Helping Developers Bridge the Gap

In yesterday’s post, I talked about finding your niche.  Today, I share more about my niche and my plans to get back into it.

I used to run Silvafug, the Silicon Valley Flex Users Group.  During my tenure, the group accomplished a lot. (Heck even without me, the group is still doing a lot.) However, one goal eluded me, despite having a great need to be attained.  I think it’s time to revisit that goal.  What is it?

Helping Flex developers bridge the gap from beginner-to-mid and/or mid-to-advance level.

It’s an ambitious goal, but hey, why aim small, right?  I sorta started down the path with a “hit” series of mine, “Graduating from Hack to Architected Development” (available on 360|Whisperings and Adobe’s Flex Developer Center)  Adobe said that was one of their most successful pieces at the time, though I’m sure many have surpassed it now.
Continue reading “Helping Developers Bridge the Gap”

The Future of Biz – Crowdsourcing

I think about business a lot, either analyzing and breaking down a business that is serving me or thinking about my own business.  I’ve done that for quite sometime.  Around 1999 or 2001, I hatched an idea: Someday huge corporations will be replaced by revolving teams of contractors.  Employees will be expensive and pointless.  Instead, you’ll just announce a need and pay those that deliver.  Workers will no longer want or care to work for anyone but themselves.  They’ll prefer to work on projects they pick with people they like vs risking their future on one single corporation.

My idea was crowdsourcing before the term was coined in 2006.

It occurred to me that business as it stood back then was flawed.  It started out good, i.e. you wanted to farm out the work to a set of experts vs trying to futilely build it in house.  Very quickly though the process failed.  You then had to seek proposals, review each proposal, each proposal’s owner(s) had to be vetted, then a time frame was worked out, budgets setup, etc.  All of which meant nothing because every project I ever saw in corporate America would go over budget and scope.

My idea was to skip the proposal and vetting stage.  Let ‘s face it.  Most consultancy firms hire independent contractors anyways, i.e. you end up paying a markup of 50% to 100% just so Company A or Company B can hire Contractor A.  Why not just get to Contractor A and his team for the project?  Skip the middle man, go straight to the source.  That’s what business is all about! Continue reading “The Future of Biz – Crowdsourcing”

Staying Happy During Tough Times

I know articles like this are bad news.  People losing jobs is not good for their psyche or for the economy.  Or is it?

I’m an odd egg, I get that.  I see life in a slightly skewed way.  The result of this is that I love experiencing everything: the good, the bad and the ugly.  I have contigency plans.  Should I ever get to the point where I have no job or any leads at all in the tech field, I’m looking forward to trying my hand at selling cars and flipping burgers.

In regards to selling cars, I have a list of ideas I’d use to help me be a great salesman.  I even went to 3 dealerships one day to do research.  The experience was so bad at all 3 (low end, mid and high) that I wrote down all the things that I would do to make the experience better.

For burger flipping, I’ve always wanted to work at In-N-Out.  I realize that I’d be the oldest employee, but I’d have a blast.  Last I checked, working your way up through the ranks was the only way to open up your own In-N-Out.  Plus, managers make a hefty salary and have wonderful benefits. Continue reading “Staying Happy During Tough Times”

Getting ahead by serving others

Too many want to climb to the top by stepping over people versus being pushed to the top by a group of friends.

I wrote that statement awhile back to explain my philosophy on leadership, particularly in business.  Sadly, the world of business has become too much about greed.  Too many CEOs and other business “leaders” look out for only one person, themselves.  It would seem that amassing ever larger fortunes are more important than looking out for those who are supposedly in their care.

A lot of this is because leaders these days have forgotten what it means to serve.  A leadership role does not command respect by default.  Though, many in CxO level positions seem to think that.  Heck, I’ve seen that mentality manifested down to the very first level of management.  Respect, at all levels of the workplace, is something that must be earned.  Many think that intimidation or bureaucratic process will help them achieve this respect, but that just backfires.  They may feel they have respect, but don’t realize that people laugh and talk smack about them behind their backs. Continue reading “Getting ahead by serving others”

Leaving the Valley, Geeks and Workday for the Desert, Family and my Startup

Yup, you read that right.  It’s been a wonderful 3+ years in Silicon Valley, but it’s time to head to the desert of Queen Creek, Arizona.  I jump started my career here.  It’s funny to say that because I moved here when I was 30!  But these past 3 years did more for my professional life than my previous 12 years of working in Southern California.

There are two reasons I’m moving.  One is sappy and is detailed on this post over on my spiritual blog.

The other is related to my day-to-day activities.  In these tough economic times, I feel lucky and sad at the same time.  Some out there do not have a job or are stuck in a deadend job.  I, on the other hand, have two great opportunities in my life.

