Which Way to England?

Leeds CastleI know I don’t talk about work much here. It’s not that I don’t enjoy what I do – far from it – it just seems a little like I would either have to speak in extremely vague terms at which point I’m not sure how much meaning I could convey, or I’d have to actually get into what a product like WebSphere Integration Developer actually does, and I’m not sure that’s healthy for anyone who doesn’t get paid to understand it.

It’s also not like there hasn’t been anything to talk about. My work life lately has been rewarding, but also kind of crazy. Without getting into details here that might come back to haunt me (Hello coworkers!) suffice it to say that I was recently caught in a bit of a tug of war for my services which, while it made my life relatively complex for a time, is what we in the business like to call a “high quality problem.” I stayed put. This has made my manager happy, and I think sort of frustrated the other folks because it really was a good offer, and I imagine they think I’m crazy for turning it down. What can I say? My year thus far working with the usability group has been outstanding and, as I observed to Amy while turning this situation over in my head at the time, it is that work which has exposed me to the opportunities that now want to pull me back into development. So, you know, yay and all.

One of the things I’ve been spending a fair bit of time on lately is a usability overhaul on WebSphere Message Broker, another of those IBM products that you either already know about because you use it every day, or probably don’t need to be spending neurons on if you don’t. This is not me being patronizing or anything; I’m sure you, gentle reader, are more than capable of comprehending it, I’m just trying to spare you some hellfire and torment here. Anyhow the point is: the tool is worlds better than it used to be, and the developers have done a fantastic job turning our recommendations into actual working code, so on balance I’m really quite chuffed. But all our self-congratulation is nothing if customers don’t like it, and so we’ve been letting a couple customers take a sneak peek at it so that we, in turn, can take a sneak peek at what the market’s reaction to our changes might be. They appear equally, at the risk of repeating myself, chuffed. But we’re not done talking to them just yet, which is why next week I’m flying to Leeds.

Yes, that Leeds. Tuesday afternoon I fly out, Friday afternoon I fly back. In between I have all of about a day to tour myself around Leeds and forget what I’m supposed to be presenting. On Friday I’ve actually got something like a 5 hour layover at Heathrow which is just about long enough to want desperately to leave the airport, but not long enough to do anything of substance in London. If anyone wants to cite a must-see Leeds attraction for me to keep in mind, now would be the time, but in any event I’ll try to post some photos or blog from the hotel or something equally internet-enabled.

In other work-related news (since I might as well get it all out in one go) I’ve got an article coming up in the January edition (on newsstands in December) of Dr. Dobbs’ Journal. My geek friends will know DDJ but in case my parents are reading it’s a very nice magazine about software development. And while I can’t be completely sure, I think it might be the first time a DDJ feature article has mentioned marijuana, however tangentially; certainly the first time an IBM article has done so. My buddy Rick and I have another one in the pipeline about what’s wrong with the help system in most software, but that’s more likely to hit a technical writing trade mag rather than a mass-media affair (we’re thinking ACM Interactions or STC’s Intercom, other suggestions from the technical writing peanut gallery are welcome).

There now – I talked about work with mentioning Business Process Management, message mediation flows or SOAP over HTTP WSDL bindings. That wasn’t so bad, was it?
[Leeds castle photo credit: starrgazr – Edited to add photo credit – apologies to rss readers that pull down an otherwise meaningless update]

3 thoughts on “Which Way to England?

  1. High quality problems are the type that you want to have. Its a pretty strong signal that your work is having an effect, and you’re not wasting your time. Way to go Johnathan.. you deserve to be chuffed. A very entertaining read… keep at it.

  2. Would you please changing the code for the photo to include the link back to the photo?

    Remember! Flickr Terms of Service specify that if you post a Flickr photo on an external website, the photo must link back to its photo page.”

    Also, since you have probably already gone, the Leeds you reference above is not the place where Leeds Castle is located. Leed’s Castle is located southeast of London in Maidstone, Kent. Leeds itself, is to the north of London.

    I hope you had a good time in Leeds and congrats on the DDJ article!

    Tracy Lee

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