Almost two months in…

By , September 10, 2009 11:42 am

Almost two months into my new job and I’m absolutely loving it – if I was meant to be in IT (which sometimes I do wonder), then this is where I belong. My main observations are:

  • My team is amazing. Really – full of uber-smart, motivated, helpful guys supported by great management, great interface to the business, and very slick, well-oiled processes.
  • This was a huge sideways move, so the learning curve has been a similar experience to last year when I started triathlons and had to learn to freestyle without drowning. I love learning new things, definitely feel like I am over the hardest part now, and am trying to contribute to the team effort with as close as I can get to the breakneck speed the other guys do.
  • When you really love something, it sucks you in – sometimes too much. Last night I was up until 3am 😕  I need to follow the advice Michael Meeks gave me when I asked him for tips on how to deal with being a full-time home-working geek:

    Sure – get up at the same time every day; and quit work roughly 9 hours later without fail.

    Then you stay sane 🙂

  • It’s a more solitary lifestyle than my previous role, so I need to make more effort to get out and socialize in the evenings. Actually this could be a good thing because I used to occasionally use “work is quite social” as an excuse for not going out if I was tired.

going back to my roots

By , July 9, 2009 11:58 pm

A month or so ago I did something a bit crazy… twice. But let’s back up a bit first.

For the last 3.5 years I’ve been working as a Solutions Architect for Novell, a job which has:

  • trusted me with working from home, even before I’d proved myself,
  • introduced me to some great colleagues and new friends (Novell is full of highly motivated and talented people),
  • pushed me outside my comfort zone many times (and in case it’s not obvious, that is a very good thing), including forcing me to confront and completely overcome my phobia of public speaking,
  • taught me a whole range of technical and “soft” skills,
  • given me the opportunity to work on projects with some of the finest minds in the industry and stay at the cutting edge of technology,
  • given me the opportunity to meet, learn from, and help countless client customers and partners, both existing and prospective,
  • rewarded me for innovation (I co-filed two patents),
  • taught me how to understand, and where possible sidestep people politics (although politics are inevitable in any large corporation, Novell is relatively free of it and even the CxOs at the top are very down-to-earth, approachable people)
  • and probably many other things I missed.

Despite all that, a while ago I started feeling that I needed a fresh challenge. And the feeling wouldn’t go away – in fact it kept growing. I started thinking about what to do, and as often happens when you open your mind to possibilities, a very promising new opportunity presented itself to me out of the blue, in the form of a job at another company.

So we come back to the crazy thing. I interviewed for this job, found out that it was certainly challenging role, and had phenomenal opportunities for career growth and networking, got an offer, and after much stress and agonizing, turned it down.

Two weeks later, almost exactly the same thing happened with another company.

Especially in today’s economy, what the hell was I doing turning down two great job offers? Well, I was taking a gamble based on the possibility of being offered something new at Novell which sounded more exciting than either of those.

Let’s back up again, this time much further. When I was about 8, I first discovered computers and quickly realised that they presented a whole new world where you could invent all kinds of wonderful new creations and you were pretty much limited only by your imagination. Well, this was quite a long time ago, so admittedly having only 1 kilobyte of memory and a cassette tape recorder which only worked once every 10 times for storing your programs on was a bit of a limit too, but hopefully you get the point. I realised that I liked making stuff.

This passion has stayed with me my whole life – it sort of went into hibernation for two amazing years at music college, although even then you could argue I was making stuff (i.e. music). And it’s why I turned down both those two jobs – even though they were great, they didn’t present immediate chances to create, and my instinct was telling me that’s what I needed.

So the great news I received earlier today is that the gamble paid off, and I have been formally offered a job as a Software Engineer Consultant, joining an extremely talented team based mainly in Santa Cruz in California. This is getting scarily close to being a dream job! I remember years ago voluntarily pulling 100 hour weeks at guideguide despite terrible pay, simply because I loved it so much – and I think this will give me the same kind of rush 🙂

For those wondering whether I’ll be relocating to California: for now, I’ll still be officially working from home here in London, but I’m crossing fingers for a business trip across the pond to meet the new team soon 😉 I hear it’s a beautiful stretch of coastline, and would be triathlon training heaven …


CompuTrainer on Linux

By , June 20, 2009 7:13 pm

Finally started using my CompuTrainer a bit more. Just rode 20km in the lounge with the computer pacing me at 200 Watts. After so much riding with guys way stronger than me, the temptation to draft the computer is difficult to resist. However in the last 500 metres it spontaneously decided to make a sprint for the finish line – the bloody cheek! Obviously I couldn’t allow a bunch of transistors to beat me so I sprinted after it and hit the finish line 0.05 seconds ahead, narrowly avoiding embarassment. Next step is to start doing brick sessions
Continue reading 'CompuTrainer on Linux'»


first astronomy ventures

By , June 17, 2009 12:35 am

Becky’s dad recently lent us his old telescope. This typically crappy British summer meant that we had to wait a few days for a clear night sky, but we amused ourselves passing the time by counting the number of people in each capsule on the London Eye and reading the time off Big Ben. One the first night a gap in the clouds appeared, I randomly picked the first bright star I could see, pointed the telescope at it, whacked on the most powerful lens, and saw something like this (if you are reading this on facebook or can’t see the following image, view the original post):

a first look through the telescope

“That’s weird, it’s got a strange line through it”, I said to Becky, and then 3 seconds later swore loudly as I realised what it actually was:

Saturn and Titan as shown by Stellarium

These nice images come from an amazing piece of software called Stellarium which is free and works on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.


An overdue visit

By , June 15, 2009 11:17 pm

Registered with the local dentist this morning. When filling in the registration form, there was a box labelled “Date of last visit”. I had to take a wild guess and wrote “1993 ?!” Based on that, you would expect my first check-up in at least 16 years to reveal some horrific stories of tooth decay, gum disease, rotting tongue etc. wouldn’t you?

But actually after my mouth got X-rayed, peered, poked and prodded at, my new dentist announced with some astonishment that indeed apparently all my teeth are basically fine. So I’m remaining a member of the elusive “zero fillings” club for now. Ah, the virtues of being raised with good dental hygiene habits by a health-conscious mum …


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