The Next Adventure

Monday, August 17 2015         No Comments

Since my last post a lot of things have changed! I was honored by the number of folks out in the community to reached out to me when I said I was looking for a job to give me leads, pass my name along or simply gave advice. Thanks to everyone! I've seen it work for other people in the past, and having gone through it now myself I can honestly say that building strong relationships in the community helps your career, period.

As of July 20th I am a Product Manager for SQL Sentry, LLC. I've been working there for close to a month now so this post is long overdue; however, during that month my wife has also gotten a new job as an independent contractor in mathematics education. To say things in our world have changed quite a bit would be an understatement.

When I posted that I was hunting for a new job I listed five things that I was looking for and SQL Sentry met all of them. I'm working from home the majority of the time and directly control the vast majority of my travel requirements. I'm working for a company that promotes continuous learning and in my first one-on-one with my new manager (Jason Hall) we talked about training opportunities I might be interested in. As a Product Manger a major portion of my role will be to interact with users to learn where their pain points are, but at the same time I'll be researching new technologies in order to find possibilities for where the talented development team can truly generate some innovative solutions. Finally, SQL Sentry definitely backs the community. They are sponsors at many SQL Saturday events, conferences and user groups.

Now, some of you might be thinking, "wait… isn't that another database company?" Why, yes, it is. Where Red Gate is renowned for their developer tools, SQL Sentry is known for the deep insights it gives to DBAs into the health, operations and performance of their SQL Servers and Windows Machines. Those of you who have worked with me in the past, or know me well, are now thinking, "they aren't letting you near the database stuff are they?" Well, yes and no. I'm coming on board to help with Azure related projects, but I'm also learning more about their products (and through that SQL Server -- I think I can hear Mike Levy screaming in the distance…).

Something I look at in a company is vision. SQL Sentry's vision is straight forward and on the first page of their employee manual: "At SQL Sentry, we pledge to create innovative software to optimize computing performance." SQL Sentry digs very deep to understand the platform and then pull out best information to display to users so that they can truly understand the performance of their systems.

The crew at SQL Sentry is growing fast, aided by the boost in investment from their partner MainSail. I wasn't the newest member of the team for very long at all. In fact, just last week we also picked up two Sales Engineers in the UK. It looks like I will still be able to get a regular dose of British sayings!

I'll still be speaking on Azure related topics, but I'll be scaling back from what I was doing as an Evangelist before. In fact, my next conference will be CloudDevelop in October, but I'll also be speaking at next month's Cincinnati Azure User Group.

Again, thanks to everyone in the community who helped me over the last few months, even if it was just retweeting my blog post. All of it helped immensely.

Mike-as-a-Service (MaaS)

Tuesday, June 09 2015         No Comments

UPDATE [July 1st, 2015]: I have accepted a position with a new company and will be starting on July 20th. I’m pretty excited to get started with them and will post more about it right after I start!

TLDR:

  • I've been working with Red Gate on the Cerebrata team now for almost two years and have loved every minute of it, but I'm off to find a new adventure.
  • Red Gate is an awesome company, and they are hiring! Go check out their openings.
  • I'm looking for work. If you are interested in talking to me about working for you, or have opportunities you'd like me to think about, please contact me, but please do read at least the “What am I Looking for?” section below about what I'm looking for as it may save us both a lot of time if the opportunity isn't a good fit.

The Extended Version:

I have had my dream job for almost two years now. It all started with some emails back and forth with Luke Jefferson, who at the time was the Product Manager for Azure Management Studio and the Cerebrata tools at Red Gate. I asked him if they needed a Technical Evangelist for the product, but they didn't need one at the time. After a year or more, and continuous feedback, I got a call from Luke saying they'd like to talk about the position again more seriously. A few months later I started.

Over the last 19 months I've had a blast. First, I got to work for a non US-based company and got a serious dose of British culture on a daily basis. My vocabulary has certain grown as I now understand yonks as a time measurement, chuffed as an emotion and the fact that a wicket is more than just an ewok. I got to teach others about Azure through presentations, conferences and helped spin up the JustAzure.com website. Here more recently I've been able to really help steer product decisions and help dig in with support as well. I've learned a lot in this role.

I also got to do something I truly love: teach others about something I'm passionate about. I have given many presentations during my time at Red Gate in all sorts of places. I've been able to travel to the UK multiple times to visit the Red Gate HQ in Cambridge, as well as speak at conferences in Belgium, Sweden and a myriad of places here in the States. As with all my presentations I've learned from those I've come into contact with. It's truly been a blast (well, I think I've mentally blocked out some of the overseas flights).

So why am I leaving? Red Gate is focusing heavily on their Database Lifecycle Management tooling going forward, which means some shifting of resources and such in other areas. Because of this, my role as a Technical Evangelist for the Cerebrata tools is going away. Red Gate and I looked at the open opportunities at the company, but in the end we didn't find something that was a good fit for both of us.

