3 Months of Remote Work

Three months have passed since I left the office and started working remotely (+1000 km), in this post I share the “pros and cons” of my short experience, even though across the Internet many people already covered this topic extensively.

Whitesmith has been “remote friendly” since first day I joined, more recently the company is trying to become a “remote first” business, as described in a recent blog post. What this means is that remote workers should be treated as first class citizens and the company’s processes should assume that all employees are working remotely. This mindset gave me the possibility to move farther away for a while.

The first thing that I’ve done was to rent a table in the nearest co-working space, because staying all 24/7 in the same house is not my thing. It was a good decision, this way is possible to meet and interact with new people from different backgrounds regularly and I have a spot where I can focus without too many distractions.

Regarding the job related issues, the asynchronous nature of remote work is both its biggest strength and at the same time its biggest drawback. I say this because all the liberty and flexibility comes with a cost, which is the lack of a fast feedback loop and that instant discussion on the spot that settles everything down, without the need for more message round trips or checking my peer’s availability for a quick video call.

On the social side, one aspect that I noticed (and already expected before embracing this new experience) was a small detachment of whats going on in the office. Slack is more active than ever but is not the same as the “water cooler”, plus new people are constantly joining in. Without a physical presence it is hard to get to know the newcomers.

Even though there are these rough edges, I’m really enjoying working remotely. In 2016 I will try a few new strategies to overcome the above obstacles, such as:

  • Improve my written communication skills
  • Avoid slack for long running discussions and prefer more structured platforms
  • Organize some on-line activities/events
  • Work on small projects with the new teammates

Lets see how it goes in the next few months.


Getting ready to ruumbleee…

After being absent last year, today I will start my participation in the Rails Rumble event. Together with a teammate we will try to finish a project within the next 48h, using the Ruby and its Ruby on Rails web framework. Personally I enjoy this kind of challenges, even though it’s not guaranteed that we will be able to finish anything. This was what happened 2 years ago when we weren’t able to finish our project, our final push had a bug that turned the application completely unusable. Even didn’t winning anything, we learned a lot and had some fun.

Later we continued working on that project for while, eventually we were able to enter other contests with it and obtained very good feedback. The application was called Payup and is still online (but it doesn’t work very well).

Payup landing page

However the market for this kind of application already had many competitors, some of those more mature and well established. Our app had some flaws that needed to be fixed, with our day jobs and other projects we slowly let it die. But hey, it wasn’t bad for the work of one or two weekends.

Not every personal project either related to a hobby or from a challenge must necessarily be a huge success and be maintained forever, that is the great thing about these kind of projects, you do it, you succeed, or you fail, and you move on to the next one and keep learning new stuff. If you had to maintain every project or experience, you once worked on forever, you probably would lose the interest in starting new things, even if they were just for fun.

So today, we will do it again. I’m searching my list of ideas and discussing them with a teammate. A new ride is about to start…

Personal Portugal

RubyConf Portugal

In the beginning of last week, during the days 13 and 14, I and some guys from Whitesmith went to Braga for the first RubyConf Portugal. I’m not a huge fan of Ruby but since i work with it from time to time, i took the chance to learn a little bit more about it and improve my understanding of the language.

The event was pretty cool and if you go through the agenda in the site you can see that the speakers that gave the talks are well known individuals in this community. The good stuff about this conference started with the choice of the city of Braga to host the event, since this kind of stuff in Portugal always happens in Lisbon or Oporto.

The venue was in an amazing spot, called “Bom Jesus”, that has a nice view over the city as you can see in the photo below:

Photo from Braga
Venue Location: Braga

I liked some of the talks, essentially the ones that are related with my work, the rest didn’t said much to me but this is normal and it happens in every event. The funny part was that in this event we spent more time hearing about other languages (Javascript, Go, Rust, C) than ruby even though they were related with the ruby ecosystem.

The host of the event was Jeremy Walker, and he did a great job from the start where he showed up dressed as a roman guy (seems it was the theme of the event) until the end of the last talk.

Regarding the contents of the conference, in the first day i really enjoyed the talks “Building better web APIS with rails” and “Writing fast ruby“, this last one was already available online (video, slides).

Talk photo
Carlos Sousa’s talk in the first day

In the second day the two presentations that i liked the most were: “TBA” (according to the speaker that was exactly the name of the talk) and “Search Your Feelings: Multi-Table Full Text Search in Postgres“, both without too much ruby. One addressed Rust and the other Postgres, two topics I’m really interested in improving my skills at the moment.

Photo of TBA talk
Steve Klabnik’s Talk

Aside from the talks the rest of the event (food, party, etc) was great. The only complain that I have is about the conditions of the room where the talks were given, since those who were unfortunate (or late) to stay in the back of the room had some issues to properly see the slides (as you can see in the last photo, I was in the middle of the room).

Finally I must congratulate the guys at Group Buddies for the organization of this conference. I hope this kind of events become more common here in Portugal and happen outside Lisbon, so more regions of the country can benefit from them.

Edit: For those unable to be there, the organization just released some photos and videos taken during the event. You can find them here and here.

Personal Technology and Internet

Moving to Python 3

A week ago the support period for the last version of Python 2 was extended by 5 years (from 2015 to 2020) and this event just ignited once again the discussion about the fragmentation in the python ecosystem. Some have the opinion that version 2 should have a 2.8 release while others keep saying that the future is python 3 and this event will delay even more the adoption of the new version.

The truth is, version 3 already has almost 5 and half years (released in December 2008) and it seem it didn’t have yet conquered enough number of users to dethrone the old version. While the first iterations of the new major version met many critics (3.0 until 3.2),  the last 2 releases seems to have conquered very good reviews and after many years the majority of the most important libraries and modules seems to have support for python 3 (can be checked here ).

This way and after some thought, i decided that it is time (maybe a little late) to change my default development version for new projects to python3, since it really is the future of this programming language and it is time to move on. There will be exceptions of course, like old projects that need to be maintained,  new ones where the requirements do not allow the new version or where the needed packages do not yet support python 3.

So lets check what this “new” version has to offer.

Personal Portugal

Codebits 2014

The 3 days passed so fast that i got the sensation that the event took place in only one day. The only regret I felt in this year’s event was related with the fact that our team was unable to get the project ready for the presentation in 48h.

We were developing a service that would  pay developers (using MEO Wallet) who contribute to open source projects, with bounties associated to specific issues, as soon as their pull request is merged in Github.

The rest of the event was awesome as always and all the speakers of the talks i was able to attend (Christian Heilmann, Miguel Duarte, Miguel Mota Veiga, …) were up to the job.

So next year the organization can count with my application to the event again.


Open to new project ideas


Some changes on the blog

Recently i realized that the system that i used to blog wasn’t the most appropriate and that was preventing me from writing. To publish an article, i needed to go through too many steps (most of them to make the content look the way i wanted) and the maintenance of the system didn’t worth the time i was wasting on it. So as can you see i switched to WordPress, since it offers much better tools, to concentrate more on the content and soon i hope to get a more regular posting schedule. If you find any bug, please let me know.