10 Aug 2017

Rather predictably, I’m already 6 weeks behind on my weekly notes of what I’m doing. So here’s a bumper catch up.

Weeks 4 + 5 were focussed on three things; sorting out some fixes for issues that slipped into 0.17, writing up the Node-RED roadmap to take us to version 1.0 and preparing for upcoming events.

The end of week 5 was the FullStack conference itself. I could only make it on the last day, when I was scheduled to speak. When I arrived, all the sessions of the day were written up on a whiteboard and everyone could vote on which talk they planned to see. The organisers then used that to assign the sessions to the different sized rooms. Slightly unfortunately the title of my talk had been lost somewhere along the way, so was simply listed as “Node-RED”. I got a roomful of 30 or so people; many of who had heard of Node-RED already. With the talk done, I couldn’t hang around for the other sessions as I had to get home ahead of a weekend away.

Week 6 started with us publishing the Node-RED roadmap to version 1.0. It was great to get that shared and start to get feedback from the community on it. Its an ambitious roadmap – I said in the blog post the goal is to get there by the end of the year. I suspect it will by a bit later than that, but it sets out the tone and direction of the project nicely.

One of the more interesting things I did this week was to spend a bit of time talking with a startup who were having some issues with Node-RED. They were using it to create bots for social-media engagement and had a high profile event coming up that they expected to drive particular high workloads through the system. I reviewed their flows and provided some feedback on areas that were potential bottlenecks. A few days later I heard back that they had implemented some of the suggestions and were happy it was handling the workload they needed it to.

Week 7 was mostly spent in San Francisco for Node Summit. On Monday I took the opportunity to have a catch up over breakfast with Matt Biddulph, followed by an impromptu Node-RED talk as his new company. I then spent the rest of the day at the Galvanize office where IBM were hosting an IoT workshop in the afternoon, followed by a meetup in the evening at which I did my Node-RED talk.

Tuesday was the Day Zero part of NodeSummit where I did my full Node-RED talk to a packed room and got to see lots of other great talks. If anything, there was too much good stuff – the afternoon session had 6 back-to-back 30 minute talks with no break. For a jet lagged Brit who hadn’t had a decent cup of tea for a few days, I definitely faded out.

The week ended somewhat abruptly the next day when I found myself having to rearrange flights to get home two days early. I have to say a big thanks to American Express Global Business Travel who showed a great deal of empathy and great customer service when they agreed to refund the $900 fee Delta Airlines charged me without any empathy or good customer service to change the ticket.

Week 8 was a bit all over the place.

Week 9 was back to normal somewhat, but most notably came the announcement that Hitachi are adopting Node-RED as the tooling for their Lumada IoT platform. We’ve been working with Hitachi for the last few months, discussing their requirements and how Node-RED can fit with what they are doing. The roadmap we published a couple weeks ago has certainly been influenced by their involvement and I look forward to their contribution growing.

I also kept the Emerging Technologies’ 3D printer busy building a TJ Bot – more on that soon.

And that brings us to today – Toby’s 7th birthday. We’ve just watched Star Wars (A New Hope) for the first time – although he knows it backwards thanks to the various Lego versions he’s already seen. And I’ve taken the opportunity to get these notes written up.

Next week is a holiday, so there won’t be any updates, but hopefully it won’t be another 6 weeks before I write again.

30 Jun 2017

I’ve liked the idea of writing week notes for ages, but I’ve never managed to get started. When you’re busy with work, without taking the time to reflect on what you’ve actually done, you can look up and realise half the year has already passed. Hi July!

In the past, there has always been too much I can’t talk about publicly which has made it hard to write anything meaningful. But now I have a new job, a new purpose and a new found energy to write here more.

Between my Developer Advocacy role and running the Node-RED project there will be plenty I can write about. There will undoubtedly be things I can’t talk about directly, but that shouldn’t get in the way.

