A new door opens: MBition GmbH

This month of June I have started a new adventure. I have joined MBition, GmbH, a 100% owned subsidiary of Daimler AG focused on …

“MBition focuses on Infotainment-Software, Navigation-Software, Cloud-Software and UI-Software. ” (extracted from the MBition website).

Automotive is one of those industries that is going through disruptive changes. I think it is a very interesting place to be right now if you are looking for some excitement.mbition_black

Back in 2018, I did a talk at the Autonomous Vehicle Software Symposium, in Stuttgart, Germany, where I said something like this, when referring to software platforms for automotive in the autonomous driving era:

  • What the industry is doing today will not work then.
  • What the industry knows today in this field will not be enough.
  • Learning fast becomes the only suitable strategy to succeed.

Then I asked if OEMs and Tier 1s were learning fast enough. I still believe today that in general no they are not.

Will we at MBition be able to make a positive impact in the way Daimler is learning about how to design, develop, deliver and maintain a software stack that meets the current and future industry requirements, providing at the same time a premium experience to customers, developers and partners?

I will work to answer YES to that question. It will be an outstanding challenge to face during the coming months. I am very excited about it.

Thanks Gregor, Johan and the rest of the MBition crew for giving me this opportunity. A new journey begins.

I will remain in Málaga working remotely for now but visiting Berlin frequently since MBition’s office is located there.

OpenSouthCode 2019 recap and new information added to my site

OpenSouthCode 2019 recap

OpenSouthCode is a FLOSS event that takes place in Málaga, Spain, every year. I have written about it before:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The event tool place this year in a new venue, significantly better than the previous one, in my opinion. More than 300 people were registered which is not bad at all for a free of charge event about Open Source that does not require pre-registration to participate.

Some workshops and talks were packed, although not the majority of them. Some people has commented that there did not feel a “sense of packed” which is was due to the fact that, during 2 days, the event offered 2 to 4 tracks and workshops simultaneously. Saturday was busier than Friday, I think.

I don’t feel that there is anything bad in having only a few people at your talk if they are truly interested. With such an interesting and diverse offering, motivated participants is almost guaranteed. I understand though that if you come from far away or your company send you to give a talk, having a full room is a good thing.

The event is little by little growing. The organization in general goes smoother, the quality of the talks and the speakers is better every edition, the workshops, specially those for kids, are gaining traction, the venue is better, there were sponsors this year… All signs are positive.

As a suggestion for the 2020 edition, I would organise a closing keynote so participants can get together afterwards for some drinks. This would improve the sense of community and would provide a good opportunity to thank the sponsors.

I am happy with how my talk went. Around 15 people attended. I could attend to 3 additional talks ramon_agustin_paul_opensouthcode_2019which were very good. I learned a lot. It was great news to see Ramón Miranda giving a talk about Krita, by the way. Thanks Paul for your advises about my slides and Gaby for the pics.

Special thanks to the OpenSouthCode organisers for putting the event together once again. See you next year. Follow them on Twitter to know more about the next edition.

Latest updates on my site

The past weeks I have updated some information on my site:

  • I have added the slides of my OpenSouthCode 2019 talk to the Talks page, together with some additional links from previous talks.
  • I have added a couple of great books I have read lately and/or use widely. Check them out in the Reads section of this site. A couple more will be added the coming weeks.

J On The Beach: a great event

I have been at many software events and have helped or have been part of the organization in a few of them. Based on that experience and the fact that I have participated in the last two editions, let me tell you that J On The Beach is a great event.

The main factors that leads me to such a conclusion are:

