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2011 The Year of Chasing Pavements

15 January 2012 6 comments

12 minutes


I remember the year 2010 for the FIFA World Cup Final in South Africa watching the amazing tournament matches on BBC TV. Sadly, 2010 marked end of the JAVAWUG, I stopped leading the Java User Group, because attendance to the monthly talks nosedived in the summer mouths. I had had enough of running a user group, even though creating the entity was one of the best decisions I ever took.  So I personally invested money in my own training, Scala Object Functional Programming with Martin Odersky in London.

The misery of Lloyds Banking Group with Halifax Bank of Scotland really reached it’s pinnacle in 2010. LBG had wasted an opportunity to innovate in the 2008 and 2009, whilst UBS had written off 40 billion Swiss Francs in the credit crunch, it had survived market dislocation of 2007 to 2008, and subsequently wrote off  less than a billion pounds. The government and the chief executive on 2009 forced through a unsatisfactory merger with HBOS, claiming that they were going create “one bank”, and then I knew the truth. Now everyone in the world knows the truth. They decided, in 2010, to invest in Microsoft Silverlight and deprecate / divest in any Java enterprise involvement. It was a punch in the face for me personally. I desperately tried to get out of the bank into another bank before the inevitable happened.  It would have been much better to be one punching out first than be the one who felt punched … Too late was the cry, then when I heard the news shortly after arriving back to work after JavaOne 2010. I left Lloyds, I laughed out loud, then not long afterwards, I read a blog Microsoft had then deprecated Silverlight itself, such is life, some say.

I really have bittersweet memories of 2011, like Adele, my relationship with software development, my career was over. I thought I would hold out for a Scala position inside investment banks in London. I only ever met one person in a bank who was actively developing with new Scala technology. To my own mind, all I found was lies, damned lies and recruitment marketing *noise*.

I almost quit software engineering with Java, because of stupidity, and personal distress, around the time of early Summer 2011, I wanted to just stop right then. I could have chosen a completely different path, but I was saved by fate. Ironically the riots in England happened two months later (August 2011), which meant it showed also that some of our young English people were just as upset, frustrated with their lot, circumstances and life and worries about the future. The economy was shot, we all knew it. I was young in the 1990s and suffered and rose through the downturn. Boom and bust then and it is still going on.

Companies were laying off more and more people in 2011. Listening to the news or watching the TV, we were constantly reminded of the pain, suffering of society. All of this, the very real lack of confidence, the downgrade of social expectations, reached a peak with a dwindling pool of disposable incomes, the worry of getting into ever increasing debt, a lack of vision from the main political parties, and missing solutions. I wonder just what it was going to take to get through. I had just become a JavaOne 2012 paper reviewer, which was a massive positive. I was going to JavaOne 2012, another positive, my talk was accepted. I received invitations to talk at the Silicon Valley code camp and JavaFX User Group, which more positives.  These were balanced by the negatives. I noticed empty buildings in the city and the interviews had dried up. I also observed the pained expressions of people really going through an economic downtown in London, as I was out and about, and then it took just one unsightly social event in Tottenham (ironically Adele’s hometown), to tip the balance.

Chasing Pavements for me meant also searching for a full time job and/or hunting down a lucrative IT contract. Adele’s song transposed itself in to juxtaposition of contemporary thoughts, about the compromises that anyone may make in their lives, and I found my asking the same questions over and over. Am I worth it? I hated this job-search-contract-win-thing, this constant thought at the back of my head, of introspective and retrospection. I hated it so much that almost stopped about thinking about what is so important. What is it about Java and Software development that I really like? Who am I? What am I about? What do I want to next? If that is the plan, how can I get there? So how will I live, survive and support a family?

At the beginning of the year, I thought it would be fantastic chance to get into Scala development role, whilst I still added my long hard worn experience in Java EE, Spring Framework, enterprise middle office development. I actually thought Scala professional development would have been some catalyst, an injection into the phase. With being out of work, I was free of the constraint of silos now could I get a role that uses Scala in some great project, probably in a financial role. What I found in the job market of 2011, was fire fighting roles mostly, just business-as-usual, keeping the engine fire going, and no chance to add a new technology or change. In other words, I found inflexibility, doubts and boredom. The amount of contract and job interviews that I attended where the interviewer wanted me to program Java like if the language was C/C++ was shocking. I learnt pretty fast to ask up front before going there. If I noticed multi-thread in the specification, I thought this is serious, I had better ask. In the end, I had to quickly blow out my Scala dreams in London and re-market myself [again] as a credible Java enterprise engineer again. It did not help at this time, that Scala was getting the wrong type of news on the Internet wires, people started to complain about Scala’s complexity, and there was suddenly a slug contest starting for the next language beyond that of Java. The final nail in the innovation coffin, at least for banking IT ,were the consistent questions. Do you know Java performance tuning or how to tune a JVM? Suddenly squeezing the last ounce out of Java was the name of the game, as well as, trying to tell them first, Java EE should take care of threads and two that they still not put business logic inside stored procedures in PL/SQL and a database. Ah well, I said. I did try.

