Tom Ortega II

Archive for the ‘eBay’ Category

Finding Your Niche Via What Makes You Happy

In 360Conferences, 360Flex, eBay, Flash*Flex*AS, flex training, Programming, silvafug, Tech Writing, Workday on September 15, 2009 at 8:00 am

I’m amazed by people who have a singular passion. In addition, I’m in awe with those that have many passions, but the will power to focus on just one to the point of major success.  I fit in neither of those two categories.

My curse is I work hard to be just “good enough” in one passion, then move on to another.  By “good enough”, I mean good enough for me.  I’ll take a rare indulgence here (take a picture, it’ll last longer) and say that my “good enough” is better than some people’s “best”.  I take this odd (for me) stance for a good reason, and it’s not just to stroke my ego.

Mankind has a strange habit of staying with something that is comfortable, regardless of passion or happiness.  I know people (myself included) who stayed at a job because it was easy and comfortable, long after the passion and happiness were gone.  These people are giving their “best” but without passion or happiness.  Therefore, when I enter the same space with passion and happiness, I can attain more in a shorter time merely because the passion will help push me further. Read the rest of this entry »

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

In 360Conferences, 360Flex, Business, Community, eBay, flex training, Kids, Silicon Valley Living, silvafug, Uncategorized on January 9, 2009 at 10:58 am

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) Read the rest of this entry »

360Flex Atlanta Contest and Conference

In 360Conferences, 360Flex, Community, eBay on February 8, 2008 at 5:45 am

360|Flex Atlanta is almost upon us. This will be the third installment of our little conference. John and I have been crazy busy, working to get things done. John has actually been carrying my slack this time around! (Thanks, partner, I owe you!)

One of the things that’s very exciting to us though is that we have an API Contest this time. eBay, Ribbit and Degrafa have all joined our API contest. Make a widget and win yourself a Wii, PlayStation 3 or XBox 360. This is in addition to the wonderful prizes that they will also be giving away in their own contests! Make 1 Flex app and win 2 possible prizes. If I wasn’t running the show, I’d be making an entry for all 3! 🙂

Sunday, February 24th, will see the kickoff of the conference. We will have an all day Flex 101 session to get new comers up to speed on Flex before the show begins. The guys from Digital Primates are teaching the class AND buying you lunch. If you do go, be sure to offer them a huge thank you for their generosity.

Monday, February 25th, will be the kickoff of the Conference. Matt Chotin will be delivering our keynote, talking about the soap opera, err, I mean development of Flex 3. 🙂 I’m looking forward to this, though I will likely miss it as I’ll still be welcoming attendees. Sorry, Matt, customers first!

I’d go over every session of the show, but it’s easier if you just check it out for yourself.

In case you’re wondering what’s in store for the conference, let me give you a quick rundown:

Hundreds of attendees

30+ Sessions/Speakers

4 Days of conference

3 Contest prizes to win

3 Parties

2 Keynotes

2 Caring hosts

1-gig Thumb drive

1 Free Hands-on Preconfernce Training

1 kickin’ conference

Plus, you’ll get some conference goodies, grub, drinks and even a few articles of clothing.

And you get all that for a mere $480. If you’re serious about Flex, then you need to come. See you there!

Leaving eBay to start a new Workday

In 360Flex, Business, eBay, flex training, silvafug, Workday on June 12, 2007 at 7:02 am

It’s official. My last day as an eBay employee was Friday, June 8th. My first day as a Workday employee is Thursday, June 14th.

This is the first time I switched jobs for a strategic purpose vs. disliking the company. As a whole, the team I worked with at eBay was great. The North Campus where I sat most of my eBay life is beautiful. The work was fun and rewarding, especially during the “crunch” times.

I grew a lot during my tenure at eBay. Silvafug, free Flex training and 360|Flex were all hatched during that time. Heck, eBay even hosted the first 360|Flex conference!

If it was all so great, why leave?

One thing is size. I’ve been in corporate life for quite sometime now. I miss the days of knowing most, if not all, of a company’s employees. Knowing a team of 20 at eBay was nice, but was a drop in the bucket in number of total employees. At Workday, knowing 20 would be roughly 1/5 or 1/6 of the company.

