Psychology, economics and irrationality
As a devoted rationalist, it is my opinion that decision-making can be improved if we are aware of our own biases and limitations. Due to that, I have taken an interest on non-IT topics in the past years, ranging from psychology to economics.
Some of my favourite books on these topics (in no particular order):
- Predictably Irrational, by Dan Ariely (all of his books, actually)
- The Undercover Economist, Tim Hartford
- Freakonomics, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner (and sequels)
- The Black Swan, Nassim Nicholas Taleb
I’ve found that studying these topics has given me an unique insight into the field of I.T., from risk assessment and management, to user behaviour and incentives.
Projects and Achievements
Here are some of the more visible projects I’ve worked at.
Vodafone Portugal DNS
I’m currently (as of 2015) working on maintaining and setting up the DNS platform for Vodafone Portugal to be a self-servicing platform.
It’s plain old DNS, but working with it has given me deep insights into the inner workings of the internet’s name system, and a great deal of contact with security practices and threat prevention.
- work in progress…
Vodafone Live and other portals
I’ve worked with Vodafone’s mobile portal in more than one occasion from 2006 to 2014, first from Vodafone Portugal, in a ticket-handling role, and later in Vodafone Group, taking care of deployment and operations.
At its peak, Vodafone Live was a significant source of revenue for Vodafone Group. Spread out over 14 countries with several million daily users, it was a point of sale for all sorts of content and also subscriptions for auxiliary services. It ran for well over 10 years, which is impressive given the speed of the I.T. world.
As a business critical service, its infrastructure was built to withstand demand peaks and failures alike, it ran in an environment with over 1000 servers. My role was to manage the application in this environment, plan and deploy releases and patches, troubleshoot issues, improve monitoring and performance analysis tools, and ensure all SLAs were met and KPIs were achieved.
Also part of the job was to integrate new portals which interacted in some way with Vodafone Live, like Vodafone’s Myweb. I’ve provided support and troubleshooting to other teams, inclusively helping them troubleshoot their own services, and created tools to enhance the relationship between both solutions.
At the end of Vodafone Live’s life, with demand winding down, there was a push to reduce the infrastructure and hardware usage. I took care of planning the winding down process, ensuring that the service ran smoothly on less hardware.
Also part of this end-of-life period was an offshoring initiative. I was part of this by training people, transmitting knowledge, and evaluating their progress.
- Brought daily KPI handling and reporting under control, managing to prevent end-of-month issues in the overall KPI achievement reports
- Identified recurring issues/tickets and created tools and processes to speed up their resolution, or to avoid them altogether
- Provided self-service facilities to customers, in order to unburden the team
- Successfully reduced the hardware capacity required to run the service, at the end of its lifecycle
Vodafone’s end-to-end probing
As part of my stay with Vodafone in Düsseldorf, I was involved in supporting and developing modules for an end-to-end (E2E) probing platform. The purpose of this solution was to get performance and reliability metrics from a variety of Vodafone’s services, many of which were provided through Android/IOS applications.
The platform used Android devices controlled via USB by scripts written in the calabash-android framework (plus cucumber). This allowed us to get metrics on the services from the client (Android app) to the backend (web application) via the 3G network, thus the end-to-end monicker.
With the same setup we were also able to test services that were not provided by Android apps, but via browser. To this effect the platform used selenium on a Firefox browser instance.
- Improved scripts’ reusability
- wrote tests that ran on the Opera Mini browser, which was unsupported by the framework
- created an iPhone-spoofing setup using Firefox and extensions, all automated with cucumber
Vodafone Mobile TV
Vodafone’s Mobile TV was my first foray into the world of operations and support, and it was a very instructive one. Between 2006 and 2008 I was tasked with operating the service, analyzing and addressing customer issues, and improving its maintainability.
The Mobile TV platform was a rather complete solution that handled live video and video on demand streaming, video stream re-encoding, and billing. It provided 24×7 live tv channels to customers, and as such it had very strict availability requirements.
- Implemented most of the alarms for the service, using nagios
- Designed troubleshooting procedures and tools
- Wrote procedures for first-level support to work with
- Created a “TV wall” tool, to view all feeds at once, providing an easy way to spot image quality issues
Off the clock
Because life is more than just work, here are some of my other interests and hobbies:
- Paintball (I love the smell of CO2 in the morning…)
- SCUBA diving
- Photography and video
- Offroad cycling
- Technology, I like to keep up to date with the latest trends and gadgets
I tend to try and bring co-workers to partake in these activities, so if we ever work together it’s likely I’ll invite you for some of them (most likely paintball).
Recently I have fulfilled a long-held goal of becoming a certified First Aid practitioner, I think it is important to have potentially life-saving skills in case an emergency arises.