Leaving the BBC

I joined the BBC in 2006 after a spell of unemployment. I was nervous initially, wondering whether I’d fit in, or meet the expectations of my new colleagues, and whether my skills were strong enough. I settled in quickly though, and set to work crafting elaborate templates for editorial staff to use to produce flat HTML. After moving from a company that used an Oracle back end and embedded Perl in the web pages (in a similar way to how PHP first started embedding code), I was a bit surprised to be crafting XML as the most dynamic part of the pages we created.

One day (ha!) I’ll write up some of the many things I did in my time at the beeb, but the relevant part here is that after a long time as a dev I wasn’t finding any route forwards, and I was working at a location I hated because of the commute it imposed. Only after we moved back out of Broadcast Centre and back to the centre of London, did I recognise how much of an impact it had been having on my work life balance and mental health.

I switched roles along the way and found a voice as a respected tester who was quickly promoted to be a senior and a lead. I’ve enjoyed being part of the “leadership” of iPlayer Radio on the web, but there are many changes afoot, the most personally impactful being a relocation back to W12. As soon as that was announced I started looking for an alternative, as I’d told myself “never again” and I like to keep my promises. Especially when they’re to me!

Although I looked at both dev and test positions, it was a development role where I found success and I’m heading to GDS in the autumn. I always said that people who finish one job on Friday and start a new one on Monday are doing it wrong. I had some holidays booked for August, and my notice period expires in July, so I’m taking a summer to have fun before knuckling down – although I do want to spend a bit of time brushing up my out of date javascript.

I wrote a big handover document before I left the BBC, and I am planning to turn some of that into blog posts in the near future, so hopefully that will be of interest. Meanwhile, though, I’m doing super fun things like discovering a wasp nest in the garden and getting stung.

Maybe I’m doing it wrong…

Smart Things!

I signed up to trial some “smart things” from Samsung recently. I had no idea whether I’d be accepted but I was very interested in the chance to try out some geeky tech things for free. All I had to do was justify why I wanted to be involved and hey presto, a package would be sent to my designated pick-up point. So when they asked why I should get to try their shiny toys out I responded to say that this was me picking them as much as the other way around – and asked if getting my hands on their kit would be enough to convince me that I need to introduce the internet of things to my life. I see innovations like washing machines that can be switched on from afar, and heating that can be controlled by wifi and so far I’m not seeing the value. This is for a couple of reasons in the case of these particular examples. First off, if I can get my washing machine to go and pick up all the clothes for me and ingest them, at that point it’s worth switching it on from afar. Otherwise why would I not just set it on a timer delay rather than marvelling over making it go from afar? And as for the wifi heating, we spent a day with friends the other side of London this weekend just gone. I’m glad it was warm weather because they couldn’t turn on their heating. Why? Because they were in the midst of a struggle to change internet provider and left without any broadband. Their smart thermostat was therefore rendered useless.

So, I’m waiting to be convinced. Sometimes I’m an early adopter, but this time I’m a little late to the party. My package has been picked up but we’re off away from home for the weekend so it will not be used until next week, and I can’t even recall what I’m expecting in the pack.

Tune in later to find out with me!

Here’s their own blog regarding the trial: https://www.theinsiders.eu/campaigns/blog/14/9093/blog.htm

Why blog?

A long, long time ago, when the internet was new and shiny enough that people wrinkled their noses up when you said you had a computer in your living room, I discovered online journals. The first one I followed to any degree was called Joel’s Mundane Life. It was… kind of mundane. And at the same time it also carried an air of fascination as it did that whole goldfish bowl thing before Big Brother did. Here was a person putting himself in a voluntary zoo, inviting people to look at him, and regularly sharing daily life happenings for me to compare my own to. I decided to follow suit and created an online journal myself, and then waited for something to happen that was worth writing about.

When that didn’t want to happen, time passed and I looked further afield and found people forming communities around online journalling. They were mostly American and so when I tried to join in I named my work “UK Correspondent” and earned… very little viewership. I experimented with php and found a way to set parts of the posts to be private and visible to friends who I gave a login to. And one day I made a throwaway comment about how everyone I knew ought to have a journal so I knew what they were up to.

“Well, actually…” said my friend Ang, linking to her reasonably new livejournal. I found others I knew over there, and jumped ship from my own carefully crafted site to join in with the community. Time passed. There was a surge and a settling. I created a thriving, busy community of science fiction fans, and they all drifted away and I stopped being easily identifiable as an SF fan and Livejournal was acquired, changed, sold to Russians, and out of favour. I stopped writing there. So did many others.

I tried to write again, but it felt like shouting into a void. And it was easier to set everything to be friends-only than to work out levels of privacy I wanted to apply. And I saw a million other people blogging. And I felt like joining in. And I felt that on some level I could do better than others. And I realised I want to keep my content, rather than send it to unknown entities. And I discovered the Indieweb which cemented that feeling further.

And I felt weird about putting myself on display.

And then I read a blog post about visiting friends who have kids. It’s written in a very sardonic manner and is blunt and hilarious in equal measure. And I read a little further and found this article:

http://www.eehbahmum.com/start-blog/

and I figured, why not?

I’m lucky enough to have an employer that doesn’t really care what I get up to in my spare time, nothing I post on social media is likely to lose me my job and my colleagues come in all manner of weird and wonderful (and mundane). They know I go to science fiction events and that I play larp events in my spare time, and they don’t particularly care.

I’m not sure why I have a desire to make a little mark on the web, but maybe it will become clear one day. Meanwhile, though. I get to log my life in a way that lets me look back one day, in a way that is new and fresh and will no doubt keep me interested for, ooh, maybe a whole week or two.

We shall see.