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Andrew May for Leading EDJE

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An (out-of-season) IT Thanksgiving

This post was originally published on the Leading EDJE website in November 2018, when it was more seasonal.

That being said, these are things we should be thankful for all year round.

Most Thanksgiving articles are about family, friends and food, but I thought it would be interesting to think about what we should be thankful for in our IT careers.

Open Source

Open source software is everywhere today - from phones to browsers to operating systems, and the huge choice of libraries we rely on to develop almost every application. This has been a significant change since I began my career when it was considered a niche ideology and not necessarily trusted in the IT industry. Fast forward to today and both the Java development kit and .NET core are open source, and it would be very unusual to write an application without relying on third party open source libraries.

You can show your thanks for Open Source software in one or more of these ways:

  • File a bug report: If you have an issue don't just complain about it, create a bug report providing enough information so that the project maintainers can recreate the issue.
  • Fix a bug or add a feature: There are many opportunities to make changes in smaller projects. I've made enhancements and fixes to a range of different projects, usually because I was using a library or utility and wanted it to do something slightly differently.
  • Write an open source project: It doesn't have to be anything large - there are many very small projects that are widely used because they meet a need (see the average Javascript/Node project).
  • Donate: some large (e.g. Mozilla) and small projects are funded by donations. Sometimes it's just giving enough to pay for a coffee or beer to show your appreciation.
  • Evangelize your favorite open source projects

Moore's Law

The increase in computing power available has made many things possible. As more of our lives are lived online it's been necessary to build systems that can cope with massive numbers of concurrent users. Fields of computing such as Machine Learning have become practical because we finally have the resources to implement algorithms that were conceived well before we had the capability to utilize them.

The jump in computing power between my first computer (a Sinclair ZX81) and the laptop I'm writing this on is hard to fathom.

Public Clouds

Cloud Computing has been called a "Democratization of Technology" because it makes available the same resources to any developer whatever project huge or small they are working on. It's possible to experiment with different technologies, only paying for what you use.

I've worked a lot in AWS, but I've been able to try out both Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform making use of generous free trials. I attended the free Global Azure Bootcamp last year, and received even more credits.

IT Community

I hate to admit how often I end up on Stack Exchange searching for answers. However I'm very grateful for all the time people have spent asking, answering and editing questions. There's also all the people writing documentation and blog posts.

More locally, there's a large number of user groups and meetups in the Columbus area for all different areas of IT. We also have a good number of local and regional conferences, including CodeMash, Stir Trek, DevOps days and NFJS.

Finally, I'm thankful for all my great colleagues at Leading EDJE.

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