One more blogpost written on American soil. The flight home yesterday didn't work out exactly as planned, one could say.
One month in California: completed. And a crazy month, it has been.
I started my new job at Apple, and while learned an impressive pile of new things, it feels like I don't know anything at all yet. I have immensely enjoyed working with the people at UIKit: it been a welcoming and fun environment, filled with smart and hard-working people. I can truly say I'm going to miss these folks when I get back to Belgium to continue my work there. I know I'm lucky to be living in this day and age where technology allows us to communicate so easily with each other, and technology will do it's best do make this remote adventure work. But it's more than the work... I'm going to miss the social part of working here: the hallway talks, the early morning breakfasts at Caffé Macs, the lunches with some of the team on our balcony, the lets-get-coffee-in-the-lobby trips. Those are not really part of work, but they really are (you see what I did there, right). I will get by without them, but I'm quite sure I'll miss those moments a lot.
On the other hand, I've missed my wife and kids immensely, so I can't wait to get back home to see, hear and feel them again. Again, FaceTime was a big boon in this case: when one of us felt the need to talk to the person on the other side of the ocean, a call was arranged quickly. I loved those moments, irregardless of their length. They always made me happy and gave me a boost to continue.
So yeah, these last few days I've been stuck with double emotions: I'm pretty sad that I have to leave this great workplace, and I'm pretty happy to go home.
But hey, "I'll be back"!
The last few weeks have been very different from the first two weeks. While the first were clearly about adaption and fitting in, these last 2 weeks felt more about making the best of my time here. I explored more, and felt more relaxed than I had been in the weeks before. Also, no more jetlag leftovers. All gone, baby.
Last weekend was the full last weekend I'd be here, so I took full use of the time I had. On Saturday, I spent the afternoon driving around Highway 1 along the Pacific Ocean. I drove from Santa Cruz to Half Moon Bay. I loved it. So quite, such nice views. I don't like do drive around, but this was a very relaxing trip, and it was a great opportunity for some nice pictures.
On Sunday I had arranged to meet up with Matthias and a colleague of him at Showpad to visit Alcatraz. I never made there it before during my trips to SF, but now seemed like a good moment. The weather was particularly good (given that we were past halfway through October), even at the island itself (which is apparently not that common). The whole visit was a bit too touristy for my taste. For example, there's an audio tour you can do which was fine in itself I guess but I would have preferred something else I feel. It felt too "well groomed".
We did have a bit of luck though: our group of 3 got a chance to visit the leftovers of the old Alcatraz citadel below the current prison building. Apparently the whole first floor of the citadel is still present underneath the prison, and I can be visited by small groups of 10. These visits are official, but kinda random: nothing really organized or scheduled. You just need some luck. I have to say: I loved that part. It's so crazy that everything is still down there in pretty good conditions. A place with quite a history, and you feel it.
And for the rest: I think I could get used living here (imagine that!). Americans still can't drive, but I learned how to adapt to that. I stopped eating junkfood (although the last few days are worse again since I don't want to throw away all the leftovers in my fridge). I slept a lot better by turning on the airco for a hour or 2 when going to bed; I guess the slightly cooler temperatures at night help a lot too. I actually had trouble getting in early in a few times, but I mostly made it more than early enough (finding a parking spot is a bitch otherwise). It takes a while to get used to the "fuck it, just do this" attidute most Americans seem to have here, but once you get the hang of it, it's cool. I'm going to miss paying for stuff by holding my Watch to a terminal. I'm going to need some getting used to driving manual again. I'm looking forward to be able to take my bike to go shopping (although that's technically a problem due to the length of my stay here, and not the place I am).
So yeah, that's it. It's been good, but it's time for the next step.
And before I go: a big, big shoutout to Steve Breen: this guy has been so incredibly supportive for me in the last month, I'm sure this whole ordeal would have been a lot more tough without him. I owe you one, buddy!
A second week of living in the United States. Two weeks already, time flies when you're having fun.
Some observations and highlights of one week in California:
And oh... Working at Apple has been great so far. Can't wait for more.
I've been a developer for while now... 18 years, to be exact.
I started in 1997, fresh out of university - without carrying any kind of degree, to be honest. I had learnt a lot there though: I had my first tastes of the internet there, and saw the web in its infancy, growing to a budding communication tool for a wide variety of people. And so I started in October 1997 as a web developer in an Antwerp-based company called iM@Gic. It was a fun place to work at, and we made some great sites there given the technology we had to our disposal (all coded in Perl, baby).
I went gliding! And it was awesome.
My friend and co-worker Jelle Vandebeeck has been a glider pilot for (what he claims - and I have no reason to doubt it) 15 years now. Last year, just for fun, I mentioned I would like to get off the ground with him (in a glider, of course). He wasn't dismissive of it, so we went to search for a good date.
Unfortunately, due to scheduling conflicts and weather conditions I didn't get the chance to actually go flying. No worries, there would be other moments.
And so, now that flying season started again, there were no races to be flown yet, the weather looked good and I was able to free some time (there's always so much to do, but it's about setting priorities), which meant that this weekend we were on!
I'm starting to become an early-morning person.
This is a big change for me. I used to be a "late night" person. My day used to consist of 2 parts: the day(job) part and the night part. Going home after work (or whatever) meant there were at least a few hours left in the day to be (even more) productive. And so I spent countless nights behind my computer's screen (because "being productive" equals "coding", that is imperative), coding away into the wee hours of night. The morning after would prove difficult but nothing that coffee couldn't solve. And the weekend usually gave good opportunities for sleeping in to catch up on some sleep. And so I was no morning person at all, meaning that "get up at 8am" was usually a very difficult task. Also, I had no fixed schedule in my life back then. I woke up when needed, I went to sleep when I felt like it, I rarely had breakfast/lunch/dinner at relatively fixed times.
A tweet, 2 FaceTime interviews, a trip to Cupertino for 5 two-person interviews lasting a whole day (including lunch at the Caffé Macs), a bucketload of mails and 2 handfuls of international phonecalls.
That's what got me a job in the UIKit team at Apple.
It's safe to say it's been a crazy ride so far, and it's about to get even better.
This post is somewhat a diversion from what I usually post, but recent events have had such profound impact on how I feel that I feel obliged (to myself) to write about this. (Unfortunately, my English is not proficient enough to convey all my thoughts and feelings, but I'm giving it a shot anyway).
I want to say goodbye to a friend. A dear friend. A best friend.
I'm afraid of becoming obsolete.
There, I've said it.
Let me explain: I work in a highly competitive sector which changes rapidly. This is nothing new, of course. It's always been that way. But before, I was younger. Not that I'm really old now, but that big 4 slowly creeping closer doesn't count for nothing. But I guess this is not really about age: I'm happy to work in a team with a bunch of early 20 year olds and it feels that I can manage that just fine. Sure, there are "generational" differences but all in all it works out pretty nice (I can only hope they feel the same though).