Red Gate has been a very generous company to work for. At all stages of my time there they treated me well and with respect. I wish them the best possible future.

So, I'm looking for my next adventure.

Why Hire Mike?

"Have something to bring to the table, because that will make you more welcome." -- Randy Pausch

I'm a huge believer in this quote from Randy Pausch and I feel like I have a lot to bring to the table. I have 18 years of experience in the industry, ranging across a wide variety of roles: developer, tester, architect, team lead/scrum master, product manager, technical evangelist, content editor and more. I have mentored people and I enjoy sharing my experiences and lessons with the people I work with.

I also understand that even with all my experience, there is still much I haven't experienced, or come into contact with. Our industry changes rapidly and to keep up you have to be a continuous learner. I enjoy working with teams where everyone learns from each other, sharing their knowledge.

I have primarily worked in the Microsoft stack, but I'm definitely open to looking at opportunities that are for other platforms as well. For the past five years I've have specialized in Microsoft Azure, which Microsoft has recognized with a Microsoft MVP in Azure for four years straight.  I’m also an Azure Insider and have helped organize the Global Azure Boot Camp event for the past three years.  I'd definitely be able to help with roles that require knowledge of the Microsoft Cloud platform on day one.

The development community has been a big part of my life over the last ten years.  I’ve been involved with volunteering with organizing user groups, local events and even global ones.  Through this work I’ve also been able to present to audiences in the U.S. and internationally, both teaching to and learning from the incredibly diverse community.

You can find more of my background and skills on my LinkedIn profile.

What am I Looking For?

Over the years I've gotten a good sense of where I fit in and what types of roles fit me well. Here are some things that are important to me as I look for my next adventure:

  • A company that believes in and helps support the developer community. This is a must. I've seen the power of the developer community and its effect on companies who participate. I enjoy sharing my knowledge in conferences, user group meetings and company lunch and learns. Bonus points if doing this type of community outreach on a decently regular basis is actually part of the job.
  • A company that promotes continuous learning. Whether that's having an education budget for employees, sending them to conferences or helping provide training of any sort. If companies do not believe in investing in their employees, I won't be a good fit there.
  • I have really enjoyed working directly with users in the past. I've liked seeing suggestions from our users turn into working features that they find indispensable. An opportunity will certainly get bonus points if it is more than just coding and involves some aspects of working with the users either through evangelism, training, requirements gathering, etc.
  • Remote work/telecommuting with a flexible work schedule. For quite some time now I've worked out of the house and love it, plus my family is very happy here in Northern Kentucky. If the opportunity is in the Cincinnati area I'm still looking to work out of the house the vast majority of the time. I'm not completely ruling out moving for a job, but it would have to be one really awesome opportunity (and not in the boiler plate "exciting opportunity" kind of way).
  • I am willing to travel, even overseas, if the target is 30% or less. If the opportunity you have is more than 30% travel it will not be a good fit for either of us. 

Interested?

If after reading this far you think I might be a good fit for your company please reach out to me via LinkedIn or my contact form.  My time at Red Gate is winding down, and while I don’t need to start right away somewhere, I’d like to get the next adventure lined up sooner rather than later.

Standing Desk Thoughts

Sunday, October 26 2014         2 Comments

A few weeks ago my Ergo Desktop Kangaroo Elite standing desk arrived.  I ordered several weeks before but they are either working on a bit of a backlog or are having them created when they are ordered.  When it came in I had tweeted that it arrived and at a couple of people asked what I thought about it.  Since it’s now been a few weeks with it I thought I’d share in case someone else was thinking about a standing desk setup.

This post is about my thoughts on this specific standing desk.  It’s not about standing desks in general or if that’s healthier for you, etc.  There is a ton of research out there on standing desks, so I won’t reiterate it here.  For the most part I had an interest in one for a while and even had a make shift IKEA set up at the office in my old job.  Since I know work out of the house and have get about fairly little these days I was really looking to have something that could help keep me from sitting the majority of the time.

I looked at standing desk mounts and at the Kangaroo simply because I already had a really nice wrap around desk in my home office from the last job I had where I worked from home.  I didn’t want to give up that desk, so whatever I got had to add to it.  I also wanted it very easy to go from sitting to standing using the same equipment and not have to have a separate monitor, keyboard, etc.  The promise of easy transitions from sitting to standing is really what led me to buy the Kangaroo over adjustable boom like mounts.

When I ordered I selected the free shipping with minimal assembly required.  They do have an WP_20140917_001option to ship it fully assembled, but even though I’m not really all that good with hand tools I had the whole together in about half an hour.  Most of that time was unboxing and sorting through all the pieces (yeah, I’m one of those types).

