My 2015 in Review

18 January 2016 - Career , YearInReview

Well, 2015 was definitely quite an interesting year - with two job changes, and the start of my own company! But far more importantly - we had the very exciting news that we're going to have another little baby boy mid 2016!

Our current son Jack is now almost two. It's amazing looking back at photos from his first year. He looked so tiny and fragile, it's hard to believe it's the same person! He was walking at the very early age of 8 months, and is now just starting to talk more and string sentences together. Very exciting to know that he'll be having a little brother to play with! I just hope his brother sleeps better than he did! :)

One thing I have learnt is that whilst being a parent is certainly very hard work - at the same time, it's the more rewarding things you can ever do.

Career

On the work front, I had two big career changes. The first, in March, where I decided to change companies and accept a position at Centrix Software. I had been at my previous place for three years, and had decided it was time for a change. I'm very much interested in learning and using different technologies, and felt that I wasn't progressing my career any further by staying there. I certainly learnt a lot during my three years there though, it was just that it felt the right time for a change. I was also getting very interested in automated testing and continuous deployment/delivery, which is something that unfortunately the company didn't see as a priority. A shame, as I felt that a lot of development time was lost due to not enough automation with the deployment process. On the plus side, I did have fun writing a little WPF app in my spare time to automate the build process to try and remove some of the many manual steps we had. I wonder if it's still being used!

It's always going to be risky changing companies. Will you like the work? Will you get on well with the team? I was very fortunate with my move to Centrix, as it was such a great place to work with a fantastic team! Within a very short period of time, I felt like I had been there for years. We used some really interesting technologies there - developing in a very micro-service style fashion, using TeamCity to manage all the deployments to Azure, and heavily using Selenium for the automated web frontend tests. We even started using Docker, which whilst an early technology - it's something that I'm sure will become huge in the next year or so. There were also some other very nice perks working there - including an onsite gym just for the staff!

It sounds too good to be true. Unfortunately it was, and in November, the company went into administration, making quite a few redundancies. I wasn't included in those initial redundancies, and at one point it started to look more positive as there were a few potential buyers. Unfortunately, in December, we were told that the investors had decided to cut their losses and close the company rather than risking putting more money in.

I was only there for nine months, but I had very quickly felt like a valued member of the team family. Such a shame that we had to all be split up and go our own separate ways. I actually wrote a blog post about this at the time.

Becoming Independent ...

I've been working in permanent full-time developer positions for nearly 20 years. I've known for a long time that at some point, I wanted to try the independent route - eg. freelance / contracting. I also have a few ideas for my own startup which I've been working on in my spare time. I have been doing bits of freelance on the side for quite a few years now, and in 2011 I registered my own limited company (Everstack Ltd) to put the work through. It was only for weekend freelance, so Everstack wasn't really used that much - however now that I'm going to try full-time, this does mean that I already have a nice shiny limited company that I can start using strange away for my freelance / contract work.

It was a funny time of the year to be out of work, where most companies are winding down rather than looking for freelancers / contractors. Luckly, an old boss from Rebellion saw a post I made on Facebook about what had happened, and asked me to come in for a small two week project. So that tied me over for the Christmas/New Year period.

I finished that small contract last week, and now at the time of writing, have just accepted my first longer term contract role! So whilst I didn't initially know if Everstack would be successful, it looks like it's now at least going to have a good start!

Here's to another great year for 2016! ...


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