Clifford Agius 0:00
I love flying. It's a passion. And a wife said it quite a few times. dinner parties in life is you know, I get paid to do my hobby. That's that's the difference. Whereas development is a get paid, do something I absolutely love. I'm an engineer at heart. And I absolutely love developing things. I love playing with tech, I love premiere new toys. I've been given an Azure preset developer kit by Microsoft as part of the MVP thing you know, it's it's a new shiny bit of tech that I want to get the player for the stock camera and a microphone and things like this and learning about how you can use that. I wish this bit of kit existed when I was working in robotics back in the car industry because it would have made life so much better.

Tim Bourguignon 0:56
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 of 153, I received Clifford Agius. Cliff flies a Boeing 787 Dreamliner around the world at Mach 0.85 day-in, day-out, but when he's not flying, he spends his time working as a freelance dotnet Xamarin and IoT developer. He's very active on the open source communities. He's also a Microsoft MVP and enjoys giving talks at meetups and international conferences to which he obviously flies with his very own Dreamliner or something, I guess. Yeah. Yeah, definitely. Cliff. Welcome, to dev Journey.

Clifford Agius 1:42
Thank you. Thanks for inviting me.

Tim Bourguignon 1:44
So you have you do have your own Dreamliner, right.

Clifford Agius 1:46
I wish I had my dream I know. But yeah, 250 million pounds a pop? Yeah, they're not cheap.

Tim Bourguignon 1:53
So I'm pretty sure we're going to talk about flying at some point. But before we get there, you know that the show exists to help listeners understand what your story look like, and imagining how to shape their own future. So as always, let's go back to your beginnings where we should place the start of your dev journey.