Another thing is the amount of customers I can impact. At eBay, my direct customers were the various internal users of my apps. Indirectly, one could say that all the eBay buyers and sellers were my customers too, but I never felt that vibe. At Workday, I’ll be joining the UI team and will directly serve Workday’s customer base. I can help make the lives of these people more simple, fun and efficient. As the numbers of customers grow at Workday, so will the number of people I help. After serving a few hundred customers directly with 360|Flex, I found that serving large numbers of customers directly is something I enjoy.

I’ll be moving out to Walnut Creek for my new job. It has a slower pace feel to it than San Jose does. It also has a ton of restaurants that I can’t wait to try!

Adios, eBay: It’s been a blast!

Hola, Workday: Let’s make amazing things happen!

Saffron – My prayers have been answered

In 360Flex, Business, eBay, Flash*Flex*AS, Programming, Technology and Software on May 31, 2007 at 12:24 am

Ryan dropped a post on Saffron. Recently, I did a big write-up internally at eBay about a tool to help our XUNI development (Flex-based framework) go smoother when integrating with the Java folks.

In our current development cycle, I’d say 20 to 30% of our Flex dev time is building the actual Flex code for the UI parts, the remaining 80 to 70% is spent on integration. When you try to do concurrent development of the front and middle tiers, the part that suffers is communication and clarification of your data model. Let me show you the problem that we experience:

  1. Middle tier gives you a Transfer/Value Object (i.e. what gets sent from them to you that houses the data they have and you need) at the beginning of the project
  2. You (the flex peep) code to that object
  3. If you’re lucky, you get a stub web service call that sends you back one of these objects
  4. You test your code against the stub and tweak your code until it works perfectly
  5. Middle tier changes the object for justifiable reasons. However, due to schedule and delivery timeframe, they forget to inform you of the change and most definitely do not update the stub web service
  6. Integration testing comes and it doesn’t work obviously
  7. You tweak your code so it works with the new object
  8. After all integration bugs are solved, you hand it back to the Business Systems Analysts or user for a test run. They say the data is wrong and needs to change again
  9. Both you and the middle-tier folks make the changes and finally wrap up the project

Sound painful? Yes, it is. What would help is a tool that all parties (users, Business Systems Analysts, java devvers, Flex devvers, heck even QA) can use to visualize the data objects and spit out code for the front and middle tier developers to stay in sync with.

The parts of Saffron that I’m most excited about are:

  • Wireframe editor allows both developers and/or designers to create wireframes for their projects
  • Allows for Actionscript 2, Actionscript 3, PHP4 and Java Code generation directly from the app.
  • Enterprise level capability having the ability to support models with hundreds of classes without performance degradation
  • Integrated Version Control

I’ll admit that I don’t know Samuel Agesilas Paste personally, but if you do tell him to drop a line to info@360flex.com because the developer world needs him to speak about Saffron at our 360|Flex Conference in August!

360Flex – My Thoughts

In 360Flex, Business, eBay on March 9, 2007 at 8:31 am

360Flex is over and guess what. I’m sad. =( I may be the only person in the world who enjoys making sure that 380+ individuals are having a good time and are learning. It was an honor for me to be both your conference host (as part of the 360Flex committee) and your location host (as I work for eBay and you were in “my house”). You attendees are amazing and make every bit of time and effort worth it.

The true stars of the conference were the community and the technology. Sure, we the committee gave a lot of time and energy, but it was the attendees and presenters that made this event into something special. I love that a lot of our speakers were just as excited to see other speakers as they were about presenting their sessions. Plus, we owe a big thanks to Adobe and their wonderful teams for creating the technology that we could spend 3 days discussing and learning.

Some have commented on how I didn’t appear stressed or nervous, despite the fact that I have never been involved in an event of this size before. The reasons for that is many. I had 2 trusted companions at my side in the committee. If you had John Wilker and Ted Patrick backing you up, you wouldn’t be nervous either. Another reason was that I was so excited to meet you all. I didn’t get a chance to meet everyone despite trying to while handing out badges Sunday evening and Monday morning. Next time though, we can shoot for me meeting all of you.

