Last days

Wednesday: my last day at Atlassian.

Since the news of my departure became public, I’ve been really surprised at how many people have said that I’ll be missed, and commented on the impact I’ve made. I mean, of course, I know I’m awesome ;) but it’s come as a really pleasant surprise to hear from others that I will be missed. Maybe it’s part of a big guilt trip conspiracy?

My last day was a mix of feelings. I’m sad at leaving behind a place that I wouldn’t have chosen to move on from yet, but I’m excited – and a little anxious – about the future and the unknowns that await me there.

In this final Sprint, my team had decided to try not having stand ups, but there was one scheduled for my final day. I was a little suspicious – in fact, I had wondered if they would do something to my desk on my last day, like wrapping it in tin foil or something. I was relieved to arrive and everything was as it should be.

At 9:45 the team gathered, and I was trying to compose an update – why is it that in those few minutes of walking to the stand up, I always forget what I’ve been working on? Luckily this time, I didn’t need to, to my surprise, the team presented me with a gift: a beautiful Wedgewood teapot! I wasn’t really expecting anything (well, maybe some jelly beans!) and I was impressed that a team of guys could choose something that suited me so well and was really pretty. It was so well packed I didn’t want to take it out before it got to Melbourne so I haven’t tried it yet, but I can’t wait to find a shelf or somewhere to put it out in the new place.

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As the day went on, other people stopped by my desk to chat, and I made slow progress on my final work trying to complete an upgrade task. After lunch, a last packet of jelly beans from the lolly bar, and a final check in, I was done. My team lead presented me with a card (so many signatures, I was pretty blown away), I packed up my things, returned my swipe cards and signed out of HipChat: “BAAAAAIIIIIII!”

Leaving was strange, I don’t know what I expected. As I walked to the ferry, I hoped that the upgrade task I’d been working on would finally get through QA, and it was weird to think that there was nothing else I could, or would, do to make it happen now.

Thursday: my last day in Manly.

All week, I’d been saying that if I could go back, I’d have finished work last Friday and had a week off. Today, I was glad that I didn’t, because I really wouldn’t have known what to do with myself.

I spent the morning finishing off the packing, labelling the boxes and tidying up. There isn’t that much left to do, except to stand in front of the stack of boxes, sigh, and wonder where we’re going to put it all. I think that if I’d had a week off to do that, I’d have driven myself insane.

I headed to the beach at lunchtime, and wandered along the Steyne, paddling in the shallow water. It was a little too cold for me to go for a dip – there were loads of people in the water, but I’m just a big wuss when it comes to the cold, I’ll leave them to it. It was nice to just get my feet wet and sandy.

By the surf club, I got a cup of tea – no fridge in our apartment, so no tea for me there – and sat on the beach, drinking my tea and reading my kindle. It was lovely and sunny, warm, comfortable, except for the sand blowing across me.

I met Andrea for lunch in Jellyfish, salt and pepper squid with aioli, yum! And wine, double yum! I had promised myself that on my last day in Manly, I would buy a picture from Saltmotion, a lovely photo gallery that specialises in pictures of Manly beach and waves, so after lunch we headed over – I’d already picked out two that I wanted! The first was a beautiful underwater shot with blue tones that would look amazing in our bedroom, and the other one was a sunrise shot across to Shelly beach, that would remind me of Manly from the new apartment.

Back home with the post-shopping glow, I sat out in the garden reading but it was so hard to relax. In the end I went back into town and found a new “Manly beach” keyring (my old one was rusty!) … and a half bottle of Jacob’s Creek Chardonnay, well that’ll keep me going in the garden for the rest of the afternoon …

By the time Silvio got home, it was too cold to sit outside, but the blogs were almost done – result :) we packed what we could of the things that were left, and headed out for a meaty dinner at Ribs and Rumps …

And that was it, my last day and night in Manly, for a few months anyway. I’ll be back for a visit before too long, providing Andrea will have me to stay! ;) I’m now sitting in the wharf bar on Friday afternoon, whiling away the last hour or so with a glass of white wine. Today has gone from sunny and warm to windy and cold, so I’m the only person braving the jetty bar for once, but it’s nice to watch the choppy sea across the wharf and hear the light rain spattering across the umbrellas.