Clifford Agius 2:14
The start of my dev journey. If we're going to talk about flying, I think we need a place to start that journey really. Because, I mean, I grew up in East London, and was underneath the flat part for London, Seattle. So when I was out, playing with friends playing football at school playground, that sort of thing is always aircraft thrown over the top of literally over the top of the school playground. quite low level because they're just taken apart and London City and I was always looking at a call let's call that is how the planes fly. And, yeah, that was that was me hooked on flying from a very early age. As for the engineering sides, you asked my parents, I was forever taking things apart and trying to work out how they worked. putting them back together and having that that that that that spare screw that you have leftover inside. We don't need that anyway, you're chuckling i So yeah, I was I was into kind of wanting to know how things were wanting to know how. How that happens. I was very interested in like knowing gathering facts and working out how how to do things. So yeah, I went through school, sadly, I was too interested in playing football and, and messing around my friends. I was playing with friends and playing football all the time. So my school grades were, let's say pre poor. They weren't brilliant. You know, I aced maths and science, because there were strong subjects everything else I pretty much flunked out. But maths or science I couldn't because I just found them easy in my brain just was quite happy doing that not because I put much revision in because I didn't. But yeah, that was that was where I started and then I left school with pretty poor grades and I wouldn't get a job and you're 16 What do you know about trying to get a job at works, you know, I've had paper rounds and helped them and deliver milk on the weekends. I've had, you know, work from a dad's had a transport business will obviously scan you know, wash the lorries and help the fitter mechanic fix the lorries. You know, again, going back to the engineering stuff. When I was young when I was eight, 910 years old, I was down the yard helping our weekends for kids. Yeah, I was always kind of doing stuff. So that was moving on to actually get a proper job. So I applied for various jobs in different places and Ford Motor Company in East London as well in Dagenham, which is where I grew up and, and they were recruited for apprentices. engineer apprentices and so I filled in a form and on the form it asks you if if you know anyone that works at Ford Motor Company. Well, funny thing is, you know, we knew in that part of London, you probably know quite a few people to work with for quite a community. So I put down my uncle's name, he was a manager of Ford and things like this, and I got an interview even though my school grades weren't good enough. I've got the interview, Wednesday interview is going to Britain. It's going really, really bad. Even I was squirming in my seat and looking at the faces of the two people interviewing me, I thought myself, There's no way I'm getting this job. But the very last question I ask is, do you know anyone that works for Merck company? Oh, yeah. So I just started listing up from 10 on my fingers, this but my aunts and uncles at work their mom could put in the form who's a as a manager forward, and one of the interviewers knew him. And we just started talking about my uncle and well, being quite close to him and spent time and when I was growing up, you show me this and anything else. And, and yeah, and lo and behold, because Ford is quite an incestuous company. You have to kind of know someone who works here to get a job, that kind of thing we did back in back in, back in the day Bethany was in 91. I've started our apprenticeship. Yeah. So that that age is mean, isn't it? 92 years ago? Yeah, so I get I got a job at Ford insight, lead gen friendship. So we were the first year of doing a, we're the guinea pig year of doing this new thing. And it was electromechanical engineer. So rather than use a teacher to be either a mechanical engineer fitter going and bolt things and bolting back together, or to teach being electrician, where you're doing the weekly lab stuff, but they realize that the majority of time is maintenance tech, you'd go out to a job that be a broken motor, for example, you need two engineers to go out, you'd need an electrician to take the wires off the motor to make it safe for the fitter to take the major gearbox off and change that, then lectures in the combat and put the wheels back on. But only one person was working on a job at the time. So they bought in this idea of having one engineer doing all of it, and we're training. So my intake is 160 ish of us that were taken in as dual skilled engineers. There's about 30 of us that finished as dual skilled engineers, the rest went either mechanical or electrical, they've kind of fell off one or the other. And yeah, there's Davis that would your skill got jobs as engineers and the others drop. This was just the the Iraq war, I think was was just happening. So the motor industry was taking a bit of a downturn as it tends to. So yeah, my friends that I had come from our apprenticeship that gone one skill or the other, ended up working on production line, bolting bits on sides of cars, and I got locked into an apprenticeship. Job in the engine private data. So building the the good enough the machines that build the that these legends, that documentary plan. And yeah, and then, you know, I was went from there to been a couple of sort of headhunted up by a contracting company. And we basically they wanted us because we build skill that was obviously a valuable commodity. And they're offering slightly less money in a Ford was, but rather