Don’t Let Developers Write Anything But Code

Developers are idiots.  Aside from their well publicized social awkwardness and inability to dress themselves with any sense of fashion, they also have a terrible sense of humour and, as it turns out, no sense of consequence. As Dr. Ian Malcolm famously said in the movie Jurassic Park, “they [are] so preoccupied with whether or not they [can], they [don’t] stop to think if they should.”

As a developer, I include myself fully in that regard.  In fact, it’s quite likely that this is mostly just about me.  However, it’s also a little bit about developers like Steve, our longest surviving partner in crime.

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Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

It’s been well over a year since my last post.  I had originally intended on posting to this blog twice a week, so it would appear that I missed that mark by just a tad.

I have no excuse to give you other than the typical “holy crap life is busy” but that’s true for most people.  In any case, a lot has changed over the past year and I thought I should take a little time to tell that story and use it as the perfect excuse to get back into the blogging game.

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Moving Day

Today was my first day at our new office in Ancaster.  What better time to reflect on what I will and will not miss about our old digs.  From Hess Street to the Senior Cheerleading Squad, there are a lot of fond and not so found memories gathered throughout the pervious years at our former office in downtown Hamilton.

We moved from our Hamilton Spectator office to the CHCH building in downtown Hamilton about eight years ago, and after Canwest sold CHCH back in September, it was once again time to move on.  Actually the sale was only one catalyst to the move.  We’ve also been in a perpetual state of growth as the Digital Media group continues to play a larger role within Canwest.  When we started, the IT portion of Digital Media was essentially Pete and myself.  By the time we moved into CHCH, there was about ten of us.  During these last years this growth has seen the team split across two floors, to the point where we no longer had any room to spare.  We’re now at twenty seven and still growing.   (Although by all accounts, still a very small group compared to what we do and what we’re responsible for.)

We’ve had lots of fun, lots of stress, and lots of interesting times at our old office.  But as far as the office itself is concerned, it’s safe to say there’s more of what I won’t miss than of what I will.  That’s not to say is was all that bad, it’s just that the location of the office, surrounded by an array of subsidized housing, led to it’s share of interesting situations.  So without further ado, here’s the list.

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How did I get here?

Today of all days is probably a good day to review how a devilishly handsome farm hand ended up being the Director of Applications for a major online media company.   Ok, devilishly handsome MAY be a bit of a stretch, but I was buff (six-pack and all), tanned, with flowing locks of hair. Nowadays I can best be described “pleasantly plump”, white, and bald.  But according to Seinfeld that still gives me a shot with Marisa Tomei.

Before I continue, I must apologize to my readers who are not so technically inclined.  I’ll try not to dive too much into some of the technical jargon, but as I do feel free to skip that mumbo-jumbo.  But from time to time it will be required, and this post is one of those exceptions.
In short, I’m where I am today because in my last year of high school, my brother bought a book on some new programming language called Visual Basic.  But that in itself won’t get me enough ad impressions so let’s dive into the longer version shall we?
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The Screwdriver Test

A year or so after we launched canada.com, Pete and I found that we were spending just as much time administrating the server farm as we were developing new features.  Our boss at the time once joked that Pete was the only Director he knew of that walked around with a screwdriver in his pocket.  Little did we know how important that screwdriver would become.

Although we had a great (small) team surrounding us, it was just myself and Pete looking after the hardware and developing the software for canada.com.  With a small team, you end of doing whatever it is that needs to get done.  The two of us carried pagers hooked up to automated monitoring systems that would alert us if and when things went wrong and needed our attention, 24×7.  (Even after we put additional support in place, we didn’t give up those pagers until many years later.  Now we just have Blackberrys to keep us up at night)

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Writer’s Block

I’ve been thinking long and hard over the past few days about what to write next.  I feel I owe it to my adoring readership (yes, all three of you) to post something so insightful that it will blow your minds away.  You know, something so revolutionary that you’ll ask yourself “why didn’t this genius start this blog years ago?”

Problem is, I’m not sure where to start.

Yes, I have plenty of ideas, opinions, and stories to share but I’m finding it difficult to pick just one. So I’ve decided to divulge some working titles for my upcoming posts.  I’ll then allow you to decide, via comments, what I should write about next.  (Be forewarned,  I’ll likely ignore the lot of you and just write about whatever the heck I want, but like true democracy, it’s the illusion of choice that matters.)

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Hello World

Ok, let’s have it out. The “Hello World” title is a bit tacky. If you don’t have a clue as to why, you’re obviously not a geek, so read up on it here. Say what you will though, I feel it’s rather appropriate. Here’s why.

I “googled” myself the other day, and it appears I don’t really exist. That wasn’t always the case. About 7 years ago I was a finalist for the CNMA Programmer of the Year award and was quite proud to find that mention at the top of the search results. But alas, that honorary mention has slipped away over time and a few more Edward de Groots have decided to show up online. As it stands today, if you work hard at it, you will come across my LinkedIn page, but that’s about it.

You may ask yourself, who cares? There are plenty of people out there who can’t find themselves on Google (or Bing, they matter now.) What makes you better than them?  And you’re right. For the longest time it didn’t bother me. In fact to be totally honest it still doesn’t. But I did come to the realization that somehow I have spent the last 12 years working for the online world, and somehow during all of that I have failed to provide even a blip on the radar screen. Well, here’s my blip.

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