Across the pond with Jeff Douglas

“Across the Pond” is a series of Q&A blog posts where I interview some of the and Platform‘s brightest stars. Most recently I interviewed Jeff Douglas, a MVP, Hero, Blogger, Author, Open-source developer and all-around nice guy. He’s a senior consultant for Appirio and most recently started in the role of Developer Evangelist at Cloudspokes (which is incredibly awesome). You can find him on twitter @jeffdonthemic.

Q: Tell us a bit about your career. Where did you start, and how did you get to where you are today?

I was actually the teacher’s assistant in computer class in high school writing BASIC and Pascal. I would have never guessed that I’d be where I am right now! I actually went into sales right after college because I “wanted to be rich” but absolutely hated it. I quit shortly thereafter and started doing web design which is funny ‘cuz I can’t even draw a crooked line. I soon landed a job with a multi-national company managing their global website development shop while doing my own biz on the side. That introduced me to a guy and we subsequently started a business doing Java development for SAP R/3. Actually… this is getting too damn long…. just go check out my LinkedIn profile for details but I eventually took a class from someone at Appirio and joined them about a year and a half later. Love the company, love the industry and love the people at Appirio!

Q: You are obviously an avid blogger. When and why did you start blogging?

A: If I wasn’t doing this computer biz-thingy I’d probably be a history teacher. The only problem that I have with teaching is that it doesn’t pay well and I can’t stand kids (just kidding… I’ve been a foster parent for the past 12 years for 80+ kids). However, I do like figuring stuff out and “imparting my wisdom” so that people don’t have to repeat my mistakes or share in my frustrations. I started blogging about in 2007 mostly because no one else seemed to be. I couldn’t really find answers to my questions (Apex, Visualforce and Sites was just appearing on the scene) so when I did I jotted them down in my blog. Funny story… I volunteered to be on a pilot for the Google App Engine Toolkit for and wrote a POCs. issued a press release with quotes from Marc Benioff, Scott McMullan and myself. It just happened to be released the same day that I interviewed in San Mateo with Appirio! I think that might have sealed the deal!

Q: An intercontinental train leaves New York heading for London in an underwater tunnel at 06h00. If the train contains 200 passengers and is travelling in a vacuum how many cups of tea are spilt on the trip?

I really don’t care about the tea (I’m an American) but if you spill my dirty Grey Goose martini with 3 blue cheese olives we are gonna have issues. Actually I don’t like the question so I’m gonna rewrite it. So if we substitue the tea with vodka, use Dublin instead of London (I’m going there in two month on vacation anyway so why not get a little head start) and use the space shuttle instead of the train…… then I guess my answer would be, “cooked medium with a warm pink center”.

Q: Gazing into your recently polished crystal ball, where do you think the world of computing is headed? What role do you see and the Platform playing?

Wow! This is the infancy of cloud computing and we are on the upswing. I see only positive things for the industry and in particular. You are starting to see other large players notice what is happening and they are in the process of turning their tired, old processes in the other direction. I wish them luck in catching or Appirio.

Q: You’re a busy guy, give us a breakdown of your busiest day ever.

Ever? That’s a tough question. I’d say one of my busiest days in recent memory was at Dreamforce last December. The day started off with an internal Appirio kickoff meeting at like 8am with Narinder playing Jay-Z and dancing (I believe I was still a little “fuzzy” from the night before). After that I headed over to the Moscone to catch up with Sandeep before our Facebook & FourSquare preso. Then I received an email from my co-presenter from VMware that my VMforce demo app was “broken” due to a newly discovered session timeout issue. I had to hack around that in between my two presentations. Both sessions went off well but I missed the Developer Hero Award in the meantime. Boy did I catch hell for that from Nick Tran! Luckily Jon Mountjoy stepped in and smoothed things over with his imposing statue and smooth European sentence structure. Then after that I think it was the Appirio party at The Mint (craaazy!!!) before the red-eye back to Florida that night.

Q: Which of your blog posts is your favourite?

I was working at a major (unnamed) search engine company in Mountain View for awhile doing front end development with Google Web Toolkit. GWT 2.0 had just came out and no one (I mean no one!) had any idea how to use it. There was a single page dedicated to it in their Help but that was it. I struggled through a couple of GWT UiBinder components and wrote some blog posts. To this day, those three articles represent roughly 30% of my 2000 page views per day. Amazing!


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