The first is my employer for the past year and a half, Workday.  Many people come to the Valley in search of that great startup to join.  Workday definitely fits the bill.  The people are incredibly talented and the work is some of the most challenging out there.  My team is one of the best I’ve ever worked for.  (If you want to join the Workday UI team, drop me a note and your resume/cv at tom.ortega@gmail.com) Continue reading “Leaving the Valley, Geeks and Workday for the Desert, Family and my Startup”

Gaming: Playing both sides

Being an OG – Original Gamer

For as long as I can remember, I’ve gamed (specifically the video kind).  Before I got married, I spent almost every birthday I can remember at Chuck E. Cheese’s (even my 21st!)  To me, birthday equated to gaming.  In addition to those special days, I have a lot of memories in life associated with gaming:

  • When I was 6 or 7,  I remember me and my dad going to our frequent hangout, an arcade down the street.  It was actually a miniature golf course, but we never did anything but game.  We’d play Vanguard together.  As you can see by this image, it had this unique setup.  It was one of the first games I can remember that had multiple buttons.  My dad would drive (use the control stick) while I sat shotgun (took control of the 4 direction shoot buttons).  Oddly, I think this contributed to my sense of it being okay to take the back seat for the greater good.  As long as the team wins, it doesn’t matter which position you play.
  • Continue reading “Gaming: Playing both sides”

Birthday Thoughts: Resource Utilization

The phrase “Resource Utilization” has so many meanings in my life currently, that I have no idea where to start.

At Workday, I (relatively) recently got a new manager, Charlie Boyle.  One of his strengths is definitely resource utlization.  Every manager has their own style and no style is right or wrong.  However, Charlie has brought some great plans to the team.  He’s brought on some processes and tools that make our lives as developers more productive. I don’t think we as a team work any less harder, but we’re definitely working a lot smarter due to the resource management.

My Silicon Valley Flex User Group (silvafug) is sorting being revamped as I write this.  At our most recent meeting, several of us got together to discuss how to better the user group in a variety of ways.  After Wednesday’s meeting, we’ll likely be officially announcing the launch of Silvafug South (and by default, Silvafug North).  There are a lot of great people in the user group with great ideas on how to make it better for everyone.  I look forward to working with them. Continue reading “Birthday Thoughts: Resource Utilization”

Birthday Thoughts: Philanthropy

Yesterday was my birthday.  I turned 33 years old.

Ever since I can remember, September has been a time of contemplation for me.  Around Labor Day, I take advantage of the three day weekend to sorta turn inward.  I take inventory of my life in its totality.  I see what I have or have not done, where I can do better and if I need to make a shift in any area of my life.  Some big decisions that have been made during this time include the following:

  • Organizing a coup d’etat of the literary/writer’s club my senior year of high school ( I put out more publications that year then the club did the previous 3 years combined, w00t!)
  • Meeting my wife’s family to see if I could marry into it (they passed and we got engaged in October)
  • Bought my first house, signed docs on my birthday (though later backed out to pay for the wedding instead)
  • Got married to my beautiful wife (My reminder: 18 (my b-day) + 4 (ever) = 22 (my anniversary))

Continue reading “Birthday Thoughts: Philanthropy”

Help me teach you Flex!

John posed a question to me the other day: What’s important to you?  I’ll leave out the obvious answers: wife, two kids, and church.  He was asking more in relation to business and in particular, our business: 360|Conferences.  So I was noodling on an answer for him.

Saturday morning, I finally caught up on a thread on an internal Flex list.  The list was about a fairly common problem we have in the Flex world.  There seems to be a nefarious void that people learning Flex tend to fall into.  One where they’re beyond “This is a file.  This a tag, made up of brackets and text in between them.” and below “I just rewrote the AdvancedDataGrid component to run 50% faster.”  I have feelings in regards to how to help folks cross that void, so I started noodling a response to the thread.

Then it dawned on me, my two noodles were of the same type: helping folks grow and learn. Continue reading “Help me teach you Flex!”

What kinda person is Tom Ortega?

I was chatting with Brendan the other day. He asked what kind of person am I to attempt to carry a full time job, put on conferences on the side, manage a successful user group, write articles for the Edge and Adobe Development Center, be a good husband, be a good father of two, and be a good cub scout den leader.

This got me to thinking. Most people only know the Northern California Tom Ortega. Prior to my move to the Silicon Valley, my list of activities were quite different. In Southern California, my plate consisted of holding a full time job, being a good hubbie, being a dad of one and a whole lot of commuting. I didn’t blog, didn’t really participate in any tech community and flitted from one business idea to the next with none taking shape or form. Continue reading “What kinda person is Tom Ortega?”