There were even so laughable attempts to pair-program or show off just how supremely agile certain teams were operating inside of bank’s in my experience. I had a bad feeling practising agile or wounded version of SCRUM. I know because I attended many interviews where they wanted me to pair program as part of the recruitment process. In my view, investment banks, are the most dysfunctional areas in where to introduce XP programming or SCRUM. I wish you sincerely very good luck finding and retaining the very best and greatest of developers. This is because the idea of self-managed teams goes against the traditional financial IT project management grain of wood and the inflexible silo environment that the Agile manifesto sets out to improve. Luckily, there are better approaches at being agile, which could work inside a bank.

I began to see the word Agile as a severely crippled in 2011 and now cringe-worthy in 2012, and maybe because I listened and had been in the privilege company of one certain Barry Hawkins now. The word Agile by itself is now meaningless. I was so pleased, by the way, to have attended JavaPosse Round Up three times in a row (2009, 2010, and 2011) and yes I say to Barry, we should shoot Agile in the head and reinvent software development processes now.

In 2011, there were happy times and I have to say it was the great people at QCon London, the JavaPosse Round-Up, the ACCU Conference Oxford UK, JavaOne Review Selection Committee, JavaOne and Java-dot-net presentation team, Kirk Pepperdine and Heinz Kabutz, Stephen Chin, Silicon Valley Code Camp, and the entire Devoxx team associates and some cool friends in Menlo Park California who really made the year positive for me.

I am badly affected by the year 2011, I think. It is going to take me a while to get over it, despite the many successes that I happened to achieve. It still feels now, in January 2012, that I am glad to have escaped that one, I felt that I was just treading water in my own mind, and my own confidence has taken a severe low blow. Don’t get me wrong, of course, I know there are lots of people out there who are feeling worse than I do and have much more pressing worries. Hey, nothing feels like it, until it happens to you.

Also when you are searching for work that itself becomes unpaid work too. So bang goes my time investigating or researching interesting topics like Play Framework, Scalate, JavaFX or Scala or something distinctly completely non technology like learning a new language or playing a musical instrument. I hate job search for this sole reason alone, because it consumes all of your valuable quality time. When you are job hunting there is always thought running at the back of your head wondering if you are not doing enough of it, especially when you need to provide income, for your family and loved one, and soon.

The year 2011 has made me more guarded about communicating outside of cliqué of respected people. My desire to self-promote is weakened to point now where I do think hard – do I need to write that tweet? should I upload that photograph? I am more sensitive in 2012 than in 2010 when I was freely enthusiastic about running a Java User Group. Now, I tend to keep mum, clam up for a bit during a heated discussion, I observe the participants instead, actively watch and listen to the others before jumping up with my view. The benefit being that I have more quality control rather than an out pouring of quantity, especially when most of the stuff I see is everyone else’s rubbish. Besides nobody I know or who I am connected with tweets depressing psychological bullshit or downbeat personal vibes, like “I going to kill myself tomorrow morning” or “OMG my man has cheated on me! I found out he has just slept with another woman!”. It is all deeply impersonal, self-gratification mockery and it reeks of indiscipline, when sometimes all you should say is the real personal stuff in the time of need. Therefore, I predict I will continue to be reticent in my out-going communication well into 2012.

This week we heard about 3500 people to go, face the axe at Royal Bank of Scotland, inside the corporate investment banking division. The economic downturn has made fools of all of us. If it has not happened to you (yet) or you don’t happen care (too bad for you then), just pray it never ever does (death may take you first) and also lucky you.

January February March April
Planning Bathroom
InstallationInterview w/ Blackrock, HSBC, BarCap, JP MorganPlanning Java Posse RoundUp 2011 and vacation rental
Bathroom installation (1st half of the month)Attended interviews for various investment banks including RBS and Black RockJava Posse Round-Up 2011 QCon Conference 2011
JCP Panel Discussion
Won a Kindle Wi-FIOutplacement StartsSkills Matter Functional Exchange, Cuke-Up! Guest VIP pass courtesy of Wendy;-)Created my “Scala Adoption” talk with my JVM language and  knowledge predictions, uploaded it Linked-In.comTerry’s B-Day
Attended ACCU Conference 2011 OxfordPerformed my
“Introduction to Scala talk” at the ACCUMy B-Day

Interviews dried up for a while. I did not know why, but I started to worry about the prospects.

May June July August
Interview w/ Black Rock
Interview w/ CitiGroup, Interview w/ Credit SuisseRumours of Morgan Stanley Scala development interestKohsuke Jenkins SkillsMatterMy outplacement continued

Start your own Internet Online  business with


Clojure at CitiGroup (seriously)?! Yes CitiGroup were recruiting for functional programmers for their Risk Front Office divisionInvitation to JavaOne Selection ReviewScala Exchange at Skills Matter. Guest VIP pass courtesy of Wendy 😉

A series of Mizuho Interviews – perhaps they should have been using Apache Camel or ServiceMix(?)