  • It is all about contents. I have seen many events that, over time, loose the focus on the quality of the contents. It is a hard focus to keep, specially as you grow. @JOTB19 had great content: well delivered talks and workshops, performed by bright people with something to say which was relevant to the audience.
    • I think the event has not reached its limit yet, specially when it comes to workshops.img5
    • Designing the content structure to target the right audience is as important as bringing speakers with great things to say. As any event matures, tough decisions will need to be taken in order to find its own space and identity among outstanding competitors.
      • When it comes to themes, will J On The Beach keep targeting several topics, or will it narrow them to one or two? Will they always be the same or will they rotate?
      • When it comes to size, will it grow or will it remain in the current numbers? Will the price increase or will be kept in the current range?
      • When it comes to contents, will the event focus more energy and time allocation on the “hands on” learning sessions or will workshops be kept as relevant compared to the talks, as they are today?  Will the talks length be reduced? Will we see lightning talks?
  • J On The Beach was well organised. A good organization is not the one that does not run into any trouble but the one that handles them smoothly so there is little or no perceived impact. This event has a diligent team behind it, based on the little/no impact I perceived.
  • Support from local companies. As Málaga matures as software hub, more and more companies arrive to this area expecting to grow in size, so the need to attract local talent grows in parallel.
    • Some of these foreign companies understand how important it is to show up in local events to be known by as many local developers as possible. J On The Beach has captured the attention of several of these companies.
    • The organizers have understood this reality and support them to use the event to openly  recruit people. This symbiotic relation is a very productive one from what I have witnessed.
    • It is a hard relation to sustain though, specially if the event does not grow is size, so probably in the future the current relation will need to add additional common interests to remain productive for both sides.
  • Global by default. Most events in Spain have traditionally been designed for Spaniards first, turning into more global events as they grow. J On The Beach is global by default, by design, since day 1. It is harder to succeed that way, but beyond the activation point it turns out to be easier to become sustainable. The organizers took the risk and have reached that point already, which provides the event a bright future in my opinion.
    • The fact that the event is able to attract developers from many countries, specially from eastern European ones, makes J On The Beach very attractive to foreign companies already located in Málaga, from the recruitment perspective. Málaga is a great place not just to work in English but also to live in English. There are well established communities from many different countries in the metropolitan area, due to how strong the touristic industry is here. These factors, together with others like logistics, affordable living costs, good public health care system, sunny weather, availability of international and multilingual schools, etc., reduce the adaptation effort when relocating,  specially for developer’s families. J On The Beach brings tasty fishes to the pond.

Let me name a couple of points that can make the event even better:

  • img10It is very hard to find a venue that fits any event during its consolidation phase and evolves with it. This edition’s venue represents a significant improvement compared to last year edition. There is room for improvement though.
    • It would be ideal to find a place in Málaga itself, closer to where the companies are located and places to hang out after the event, which at the same time, keep the good things the current venue/location provides, which are plenty.
    • Finding the right venue is tough. There are decision-making factors that participants do not usually see but are essential like costs, how supportive the venue staff and owners are, accommodation availability in the surrounding area, availability on the selected dates, etc. It is one of the most difficult points to get right, in my experience.                       img1
  • Great events deserve great keynote speakers. They are hard to get but often reflects the difference between great and must-attend events.
    • Great keynote speakers does not necessarily mean popular ones. I see already celebrities in bigger and more expensive events. I would love to see in Málaga old time computer science cowboys.  I mean those first class engineers who did something relevant some time ago and have witnessed the evolution of our industry and their own inventions. They are able to bring a perspective that very few can provide, extremely valuable in these fast pace changing times. Those gems are harder to see at big/popular events and might be a good target for a smaller, high quality event. I think that it would be a great sign of success if such a kind of professionals come to talk at J On The Beach.

I am very glad there is such a great event close to where I live. J On The Beach is not just worth for local developers but also for those abroad. I attend to several events in other countries every year with more name but less value than J On The Beach. It will definitely be on my 2020 agenda. Thanks to every person involved in making it possible.

Pictures taken from the J On The Beach website.

Closing doors: Codethink.

April 26th was my last day at Codethink Ltd. It has been over three years and a half working for this Manchester based company as consultant. I have got the opportunity to learn a lot working for a variety of customers and Open Source organizations together with bright professionals.

Codethink is an organization that cares about people: customers and employees. That is not as common as it might seem in software engineering service companies. Codethink does good software engineering too; sometimes under tough conditions. It is not always easy to work for customers with tight deadlines, solving complex problems with high impact in their businesses. I am proud of having worked for such organization.

Thanks Paul Sherwood and the rest of Codethings for the given opportunity and your respect during this time.

Since the day I decided to turn my little IT training company into an Open Source Software one, back in 2003, I have worked in/for organizations that understood and supported Open Source. I could even work full time in the open in several occasions, either contributing to or being upstream. Codethink was no exception in this regard.

After +15 years working in Open Source organizations, it has come the time for me to move away from the comfort zone and try something different for some time. But that will be a matter of the coming post, in a few weeks.

Scale Summit, FOSS North and some routine changes.

Changing routines to stay productive

As a remote worker, you need to find ways to keep productivity levels high. No matter how exciting your work is, there are times in which you struggle with keeping up the pace. Looking back at my performance during the last couple of weeks of January and first few days of February, I discovered that I was getting into a productivity valley, which never happened to me after coming back from a couple of weeks vacation. I decided to do something about it before the issue had any impact in my overall performance.

