Long Time between Drinks

Presenting…

It has been a long time since my last post. I have not much for an excuse other than being busy at work.

I foolishly volunteered to do a 45 minute presentation slot at DevCamp which was held this past 17th – 19th in Terrigal at a hotel. It is great to work for a company that values the less tangible benefits of its whole Engineering department taking a 3 day hiatus to brainstorm together and inspire each other.

Preparing my presentation took more time than anticipated. As always, I went stupidly ambitious with my concept and then followed through. I had to dig through 2-3 years of Incident Reports and Weekly Engineering Meeting notes for my raw materials, and put together a presentation on how we could leverage what we are learning there more effectively. Despite having had no time to practice the presentation itself, it was a great success on the day. And miraculously it dovetailed into 2-3 other presentations at the camp without even trying.

As a matter of fact, I have to say, the quality of all the presentations was remarkable.

Now. I may have gotten myself into some more trouble by volunteering to submit my presentation for a public conference later in the year. I won’t say more than that just yet… but it’ll be both exciting and terrifying (and a lot of extra work to adapt the content) if that comes off.

Personal Loss

Over the same quiet period we sadly lost our eldest fur-baby; Obie.

ChristmasObie

He was a lovely rescue from the Animal Welfare League, and came with a great mix of quirks and qualities. We got him at the “ripe old age” of 4, and when he passed away 2 weeks and 1 day ago, he was 17 (I believe).

SuppliesObie

Although since his passing it has become obvious he was the source of a lot of the mess around the house. He and Amber were definitely not equal partners in the hairball and peeing department. Still, he made more than up for it with his cuddly nature. I’ll always remember him in winter crawling under the blanket and sticking his head out on the pillow lying on his side… like the proper human he was.

ComputerObie

He is irreplaceable, so I’m not even going to try.

ObieAndBron

F430 F1 – Ferrari: ✔

When I left my previous job at AEMO after 11 years, a group of my closest friends and coworkers gathered around and presented me with a very unexpected and awesome gift. Although I have been enjoying my other gift from the wider company (lots of Kindle credit!) on a daily basis on the train, this was definitely something else entirely.

2015-07-29 - Ferrari-2

I hadn’t intended to take quite this long to get around to it, but it turns out this is a pretty popular Red Balloon gift, so June was as early as was available at the start of the year, and I decided to make it land near my birthday on the 26th.

I must admit. When I put a Ferrari on my list-of-100-things, I was just expecting that maybe someday I’d have a chance to drive one on the road.

2015-07-29 - Ferrari-1

Driving one on a race track is better.

Much better.

2015-07-29 - Ferrari-3

I have no practice at driving really fast, and I shamefully admit I didn’t quite nudge it past 200 on the straight, but I had an awful lot of fun trying to get there. I didn’t notice the adrenaline as I was going, but when I got out of the car I had an immediate urge to look for a drink because my mouth had dried out completely.

I have to clarify; 200 sounds like a lot, but in more qualified hands the car I was driving tops out over 300. Still. It’s faster than I’ve ever gone in a car myself.

2015-07-29 - Ferrari-4

First of all, you sit incredibly close to the road. It’s less than 1/2 Rav4 high. Secondly, the brakes are incredibly effective; anything more than the lightest touch and you stand still instantly. That’s a hard thing to get used to. I think the twitchy controls are what most held me back from pushing it faster. That, and the knowledge I was driving the cost of a modest flat around.

2015-07-29 - Ferrari-8

Through it all the instructor was amazing. Encouraging, calm and composed. Like a personal sat-nav pointing out the spots I should try to hit in the corner, and when to push it faster and when to ease it off. I got better on later laps.

2015-07-29 - Ferrari-7

The track I was driving wasn’t quite as expected either. See Eastern Creek geographical map style; that is what I was led to expect. Then, see Eastern Creek satellite view with the extra twisty bits on the right; that’s what I actually got to drive. Those tight corners are… intimidating.

2015-07-29 - Ferrari-5

I’m not quite done yet with my catch-up birthday, but the experience of the morning almost led me to buying a console with racing games straight out of the gate.

2015-07-29 - Ferrari-11

This afternoon I have a massage booked, and then dinner with some friends and family at Criniti’s for an Italian close to the day as well. What could possibly go wrong?

Cannibals and Pirate Lords

I feel guilty for doing nothing.

