Welcome (Back) to The Imaginary Road

Or why am I serious this time?

Updated on February 13, 2021

Welcome back to my personal blog: The Imaginary Road. In this post, I will discuss my break from writing, what has brought me back, and what I plan to write about in the immediate future.

Welcome back! Yes, it has been a long time since I have last written a blog post. I’m sorry. Life happened. I went through a long period of time where I wanted to write, but I ran into a massive case of writer’s block. However, after surviving through the Great Global Pandemic of 2020, I decided on New Year’s Eve that it was time to start writing again, so here I am. I’m back with a long list of content that I plan to write about in the coming weeks and months.

I would like to say that I am committed to producing new content daily, but maybe that will turn more into weekly. I plan on making the time to write daily and develop content, but some ideas may take a few days to develop. Or maybe I’ll write multiple daily posts to share my progress on ideas so that you can participate.

One of the projects that has been on my to do list for quite some time was to get the ability to write blog posts from my iPad Pro. I would love to be unchained from my desk and write in a coffee shop, library, restaurant (when it’s safe to go back), park, or some other place where I can work in silence and get inspired. I am hoping that getting back to writing new blog posts frequently will help inspire me to finish my blogging application, and hopefully I can document its development on this blog and show you the results of dogfooding my blogging app.

What Can You Expect?

This blog will be mostly filled with technical content. I don’t plan on getting political here. I’m too tired after the President Trump years and am ready to get back to a normal form of discourse. I will on occasion cover life stories, stories about my travels and other activities, and observations about life, but mostly I’ll be technical. I’ll try to include pictures, diagrams, and videos were they enhance the content.

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m not a specialist in any way. I’m more of a technology generalist. I like to jump around and my interests always change. I love mobile development, especially developing for the Apple iPhone and iPad. I enjoy web development and desktop development too. I love working with server and cloud technologies and building massively scalable solutions using asynchronous messaging and native cloud technologies. You’ll see a lot of that on this blog.

I will make mistakes. I will not just be publishing content about the things that I know. I’ll be publishing a lot about the things that I do not know about. This is intentional. I love to learn and part of my reasoning for writing about technologies that I am new to is to focus my thoughts and build an understanding of what I am learning. And as I am learning, I will share that with you and in some cases that will be wrong. And that’s perfectly ok and expected. Either I will fix it eventually, or if you know that I’m wrong, please feel free to drop me a comment or email to help me understand why I am wrong and how to make it right, if possible.

Who Am I?

If you’ve made it this far and you have no idea who I am, let me pause for a moment to introduce myself to you. I am the writer, Michael Collins. I use my formal name as my professional name: Michael F. Collins, III. The F stands for Francis. I was born on January 31, 1975 and will be 46 years old in 2021 (yes, I’m getting up there).

I have been working professionally as a software developer since 1994. I attended California State University, Sacramento, starting in August 1993 and studied Computer Engineering. I grew up and went to high school in Dixon, California; about a 30 minute drive from Sacramento and a 90 minute drive from San Francisco.

I was hired for my first professional position at a small company named Health Care Information Services, or HCIS, in the summer after my first year at school. I spent the next three years working full time while trying to make it as a student. I had a somewhat mixed success at that. Part of my problem was that in high school I wanted to learn about software development and computers. In college, I wanted to be come a professional. Once I had my first job, I was very anxious to get my career started. I was always looking at the next stage and not necessarily maximizing my utilization of the stage that I was in.

In April, 1997, HCIS was acquired and closed their Sacramento office to relocate to Philadelphia. I chose not to relocate and to stay in California. I left school during my fourth year and relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area where I began working for a small investing start-up. I was learning a lot about finance, but the job really wasn’t working out for me.

In January 1998, I joined PeopleSoft as a Development Manager working on a new product: Enterprise Performance Management. I loved PeopleSoft. There were great people, a great workspace, and the work was challenging. Unfortunately, it was very frustrating from a technical perspective and it was starting to kill my career aspirations. In my role as a software developer, I was very limited by PeopleSoft’s policies on what I could develop and how. At first, I was limited to COBOL which I had no experience with at the time. After finishing the first version of our product we were allowed to move to C++. At this time, Java was really starting to get momentum and that was where I really wanted to be, but unfortunately, PeopleSoft didn’t have any intention of going there. It was very frustrating for me, so I decided to leave and look for other opportunities.