than kind of sit and wait for a machine to break, you can sit all week and nothing would break. And if it didn't, if there was nothing to fix, you worked on production on you helped up? Because it's just, you know, what it was that what they call it integrated manufacturing team. Yeah, it's a way of saying that the engineers can help build the cars and engines where they've not got nothing to fix. So when things did break, you take longer to fix it because it's in your interest to be playing the tools that he wants to be building cars. They never quite worked that out, but they got so yeah, it was got head hunted out when they're kind of cul de sac automation. And we were building literally I finished on the Friday and on a Monday morning back in the same factory, but building a new production line and and then went on to be taught robotics and and we already do PLC programming. Anyway, we talked about that pre show about the Siemens and squared d and Rockwell Collins. So yeah, I was I was recruited as a electrician and PLC programmer. And because Ford it taught me how to program the Cincinnatian Cuca robots. I then went and and did some of that for diesel automation as well. So we did a bit of robotics and and these the big heavy duty robots that will decide sides of cars and vans and that together, so big, heavy duty things. And yeah, it worked for them for few years. And then again got invited to join another company called Kamau or p COVID. Change and then quite a few times and join them for a few years, but I was always still looking towards the sky. I was always looking up and again work in the factory, we'd go out at lunch and sit on the dock side of the engine plant foods was dockside of the key. So it's where the big, big ships that fall down, and the tanks of cars from like the UK, across to Germany so they can be shipped all around Europe across like the continent, or bringing cars from Germany across the UK be shipped around. So it's out there and have lunch in the sunshine or the rain, mostly the rain. And we've got some planes taking off at London City or make an approach to land. So I started doing my ppl, which is your private pilot's license. So I went to Leadley airfield of North world state foot and started learning to fly. And then a winter like nine hours flying time so not not much in the winter long weekend and see my instructor. And it was like Cliff was going to be my last lesson to you. So why is that was going on? They were I've got a job with me you got? Isn't this your job? So no forgot job from an airline? So how's that work? So we went and did the lesson and all went well. And we went back and debrief the lesson, we sit in outside detail we have you know, has it worth it. And that explained the fact that you start with a PPO, then you you get the other ratings, you need your your multi engine rating, and each one rating you IR and then you know typically back then you become an instructor to build your hours and your experience and you apply to launch and then you get a job. How's that? So you don't need to be like you don't need a degree you don't need you know, all these things, I assume that you need to have as a parliament. No, I forgot degree like this. Just because I didn't have a degree I mean, my qualification of food and definitely hnd in mechanical engineering. Higher National Diploma stands for. And I did the first year of my degree, that's quite funny. Actually, I did the first year was really three times not because I'm stupid. The first year, at the end of it, I missed exams because I was actually in Germany, working in the GECK plant, worked on the installation of the transit van at the time the new transit van. This so I could pass because I've missed all the exams a second year, I did exams and got distinctions in merits in the exams. But they said that I didn't have enough credit during the course of the the core shadow enough hours of attending to get the credit. So they said, Well, you can't do that now. And then. And the third year, I was about six months in I've only been about three times again. So I was working overseas that time I was working in the US. So my lecture I've just said that cliffie already can't sort of pass up because you've not done enough hours. So I just gave up. But yeah, it was a guy. So yeah, it was, but it was was it and that was it. They in the second year they they said to me, you've you've plagiarized this, this lab lab assignment, and they called me in and they said you're going to kick it off the course. And it's very serious and finding the table and very upset that just what you mean is that you've plagiarized SR is lab assignment, you wasn't here to do it. It's all about tensile strength of materials. And you can only do that with the specialist lab equipment in the university. So we, we, we sat there and I'm sitting there in a lecture and he was like, yeah, he wasn't here, Cliff. So you know, I had to raise it because you've obviously copied the work from someone and their looks. And I was like, no, no, I haven't you gave me an ad for this last year. All I did was press print and resubmitted it it looks to me like dumbfounded. And he was like what and the only the problem was was the fact that Microsoft Word corrected the date at the top because it does let you know when you put the date in and it does that so where the corrected date so it had the date I can print and as that but if you go and get my my soap from last year that you gave me an a4 You'll find it's identical except from date and say went away and come back and bit she was I think that's why they said you don't have enough credit and it's probably upset because I've shown him that we can get together you for an assignment, you got to do exactly the same assignment, why do it again?

