Ryan Bergman 0:00
So they contracted out the job of creating a new core application. You know, the one downside to that, by the way is you have like a dozen programmers who have been programming a learning management system and know all of the domain of the system, what are the rules? What should it be doing? And when you hire out contractors to build a system, they don't have the domain part right. And so we would watch in amazement as they would make all the same mistakes we've made except written in an object oriented programming language that seemed to me at the time at least, needlessly complicated.

Tim Bourguignon 0:53
Hello, and welcome to developer's journey, the podcast bringing you the making up stories of successful software developers to help you on your upcoming journey. My name is Tim Bourguignon. And on this episode 150, I receive Ryan Bergman. Ryan exists in the shadow world between developers architecture and management, where he wages a constant battle against technical debt, feature bloat, and unshaven Jack's. That's an intro that's full of promises, Ryan, welcome to dev journey.

Speaker 1 1:23
Hey, thanks for having me. Yeah, I wrote that introduction. And, you know, for a conference, assuming that nobody ever was gonna actually read the bios, there you go. Now you've read it. And so the spell has been broken.

Tim Bourguignon 1:37
And you know, what my son is, is eight, and he's just starting d&d. So I'm deep in my neck in the rulebooks, just to see how it can ease his way into d&d. So I love the style I'm really into it. Before we go into monsters and throwing dice. show exists, to help the listeners and understand what your story look like, without dices and imagine how to shape their own future. So, as always, let's go back to your beginnings. Where would you place the start of your devjourney?

