I connect to plenty of social websites in search for anything interesting. Right now, I’m interested in a new job. You can find my profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and StackExchange and of course my blog at watb.nl and wimtenbrink.nl, which just happens to be the same blog. As a result, I can easily be found online and several companies and recruiters notice this too. For those who want to hire me, I keep my Curriculum Vitae updated at LinkedIn, although I have a Word version available too.
I use Google Apps to keep up my domain names and mostly for its web-mail feature, which is very practical. It allows me to create aliases for my main domain name so I can assign different email addresses for different organisations and still receive all in one big mailbox. Very practical to show spammers! And I have a few domain names which I mostly use for experimental stuff, although I use one other which I’ve linked to a few social sites for experimental purposes. Why? Because I’m very interested in how other sites run. And especially social sites that have to deal with a huge amount of data and still be responsive enough so people won’t go away because they have to wait most of the time.
But okay, this page is for recruiters and employers, so I will tell some things about me, here. If they’ve seen my LinkedIn profile then they should already know what they need to know about my work history and my educational level and somehow, they’re still interested. I can’t imagine why, considering the two gaps in my work experience but anyway, they should know the Real Me, too.
I was born in 1966 and spent my first 12 years at home and at the Pieter Jelle Troelstraschool in Amsterdam-West. Not much that I can tell about that period, except for the time I cracked a bone in my wrist when I fell on the ice, one winter. Had to spend 6 weeks with a cast on my right arm, which encouraged me to do more with my left arm. I’m not ambidextrous but I do type with both hands…
After that, I went to the Osdorper Scholengemeenschap, which would later be renamed the Caland Lyceum. A great time, but I had a lot of trouble with languages. I was great at math and the scientific stuff, but my grades for French and German were extremely low. English and Dutch weren’t good either, but I did manage to improve those two. So, although I was smart enough to go to HAVO or even VWO, my grades for French and German just weren’t good enough for this. So I had to take a detour through the MAVO first. (Because then I could immediately drop those two languages!) It meant it would take me a year longer to finish school, so I did. And although I’ve considered doing VWO after HAVO, I decided that it was time for me to learn for a real job.
And why did I want that? Well, during these school years, the home computer started to become very popular. Since my dad was working as a Software Engineer for the ING, I decided I wanted to do “something” with computers too, meaning that I wanted to learn more about computers. I had a ZX81, which was a pretty decent computer, which even allowed me to learn to program! I subscribed for a computer magazine that would be full code examples which I’ve tried to understand and I did some interesting programming work back then already, including a bit of machine code programming.
So, after the HAVO I went to the Hogere Laboratorium School. Basically, a school that teaches people how to become laboratory employees. I went there because they had a simple ICT class, which taught students how to program in Pascal. Well, Pascal in Minix through terminals, but still it was a good education, although C started to become more popular too. Of course, BASIC was also a very popular language back then and I had a Sinclair Quantum Leap back then which I could program by using a BASIC dialect. However, the QL had a special Pascal compiler as add-on which allowed me to program in Pascal too. I’ve spent one year there before I decided that lab-work was boring. I wanted to do more with computers, not turn lead into gold or whatever. So I started looking for other options.
And the other option presented itself when the labor office offered me some new education plan. I had to study and thus ended up with four AMBI certificates. (I1, I2, T2 and B2, to be exact.) Basically, generic ICT knowledge, the programming language COBOL and something about databases. All ancient history by now. I also had to work for IBM back then, for half a year as a trainee. Not a big success, though. I picked up a severe cold (flu) back then and was sick for more than two weeks. Real, real sick. Not enough to get hospitalized but still real, real bad.
After that, I tried to look for work but did not have a driver’s license. And almost all employers back then wanted programmers with drivers licenses because they sometimes had to visit customers to fix things on site. With no drivers license, all employers at that time would just choose someone else who might be less qualified but who did have a drivers license.
I did have my own personal computer back then, which allowed me to improve my skills, especially in Pascal, but I never managed to get an employer interested enough to hire me. I tried to be self-employed, trying to create something that would make a potential investor interested enough to pay for further development but that never succeeded. And one day, I did manage to get a contract for a year, working as a software developer. Well, working with Microsoft Basic Professional Development System version 7 on MS-DOS machines, but hey… It’s a job and I got paid for doing what I like: programming! And it was in the middle of Amsterdam so a car would not have been practical.
But a year later, the contract ended. Windows 95 arrived on the software market and any DOS development would soon end. The company I worked for, Duware Service B.V., would soon disappear under that name but is now called Tixway. I did some good work for them but my employer had troubles moving on to newer development systems.