Tim Bourguignon 14:25
That's very developer mindset There you go

Clifford Agius 15:20
back to back to the flight school. I was explaining how it all works. And I was like, Well, this is awesome. And the car industry again was 10 another downturn. So I decided to go off and learn flight. So I spoke to my manager, and said, you know, after become an airline pilot, and he's like, No, you know, as that will, is my resignation letter, you know, John, that there is you and you're not resigning, I was like, well, I won't be here next month. So you could do it, you weren't going to carry on paying me you can, but I'm not going to be here. So he closed his office door, you know, told the receptionist cancel these meetings. And we sat there for a few hours. And a lot of time for John, my old manager, because it was like a, almost like a father son relationship, the way we kind of dealt with each other. And he says, you know, do you really want to go off and you've got to be a glorified bus driver is trying all the tricks in the book to try and keep me employed. And in the end, we agreed the fact that I would go off and do my training, but I'd always have a job that you've ever wanted to go back. And in fact, during my training, I went back and worked as a as a technician. So I was on the tools but kind of leading the team on site to get their money. So weekends or, you know, times when I was between parts of retraining, I went back and put a bit more sort of small beer tokens in the in the jar. So yeah, I went off and did my training. And that took two years of going from zero to hero. Got to the end of that. And I was like brilliant. An airline pilot. I've got all my all my ticks in the boxes sent off. I must have been 50 or 60. CVS to every anyone that had an aircraft that flew. I sent my CV, and that was across the UK in Europe, and got lots of thanks for no thanks. Lots of things. And that was all because September 11th had happened. So he was still kind of going down. Yeah, really bad timing. But I you know, John was true to his word. I went back and worked with tools. And I worked up in Nyssa motors up in Sunland, and UK, and northeast. And that's where I met my wife actually on that project. I drove up that morning. And to start the project, we always took the company credit card to a couple of the customers and went out on the town. And I had not been in Newcastle before. It was an awesome kind of night out. I met my wife. So yeah, that was that was a fun project. Yeah, so we just think of other things to talk about. But yeah, so we worked on the show, I was like, project leads in the, in the in the factory. So leading up to about 30 or 40 engineers to install the production line for the what was then a new, this micro, the kind of bubble you want is moved on a few shapes instead. So it's still in that beginning running. So I was working 14 hour days in the factory seven days a week, as well as trying to kind of you know, start a relationship. You know, so it was, it was fun. You go out for a night out and I get up at five the next morning and we've been out and you know, they make their way to the factory and during our 14 our state don't get showered and changed and then kind of go and beat and go for dinner again. Stuff like that. So yes, it was tough work. But I was young. I had less gray hair. I actually had hair Yes. And then I had to do one last bit. The CAA Civil Aviation Authority and the answer European authorities have brought in this requirement that work in the airline pilot, you need to do this new course called the CRM course, which is called cruise or soft cruisers management and cockpit resource management. Depends on who you ask. And so I went and had this course, so cost me another 5000 pounds. But when you've spent best part of 90,000 pounds to train, this was, you know, back in the early 2000s. So yeah, 20 years ago, but even so. So I had to go on this call. So I went off and did the course in Dublin. And it's two weeks of training in this in an old 737 200 simulator of air Lingus is at Dublin Airport, and it was during the night night because it's similar it's a cheaper time in the middle of night because the pilots actual pilots online don't train during the night. Seems quite so you know two o'clock in the morning going into the simulator to do training and testing is for the body clock isn't brilliant. So, especially when you're trying to learn stuff and stuff that you've never seen before and trying to fly this kind of steam driven napkin old aircraft simulator. So yeah, at the end of it. Towards the end, I was like about four o'clock in the morning, I went to the coffee machine, and it was my turn to go and get the coffee's for me, Nick, my colleague is doing the course with me and the instructor. And I bumped into a grant profit sheet and I'd put in a euro was enough to buy, you know, I think the first 20 cents set aside for five coffees. And I was just chatting to him about coffee machine was doing his thing because you want a coffee, he's gonna get one movie. It's just chatting. He walked back and taught me to say in use of the classroom next door, and they stuck his head in newer instruction that and he's like, yeah, come back a minute or two later and gave gave me a business card. He said, Bring it on the course. Give me a call. I have lots of business cards as chief pilot of Aaron, which is nourish airlines. Yeah. Thanks, Dave. I'll give you a call. So I finished the course. Yeah, it was literally getting. I went right back to UK. And I gave him a call on the Monday morning and said, Dave, don't remember me from last week. Remember you how are you? I sat down. He says, When can you get to Dublin. I was like what four he said, well for an interview. I was like, whenever next slide is he went good. He didn't get across here on Wednesday. This was the Monday so get across Wednesday afternoon. So I'm gonna have a chat. I'll be there. So frantically trying to buy an airline ticket to Dublin and flew across, had an interview and got the job. I then need to go and do a type rating which is learn to fly the ATR. So when he did that accompany Excellent, yeah, that was the start of aviation career. So it was literally four o'clock in the morning, barring a coffee for the chief pilot. It was pure luck. sheer luck. And then I worked for our arm for two years. And again, the airline to work for now British Airways, they, they were recruiting be needs have 1500 hours on a jar 25 which is the type of aircraft which is like a heavy passenger aircraft that weighs more than 15 tonnes, which was the ATR just about made that grade. So my friend told me about it. And so you're going to apply US UK are applying we used to do this thing where we sat in Dublin for about three hours, we did six sectors to six flights. But between flight five and six, we'd sit in Dublin for a couple of hours and then didn't laugh flight back to Galway to go to the hotel that night. And sitting there. So Brian told me about this, this. This assessments went online, I started filling it in. And it got to the point and had the long essay questions as AHA man, I'm that time fill this in. And they're quite complex questions and obviously going to want to check the spelling and everything else was on my company, computer. In the crew room. It was like we didn't have words. And it's that there's no way I can spell check this throughout the words. So I saved my assessment. And when did the flight and then I see Brian the next morning. And it's like, did you get into the big thing? I said I started it, but I finished it. It went yeah, it's closed now. And then I was like, No, but I feel myself for a scandal that started it. Just you know, just make sure it's not pulling my leg and I went in and I was at the stage. Where was the essay question. final paragraph. I finished it off and I finished it. But it closed but because I'd saved it. It kept me my application live so I could finish it off. And I found that since the way it does prepare to just says we're going to allow 1000 people to apply it. When they hit 1000 People that have got a set the starting application door closes. And I've been lucky and my friend Brian hadn't. So again, another stroke of luck. So I applied and swept interviews and got the job with BA and I've been here since 2005. flown the Airbus short haul I've flown the Airbus at London city so it takes it all the way back to my childhood. And when London seats in New York, the little three eight inch seat Airbus and that was to New York and back, which was awesome going back to my childhood and that was the best two years of flying. And then I flew the triple seven for a year and then I've been on this summit seven for what nine years have been nine years. This month actually yeah this month yeah nine years. So yeah, it's you know, that's that's the flying story. It gets me to where I am. Flies

