Monthly Archives: June 2009

Neil Young Uses JIRA: The LincVolt Project

Although I rarely re-blog Atlassian news, I can’t help myself this time. This deserves more exposure. Why? Three compelling reasons:

1. The LincVolt project is the coolest clean technology car project. Its mission is to get a 1959 Lincoln Continental to try to break a 100 mile-per-gallon barrier. This car weighs 2.5 tons. I would be satisfied just sitting in a ’59 Lincoln, let alone getting 100 mpg. This is simply a fantastic, ambitious project using a gorgeous battleship of a car.

2. The car runs Atlassian JIRA, our bug and issue tracker, right on the console. Yes, folks, you can create your issues and track them while you drive. The geographically-dispersed development team relies on JIRA to track their project.

3. Neil Young owns the car and uses JIRA. This is a personal project of Neil’s to inspire people by creating a clean automobile propulsion technology. I am flabbergasted the guy uses JIRA. I am a long-time fan, I have been to several of his Bridge School concerts and I’m practically a neighbor of Neil’s, but the fact that he is using JIRA is awesome.

Check this video out of the LincVolt project…

One last reason I love this project: it trumps my wife’s Toyota Prius, which I think she would leave me for. Prius owners are so smug, but this car is THE BOMB.

I have been known to play “Pink Cadillac” but now in homage to Neil, I need to write a tune about a wicked-cool ’59 Lincoln.

The Musicians of Atlassian

One of the great things here at Atlassian is we have some wonderful musicians. Here’s a window into this side of Atlassian life.

Matt Ryall, Soren Harner, and Jed Wesley-Smith playing

Matt Ryall, Soren Harner, and Jed Wesley-Smith playing in Sydney

Soren Harner runs all our software development. He also runs marathons. Somehow he finds time to be an incredible guitarist and what really pisses me off is he has a voice that makes women rip their clothes off. I have not actually seen women do this. I have, however, seen women consider it. Soren also makes playing music seem so natural and easy. He is one of those guys who knows 325 songs and can start singing one standing on his head. Or perhaps under pressure, with a gun held to his head for example (and with a woman ripping her clothes off). You get the point: this guy is talented.

We have considered shipping Soren MP3s with some of our new product releases, but you know the famous Software Company Problem: not enough time to do all the new feature requests. So his fans must wait. I am one of those fans.

Boots Wang

Boots Wang

Boots Wang is in Technical Sales and is clearly the coolest musician at Atlassian. Being cool might be easy to do around a bunch of nerdy engineers who clip their nails at their desk in Sydney, but it’s not so easy to do in San Francisco. Boots wears hats you wish you owned. Boots name is even cool. Boots is in bands with cool names: “Nobody Beats” was one. Boots reeks Cool-dom, Coolness, Coolio-Feng-Shui.

To make matters even more cool, she is a drummer. When I went to music school, all the women played flutes or sang arias and danced in the moonlight. They were pussies. Boots, however, throws down. She hits stuff. She is our only drummer, and I bow down to Her Wicked, Bitchin’ Coolness.

Matt Ryall

Matt Ryall

Matt Ryall is a Confluence developer and a guitarist. Matt plays acoustic mostly and is the kind of guy who sings folks songs to women to get his way with them. I suspect he is extremely successful. You know: an Emo-kind-of-guy. The kind of guy that writes poems.

Matt is also one of those people who has natural musical abilities. My guess is he never practices. But somehow he whips out some John Mayer song and sounds great. He also lends me his guitar when I am in Sydney, which is terrific of him. Natural software engineer, natural musician.

Jed Wesley-Smith and me

Jed Wesley-Smith and me

Jed Wesley-Smith is a JIRA developer and a bass player. You non-musicians may not realize how essential it is to have a bass player. I can’t tell you how many bands are searching for bass players. That’s because only weird people play bass. Bass players are famous for lacking social skills. The bass is the Supreme Understated Instrument. It’s takes a certain Zen quality. Type-A, ADD, Hyper-active people like me cannot play bass. Mellow Dudes play bass, and Jed is an extremely mellow guy.

