The Glaze Over Effect - for Normal People:

"Uh, OK" is how most people respond when you tell them that you write software. If they are really courageous some ask "So, what does that mean, anyway?"

Then I have to explain, and they are still glazed over, but by then they don't care, so the conversation migrates to stuff they can get their head around. "How 'bout them Cowboys this year?"

If you're a normal person, that might be all you want to know. That I write software. But really, I'm an odd duck in the software community. If you want to know more, read on:

The Glaze Over Effect - for Techies

Then, there's the glaze over effect when another software guy asks what I do.

Shown above presenting hadoop ETL automation to a local devops group

Techies don't glaze over when you mention software, but I still get the glaze over effect, because I write software that creates software. "Uh, what?" Nevermind, I'm a java developer. That's something I can say that they will easily understand, and now we can continue the conversation on more familiar terms.

What Is Software Automation, Anyway?

Oddly enough, most techies DO understand software automation, but only if you call it something more concrete. For some it might be an IDE or even the special capabilities of an Emacs editor. Or it might be the use of Ruby On Rails, or an ORM, or any of several well accepted technologies like Make or Maven or any of dozens of technologies required for Continuous Delivery like Chef. Each of these automates what was once done by hand, or by copypaste.

Software Automation as an Abstraction

If you move up one level of abstraction, what I do is Software Automation as an abstraction. As an abstraction, it's more a measure of low hanging fruit. Where are devs or ops engineers spending their time? Can it be easily automated so they can spend their time managing exceptions rather than implementing the rule? If so, then that is the low hanging fruit that needs to be automated next.

It's been a rewarding career, even if it only causes most people to scratch their heads. Something I really enjoy, and something I seem to be moderately good at.

So That's What I Do - Software Automation

If you're a non-techie I just write software. Good enough.

If you're a techie, I automate the creation of software.

Is Automation Pretty Cool?

Not cool, no.

What I do is ALWAYS a very controversial field. I've been in software for 20 years, and no matter what year it is, whatever people do by hand that year SHOULD be done by hand. Ask any developer or ops engineer. That's just the facts. If you try to automate it, you're going to miss something or it's just a waste of time.

Next year, someone else will automate it, and then that will be the accepted way. So the world turns.

So I don't take it personally when people think I am crazy to automate stuff they do by hand. They are just doing their job. 

Not Big Data?

"But I thought you were a big data guy?"

See how confusing this can get? I spent the last couple of years, among other things, automating big data ETL. So yes, I had to learn enough big data hadoop stuff to automate it.