This week will be my first week after officially terminating my previous job, even though I have been working for the new one for over a month. I had acquired a considerable amount of PTO hours, as I planned to wind down a bit, which allowed me to move into my new job earlier than expected.

I didn’t expect to move at all, but things get on your path you hadn’t imagined to be happening. If you asked me what 2024 would look like at the end of the year, I most likely wouldn’t have responded with an answer indicating I would be working for a company on the other side of the world.

I had a vacation scheduled in May, so I’m not entirely neglecting myself by starting a month before terminating the other. We returned from an impressive sea tour of the Mediterranean Sea and have been going through some updates that resulted from Microsoft’s Build 2024 Conference, which happened in the same week as my vacation, and, therefore, I was unable to attend.

This week will also be the week to celebrate my birthday, so everything feels like the big Ctrl-Alt-Delete … a milestone with the big reset of my life. Now, my fingers are crossed, and I hope the machine will return without moving into the Blue Screen.

With the vacation behind us and the old job terminated, we will start doing our livestreams again this week. If you have suggestions on what to look at first, let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to subscribe to the Soft as in Software YouTube Channel

After 28 years, I quit … and move forward

I’m done … I quit!

As I posted on YouTube last week in the community area, I have an announcement to make. It’s a big step for me and a significant change in my life.

So here it is … after 28 years of working for the same employer, I quit my job and move forward. I won’t go into the exact details; I’d like to look forward and keep a positive mindset. You can follow me on LinkedIn to see if you are interested in my history (or even hook up; make sure you reference who you are and why you want to connect).

I like to work with tech and be on the bleeding edge of technology. I started as a junior software developer, first at a secondment agency doing short-term development jobs for various customers. After five years, someone reached out, and I joined one of the big accounting firms to work on their financial software systems. I learned much about financial systems then and even built an application that automatically created annual financial statements. Something accountants used to work on for weeks but could now be finished in a few days.

Moving forward, my work shifted from being a software developer to moving up the corporate ladder and sitting in meetings growing bigger development teams and, in the end, being more a People Manager than doing the things I loved to do: tinkering with software and extending software to provide better options for productivity to the Office or Information Workers.

I wanted a better job. Working in an increasingly restricted environment to avoid leaking information and being compliant with corporate standards kept me from doing what I love most: test-driving new technologies.

This reflects on family life, which is being grumpy after the daily drag. I even started to take time off one day a week – to work four days a week. I was beginning to look forward to my retirement.

Shortening my workweek allowed me to boost my YouTube and Twitch channels under the “Soft As In Software” umbrella, but I will discuss this later.

At that point, I received an email from a longtime friend living in the US, and he was asking me if VSTO (i.e., “Visual Studio Tools for the Office System”) is still a thing. A headhunter contacted him to see if he wanted to get a role in a specific job opening they were trying to fill.  As an answer to his question, I told him, “Honestly, not really …” as VSTO is in the process of deprecation (at least maintenance mode) and will soon be replaced by its successor, based on OfficeJS. Therefore, I advised him to suggest that the headhunter should look for a consultant to move the tooling into the OfficeJS APIs instead.

My friend didn’t accept the job offer as he is doing great stuff elsewhere already, but he thought sharing my info with the headhunter would be good. I confirmed that you could always talk, and he passed along my information so I could discuss what they were looking for and see where it would end. We eventually discussed the situation, agreed on the terms and conditions, had a couple more interviews, and agreed to move forward.

With all that in place, the announcement is that after a 28-year tenure, I resigned from my current job and started working for a company in Canada and the United States. It is a hundred percent remote job. I am curious if I ever travel in that direction. At least I still try to attend the big conferences such as Build (not this year, as it is poorly timed this year precisely on my already planned vacation), Ignite, and, while it lasts, the Annual Global MVP Summit with Microsoft to stay in contact with everyone.

As mentioned above in some wording, my work will start where I left off 10 to 15 years ago, maintaining big VSTO Add-ins that extend the Microsoft Office suite, especially for financial service workers. I am also looking into ways to migrate this to the new Office environment (or environments; I should say, as Office is multi-platform these days and can run not only on Windows but also on a Mac, iOS, Android, and more) to make it future-proof. I am confident that we can get this to work in the new context and be the number one provider of productivity tools for financial analysts.

As for my YouTube and Twitch channels, this also means that I need to shift things. My working hours changed from Central European Time (CET) or Central European Summer Time (CEST) in the summer to Eastern Standard Time (EST) or Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) in the summer. I will now work in the US time zone and move my leisure time to the morning in the EU. With that, my Live Coding sessions will shift from twice a week, 8 PM to 11 PM CEST, to three times a week, around 12 PM to 2 PM CEST for Europe and just before the day begins in New York (I guess 6 AM to 8 AM). I hope to make this five(!) times a week, every day… but I want to start slowly and use it to see how it will fit in.

Make sure your follow my YouTube Channel, so you won’t miss a thing. Learn with me in live sessions, make mistakes, stumble and get up!

Click here to go to my YouTube Channel and subscribe to get notified when going live:
Soft as in Software YouTube Channel

A New Beginning (as always)

Soft as in Software is Wishing you a Happy 2024

2024 has started and we are in the second week already. Time for a short recap, as always but like oliebollen, it is part of the tradition. Last year flew by before we knew it. A lot happened but also a lot did not happen.