On my weekends, I spend a lot of my time in books and television. I let it wash over me, but I feel like I should be doing something more constructive with the time.

I feel like I should be working on something, a new language, a new project, a new idea. Or being out with people, somewhere, anywhere.

I guess it’s a struggle between the introvert and extrovert.

On weekends, the introvert tends to win more often than not. I save the extrovert for Monday through Friday it seems, maybe because he is so damned useful at work?

So, this weekend, right now as a matter-of-fact, I am watching some Hannibal… because I can.

And I have a box-set of Pirates of the Caribbean waiting to be studied in detail… because I need to learn to be a better pirate for work-related reasons. Also D&D, but “for work” sounds more interesting and mysterious so that’s what I’m going to label it.

I haven’t quite worked out whether this means I need to let my hair grow or if I need to buy a bandanna and a hat.

Time will tell.

Time-frames and Velocity

Next Monday I have a meeting with my team lead at 2:30pm. It’ll be the 3-month review mark in my new job, which still feels insane to me.

I blame the velocity of the release cycle at Campaign Monitor. I came from an organisation where releases are carefully planned and executed around a 6-month release cycle to coördinate deployments with numerous external parties each with their own IT department. I came from an organisation that rightfully was cautious about the idea of Agile and where it might apply. And I’ve jumped straight into the middle of an Agile maelström.

We have a release window every fortnight (or more… sometimes weekly). Sometimes that’s just an internal deployment. Sometimes that’s a production deployment with functionality still turned off by default. But it is a deployment. An opportunity for code to be exercised, reviewed in the wild, and feedback to come back. It leads to a much more experimental approach, and a preparedness to be wrong because at worst it will get fixed in another fortnight.

Which makes this morning all the more dazzling in its sudden slow-ness.

There is an issue in some of the development environments. And I’m sure it’ll be fixed by lunch, but in the face of the otherwise blistering speed, half a day without access suddenly feels like the Biggest Tragedy in the History of the Universe.

So in my helplessness I am studying on Pluralsight.

I should post about Pluralsight, because it is more awesome than I ever suspected. In the past month I have completed 30 courses on a variety of topics. It’s the quickest way to get into a new unfamiliar technology for me, and I feel so much smarter already. Just wait until I finish the full catalogue… only 3970 more to go!

Back to Angular.js for me now.

And then lunch with some ex-colleagues. Yes, I am abandoning the chefs. “Chicken and sweetcorn soup” the internal menu proclaims. I’ll be back in time for cookies though.

My Campaign Monitor Adventure – Soon

The original plan would have been to start at my new job in the CBD last Monday (2nd Feb), but speaking to the recruiter uncovered that the interior decorating in the CBD was running later than anticipated, to the tune of early March. He suggested splitting the difference and starting Feb 16th, which sounded fine to me.

I’m starting to get back into a working frame-of-mind.

Yesterday I had a social engagement in the CBD and Abbey and I decided to take the Parramatta ferry in for a nice slow ride, and I took the opportunity to snap some shots of what I believe are our offices-to-be… there aren’t that many buildings around Hyde Park high enough.

Corner of Elizabeth and Park
Corner of Elizabeth and Park

I’m looking forward to these offices. The CBD is too far from where I live to spend much time there, but there is a lot of charm to the idea of being able to spend some time over lunch in Hyde Park… it’s right outside the door after all.

Well-used park
Well-used park

And I like the fact that city-dwellers actually use the park as well. Late in the afternoon the lawns were littered with people by themselves and in small groups reading or talking. And a larger group gathering near the reflecting pond seemed to be getting ready for exercise. I didn’t wait around to find out for sure though.

Plenty of shade among the massive trees.
Plenty of shade among the massive trees.

And the park has some wonderful shade as well. It was overcast yesterday, but I’m sure even on a sunny day a skin-safe spot can be found on one of the many benches strewn about the walkways.

But first… three weeks of commuting to Sutherland by car.

I’m sure I’ll be too engrossed in getting up to speed to notice much of it, and it’ll be a nice opportunity to spend some time in their original offices before they become “former”.

“Sadly”, the new offices will apparently not have personal offices, but be organised around teams from what I understand. I look forward to finding out what that looks like.

Despite the many articles recently floating around the internet slamming open-plan offices, I’m not too worried either way. I just came from open-plan and I’m sure I will be able to find the occasional quiet corner for deep thoughts to be thought; it’s just a matter of picking up the laptop and going for a walk.

