Tuesday 24 January 2012

Appointed as VP of Engineering at RESAAS

I am thrilled to accept my new positon as the VP of Engineering at RESAAS. I joined the company 8 months ago as the first full-time software engineer and with the help of Tom Rossiter, CTO, we have grown the development team to 8 full-time backend, frontend and quality assurance engineers all in 6 short months. Our team has been able to successfully expand in such a short time-frame by utilizing Agile methodologies, test automation, continuous integration and database change management tools along with the dedication of some amazingly talented engineers who work very hard to continuously improve the processes, the tooling and most importantly the product RESAAS is offering.

The enterprise social network that our team is building has evolved considerably over that time period from a single .NET and SQL Server based system hosted in a data center to a scalable platform hosted in the cloud (Windows Azure). Our core platform has been able to leverage Worker roles, Web roles, SQL Azure and Azure Table and Blob Storage along with various other 3rd party services to connect real estate professionals and their clients together in real-time via their laptop or chosen mobile device.

I am looking forward to working hard and developing the full potential of both our engineering team and the RESAAS core platform in the coming months.

Note that RESAAS is a public company currently listed on the CNSX under the symbol: RSS. Here is the press release on the CNSX of my appointment as Vice President of Engineering at RESAAS. 

Sunday 22 January 2012

My Social Graph: Linkedin Professional Network

I recently tried out Linkedin Lab's InMaps product which visualizes your professional social graph (see image below). Apart from it creating a great visualization of my own professional data, I found it quite interesting how it seems to capture pivotal sets of relationships that have shaped my professional life and essentially weights them according to their inter-connectedness.

The largest mass of blue connections on the right are a result of a former company I worked for called Blast Radius. They are a digital agency so I was exposed to many short-term or contract employees throughout all the projects I worked on. Blast Radius is a global company so the clump of green connections in the top right are mostly the European based employees and contractors that I worked with.

Smaller clumps of connections on the bottom and bottom-left are due to the startup company I currently work for, RESAAS, classmates during my university days and various people I met while working for Toshiba Medical in the United Kingdom. Finally the smallest clumps scattered around are due to friends, family and football team members whom I have connected with over the years.

So what value can be extracted from this InMaps visualization?
  1. Information that I create or update on Linkedin clearly has a bias towards being seen and/or acted upon by current and former Blast Radius employees in Canada, the United States and across Europe. Therefore when I post something or update my profile I can take this into account as I now have a better understanding of who my audience actually is.
  2. I have heard it said before that you never have more access to connect with people than when you are in university. That may still be true but given that Linkedin was in its infancy around the time I was in university and the fact that I have taken the opportunity to connect with many people in each professional setting I have worked in, my current professional social graph indicates that my current university connections take on an increasingly smaller part of my overall ability to connect with people worldwide.
  3. The visualization says nothing about the individual importance of each connection or group of connections that make up my professional social graph. However, by using my own judgement about the people I am closest too and/or have the ability to influence the most, I can roughly identify how to spend my time wisely to either obtain the information I'm looking for or to maximise the reach of information that I would like people to know or act upon.

Thursday 19 January 2012

Launch of Career in Canada Event @ UBC

I will be speaking again at the Univeristy of British Columbia's Launch a Career in Canada event on February 7, 2012 at 6:00pm.

I spoke at it last year and it was a great opportunity to meet many motivated university students looking to get a foothold in a career after they graduate.

Thursday 12 January 2012

Presenting at the Vancouver Windows Azure Meetup Group hosted by Microsoft

I will be giving a talk about SQL Azure and Data-tier Applications (DACPAC) at the Vancouver Windows Azure Meetup Group this coming Wednesday, January 18th, 2012. There will also be a guest speaker who will be a Sr. Azure Architect from Redmond, Washington.

The meetup will be hosted by Microsoft in their Downtown Vancouver offices and if you would like to attend please RSVP via this meetup group.

I will also be attaching the presentation slides to this post after the talk.


The talk went really well and there were lots of great questions from the audience. Below are the presentation slides I used during the Windows Azure Meetup talk (hosted on SlideShare):

Wednesday 11 January 2012

Insights from LeWeb'11

I attended LeWeb in Paris, France on Dec 7-9th 2011. LeWeb is the premier technology conference in Europe which attracts influential businesses, up and coming entrepreneurs, passionate speakers and bold ideas while providing an opportunity to network with everyone involved. LeWeb'11 was themed around what they called SOLOMO (Social-Local-Mobile) and they had a wealth of influential speakers on the subject.

Below I have captured some of the insights and notable content from LeWeb'11:

:: Berlin

Bright and young entrepreneurs are flocking to Berlin. London has always been seen as a cultivator of entrepreneurs and their startups within Europe but Berlin is taking off. Its tech scene is trying to emerge as a thriving economy: entrepreneurs are setting up shop along with talented young professionals seeking employment. From SoundCloud to Gibsy to Wooga.

:: Tackling Heavily Regulated and Entrenched Markets

:: Mobile

In the history of computing, mobile has had the fastest adoption rate. There are currently 700 million smart phones being used and the projections are that this will treble in 3 years. Product companies building web-based applications should therefore think seriously about where their user base currently is and where it will be in 3 years. Given that the general trend is heading towards mobile, if companies are not heavily focused on it then they should at least know why not and have a good reason for it.

From a technology standpoint mobile requires different skill sets within an engineering team. Depending on whether the chosen development architecture is cross-platform (PhoneGap, Appcelerator, or simply HTML5) or native (Objective-C for iOS, Java for Android, C# .NET for Windows Phone 7), a clear understanding of how these mobile devices, with their many versions and layouts, will interact with your web-based application is critical. If you are fortunate enough to have already built or inherited a service-oriented architecture (SOA) based application, you are one step in the right direction to building out your mobile product offerings. Scaling with hundreds, thousands or even millions of mobile applications being used in the wild (each set with their own application versions) presents some very unique challenges that will need to be overcome if the mobile growth projections become reality.

:: Prioritize Design

Many companies still neglect design to their detriment. Engineering teams usually hire in a contract graphic designer or user-interface designer for usability concerns instead of focusing on it in-house. Flipboard CEO, Mike McCue, stressed that the trade-off in software engineering is between a few very well designed features or many mediocre ones.

:: Focus

Continually question what your company's focus is and make sure you are always correcting your course back to that initial purpose. Many companies start out with a clear focus but over time there is a strong tendency for it to either become diluted or for the company to forget/ignore what the original focus was. The key take away was that a company's focus is key to their growth and holding onto that singular focus is very important in a sea of constant noise.

:: Put People at the Center

Many people attribute Facebook's huge success to a pivotal turning point when the tagging of photos became mainstream on their social platform. There were many companies building web-based photo sharing applications (such as Flickr) but Facebook quickly became the largest by far by simply putting people at the center of those photos. Facebook added a key feature which allowed people to tag their friends, family and just about anyone they knew which caused a massive change in people behaviour to begin uploading and tagging pictures on Facebook in record numbers never before seen in an online application. The power of social is the people are at the centre.

:: Dream Bigger

The now well know advice that Steve Jobs gave to an executive trying to reinvent the Disney Store was to "Dream Bigger". Time and time again VCs on stage would urge the crowd to ignore the easy road of building yet another photo sharing app and find a problem or need in the world that is so huge that it scares you to even think about it. Those are the kinds of ideas entrepreneurs should be thinking about and trying to solve. Whatever you are thinking you can allows dream one step bigger.

:: Best Interviews (Videos)