Cloud Foundry is very, very, very cool. In my opinion, it really comes from a different set of thought processes than the other Platform-as-a-Service offerings out there, which make it unique and compelling.
    • the operating system stuff gets out of the way (why should it matter?), but multiple language runtimes and backend resources are available for easy scaling. Seriously, the first time I walked through the command-line tutorial and scaled a Ruby app to 6 load balanced instances with a single command, I was instantly impressed.
    • it is Open Source. The code is on Github. You can run your own cloud if you like. You can add support for your own languages and frameworks, much as AppFog have done for PHP, Tier 3 and Uhuru have done with .NET in Iron Foundry, and so on. This provides a huge amount of flexibility. Oh, and of course mobile and cloud go hand-in-hand, so last week’s announcement of FeedHenry providing tools to develop HTML5 apps to deploy on Cloud Foundry was really significant, too.
    • you can take your cloud with you using Micro Cloud Foundry – so the development and deployment model remains the same whether you are online or offline. I love this idea.
  • for me, personally: it’s a natural evolution of much of the work I’ve been doing over the past few years – focusing on developer communities and promoting technology adoption, as much as top-down solution selling. As my good friend James Governor is fond of saying and as his colleague Steve O’Grady wrote, developers are the new kingmakers – and with trends like mobile, cloud, and devops, nurturing those communities is more important than ever. You don’t impose technology on a community – you explain it and earn your place and reputation.
  • I’m looking forward to more speaking, more writing, more mentoring, and more online community building. These are things I’ve grown to enjoy (and in the case of the latter, appear to do naturally).
  • I’ve followed Patrick Chanezon, the Senior Director of the team, since he was setting up the developer advocacy programme back at Google – I have a lot of respect for what he’s achieved and the way he operates, so I’m delighted to have the chance to work closely with him. I’m excited to join everyone in the team, of course – I have spoken with most of the group already and I’m really looking forward to learning from their diverse range of experiences and backgrounds.

Between now and April 10th, I have a few things planned including a vacation (!), heading to EclipseCon to talk about MQTT and M2M topics, and some other speaking engagements. After I start the new role, I expect I’ll join in on the Cloud Foundry Open Tour and start to meet folks. I’ll also be on the team for the GOTO conference in Aarhus in October – exciting times ahead!

The Scottish Play

A bit of a delayed write-up, but I wanted to comment on a trip to the theatre a couple of weeks back.

We went to see the new production of Macbeth that is currently on at the Gielgud Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue. The production stars Patrick Stewart (Ola’s primary criteria for wanting to see it!). It was previously on at the Chichester Festival Theatre before moving to the capital.

OK, it’s Shakespeare, and it’s a pretty grim play. It may or may not be your cup of tea on those grounds alone. Personally, I like it. Macbeth was the first piece of Shakespeare I was made to read at school… at the age of 13… I remember whipping through it in an afternoon off, much to my teacher’s surprise (at this point I can sense some readers rolling their eyes and thinking “what a swot”, but that’s digital authenticity for you).

The production itself is absolutely superb; in fact, possibly the best thing I’ve ever seen on stage. Although the play remains clearly Scottish, the director has chosen to relocate it into a kind of Soviet / Stalinist reality – the costumes and set are clearly influenced by militaristic 1940s styles, the warfare modern. There are some marvellous set pieces in this production – particularly the scene where Macbeth demands answers from the witches and their spirits, and the banquet scene where the ghost of Banquo returns, brilliantly played as a cliffhanger over the interval. The programme notes that Macbeth is very much a play of our time in a “surveillance society”, and the sense of paranoia is palpable. Stewart puts in an intense performance, and the rest of the cast is superb, particularly Kate Fleetwood as a scheming and, latterly, disturbed Lady Macbeth.

If theatre is your thing, then I highly recommend this production. It runs until December 1st and should move to the US next year.

Karting

We had a team event yesterday – lots of fun, although my arm is bruised today… I’d like to apologise to my team for reducing our performance so we only came 3rd!

Battle at the cornerKart

Waiting to get startedReady to go

More on Flickr.

Windy City

OK, well town. And this in the UK, not Chicago.

So it seems that we live in a hotspot (windspot?) for tornadoes.

We were getting ready to get out to work yesterday morning when we heard the wind absolutely whipping at the building. Ola actually commented on the noise. As we drove out of the car park we saw that a branch had been brought down onto the nearby bus stop in the street.

Coming home in the evening it turned out that the UK had been struck by a series of tornadoes, and one of them was in Farnborough. The major damage was about a mile away from our place. This follows earlier extreme weather conditions, making this the second time in a year.

I wonder what makes the place such a magnet for high winds…

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