Created by Tane Piper, Digital Technology Leader at IKEA
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What everyone's up to

Jun 30, 2005
Overcame ADHD
Learned to Drum
Studied Drama
Studied Music
Studied Visual Art
Graduated High School
Built a website
Achieved a personal goal
+ 6

Graduated High School

It wasn't obvious that I would finish high school, let alone attend university. I was smart enough, but ADHD is a hell of a drug. It took me longer than your average bear to get focused in life. All told, I attended four different high schools:
  1. Claude Watson School for the Arts, Earl Haig - expelled
  2. The City School (alternative) - expelled
  3. Contact High (alternative) - graduated
  4. The Student School - graduated (again)
I took two victory laps, but eventually graduated with honours. As a parting gift for the last of the bunch, I built them a homepage.

The performing arts education I received at CWSA (through the elementary years as well as in high school) was formative, and informs my work, outlook, and life to this day. I'm deeply indebted to the teachers who struggled to educate an unruly student.
Jan 01, 2014
Failed at specializing as SWE again, even caring more about work
worked for an NGO
After disappointment in my own performance at TripAdvisor, I reasoned the problem was that though I liked working with computers, I needed to believe more in the purpose of the work.

After a somewhat protracted search I ended up at charity: water

c:w was a weird org & perhaps not a fit for a lot of reasons, but ultimately I think it was the case that I simply could not push myself to maintain Java (again) day in and day out.

It was never fully explained to me why—it likely was partially a matter of performance but likely also something to do with end of the year budget crunch—but I was abruptly & without warning let go on Monday, December 30.

As I re-entered the job market, I steered towards a few possibilities:
  • Infrastructure / Cloud SRE work (in these days more than know, I'd have been loathe to look for a DevOps job title) – it ultimately went this way.
  • Frontend development
  • Developer Evangelist work
Feb 15, 2013
Failed at specializing as Software Developer
Set up Jenkins for the first time
Learned chef
+ 1
After college, I went to work at TripAdvisor in Newton, MA as a "full-stack engineer" randomly assigned to an internal-facing tools team (dealing with i18n, content management, etc. essentially everything for product admin except review moderation & anti-spam)

I worked in a cubicle, I was assigned very specific well-and-narrowly speced work, and wrote a buncha jQuery.DataTables, Bootstrap CSS, and Java, endless Java. 

After 5 months of diminishing returns, I was PIPed.

Because I was on this internal tools team, we self-managed our app lifecycles (unlike most of TripAdvisor), as well as having a bunch of batch jobs that were cron scheduled and just sent emails (maybe) if they failed.

Pulled from core work, I was put on building out a scheduled jobs interface w/ better configuration & logging, and some deploy automation, using Jenkins. I found this work: 
  • fiddling with shell scripts, 
  • stringing together workflows, 
  • shipping around artifacts
  • learning & documenting & improving how things fit together 
much more to my liking, and as is rarely the case, I actually satisfied the terms of my Performance Improvement Plan and was put back in good standing.

But a month or so later, slipping again, I was offered a last chance or severance and chose severance.

During the following job search, I took on some freelance work and used the  freely available resources to learn Chef (which I had encountered but not dug into during the Jenkins work) and did first work in AWS
Jun 23, 2011
Interned at Facebook
No FT offer: butted-heads w/ Boz; tl;dr "opine less, code more"
Was an eye-opening experience in several ways.

  • I experienced the upsides of well-funded and large-latitude orgs. Got a first (& perhaps best to date) taste of truly solid, testing infrastructure, release engineering, and dev workflow tooling.

    Became a pretty big fan of Phabricator's approach to code review & essential trunk-based development.

  • Saw the dangers of "growth/engagement focus" and over-reliance on user data up close as well. 

    Was on the Messages/Messenger team before & during the launch of the fixed-length sidebar and ticker design. (A few weeks out of a UX design class the semester before,) I correctly identified several likely severe user concerns before launch and suggested remedies (that were all implemented eventually, presumably after others after suggested them) but was told intuition & qualitative feedback was meaningless and whether people used it more was all that really mattered.

  • Found that in general, that my narrow job as a software engineer was unexciting to me vs the many interesting product & socio-technical things going on in the relatively open/transparent organization (then about 600 full-time engineers)

  • In the end, sans offer, I didn't move to SF right after college as I likely otherwise would have. And I suspect I am a very different person for that reason.
This unremarkable photo was taken in Building 1601 in Palo Alto around 1am during a Hackathon & seems to be the only photo from the summer I still have access to
Aug 29, 2020
Re-diagnosed with ADHD
Was tested and diagnosed as a child, but my parents chose not to treat as they were medication-skeptic. The novelty of instutional education's wide curriculum (mostly) seemed to sate my need for novelty (and could cope via procrastination), and working in DevOps/SRE (with wide variety) has helped do the same in industry, but I've struggled pretty consistently when I have tried to be a specialist software eng (as in Q3 '20 - Q1 '21) 😅