Speaker 1 2:10
Well, that's a good question. Because I think, you know, if you look at my career, it's, it starts in a very typical fashion. And it's in its current state isn't a very typical fashion. And there's a lot of kind of weird stuff and, and side roads in the middle of it. But you know, like a lot of kids in, in my generation, I'm Generation X. So my first introduction to computers, was when I was about eight, my parents bought me a Texas Instruments ti 99, for a computer, that was my, that was my first computer, and it was the type where you turned it on. And the only thing you really could do with it was program it, we had an Atari 2600. And I was told that the Atari was for video games, and I wasn't allowed to have to buy any video games for the TI. And I was very angry about this, because the TI had actually had some really good games, and it has better graphics than a Atari 2600. And so I was determined to just write my own games. As yeah, as you do. And back in those days, what you'd do is you'd go to, you go to the grocery store or something, and you'd buy Byte magazine, and which is a really big, thick magazine, and in the back of it was all these basic programs, and you would start typing them in, and one by one blind by line and basic. And then hopefully, it would run at the end, and some of them would be hundreds of lines long, right? And, and hopefully it ran, and then you know, you'd start figuring it out, like you'd make, I remember making something that was kind of a knockoff of Centipede, and then you start playing around with it and be like, well, if I change this number, it becomes, you know, this thing becomes blue instead of red. And if I change this number, the tone changes. And I was just completely captivated by this machine that I could make, do whatever I wanted, you know, if I wanted it to be a keyboard, it could be a keyboard. If I wanted to play games that could play games, I wasn't very successful in saving many of these games, I would write these entire programs, and just leave them on the computer for weeks. You couldn't turn it off, I would fool my parents by turning the TV off, but you couldn't turn the computer off because you'd lose it. I had a tape recorder for a drive. But it was really shaky as to whether it would ever work like it was about you know, only about 80% that I would actually be able to save it on to a cassette tape and then get it off successfully and you'd have to sit there and like wine the tape into exactly the right spot to get it to load. It was terrible. So, you know, that was that was my first experience and then we were you know we had him in school. Um, when I got into high school, we luckily had a mainframe, a Texas Instruments mainframe, and it was Texas Instruments. So it basically ran the same basic, someone who had gone to the school had donated it. And so you could take up to a year of computer programming. This is like an 8089. Right, which is so is pretty rare for a high school to have a computer programming program in it. But you could take a couple of years, and I had been always very enthusiastic about computers, and I had some friends who were too, and we got into the class. And we were all familiar with basic programming. And the teacher kind of put us into a special group where we would, here's the, here's where here's the curriculum, here's what you need to do, you finish this, and you guys can work on whatever you want. And we would knock out the curriculum and a few weeks, and then spent the rest of the semester making. Well, our goal was to make a text based adventure game of Monty Python's the Holy Grail, with all of the dialogue, and luckily, since it's the mainframe, we had storage. And I wish like, of all the programs I've ever written, I wish I had this one the most, because we did, I think managed to get most of the dialog from Holy Grail. And we also had a duck where, and Black Knight Battle Simulator, and all kinds of stuff, you know, all written in BASIC. And, and between those two things, you know, that was kind of where my passion for for tech kind of ignited. Now, on the flip side of that is that I was a terrible student in general, throughout grade school and high school. What I later learned as an adult, was that I had ADHD. And one of the little bonus things of that is that I have dis calcula, which is a learning disability that has to do with math. It's similar to dyslexia, except, except basically, you know, you could think of most human brains as having a math coprocessor on it, right. And so you don't have to think a lot of times about when someone throws a math problem at you. So it says two plus two, and it just goes to the math coprocessor comes out for I know two plus two is because for only because I've completely memorized that in the same way that I've memorized someone's name, I can't, you can't throw at me What's 85 plus 62. Like, I have to actually think it like most people apparently, can do a lot of that math, like with their little math coprocessor that doesn't work in my brain, I have to either I have to think about the math. And I also have to, and it's also comes out wrong. So if I do a timed math test, I'll just make mistakes. And if you put me in a job where I'm like, having to do change at a concession stand at a little league, just don't don't have me do that. Because I'm not gonna be good at it, I'm gonna give you the wrong change. And I'm gonna think it's right. And so I developed as, as in when I was a school aged kid, a an adversarial relationship with math because of this, because mathematics in American American education system is based on a foundation of arithmetic, and I can't do the arithmetic, right, that part is just something's goofy in there with that. And, and so I came to really hate math, I loved science. I was super interested in anything in science. But then as I got older, and I realized, well, physics is nothing but a bunch of math. And chemistry is nothing but a bunch of math. And so I kind of lost interest, I didn't really lose interest in you know, science as a thing I was want to like, learn about it, and subscribe to Discover magazine or something. But I knew it wasn't, I wasn't gonna be able to do it. And I kind of all the teachers always told me, Oh, Ryan's very gifted, but he's lazy. And he doesn't take you know, he doesn't do the homework and stuff like that, which is something ADHD kids all hear about, but you know, you believe in your internalize it and you and eventually tell yourself, well, I'm just bad at math. I can't, I can't do that. I don't know why I'm bad at math. And I'm bad students. So I'm probably not going to be a scientist. And at the same time, you know, I have other interests. So, you know, I was very interested in art, I was always drawn to anything weird. And, you know, being an art nerd, was also a big part of me growing up. And so by the time I got into high school, I was just like, Well, I'm gonna go, I'm gonna go into the arts. And, you know, by the time I was a senior in high school, I was basically I think, my final semester, my senior year of high school. I don't know that I took one normal class, one non art class. I was just in the art room painting, pottery, photography, all of it. And you know, because there was no math involved with that. I, I was looking at colleges and, you know, my family wasn't I didn't have good grades in school, you know, again because of the ADHD, but, you know, my, my, my folks are, okay, you know, money wise, but I wasn't, you know, going to be able to shell out for a private school or anything, I was gonna go to one of the state schools. I live here in Iowa. So I enrolled at Iowa State, and I thought briefly about the computer science program there, because it's actually very good. Iowa State is the home of the first electronic digital computer, the ABC computer from the 1920s, I think, and but the program there was one is much more of a computer engineering program, not really a programming, not really even a computer science program. It's more about the hardware. A lot of the kids who graduated from it went to work for Intel, and the other chip manufacturers, I believe, one of the founders of up digital went to Iowa State and it was a big contributor. So a lot of kids went to work for there. And, and also I looked at so I looked at the program, and it's like, Well, there's two semesters of programming. And then there's a whole bunch of calculus, and I was like, nope,

