Making Mischief


It’s been an insane couple of weeks on all fronts, so as usual I thought I’d jot down a few notes on what’s been happening before the next Monday rolls in and I’m awash in work again.

Brexit

Oh, my. Looking at the demographics and fallout, a lot of the young folk are now quite justifiably angry – both at their elders for mortgaging their future and at their peers for not voting – and a lot of damage is quite evident already.

My original thoughts on the matter still stand, and I’m keeping tabs on what Vodafone and Sky are doing (or, rather, actively not discussing) because I have friends working at both, but it will be a fairly drawn out affair. I expect I’ll be able to better gauge the impact on the tech industry when the Web Summit rolls in, but, again, I really hope this means Lisbon will become even more attractive to startups.

Maker Faire Lisbon 2016

For the third year running, I helped out with the Maker Faire. Things were a little trickier since most of us are now working at different companies, but at least on my end the mix of Slack for streamlining information flow, Waffle for keeping tabs on GitHub issues and GitHub Pages for actually hosting the site is still a winning combination.

Thanks to one of my usual Makefiles for bringing up a Jekyll environment anywhere and some Automator workflows for herding media assets, spending quite a few late evenings in the past couple of months putting online copy together was actually quite enjoyable, but the actual weekend of the Faire was markedly more fun.

Besides taking roughly 600 photos (which I’ve since trimmed into a 150-odd shot Flickr album), I walked 12Km in a single day putting up signs and moving things around with a bunch of old friends, and it was awesome. Except where my feet were concerned – got a few science-fair grade blisters out of the whole thing, if you’ll pardon the pun.

Foregoing a weekend’s rest does take its toll, though, so I’ve been trying to catch up as best as I can during another highlight of this period which is somewhat new to me.

New Fiscal

Work at Microsoft (at least in my neck of the woods) is all about the fiscal year, which begins on July 1st. This being my first round at things there, and still reeling from all the above, I’ve been trying to appreciate the changes it brings and musing about my progress there so far.

Nothing much has changed since I last wrote about it: the people there and parts of my role are still awesome and I still don’t like the fact that working in (post-)sales, even in a technology transfer/guidance role, isn’t very engrossing work, but I’ve found a good enough parallel, which is teaching – I’ve always enjoyed teaching and mentoring, and focusing on those facets of the job has been increasingly gratifying.

It’s not enough just yet to shake off an overall feeling of lack of accomplishment due to my deeply ingrained habit of designing, building and delivering stuff rather than just discussing it and putting together a few choice bits here and there, but it’s a positive aspect that I can play off against that.

Same goes for my constantly moving around – I seldom stay more than a few hours at a single location and my schedule can be pretty challenging at times, but on the other hand it’s very nice to be able to take advantage of gaps to pick up the kids from school, and with good planning I can have a few unfettered stints of quality working time at my home office. Work/life balance is always a hot topic (and my personal ratio has always been somewhat skewed), but I like the (illusion of?) control I have right now.

And speaking of control, like most interesting companies, Microsoft actually gives you a chance to fix things when you point out likely solutions. I’m going to have a chance at working with a number of different partners and industry verticals this fiscal year, so that promises to be fun.

There’s still a fair amount of adjusting to do regarding bits of the technology, though – I am still trying to muster time to get to grips with C# but, like my stints doing enterprise Java, still find the IDEs, tooling and overall ecosystem bafflingly overwrought. Good thing there’s a healthy amount of Python among the Open Source stacks I deal with.

But, alas, the physical angle can be grueling, and the past couple of weeks highlighted that in spades.

Thanks to the poorly coordinated renovation works all over Lisbon these days, my commute to (or from) the office or a couple of customer locations takes me well over an hour, so I’m finding my ThinkPad (and charger) increasingly loathsome to carry around in the sweltering (and increasingly humid) heat that Portugal enjoys this time of year – unlike most of my colleagues, I refuse to drive in Lisbon, so I have to lug the thing around for two to three hours a day, and every gram weighs literally against it.

And no, it isn’t helping me lose weight, either. Got to work on that.


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