2010 and 2011 have been very big years for me. Towards the backend of 2010, my beautiful daughter was born and my then girlfriend and I got engaged. Since then, I landed a great new job at Sky Betting and Gaming as a Senior Software Engineer, and now I've moved on again to work for a small startup in the form of Childcare.co.uk. And now I've updated my blog!
Sky Betting and Gaming
I took the decision in May to move on from Spencer's, I still enjoyed the job but felt that having been there for 7 years, across 5 (or maybe even 6) positions, I'd finally become pretty limited in terms of capacity for growth, so when I got the opportunity to go to SkyBet, I took it. It did mean a one hour commute each way but I was going to be working with a high quality team on a big site and with plenty of scope for improvement and progression.
Things went really well there and I really enjoyed it. It was nice to leave the management responsibilities behind at Spencers and go to Sky and just get stuck in to the code, and at first I found the code base quite overwhelming, but I picked things up and spent most of my time working on a JSON-RPC web service for placing bets.
It also gave me my first chance to be fully immersed in agile methods, mainly following Scrum, but there was a definite hint of Scrum-ban creeping into the life cycle, particularly when we had a fixed deadline invoked by the management team.
Sky seem to take good care of their staff, the working environment, nature of the work and the benefits package where all on the money, it was just unfortunate for me that another opportunity arose so quickly. I think Sky are hiring at the minute, so it's worth checking their job listings if you're on the lookout for new opportunities.
Before my last week they were good enough to let me join the team in going to PHPNW, I think there were about 10 of the technology team in attendance, all funded by the company, so they've got that part right as well. As always I enjoyed the conference, some talks more than others, but I mainly enjoy the social side of things anyway.
I've worked on Childcare.co.uk as a freelancer in the past, and as the site has seen excellent growth in the two and a half years it's been running, I was approached by the owner about joining them full-time. I've been in the job a week now and I'm really enjoying it, working for a much smaller company means I can rapidly make decisions and move towards being truly agile (I pushed 3 releases today!). It also allows me to engage in more architectural type decisions when the opportunity arises, decisions that I didn't really have the capacity to make as a freelancer when I've worked with them in the past and the kind of decisions that were made by more senior staff at Sky. I also get to work from home full-time!
In terms of what I'll be doing, I've got a good mix of general site enhancements, new features and a whole new sister project. The company is on the verge of launching mobile apps as well, and while it's hardly a specialty of mine, I wouldn't mind having a look around at some of that stuff.
I'm definitely going to miss the team atmosphere they have at Sky, I seemed to get along well enough with everyone there, and working at home on my own will be a stark contrast. To counter that a little, I'm going to make more effort with the networking events that are not too far away from me, starting with PHP Leeds and maybe even Hull Digital. It'd be really cool to get to one of the HNLondon meetups, but that's a bit of a trek for me.
Apologies to anyone who subscribes to the feed and got a barrage of crappy old posts, I'm not entirely sure what I goosed up there, but I saw the damage it did to my Google Reader experience.
The blog's now running on Jekyll, a static site generator that powers github pages. It's really cool and means I can hack together blog posts in markdown, push them to a repo and have them deployed automatically. It took a bit of getting set up and I've lost all the comments from the old wordpress blog, but I couldn't be bother to try and import them into Disqus. The design was really nice and easy thanks to Twitter Bootstrap, much better than my previous 'programmer design' work you've seen up here.
I don't think the comments are working at the minute, probably because Disqus haven't got the DNS change through yet, but if they are and you fancy leaving me some feedback, it's always appreciated.