Conferences Job Ruby

Two Firsts!

The first first, something I’ve written is live on the New Relic blog. Of course I’m also pretty pleased with the feature that it mainly discusses–Thread Profiling in Ruby–which is the first big chunk of code I’ve written that’s shipped so far.

Which actually leads to the next big news… I’ll be speaking at MountainWest Ruby Conf on Thread Profiling. This is the first talk I’ve had accepted to a conference, and I’m humbled to be on the same speaker page with Matz and Ward and so many other sharp folks. This time last year, I wouldn’t have dreamed that I’d be in this spot.

Working for New Relic is definitely paying off in more than just the day to day!

Job OS X

From Windows to Mac

In the move to New Relic, I’ve been looking forward to digging into a new OS. I’ve dabbled with Linux, but my spare tie for computers has been mostly devoted to languages (Ruby!) rather than operating systems.

The new job finally nudges me (who am I kidding, forcefully shoves!) to get used to something entirely different. Most of the company uses Macs–primarily Macbook Pro’s–and I am no exception.

In some ways, the shift to OS X is the least-familiar element of my changing environment. I’ve used Ruby before, and certainly have learned new languages plenty of times. I’ve tinkered with Vim for the past couple years, although never enough to use it day-to-day. But Macs? I hadn’t done much on them since college… the first time around.

Here’s what I’ve found awesome about OS X… and a few bits that bug the crap out of me.

Thunderbolt Display
I’m a huge proponent of dual monitors. It’s amazing how the extra real-estate changed my workflows for the better. I was even campaigning (with little hope of success) for a third monitor so it would look like a mad scientist’s setup provide a more ergonomic central monitor. I wouldn’t have considered going back to a single monitor…

… except for the gorgeous Thunderbolt monitor from Apple that is. Apparently once past a certain size, I stop craving the dual experience. And at 27″ is handily past that cutoff, with pixels enough to keep me happy. I haven’t felt a lack of space since making the switch. Partially, though, that’s aided by…

Years ago I tried a Windows app that gave the type of multi-desktop experience I’d seen in Linux. I fell in love immediately, but the software was too crashy to rely on. Sadly I relented, leaning eventually on the dual monitors for enough space. Every couple of years I’d browse in the vain for a suitable alternative.

OS X on the other hand, ships with Spaces built in. It’s just a Ctrl+Arrow key away. Heck, there’s even a gesture (a couple actually) on the trackpad. And with a setting in the System Preferences (check under Keyboard, on Mountain Lion at least), you can even move straight to a specific desktop pressing Ctrl+Number. This reminds me a lot of Window 7’s brilliant Win+Number feature for hopping between taskbar icons in all the best ways.

Spaces with the massive Thunderbolt has made task and window management a breeze, even without maximizing windows anymore.

Mighty Mouse
I wouldn’t have thought I’d post about a mouse. I’ve often referred to reaching for the mouse as a moral failing. But if you’re going to use a mouse, the Mighty Mouse is a step above the rest.

I’d never realized until using one how awesome a touch surface on your mouse can be. All the swipes I’ve gotten used to with my iPhone just work on the mouse. I can switch between Spaces, back up in my browser, and “naturally” scroll without thinking about it. The changeover from a mouse-wheel to the touch surface actually made the change to OS X’s reversed scrolling almost a non-issue, which is awesome.

The scrollbars suck, and I miss my Page Up/Down keys, but there you go.

While I haven’t used it for general searching, Spotlight is an adequate task launcher for my purposes. Command+Space and type the app name… after time on Windows 7, the pattern is entirely familiar. I’m just glad to be done with years of Win+R and memorizing Windows .exe names for quick launching.

Which brings us to the area where not all is raves about the change… keyboard shortcuts. I knew this would be tough, as I am a keyboard driven creature. Using different software has helped make a clean break in some ways, but a few things still catch me off guard after a couple weeks.

In ascending order of annoyance:

  • Alt+D doesn’t go to the address bar like it does in almost any address-able Windows app. Command+L gets it done, but I still end up almost-bookmarking pages repeatedly in Chrome
  • Ctrl+Arrow doesn’t move by words, it’s Alt+Arrow
  • Home/End goes to top/bottom of the document. Line movement is Command+Arrow

I swear I flip between Spaces at least twice a day still when I just wanted to slip my cursor over a word.

Ah well, if that’s the roughest thing in this journey, I got off easy!

Job OS X

New Relic: Week 1

My first full week at New Relic is in the bag. I can safely say that making the leap was a great choice.

First day, upon being shown to my desk, I was confronted with this shadow from the past:

The other devs started in on a whole spiel about how it’s a first day tradition to use the old Apple II, although they were vague about what precisely you had to accomplish. After the better part of 5-10 minutes, someone suggested you had to commit to the git repo from it. The awkwardness finally peaked, and everyone laughed. We packed up the Apple II, and I received my actual hardware, a brand spanking new Macbook Pro, huge monitor, and Mighty Mouse.

There are first day traditions beyond the purported Apple II, including committing a bug fix before the day is done. We had that finished up before lunch, which felt good.

Both of those experiences–the prank(s) and the getting-things-done of a first day commit–set the tone for my experience so far. I have felt welcomed and included, with folks introducing themselves left and right, good-natured fun and joking from the get-go, and lots of help whenever I need it. But that all comes along with a sharp focus on building great stuff.

One of my favorite small touches was the whiteboard in the main entry. On the first day it had a message welcoming me. I thought “That’s nice,” and didn’t think about it again. Then on Tuesday I showed up to this:

Each day a new message showed up, ending on Friday with:

That hints at the climate at New Relic. We’re growing quickly, with lots of new faces, and lots of excitement.

I’ll post more technical bits later, but the transition to OS X from a lifetime of Windows has been smoother than I expected. My first day it felt like all thumbs, but already I’m amassing new shortcuts and muscle-memory, customizing my tools bit by bit, and getting notably faster every day. Every day brings a pile of new things, large and small, to cram into my brain. From the intricate beauty of Ruby, to the Might Mouse’s touch gestures, to Vim addons… every day this week has stretched me exactly how I’ve been itching for.


A Bit of a Change

For the past seven years, I’ve been happily employed at WebMD Health Services. But all good things must come to an end, and today is my last day there.

I’m moving to New Relic, a small company with an office here in Portland. They write application performance monitoring, and their product is seriously cool. I remember being floored when I first saw how much information they capture out of our web apps.

This is a big move for me–I’ve only worked two places in my career so far, and both have been Windows based. At New Relic I’m joining the Ruby team, and they don’t even officially support that part of the product on Windows. I’m excited to get the chance to dive in the deep end of a new language, platform and company.

I’m planning to blog a little during the transition, especially to try and capture the day-to-day hints that will help me transition from Microsoft’s loving embrace to the open source world. Watch this space.