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Our things are already well on their way, and it won’t be long now until I say farewell to Manly too. It’s been awesome, but now it’s time to find out what the next chapter holds. I can only hope it’s as good as the last one :)

Popcorn.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been fairly pleased with my cooking skills. I’ve made some well received meals for my friends and I’m enjoying trying some new things.

However, apparently there are still some basics that I can’t manage.

The directions on the popcorn packet said not to leave it for more than five minutes, and not to leave it unattended. I put it in the microwave at work, set it to four minutes and returned to my desk where I could hear it popping. After about three minutes I returned to the kitchen to find smoke seeping out of the microwave …

I panicked, and ran out to find somebody who would know what to do. After my previous experience with pine nuts catching fire in the oven, I was reluctant to open the door to the microwave in case the sudden rush of air made it burst into flames. I did remember (finally) that turning it off was probably a good move …

When one of the guys at work did open the door, luckily it wasn’t actually ON fire, but there was plenty of smoke. Inevitably, this set off the alarms, and our entire floor was evacuated into the hallway until the firemen arrived and declared the area safe for us to go back in. I stood sheepishly with my colleagues and couldn’t meet the eyes of the firefighters …

I guess all’s well that ends well, I’m now facing various teasing including the accusation of trying to burn the building down (I really wasn’t!) or just wanting to see some Aussie firement to brighten up my Friday afternoon (not true either).

One thing’s for sure though, I won’t be eating popcorn for a while …

My intranet post after the event – the photo is from google images, not the actual event!

New job – two months in.

On the first day of my new job at Atlassian, after a couple of fairly intense but pretty standard induction presentations, I was shown to the desk that would be mine for the next couple of weeks. It was in the middle of the 16th floor, in a pretty spacious office (especially compared to London standards) with windows all the way around, so I could look across the room and see across the city. Pretty nice :)

On my new desk was: a branded t-shirt (a pretty nice one actually), a box of Lindor chocolates (didn’t last long), a bag of jelly beans (didn’t last much longer), a cup for my tea, shiny new Mac Pro with two huge brand new monitors, and a notebook and pen. It was such a nice welcome!

First day

Most of my first week was spent doing two things: attending “Boot Camp” presentations, and slaying dragons. Not real ones … but that was the name of the exercise! As part of my induction and in order to learn about the different products I’d be working with, I had to set them all up on my computer, which actually took quite a while. Apparently, I can now get a t-shirt proclaiming myself as a dragon slayer :) There is a big culture of having company branded stuff here which I really like.

Aside from that, I spent a lot of time getting lost inside the maze of articles and blogs on the wiki. Like ThoughtWorkers, Atlassians often have quite a bit to say (so if you judge me by this blog, I’ll fit right in) so there is a lot to keep up with.

What with the dragons, presentations and wiki, by the end of the week my brain was buzzing with all the new information I’d taken in – so much so that I woke up on Sunday morning from dreaming about JIRA (the product I’ll be working on).

On Friday evening, I headed downstairs to the 15th floor, where the rest of my team was located. I was supposed to sit in the bootcamp area for my first two weeks, but after spending half an hour or so downstairs I didn’t want to wait any longer – it was nice to be around the people I’d be working with, and a bit cosier and noisier than upstairs.
By Tuesday of my second week, my new desk on the 15th floor was arranged. One of the advantages of being a female in IT is that you can usually get people to help you move your equipment :) Actually I managed most of it myself, except for the Mac Pro, those things are heavy!

Moving all my stuff

So over the last few weeks, I’ve settled in rather nicely. It’s a nice change to have a permanent desk, and to be working as part of a product team again, rather than always being the outsider working on a client site. Over the time I’ve been at Atlassian, I’ve completed their induction program called “Bootcamp”, an overview of all aspects of the company and the products and their development, culminating in a short “graduation” presentation last Friday.

The talking token

I’ve started out working in a team for the Bonfire product, and now my days are now mostly spent coding in JavaScript. What’s really cool is that we have a REAL SWORD that we use for a talking token in stand up meetings – the product started out known as Excalibur, so that’s where the sword came from. We’ve already completed one new release, and the next one is nearly ready to go – it’s very cool seeing things that I’ve worked on ready to go out to the customers, I just hope they like it!