Since my employer was part of the development team too, he needed to be able to understand all code the team generated, yet he refused to migrate to another development language. Still, the most interesting thing I’ve created there was a system that could calculate where groups of people could sit within a theater. It would show a map of all the seats and when e.g. a group of 6 people wanted to buy tickets, the code would look for the best place to put this group, so they could sit close to one another. And the user could move their positions around if they wanted another ideal place. And yes, that meant that sometimes, the group would have to split up over two rows, yet still be close together. (So, behind each other instead of next to one another.)
I also made a screen saver that could be used by the application that could display all kinds of images but that required a bit of Assembly code. Since my employer did not understand Assembly, the code could not become part of the project. (In other words, I failed to convince him to move on and expand his knowledge.)
My next employer was Ediport B.V. which created applications that manage EDI messages and other message types related to the financial world. We created applications for the ABN-AMRO that helped their bigger customers to process their financial data. And we created software that could reconcile invoices with payments to help keep track of huge amounts of financial transactions. And finally, we created an in-house banking tool to be used by international companies to avoid having to pay extra for cross-border financial transactions.
While working here, I finally decided it was time to get my drivers license. It took about 75 lessons and two exams but finally I received my permission to drive a car in public! And my employer arranged a new car for me.
When things were looking great for this company, my employer decided to expand. Much of the profits we had been invested in building a new, huge office near Schiphol Airport, so employees who often had to fly to the USA could park their cars at the office and then they could step on their plane to the USA. And we had a new name: Conplacer. (Means “with pleasure” in Spanish.)
But while we’re busy moving to the new building, the 9/11 terror attack happened. We were all at the office, following all the news streams we could follow, not understanding what was happening. But it meant a lot of trouble for the company in the months after this attack. Several of our customers were in the USA but we could not fly to them, at first. Security measures had reached a near-paranoid level in the USA and the business opportunities melted away like snow on a hot summers day. Conplacer failed to make much profit since this incident and the new building was a heavy drain on our income.
Our costomers started to lose faith in our abilities since they knew we were making heavy losses. Worse, our biggest customer back then decided to pull the plug and not because they were unhappy by our performance but because they decided to reorganize things differently. We had shown a sudden weakness because suddenly, our employees could not support their customers in the USA.
So the company struggled on until costs became too big. We had to leave the new building and return to the old one, where an old refrigerator was still standing with the content we’d left inside it about a year ago. A content that seemed to be moving… A real sad moment since it showed us how bad the financial crisis started to become. The owner of our old building had never managed to find someone new to rent that space, until we returned.
And the financial situation started getting worse. The company had to cut most of its costs and tried to get rid of a few employees. They also had to sublet part of the office to a small company that would share our network and other facilities and things started to become worse. My employer started to fire more employees for all kinds of random reasons and one of those was me. I was falsely accused of something and did not accept being fired. The court agreed with me and ordered my employer to pay me my wages and 6 months extra, but that was too late already. The company had gone tits-up, chapter 11, dead in the water. And my wages? The tens of thousands of Euro’s that I should have been given? Well, the tax office was the first to get their money and even the tax office didn’t get all it wanted. Or, as we in the Netherlands like to say: you can’t pluck feathers from a bald chicken.
So, the next company. Charmed Telephone Integration B.V., later known as The Illusion Factory, was a company that created software for telephone systems. Especially those big Private Automatic Branch Exchange systems, or PBX’es. Most companies have one and we were the ones who were building generic software for those. It was a small business but then again, it’s a bit of a niche market. Plenty of competition too, in a market where profits are small so you have to sell huge amounts of practical tools. Of course, all the free instant message systems and even Skype wasn’t very helpful either.
Also killing this company was a Japanese customer who wanted us to develop software for their new PBX system. Unfortunately, after we had shown them a mock-up they hired some developers in the Philippines who looked at our mock-up and then wrote a working application based upon it, in half the time and a tenth of the amount my company asked for. We lost a lot of money on that, because we had an exclusive contract with this Japanese partner, which would prevent us from working with other partners. And suddenly, my employer did not have the money to pay his employees. He had to go to court, to claim damages, and the company went tits-up, although I’d gone away a month before it went broke. My employer already “forgot” to pay me, so my loyalty to him was gone. The UWV paid my last month of wages, simply because my former employer had none.
Before the company went broke, I’d received a job offer from my latest employer, Infa B.V., which is now called Figlo. Since my employer had been late with my wages a few times already, I decided to jump ship. Because I can be loyal to a company, but I need my wages since I have expenses. (For example, my car that I needed to get to work!)