The feedback that you guys have been providing has been great. Please keep it up by filling out the survey and by posting your thoughts on your blogs. We want this event to keep getting better for you. I know we messed up some areas, and they have been marked for “repairs”. =)

I’m actually kind of jealous of Ted’s job now. He gets to meet you all throughout the year as he does his evangelizing. Well, don’t forget to drop a note to me and let me know how things are going, where you need help, etc. If your on the east coast and a big corporation/organization with a conference facility, drop me a line. The only way I’m gonna get to see my newest 400 friends is with another conference, so onward! =)

‘Til next time, thanks for coming and making our lil conference a success. If you’re local to the Bay Area, don’t forget to sign up for Silvafug (http://silvafug.org) so I can see you sooner. =)

360Flex Badge Pick-Up Today (Sunday) from 5pm to 8pm

In 360Flex, eBay on March 4, 2007 at 8:29 am

In case you somehow missed the 3 posts yesterday, I’d thought I reemphasize:  Beat the crowd and get your 360Flex badge today, Sunday.  Ted, John and I will be passing out badges from 5pm to 8pm at eBay Town Hall.  Come down, grab your badge and chit-chat with the other smart attendees beating the rush.

For those arriving too late to come tonight,  doors will be open at 7 am Monday morning.   The sooner you get there, the smaller the line will be and the better selection you’ll have for breakfast.  =)

I’ll include Ted’s hi-res, professional quality maps to help get you here.  =)

Main map

Town Hall

My 360Flex Cairngorm Session – What do you want?

In 360Flex, eBay, Flash*Flex*AS, flex training, Programming, Technology and Software on March 2, 2007 at 6:04 am

Hi Folks,

I’m doing the Cairngorm Session on Monday and was wondering, what do you all want to hear? I have like a bazillion ways to take the talk. I’ll list a few, then you can choose. By all means however, post your own ideas if you would like.

Here’s my ideas, in random order with commentary :

  1. Straight up – This is Cairngorm
    This talk would cover what cairngorm is. No code other than the framework. I feel that this has been overdone, but I’ll do it y’all want.
  2. Simple App Gone Cairngorm
    It would be nice to see why you need Cairngorm. A lot of people get the idea of frameworks, but would be at a loss to convert their apps. I could take a simple app that has “gone ugly” and make it “frameworky pretty.” I could do a lot of pre/post Cairngorm code comparisons.
  3. Cairngorm @ eBay
    While technically, the talk will be @ eBay. I was thinking more along the lines of Cairngorm in action at eBay. I could show what we’re doing with Cairngorm inside eBay.
  4. eBay Pre/Post Cairngorm
    This would just be a mix of ideas 2 and 3 from above.

Those are the few paths I was thinking of taking. Please, please give me some feedback and let me know what you want. I don’t want the twitter chatter to be, “This dude is boring!”, ” We’ve heard this crap already!” or “This isn’t really very useful.”

Thanks in advance for your assistance.

eBay/PayPal SecurityKey – Bye, Bye, Phishers/Scammers!

In Business, eBay, Technology and Software on February 19, 2007 at 10:57 am

I just wanted to drop a quick little note. Everyone needs to sign up for this and pronto. http://www.ebay.com/securitykey is eBay’s newest way to battle Phishers and Scammers. It’s a little token that gives you a code to sign into your eBay and PayPal accounts.

Think of it as an always changing PIN for your accounts. Without that key, there’s no way for the scammers to get access to your account, even if you get tricked by a fake website. If you forget the key, eBay will call your cell phone and give you a temp number to login with! PayPal makes you answer your secret questions. In other words, it’s really, really hard for someone to steal your account.

It’s the best $5 you’ll ever spend. Trust me.

(Yes, I work for eBay but even if I didn’t, I’d be telling you to get this!)

My 1st Year Anniversary with eBay

In eBay on November 29, 2006 at 10:29 pm

It’s hard to believe that a full year has gone by since I started at eBay. I can still remember flying in for the interview and being all starry-eyed as I walked through the eBay Park Campus. This place, both physical and metaphorical, is where history happened. The world changed when eBay went live and it’s never going to be the same. Luckily, a lil of that life changing magic rubbed off on me.

I came to eBay a bit unsure of myself. I had begun to doubt whether or not I was a good employee. My last job made me feel pretty much useless, despite being the senior member on the team. I thought it was me. eBay saw something in me, so that boosted my spirits a bit. It took a good few months before I finally broke out of my “shell”. While my first day of work was November 29, 2006, my first real day as a True eBay Employee in the utmost sense wasn’t until March. I became involved with the “NOC Workbench” project and jumped headlong into the Flex 2 Beta. Out of the Flex 2 beta, I got involved with Silvafug. Out of Silvafug, I got involved with Free Flex Training. Out of Free Flex Training, I got involved with 360Flex.

All in all, not a bad year’s worth of work. And yes, just in case you’re wondering, I still walk around the eBay campus with starry eyes. To be honest, I probably always will.