Milosophical Me

Welcome to my web site! This page is the seemingly obligatory "why did I switch from <insert some other blogging engine/> to a static site on GitHub Pages?" story, and also a bit of a bridge since my last regular posts in 2012/2013.

Where have I been?

[2015-01-27] Readers who don't personally know me are probably unaware what has happened in my personal life. Nothing tragic has occurred, or particularly major in perspective, really. Only that I was made redundant from my long-time position in a major I.T. corporation, and it hurt. The shock of suddenly having no sure income, and with four dependents and a mortgage was pretty stressful too.

In June of 2013 I was invited into HP's Sydney office for a personal meeting — I didn't often come physically to work as I was a telecommuter living and working from the Blue Mountains. I knew from colleagues at work what was happening, so it was no surprise what the meeting was about: my position had become redundant and unless gainful work could be found for me in three months, I would have to leave. HP offered to assist in finding work internally, as well as counselling and support for finding a position outside the company in that time.

The whole redundancy experience is overwhelming. I'm still adjusting. The worst is missing my old home, my work colleagues and friends. Also the uncertainty and anxiety. The best was being offered a new position by phone in August 2013, just as I was being escorted out of the building after my exit interview at my old job!

The other good news is that I got a large redundancy package, and with it we were able to finance a return to Tasmania!

Why Tasmania?

Well, both Jenny and I grew up in north Tassie, and we both have family there (I also have some aunts and my sister in Hobart). So when I was looking for new work, and seeing that most of the opportunities available "near" our Blue Mountains home were in Sydney proper — with a 2 hour commute in each direction between the CBD and home — I decided to cast a wider net and see what jobs were on offer in Hobart.

I applied for a couple of positions that looked promising and happily landed the one that I really, really wanted. The PD was very seductive and fit my own strengths perfectly. So, pack up, sell the house and off we go to Tasmania!

It was a major upheaval for the family with an interstate move, new school for our eldest son, moving away from friends and community connections. When we got here, we were living in a caravan park before finding a house to rent and hunt for a new home to buy. There were many hurdles and it took until June 2014 before we had a new permanent home (and permanent job). But we came through rather well, and I think we are in a better place — on the whole — for it. Certainly my new job is much, much better, and so is our sons' school. We are making new friends. And our new house is awesome.

Time for reflections

Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.

— Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky

This new role in Hobart is a return to home in more than one sense. Yes I've come home to Tassie, but also I think I've finally found the role I'm suited for. For years at EDS/HP I tried to be a developer, because I love the technical. I could never quite land the role I wanted or hold onto the opportunities that did come my way though, and the few times I did get to write code, it was last-minute fire-fighting that turned into a lights-on support role after the project "went live" and the developers all moved on to new projects — leaving me and a few others to hold the fort. Our reward for saving the project.

With the redundancy though, I was forced to take a look inward, at what I had and had not achieved in my career, where I am strongest and what I enjoy doing. It turns out I'm not a developer, and I'm okay with that. What I do well, and have done for my whole career, is integration, teaching and "engaging people". I've been doing "dev-ops" since before there was a movement about it; being the connection point between the aloof developers and the grumpy sys-admins, and making parts and people fit together. And also between the business managers and the IT managers, business analysts and my clients' customers (or "end-users" as our industry lovingly calls them). So when the job description popped up for the role at Squiz, it seemed to fit like a glove. Clearly the Squiz HR managers felt the same.

As I write this in early 2015, I've been here at Squiz for about 18 months. The honeymoon is over and I've seen the warts, but this place is awesome, with such potential both as a company and for me personally. I really am not only relieved, but excited to have received permanency here. Every day I come (physically) to work, I am surrounded by fantastic peers who challenge me and I reaffirm that I'm in the right place at last.

Appreciating where I am

The return to Tasmania is a welcome sea-change too. Yes, we are missing the events and travel opportunities in and around Sydney, and I miss our Blue Mountains home (and my tae kwon do club). But Tassie has it's own events and stuff that draws people from all over the world. We love the life style here. We also like having family closer — something we've not had for 15 years while living in New South Wales and nine years of raising children.

Also, we can finally travel to places other than Tasmania for biannual our big summer trips ;-)


(Mike's philosophy)

The latter part of 2013 and the year 2014 have been stressful, jubilant, hectic, emotional, anxious, challenging, fulfilling. I was working hard in my career and in family life, not having (or taking?) a lot of time for personal reflection. In early 2015 I finally took some extended annual leave (two weeks) which gave me the time to focus on our home, our family, and myself. This page is part of the return on that introspective investment, but of course there is much else beyond what I will publicly expose.

Beyond the technical topics, for this site I feel there will be more value for myself and any readers I have if I use this as an opportunity for personal reflection, as well as documenting and exploring technical topics. More Zen, more Tao, but hopefully still no bull.

So, you will start to see a change in my posts I think: more of the personal,reflective/introspective kinds of posts you would expect to read in a diary or memoir — though I am aware that basking in that too much is boring for anyone not personally connected to me, and potentially embarrassing for anyone else who is. So I'll see if I can strike the right balance. I've got a few excellent examples to go on, so I should be alright.

Milosophical Me

There are technical reasons for my move away from as a blogging platform — it's slow and awkward to use (meaning I'm discouraged from blogging with it and focus on microblogging✻ instead), convoluted to host and maintain for yourself, limited when hosted for free, and anyway dynamic pages built from databases are a silly waste of processor cycles when your site is mainly static, content-heavy pages, like a blog.

Now that I'm in a web company, I want to hack with HTML/CSS/JavaScript (or languages that compile to Javascript), and I need a place to publish hacks, and pictures. With a static site I can have my cake and eat it: I have a templating/publishing framework for making blogging quick and painless when I need it to be, as well as being able to side-step it when I want full control over the web codes. Plus I've finally bought a domain name, so that I won't be flitting all over the place in future, even if I decide to host somewhere other that GitHub, or use some other blogging framework than Nikola.

I begin 2015 in high hopes for my personal and online future.

✻ 2019-07-07: Note this stale link! (and the one to Lonely Planet). Even Google can't be relied upon to keep a service around, and I suppose that one day Microsoft may close down GitHub Pages. As long as I can update my DNS and host a static site somewhere, then I'll be safe from the seasons of commercialism.