Here is an image with the assembly in the seated position.  Note that keyboard platform is about an half an inch above the desktop.  Prior to ordering I had inquired as to the amount of lift on the platform and then I tried typing for a day on my keyboard after setting it on top of a half inch book, just to see if that would cause any issues. 

So, without further ado:

Pros:

  • The transitions are really easy.  Maybe takes a minute at most to make the change.
  • It is really well made.  Everything feels very solid and I’m not worried about my monitors tipping it over or anything.
  • Didn't take long to assemble (I chose the mostly assembled packaging)
    • Probably could have benefited from help when attaching the monitors just in getting them to the correct positions and then locking them down.
    • It came with everything you needed to put it together, including hex wrenches.  Actually, then sent a hex wrench with each mounting kit, so I got many of them.
  • The ability to adjust the monitors tilts, etc. is really good, though for the most part once I got them in a good place I’ve not touched them.
  • The pads on the base are nice and soft and it is really easy to move the whole thing around.  A possible next stage at some point is to get a walking tread mill and then I can just pivot the whole thing on my desk to the other side when I want to talk.
  • They have a stopper you can slide into place so that you always lift the platform to the same height every time.  Very handy.

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Cons:

  • Wish they would have a stoppers added for the upper monitor adjustment as well like they do for the sit/stand adjustment.  I find that the monitors are too low when I stand if left mounted at the same spot as when sitting.  I’ve not really adjusted them when I make a transition.  As I stand I’ll probably move to better suit the standing position and then just deal with the fact that they are taller when I am sitting.
  • The stabilizer leg does a really good job.  I don't notice any bouncing or shaking while I'm typing, however, when my printer on the desk starts printing it does shake the monitors a bit.  I’m not talking like shake them off the table, I just notice to slightly moving.
  • If your keyboard is in the center it should be okay with the stabilizer leg.  If you put pressure on the sides, even with the stabilizer leg you'll get some shake.  You can try with one and order a second stabilizer if you want.  I'm thinking about, but I've not actually ordered it yet.
  • Tightening the up/down adjustment for the mount itself monitors is hard to reach and their instructions were odd in that it said to tilt it toward the ceiling to reach it, but that the things you are tightening….
  • Had to buy a anti-fatigue matt as standing on the basically concrete basement floor was rough. (Slight carpet).  Not sure the matt is helping or not…  Certainly is cushy though.
  • I had several cables (power, video, USB) coming off the back of the monitors.  They didn’t really get in the way, but they looked bad and just kind of went everywhere when I put it into a seating position.  I got one of the cable keepers from the container store and that made it much nicer.  I now need to get longer cables so it doesn't have the two groups of cable coming off it though.  It would be interesting if they build something in the actual post on the back to help with cables.  The image above is before I bought the cable keepers.

Overall I really like it.  I’m getting used to standing more, and will certainly continue to work up to standing longer and longer periods. 

Selected for ConFoo 2015

Thursday, October 23 2014         No Comments
ConFoo. February 18 - February 20, 2015 | Montreal, Canada

I’ve been selected to speak at ConFoo in Montreal in Feb of 2015!  I’m pretty excited about this as I’ve heard some really great things about the conference, and I’ll get a chance to visit Montreal which I’ve never been to before.  I really enjoy these international events as I always meet some really amazing people, learn some cool things and get different perspectives on technology from all over.

Two of my talks have been selected: Messaging Patterns and Being Efficient with Azure Automation.  The Messaging Patterns talk is an introductory level discussion about various patterns used for messaging systems, such as MSMQ, RabbitMQ, etc.  I’ll be also giving examples of how these apply to Azure, but really they can be implemented on just about any messaging system.  The Being Efficient with Azure Automation talk will cover the new service from Azure announced earlier in 2014 which helps you automate tasks for your resources in Azure.

I’m humbled to be selected to speak and you can see the full line up of presenters and their sessions online

Silicon Valley Code Camp - 2014

Tuesday, October 21 2014         No Comments

A few weeks ago I attended what is likely the largest code camp in the world, the Silicon Valley Code WP_20141012_003Camp in Los Altos Hills, California in the US.  The event was quite the experience.  First, it was held at Foothill College, so moving around the campus felt a lot like being back in school, except that a bunch of fellow geeks were all wondering around as well rather (I went to a school better known for law enforcement, fire safety and nursing, so slightly different crowd).    The campus was pretty nice and spread out enough that I got a lot of steps in on my Fitbit for sure.   WP_20141012_002Being from a location that sees a good amount of rain I wasn’t used to schools that have the rooms that all are accessible directly from the outside. 

Since the rooms were spread out they had a nice map on the back of your badge, but also they had signs all over posted to the ground to help you find your way.

The vendors and sponsors were all located outside as well under a set of tents.  Red Gate was there as a sponsor so I also got to spend some time with some of my colleagues from Cambridge and the Pasadena office in addition to other Red Gate remote workers who were also speaking at the code camp.