Speaker 1 11:24
not not gonna happen. I guess I will go into graphic design. And so my first semester at Iowa State was in graphic design, I didn't do very well, because I didn't show up to class I had a fairly Yeah, I was into partying, and wound up dropping out, kind of at a low point, mentally, with what I was doing with my life. My grandfather, who was in the had been a career military had recently passed away. And so I decided, I know I'll get money for school and get my stuff together by joining the army. So during the National Guard, kind of did that went off to basic came back, kind of denkt around for several years, going to community college to get my undergraduate stuff together. And you know, mostly spending my time in punk clubs, and hanging out with my friends, finally, kind of, you know, got my stuff together, went back to Iowa State and switched my major to city planning. My dad is an architect, and my mom is a ballet teacher. So I was kind of raised in the arts. And then when I was, you know, just playing Sim City and decide what if you could do some city like for a job. That's what city planning is, like, Oh, my God, and it's in the design school. So I majored in majored in city planning, which is it was a lot of fun to major, and I'm still super interested in subject and I got an internship with the city of Des Moines, while while out University, and I kind of worked for them, and got really good at GIS, you know, I was still interested in tech. And GIS is a big part of City Planning. In fact, you could take an emphasis in your major at Iowa State within city planning, where you basically take all the courses at the University that have to do with a particular subject, and GIS was one of the emphasizes, you could take in city planning, which means I took GIS courses and civil engineering, agronomy, planning, and really got to know those those tools. Well, and then when I went went to work for the city, I had a lot of skills and and we were in a period, we're doing a lot of analysis of like, census tracts and stuff, which everyone's doing again, right now, because I think the census just ended in there. So we've got new census data, be you know, Annaleigh, analyzing census tracts trying to figure out like different demographic information about about the city, you know, where where can we take, put certain grants, use them in certain neighborhoods for different different subjects. And that was all super interesting. Where it kind of started to fall apart, I graduated, and the city and I worked continued to work for the city, kind of as a permanent intern for like, maybe six or seven months. And then they the union found out I existed and, and they were like, Look, you got to either hire him or, you know, you gotta let him go. It's either a job or it's not he doesn't have any health care. And I was like, I don't care. I'm 25 I don't need health care. And so they, the my boss created a position for him. He was an entry level city planning position. You know, this thing pays like $30,000 a year. city planners don't get paid. Great. I'm and, and put it out. And all I had to do is come in the top 10. And as long as I came in the top 10, I would get the job, I came in 11th Because city planning is kind of an over, it's an over educated major like Job, you kind of have to get a master's degree. And, and even then you're still you're competing with people with architecture degrees and stuff. And there's people applying for this entry level position. And they didn't really want an entry level position, but they just thought they would, you know, get their foot in, I had to give up that job. My fiancee at the time was still at University and she was finishing up and city planning is also the kind of thing where you kind of have to travel for it, you have to, there's only so many city planning jobs within a particular area. And I soon learned that I wasn't really, it wasn't realistic, with just a bachelor's degree for me to expect to be able to go and become a city planner in Washington DC, or San Francisco or Denver or someplace cool. I was gonna have to go become a city planner in some town of in some rural county, and service like a bunch of little towns. And I wasn't, I was like, I don't know about that. And and then what happened was, I came across some people who are doing a tech startup. And this is in the late 90s. So this isn't the first.com boom. And again, my wife's still at university, I have to find something local just to get by. And so I was like, hey, I can do graphic design. Because when I was when I was in school, you know, I started off as a graphic design major, I was still took a bunch of art classes in the design school. And then also I guess I forgot to mention this because I'm just kind of rambling at this point. But I got very involved with several student groups at at Iowa State, I became the president of students for a Free Tibet. I was very involved with Amnesty International, Tibet was kind of a big deal for a little while. In the 90s The Beastie Boys really had to, um, I went to a conference, I stood next to one of the Beastie Boys, and he gave me like a nod and said, What's up? Adam, er, said, What's up to me? And that's my my Beastie Boys story. So but I did, I did. This is, you know, what 9596, something about around there. And at Iowa State, you could, you could host any of the student groups. And any student could put up a website on on the public, I was state servers. And so I did the websites for, for our chapter students who have reached bed and for amnesty, and a couple other groups, and so got to know HTML. And this is all just pure HTML coding, and not even like JavaScript. There was no JavaScript really, in fact, tables were kind of new. And when JavaScript showed up, I was like, alright, well, you need that. I still kind of feel that way. I still make tools in HTML with no JavaScript and table layouts. Cool. But now I'm all retro. I just I, the truth is I never changed. So So anyway, so I go to the startup, and I'm like, Yeah, I know, HTML. And I can I know graphic design, and I can do the front ends. And they're like, cool. And so this is a little startup, they don't exist today. In fact, we didn't exist. Well existed for about a year, year and a half. And we made ezines, which are, was basically like blogs, except we sent them out over email, which is kind of coming back now. Now everyone's doing these news email newsletters. And I'm like, we were doing that back in 1999. And so the idea was that there was going to be all these subjects. This is from a fan of the family who owned the startup. We're are big into the publishing industry. So they used to own Look Magazine, which most people probably don't remember, but it was a competitor to like life. And, and they sold they continued to sell magazines. So they had a deep history in the publishing industry. And they were like, well, what if we made magazines, but we made them on the web, and we sent them out over and we delivered them via email. And so that's what we're doing and everybody worked. They're all like five of us. maintained our own of these earrings. I did one on music. And we had a lot of money backing us. We just didn't make a lot of money. We didn't have a lot of sponsors or anything. But for a while. We we really spent a lot of money. We have a race car. sent me to South by Southwest I got hooked into like all of the record companies they were just sent didn't mean it, like CDs. I did South by Southwest and like 99 As a journalist, right? And this was like right when the industry was just starting to completely freak out about mp3 ease. Napster was like, almost about to happen, but it hadn't happened yet. But they were already freaking out and I were going to like these panels with all these record industry guys just completely losing it about that. They were going to completely lose their business model by the digital and and everyone else was there was like, Yeah, you are.