Tim Bourguignon 24:31
flybys. This is awesome to hear a big smile on my face. I just wonder where the text or the Dev Story is fitting in there. You're living the dream you're doing what you want to do the whole time. Why the hell would you go down to a computer hide in the basement now I'm talking about myself and do some development. Why?

Clifford Agius 24:53
Well, funny thing when I was working, flying planes, I found that I was off when everyone else is at work. You know, or I was awake, weird o'clock in the morning because I was on UK time and where our role was local time was, you know, early hours of the morning. You know, so you sit around waiting for breakfast to open and that sort of thing. Are you sitting around, you know, Midnight local, and you're wide awake? If you go east, that sort of thing. So I literally, I bought myself a Dell laptop and stuff, well, I'll get a laptop and do something. And like really good thing what I now thought so far. But gold is software skills from from engineering, PLC programming, robot programming is like, you know, silica to start with them. And a friend just started a business doing fitness like personal trainer, and she was looking for a website. And I thought, God, Oh, I'll build a website can't be that hard. You know, I looked at did the F 11 looked at the probe, isn't it to look at the source or too bad. I can do this. For Dummies, books, HTML. And that started kind of happening about and built a website, it's, you know, it was a bit of a learning journey. No, she was asking for things like a booking engine and stuff. Okay, there's been more complex. Looks at JavaScript, folks. I'm not going there. So I stumbled across But is the ASP the classic one, just started learning that and I forgot who was that I found that a soup to nuts of ASP sit to Nazi was and here's a fellow is an American from apparently Well, David Clarke headset, which is what a lot of pilots wear for that aircraft. And just seeing the image and on these are these posts, and, and that and I was like, I like that already. That's got me hooked. So I paid a comment. It was It wasn't a lot. It's about $40 paid and learn ASP the classic ASP. And then I finished building out Julie's website. And and yes, she she only updated to about a year ago. So I've been living all that time. So yeah, and then Sophia, this is good. I could do something this and then I was I was kind of looking around and did a few websites for local businesses. And, and then someone asked me to do some work where he was going to it wasn't really a website, there's going to be kind of a back end system for Office for data crunching and stuff. So that will SP is not really going to work for me as well. It was something else. And that's when I stumbled across dotnet. And I then heard about pro site on the different forums and things like this. So I bought one month subscriptions ProSite software, I learned this C sharp to know a new C++ at the time from the robot programming. It's a version of C++ that was used. And I thought myself well, C sharp is meant to be C++ a bit better. I thought I'll learn that. So that was when I forgotten his name that Oates code asked him to bug me is his Twitter handle zones code. He sadly passed away a couple years ago, he was big on Pluralsight if you're listening to this podcast, you know exactly who I mean. But the name escapes me. But I did his complete course of C sharp and dotnet and, and learn from him C sharp and then I went on to build this kind of back end thing. And then but that was a project that payments. Oh actually, you know, I'm doing this wire my then fiance was at work or you know, it's weird o'clock in the morning, I'm stuck in a hotel with nothing to do. So actually, I can turn this into a bit of a business I'll do support so tap my wares and and yeah, learning from now and it's gone from that onwards, I've kind of grown into dotnet developer, the IoT side is purely because you know, back to my childhood, I love taking things apart and building things my engineering career I love I was always playing with electronics was always you know, the Forte ethos is if it's broke, go and fix it, you don't buy a new one, you go and fix the broken thing and make it work again. So that meant that you know I was taught that if the gearbox is broken, you take it apart and find the broken bits and machine a new bit to fit in there or you know, get a bit from stores to to fit in there and fix the gearbox you don't buy a new gearbox. And the same with electronics if you take control a board out of a PLC, and you know a lot of the outputs are blown. You got to work out why typically it'd be like a fuse is gone internal fuse, or it might be the board is burnt out because you know he's drawing too much current for the output. And you know, a couple of resistors capacitors are blown. You'd sit there with an oscilloscope and you tear it down, take it apart and you fix it. And that was you know, the training that I got a fortnight A company which is phenomenally good. You know, if my, my boys often ask about, you know, how about an engineer and I tell the story about it. But, you know, my, my 14 year old is starting to look at kind of what he's going to do to career. And he's like, you know, university, you end up with a massive debt. So we'll think about looking at apprenticeships, because you get paid to learn is a different way of thinking about it. And you can learn to trade learn a skill, and get paid at the same time, you don't have to be debt, but you got the learning. And then we do go for jobs, not only Kmart, UCB, I'm an engineer, or whatever it is you're trying to do. But you're, you know, I'm a developer, you know, that sort of thing. Beacon, say, I'm not near identified, but I've got the experience, I've not come out of university with a computer science degree. And, yeah, I know how computer science works. But I don't know how development shop works. You could come up with a couple of years of actually, I've worked in the dev shop, and I know works and I know where we're gonna get the pizza from and how the coffee machine works. This is a completely don't get painted it. So we've been talking about that recently. Because he's at that stage in choosing these options at school. So yeah, it kind of grew from there, I learned C sharp and, and, and I've worked in in kind of dotnet land. And then I moved, I need a client asked me to build a mobile app. Womens is about four or five years ago now, if not more than a year, but five, six years ago, just about when Microsoft bought Xamarin. And I was looking around and I tried ionic previously, the dome back to my kind of HTML kind of kind of days and didn't really do what was needed for this project. So I looked at Xamarin as well, you know, Xamarin Forms or decks is all they're doing is collecting data is literally just an internal app for their staff to collect data and then stick it in a SQL database, as well. Okay, yeah, we'll, we'll get this trial. And I fell in love with Xamarin. It's awesome. You know, it's dotnet. It's C sharp, it runs on Android Rs, on your Windows device on Mac OS. And, like you said, in the intro, I've done a few PRs into Xamarin Reaper, as well. And yeah, I kind of work in IoT, and, and, and mobile development as well. But as we've said, I did a weekly Twitch stream called ot live on a Tuesday night with, with Pete Gallagher. And we've saved quite a few times that basically a mobile phone is the ultimate version of IoT, because it's a small computer quite powerful. And you've got all your sensors, your IMU sensor for doing all the direction changes, you've got your your Wi Fi, your Bluetooth, cameras and stuff. So is effectively IoT. So I've not strayed too far from IoT worlds. But yeah, and that's, you know, that's kind of up to date, really. I was made an MVP a couple of years ago, in fact, that get renewed as an MVP, shortly, so be just over a year ago. But yeah, that's kind of me up to date, really kind of where I've gone from a school kid looking at the sky. So now being an airline pilot that flies the world and goes to me absolute over the worlds and talks and talks in national conferences about kind of IoT Xamarin or being an airline pilot, I've given quite a few talks about that as well.

Tim Bourguignon 33:33
The first question I have, and I have to ask you, do you sleep

Clifford Agius 33:40
sleep on the plane I do. It sounds busy. But when you think that if you're if you take yourself away from the chaos, that is home, office, etc. And you stick yourself in a hotel room, where you're wide awake, but the rest of the world around you is asleep, say two o'clock in the morning and in Seattle last week, there is no distractions, so you can actually crash out so much work is you know, I don't turn my phone on. So I don't get stopped back from the UK. And I can crash out loads and loads of work. I can write a blog post I can research this new thing I want to look at for some client projects. You can get loads and loads work done and it's quite intense eight hours, and it's breakfast time. So you know it's that's kind of where I'm most productive is when I'm stuck in a hotel room at odd o'clock in the morning.

Tim Bourguignon 34:38
You could leave on your on your pilot job and do I don't know sports, explore do something else. Why? Why the devlopment? Why why developing a second business in your free time?