I landed at a couple of other start-ups and eventually spent about 18 months working for Kaiser Foundation Health Plan in their IT department in 1999 and the early 2000s. I survived the great crash and recession following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. But after a while, it became evident that Kaiser wasn’t the place I wanted to be either, so I started looking at other opportunities. At this time, I also decided to start looking at other regions and the constant grind of the Bay Area was really starting to wear me down.

I eventally relocated to Scottsdale, Arizona, to work for a company named JDA Software as a Software Architect. I had only been to Arizona once when I was a kid for Thanksgiving at my Aunt and Uncle’s house in Tucson, and once for a business discovery trip. But it was somewhere new and different and I was ready for an adventure, so to Arizona I went! JDA was a good company and I made many good friends, but after a while the opportunities became repetitive and that led me to look for something new to work on.

It was October 2005 when the big change came. I left the world of software produce development and became a hired gun. I joined a software consulting firm. I thought that this was a win-win situation as I could work on lots of different fun projects, but I wasn’t constantly jumping between employers. I had a lot of fun working for Software Architects, which was then acquired by Sogeti USA. All of this led to my current adventure: Neudesic.

It was May 2008 and the Phoenix office of Sogeti USA was experiencing a big leadership exodus due to business changes and frustrations. I saw the tea leaves and decided that I should look for another opportunity. I ended up jumping ship to a smaller, younger competitor that I knew absolutely nothing about just because several of my peers were going there. This smaller competitor’s name was Neudesic. They were based out of Irvine, California, and had a really small Phoenix office. The people that I met were great and technically very strong. I felt that there was a lot of opportunity to learn from these people and they seemed very interested in sharing. I have had a great time and I have done extremely well at Neudesic.

This coming May, I will have spent 13 years working at Neudesic. 13 years is a lot longer than I had ever planned on staying and it has been a very interesting journey. I have received a lot of career opportunities and seen my career grow in ways that I don’t think could have been duplicated at other companies. I have grown both technically and professionally, moving from just being a software developer to being a manager and a true leader. I enjoy the freedom to lead, to try new things, and to help others to grow, which is an enormously gratifying thing as I have learned.

What Will I Be Blogging About?

In the coming days, weeks, months, and (hopefully) years, I plan to blog about my experience as a professional software developer. I want to share my insights and retrospectives into my career successes and failures. I will share with you the things that I did right, the things I did wrong, and what I truly regret about my career. I will also blog a lot of technical details about the things that I am working on both professionally and personally.

Expect to see a lot of discussions about mobile development, cloud development, microservices, software architecture, design patterns, electronics and robotics. Expect to see some recipes from my cooking adventures or insights into raising children. Expect to follow my journey and see the highs and lows of my life through my eyes.

Why Did I Stop Blogging Before?

It has been several years since I have actively blogged. As I mentioned, I hit a bad case of writer’s block. I just kind of lost my passion for it. I was dealing with some personal and professional frustration and was finding it hard to write. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to blog. I was just having a hard time getting my ideas down and expressing myself.

I also was growing impatient with my website. I wanted the website to look and work a certain way and I couldn’t really figure out or dedicate the time to getting it to be perfect. Perfection has long been a hard problem for me and would lead to depression when I couldn’t get it right. It either had to be perfect or I was unhappy with it. Unfortunately, I didn’t really know what perfect really was, and that made me depressed.

With 2021 starting, I’m making a greater effort to break out of my pursuit of perfection. I’ll go with what works. For example, I’m starting my blog using a publicly available theme for Hugo named uBlogger. The theme isn’t perfect, and my adoption of it isn’t quite perfect yet, but I’ll improve it over time. It’s an iterative evolution. Just like my blog and my software, things will evolve. I’ll make changes. I’ll tinker. I’ll write. I’ll do my best to keep moving forward.

Thank You For Visiting

If you joined me before, welcome back and thank you for giving me another chance. If you’re new to my blog, welcome and I hope that you get enjoyment and value from my future blog posts.