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Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Toward New Adventures

TL;DR this is some sort of biography of mine which aim is to explain my decision to leave Twitter.

When in 2007 I moved to London without any concrete job offer it was after 6 months in Lugano, Switzerland, and 2 years of freelancing attempt made in Italy, a country at that time not really prepared for modern Web standards or the Mobile / IoT era.

The Great London

In those days when I was already writing and reading everything in Engligh (or some sort of) I could not speak a word of it and decided to do that kind of full immersion you have to do if you really want to learn a new language: avoid at all costs people that speak your language => avoid italians!!!
I was doing it well while I was paying by my own a full time English course, surviving in London as best as I could, considering how freaking expensive this city has always been!

Not only it has been a great new open minded experience, I've actually met best international mates at that time!
I've also passed my first job interview in a foreign language ... actually, my first technical job interview of all times since in Italy, back in those days, these were not common in this field and you could not find much if not being friend of a friend or relative to the random boss ... anyway ...

The career possibilities and the amount of overall opportunities this city offered to me those days were amazing, so amazing, that other companies from other European countries started contacting me; probably after seeing some result of my improved technical skills together with my improved foreign spoken language (still sort of).

In 2008 I was already dealing with the Mobile Web world and devices running something like Android 1.5 ... devices you cannot believe how ugly could be! Actually, let me disturb your mind with the following image representing my precious in those days:

you are welcome!

The Amazing Berlin

When the HR contacted me from Germany asking me to relocate to Berlin, in a city I've never seen before, for a language I've never ever learned properly even living there (almost everyone speaks English there, yay lazy me!), I haven't thought twice about the offered opportunity.

NOKIA has been indeed the biggest corporate I've worked for so far and its Berlin's offices a great place to work. I've been doing Maps and Mobile Web R&D for years there, ending up starting with other buddies the first large scale and Mobile Web performance oriented HTML5 Map application these days still known as here.com

That being said, when you're contacted from the number one portal of all social networks, and to live in a sunny and beautiful country as California is, it's hard to not try and see how it goes ... right ?

meanwhile ... in Dublin

I've been in Palo Alto for no longer than a weekend + a Monday and I should have realized going in the US ain't simple matter: almost every new recruited developer of the "rest of the world" have to be "parked" somewhere in the world until that day US opens door to H1-B visa applications, also with the possibility to not be accepted, having a blocked Passport at the US Embassy or similar stuff ... oh dear ... at least I've had the opportunity to spend 3 months in Dublin, which is a beautiful city in a crazy "wonderland like" country: Ireland!!! I've been traveling this country every weekend I could and there's not a single boring or not extraordinary place I remember ... just go there and visit it 'cause no words of mine could describe its beauty!

... passing through the Bay Area

As opposite to the never sleeping, rightly chilled and windy San Francisco, Menlo Park, where I've been working at Facebook Head Quarter, and Mountain View, where I've been living for few weeks, can be described as the most quiet places in one of the most welcoming climate I could experience so far. So quiet that if you like going out without having the paranoia to drive a car, you can shoot yourself on your toes just to have some extra fun ... no, really ... too damn quiet!!!

Incredible San Francisco

Once moved into SF in a lovely flat from year 1900 and at the starting of Haight & Ashbury, I started commuting to MP every day without problems since all evenings and weekends in the city were the best I could ask for!

During those days I was working together with the great team behind the Mobile Web oriented m. Facebook site. At the time I just joined the team for few weeks and things were exciting as hell but then something happened, something I wasn't expecting at all ... something that let me think a lot about why I was there and what I've been working on for years: Web standards and HTML5, in order to reach every person on the world, where every person means also all without a bloody expensive mobile device!

There have been honestly more to this single fact that made me change direction but let's say that knowing I would not have been stayed in the US for long time, I could choose between FB or a company strongly present on Web and its Mobile counterpart, which aim is to reach every person on the planet, and which Head Quarter was basically beside my door bell ... Ding Dong ... oh, Hi Mobile Web at Twitter !!!

what's cool about Mobile and IoT

First of all, you have to really forget all solutions developed last 20 years for Desktops: these don't work, are mostly superfluous since it's a relatively new start based on modern standards, and constrains are completely different.
Screen size, interaction, all possible quirks, premature APIs but way more reliable DOM, a small amount of RAM and slower possibly single core CPUs; if you've been developing for Desktop sites only you have basically no idea how different is the Mobile world, and if you think about Internet Of Things devices you are even further: every superfluous JSON.parse or generic object copy/clone for often redundant abstraction reasons *will* be a problem!!!

The TL;DR story behind mobile and IoT development is that it's challenging: you have to reduce operations and bytes at their possible minimum, also eventually resulting in blazing fast applications that will run smooth as hell on every cheap Desktop you can imagine so ... it's actually a win/win if you think about it!

