FreeBSD, Lisp, Emacs, PostgreSQL & co.



Almost five years have passed since my last post here. A lot has happened since, both in my personal life and in my professional life. If I am not going to go into details when it comes to the former, I can develop a bit on the latter.

I delivered

When I re-joined Gigantic Enterprises, I immediately moved to Norway to deliver a large project, that was already ten years in the making and which should have been finished in three. The project was not just complex, but rather complicated, and so were the teams working on either side. Upon entering the scene, one could taste the bad blood and the smell the smoking guns, but by paying close attention, one could also see how much some people still wanted to put the project on production, against all odds. After all this time, that so many had kept the will to work on the same project, to revisit the same topics again and again, for the millionth time, and listen to yet another new manager, is a testament to their resilience. The project was very ill, infected by a bad case of Dilbertian management, constant disastrous miscommunication and mistrust on both sides. Norwegian and French culture don't blend well.

And yet, some technical people still had the desire to work together, to fulfil their mission. I helped all I could, by fixing the communication problems (doubling every meeting with a second one with the customer, where I would offer subtitles to what had been said, essentially translating from Engish to English), and by building a local team to organise work from coding practices down to production work, including release management and delivery. In other words, I built a DevOps team to take care of delivering the project. This took a core team of a dozen people (and a total of fifty), working at a crazy pace, for two years, and we made it. We were clever enough to productise our work from the beginning, from processes to code, and we could generalise the effort to other projects, other customers, other countries.

We all learnt a lot, and if the title of this section is "I delivered", it is really them who delivered the project, for they achieved what many believed was impossible. On my side, what I have delivered is their ability to deliver. I created the culture and nurtured it, I carefully crafted a team of people who had never heard of DevOps before but had it all in their minds already, many without even realising it. They didn't know Ansible, terraform, CI/CD, and some didn't even know git. But they all understood that a reliable production is everything, and that the DNA of a production is that of the whole chain of tools and people leading to it. So, I was lucky enough that I got to deliver what I value the most: self-fulfillment and growth to high-quality people.

But all this left me depleted of all energy, completely knackered, by the end of 2019.

A new flat

I moved. Right when I was but an empty shell, I moved into a large, cosy, gorgeous flat, ideally situated right in the city centre. I am still living in this flat, three years later, now in 2022, and I'm typing these lines by the warm fire crackling gently in my stove, sitting in a comfy chair under my hammock. A true paradise… As I was nesting there, just three months later, Covid broke out, and life changed for everyone. During these two, almost three years of isolation, I got to catch my breath, rediscover myself, and progress an awful lot in my personal life. As much as Covid has been a disaster for so many people, it also was an opportunity for me to stop and think.

A new job

One consequence of all this thinking has been my getting a new job. The work I had set out to do in 2017 was basically done and delivered, and I felt I didn't have much more to learn within the Gigantic Enterprises. So I looked around a little for companies I would actually like to work for, which is not an easy task, given how picky I must admit I am today. One caught my eye, and after a couple of interviews and a case delivery (the first in my entire career!), I joined the perfect combination of a traditional Norwegian company and an open, multicultural environment. When I say interviews, they really felt more like a good, engaging discussion with smart people than anything else. I did not try to sell myself (as I don't do that), and they didn't try to sell their company. To put it short, we both remained genuine each on our side, and spoke our minds openly. This, to me, is a professional turn on. People who don't feel a need to impress others are people I want to work with.

I am now in the middle of the typical first journey after you've joined a new, creative company: I am learning ten different new things every day, stretching my mind, honing my skills and challenging myself. As this is starting to settle down a little, I now have a bit more time to dedicate to fun things again.


My last post here was about Gopher, and how I had decided to open my gopherhole here. It's now done and cleaned up, and has been serving my old posts so far. But today, it's getting its first brand new entry! And to celebrate these five years of productivity gap, and my twenty-five years of presence on the Internet (yes, 1997 was 25 years ago…), I've also started to work on my own Gopher server. I will detail the ideas in another entry here, but what I can say is that the project is ambitious, as I aim to suport Gopher, Gopher+ (the unloved) and gemini. The last of this trio is a rather recent development that, as I understand it, emerged from frustration in front of a bloated Web, and an underpowered Gopher. Gemini tries to strike the right balance between the structured cleanliness and simplicity of Gopher and some of the convenient or secure facets of the Web, like SSL. This initiative is one additional thread in the fabric of these brand new days, that to me, feel like a renaissance. That of the early Web, that of my little Gopher, and, very much, my own.