Speaker 1 20:39
So, you know, we lived, I lived it up, you know, we did, I did that work and and then eventually, we got shut down, because we just weren't making any money. And, and by this point, you know, I'd kind of already started kind of forgetting about the city planning stuff. And I needed to find a job really quick. And so I went to work, just across town for a little company that made learning management systems, called geo learning. And I was one of the first tech employees of the entire company, they bought a learning management system from somebody, and we're basically reselling it, they bought the code and everything out, right, they had experience in the space. And if you're not familiar with learning management systems, you probably are, you might just not know that term. This is like corporate learning, where, you know, once a year, you have to take your sexual harassment course or something like that, to be compliant. It runs that kind of stuff. So this isn't cool learning really, this is, it's much more about compliance. But it was kind of fun. I mean, the product was kind of fun, at least originally, simply because it had a lot of 3d renderings. And and it was supposed to be, it's supposed to look like a, like a building with classrooms, and you would click on the doors, those trying to kind of like be missed, except for corporate learning. And the back end of it was all cold fusion. And which I gotta tell you, sometimes I miss cold fusion, it did some things remarkably well. Not everything, not everything. But you know, in 1999 2000 terms, you could get a ColdFusion app up and running like really fast. And it was surprisingly powerful. And I think it still has one of the best query abstractions I've ever seen in any programming language. I will give it that. So we had we collected a set of kind of similar you know, programmers, we were all fairly Junior, even the senior ones we're pretty Junior.

Speaker 1 23:50
And we managed to develop a really great culture inside of that company. about learning, like we were very interested in not only advancing our own knowledge and our own skills, as programmers, and again, like I came on originally as a graphic artist, not really hired to do programming. And I just kind of my first day, my boss is like, I think you could do a little bit of programming. I'm like, Cool. I can and and I just started working my way back from the front, all the way, all the way to the back. And I worked for them for 10 years. And I was very invested in them. I kind of thought about it as my company, right? But we also had this great culture and I really liked the people I was working with, and we would, we would do like this isn't you know the early aughts, we do mob programming. We do pair programming, we didn't know that those I mean mob programming wasn't going to be labeled as a thing for another 10 years and pair probe cramming wasn't something we were, we weren't familiar with anything. And like XP, we were interested in trying to somehow automate a series of tests that could prove that our programs worked, because we were tired of fixing them over and over again. And we did not know what TDD was, we did not know who Kent Beck was, we didn't know any of these things. And yet, we were behaving following a lot of these things that we would come later to learn. And eventually, we caught on. And eventually we kind of the company started talking about, well, you know, we need a next generation product, which probably shouldn't be written in ColdFusion. And we need a serious programming language with serious programmers who really know what they're doing. Right. And so they contracted out the job of creating a new core application. You know, the one downside to that, by the way is you have like a dozen programmers who have been programming a learning management system, and know all of the domain of the system, what are the rules? What should it be doing. And when you hire out contractors to build a system, they don't have the domain part, right. And so we would watch in amazement, as they would make all the same mistakes we've made, except written in an object oriented programming language that seemed to me at the time, at least, needlessly complicated. So they built this thing. And during this time, we had discovered agile, and we discovered XP as as actual things. And we kind of on our own, started practicing scrum ish things, at least iterations. And trying to do tasks where we could with cold fusion their way again, there was no like, there was no cold CF unit, yet at the time. So we're trying to do these things. Eventually, you know, the contractors are done, the system's got to go out. And oh, and all you guys and gals who had been programming these other systems, you now own this thing. And

