Blog

Posts by Jeff Geerling about life, marriage, religion, philosophy and technology. Formerly titled 'Matthew 12:37 - Blog by a God-fearing Man'.

A New Job (2014 edition)

In 2008, I started working for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, my first job where I ended up working on Drupal sites practically full-time (my first Drupal experience was on 4.x in 2005). I also started Midwestern Mac, LLC in 2008, and from that time to now have built two SaaS services (Hosted Apache Solr and Server Check.in), and over 100 other Drupal 6 and Drupal 7 sites, along with a few mobile apps and a Mac app (Quick Resizer).

In 2011, I moved on to Flocknote, and learned a lot building a Drupal-based communications platform used by more than half a million people. This was also a full-time remote job, and I worked with a small but very strong team from Texas, Missouri, Florida, and Tennessee.

In 2013, I went to Mercy and worked on a major intranet migration (Drupal 6 to Drupal 7) and Mercy.net, the hospital system's patient-facing site, which runs on Drupal 7.

I am proud to have worked with all the individuals and companies these past few years, and am indebted to all of them for the support and professional development they've offered—each in a unique way. Throughout my work, I have had the good fortune to be able to learn other languages, tools, and techniques, even to the point of writing a book on Ansible! I have also become a husband and father, and been able to do some great things in my Church, my community, and the Drupal community.

Acquia Logo

This year, I'm moving to Acquia! Acquia is one of the largest Drupal service providers, and I'll be working in the Professional Services group as a Technical Architect. In this new role, I'll be able to help even more organizations do amazing things with Drupal. I've only been to Acquia's Boston HQ once, but I already feel like a part of the team, as I've been in numerous Hangouts and chats (I'll be working remotely from St. Louis—new home-office-building project, yay!).

To all my co-workers at Mercy: thanks for the great time and fun projects we've worked on together. Keep fighting for the users! To my new co-workers at Acquia: I'm excited to join you guys, and look forward to seeing you starting October 6!

Yet Again: Catholics, please stop stealing artwork and graphics!

I feel like a broken record... yet again, I was perusing the Internet (this time, Twitter), and then I noticed an illustration—a very familiar one—of the Roman collar (the white collar worn by priests):

@Boutleg didn't create the graphic; it looks like uCatholic originally posted the graphic on Facebook, where it was shared and reshared thousands of times, and liked (through that network of shares) many thousands of times.

Regardless, that graphic is the logo of the Priestie Boyz, and was lifted directly off the home page:

Priestie Boyz home page

As I've stated in my previous post on this topic, Catholics are NOT excused from licensing or copyright law. Besides the fact that I would've immediately given permission for the image's use if a tag were added to the graphic attributing the source, I spent a lot of time working on that graphic, getting the curves just right, taking a bunch of different photos to get a good angle to distinctly show the collar, and a bit of money on Adobe Illustrator, which was used to create the vector artwork.

Please, please, please attribute sources (at a minimum), and ask image and photo owners for permission before spreading them around, especially on social media, where proper attribution is a very tricky business!

A Busy Spring!

Between writing a book on Ansible, coaching volleyball at De Smet, preparing presentations for STL.JS and DrupalCon, and—lest I forget the most important responsibility of all—being a loving father and husband (see photo below!), I haven't had more than a minute to spare for writing for this blog, or processing some of the fun photos I've taken of ducks, deer, a fox, or feral cats running around our house!

Every Superhero Needs a Sidekick

Even with the bustle, I feel more calm now than I have for a while. Last year, at this time, I was in the hospital suffering from a terrible bout of mono (which attacked me while my immune system was being suppressed by one of my Crohn's-related drugs!). That experience gives me perspective, and I try to remember the thoughts that were going through my head the night I was in the ICU, asking for my pastor to anoint me, just in case...

In the midst of the hustle and bustle of your life, remember your purpose, your dignity, and that you are in control of your stress, your worries, and your fears. Keep calm and carry on!

The Easy Chicken - Backyard eggs in St. Louis, MO

My sister's family just started a new St. Louis-area business, The Easy Chicken, providing resources to those interested in raising chickens in an urban or suburban environment.