Clojure Dojo

End of Scala adoption my attempt at investment bank in London

Re-marketed myself as Java EE engineer – This Scala adoption did not panned out at all. It seemed me to be a lot of fear, uncertainty and deception to me.

Invitation to be 2011 JavaOne reviewer for call-for-papers ;-D Thank you Simon Ritter

A London consultancy interviewAttended Job outplacement workshops on Networking and Linked-In ;-)Interviews now dried up for the Summer

Reviewing JavaOne 2011 call-for-papers

JavaFX Session accepted for JavaOne ;-D

Booking travel for San Francisco in October!

Personal disaster recovery started with some real retrospective ;-/

Prepared my JavaFX 2.0 talk by writing demos for JavaOneTLC Presentation Pronto released on Android MarketConfirmed attendance to Kirk Pepperdine’s Performing Tuning Course in Crete next monthStructuring my own Progressive JavaFX talk outline for JavaOne 2011 in October

Aborted Collective Code-Camp event in London, I concluded the UK is not Crested Butte, Colorado.

Holiday in Lanzarote – quiet area, drives inland and site seeing (much do something like this together next year)


September October November December
Decided to look outside of banking IT for contracts and Java development roles Find new recruitment agentsKirk Pepperdine’s Java Performance Tuning Course
Enjoyable course and time in Chania Greece, a real highlight!Attended a couple of ThoughtWorks interview – a lot of brain and intelligent tests
Attended JavaOne 2011
(Thank you again Simon Ritter!) Performed “Progressive JavaFX 2.0” talk ;-DAttended Silicon Valley Code CampJavaFX Sillicon Valley User Group, performed  talk for Stephen Chin and bay are community

Stayed with my friends Larry and Patti at their lovely house

Initial Interview with IB Boost Ltd

Interview with two “cloud” computing companies – 100+ JVMs on 32+ servers

End of personal disaster recovery for now

Interview with household-name broadcast TV company on Java and Agile

Interview with two Gaming Betting companies

ThoughtWorks UK interview process took far too long for my liking that I had to bail on them

Disastrous non-interview outside of banking that caused me to come to my senses!

Preparation for Devoxx University session w/ Stephen ChinInterview with IB BoostAccepted job offer IB BoostDevoxx 2011
University Session w/ Stephen Chin”Happy is a cigar called Hamlet”

Started work at IB Boost Limited

Regarding wider community Java stuff, I decided on non-involvement for a while at least.


Getting into IB Boost Ltd Returning to private life with no regrets, mulling my thoughts about my lucky escape.Family life, buying presents, gifts and enjoying festivities.Xmas at homeLooking forward to the next year 2012

IMHO the best recruitment agencies are ____  TBD  😉

IMHO the worst recruitment agencies of all time are  ____  “ballleeetttted!”



  1. If your coding is anything like your English grammar, then I’m not surprised none of the banks would employ you.

    Comment by Findlay — 09 February 2012 @ 8:22 pm

  2. Sure. You are the god of spellchecking and copy writing. You also have been professionally working in the investment banking IT industry since 1997. You had a role from beginning to the end with never a hiccup or slight break in your career stride. It is really great that you have this insatiable warmth about yourself. You are so vain. You also have won multiple contracts with several large corporate banks; and finally to add insult to injury, my goodness, you are the sage, the overseer, the one true oracle that we have been missing in the universe and the all seeing eye. We lesser mortals should immediately bow to your higher being. Nice.

    Comment by admin — 09 February 2012 @ 9:06 pm

  3. Ah hiccup! I am the God of spellchecking you see! Jolly well done.

    I’m still a little unsure about the 1st person juxtaposition in your comment though. Think you could tidy this up a little bit for me?

    And leave the comments in, it’s more fun that way!

    Comment by Findlay — 10 February 2012 @ 9:34 am

  4. Well it is great to have someone to finally copy write my blog entries for free. Thanks for reading my writings and notes for improvement. Some day I hope to publish that book, which I have always imagine I would write; and give that five day technical course. It is called sarcasm and irony. I am afraid, I must cut this time short, it is time to earn money …

    Comment by admin — 10 February 2012 @ 10:51 am

  5. Peter,

    Your content is always worth reading but Findlay has a point about some of the grammar.

    I have to say that I would be reluctant to employ you, not just because of the grammar but because of your extremely rude response.

    I have also been employed since 1997 in banks and people who can’t spell or proof read their own code, comments and documentation have been the bane of my life!

    Comment by John — 14 March 2012 @ 3:42 pm

  6. Thanks John for reading this blog and your opinions. I am going back to writing simply, concisely and productively. Time to move on, it’s 2012 and all that

    Comment by admin — 14 March 2012 @ 5:58 pm

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