  • I have a little place back in my home island, La Palma, Canary Islands, Spain, where I can work comfortably. So when I feel I am not being very productive at home, I move there for a couple of weeks. It does work well for me. I decided though to try something different this time.
  • I go to the office in Manchester, UK several times a year. Those weeks there are intense and change whatever dynamic I am in. I spent there a few days early in February already but I decided to go back again the last week of March.
  • Once in a while, specially on Fridays, I go to coworking spaces in Málaga, specially when I am at home over three weeks in a row. This past month of March I decided to join The Living Room coworking space, in Málaga. My idea is to work there once or twice a week the coming three months. So far the experience is positive.
  • The first week of March, after the Embedded World 2019 and the CIP Technical Steering Committee face to face meeting in Nürnberg, I went to Prague for a week. I rented an apartment there and a hot desk at Impact Hub coworking space. The trip gave me the opportunity to break the routine while enjoying some of the many activities that the city offers. The classical music, opera, jazz and blues scene in Prague is rich. There are plenty of theaters and clubs to go to every night. Live music is one of my passions and Prague is perfect for it.

Impact Hub Prague is a big and busy coworking space with great facilities. It is maybe too crowded for people that have concentration difficulties or many video chats, but very good for entrepreneurs and freelancers. Those who have a fixed desk there work in more quiet areas. People were very friendly and I could have a productive week.

I am in the process of slightly changing some well established routines like starting a little earlier, reducing the lunch time and trying to finish a little earlier when working from home. I might also increase the amount of time I am working standing up.

It seems that all these measures are working so far although I will need a few more weeks to confirm this impression.

Scale Summit 2019

On Friday 29th March I attended to Scale Summit 2019 in London, UK, an unconference that works under Chatham House rules bringing together “professionals from the operations and software development communities who have a particular interest in scalable, high performance systems “.

It is a fantastic event. One of the best ones I’ve been to. This is the second time I have attended and will not be the last one. The quality of the discussions is very high and people go there to learn instead of to shine, sharing experiences and asking questions.

FOSS North 2019

I was invited by the FOSS North organizers to give a talk on Tuesday 9th April. This is a 2 days, 260 participants and two tracks event, that takes place in Gothenburg, Sweden. This was the fourth edition and the next one, at the same venue, will take place on March 30th and 31st 2020.

It was my first participation at this event and my first time in Gothenburg. FOSS North is well organized, vibrant, it takes place in good facilities, there were great speakers (Adrian DeGroot, Chris Simmonds, Mirko Boehm, Molly de Blanc, Michael Kerrisk, Chris Lamb, etc), some interesting talks, the food was great… and I liked Gothenburg. There will be videos available from every session. The speakers dinner was fun and interesting, which is not always the case.

Thanks Johan for the invitation and thanks Codethink Ltd for sponsoring my trip there.

I would recommend you to watch Mirko Boehm’s keynote “Open Source, Standards Development and Patents in Europe“. I found specially interesting the view of Open Source projects from the standardization bodies point of view he provided. It is always good to receive criticism with somebody else’s eyes. Specially controversial was the point referred to meritocracy.

I heard for the very first time about Property-based testing, which is an alternative approach to Example Based Testing (like Unit Testing). I believe it is kind of a structured way of doing Fuzz Testing. I will read more about this topic because I liked it. I initially find it specially useful for regulated environments (Contract Driven Development).

I got a good amount of feedback about my talk, which had a couple of controversial slides for some. I will deliver this talk again (in Spanish), this coming month of May at OpenSouthCode. Some of the comments will help me to improve the talk, which is always a good thing. I will link the video to the Conference section of this site as soon as it is available. Meanwhile I have published the slides already.

As part of the Community Day, on Sunday 7th, I attended to the KDE workshop driven by Adrian DeGroot. I took with me my RPi3 and RPi screen with Plasma Mobile and my 10″ Lenovo tablet with openSUSE Tumbleweed and Plasma. Adrian took his 7″ device, also with Plasma so the room looked like an embedded oriented workshop.

There were several other activities from different communities in different locations across Gothenburg that same Sunday. Several companies and non-profit organizations hosted these workshops. This warming up activity was considered a success so it will take place again in the 2020 edition. There were a few booths from sponsors at the event. Most of the companies present were recruiting.

If you are in Scandinavia, think about attending to this event next year. It is a good one.

In May I will attend to OpenSouthCode and J On The Beach, both in Málaga area. See you there!