Sunday, April 27, 2008

On the Job

I have been at the BBC for a week and a half now, long enough to form some basic impressions, I think.

It's definately been one of the more challenging environments I've been in. Challenging in the sense that I've had to pick up a lot of stuff quickly and hit the ground running. It reminds me a bit of when I started at Proxima in December of 2000. Even though the BBC is a much bigger organisation (28,000 people vs about 20 at Proxima Sydney at that time), our team is pretty small and self-contained, and very focused on getting the job done.

And the job itself is very exciting. I'm part of a small team of about 10 who are working on developing the next generation platform for the bbc.co.uk website. It's a HUGE task! The BBC website is one of the largest in the world and it's something on a scale that's really hard to imagine (just think about having 32Gb of peering for your website!)

We're working very hard to deliver a beta version of the platform by the end of June. So far most of my work has been design and architecture sessions drawing up plans on whiteboards and scraps of paper and talking to the various stakeholders to make sure we've got everyone on board. This week will be getting the actual designs on paper and coming up with the proper design documents and getting things finalised.

Then very soon I'll start building it! Very excited!

Getting the Job

Much has happened since the last update. Most importantly I've got a job and have been working for a bit over a week now.

The story of getting the job was quite interesting (i.e. stressful). The week of the 7th of April, I basically had two roles on the go. They both looked quite promising. One was with a infrastructure provider for the financial market (in fact the leading provider - sorry, no names). The other was with the BBC. I did the first round of interviews for the BBC on the 4th of April, and for the other company on the 3rd. The second set of interviews were on the week after on Wednesday the 9th. The BBC in the morning and the other company in the afternoon.

The BBC interview went very well and I was feeling quite good about it. The interviewers were quite good and it was a nice chat about what I had done and my approach to things. The interview in the afteroon was a bit different. I went to meet one of the managers where I was supposed to be working and some of the people there. I was going for the team leader role so I was to meet some of the people who would be in my team.

I came away from that meeting in the afternoon with a mixed feeling. What the people on site said did not match at all with what the company had been telling me and I was rather concerned, and told the agent as much. He promised to follow up and get someone from the company to provide me more information.

Things were coming to a head on Friday when the finance company pretty much said that the offer was ready. The agent had spent a lot of effort getting the role clarified and I had a much better idea what the role was. The BBC wasn't moving quite as fast and I spoke to the hiring manager and asked when a decision could be made. I had 30 minutes to get back for the first offer, and with 1 minute to go I got a call from the agent for the BBC saying that they had offered me the job!

The relief was immense. I took the BBC offer and called back the other agent to say no. They were understandably not happy with my decision, specially as they had spent so much effort in getting things sorted out. I felt quite bad about it but in the end the confusion about the role and the fact that the role was with a support unit (i.e. with weekend work, shifts and on-call) made me decide to go with the BBC.

Those last few days were some of the most stressful I can remember. I could hardly sleep for the last few days. I didn't want to turn down one job in the hope of the other coming through and I didn't want to waste the agents and the company's time if I wasn't serious. I was "this" close (i.e. 1 minute away) from accepting the first offer. Oh man, I'm getting stressed out just remembering it!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Stagflation - It's in the news

For the last year or so people have been whispering about stagflation (a combination of stagnation and inflation - for those who aren't into economics or who didn't live through the 1970s.) Of course stagflation was supposed to be impossible until it actually happened.

Anyway stagflation is back in the news. In a big way. Have a look at this Google Trends graph:

Even looking in the news, there are many more mentions of stagflation. I think we're headed for problems.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Sunday

Today was a nice relaxing day... Our first "lazy Sunday" in London. We woke up at about 8 to SNOW! Not a little dusting, but a good solid 3" of snow! It was freezing (literally) outside.

Dave, Twee and JC were out and about by 11am, watching the Olympic Torch relay. We decided to give it a skip and join them straight for brunch at Carluccio's on Westbourne Grove in Bayswater. The others had already had brekky by then, so Chami and I ordered lunch.. which was very nice. Efe and Dianne (?) turned up a little later.

After lunch we went for a stroll around Bayswater looking for a pub. The first stop was closed for rennovations so we ended up walking to a pub called The Watereway in Maida Vale, right on the Grand Union Canal. Inside was quite packed so we decied to have a drink outside. Just note, that at this stage there was still snow on the ground, it was only a few degrees above freezing, and we were having drinks outside!

The pub is on the border of the posh (Little Venice) and not so posh (housing estates) area.. so soon after we sat down a bunch of brats from the estates started throwing snowballs at us from across the canal! The little shits lobbed a few snowballs into our midst and got bored and went away. Not very happy.

Anyways, we had a nice bottle of wine (Chami, Twee and myself) and the guys had a couple of beers.. chatted away for a few hours until it got too cold and started snowing. Yes we were drinking outside in the freezing cold with snow falling around us. The true London experience, I thought.

From there we headed up along the Canal to Union, a very chilled out bar near Dave's work.. we lounged around there for a couple more hours, having coffee, chips, cheese.. it was very nice.. We wrapped up at about 1800 and headed home via Satay House in Paddington where we picked up dinner (great food, crap service, recommend that you get take away.)