Back on the saddle

Further evidence that Hell has frozen over (pun intended, and dedicated to a few people...)

I spent a week in Seattle attending the winter Ready conference (a Microsoft internal event held twice a year that brings together thousands of people to either Seattle or Vegas), and even though I can’t say anything about the conference itself, it was a great opportunity to meet up with people from all around the company, hear about what is coming down the pipeline, and taking an early shot at getting certified on the AI stuff I do as part of my work.

There were the usual highlights (watching Mark Russinovich and Scott Hanselman live, a few announcements, etc.), and I got to attend a couple of internal meetups, including an Open Source get together with some like-minded souls.

And (for the first time in months, really), I was reminded that one of the reasons I joined Microsoft was its global culture, and the way it was changing towards Open Source. It turns out that company culture is changing much faster than I anticipated, and most of the conference sessions I attended were spot on for me, with my peculiar mix of interests in Linux, Kubernetes and Spark/Databricks–which was great.

The Human Angle

Working in a subsidiary tends to act as a buffer in this regard, and I’m a bit sad I don’t get to experience some of those changes directly (or in a larger scale than what is possible by working only in Portugal), so this trip and the conversations I had over there are a big motivation for me to re-think what I want to do next.

And, of course, it was a great opportunity to catch up with friends I have in Seattle (some of whom are moving there now) as well as folk who’ve been working across EMEA for decades and seldom spend any time in Lisbon. Wrapping all of that (plus a lunchtime visit to Redmond) around the conference schedule was fun but exhausting.

Snowmageddon 2019 fallout

Ironically, after the whole “Snowmageddon” thing (with a lot of Seattle essentially shutting down over the first weekend) and most of the rest of the week spent traipsing between hotel conference rooms under varying ranges of snow and rain, I came back to Portugal and caught a cold almost immediately after returning to work…

Good thing I had packed some of my (woefully underused) snow gear at the last minute, and while I was there (other than a few cold-induced nosebleeds and wrestling with hotel thermostats and air conditioners), the biggest pain was conference catering (which was a challenge for most European palates), so I blame my catching that cold on my spending 9+3 hours on a cramped plane either way1 and completely wrecking my sinuses.

Places of Note

But I’m reminded me of something I noticed during my stay: even though I ordinarily like spicy foods, the kinda sorta fusion cuisine I was exposed to in Seattle errs on the side of hot & overly sweet rather than subtle, so I can’t say I enjoyed food outside the conference either (the notable exceptions being Elliott’s and Wild Ginger, which were great).

There might have been a selection bias here (I was dragged along by beer enthusiasts to a bunch of their favorite places, which tend to go for spicy and salty dishes to cater to their regulars), but next time around I fully intend to ping the locals for dining advice ahead of time.

When No News Would Be Good News

I’m quite happy to be back home, but the worst thing (besides going back to some bits of soul-crushing routine) was realizing I had to cancel some plans I had been making (among other things, I was invited to teach at a local university, but timing and other circumstances simply wont’t allow for it).

Fortunately it only took me a couple of days to find a couple of new projects to tackle, but I’m still looking for more satisfying stuff to do in the long term–visiting the mothership was a stark reminder that there are bigger, much more interesting things to do, and that what I’m doing now, although relatively fun (largely thanks to the customers and immediate team I’m working with), just isn’t enough.

  1. There’s also a weird dichotomy of being forced to book economy seats and then finding everyone else from other countries seems to be flying business class I need to look into–this time I was lucky enough to be bumped to Economy Plus on my return, so I actually managed to sleep on the longest leg… ↩︎