The Easy Chicken Logo

There are some potentially difficult and time-consuming aspects to keeping chickens in an urban environment: acquiring chickens, seeking permits or licenses from particular municipalities, finding a source for feed, coops, and other materials, and finding reliable information about keeping chickens healthy. The Easy Chicken's tagline is Backyard eggs made easy, and they have the easy part nailed down, as they'll help anyone through all the different steps, and provide all the necessary supplies (including guaranteed-to-lay hens!).

Check out The Easy Chicken's website for much more information, and please pass along the link to anyone you know who might be interested in raising chickens and having some fresh eggs and fun, finely-feathered pets!

Sessions at DrupalCon and DrupalCamp

I mentioned this elsewhere (see: DrupalCon and DrupalCamp news), but I'll post here as well; I'm going to be speaking at both DrupalCon Austin and DrupalCamp St. Louis this year!

I've submitted a few sessions to DrupalCon Austin in the past, mostly surrounding the Honeypot module for Drupal, but this year, a session I submitted in the DevOps track was chosen: DevOps for Humans: Ansible for Drupal Deployment Victory!. I figured since I'm writing a book on Ansible, and I use Ansible to provision servers and do all the deployments for my Drupal sites, I might as well show other Drupal developers how easy it is to get started and how much you can do with Ansible!

I'll also be delivering two sessions at DrupalCamp St. Louis 2014, on April 26 in Clayton, MO (just outside of the city of St. Louis); one on Drupal 8 (a show-and-tell), and one on Server Check.in (a case study).

If you're a Drupalist, I hope to see you at one of these events!

Meetings and Introverts

Erik Dietrich's blog, Daedtech, contains a lot of great posts concerning programming and workplace dynamics. In today's post, Meetings and Introverts: Strangers in Strange Lands Erik writes about the vexing relationship between introverted people and typical meetings. In a prior post, he wrote about the general problem of social situations and introverts:

Social situations are exhausting for me because of their inherent unpredictability as compared to something like the feedback loop of a program that I’m writing (or even the easily curated, asynchronous interaction of a social media vehicle like Twitter).

Many extroverts are unaware that their introverted brethren feel this way. Social situations (parties, large informal gatherings, etc.) energize extroverts, so it's hard for them to realize the opposite usually happens for introverted people. At the end of a large party or a long, intense meeting, an introvert (like myself) is exhausted.

It's not that I don't like being in these situations—sometimes they're quite enjoyable. But as events progress, my energy gets sapped, sometimes to the point where I'm pretty tired, mentally and physically (e.g. non-productive for a couple hours at least). Once removed from the party, meeting, etc., energy slowly recharges.

Erik puts it succinctly:

Extroverts draw energy from social situations and become invigorated, while introverts spend energy and become exhausted. And, when I’m talking about social situations, I mean drinks and bowling with a group of friends. Introverts like me enjoy these nights but find them tiring.

Meetings, round-table discussions, pair programming sessions, and other kinds of interactions are often draining, and by my estimate, consume more than double the actual meeting time in terms of productivity loss (interrupting flow, sapping mental energy that could be used to work on other problems, etc.).

Often, meetings devolve into bike-shedding discussions (see: Parkinson's law of triviality) where the discussion starts focusing on minutiae, even after the 'official' meeting is complete. Everyone (especially the introverts, who aren't usually keen on being seen as rude and dismissing themselves) sticks around for the inevitable half-hour discussion, even if the meeting is officially over.

Erik's entire post is well worth a read (for anybody—not just introverts), but he sums up the ideal meeting format nicely:

Having reasoned analysis, cogent arguments, and a plan is the way to bring as much predictability (and, in my opinion, potential for being productive) to the table as possible. For me, it’s also the way most likely to keep the day’s meetings from sucking the life and productivity right out of you.

I'll add to that: keep it brief, and invite only the people who really need to be there. Do you really need an entire team to attend, or just one stakeholder who can represent the team, and get more feedback from the entire team later, if needed?

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