First time all remote: Challenge accepted

First time all remote: Challenge accepted

Every day brings a new challenge. I don't know when life will become "normal" again, I've adjusted my habits already to #stayathome. My plans to go home to Austria during Easter won't happen. In the moment of helping others with avoiding physical contact, I feel confident that we can master everything together.

Many thoughts are floating around, and it becomes tremendously hard to focus. I've added some personal rules for the coming weeks:

  • Get up and do the daily routine with getting a shower, brewing good coffee, getting dressed, putting in my contact lenses and having breakfast, read the news, chime into Twitter and LinkedIn, chat with friends over $messenger.
  • Start organising the day. Ensure that all important mails are covered. Clear up the many browser tabs and create issues for later.
  • Take short breaks, breath, walk around, read something funny and distracting. Have lunch at 2pm after 4 hours of work.
  • Make sure that there are 3+ coffee chats during the week with fellow GitLab team members.
  • When working late, count the extra hours and reduce it on the next day.
  • Read the news in the evening, pick a relaxing movie or series on Netflix. Pick a book and continue reading on the Physician or Perry Rhodan.
  • Do spontaneous Zoom hangouts with friends.

Parents and Children at Home

Everyone loves LEGO. I've got many models and shared my passion for it on Slack. Even in our marketing meeting introduction, I was pleased to learn that I should connect with others. The most easiest way to share - our very own Slack channel. For children in times at home, for parents planning for their next model to build. GitLab connects ❤️

Brendan created the Juice Box chats next to our regular coffee chats. Just because children don't drink coffee, very thoughtful addition to our handbook :)

Routines: I need a plan

Next to the daily structure, I love to plan ahead. With many events now going virtual, I'll open my calendar see when CfPs are due. Also, we are planning with more remote meetups and webcasts. Check the title image for an view of our Technical Evangelism issue board.

Then there is the thing with blog post content. I've met with Erica to chat about possible blog ideas and the best way to tell a story. You can watch my ideas (and add yours of course!) in this issue.

One thing I do reflect on daily is the way we handle meetings. It truly makes me more productive and I don't see them as a "must" but as a "want".

A lovely surprise

On Monday, I had a lovely unexpected coffee chat with Christina. She's from Nuremberg and now living in Greece and found a new face on our team world map. And so an Austrian living in Nuremberg said hi :-)

Meet Sid

Every new team member is invited to the monthly CEO 101 meeting. I had been watching these on the GitLab Unfiltered YouTube channel in the past. Simply because they have something personal and natural with them. I know that Sid loves challenges and so my question was a bit tricky:

Which was the feature you needed the most iterations on to make it viable? And would you be up for the challenge again?

The steps before were really helpful, especially since Sid first added the stages, with mentioning Monitor. But, that's actually not a feature, said Sid. So we landed at Merge Trains which I see on a daily basis for our website and the GitLab project. It look me a while to understand their concept, it is unique and genius.

Document everything

While I previously struggled with taking action, I've started to create issues for any task or idea I see. Think of those which are long term thoughts and might need planning.

During my onboarding weeks, I've also noted several improvements in the issue. Now I have learned that it is way better to open the Web IDE and start editing. Saves quite a lot of time, when you edit a sentence or add a new task, propose it, and go on to the next. The minimal viable change (MVC) strategy also involves that you only discuss this small change, and not a full blown proposal.

Specifically for the onboarding tasks, I'm able to improve the experience for future team members. This makes me incredibly happy :-)

I did not plan for this, nor would I automatically align to all values from the handbook. I'm no robot. This naturally happens as I go along, and the kudos for this belong to all the friendly team members who keep guiding me - thanks Nadia.

Connect ideas

My primary focus in 2020 covers our monitor stage as well as open source contributions in the monitoring/observability area. After connecting with Kevin, I've had a coffee chat with Dov last week. Charming to learn that he was working at Elastic back in 2016, and knows Monica too. We both share a great vision on monitoring, tracing and alerts. His main task in the past months was to enable the Elasticsearch cluster in k8s for usage with GitLab, yet again an important topic for my future research. The log aggregation feature was moved to Core in 12.9 - paving the way for making the observability suite available to everyone in 2020!

I've also met Saumya from our product marketing team, covering the monitor stage. This is a valuable insight into both our marketing strategy and the product itself. We've shared our opinions and visions on monitoring and observability and it felt so natural and productive, glad to be part of such a great team!

Team work

Priyanka and Abubakar have been really busy this week, preparing the first Cloud Native Summit next week.

I also enjoyed watching Darwin's journey on "Never hire butler to do a Robot's job." :)

I'm not 100% back in our community, just peeked into one topic last week. While trying to help (again a new topic for me), James was so kind to step in and help further with pytest unit test reports in GitLab.

Meanwhile, Brendan is diving deep into the latest hot features and sharing his developer spirit:

Well, and everyone is exploring Zoom these days ... what's your favourite background? ;-)

Meet the Community

Tomorrow, we will be doing our first remote GitLab meetup. John invited me over to share a presentation about Getting started with GitLab CI/CD. Hm, what should I talk about in 30 minutes? You may know from my past talks that I tend to endlessly share ideas and inspirations.

I've asked John about the audience. Would we expect first time GitLab users, or long-term community members? No real idea, it is first time as you say. Am I making myself crazy with preparing the perfect talk? Yes. As always. Then there was this idea: Why not just open up the docs and share the way how I am using the Web IDE to setup GitLab CI/CD. Practice together and allow others to the fork the repository and do the same. Make this whole 30 minutes are learning session.

It then reminded me of my GitLab trainings. When tasked with creating exercises, I was sitting there and looking for step-by-step learning curves. Re-iterating on the way people might be confused, similar to my first start experience. Creating a challenge where the solution is so satisfying that you just want to continue to the next. A slight addition with some funny moments, making it a game.

These joyful moments just let me forget about time and I'll hack away. And I am not yet finished with one of the exercises involving code. But that doesn't matter, I'm confident that I'll be on time til tomorrow, 17:00 CET. And if not, we just figure it out together - we meet and share wisdom together.

I'm also looking forward to meet everyone in person, virtually that is. Open source always has been more than just code to me, finding new friends all over the world is the best gift out there ❤️

Going crazy? Yes.

After all, the week was crazy. Germany went on a full lock down with no contacts, no meeting with friends, and purely limited to getting some food or going to the doctor. I was freaking tired on Friday, finishing the meetup slide draft at 8:30 pm.

Marianne was so kind to share a Zoom meeting URL on Twitter. So I did what everyone would do ... No, I did not open my work Macbook again. Instead, I joined on my Iphone. Everyone getting a drink, well then. The audience had the pleasure of listening to how a G&T is made in the kitchen with a slight problem of ice cubes. And the way I did cover the Iphone's microphone ... We've also found another activity: Did up the photo gallery and make them Zoom backgrounds. Luckily no-one recorded the session ... or? ;-)

Looking forward to more crazy #allremote stories next week!

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