Clifford Agius 34:50
Yeah, I get asked that quite a lot. I love flying. It's a passion. And my wife said it quite a few times did a prize and like I get paid I need to do my hobby. That's that's the difference. Whereas development is a get paid, do something I absolutely love. I'm an engineer at heart. And I absolutely love developing things. I love playing with tech, I love playing new toys, new gizmos. And I've been given a an Azure preset developer kit by Microsoft as part of the MVP thing from the IoT team. And they're gonna be playing with that over the coming weeks. And giving a talk at the July IoT, which is a Microsoft thing. They're doing all about ot in July. So you know, it's it's a new shiny bit of tech, I want to get the play wherever the stock camera and a microphone and things like this and learning about how you can use that. I wish this bit of kit existed when I was working in robotics back in the car industry, because it would have made life so much better. You know, so much easier, you know, we used to, there's one project to work out where we had to check the vehicle color when it comes out of the primary booth. They are 3d color primers are white for the light color cars and red, which is a base color for neutral colors. And it's like a dark gray almost black, for the really dark like black cars, or dark blue cars. But when they went into lanes and got sorted before it went into the paint booth where it got paint in its final color, they always kind of sometimes the cars got mixed up and went into the wrong lanes. So where they went, it was a way to check the primary color, there's only three colors now you or I can just say it's a red one is a white one black one easy. But to get computers to do that is not so easy. So our solution in the end was to put a eight and a half 1000 pounds Cuca robot. And on the end effector. All it had was a light, an LED lights and a light sensor. And this thing is massive. And it's swelling with this little sensor on the end and stopped just in front of the bonnet of the car, like the center of the bonnet of the car, and obviously shone the light. And if we could read that back as a reading, and we worked out that we could get a kind of reading for white and a reading for white obviously reflected lots of red reflected a bit of black didn't reflect any. Because it was a matte paint. It was just a primer. It worked really well. But that was a fun project to work on. And we had to come up with a solution pretty darn quick. And yeah, it worked. And then we said actually, we're about to put a red car in and read primer cart. So actually, the spray booth thinks he's about to paint the dark car. No, no, no, it's the wrong primer, you've got to paint it this color. And we changed the switch the painting sequence. So didn't waste paint and paint color and color. And yeah, so projects like that. So we worked out in the car industry. So taking something like presets, and then growing and use that the camera can just say it's a bank card is a blue card. So green cards, a yellow card can do any color you want. Rainbow. Yeah, exactly. All 16 point 9 million colors to it, you know?

Tim Bourguignon 37:58
How does your backpack look like when you're when you're flying? You have all your all your IoT devices and cables and everything.

Clifford Agius 38:04
You know, I did a Reynolds in Seattle last week, we did a stream about the Jetson nano and I know you can't see this on a podcast, but I've got this miniature keyboard, that's the size of my hands. And it's, it's I use that it's a little keyboard or a mouse and stuff, it's literally the size of my hand. And I use that I travel with that and take the electronics I need to take with me some countries, I don't take it because they're very inquisitive as some countries, the fact that you're in a, you're an airline pilot, you're in a uniform, and you've got an ID tag, and it matches everything they've got in their system. You know, security is a breeze, you should walk through with you know, you don't take your laptop, or your jacket off in some countries. Other countries, they get upset if you've got, you know, something in there that shouldn't be in there, you haven't taken that cable out of your bag. You know, they treat us as we should be treated as as a threat just like anyone else. You know, so I don't take tech to those countries. I just take the laptop and that's it. And then that will be when I work on a zombie project or maybe I've got a zombie project that's live, I'll research something I'll look at the issues and see if I can fix one or two of them. And go from

Tim Bourguignon 39:24
there. So what's what's in your future engineering leaving the dream developing as much as you can and having this side project flying? Jumbo is on 40 hours a week.

