new blog!

new blog!
Photo down the middle of a spiral staircase in an old apartment building in Tartu, Estonia.

Welcome to my new blog: candu can do. It's my personal creative outlet. I write for myself first and foremost, and if it finds an audience - well, that's OK too.

I tend to write about technology and learning, with not-so-occasional detours into whatever else is on my mind. I've blogged a few other places before, and I've collected relevant links in my blog archive, so you can always go read that while I get some more posts up here.

Technology. I've worked in tech for 15 years, most of that on web applications and services at varying scales (from small non-profits to scale-ups to Big Tech). I've been a full-time employee, a consultant, and a business owner. In no particular order, some topics I'm especially interested in: engineering process / culture, developer experience, usability, self-tracking, matching tools to problems, civic tech, data visualisation, onboarding and mentoring, debugging mindset, small-a agile.

Learning. I'm looking to transition from individual contributor (IC) roles into management - partly to keep learning and growing professionally, partly because I try to practice an all-too-rare blend of servant-leadership and high technical competence. That's a learning journey of its own, one that benefits from heaps of mentorship, training, and deliberate practice.

Valkyrie and I moved to Denmark 2 years ago, and so we're also both learning Danish, which is its own learning journey. More recent research calls into question the idea that adults are worse than children at learning a second (or third, or...) language - perhaps we're just different as learners, which certainly tracks with my own experiences as a hopeful lifelong learner. In any case, for a native English speaker, Danish both is and isn't an easy language to learn: easy for its similar vocabulary and grammar, hard for its unusually wide variety of vowel sounds which make pronunciation unforgiving.

On the name of this blog: I've had the handle candu for roughly forever. I think the first place I used it was, back in the days of Starcraft. As a then-teenager and unabashed geek growing up in Canada, I'd heard of the CANDU nuclear reactor, a feat of engineering in its own right. Well, engineering seemed Cool - which is the ultimate measure of worth to a teenager - and I liked the pun factor of "can do", and it had this oblique reference to Canadian-ness that even as a self-professed post-nationalist teenager I could get behind, so candu it was. It's stuck with me ever since, and now as a lead software engineer in his late 30s I still like the "can do" aspect of it, as a nod to the do-er / maker / builder spirit.

No ifs, ands, or butts: Baldur's Gate 3 just came out recently, but since Valkyrie and I had committed to finishing off Tears of the Kingdom first, we're just finally getting around to playing it for the first time tonight. As it turns out, we also recently learned the Danish word balder, which means buttcheeks, and so now we'll think of that every time we play Baldur's Gate 3. Who said language learning was boring?

Oh, and we're also about to take our Modul 4 test, which (if we pass) means we'll have B1 proficiency in Danish, i.e. early "independent learner" proficiency according to the Common European Framework. It's about at the B1 level where language learners can perform two key tasks:

  1. holding non-trivial conversations (even if they're slow and you have to ask for specific words sometimes);
  2. understand news articles, books, movies, and so on (even if subtitles and dictionaries are still valuable crutches).

These key tasks make self-directed learning much more available than before, hence the "independent learner" label.