Tim Bourguignon 27:13
what could go wrong?

Speaker 1 27:14
What can go wrong? What could go wrong? What go wrong, except that the system couldn't handle more than like five people being logged into it at once. At some other problems. And, you know, one of the nice things about that, though, is that nobody who's working on it is invested in it, like, nobody's there to be like, No, this is great. And so the system had some serious problems and a long list of defects. This is a crunch time for the company, we need to release the new product, or the company's not going to make it. And where we wound up doing is got to like a critical point. And we have been working with a with a local Agile coach who had been helping us with stuff. And we wound up doing a big reorg of the company, the Agile coach was hired as our seat. i Oh, we brought in a bunch of agile consultants from Chicago, some really, really great people to really teach us how to do how to do unit testing how to do behavioral testing. And we kind of stopped and worked through this. And I had been at that point, really unsure if this was my feature, like looking at the system that supposedly serious programmers who takes programming seriously had created. And I was like this, there's some parts of this just don't feel right. If this is serious programming, I'm not sure I'm cut out to be a serious programmer. And I was with one of the coaches we were with and we were pairing. And I was just kind of begrudging this code I was looking at, and that person said, Oh, yes, this is this is terrible. And I was like, Oh, thank God. So I'm not, I'm not wrong. I'm not crazy, that there's something wrong here. Like, oh, no, no, no, no, your your instincts are right. And, and that was like, then I was like, homefree then I was like, Okay, I could do this. We got the system shored up and eventually, you know, we really became the company became, at least locally, kind of a, an incubator of some of the more advanced programming techniques within the city. And just to give you kind of an idea, like Des Moines is not a big town with about a half a million people, but it has a lot of tech and it's because it's not necessarily like cutting edge tech, but we have a lot of financial corporations here. So we're big in in finance. That's and agriculture, agriculture technology. So things like Principal Financial Group, Wells Fargo, all your insurance companies have big offices here. The tech community in Des Moines is huge. But we. But there's also a lot of like mainframes and COBOL. And stuff out there. So there's a lot there's, there's a lot of people. And, and we became really kind of one of the leading companies in town about, we were hosting all the user groups, and we were demoing all the cool stuff. And we were we had, like, became kind of this place where everybody who was really, really into software development, you know, kind of your hipster, people wanted wanted to work out. And I was like, wow, this is crazy. And it was a great it. And we kept up that learning environment where everybody could, you know, everyone was, you know, welcome to contribute. And we wanted to teach each other as much as we could. And we kept that, that momentum going until eventually, you know, one of the goals of the company that industry has consolidated a lot was we either need to needed to buy someone, or we needed to get bought. And, and so we eventually got bought, this is around 2011, we got acquired by another big player in the Learning Management System space, because we essentially had been eating their lunch. Our system was completely SAS, most of those applications were, were on prem installations, corporations would have to buy them and install them on some server, ours was completely cloud based. Well, that really cloud our own data center, we were hosting everything, right. And if we wanted to spin up a new client, we didn't have to, like send someone out with a server to go install it somewhere, we just pushed a button, and we're like, there you go. Enjoy. And we so we have much lower costs. And particularly for smaller meat small to medium sized companies that aren't as concerned, you know, big corporations be like, everything's got to be on our data center. But the small medium ones, they don't have a data center. So like, Yeah, great. And so we were completely starting to dominate that entire end of the industry. And we got bought, the new company did not share a lot of the same values with the old company. And essentially over a six month period, all the United say all but most of the development staff quit, I tried to hold on. But around this time, John Deere has a large, if you're not familiar with John Deere tractors, has its kind of tech center in Des Moines, as well. And it was, but although not a lot of people knew about it, it's kind of a skunkworks. And but it's the division that makes all of the more advanced computer systems, which include the guidance systems for the autonomous vehicles. And how data gets processed off those and how it goes to the cloud and stuff. And are their own data centers, as the case was at the time. And so John Deere intelligence solutions group, which is the name of this division, was in the process of starting to go through starting to try to do Agile and they were hiring a lot of people. And so as geo learning was falling apart, about 14 of us wound up jumping ship, and coming to John Deere, and working on all that stuff. And that's where I've been, since I've kind of got hired on originally as both as a programmer, and as a kind of pseudo Agile coach, someone who's going to help, you know, get the team's working better. The first thing I worked on was, was remote display access, where a person from a web browser can basically remote into a tractor and see all the displays. And they can't control it, they can see it, and they can be on the phone and they can tell somebody, Hey, do this, we could actually have made it be able to change the settings, but the lawyers didn't like that.

