About Sasha & Guus
I’m a software engineering manager and I work in Arlington, Virginia. My current work areas include fraud detection and high performance Java but I love all kinds of software development, and especially enjoy creating happy and productive engineering teams.
My wife Sasha graduated with a PhD from Duke University last year and now has a cool job in Washington, D.C. Our daughter Nora was born on February 18.
My full name is Guustaaf Bosman but I go by “Guus”. This is a typical Dutch name, and some non-Dutch speakers use “Chris” instead. I was born in the Netherlands and Alexandra (Sasha) is from Bulgaria. We speak English at home, though Sasha speaks Dutch fluently and my Bulgarian is quite decent.
Sasha and I met in the summer of 1998 in upstate New York. In 2000 Sasha joined me in the Netherlands, and a few years later we moved to the United States permanently.
This blog serves to keep in touch with friends and family, many of whom live far away.
About my work
I love technology and really enjoy my work, which I started in September 2011. It’s my policy not to describe my work or employer. Also: this is my personal blog and the views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not those of my employer.
At my previous employer I created a very successful data center management product, see screenshots here (technology highlights: ExtJS for the UI, Ruby on Rails front-end, Java back-end and REST & ActiveMQ as the glue in the middle).
I enjoy reading about technology, management, psychology and history. I keep track of some of the books that I read on this site. I also have a big list with “must-read” classic books that that I’m slowly working through. As a true Dutchman, I love 17th century Dutch paintings. I like running half marathons and hope to run my first full marathon sometime in 2012, or perhaps in 2013.
Are you interested in experiences of Dutch immigrants to the States? I’m the publisher of a successful newsletter & website for Dutch-Americans, Dutch in America.com (also on Facebook). I was quoted in The Economist in January 2012.
I started this website in June 2001 to stay in touch with friends and family. The server is running OpenBSD and Drupal and it is located in the Netherlands. It has been running non-stop since October 2006, and it’s strong enough to survive an influx of Slashdot readers. I’ve considered SliceHost, but a private server is a lot more cost-effective (read more about this website).
A small open source project that I’m somewhat proud of is Java Config (http://javaconfig.sf.net): it solves a simple problem really well and it’s well written and well tested software with a code coverage of over 95%. It is now “old” and lost its usefulness years ago when newer tools like Spring came along. I’ve contributed some other code to open source projects, mainly tiny things such as a recent comments block for Php-Nuke in 2003 and more recently a patch and scripts for Drupal. I’m proud to say that, where appropriate, I’ve approved many patches and contributions to open source projects in my work.
I really like languages. Dutch is the native language in the Netherlands, and obviously English is my second language but I also try to maintain my skills in other languages. I speak German pretty well, and when I worked on a consultancy engagement in Puerto Rico in 2006 I attended a Spanish language course. I always keep working on my Bulgarian since my family-in-law is Bulgarian and in 2010 I started brushing up my French through a course in Chapel Hill. Once I hope to gain a DELF B1 certification.
Occasionally I’ll come across an American word or expression that I haven’t heard before.
I’m an engineering manager by trade and I combine the roles of technical architect and people manager. I’ve managed up to 20 people at the same time, mostly software engineers.
I’ve worked with a variety of agile methods, including elements of XP and Scrum, but most companies I’ve worked at all had a slightly different implementation, and that’s fine with me. I’m very pragmatic. I enjoyed reading “Rework” — it had a lot of statements that reflect how I approach work and business.
Technology wise, I’m pragmatic. I believe Java/J2EE has its place in the enterprise, and there are places where Ruby on Rails or Python may be more effective. (When starting a new product at work, I switched our technology to Ruby on Rails with ExtJS for the product’s front-end, a change that paid off handsomely). I use PHP and Drupal for my personal sites.
Programming wise, I’ve been across the spectrum: I’ve written kernel code in assembly and C but also used full-blown enterprise integration stacks based on XML transformations and web services and everything in between.
I’m a manager now, and do not typically write production code myself. I’ll fix some small bugs here and there but I don’t have the time that real development needs. Besides: I like to hire people who are better programmers than I am.
Sometimes I still dive in the code though. For a customer in Puerto Rico I designed and oversaw the implementation of an integration between an order entry system and a order work flow system, and many smaller subsystems such as for address validation and credit checks. I spent a few weeks working late nights and weekends reverse engineering one of the interfaces myself since it was very poorly documented and even the vendor couldn’t help us. It was a great feeling when I managed to get a prototype of the basic system working, and in the months after that we implemented this successfully.
I’ve designed and architected great products from scratch. I’m very proud of a product I’ve made for my previous employer in Raleigh, which my team and I started two years ago and is now in use in some of the largest data centers in the world.
Technology skills have a half-life
A timeline of skills:
- 1992: Visual Basic for Applications. Created my first commercial software using Microsoft Access and OLE Automations.
- 1994: More VBA. Expanded my software business, created a payment terminal system for JUMA
- 1997: Learned Java in college
- 1999: First part-time work with Java
- 2000: Learned about Ant, jUnit
- 2002: Maven. OpenBSD. Apache.
- 2004: Learned about Unix CICS, IBM connectors, WBI integration
- 2006: CentOS, Nagios, SNMP
- 2007: Ruby on Rails
- 2010: High availability.
- 2012: Responsive Web Design
- 1978: born in Opperdoes, the Netherlands
- 1981: Ettie, my sister is born
- 1987: moved to Middenmeer, the Netherlands
- 1991: high school, “Wiringherlant” in Wieringerwerf, the Netherlands
- 1997: graduated high school, trip to China with my father
- 1997: started Master’s Computer Science at the Vrije Universiteit; moved to Amsterdam, the Netherlands
- 1998: worked summer job as a short-order cook in Diamond Horseshoe Ranch (Antonio’s), Tannersville NY. Alex (Sasha) and I met there.
- 1999: worked summer job in Six Flags Great America, Chicago IL
- 2000: Sasha started Master’s Economics at the Vrije Universiteit; started working at Net.Footworks (part of the Chess group)
- 2001: moved to Amstelveen, the Netherlands
- 2002: moved to Haarlem, the Netherlands
- 2003: graduated university, full-time work at Chess
- 2004: moved to Washington D.C., USA
- 2006: moved to Durham, NC
- 2007: Sasha & Guus engaged
- 2008: Sasha & Guus married
- 2011: Sasha got her PhD from Duke; moved back to DC; we both started new jobs
- 2012: Nora, our daughter, is born
See also the year overviews (login required).
Hope to see you soon in real life,