New job, New blog

So my first month at ThoughtWorks has come and gone. I’ve also decided that I no longer like the look of my blog and did a complete redesign, which in the end resulted in me moving my entire blog to a new platform.

What it’s like at ThoughtWorks

In short, it’s exactly what I hoped it would be. Lots of passionate developers, a great culture, interesting people, great benefits and heaps of opportunities to grow.

I started out with 3 days of orientation in Chicago – you need to take in a massive amount of information in 3 days – it tends to be a bit overwhelming – but you walk out with all the information about your benefits and a good understanding of ThoughtWorks culture and history.

I haven’t been assigned to a client (yet) so at the moment I’m working on RapidFTR – it’s a social project for UNICEF that is aimed at helping to keep track of refugees in places like Somalia. It’s really great to be able to contribute to such a good cause as part of my employment – what a privilege.

One of the best surprises so far was when ThoughtWorks announced that all employees will be getting a special productivity allowance to be used this year. All new employees are also included in this (even though we obviously haven’t been around to contribute yet) which have made me feel really welcome. I used my allowance to buy a Thunderbolt display – thank you ThoughtWorks! – I’ll probably do a hardware review on this in a future post.


New Blog – Moving from Blogger to WordPress

I also took a look at my blog and decided I wanted to try a new design – something simpler and cleaner. Since my previous design I have learnt a few things about CSS and web design in general and I wanted my blog to reflect this.

After doing an entire design in pure HTML and CSS I moved onto the painful task of integrating all of this into my blogger template. From previous experience I knew that this would be a messy affair. I decided that I wanted to start a new template from scratch and eliminate what I didn’t need – and hit a brick wall. There are pretty much no resources available to help you with this and the blogger documentation is poor. After some frustrating research I decided to at least look at some other blogging platforms.

I took an in-depth look at Tumblr – compared to Blogger it was amazing. There is complete transparency in terms of the templates and implementing my design was relatively straightforward. There were some negatives though – Tumblr doesn’t allow comments (but you can use Disqus) and you need to use the same template for all your pages (including stuff like the Archive page). What made this a huge problem was that there is no conditional tag – so you can’t have special template code for a certain page. After some really innovative hacking I had everything working pretty much the way I wanted. As a last step I wanted to see if I could add redirect meta tags since many of my previous URL’s would now be invalid – and Tumblr promptly reset my blog. I still had a backup of my template (I had maybe lost 2 hours of work), but I decided that this was probably not a long-term solution.

So I turned to WordPress. I had initially resisted WordPress since it required a hosted solution (after all, so many famous bloggers use Blogger), but I have definitely become a fan. Pretty much everything I needed to keep my blog flexible was there. It required that I learn some PHP, but I found this to be pretty easy, and the WordPress documentation is excellent.

I’ll probably do a proper writeup of what I now would recommend to future prospective bloggers, but for now I would simply recommend WordPress.

If it looks broken…

Keep in mind that this design is brand new and I created the entire custom template from scratch, so if something looks broken please give me a shout.

Happy coding.