Clifford Agius 39:38
Yeah, I mean, that's that's the plan. We're still working on. Anyone that knows me as looked me up knows that I built handy which is a prosthetic hands for a friend's son Caden. And that's how I come about getting the MVP from Microsoft because it uses a lot of dotnet terminology as well as IoT enhanced to this is Kane was born With no left, left arm, so for him, his forearm and hand is missing. And his right hand, he's only got his pinky and his son, his middle fingers, middle three fingers are missing. So I've really printed and built him a biomechanical arm, because all he got from a national health service in the UK was effectively a hook. So he can grab something. But he's very crude. And that's all he'll have a gap from National Health Service. Because a biomechanical arm is at $200,000. They're not cheap bits of kit. I built this 3d printed. Again, it was an open source project. It started out with a group called bionics then that turned into a company and they've gone closed source. But I believe that's because they're, they're trying to get approval to source into health services across the UK, Germany and France and US at the moment, plus notice their proximity to their code. That's what they want to do. They've left the repo up on GitHub. And she got there looking at an environment repo bits, but four years ago was the last PR was accepted. But go to my GitHub, you'll find that I've moved on and using off the shelf kit, and literally rolled components from Amazon, who really wants to, and 3d printing or 3d files as well. And there's a Xamarin project as well for the mobile app, which allows you to configure it without needing any special tools, which is what the bionic seniors. So I built this and can produce one for just under 500 pounds. A was a month or so ago, it was it was over 500. And I was aiming to get less than five. And I've now found some motors that do my bidding, rather than these expensive ones that are $8 each, so I found some that are about 30 pounds each. So I can get it for under 500, which is when you find a printer Prusa printing is where I'm using 3d printer, they're about 600 pound each. For just over 1000 pounds, you can make an app for somebody for a child, which is phenomenally good. And the plan is it was before COVID Hit that I've got a second 3d printer. So you've got three now, but this was the second one. And my son, he was 10 at the time to prove the fact that anyone could build a printer. He built it with it's actually on my Youtube. He built it there and he helped for me. He certainly YouTube me sticking my head in and checking things. I'm checking his daddy, right. He's the one that wants to go work for. JPL was an engineer and go to Mars and the Moon and be an engineer. He's mad about Mark robot, the master engineer on YouTube, and the a website emulate him. So kudos to mark for doing that and inspiring my son. So yeah, so he's built that and the plan was before COVID. Literally last year was the plan to pack 3d printers into box crap, the spools of filament, and the components needed the nuts, bolts screws, copied the Adafruit Arduino boards, and then take it to a hospital unit. Somewhere in the world, I was looking at one in Pakistan and one in India to Friday, I did quite often on the 787. And I was literally going to fly there going meet the team dropped off the printer, show them how to use it, and then go back over the course of a few months and help them finesse building and 3d printing arms for local children or even adults. So just give them a bit bigger. And that was the idea was to give back. So there's no open source, the code for this was open sourced in hardware in electronics, and basically back to community because we were lucky in the western world that we've got fantastic health services that can provide or you know, in America, insurance that pays for it. But some parts of the world. You know, it's it's not there, you know, and the only reason I was picking India and Pakistan is not because they don't have good health services they do. It's just the fact that these deafness as I fly to, and I managed to get contact service, and actually, we can't provide the children because of the cost and the family can't afford it. And this would be awesome. And I thought well, you know, it's, it's, you know, a few $100 to build these things. Let's make it work. And yeah, that's that's kind of, that's the future and to move on from that. My uncle had to have his leg amputated last year for medical reasons. So now we're working on legging is a 3d printed prosthetic leg. So you'll see that appear on Twitter and, and my my blog and YouTube. Hopefully in the coming months, we're just working on sort of getting it so you can wear it and then we can start working on the mechanics of the moving. But that all goes back to the robotics and that firm format company. So, you know, it's just basically built on the history of ours as we all do. We all learn and we stick to things we know And I'm lucky enough that I've had a career in engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, robotics that this. It's not second nature, but it's stuff that I, you know, I've been trained to think about in a certain way. And I just continued it. And, yeah, I was asked about a month ago, I was at a meeting at work. And a friend, this is work as in flying planes work. And a friend was there. And he knows what I do on the side as the developer and he says, you know, with what's been going on in the aviation industry last year, you know, it's it's abysmal, is, you know, the load factor. If you have a boy on flank cobble boxes, and a handful of passengers on a train and Fitzy aircraft. It's not, not brilliant. So we're just talking about, you know, if we got thrown out the door and told, thanks for No thanks, go away. What do you do? And I was like, what happened in February, it wouldn't change much, really, I need to stick up a bit, you know, to pay the bills, because don't make that much in my development life. And, and he's like, Yeah, you know, it's great that you've, you've got that second kind of career, you know, he he doesn't. So he's talking about how you learn and stuff. So no, he's not gonna go off and do some prototype courses, funnily enough. And this led into to add another string cheese bow, and then naps. But yeah, it's he asked me, so if you had to choose you go, they walked in the office, and said, You have to choose you have to be a developer or an airline pilot, because you do have to stop. There's not like, the left side, the right side of my brain were like both fighting. My heart was pounding. It was like, I don't know, I honestly couldn't answer that question. I love equally, both jobs, you know, is if you see me on Twitter, whenever I'm flying, you will see I will always post a couple of pictures from the flights, I've been doing lots of lies to us. Because that's where we're flying to on the fleet at the moment. So I've been flying and sending pictures and we go across Greenland or great Costa, the the great Canadian nothingness GCFA, you can decode that yourself. But yeah, the Canadian nothingness, you know, or sending pitches or flying back across New York or Boston. And those kinds of cities flying back on the Eastern Seaboard, and across the Atlantic at night, the sunrise over the hub, I post all these pictures on Twitter, because it's, it's an office window that changes for animals that 600 miles now. So you know, Mac eight, five is 85% of the speed SAS, which is where in looking at back to the intro, so it's, it's ever changing. And in the 20 years, I've been flying, I've seen the world change, you know, you fly across Greenland now. And, you know, in January, the fjords are a water, whereas two years ago, there'll be solid ice until March April time. Now it's you can start to see rock, rocky outcrops on the on the on the lens, then there used to be there 10 years ago. So, as humans, we are kind of, you know, changing the planet. And I know for someone who flies a plane, and you know, burns, you know, 40 tons of fuel, find an aircraft around the world with, you know, cargo and a few passengers. I might be a bit of a hypocrite, but I'm well aware of it. Some are colleagues, we will spotted this and we all want to change, we'd love the aircraft to be more environmentally friendly. You know, there's the movement to make aircraft electric, which basically moves to energy problem to a different source, but maybe at least you can then do move from a nuclear power or something, as opposed to that, but And again, it pains me because it's like, well, I'm kind of helping with the problem. And then aviation is only read the other day, it's somewhere between two and 5% depend on who you listen to damage to the environment. But still, to 5% still quite a bit. I haven't cows a day most of the damage. So maybe she'll become vegans via its Yeah, I couldn't decide on so I couldn't answer his question. I love both equally.