Tim Bourguignon 34:24
It'd be too early for for watching accidents in real time, right?

Speaker 1 34:29
Because the equipment can do the equipment could do dangerous things. Big tractors are kind of dangerous. And you could do something like lower res or something and if you couldn't see who's in the way that you know, you might do something so but you know, still that it was a really cool project because really had a big impact on customers. Because they these are complicated machines. And a lot of times you need support from somebody at the door dealership or an agronomist or something like that. And you know, when you're out in rural areas, those people in the past would have to drive out to you. And sometimes it might take an hour together to get out there and then takes an hour to get back. And now they can just like Open a web browser on their phone and be like, pop into your tractor and say, boop, boop, boop, and do the thing. So I've worked at three places in my career, as a technologist, which is weird, you know, I get like, I've been working for like, 22 years, and I've worked at three places, that is not normal. But I've never been limited by climbing the ranks of you know, pay, like a GAO in particular was when I was kind of coming up that that way. And, you know, starting from a junior, who's doing graphic design to ending up when the company got sold as a senior developer, I had the benefit of having a lot of really great bosses, who really encouraged me, and also made sure that I wasn't going to go anywhere just because of money. And so I was kept up on that very regularly there, which I think is unusual in our industry. But again, de Moines big tech scene, but not a ton of people. And so the competition is pretty fierce for developers, and it's very easy to go other places. The only downside is that most of the time, the other places you can go are insurance and finance, which are not fun, right? They're not. They're filled with regulation. And, and nobody, nobody wants to do regulation, right. The Ag side is a lot more interesting. We've got in John Deere was here. And there was a company called pioneer hybrid, that that's not their name anymore, they change their name. And now they sound like some drug that you're supposed to ask your doctor about. But they're a very old company that does genetic engineering and of seed varieties and stuff. And there's a bunch of other tech companies around the agriculture space here. So it's a, it's a cool space. And then I got into John Deere. And I'm just like looking around, I'm like, the breadth of the domain was just huge. And I'm the kind of person that like, I don't really care so much about, like the tech specifically, like, I will find enjoyment in almost anything. Like, I found enjoyment in ColdFusion, I did a lot of PHP, I done a lot of Perl. And I, I don't hate Perl, I hate other people's Perl. But my Perl is perfectly fine. And there's nothing wrong with it. And it's completely readable already. And I will find enjoyment in almost any, like little tech, what I found. So I'm not worried about that part. What I'm what I'm interested in as these domains is the domain objects, and business rules and the relationships between things and how it impacts the customers. And added John Deere, it's huge. It's I mean, just the space of like, the data that a combine collects, and the rate collects it and what everything means, and all of the different operations, you could have, you know, between planting and spraying and, and, and then combining in the fall, and then how stuff gets from here to there. And just a huge, huge ball of things and and then you get into the machine stuff of oil pressure and fuel levels and, and stuff like that I could spend an entire career bouncing around inside of here. I'm not saying I necessarily am. But I'm not bored yet I have, I have a hard time getting super bored. But you know, maybe it'll happen it every time, I think I was getting bored. I mean, geo learning was like, you know, much smaller domain space learning management systems. And every once in a while, I'd start to think I was getting bored. And then something exciting would happen, some some kind of new project would happen. And I'd be like, Oh, I kind of forget about going to look for things. And then it was like, Oh, I know my friends are here. So that's kind of a another like, odd part of my, my career path. Somewhere in there kind of like in the middle like right when geo learning was kind of ending and I was starting to come to John Deere, my boss at at GAO had been encouraging me to start speaking at conferences. And I hadn't, I had been busy having children. And you know that kind of fogs your brain a little bit. So I was finally like kind of at a point where the kids are a little bit older I can start thinking about this. And first one I talk to is it was an agile 2011 or 12 the big agile conference, and that's where some of those coaches that I learned from you I could meet up with them there as well and really got into that community. And I've stayed with that community a lot. And it's not really necessarily about, I know agile Scott kind of a bad rap these days, mostly because of all of the consultants who come in and try to sell, like big Agile transformations, they try to put all this big process on it. And that's not really what it's about, right? It's about it's about evaluating constant change, evaluating what's working and what's not, and changing things. And then at the core of XP of, you know, test driven development, you know, making sure continuous delivery, continuous integration. I think, a lot of people who kind of badmouth agile, they're bad mouthing, agile, and then they turn around, and they do all of the XP stuff. And you're like, what you don't understand is the stuff you're bad mouthing, that was never agile, ever. Like, it was always the XP stuff. This stuff over here, is being sold to you as a product from all these corporations who realize there's a lot of money to be made. On it, you don't need any of that you don't need any tools. You don't need Jira, you don't need broulee You don't need, you can do it all with just nothing but open source stuff, and a spreadsheet and some sticky notes.