We have a real sword!

One of the other amazing things about the office is the amount of free food. I’ve grown accustomed to free fruit, crisps, snacks and chocolate at ThoughtWorks, but here there is cheese, ham, and salad stuff for lunch, breakfast cereal, even some microwave meals. I was warned that most newcomers put on weight, and so far I’ve stuck mostly to the healthier snacks, although yes I did nail those chocolates on my desk within two days.

There are also vending machines for drinks, which is pretty special, there’s something cool about not having to put any money in before you press the button and get a drink.

The view from my desk

I’m now just starting to not feel quite like the new kid anymore, although when I mention my upcoming holiday people keep telling me I’ve only been here five minutes, and how can I have a holiday already?!

As for what’s coming up: I was originally allocated to a team known as Kick Ass, who work on the JIRA product, but after a shift in priorities I’m going to go and work on Greenhopper instead, in September when I get back from my long trip to the UK. I’m looking forward to getting the chance to get into some Java code as well as the front end stuff!

The Waiting Game.

When I was skyping my cousin Julia recently, she mentioned that I hadn’t been doing very much on my blog recently. She wasn’t the first person, I think Mum had mentioned it too, a week or two ago.

I’ve been meaning to post for some time about my new job, but other than that, I haven’t felt like I had very much to say. Over the last six weeks, I’ve been trying to get my head around some significant changes in my life: a new job and a new relationship, both of which are fantastic, but bring their own stresses – like being six thousand miles apart from the person I most want to be with, most of the time.

And if that wasn’t ENOUGH excitement, in one more week I’ll move house. I always seem to try and do everything at once, but the last few months seem to have been one long waiting game :) Maybe this year I will finally learn patience. Andrea has also spent the last two months travelling for work, so my social life just hasn’t been the same!

Since getting back from Malaysia, it seems like most of my time when I’m not working has been spent either on Skype or exercising. After several months at Fight Gym, I switched to Virgin Active, an old friend from the UK – much as I liked the Fight Gym, I needed to do something different. VA manage to change it up with new stuff pretty regularly, so now I’m “enjoying” body attack, body pump and cardio routines on the powerplate – although the boxing classes are not as good as before.

Exercising at 7am on beautiful beaches like Dee Why is a great start to the weekend … but hard work!

I also flirted for a little while with outdoor fitness classes at 7am on a Saturday. For three weeks, I got up before 6 and rode my bike up to 10km to varied locations along the northern beaches, where trainer Penny Walsh shouted at a surprisingly large group of us to run up sand dunes and hills in between crunches, push ups and step ups – with REALLY big steps.

On the fourth week though, sitting in the Wharf Bar with Viv on a Friday night, the temptation of a second bottle of wine to share was too much … luckily I was off the hook when I discovered the class was cancelled anyway (it was, honestly!). That was over two weeks ago, after that I was attending a conference on a Saturday which ruled out the morning workout, and last weekend I just couldn’t face it. I was so tired and needed a nice, long lie in! In a funny way I do like the 7am class, the beaches are beautiful and empty and I feel amazing afterwards, but it’s really hard to get past the fact that the mornings start off so dark and freezing cold! Maybe I’ll try it again when it warms up a bit more :)

One thing I have kept up is running: from being able to just about manage the 5k from home to Shelly Beach and back, I’ve worked up to now running over 10k on a fairly regular basis. I’ve found a small group of guys at work who come running on Thursday lunchtimes, and they’re all faster than me, which has had a positive effect on my speed. Last week was the best yet: ~7.5k in 42 minutes, well over 10kmh which was my original target.

Lastly, I keep promising myself – and other people – that I will go climbing some time. There is a wall at the gym, and a group at work who go every week, but so far I’ve bottled out. This can’t last forever though: Silvio is a keen climber, but perhaps this is something to save for later in the year :)

All of this is paying off though: I still have a little way to go to my target weight but I’m closer than I have been for a long, long time. With the big wedding looming in just a few weeks, this is definitely a good thing!

As part of the new routine, I also tried (hard!) to cut back on alcohol – but there’s still been room for indulging!