Jed is also a phenomenal musican. While some of us have played professionally, Jed has played concerts where people scream and dance until they have heart attacks or over-dose on something. Jed is also one of those rare white guys who can spell FUNK. Jed is a seriously funky player. Playing music with Jed is a pure joy.

Taras Naumenko

Taras Naumenko

Taras Naumenko is on the Customer Service team in San Francisco. He’s in another league from the rest of us musicians because he not only went to music school, but he plays Classical guitar. The rest of play music to drink by. Taras plays serious shit. Taras, however, is full of surprises.

One day we were jamming in the office, and Taras starts playing “Californication” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Now I bet Yo-Yo Ma never played that. How many classical musicians play music from a band that shoots heroin? Anyway, Taras taught it to me, so he’s a real Stand-up Guy.



Morgan Friberg

Morgan Friberg

Morgan Friberg is on our marketing team in S.F. and is the one Real Professional musician in the company. Morgan gigs regularly. In fact, his band, Arcadio has a website, they record regularly, and they even have Arcadio beer cozies, for Godssake. Morgan also plays multiple instruments: guitar, mandolin, ukele, and I suspect more.

Some day I’m going to come to work, and Morgan won’t be there because he was discovered and he hit the Big Time. I will buy every CD. I will even jump in the mosh pit.

Most of us Atlassian musicians are mere mortals. Then there is Jay Simons. Jay runs our marketing. He runs marathons. He does triathalons. He races in serious bike races for laughs. Jay does everything Full-Tilt. He is a spectacular piano player and has an incredible voice. In Jay’s case I am certain women rip their clothes off when he sings. Men might, for that matter. Jay is so talented, his dog is talented. Jay is also very funny and almost as funny as me.

Jay Simons

Jay Simons

If software ceased to exist as a profession, some of us could go be professional musicians. But we would be end up playing in bars where people drink too much and have fights. Jay, on the other hand, would be playing cocktail piano at the fanciest hotel in town, dressed in a tuxedo, sipping a martini while women ripped their clothes off. Jay is Pro all the way.

For those musicians out there with some Software Chops, you might want to someday consider joining Atlassian. We need a bass player in S.F. badly, a drummer in Sydney, horn players, perhaps a great conga player… Oh, you get the point.

Living with Cancer in Silicon Valley II: Survival Tips from a Hardened Cancer Dude

Although I have a reasonable excuse for not blogging since March, my Kids have become my conscience telling me to update people. Facebook and Twitter are for updates, so instead, here are my ways of surviving the ordeal of cancer.

Originally I blogged because I joined Atlassian. My Inner Writer Nerd also wanted to come out. Then I crossed the line from business topics with my Cancer 2.0: the Killer App blog. No surprise, a lot more people read this. Two lessons: 1) Speak from the Heart and it’s way more interesting. 2) Business colleagues accept one crossing the line from business to something as starkly personal as cancer.

I am on leave from Atlassian, so writing about work is less likely. My focus needs to be elsewhere. So Dear Readers, I am Leaning into It, and will write about personal matters.

How do I survive this Cancer Thing? What would I say to a Cancer support group, which I don’t go to it because I find them depressing? Here are my Seven Survival Tips.

#1: Focus

I have one focus: Get Healthy. Whip Cancer’s Sorry Ass. Everything that follows here is in service of this one Big Goal.

What is difficult about focus? For one, I love my work. I even lurve it, as Woody Allen said. When I had cancer in 2004, I re-evaluated my entire life. I realized that I live here in Silicon Valley and work in technology for a reason: I love it.

My cancer, however, is not a mild or known variation. My cancer is an aggressive, unknown (4 cases ever) beast that grows tumors in my kidney region and attaches to valuable stuff. I have lost one kidney already.

Time to focus, buddy. Taking a leave from Atlassian sucks. I am honored to work in such a special place, and letting go is not fun. But now a singular focus is critical: Health.

