Eleven Years in America

A little over eleven years ago my wife and I got on a flight from Manchester airport bound for JFK, and then took an internal flight to get to Pittsburgh, PA. A couple of years later we moved to upstate New York where I took a position with a small company called Kitware. I have been with Kitware for nine years today (the earliest date a H-1B visa holder can take up a position in the year their visa is issued). I have now been with Kitware for nine years, first as an R&D Engineer, and as a Technical Leader for over six years now.


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Naturalization and Citizenship

It is hard to believe my wife and I became naturalized US citizens back in February. Today we completed the final step, and went to our local social security administration to get our social security cards updated! We moved to the US back in 2007, and since then held the same card which had an endorsement on it stating “valid for work only with DHS authorization”. Everything else we were able to do on the day we naturalized but this step required a few weeks for everything to get into the system…


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Room Break In Nightmare at Divi Aruba

Last week we went on vacation to Aruba, booked through Delta Vacations, staying at the Divi Dutch Village in Aruba. This was all set to be a great week away with the family, and our first real getaway to an island together in ten years. At around 1:30am local time on Father’s day (just) my wife awoke to see a figure in our room before he realized he had disturbed her and ran! He got away with all our cash, cards, IDs, and some electronics. What I had thought the night before would be my best Father’s day ever quickly turned into the worst at the Divi Dutch Village in Aruba.


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Have the Courage to be Transparent

I was reading a post over on opensource.com recently, “How do you explain your organization’s purpose? 3 lessons from Red Hat”. It is a great story about the right way for an organization to search for its purpose, including as many of the people from their organization as they can. I have written before about the Open Organization book, and how much I like it. I even gave a talk about it at the company I work at. Something I loved about the book, and that resonated with me about the article is the statement “have the courage to be transparent”.


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Microsoft's GitHub Acquisition

By now most people have heard about the acquisition of GitHub by Microsoft. The deal is reportedly worth $7.5 billion, and should be closed by the end of the year. So, how does that make you feel? I certainly have a healthy amount of skepticism, and have witnessed Microsoft’s acquisition and destruction of open source projects. I remember when Ballmer called Linux a cancer, and also when Microsoft became a platinum Linux Foundation member.


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JSON: Camels, Kebabs and Snakes

I do a lot of work using JSON (JavaScript Object Notation), and last week I ran my first ever poll on Twitter posing the question of which naming convention people prefer for keys. A quick survey of its use in the wild reveals common use of camelCase, kebab-case, and snake_case. These are all things I was aware of, but I only knew the name for the first one until a year or so ago. There are Wikipedia articles dedicated to two of the three of them!


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First URSSI Workshop

Earlier this week I attended the first URSSI workshop, held at UC Berkeley. URSSI stands for the US Research Software Sustainability Institute, and right now is in the formation phase. Much of the week was spent discussing what this institute could be, and how such an institute might operate. For me this speaks to a core gap I observed in the importance, and career opportunities for researchers that engage in the development of software that is primarily used in research.


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Proposals, Decisions, and Waiting

At the end of my PhD I wrote my first proposal, that is over eleven years ago now, and it was for a Google Summer of Code (GSoC) project. It felt like an eternity waiting for the decision, it turns out it was quite quick! These days a lot of my work involves seeking funding to develop open source code, it is a great job in so many ways and something my successful GSoC project helped to seed. There is a huge amount of writing, then a lot of waiting until you find out the decision which is usually measured in months.


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Last Day as an Immigrant

Today is my last day as an immigrant, having lived in the USA for more than ten years now with my wife and family. Both of our children were born here, despite only initially planning to stay for a couple of years as a postdoc we have made our home out here. I never imagined how difficult the journey to this point might be when we first moved out, and had never considered that we might one day become US citizens…


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Internet Privacy and VPNs

I am sure you have seen one or two articles already about the demise of Internet privacy protections at the ISP level, coupled with a crippling lack of competition in the USA. Last I checked I have only one realistic option from our cable company, and one far less realistic option of extremely slow DSL (by modern standards). Trying to liken the ISPs right to collect and sell data as akin to that of the websites we choose to visit seems vacuous at best.

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