My talk was on Being Efficient with Azure Automation which is based on the new Azure Automation Service (not just automation with a little “a”).  You can find out more about that service by checking out the Curah I created for the session with a list of resources.

So what does lunch look like at an event this size?  Well, this picture doesn’t really do it justice as there is a huge line off to the right waiting to get into either the pizza line or the sandwich line. You can just make out the lines of sponsor tents in the background.

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It was a great event and the organizers and volunteers did an awesome job.  There were a ton of sessions, with 25 different tracks there were easily over a dozen talks going at any one time. 

I’d like to say thanks to SVCC for having me out this year.

I’m on .NET Rocks!

Wednesday, August 06 2014         No Comments

About a year or so after I got started with .NET (which was back in 2001 using Beta 2 for 1.0) I came across the .NET Rocks podcast.  I was doing a lot of driving in those days commuting a little over an hour each way to work, so a technical podcast fit in perfectly.  I’ve learned a ton of stuff from the podcast over the years and they have had some really great guests on.  So, I was simply floored when the opportunity to be a guest on the show came up!

We recorded this just a few weeks ago over a Skype call.  I was fairly nervous about the whole thing, but Carl and Richard are pros.  They’ve been doing this for quite some time (12 years and over a 1,000 shows!), so they very quickly set me at ease and jumped right to recording.  It was certainly a different experience hearing them do the bits of the show you get familiar with (Better Know a Framework, reading email, etc.) live. 

We talked about Azure: the growth of the platform, how developers and IT Pros need to understand more about each others work as DevOps practices continues to increase in popularity and even took a thread down virtualization of development environments. 

.NET Rocks Episode 1017 – Migrating to Azure with Mike Wood

Thanks for having me on Richard and Carl!

Dayton .NET Developer’s Group

Thursday, July 24 2014         No Comments

Thanks to the folks who came out to the Dayton .NET meeting last night.  It’s been a while since I’ve spoken in Dayton.  It was a great time.  It’s great to see Bob Sledge and Joe Wirtley still running the group.

The talk I gave was about five features of Azure Mobile Services to help mobile developers who wanted to concentrate on their ideas, and not on the back end.  We covered storing data for access from multiple devices, scheduled jobs, social authentication and push notifications.

At the end of the talk I listed several resources and promised I post them up to my blog as well.  Here they are (these are mostly the same as the links I provided back in April, but added one):

Mobile Services:

BLOB Storage:

Notification Hubs:

 

Thanks to the sponsor of the meeting Russ Hadick for providing the pizza and UDRI for the space. 

Techorama 2014

Monday, June 02 2014         No Comments

If you follow me on twitter (@mikewo) you may have noticed several tweets last week for #Techorama, which was a conference in Mechelen, Belgium

The about page for Techorama promised “deep-dive developer sessions, integration scenarios and best practices. All this goodness will be delivered by world-renowned speakers and local community rock stars”.  I’d say that the conference delivered on that promise.         

WP_20140528_003Much like the local Stir Trek event, the venue was a movie theatre.  That means the speakers are presenting in large theaters with giant screens and the attendees get nice, plush chairs to kick back and learn in.  The event was two days of solid learning, from 8:45 AM to 6:30 PM both days.  There were a ton of great sessions by really talented speakers.  You can check out some of the photos of the event on their Flickr stream.

I was honored to be selected to come speak at the event and I gave two presentations: my Be a Better Developer talk and a talk about the differences between Azure Storage Queues and Azure Service Bus Brokered Messaging Queues. 

Red Gate was a sponsor for the event, which means I also got to spend some time with some of the Cerebrata team, as well as fellow Red Gaters Michaela Murray, Grant Fritchey and Nik Molnar

This was the first year for Techorama and the organizers did an awesome job with the event.  I’m sure they will have a lot of success with this event going forward.  Congrats to the entire team at Techorama for a job well done.

April 2014 Louisville .NET Meetup

Friday, April 18 2014         No Comments

Thanks to Chad Green (lead organizer of the Louisville .NET Meetup group as well as the Chief cat herder for Code PaLOUsa) for having me down to speak at the user group last night.  Thanks, also, to all the folks who came to meeting.  As usual when I visit the Louisville community it was incredibly hospitable and a fun group to hang out with.

I promised that I would post up the links from the end of my slides and here they are:

Mobile Services:

BLOB Storage:

Notification Hubs:

Stir Trek 2014

Friday, April 04 2014         No Comments

Thanks for all those that came out to Stir Trek, and especially thanks to those that came to my session.  I won’t be able to stick around for the movie since I’ll be watching it soon with my wife so please, don’t send me spoilers!

Here is a set of resources that were also mentioned in the talk you can use when learning to automate Microsoft Azure with PowerShell:

 

UPDATE: Added link to Azure Automation resource.