Until 2009 I spent roughly 70% of my career as an hands-on software developer writing code almost every day. Even when managing teams, I always owned some of the code. It was a good way to stay grounded, keep sharp technically and maintain a bond with the young dudes on the team.
Things changed when the projects got too big and complex. I started managing bigger teams distributed geographically and functionally. Recently, the Davis Reef team at Intel included multiple specialized engineering teams, design, architecture, product management, quality and manufacturing.
And all was good. Great leverage, big intellectual challenges, significant products for Intel and Cisco. We embraced agile, work-life balance, innovation, personal achievement and happiness. Celebrated our accomplishments. Solved tough problems together. Lots of dinner parties and baseball outings. A genuine blast.
Then several years into it, I found myself telling people I missed programming. At first I might have been saying it to ensure that programming remained glorified in our organizations. I sincerely believe individual software development is an excellent, respectable full career path. I don’t think software developers should rush to become product managers or engineering managers. Our products are the new cathedrals of the 21st century.
But I did genuinely miss it. I’m sure all programmers feel this. Either you develop products or you don’t. To some degree, all of life is better when you’re working on a cool new product.
Here I am in my personal chapter 3. We spent 2016 doing the heavy lifting, relocating our family (including Grady and Rumo) to London. Now I’m eager to expand my network and get in the loop with UK-based startups and investors. While that’s accelerating I’m hatching a couple of new technology ideas of my own. Alice (sometimes my biggest critic, sometimes my biggest fan) even thinks they have potential.
My coding skills are incredibly rusty. I’m still ramping up. At times wondered if I could actually write good code again. Do I still have the correct brain power and aptitude (or attitude) for it? So far I’m more than 50% confident this is going to work out fine.
The MVP version of my first app queries three REST APIs from within the iPhone. This is not correct. Must be implemented server side. So today, I updated Eclipse, installed something called MAMP and bought a PHP hosting service from GoDaddy for $1 a month. Talk about diving in head first!
I’m sitting at my desk at the top floor of the house. I didn’t get out of my pyjamas until 2:30 PM today. I’m leaving for skiing in France tomorrow morning but 30% of me secretly wishes to stay here and write code. Can you believe it? There’s no turning back now!