There is also a lot of daily inevitable myth buster about most micro benchmarking people are so secure about, where "getters are slower than properties" arguments might cause a huge laugh since functions can be executed million times per second on crappy HardWare and, if everything else is badly architected, a getter is just the last problem you have for your business.
I remember me implementing a lazy runtime .super(argN) property resolver that never slowed down a thing and was relying on the arguments.callee.caller property to discover at runtime inheritance when necessary and as lazy utility ... no kidding, you've probably been worried or been told to avoid these things like poison, you don't know these have been used in production on the worst possible Mobile Hardware and without causing a glitch for years in one of the most visited existing sites!

Back to my story ...

US visa: a double face monster

While I'm very grateful for the incredible opportunity these US companies gave to me, I must say the visa situation in the United States is just ridiculous as fuck.
Not only after taking 6 months to collect all possible needed documentation in order to be approved for a H1-B, the green card process asked me even more documents, as if it was OK for me to be a tax payer without them being sure about who I was and what I was doing ( why asking again same shit otherwise ... ) but due these kind or improbable operations it took 2 years only to hear the message: "we can start with the Green Card process, it'll take probably a year and they might ask more documents" ... well, you know what US? Keep it for now, thanks!

If you work on Mobile Web, in a field that has seen its first immature light in 2005, and you are applying for a green Card as Mobile Web Expert, you must know that if you don't have a non existent in this world Mobile Web related degree, US offices will ask you to provide at least 8 years of experience on the field with old time companies original labelled papers, but with today dates and signatures ... as if nobody knows this is the fastest field on earth and companies I've been working for *ages ago* might not even exist anymore ... right?

Moreover, if it happens that you are married, your partner will have a lovely H4 visa which is the most ridiculous permit ever: your partner cannot do interviews, cannot work, cannot even do charity or put anything work related in the CV ... it can only eventually study and ... I guess cook and clean the house or make babies as I believe a H4 person is suppose to do ... I call it bullshit!

As summary, if you sum up the inability to provide concrete and real Mobile Web experience since 2005 and have to wait at least another year plus a partner once upon a time completely independent and with already two masters and 4 fluently spoken languages, so that going back to school wasn't exactly the most desired situation, and after dropping already a career in order to follow me, you realize that having the opportunity to go back in Europe and be free from all this would most likely come into your mind ...

Back in London!

Twitter have demonstrated once again to be awesome and to truly care, giving me the opportunity to join the amazing TweetDeck team in London that luckily was looking for a Web dev.
You know, they could have told me: "you know what? bye bye!" instead and I would have understood.
I must admit that after leaving Twitter, and after years of job offers from any company I could think of, I wasn't sure I would have gone anywhere else. Twitter is a great place to be and I've met great people in both San Francisco and London office. Tons of shit to learn, tons of challenges and a lot of freedom within the company where you can decide what to do and with who, in my case I've been lucky enough to even choose the place: London!

Toward New Adventures

These few months spent with a team able to create one of the coolest Desktop Web App I've ever dealt with has been surely memorable and also extremely intense. Going back from 6 years of Mobile to Desktop thought ... also brought me back to a place I've happily abandoned, but obviously not forgotten, years ago.
I can really work on Desktop web, I've even created polyfills for IE8 and IE9+ on DOM4 but unless it's for fun for some crazy new project, I am not sure I am capable of working on Desktop for long time so ...

I had to be honest to myself: the day I've realized I was working against my real interests, also putting less enthusiasm and effort than I'm used to, possibly affecting the team of excited and caring developers around me, I decided to be honest with the company that took care of me for the last two years and communicate it was time for me to go!

I will start fresh in 2015 by my own writing a book first, since few editors already asked me to for months now, and go on with Mobile and IoT development ( I am compiling natively on a Raspberry Pi my own JS oriented Operating System right now ... I mean, this is who I am, time for Web Desktop Apps is kinda gone for me but I love everything about Web and will support it anyway! )
Sometimes I guess one has to follow its instinct, and since this city has been my start point for 6 years of corporate related development, maybe it'll be a great start point for next 6 years of mobile revolution?

Put in this way, at least I'll have more time to blog about all crazy things I've been blogging these years :D

Thank you Twitter and thanks to all colleagues I've been hacking with last years!

6 comments:

Lorenzo Forti said...

grandissimo! in bocca al lupo e tutto andrĂ  bene!

Misha Reyzlin said...

Good luck Andrea, with the book and with the new start!

Andrea Giammarchi said...

grazie grande sommo Lorenzo :D ( e crepi! )

Also thanks Misha, hope to see you soon!

Unknown said...

Good luck!

Luca Sorriso-Valvo said...

Costarica....

Thomas Parisot said...

Ho, I just realise you are in London now! Well-come (back) :-)