Tonight is my last night in New Zealand. Tomorrow I will fly back to Belgium to see what has changed in the 3 years that I’ve been away. I already know that my home city Antwerp has changed a lot because they were completely redoing the place when I left. I think it might still too soon for a reflective post on my experiences in New Zealand. What I can say is that I had a great time here and I made some great friendships with some extraordinary people. Depending on who you ask this is a good or bad thing but I’ll surely be back in a couple of years :)
The first one on my list of great Kiwi personalities is Alex James. We had a whole bunch of architectural discussions and many of his ideas are still sitting in the back of my mind every day I write code. I met him at a point in my programming career when I was looking for something new. I didn’t want to use datasets any more, was looking for a replacement for webforms and he had quite a clever project Base4. This project is what got me started on Open Source and at this point I wouldn’t mind making a living working on open source projects I just don’t know quite yet how to start that :)
The second one is Alex Henderson, he knew and probably knows a lot more about Castle’s windsor than I do and through some kind of blog conversation about using Base4 with Castle I finally got what Alex James meant when he said my code was quite monolithic at times. Alex Henderson showed me how to write readable code for other people than me. Very sometimes I know still catch myself writing big chuncks of code in one go but thanks to resharper I can quickly fix that now.
Furthermore there is the wonderful bunch of people at Xero. I had a great time working with them and figuring out what my strengths are as a developer. Although we didn’t always saw eye to eye Kirk taught me that security goes way further than just the data. Security has to flow through from the whole company and all the way into the lowest level of your application. He was probably the voice of reason I often need and when I was programming other projects after I left Xero. I still thought to myself: would I be able to get away with uploading this and seeing what happens or should I really test this on a different non-dev machine. Then I see that look he gets and will dilligently grumble and test the thing, which, as it turns out, is almost always a good idea.
Everybody at Xero were really great collegues and there are times that I regretted going away there even if it was just for the cool bunch of people that work there. Craig for letting me see that “the Hutt” is the closest thing Wellington has to “the hood” and that the word box has more than one meaning.
Of course there are the guys from Mindscape, all brilliant programmers. I don’t think you’ll find another company in New Zealand that has that big of a brains/person ratio. I’d say if they can’t solve it for you nobody can. I’m sure we will stay in touch. The discussions I had with Andrew Peters, Ivan Towlson, JB and JD really upped my game as a programmer. I think it’s always great to have discussions with people that have a different point of view, although I can get quite passionate about things, but I think it’s even more great if you can do it with brilliant people. That’s what my lunches with geeks were about :). Not to forget the poker nights, they were always good fun. I think I still lost some money but I now understand the game of Poker :) It’s much like real life and in my case the best advice there is don’t get too ballsy and enthusiastic too early in the game it can prove to be disastrous. Another memory from poker is “the blue stuff”, an alcoholic beverage easily mistaken for anti-freeze but it works really well ;). The hangover the day after wasn’t always that great but that’s the price you pay :)
Then there are some people that aren’t necessarily kiwi but I met them here in New Zealand. Owen Evans for showing me the light on mocking :) Simone Chiaretta, a very smart Italian programmer, his contributions to the community are quite invaluable.
I realise I left out a whole bunch of people like Keith Archibald, Jeff Wegesin, Vicky Rawsthorne and Ross McWhannel a.o. but I wanted to constrain myself to the programming experiences. I apologise too all the people I left out like the Kiwis that went to Europe before I got back: Adam Burmister and Nic Wise I guess we’ll catch up soonish :)
Furthermore if you haven’t been to New Zealand yet. I think it’s about high time you order that ticket and get yourself over here. It’s absolutely drop dead gorgeous, the natives are friendly and it’s probably one of the safest places in the world. The atmosphere here is great it’s a huge mix of people coming from all over the world, which leads to some very interesting friendships and discussions. I think the rest of the world can learn a lot from the kiwi’s on the matter of tolerance and not taking yourself too serious, as well as their acceptance and openness to different cultures and new experiences. So get over here and get yourself some kiwi outlook on life.
I’ll finish off this post with: It’s been absolutely magic mate ;)
Hei konaa raa