Speaker 1 41:29
And so, you know, the Agile community, I think, if you look at it, like there's a, there's a core group of people, and they all it's kind of an old family, and I just kind of hang around with them, they don't always know who I am, but

Tim Bourguignon 41:44
has the the pandemic being been hard and you in sticking up with the feminine?

Speaker 1 41:50
No, you know it well, not with not with my, my, like extended software, peeps, you know, there's, so there's Twitter, and there's slacks and, and there's different ways to keep in touch with those things. I do miss going to conferences, I'm looking forward to that returning, just because more more than anything, it allows you to get that the mindset of not being home, right? Like if I want to go to a conference. And it's not really again, like drudging, up my, my 20s and my partying and stuff. But you know, you go to a conference, you don't have to worry about the kids or too much. You could go out to the bar, you can have conversations and stuff, and you've pulled yourself out of normal life. And an added to this. I've tried doing the tech conferences virtually this year, and it doesn't work for me like one again, like the ADHD does not. I have a hard time actually going to conferences and going to sessions. Like I always sit in the back. Because unless I'm like really engaged in what the person is saying. And presenting, my mind will just go like off on its own tangent. And I might sit there and then it gets to the end. And I'm like, what? I don't know what happened. There is. And it's much, much harder online. If I'm sitting on a zoom, and watching someone tried to present something, it's really tough for me to stay engaged. And then there's no after thing. It's just like, Well, why didn't I just watch that on YouTube? You know, why? Why am I at this virtual conference? So they're, they're tough. And I'm, I want I want to go back to normal.

Tim Bourguignon 43:53
Oh, yeah, a hallway track. I'm really missing that one.

Speaker 1 43:57
Yeah, because that's the thing I really valued. It wasn't going to the conferences and going to sessions, because that's pretty hit or miss, like, like, I go to a conference, that week long conference, and I might walk away with like, one or two sessions that were worth it, that were really that really engaged me, the thing that always engages me is, is the hallways, and you know, talking to just skipping the sessions and sitting out in the lounge area and and, and engaging with somebody else and talking over problems and that's that's the best part of conferences not necessarily the sessions. I've used sessions as a way to get interesting people to the conference so that I can talk to them for free

Tim Bourguignon 44:42
and it's the perfect icebreaker, you know, topic serve to you and then you can engage on this topic and then go the tensions you wanted to discuss about anyway. Right. That is very cool. Yeah, I missed that. I missed it as well. Looking back on the clock. I think I have to ask you for one advice now, and seeing your your past, I have I have one prepared for you. You said, You said yourself, you spend 22 years in three companies, what is the secret to resilience and be staying so long at the company and still being engaged and still being passionate about what you do, and still wanting to get up every day and satisfy or delight your customers.

