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Preview: James Crisp

James Crisp



Ruby on Rails, C#, .NET, book reviews, film reviews, mind hacks, Wing Chun and the occasional personal bit.



Updated: 2018-01-16T03:29:53.525+11:00

 



Starting at ThoughtWorks: First Five Weeks

2007-03-27T17:00:07.468+10:00

Well, I've been with ThoughtWorks for just over 5 weeks now, and I thought I'd write down some thoughts before the hiring and joining process got lost in the misty swamp of my memory.Hiring processTo cut a long story short, I did a phone screen with HR, a coding test and then some fairly quick aptitude and personality tests and finally 3 interviews. You have something like a week to do the coding test and then submit your code for review. I had the other tests and interviews on a single day. Although this sounds pretty horrendous, it actually wasn't too bad. Tests were pretty quick and the interviewers were astoundingly friendly. I finished by something like 3pm in the afternoon, including a lunch break, and surprisingly didn't feel too bad or stressed afterwards.InductionAs a fairly impressive start, I had 2 days of induction in Melbourne (I live in Sydney). ThoughtWorks arranged drivers, hotel and flight so it was all very smooth. This was lucky as I was pretty jet lagged and confused - I'd just flown back from an overseas holiday not long before. Induction was largely getting a company provided laptop, meeting people and getting an introduction to various internal systems and procedures. As an aside, I've heard that there is now an "immersion" process where you get sent to India for a week or two for induction but can't comment on that.A few weeks on the beachWhen you're not assigned to a client project, you are "on the beach". This means you go into your local office with your laptop. It's really great - there's no particular tasks assigned to you, but the opportunity is there to get involved in a lot of interesting stuff. To give you some examples, here's some of the stuff I've had the chance to do:Write an open source plug-in for Mephisto for ThoughtWorks StudiosBe involved in scoping out and estimating for a RFI from a new clientPair with another developer to do code reviews of potential new recruitsHelp out briefly with a fun project to develop a driver for a USB build light for continuous integration servers (red for broken build, green for good build, etc)Help out on client projects - I was asked to whip up a little proof of concept for JRuby and Java integration and learnt a bit getting this set upDo a little bit of Google Maps integrationMeet colleagues and learn more about procedures etcGet invited to lunch with the managing director - this is something that happens for all new hires and I think it's really greatAlmost go out on a pre-sales call (I've got to go back to Melbourne and will miss this unfortunately)Catch up on tech reading such as blogs, books etcGo to a swanky talk given by Martin Fowler and Kristan VingrysEat lots of free lunches (usually twice a week) and attend various talks at the office given by other consultantsDrink lots of free coffee (ThoughtWorks has a coffee tab with a local cafe)First projectMuch fun as it is on the beach, after a few weeks, I was itching to join the big boys and go on a project. Getting assigned to a project is the purview of your professional services manager, and can be pretty changeable. The saying is that "you don't really know what project you're on till you walk in the door of the client site" and I've even heard "you don't really know what project you're on till you're on the plane home". There's a grain of truth in these - it can look like you are going to go on a project and then it doesn't come through, or some other project becomes more important or whatever. I almost went on several different projects before finally ending up on quite a cool Ruby / Rails project with a startup in Melbourne. So, I got to join the jet set and have been flying down to Melbourne during the week, and back for the weekends. This is a bit tiring, but ThoughtWorks does its best to make things comfortable. I'm staying in a really nice corporate apartment in Melbourne, flights are arranged and paid for and drivers are scheduled for pickup and drop off to the airport. There's also a generous per diem allowance for food. The project is really cool, and I'm enjoying it, but can't s[...]



Contact / Feedback Form Plugin for Mephisto

2007-04-17T13:14:15.012+10:00

(image) Introduction
If you use Mephisto, a content management / blogging system written in Rails, you may well be interested in using this new plug-in. It provides a form that lets visitors to your site leave their contact details and send you messages or feedback via email.

License
This plug-in was developed for the new ThoughtWorks Studios site. As I wrote it at and for work, it is copyright ThoughtWorks, 2007. However, ThoughtWorks, being generous souls, is happy for me to open source it under the Apache 2.0 licence, which pretty much means you have free reign to use it as you want.

Requirements
  • Mephisto Edge (the latest stable 0.7.3 release does not have support for Mephisto plugins)
  • Rails Edge (required by Mephisto edge)
  • ActionMailer (comes with Rails) correctly configured with SMTP server etc, so that emails can be delivered. See "Configuration" section here for more details.

Installation
ruby script/plugin install http://mephisto-contact-form-plugin.googlecode.com
/svn/plugins/mephisto_contact_form

or in your vendor/plugins directory for Mephisto:

svn checkout http://mephisto-contact-form-plugin.googlecode.com
/svn/plugins/mephisto_contact_form mephisto_contact_form

Make sure you restart your web server at this point so that the plugin is loaded.

Setup
1. Create a new template called 'contact_us.liquid' though the admin web interface (under the 'Design' tab).
Paste in the following code:

Contact Us


{% contactform %}

{{ form.name }}


{{ form.email }}


{{ form.phone}}


{{ form.subject}}


{{ form.body }}


{{ form.submit }}


{% endcontactform %}

Feel free to modify labels, layout etc.

2. Edit
{MEPHISTO_ROOT}\vendor\plugins
\mephisto_contact_form\lib\contact_notifier.rb
and put in the email address you want contact form submissions to go to.

3. Link to "/contact_form" from your site.

Any issues / questions / suggestions?
Best to post comments on this blog.

Technical Info
The contact form plugin is actually a combination of a rails plugin, a liquid block plugin and a Mephisto plugin. See this post about developing Mephisto plugins for more information.



Bye Bye EDI... Hello ThoughtWorks

2006-12-26T17:45:20.058+11:00

Well, after almost four years at EDI (now called CargoWise edi) I am leaving. I finish in the middle of January next year. It has been an interesting time, and I have learnt a lot working with very talented people and from building the framework for a big solution suite (around 4 million lines of C# code). I've also had the opportunity to experience the very different joys and pitfalls of product management.

I will be starting at ThoughtWorks (of NUnit, Jim Webber and Martin Fowler fame) in the middle of February in the new year. I'm expecting that there will be a lot of new exciting stuff to learn, and a lot of variety in terms of clients and technologies. ThoughtWorks are strongly XP, do a lot of development on client sites and even have some Rails projects. The people I have met from ThoughtWorks have all been very friendly and I look forward to starting there soon :-)