Leaving BMW

Leaving BMW

It’s been six years since I had to write a post like this. Truthfully, at least for me, it’s never easy.

Unfortunately BMW has made the decision to shut down the Chicago Technology Office. I’m not going to beat around the bush here, this really sucks. I was lucky enough to be one of the approximately 40 people who started the office back in 2014 and over these last six years not only was I able to work on some really awesome projects, I got a chance to grow and lead and for that I will always be grateful.

I spent about three years working on the iOS and Android versions of the BMW and MINI Connected applications. We started them from scratch, learned a lot about globally developing mobile applications and attempted to pull BMW into the modern era when it came to software development. I then got the chance to lead the Aftersales organization. What started out as 20 people and 3 teams grew to over 40 people and 7 teams delivering complex features that were truly customer oriented. When it was time to make a technology change I was tapped to lead the team in Chicago in implementing a Flutter based application which was a bit scary and new at the time but has turned out to be great for the company as well as their user base.

If I had a choice I would stay with BMW. I really enjoyed what we were working on as well as the people around the globe that I worked with. We may have had very different ways of working but in the end we all wanted the same thing. Let’s ship something that is fun to work on but also awesome for customers to use. I do think that back in 2014 we were ahead of the rest of the car industry but now it has caught up. Because of that the desire to keep pushing and keep leading is what is driving the teams in BMW today and I can’t wait to see how the next years work out for them and the My BMW/MINI application.

As for whats next for me, first a break. The last six years were fun but also very long. I was able to get the month of December off before starting my new job. It’s been a while since I have been able to actually take a break and enjoy the holiday time so it’s going to be a welcomed change.

That being said, I am both nervous and excited to start as the Head of Program Management at Very Good Ventures. Going from a decade of large corporations to a small shop is going to be a bit of a shock to the system but I’m ready to challenge myself and help VGV grow out of startup mode and into a big time player in the Flutter community.

Bike Share Buddy 1.6.2 Update

While normally a x.x.2 release may not be worthy of a post I feel like this one is as it definitely took some work on my end. I had a goal to start to remove complexity from my code base and this was my first stab at it. Here is what was done for this release.

  • Updated to newest Xcode (10.2) and Swift (5) versions. Not a ton of work needed for this but just knowing Apple it’s always good to keep up with the latest and greatest tools otherwise it just becomes way too much work later on.
  • Remove Alamofire and ObjectMapper. While this wasn’t a lot of extra code it was dependencies. When things like Xcode and Swift updated I would always have to wait for my dependencies to update as well. With something as big as Alamofire this always took a lot of time. The good thing is that Swift has evolved so much that the need for Alamofire has pretty much gone away at least for the basics. The even better thing is that when looking at the commit you can see that all of the changes were done in the BikeBuddyKit framework, not the iOS app. It really felt good seeing that knowing that my app setup/architecture did exactly what it was supposed to do.
  • Move back to GitHub. I originally had this all on private repo’s in BitBucket (since they were free). This was mostly because I had some API keys that were part of the project. Well I removed those dependencies and the API’s that I use now don’t require keys so no need to keep things in the dark anymore. On top of that I moved all of my Cloudgate Studios repo’s to a new GitHub Organization

Overall it’s a small customer change but I hope this will make things easier going forward.

2019 USCA Arena Nationals Recap

2019 USCA Arena Nationals Recap

For the week of May 5th 2019 I got to be a full time professional athlete. Just let that sink in for a second. It’s definitely as cool as it’s sounds but it was also a crazy, tiring, whirlwind of a week. The other word to describe it, privilege.

  • I had the privilege of representing my club, Windy City Curling, on a national level event.
  • I had the privilege of playing on the best curling ice I have ever seen in the USA.
  • I had the privilege of meeting and competing with some of the best arena level clubs/players in the country.

While you typically take a look at things one game at a time, this bigger picture wasn’t lost on me during the week. Here is what the week entailed.