Worst-case scenario I guess I could wander into the park, although I’m not sure the WiFi will reach all the way down.

…Thanks for All The Fish

I had a great last day at work today.

I got so many well-wishes from everyone, it was a little overwhelming. And more kudos than I knew what to do with… I may have to keep them in a kennel. It’s funny how little I realised what I was achieving as I was doing; it really took everyone telling me for it to settle in.

Lunch was great and well attended. I was happy to see the HR team present (thanks Barbara); they moved their own gathering from the CBD out West for the express purpose of joining me I believe.

40+ people all up.

And I was late.

I had a meeting till right up to my lunch. I left a few minutes early in hopes of being timely, but XMAS bustle at our lunch venue meant that all the parking was taken. If not for the fortuitous departure of a mother with pram (thanks for noting Hamish) I would have been more than 10 minutes late.

And then there was a gift from my closest friends at work; colleagues, staff, bosses, many I have worked with right from the beginning, 11 years ago. Scott had earlier in the day come to ask me mystifying questions regarding whether a cooler gift in Melbourne, or a not-quite-as-cool-but-still-very-cool gift in Sydney was preferable.

I picked Sydney.
I have no immediate plans to travel to Melbourne at this stage.

The gift was plenty cool regardless…

FerrariDriving

Someone had noted my bucket list on the blog, and remembered seeing something useful on it. A gift I would never have thought to ask for. An amazingly cool gift that I’ll really enjoy experiencing.

So, sometime soon I will be ticking “Driving a Ferrari” off my list.
I will go to the local race circuit, get some instruction, and then race an F430 around the track for 6 laps. And it Will Be Awesome!

I will miss them all. It has been such a pleasure working with them all these years. They have all taught me so much they may not even have realised. Little lessons, large lessons… unintended lessons. And hopefully it has sufficiently prepared me to make the most of my next job.

I am mystified how I managed to teach them as much as they claim I have, but I will take their word for it.

They better invite me for pizza.

Day 307 – How-To: Be Presentable

59 – 100 Presentation Tips

I added two items to my 100 Things that relate to presenting. Three if you count teaching a class as essentially a form of presentation. I think that means I better start planning out how to brush up on my presentation skills.

Not that I am going in cold.

I have watched many videos on presentation by masters of the art. I have read many blog posts and articles about presenting itself, designing good slides, and how to structure material. I have books on my shelf by Nancy Duarte and Garr Reynolds.

The next step? Presenting. Regularly.
Continue reading Day 307 – How-To: Be Presentable

Day 294 – Comparative Hotelling

72 – Top 100 Hotels & Resorts in the World

Once again I couldn’t get into my favourite hotel here. Dunno what is up at The Grand, but whatever it is, it’s very rude. My room at the Novotel this time is nicer than last time, but it is still essentially a box without a loft. *sigh*

Having said that, it’s clear from today’s link that either of these hotels have some stiff competition on the international stage.

Fine Dining in Mexico.

CAPELLA PEDREGAL, CABO SAN LUCAS (Mexico)

Balcony with Hammock and Parrot.

NAYARA HOTEL, SPA & GARDENS, COSTA RICA (Central America)

Inside the Tank.

CONRAD MALDIVES RANGALI ISLAND (Indian Ocean)

Closer to Home.

QUALIA, GREAT BARRIER REEF (Australia)

I Laugh at your Tree House!

LION SANDS, SABI SAND (Africa)

Old-world Style.

FOUR SEASONS GRESHAM PALACE BUDAPEST (Europe)

I now know my motivation for becoming Influential. It’s all starting to fit together into some grand scheme!

Day 270 – Selfie

96 – 100 #selfies on Instagram

I don’t have any deep insights myself into the subject of Selfies. For that I wish I could link to an excellent essay I’ve read recently, but alas, it does not exist in linkable form.

I have however been experimenting with the format myself.

#halfie
#halfie

Well, not exactly.

Not the unadulterated format.

I just don’t feel like pictures of myself would be worth sharing, so I am taking “Halfies” instead; a picture that shows at least as much of my environment as it does of me as a way to provide mutual visual context between me and my actions. Also, it seems like a fun exercise.

Tonight I am ripping some more of my DVDs onto Plex, while three Oatmeal posters adorn the wall in the background. Their hanging had been a long time coming; I should now know how to use a semicolon, when to use i.e. in a sentence, and how to pet a kitty correctly.