On a personal level I have been working on my physical state and crazy as it is joined the 5AM club. While travelling to Microsoft Build 2023 I was jet-lagged and was waking up at around four or five AM due to shifted time zones. There is about a nine-hour time difference between my home location and Seattle where Microsoft Build was hosted at the time. I started working out in the gym at the hotel right after waking up and that is still my daily opening scene today.

My physical condition improved a lot, lost a lot of weight (knowing that I also gained a lot of muscle), improved my stamina, lowered my heart rate and extended my sleeping pattern by a few hours.

The downside of more sleep and exercising obviously is that there is not much time left after a day with an extended morning routine, walking to the gym, exercise, walking back from the gym, having breakfast and a shower and morning routine. Add to that a full working day and before you know it, it is time to go to bed again to get the right amount of sleep.

Before all of this I crawled out of bed late, worked for the day and had a long night on Twitch and YouTube to develop stuff online. I was able to crank out a lot of things on my computer but neglected the state of my body and it was already in a bad state after picking up COVID-19. The patterns changed a lot last year but also took a large bite out of my development segment as part of the digital life I was living before.

I still did a lot of things, not as visible as before, ‘off screen’ such as working and supporting my pet project to create Office Add-ins in the context of Blazor. I created the sample projects here in the official Microsoft OfficeDev/Office-Add-in-samples repo as a prototype and helper projects for the community to work on.

I also extended my Azure Developer Associate Certification and was rewarded for the eighteenth time Microsoft MVP again. Completely out of context I did another Transatlantic Disney Cruise to travel from Southampton to New York together with my wife.

Developments on a professional level were a bit disappointing in 2023 and therefore, for 2024, I decided that this will be a time to reflect. At this time working about a day less each week (professionally, that is) whenever possible and focusing more on the fun side of life by working on my own expense on projects that give more joy to see where we end up.

Life is short and therefore it is important to focus on the happy stuff and stay on the positive side in body and mind. There is a lot going on in the world that impacted a lot of innocent people last year. I won’t go too deep into that but apparently there are a few individuals who think it is necessary to spoil the lives of others for their benefit (is there?) and their own position. For 2024, let us all try to turn that around for the better and make sure we all have a safe and prosperous future on this planet. We need to turn the negatives into positive, don’t you agree?

Like last year I have lots of plans on the shelf and I hope you will join me and see you on my YouTube Channel, Twitch Channel or on my Soft as in Software landing pages with this blog!

Recap 2022 and boot into 2023

Wishing you a happy …

The first week of 2023 is behind us, my ‘holidays’ are over, and it is time to boot up 2023. Officially you are not allowed to wish anyone a “Happy New Year” anymore after January 7th.

In the Netherlands, the holidays are a bit different this year compared to other years. In general, we take the last two weeks of the year off but given how Christmas and New Year ended up on the calendar the two-week holiday disconnect was now set to the last week of 2022 and the first week of 2023 by our government.

2022 has been an ups and down year for me. The Up was definitely the Transatlantic Cruise to celebrate my 25th wedding anniversary sailing from Dover to New York with stops in France, UK, Spain, and Bermuda. An experience I wouldn’t want to have missed for the world. The downside was that after staying away from it for over two years I finally got hit by COVID-19, most likely picked it up on our return trip flying back from New York to Berlin or on the train from Berlin to Amsterdam, where we ran into huge crowds all coughing and sneezing while travelling home using airplanes and trains.

Although COVID-19 did not hit me very hard, a mild flu without too much fever, the coughing didn’t go away and kept going on a low level. Just before X-mas, however, I adopted a heavy flu infection. I guess I was still somewhat vulnerable to not being completely recovered from COVID. This resulted in a Pneumonia and my body didn’t allow me to do anything beyond having a time-out. My ‘Body Battery’ didn’t even climb up on my Garmin and zero-ed out for a lengthy period.

Time to visit the doctor (last time was about 10 years ago, I am -knock on wood- not much of a doctor visitor). The examination by my doctor resulted in a huge pile of medication with powerful types that started to kick in the moment I took them in. It looks like things are changing for the better now, at least my ‘Body Battery’ is showing upward movements again.

From a Soft as in Software perspective 2022 was not bad, until my health went south that is. In 2022 I created Office Add-in Starter projects to have new fresh Office Developers to easily get started building their first Word, Excel or Outlook Add-ins using Office JavaScript APIs. Also, I was able to build Blazor based Office Add-ins allowing you to use more .NET based coding, still allowing you to interact with Office hosts such as Word, Excel, or Outlook.

I pushed all of my Office Add-in demo repos into the official Microsoft OfficeDev/Office-Add-in-samples repo by creating Pull Requests and even did some small presentations on the Microsoft Office Add-ins Community calls.

Here are the links to the Add-ins and presentations:

Look at the above links and try to build some of your own Office Add-ins and let me know what you like or don’t like about it. I think the option to use Blazor in your Office Add-ins can be a powerful help if you are a .NET developer from origin and should make it easier to hook into Office, maybe allowing you to move your VSTO Office Add-ins into Office JS Add-ins.

So, there is my New Year’s rant … let’s focus on the future and see where we are going. For one thing my body just warned and gave a clear message to put your health at number one.

I still have lots of plans though so keep an eye out and hope to see you on my YouTube Channel, Twitch Channel or on my Soft as in Software landing pages with this blog!