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Curling, a Season in Review

Curling, a Season in Review

After trying to get my wife to watch Curling with me during the winter Olympics too many times, she purchased a Groupon for a Learn to Curl session at Chicago Curling Club. That was three years ago. In that time I’ve gotten the chance to do so much all because of curling. This next month will wrap up my third season and will also close one chapter in my club’s history. It’s been quite a ride overall but this year has been exceptional.

With our membership numbers shrinking due to not having a true club to call our home, I was asked to step-up and be a skip (Curling speak for captain). Not only was I going to be skipping, but I also was going to be bringing a few new members into the club. My mom, Linda; her good friend, Lori; and my brother, Christopher. To cap it off, they were also going to be my team. That at least took the edge off things; if we sucked I was only really disappointing new curers who wouldn’t really know the difference.

Leading a team on the ice is something I had never done. At any other club someone with as little experience as me would never get that chance. But that’s the magic of Windy City Curling. We’re a scrappy little club that does everything it can just to get our hands on any ice time, and look to all of its members to help out in any way possible. Ever since the USA took gold in the 2018 Olympics our tiny little club has been overrun with requests for Learn to Curl’s, corporate events, and rookie leagues. It’s been really tough to balance the growth of the club through these events while trying to keep our own members happy. Remember we want to curl too, not just teach!

While the first two leagues this season were self-formed teams, our “Championship League” is a draft. Again I was picked to be a skip so I drafted my team: one of my friends from the club, along with two new members. Unfortunately, I was going to miss a few of these games due to work, travel, and other bonspiels that I had planned. But at the end of regular round robin play, we were in second place despite only really playing a total of two games together as a full team. The team in first place was only ahead of us by one win, but they included one player that never thought she would get there: my mom. She just started curling this year, and even though she uses a delivery stick, she has turned herself into one of the best leads in the whole club.

Going into the final game for the championship (which had to be postponed by a week due to a broken zamboni :facepalm:), I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. We had just played the same team two weeks ago and got blown out. I really didn’t want that to happen again - not just for me but for my team and the club. What good is a championship game when it’s totally lopsided? Well, I got my wish. I’ll spare you the total play-by-play, but let me set the scene because it was something out of a movie.

Tied up in the last end, my opponent’s last rock was sitting two inches into the 4-foot, sitting shot. I have an relatively open hit to knock him out and win the game. We debate a bit as to how the last shot should be thrown and now it’s all in my hands. I throw, but the aim is slightly off… and that’s it. Instead of getting into the house, my last rock wrecks on the pile of guards up front and my season is over. I’m crushed.

Two seconds after that, I look up and see the other skip, my friend Eric, and his entire team celebrating. Including my mom. In an instant I go from lowest low to highest high. Am I pissed that I lost that game, of course. But how happy am I for my friends who just won? Ecstatic. I’ve always been told that curling is a social activity as much as it is a sport. I enjoy having a beer with my friends and competitors when I get off the ice. But it wasn’t until that game that I truly understood the bond that we have, not just as curlers but as a club.

With our club’s championship league completed, I turn myself to the next challenge: U.S. Arena Nationals. I was lucky enough to be asked to be part of the team that gets to represent our club at a national level event against 19 other teams from around the country. It’s going to be the final time that we as Windy City Curling get to compete in this event as we’re finally moving to our own facility this spring/summer. I’ll be excited, nervous, and just about every other emotion you can think of until we hit the ice for that first game. But when I do, then it’s just time to compete.

Bike Share Buddy 1.6 Update

I was able to sneak in a update for Bike Share Buddy mostly for iOS 12 fixes. First time I was able to pull off a release on the same day as iOS as well :)

`New Features

  • Added support for iOS 12. You now have to have iOS 12 in order to install this latest version of Bike Buddy. 
Bug Fixes
  • Updated (and removed some) third party dependencies to ensure better performance and a safer way of handling user data.
  • Change the default view of Stations from 5 to 15.
  • Fixed a bug where you could be prompted for “Always” location permission even though it wasn’t needed.
  • Fixed a crash for certain bike networks that didn’t give addresses for bike stations
  • Fixed a crash that would happen when searching for a new bike network.`