#2: Focus on Short-term Goals

I focus on getting through short-term wins or “gates” in the treatment. My 2004 treatment lasted 10 months. This one will be shorter, but when you add up my chemo, surgery, radiation, and the possibility of the treatment changing anytime, long-term goals feel elusive.

An example is chemo treatments. Each one is an accomplishment. I focus on the reward of eventually eating like a Pig, going out, enjoying life, once the toxic crap dissipates.

Now my short-term goal is getting ready for surgery. Nothing else matters. Screw radiation; that’s down the road. I am working out every day to be in shape for surgery.

Remember the precept of good project management: never have a task longer than two weeks? If you an Atlassian-type or engineer, think about some Agile Development principles. Two week goals are great things. Chemo cycles tend to be three unfortunately!. Think short-term; otherwise, the disease is more debilitating mentally.

#3: Don’t Look Like a Patient

“It’s not how you feel, it’s how you look”, goes the Billy Crystal line. If I look good, I feel more invincible. I absolutely hate looking like a patient. Even in the hospital, I wear jeans and t-shirt rather than Their Goddamned Pajamas.

At one point chemo drove my weight down to 175 pounds. I’m 6’ 1” and can easily carry 190, and started chemo at 200 pounds. What did I do? I shaved my head, put on some nice clothes, got out my sunglasses and took this photo for an internal Atlassian blog.

Photo-5

Although I felt like shit, and could not wait to eat a meal, Ben Speakman, one of our developers at Atlassian commented back that I looked “Badass”.

Look like the healthy person you want to be. Be the change you seek.

#4: Follow Your Heart

Yes, my heart is in my work, but I can’t have that right now. My heart is also in my music, my art, reading, hanging with my family. I give these pursuits as much space as treatment allows.

I might call this “Re-Balancing” meaning: if you cannot pursue work, what pursuits can you fit in between hospital time, chemo infusions, treatments, countless doctors? For me, it meant making a project of my music and art. I finally set up a new iMac with all my art, photos, music, movies, and installed Protools for recording. I bought myself a keyboard, and transformed my home office into a real music room. Follow you heart.

#5: Exercise

No matter how feeble you are, get your Sorry Ass to a gym, go for a walk, anything to fight it. I started with a 12×8 centimeter tumor planted on my Psoas muscle. I was in so much pain, I couldn’t sit in a chair. Every day I was taking 160 mg Morphine, 900 mg Neuronton, and 50-60 Oxycodone/Percoet…

pills

Once my tumor shrank from the chemo, I worked off the morphine. Then I started walking. Now I have zero pain and run at least 2 miles almost every day. I am on a Mission for God, and the God is My Health. Working out helps me mentally get through the agony of chemo, and I am certain, prepares me better for surgery.

#6: Live

That’s right: live. As a cancer patient, you are closer to death. It is trying to kill you. With some cancers, perhaps death is a long way off. With mine this time, the docs gave me a few months if I was not treated aggressively.

So I aim to live during this pain-in-the-ass treatment. Living, to me, means enjoying things you might now ordinarily do as a beaten-down patient. In 2004 during chemo, I flew my son to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, Yankee Stadium, and Fenway Park. I was told not to be in large public places while my immune system was weak. Sorry pal, I had to live while I could, and it was a trip my son will never forget.

During chemo this time, I played guitar at a local Stanford University Relay for Life. Here’s one of the tunes I played…

I love playing outdoors, and witnesses will tell you I was rather loud. Live, Baby.

#7: Be Positive

This could easily be my first tip, but I already blogged about the mental game in 2007, and recently when my cancer returned. Also, I am a natural optimist, so I really don’t do anything, I just am this way.

I also cannot say this to a patient after options have run out. I have had frightening diagnoses, but not that tough. I do know that every medical professional with whom I have discussed the power of positive thinking, strongly advocates it.

Focus on the positive. Tell cancer to “Piss off”