The main thing I need to remember is who I’m writing these week notes for. I’m sorry, dear reader, but it isn’t you. Whilst I hope you find them interesting, if you chose to read them, they are primarily here for me to record just what it is I spend my time doing. Sometimes there will be a story to tell, sometimes there will be a collection of bullet points. The main thing is to get that rhythm going.

Given the slightly blurred lines of when I formally moved from ETS to the Digital Business Group, I’m going to call Monday June 12th as the start of Week 1. Which does mean I’m already 3 weeks behind on my notes. So lets catch things up.

Week 1 was spent juggling three things; trying to get Node-RED 0.17 finished and released, preparing and delivering a talk on Node-RED Dashboard and preparing three separate workshops on Node-RED and IBM Watson IoT to be delivered the following week.

We try to do regular releases with Node-RED, but inevitably, things get in the way and more time passes than we’d like between them. 0.17 was overdue but there were a small number of outstanding issues that needed squashing. I wanted to get them done and released before the workshops the following week as I knew they’d benefit from it. But in the end, it had to give way.

The Node-RED Dashboard talk was an internal call with a community of technical sales folk to introduce them to Dashboard and show them it can do. Whilst we have a standard set of slides for the main Node-RED project, we didn’t have an equivalent set for Dashboard. So I spent a day pulling those together. (Note to self: we really should make our standard intro slides available publicly somewhere)

The workshops were part of large education event for the senior technical architect community across the whole of Europe. I was running the IoT stream and had three workshops to prepare to take the participants through the whole process of using Node-RED on a device, getting it connected via Watson IoT into Bluemix and then controlling it using the Watson Conversation service. The material I produced was a set of high-level exercises that addressed each step in the process. I have to admit I wasn’t sure on how high-level or how detailed I had to make the material, but decided I’d be able to improvise once I got a better sense of the participants at the event. Which leads me neatly on to…

Week 2 was spent in Lisbon, Portugal, at the Future Skills event to deliver the workshops. 250 Technical Architects from across Europe converged on this event to participate in one of four streams; Cognitive, Blockchain, Data Science and IoT. In all, we had about 60 colleagues in the IoT stream. Across the first day and a half, we delivered the workshops and they then had to take what they had learnt and produce a demo/project/poc that was relevant to their clients. With all the usual challenges of unusable wifi at big events it was great to see a genuine variety of projects at the end.

My main takeaway was the workshop material I had produced was too ambitious for the time available. It also left too much for the participants to figure out for themselves. A good start for the material, but needs more work to be properly reusable.

Week 3 was back in Hursley focusing on 0.17. The remaining issues had been mostly resolved and the last task was to get the release notes written and some final documentation updates done. For a release that had over 300 commits, that took some time. Some releases have obvious headline features – this one was much more a sum-of-its-parts type release. That made it a challenge to decide what things to pull out into the release blog post. But I got there eventually and 0.17 was released today.

Being back in Hursley also meant catching up on things that I’d had to put to one side whilst in Lisbon. Conversations around our plans for developer advocacy activities, discussions with other teams to ensure we’re working in the same direction and the usual time spent help out colleagues with their random questions about Node-RED that pepper my time.

With the move to the DBG group, I knew I’d still spend a lot of my time on Node-RED, but it was the pieces around the edge that were going to change. Based on the conversations this week, there’s lots of interesting things to get done.

Finally, I got confirmation that I’m speaking at Node Summit in San Francisco at the end of July and also just managed to submit both a talk and workshop proposal for NodeConfEU in November before the deadline today.

Next week is more planning; with Node-RED 0.17 I’m working on the plan for the next release and beyond. I also need to start preparing my talk for FullStack conference two weeks from today. And it looks like we have a couple issues to tidy up and get a 0.17.1 released sooner rather than later.

That’s it. First set of week notes done, spanning three weeks and almost hitting 1000 words. Expect a few scrawled bullet points next time.