Yin meets yang
Blog Authors: Valerie Skinner 060000VKGS is part of the IBM developerWorks team, getting to know the real developers who make up the My developerWorks community and exploring the world of social networking. I'm enjoying learning what makes developers tick! I'm very interested in exploring online communities and social media and understanding real world application - how they can help people solve problems and work together.
I'm excited to share this interview with Anthony English! Anthony is an AIX expert from Australia who writes a popular blog on My developerWorks called AIX Down Under.
Tell me about yourself and what you're currently working on...
I'm a Sydney father of (only) six children, and my wife and I home school them.
I've been working primarily on AIX systems since 1991, and in the last couple of years have been doing contract work in the finance, retail and manufacturing industries. It's a chance to work with lots of good people and learn to take advantage of virtualisation on IBM Power Systems. My most recent project was building two Power6 570s (one for DR) from the ground up without ever seeing them. They're hosting some 24 X 7 public-facing web sites with WebSphere, DB2 and Informix on the back end.
What first drew your interest to technology?
I used to take clocks apart as a boy, and put them together again, with intermittent success. When I started working, "computerisation" was the buzz word. What I worked on was producing mailing lists using real letters and envelopes using CTOS. These days I'm used to taking on new technologies and I'm quite excited when I have to troubleshoot problems. I have nightmares about workarounds. Can't stand 'em. There's nothing so permanent as a temporary solution.
How did you end up being an AIX expert?
My colleagues and clients might have an opinion about calling me that! I'm no expert, but I am keen. I've learned a lot from my mistakes and I've developed a strong interest in finding simpler ways of doing things. I think AIX and virtualisation on IBM Power Systems can help build environments which are flexible, consistent and stable.
I'd say laziness is my big motivation. In a way my goal is to do myself out of a job. I like to set things up so that people are not fighting fires all day. Maybe I should write a blog post: "From firefighter to autopilot."
So you started a blog called AIX Down Under - what inspired you to start blogging on My developerWorks?
It was really by popular demand. A few colleagues found they were getting lots of free and unsolicited advice from me on how to set up their systems. They gently suggested to me that there might be someone out there in cyberworld who really was interested in what I had to say.
After some years of working with all different kinds of people - some great people with wonderful abilities - it's a good thing to share around what they have passed onto me. It's also a chance to help out people who have lots of enthusiasm but not so much experience to show how they can make their systems work better. I'd also like to believe that some people appreciate my Aussie sense of humour. I do, anyway.
What's been the most interesting or surprising thing about blogging so far?
I wrote a post on the most famous of all Unix commands - the one which will wipe out your system. I called it "rm -r and your career". Five minutes after I put it on my shiny new blog I managed to wipe out the entire post and had to reconstruct it using Google searches, one and a half sentences at a time. See what I mean about people being able to learn from my mistakes?
How do you use developerWorks?
Primarily reading the excellent articles. It's a great source for hands-on examples of doing things which the official man pages simply can't cover. I've got some articles in the wings myself. I think it's a great way for people to see how things work and hang together in the real (virtual) world. Even a task which you're told is very simple can be daunting until you see someone step through it.
Are you a gadget guy? Any new gadgets that you are adding to your wish list?
The i-don't. Gadgets? No, not really. I actually grow veges, coach cricket and read books, (you know, printed on real paper) especially the classics. I was catching the bus to one company in Sydney recently and that gave me the chance to read the whole of Dickens' and Jane Austen's novels and a good dose of Shakespeare (the bus driver took the long route that day). I also have a strong interest in mediaeval philosophy and theology, and have written the odd article in that field, which is perhaps not so common among geekdom.
What are some of your favorite websites/feeds/twitter accounts to follow?
https://www.ibm.com/developerworks/mydeveloperworks/blogs/AIXDownUnder/?lang=en (of course! I'm its most frequent visitor.)
In the AIX space
http://twitter.com/cgibbo (and every word written by my compatriot, Chris Gibson)
Anything produced by Nigel Griffiths, especially his Wiki movies: http://www.ibm.com/developerworks/wikis/display/wikiptype/movies
And, to prove I have a life outside of AIX:
Do you have a motto or a philosophy that guides you?
I'm not much of a doomsdayer. I have a great deal of hope for the future, and I think that's important in a world where the emphasis is sometimes more negative. True hope gives joy and peace, whatever is going on around you. I also find people face things best when they know the truth, spoken with clarity and charity.
