At the beginning of October, I joined the DEV team as Lead Engineer for the Content Experience pod.
Why I Joined Dev
Several years ago, I mentored @aritdeveloper. And earlier this year, she reached out to me encouraging me to apply. One thing I’ve learned in those days is when @aritdeveloper speaks, I should listen carefully.
I applied and DEV extended an interview. During the interviews, the hiring folks asked and answered many questions. I listened and heard an organization that aligns well with my personal values: transparency, agency, collaboration, aspirational yet pragmatic, and self-improving.
As part of my past job, I contributed a portion of my work time towards the Samvera community; another community that aligns with my personal values. And DEV provided an opportunity to shift that part-time work effort to full-time.
A Bit About Me
I live in Goshen, Indiana in the United States of America with my partner Jenny and our two border collies Owlbear Camus (Ollie) and Coriander Susan (Corrie) and our tortoise-shell cat Willow. I’ve been in various aspects of the software industry for over 20 years, but a venture funded startup is new to me.
For those curious, here’s my resume; but that’s just a bit of who I am. I’ve been writing a blog takeonrules.com for just over 10 years. It’s a great place to gain more insight about me (the early stuff is a bit cringe worthy but hey gotta practice to get better). At the end of this post there’s some links to several blog posts that I think give a broad perspective of who I am.
As part of my introduction to the team, I asked and answered the following questions:
- What’s a favorite piece of media from your childhood that you love today? What is it about it that remains so dear to you?
- What’s been the most memorable problem you’ve tackled for a past (or current) project? Go into some details.
- What is one class or seminar or book that has helped you in your journey as a software engineer? And why do you think that is?
- What are some questions you have for me?
Answers to My Questions
For me, my favorite piece of media remains Jim Henson’s “The Labyrinth”. Back in the late 80s and early 90s, my brother and I would rent or borrow the VHS cassette from the video store or the library. We’d watch that movie at least three times, then return it and check it out a week later.
It continues to love the music and puppetry and shared it with my children. We’d pile on the couch and watch it every few months. And now as a new empty nester, I can pop on the Labyrinth and remember the closeness to my brother and my now adult children (3 biological and 1 step).
The most memorable problem I tackled was when I was working with one of our organizational collaborators to understand their aspirational workflow. Based on the first interview, I used Lucid Charts to create a flowchart to reflect their workflow. I brought the flowchart to them, and they added more boxes and arrows. Over the course of a week, they made about 9 revisions with no sign of stopping; I would rework the chart and share it with them each time. Over the weekend, while working at our farmer’s market selling my partner’s soap, I decided I was sick of fiddling with Lucid Charts.
So I began scratching together an Entity Relationship Diagram of the database tables I would need to encode the complex state machine that began emerging. In implmenenting the state machine in the database, I could make a database change, run it through Graphviz, and print out the current state of the flowchart. Sipity, the state-based collaborative todo application, still chugs along 7 years later. And a few years later, we extracted a major component of it for another application. I have dreams of a proper gem-based extraction, but have never prioritized that effort.
Regarding sources that helped my journey, I previously mentored software bootcamp developers (and one of those was Arit). Me and my mentees would often chat about how we each got into software. Many asked what were the important classes. I told them then and maintain to this day that my high-school English class was the most important class. The teacher was exacting yet kind, he expected a precision in the papers we put forward.
He helped us learn to synthesize, develop ideas, and to convey them through the sequence of words. And now every day, I assemble words for a tweet, an email, a blog post, documentation, a module/class and it’s comprising functions and tests. Language permeates all that I do.
A Deeper Dive
Below are some blog posts that I think provide a well-rounded perspective of who I am.
- An Open Letter to My Graduating Children
- Coming Up on the 8th Anniversary of Full-Time Soapy Gnome
- A Journey to Conjure Those Now Gone
- Winter's Reverie
- The Light Hangs Low
- Project Initiation and Change
- “Total Systems Power” by Barry Oshry
- Mustering into the GenCon Volunteer Corp
- Crafting an In-Game Letter with Player Commentary for a Burning Wheel Game
Joining a company as a manager of people is a new to me experience; I’ve become a manager at places I was a contributor. Working in an asynchronous-first culture is also new to me. So I’m looking forward to learning and growing in this new role and approach. I’m also looking forward to being the shock absorber for the Content Experience team, to help lessen the inevitable bumps so they can focus on getting their work done. As a manager, I know my role is to help grow my team members through mentoring, coaching, and advocating. I look forward to all of that, and writing some code!