My work for Figlo involved building applications in C# and ASP.NET, although we did use Delphi in the past. We had to migrate away from developing desktop applications since more and more people started using laptops and tablets. Especially the Android and iPad tablets became very popular so we had to migrate our products to support the new browser environment.
Moving from the desktop to the browser is a huge step and it requires careful planning and a well-designed base for the new project. Unfortunately, the Figlo Platform didn’t start very well, being developed at first by a team of developers who were experimenting too much and who did not focus on generating a basic structure. Instead, they started making eye candy, resulting in a back-end that had way too many weaknesses. It would take five years to finally make the backend strong enough to support both a Silverlight client and a web-based client. The result after all this hard work is a good product that turned out to be too expensive to support all employees in the business.
Figlo had to reduce the number of employees. They already fired a couple of employees in 2012 and in 2013 they had to lose 16 more employees from all over the company. They would continue with around 50 employees, hoping to make sure we’re not losing money this year. It’s a sad move but the company just could not manage one more year with the heavy losses they made during the past years. So 16 employees had to go, and I was one of them.
The job was great and my colleagues are great too. My working computer was a bit slow but fortunately, every Wednesday I can work at home at the Monster of a Machine I got there so I’m fine. There was real teamwork and even a bit friendly competition between the development teams to make sure we all do our best to create a well-build, reliable system. It had some flaws but then again, most software will have flaws.
The only problem I had was the distance between home and work. Every day, I have to get in my car, drive about 76 kilometers while looking at traffic jams in the opposite direction and with a bit of luck, 75 minutes later I will arrive at work. And at the end of the day, I have to drive the same distance, again looking at traffic jams in the other direction before I’m back home. This long trip made me decide that leaving this company wasn’t such a bad thing after all. Now, I could start looking for work closer to home.
At valentine’s day in 2013, I had a bad fall, injuring my back. My back already had some troubles but the injury made it worse. So my last two months of work for Figlo was spent at home, recovering. After that, I decided that my injuries should not stop me finding a new job so in june, I started for a company called Assetgrip as C# developer. Another great company with just a few people, but building software for managing the financial assets that are part of a family’s wealth. And we’re talking about very wealthy families here. However, my injuries were a great influence on my performance and within two months, I knew I could not keep up with my job. Didn’t matter how much I tried and how much I liked it, the pain made it impossible.
So I had no choice and together with the management, we decided it would be best to part ways. But this time, I did not consider myself unemployed but temporarily disabled. The pain makes it near impossible for me to work regular hours since some days, I feel fine. Other days, I barely want to leave my bed. I’ve had several medical check-ups since then and their advice is to take vitamin D, eat more cheese for the calcium and lost about 20 kilo of weight. That should take some pressure away from my bones and allow things to heal.
The problem? An early onset of arthritis due to a lack of exercise and a lack of sunlight. Well, if you spent your day mostly inside the office in locations where the sun won’t glare on your monitor, you do tend to miss those things. So I will have to exercise more, spend time in the sun, this spring and summer and make sure I get more calcium.
Anyways, my last employer paid my salary up until then and added a “golden handshake” worth several months more, which I’ve used to buy a new server and a new quad-core laptop and a new six-core desktop. I use these to keep practicing my software development skills and the laptop is very practical to go outside in the sun to study. (Which is why I bought it!) My back might be bad but doesn’t stop me from being a computer-nerd. Well, most of the time.
Am I looking for a new job? Yes, I am. But my current health state doesn’t help much in this regard. I could work 4 days per week, since I need the other three days to exercise and spend more time outside. I can’t travel very far anymore since sitting in a car for 45 to 60 minutes twice a day won’t improve things. And when my back is killing me again, I’d rather work at home than travel to the office. I prefer to work close to Amsterdam and Abcoude, since I live close near the border of those two cities. Travelling up to 40 kilometers or 30 minutes to get to work would be perfect. Longer distances will be frowned upon but if the job is interesting enough, I’ll be interested.
My wages should be near 4,000 euro’s per month, before taxes. And yes, that’s a lot but don’t forget that I’m a Senior Software Developer with specializations in C#, ASP.NET and Delphi. I’m definitely worth this much. And as long as no one is offering me jobs that are interesting enough, I will just do what I’ve done a long time ago: just do some simple freelance tasks that often take a few days or so. Or develop my own little projects trying to see if one will be interesting enough to turn into something commercial. Who knows, if you don’t hire me then I might start competing with your company! 🙂
Anyway, if you want to respond to me privately after reading this all, feel free to fill in the form below. My grades for German or French are still bad so please use English or Dutch.