Now if only I could condense all that to a bumper sticker.
vskinner 060000VKGS Tags:  my_developerworks virtualization mydw system_p aix interview financial pseries unix poland 2 Comments 4,312 Visits
Continuing my vicarious travels around the world, this week I bring you an interview with Jakub Gaj, an IT consultant working in Poland. Jakub is an avid user of the developerWorks AIX and UNIX forums and wikis, as well as a gadget junkie and surfer. Learn more about Jakub in the interview below and visit his profile on My developerWorks to add him to your colleagues.
Tell me about yourself and what you're currently working on...
Hello, my name is Jakub Gaj, I'm 31 years old and I work as IT consultant/freelancer. I'm currently in Poland working on data center migration project at one of the major international banks. I used to work on the same project last year in London, now I'm living in Warsaw because of my lovely girlfriend :)
Do you have an area you specialize in?
Yes, I specialize in IBM Power Systems, my domain is IBM System p (pSeries) platform with AIX, PowerVM, HACMP, etc. Generally speaking, I build Unix servers & clusters using IBM virtualization technologies in mostly financial/banking environment.
How did you get started in the IT industry?
It all started actually when I was still a kid and my dad bought himself a PC for his technical designs. As a computer back then was at a price of average new car, he didn't really want anyone else to be even close to it. At some point he showed me couple of games, which I got absolutely excited about, so I had to learn how to start them myself when my father was out. That's how I learned Microsoft DOS and got my fascination for PCs & world of IT. Later on computer games lead me to 3D graphics & animations, then network rendering slowly got me back into command-line operating systems like Linux. Couple of years later my systems administration skills got me a job at IBM Global Services and that gave me occasion to learn IBM's technologies, gain hardcore experience in production support and basically has shaped my current career.
How do you use developerWorks?
I use developerWorks on daily basis at my work. I definitely love the forums: when you have a technical problem you can't solve yourself, someone already had similar issue or someone else on the other side of the world will post a solution for your problem while you're sleeping :) I absolutely (ab)use the AIX & PowerVM Wikis as well, I just really like to have everything important I need under one roof: links to documentation, manuals, tutorials, product presentations, Redbooks, forums, etc. I noticed that developerWorks is changing recently and there are new tools & features available (like blogging), so I have to check those as well.
Are there any new technologies you want to learn more about in the next year?
Yes, the job market is constantly pushing us to learn new technologies, isn't it? I'm currently learning IBM BladeCenter products family, which leads me back to Linux. I'm also interested in multiple aspects of virtualization and its implementation by different vendors. I think the future of IT computing is server consolidation & smarter energy management, so I'm watching current trends on the market. As IBM is winning this competition so far in my opinion, I'm focusing on those technologies for now.
What publications or websites do you like to follow?
In terms of professional sources I like to follow IBM Redbooks as well as keeping in touch with professional social networking like LinkedIn, Xing, GoldenLine.pl. My free time is mostly consumed by social networking on Facebook, MySpace, Last.fm and
social bookmarking sites like del.icio.us.
Are you a gadget person? What gadget is on your wish list - what gadget would you love to buy?
Sure I am, like every guy! We're all just boys with toys, but the older we get the more expensive toys we have :) My latest gadget is Blackberry Curve 8900 with built-in GPS,which is really cool especially when you're in new town and don't know its landscape.
Besides I've been traveling lately and GPS might be useful for my next trips, although I'm a fan of "getting lost & ask for directions" type of traveling rather than being totally dependent on some battery-run device. I'm also an addicted Sony PSP user, I love that thing, I can play games almost anywhere! Generally I love mobile gadgets which I can carry with me, but it has to be extremely light, otherwise it stays home. One of the major things for me when buying a new gadget (phone, etc) is its weight, then its features.
In your free time what hobbies or activities interest you?
I usually kill my free time playing video games, but that's mostly during fall/winter time. In terms of sports I just love capoeira! It's a brazilian martial art with elements of dance, music & acrobatics. I don't practice it on regular basis, rather wherever I have occasion to as I relocate quite often recently due to character of my work. And my latest addiction is surfing! Not really a popular sport in Europe, but I always wanted to try that and when I had a chance in Thailand, I fell in love instantly. I'm still learning, but
it's just amazing! My next holiday destination will be probably some good newbie surfing spot in Mexico, Vietnam or Indonesia. And of course Brazil, especially Salvador de Bahia, but that's because of capoeira :) Maybe I'll go there in February for a carnival! We'll see how the project in Warsaw will run.
- Thanks Jakub!