Speaker 1 45:27
I, you know, in all the stuff I do, I like, I like sometimes working on stuff for customers. But I mostly like working on stuff for developers. And that, and I tend to gravitate towards that kind of stuff that we set up a tool learning of engaging developers helping developers learn, I want I kind of gravitate in the software, not towards customer based features that they see. But the back end, you know, I'm like, I'm like Gollum, from the Lord of the Rings. In that, you know, he got his ring. And then he, like crawled down underneath the mountain can get deeper and deeper. And that's been my path in tech, I started off and the UI. And now I reside, like way down in, like, processes that have never like human no human being has ever seen this process run. Right? Right writing libraries for, for various different things for processing things that that that other developers use, I love making tools for other developers. And if everybody else's job hopping, I can just stay in one spot. And I eventually get to interact with all the developers in the city. Because we've got, we've got a great reputation is like, Well, you got to put in your tour at Deer, eventually, like everyone kind of comes through here. And I get to work with so many people. And then most of the time, I get to work with them two or three times. As people go working for different consulting companies and such like that, and I don't know, I just, I, I have a very curious attitude about everything I, I like to go really, really, really deep on problems and really, really deep on domains. And I, you know, you talk about like that T shaped developer, everyone's talked about that recently, again, but I think that's, that's kind of true. I know, just enough about a lot of things to kind of be dumb about them. And then there's a few things where I will like talk your ear off for two hours about the intricacies of binary processing of something. And, and I have, I just have a hard time getting bored. And I think part of that is maybe I don't have a lot of expectations of anybody else doing it for me, like, I'm going to find the thing I want and I'm going to kind of gravitate towards it. And then I'm going to completely consume it. And, and then I'm gonna move on to the next thing. And it works. That's it. My brain works the same way with a lot of a lot of things like I'll become obsessed with random things, movies, music artists and stuff. Like, one time, I just became obsessed with Gary Numan, just randomly, like on a Tuesday. And then six months later, I own like every album has ever owned her he's ever made. Yeah. And that's just kind of how how it goes, Stay. Stay curious. You know, don't be afraid to look under rocks. Don't be afraid. When somebody says there's this code and everybody hates it. And it and nobody likes to work on it. That's the kind of the code that I want to go work on. Because I want to make it so that other the other developers aren't afraid of it anymore. I love terrible code. of you love terrible code. You can be anywhere forever.

Tim Bourguignon 49:22
That sounds the perfect title for this episode. Okay, so So find your thing, then be curious about it and dig deeper and don't expect anybody else to do it for you just go in there. That is awesome. That is really awesome. Right and where would be the best place to start a discussion about a random thing where you can geek out on for weeks. Where can people find you?

Speaker 1 49:48
You can find me on Twitter at Riber. Our ybr is my handle. I'm also have that same handle on GitHub. I also have the same handle in the 1980s on BBS is. So I am the original Riber. There might be others, but they are imposters.

Tim Bourguignon 50:10
So you boot up the way you were made way back when machine or haikal Enter the archive, we can find you there on BB forums. Anything on your plate, anything you want to do well to cushion before holiday.

Speaker 1 50:26
I don't think so talk about our conference next week. But that'll be after you publish this. So look for me in the future. I will eventually start you know, eventually we'll get out to conferences again. And I'll be I'll be free to go places. And then you can find me in meatspace

Tim Bourguignon 50:43
meatspace. Absolutely. Awesome. Ryan, thank you very much. Thank you. And this has been another episode of DEV journey. And we'll see each other next week. Bye. I love how Ryan story started, like many others with a computer in a basement and typing programs. But how it then took a completely different turn. I'm always fascinated to listen to do some soul searching stories. Probably because I feel I have this soul searching for me still. Or will my professional life go? I don't know. I was a lot of all those stories of fragility before a Jaya with a capital E becoming a thing that's always refreshing. So what did you take out of the story? Tell me. You can reach me on Twitter at @timothep. You can also reach me by email info at devjourney.info or use the comments section on our website. Devjourney.info. Of course. Hearing Ryan talk about Perl with you guys, probably because my Perl has been write-only so far. But the quote that truly resonated with me is the sessions are a way to get interesting people to conferences so that I can talk to them for free. I just cannot agree more. So now it's your turn. Tell me once conferences are a thing again, where should I come to talk about my experience running after any podcast and ultimately have a chance to meet you in person