INTERVIEW WITH ANDREW BEST : FEATURED PRESENTER at ADNUG, 8 APRIL 2020
Updated: Apr 30
Andrew Best (andrew-best.com) is a Principal Consultant at Telstra Purple (previously Readify).
He is well known in the Australian tech scene as an experienced leader, consultant, architect, developer and highly engaging conference presenter.
Recently, along with ADNUG organiser David Gardiner, he brought Adelaide the inaugural DDD Adelaide in 2019.
On Wednesday 8 April, Andrew will be presenting his talk “Learn Authentication The Hard Way” in the first fully remote Meet Up in ADNUG history. To register for this event, go to https://www.meetup.com/Adelaide-dotNET/events/269471859/
Hi Andrew, we are speaking on Thursday 19 March 2020, where do I find you today? I am downstairs in my newly established home office. I’m currently full-time working from home due to COVID-19. Luckily, I’ve just had a new standing desk delivered. Telstra Purple (along with all Telstra employees) have gone fully remote in the past week.
What changes have you noticed moving to completely remote? You need to be more deliberate with your communication. We developed a remote team charter early to agree on how we would behave and communicate with each other – which has worked very well. One thing I have noticed up front is that it is easy to stay quiet and not notice it. You need to prompt yourself to be in the moment, to interact with your team and to play your part. It’s very different than being in the same room as the team.
What impact has this had on your clients to date? They are all still figuring it out to be honest. Government clients are doing their best to still deliver services, our private customers have already moved to fully remote working. It’s difficult to say as this will continue to change as different conditions are applied to society to deal with this pandemic.
Have you worked remotely before? Not full time – but have worked have done some part time remote work in the past. I am adapting well but it isn’t my preferred state.
What’s your number one tip for working remotely? How do you maintain productivity – and sanity….? For productivity – and I use a technique called “the Pomodoro Technique” – the name comes from a tomato shaped kitchen timer. The idea in Pomodoro is to focus on work in 25-minute intervals – you set a timer and intensely focus on work for 25 minutes. In practice, this involves choosing one task, setting a timer, and shutting down everything including social media, emails, your phone, etc. Just focus on getting that one thing done. When the timer goes off – move away from the activity. Do some headspace recollection for five minutes – check the noise makers, browse the internet, have a stretch - and then set up for the next tasks. By stacking these tasks together and putting a deliberate focus on a group of activities we can achieve more. I find that apps like Slack and Teams can be time sinks. Regarding sanity – just get out and do exercise – go for a walk – go for a run, walk whatever is your thing. The other thing I have found is that it is easier to stay seated when working from home – if I don’t put a focus on scheduling exercise, I can sit for very long periods of time.
Can you tell us about your talk? The talk is about our responsibility for security as software developers, and how we can be more responsible or accountable for security in the solutions we develop. It’s called “Learn Authentication The Hard Way” because instead of starting with nice high level diagrams and concepts that gradually steeps us in the subject matter, we dive right into the underlying IETF technical specifications! It can be a real eye-opener for people who haven’t done that before.
Have you presented a conference talk remotely before? No. And because it will be remote, I’ll have no way to judge how it lands. I won’t be able to see how the audience responds to my wit and charm. It could be interesting!
Which tech do you plan to use? We will be giving Teams a go I believe.
Who would you recommend logs onto to your talk? The thing here is it is NOT a .NET talk. The examples will be in C# and there is some relevance there. However this is a talk about building secure systems, and looking and the underlying specifications for security protocols, so it is applicable to any stack. Anyone who is involved in delivering systems, sys admins, devs, secops minded folks – anyone who is curious about modern authentication. This talk was born out of a 3 part blog series (https://www.andrew-best.com/posts/learn-auth-the-hard-way-part-one/) I submitted this talk to a few conferences last year before I’d built the content – it didn’t get in because I suspect it wasn’t clear how reading specifications would at all be fun for the audience! I was also going to deliver this talk at the half day secops conference. Which has now been postponed sadly – but will come back as a bigger event later in the year, and I’ll be able to give it then.
What podcasts/blogs/TV shows are you into right now?
PODCASTS Coaching for leaders – Dave Stachowiak – (https://coachingforleaders.com/) HBR Idea Cast (https://hbr.org/2018/01/podcast-ideacast) Agile uprising (http://podcast.agileuprising.com/) They are generally non-technical, focussing on leadership, business, coaching and mentoring.
BLOG I don’t curate my own set of blogs. I recently returned from the tech scene in Brisbane where this is a guy called Michael Wolfenden, he puts a set of links ever morning. It’s called the Wolf Report. LINK : https://michael-wolfenden.github.io/ I just wait for the Wolf report each morning. It’s great!
For those who may have a few spare minutes available now they aren’t commuting to work, what TV show will you be binging? I don’t really do TV shows. I can’t sit down for that long and dedicate it to TV. I watch a few youtube channels A really good one is NPR https://www.youtube.com/user/nprmusic – they do a series called tiny desk concert – they invite artists in to play music behind a desk in an office. There is a mix of well-known artists and lesser known gems invited on. There are some real crackers in there.
And a couple of standard questions for these interviews that I have taken from the community; FROM ANDREW BEST (!) If you were a GIF, which one would you be? https://media.giphy.com/media/13GIgrGdslD9oQ/giphy.gif
ANONYMOUS Have you ever used RUST? No. I know some have a real love for languages and how they enable people to build systems in different ways, particularly when it comes to systems programming. The guys at SEQ (https://datalust.co/seq) rewrote their entire core storage system in Rust, and now they are on to rewriting their query language parser in it! I use a combination of C# and Typescript to help me get what I need to get done in my work life. Thank you Andrew, it’s a strange time and I thank you for sharing some of it with me today.
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