I’ve spent many happy nights at the Wharf Bar putting the world to rights with Viv and Rach, including the night when Lucy, still jetlagged after just getting back from the UK, locked herself out putting the rubbish out … poor thing! I’ve also had some lovely chilled evenings cooking at Viv and Rachel’s, and discovered that I can actually rustle up some pretty good dishes, given time, wine, and good company. I can’t wait to try my skills out on Silvio when he gets back from India … luckily for him, I haven’t yet learned how to cook curry :) Anyway, hopefully there’s a future blog post coming up on that!

The next few weeks are looking promising: moving house this weekend, Andrea returns on Thursday, the end of (financial) year party at work, which is currently shrouded in mystery, and then my first ever Christmas party in July, just before I head off for a few days of skiing in Falls Creek. So hopefully I’ll have lots more inspiration to actually write some posts again!

A big change.

I think my feet first started itching in early February, but they had been tingling for a long time. After nearly four years working for ThoughtWorks, the time had come to make a change.

The last time I started looking for a new company to work for, I wanted to get out and work across a range of different projects and companies. I wanted to see how things were done in different environments and work with people who truly believed in Agile software development. In every interview at ThoughtWorks, I was asked if I minded travelling, told that this was a key part of the job. I had no ties, no reason to stay in one place, and although it sent butterflies through me, I was excited at the prospects. Before I even started, Heather called me to tell me that my first project would be in Dublin, and those butterflies went mental.

Nearly four years on, I’ve spent time working in Dublin, Manchester, Berlin, Edinburgh, Sydney and many parts of London – around the corner from Borough Market, within walking distance of the Wimbledon tennis tournament, and in the heart of the west end. I’ve had some incredible opportunites and I’ve made the most of them all – and the memories are all over my Facebook timeline (am I the only person who actually likes it?). Most of all, I feel like I achieved the goal I started out with.

Somewhere along the way, I decided to switch from doing business analysis back to writing code. It was the hardest career move I’ve made – at least starting out as a developer after university with very little experience, people had much lower expectations. ThoughtWorks helped me get there though, and I haven’t looked back since.

But goals shift, and always being the outsider on a client site eventually wore me down. I missed being part of a team, I missed seeing and working directly with my own ThoughtWorks colleagues every day, and now I want to spend more time writing code and get really, really good at it. I never quite managed to get used to the uncertainty that goes with consulting, of “where will I end up next and what will it be like”. My poor mum, she had to listen to me worrying about the next unknown project time after time.

So eventually, I started to take notice of my itchy feet and look around. I knew I wanted to stay in Sydney, and I also knew there was a very specific kind of company I wanted to work for – one with a culture with many things in common with ThoughtWorks (as I described it to Steve Gilles “the kind of company that keeps beer in the fridge in the kitchen”), where I could do hands on coding, work with really smart people … and one that would sponsor my working visa. I was really lucky that I already knew a company that would fit that bill, and they were recruiting: Atlassian.

Three months, seven interviews, a whole heap of stress and a brand new visa later … and I am almost ready to start next week!

As a bonus, I wasn’t assigned to a project when I resigned, so for the first time in my life I had “Garden Leave”. I haven’t spent much time in the garden though.

On my last day at ThoughtWorks, those three empty weeks loomed ahead of me like a big void. I had some ideas of how I would fill them: I booked a trip to see Yolly and Claudia, I wanted to finish Seven Languages in Seven Weeks, read some technical books, lots of exercise, cooking nice food, maybe blog a little.

It didn’t take long to get used to getting up after nine am and catching up on TV (MasterChef Australia started just in time …)

I did make it Brisbane though, and I also managed to do quite a bit of exercise, including some circuit sessions on the beach and meeting Viviana for a bit of boxing with an ocean view! But I have to admit that most of my other lofty ambitions went out of the window fairly fast. It only took a couple of days for my brain to switch off completely and go into holiday mode, and I didn’t fight it. I’m hopeful that I will feel very refreshed next week.

With just one week left to go, I’m heading off to Malaysia for a pretty special trip tomorrow, before I have to get my brain back in to work mode next Tuesday. Hopefully, I’ll have enough time before that to write a quick post about the time I spent with the girls in Brissie.

Wish me luck :)