Tim Bourguignon 49:26
Thankfully you you won't have to decide what would be the the one advice that you would give your colleague to start his his his development wouldn't say career but let's call the journey. The one advice that he should hear.

Clifford Agius 49:44
I think for anyone really it matters to anyone always be learning. Everyday is a school day always be learning never never stop learning. Never stop and think yeah, I'm a no I've got this now. I know what I'm doing. Because that's where we got To, you know, he was you know, he's an airline pilot just like me. But he's spent his last kind of 15 years, there's now an pilot a British Airways playing golf, you know, and, and, and squash and stuff like, which is great, you know, good luck to me. But as we suppose he stays in, but now he's he's at a point where, you know, in the last year, we've been fair for our jobs as airline pilots. And he's like, What skills do I have that I can do? You know, and we sat and talked about it actually, is no surprise, we do have quite a lot of skills, you just need to word them differently. So the fact that we lead a team on board the aircraft, the fact that we're decision making skills, 600 miles now is a tad different today in an office environment. Because if you get it wrong, you know, you're part of the numbers that get hurt, you know, the warm, squishy bits, things like, you know, hitting the ground that 600 miles now. So, you know, so those sorts of skill sets. And you know, essentially, you can take that across to be a scrum lead or something like this. It's an I've got a friend I mentioned Scrum, just because I've got a friend that might listen to this. And he hates that word, and he hates that kind of dough. Yeah, so but it's, you know, the skills crossover. And you know, I give a talk, I'm doing it tomorrow, actually, I give a talk about decision making skills, and from a perspective, but the skills crossover into development, because when you need to make a decision, you know, you'll go into a development team meeting. And, you know, the meetings always now, because that is the norm. And that's why it's set up. And that is, you know, someone decided eons ago that we have one hour meetings, and that must be it. So you go into the meeting and sit there and nothing has been decided that then the meeting last five minutes, everyone saw you do that you do and you do this. And that seems to be how things work. Whereas in aviation, we would constantly would make a decision really, really early within the first couple of minutes and would start down the path of of making that making that decision come to fruition. And then we review it. Was that a good decision? Actually, yes, still looks like considered carry on? Is it something else we can look at? Actually, now we've made that decision. You know, someone over there isn't that Scrivener Shatner's? Because we've messed up their worlds? Okay, well, maybe that wasn't a brilliant season, how can we do something better, that won't mess up their world and you carry on, so you just keep reviewing. So we wouldn't have an hour long meeting, you know, we might have a cup of tea and a couple of minutes chatting about it before we go into our formal process. But equally, then you might have felt you might have a complete electrical failure. And you've got seconds, maybe a minute or two to make a decision to save everyone on board. Sadly, it's just cardboard boxes at the moment and a couple of squishy bits in the flight deck. But you know, it's the same thing you've got to kind of say to Dave, so you don't have that much time. And we practice this skill. Every six months in the simulator, we can literally hand our license over which is our job accurate to the training department and two days of training you pass an assessment and hopefully they sign in box in your back your license to say you're fit for another six months, he lost his banking career career. But again, the development world if I go into a similar check, and I really mess up and brain out brick in day out then I've got the blank Chris will back on so it's less stress for me.

Tim Bourguignon 53:26
It is good indeed is good indeed. Cliff it's been fantastic listening to you. So where can people find you online and and maybe find more about the the projects you you were working on the prosthetics you were mentioning and all the side work you're doing in older pictures. When I'm not going to like probably from here

Clifford Agius 53:49
Well, firstly, I must say when we're allowed to travel your your need to buy airline tickets like bulk toilet roll last year, yet buy lots and lots and lots of airline tickets. We weren't we weren't you on board as much as you want to be on board. It boring took him a couple of boxes because they don't want you back. You can find me on Twitter. At Clifford ages, that's my surname is a G IQs. So activation formula. I'm quite active there. My GitHub is and find me there and then my blog and our website is cliff at stop coding UK They both work and you'll find about ascetics, handy, a leggy and it is I mean stuff I do on my blog, and the GitHub repo where you can download it or make your own prosthetic arm or hands for your desk, gets debited, maybe gets pushed to build for you.

Tim Bourguignon 54:46
But that's an issue. That's a nice clip. It's been fantastic. Thank you very, very, very much. You're welcome. Thanks. And this has been another episode of their business journey. And with each other next week. Oh, I hope you have enjoyed Cliff's story as much as I did. One can really hear the joy in his voice when he speaks about flying. And how cool is that? He doesn't need to write software and he simply loved so much that he decided to invest the time he spends away from his family. What did you take out of this story? Let me know. I'm always delighted by your comments. And you can reach me on Twitter at @timothep use the comments section on our website at And your mission should you choose to accept it is to find a friend or colleague who doesn't know about the show yet and encourage them to give it a listen. If you need a line to hook them in, how about telling them the story of the Xamarin developer flying a Boeing 787 for 40 hours a week for fun and developing 3D printed prosthetics the rest of the time.