Pragmatic Investment Plan - may 2011-2012

Warning: This blogpost has been posted over two years ago. That is a long time in development-world! The story here may not be relevant, complete or secure. Code might not be complete or obsoleted, and even my current vision might have (completely) changed on the subject. So please do read further, but use it with caution.
Posted on 21 Apr 2011
Tagged with: [ pip

During some reading up on Dean Wilson’s blog, I stumbled upon his Pragmatic Investment Plans. Even though we have something similar in our company (called a POP “Persoonlijk Ontwikkel Plan”, which is more or less the same thing), I want to separate a “business” and “personal” plan. My personal plan is not only about my development in my daily work, but as a all-round developer and system administrator in general. But this post is not only about my plan, but also about the things that have happened last year to me personally.

Last year I’ve started with such a plan (although it wasn’t called a PIP), which consisted of the following goals (as set by my new year resolutions of 2010):

  • Setup a consulting / training business.
  • Achieve certification in the most general PHP, MySQL and Linux area’s.
  • Start speaking at (tech) conferences.

Some more details about these 3 goals.

Setup a consulting / training business.

After leaving E-Sites in March 2010, I’ve decided to setup my own business for consulting and training. Since I’ve already got a (small) business up and running this would mean I do not have to deal with all the hassle of discovering on how it is to run a business. I could focus on the actual business itself. Unfortunately (or maybe not, depending on how you look at it), I’ve stumbled upon a nice job offer at IBuildings which I took, but in the end it wasn’t a match. During that same period a friend of mine pointed me to Enrise, which is the company I now work for (with much enjoyment). This doesn’t mean my consulting and training plans are gone. On the contrary, the plans on starting up training are almost done and announcements will soon become public.

Achieve certification in the most general PHP, MySQL and Linux area’s

I’ve done 12 exams in 2010, ranging from Ubuntu Certified Professional to MySQL Certified Database Administrator to Zend Framework Certified Engineer. One of the reasons for certification was the fact that even though I know for myself I have got enough experience and knowledge about a wide range of subjects, I have nothing to back it up with. Certification, even though I’m not a very big fan of them, does show others who don’t know you what you are capable of. Now, of course I’m the last person who needs telling that passing an exam doesn’t mean anything (I can actually vouch for that), but it’s a step and together with some other steps (also part of my PIP), it should provide a solid base as an establishment in my area of expertise (how small or broad it might be), which off course is a good thing when it comes to acquiring business.

Start speak at (tech) conferences.

I’m a very shy guy (no really, I am :)) and probably not the most social person you will ever meet. This reflect in many things, and one of those things that I like to stay in the background. Other people are far better on standing in the spotlight and honestly I don’t mind that. At the start of the millennium I took a half year sabbatical to do some scuba-diving on the Canary Islands. It was there where I was asked if I wanted to attend an dive-instructor course and I did. One of the things you learn during such a course is the actual teaching of diving to students in both the practical and theoretical areas. After I graduated as an instructor and I actually started to teach diving to others, I found out that sharing knowledge to others is a really cool thing. I’ve seen many students get infected with the scuba-diving-virus and some of them are actually instructors themselves these days! So even though I needed to get out of the background and into the spotlight, I didn’t mind. It was for a good cause since I knew things that I wanted to teach others, and others were patient enough to listen too. I loved it.

This hasn’t gone away afterwards. Granted, I don’t want to be a teacher per se, but sharing knowledge is something I really enjoy and what better to share than all the computer-knowledge I have gained of all the years I’ve been working with it? I’ve started attending conferences and meetups just since the last 2 years, so lots of things are still new to me, but last year I’ve decided I want to get up the stage and teach others the things I know, even if it means I have to be in the spotlight :)

So since last year I’ve looked at the things others were speaking about, things I wanted to hear, things I like to talk about and came up with a few different talks which I start sending out since august last year. But of course, when you are not known and no (relevant) experience, chances that you are selected are minimum at best, but starting to submit your taks is the first step in becoming a speaker, so this step I took..

My goal wasn’t met in 2010, but things changed (and still is changing) this year. I’ve been speaking on different small and big events, both national and international and my resume is growing. My personal goal is getting system administrators and developers closer together, which I mainly try to do by discussing subjects that can be considered the odd-one-out. Think about talks on “Sed & Awk”, “Public key Cryptography” and “Advanced MySQL Tips&Tricks”. Sure, I’m setting the bar pretty high here and it means you hear lots of “rejections” because talks are either too complex, or too far of the main focus of a conference, but speaking on conferences is not my main goal here: it’s speaking on conferences about subjects I really like to talk about. Huge difference.

The current year: 2011

Last year I started seriously with my blog, which got some attention here and there and that resulted in doing even more blog posts. One thing I personally like about my blog itself is that it doesn’t contain the standard (obvious) posts about (PHP) development. To be honest, if you are looking for “simple” things, there are probably 100 blogs already covering the subject. I like the other things. Not so much only the more complex side, but I like trying to show things from another perspective. So instead of doing a blog about starting with memcache, I like to show you how exactly memcache is working internally for instance. The main thing: I like to tell you about the things we all take for granted, but we have no clue how they actually work.

To be honest, blog posts are a good way to get your name spread around the community (whatever community it is). Don’t be afraid to make mistakes (I make them,.. a lot,.. as does anybody else, don’t get fooled) and just talk about the things you like to talk about. There will always be others who are interested in the same thing. On occasion I see (re)tweets or blog posts by others who are high up the community ranking loving my posts, which is very flattering and cool to see. Your name gets out there, people start to know you, and what you are capable of.. I’ve written a feature article for PHP|Architect, the leading PHP magazine in the world, and more of those are to follow. Something I would not have imagined a few months ago. As said before, I’ve started to speak at conferences and start attending lots of big and small conferences. You meet lots of interesting people, most of them who will know more about everything than you do, which is a great way to learn new stuff. But you also meet people who know less, who will learn from you as well.

My Pragmatic Investment Plan - may 2011

A PIP should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timeboxed), which isn’t at the moment, but I will this fill in later. For now, these are just the goals I will set for the current year (may 2011 - may 2012). I’ve taken the sections from Dean’s blog but maybe I come up with some others later on.

Broad Goals

Read up on the following (new) techniques

Areas to investigate

  • Write more blog posts about different subjects in both development and system administration.
  • Find out more about devops in general.
  • Learn more about puppet.
  • Grasp (not only program) the stackbased context switching system. I have much trouble on how the initial context switch is setup. Yes, it works, but I don’t 100% understand what is going on. Very frustrating.
  • Knowing git.. Not only being able to work with it,.. but KNOWing how it works. Read the git-internals documentation but need more info.
  • Do more with iSCSI.


  • Get newlib compiled and run userapps in CybOS.
  • Redesign the Android app. Make it a bit more workable, even with the current API.
  • Redesign EZShopping - Merge all the stuff still in progress. And deploy a 3.0 version.
  • Do some more work on itself. I tend to do a lot, and move on to the next interesting project. Stop doing that :)
  • Get my Arduino to do something useful.

Language of the year

I haven’t really made a decision about the language I’d like to learn this year. I think it might be a good idea to brush up some old languages actually. Maybe do some more work in Perl, or C++ even.


  • Meet more, and keep in touch with many interesting people.