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While a little concerned about the Blog it Forward movement being a marketing scheme moving SCN towards becoming more like a facebook/rsvp style site with the aim to get people blogging on the new SCN; I can't ignore that the idea is a good one with some great blogs coming out from lots of people who I thought I knew at least a little bit...

So with steinermatt and jocelyn.dart both dobbing me in blogging it forward to me, I guess I better introduce myself:

Who the Hell is Matt?

Yeah - While I did work as a software engineer near Seattle at one stage, and I would love to quit my job and fly around the world doing a jig in all possible locations possible posting it on youtube; I'm not that guy (though I do like the fact I beat him to the twitter handle @mattharding with just the one problem that occasionally I get mentions thanking me for my inspirational videos).

I was born in Launceston, Tasmania (which is, believe it or not, part of Australia). My family was incredibly musical (my dad passed all his Piano Trinity exams at the age of 13, was a boy soprano with even old 78 speed records of himself singing with supposedly some famous people I don't know and also plays french horn; while my mum was a music teacher, played the flute and piano) which meant that after they tried to force me to learn piano for many years; I rebelled and fell in love with the electric guitar which they supported me to do also. In addition to this though, I'm of the Atari 2600, Commodore Vic 20 and Apple IIe era and for some reason while I struggle with the English language (my only spoken language unfortunately), I really understood the language of computers.

So I really had a couple of choices when it was time to go to University - Pursue Computer Systems Engineering, or pursue my music career seriously.  Ironically, I choose Computer Systems Engineering at 18, then after 2 years, probably when I was brave enough, I was going to quit and take up an Audio Engineering course in Sydney, but at the same time I decided this, the course became a part-time course meaning I defaulted back to continuing my Computer Systems Engineering career.  I believe in fate and listening to the tell tale signs of the universe so I believe this was the right path for me even now.

So interestingly enough, throughout my career, I've been able to combine my music with my career.  My first job was at Fairlight in Sydney working on C and assembler for a digital audio workstation product called MFX3 that was then used in all the major movie studios. The talent there was amazing (I always like to point out one of the guys was hired by Fairlight after he was known for his hacking of the original Fairlight CMI synth during recording songs such as Video Killed the Radio Star) and they taught me the importance of usability and the user experience in general (amongst many other things).

Writing the Enterprise Geeks song was another avenue - For reference, I can claim my music is heard all over the world because of the EgHeads! I especially loved the SCNotty(?) video one person posted playing the song while driving into some European McDonalds (link not provided).

More recently, through contracting, I've tried to maintain a 4 day a week schedule to keep 1 day for music (and partly family). Not always possible, but it's a life choice which is very rewarding.  Here's a link to my old school, out of fashion myspace page that I update when I get around to recording a song if you're interested...

So where am I now?  I've lived in Sydney, Melbourne (Aus), Tacoma (WA); and done the odd consulting gigs around the globe; but somehow, I convinced my wife (originally from a place a 300km's North of Sydney) to move the family back to my home state of Tasmania. See an odd thing about Tasmania is many of us Tasmanians realise how great a place it is; and after leaving for many years, we tend to return home. Anyway, because of this move, and until an Antarctic division nominates an SAP Mentor, I have the privilege of holding the title of Southern most SAP Mentor in the world!

Anyway, enough random stuff about me - to the questions. Now Matthias has raised 6 questions and I think everyone might get sick of reading this if I answer all of them so I'll drop a couple off and include one of Jocelyn's.  Here we go...

What was your dream job as a kid?

Well like most I did want to go to the Moon and stay in a Moon hotel that was meant to exist by now (D'oh) - I mean how cool would it be to have muscles for Earth, but weigh 1/6th of your weight or something! But that's not really a job...

Anyway, once I got my hands on a guitar - Rock Star was the job I dreamed of...but actually to be more specific, what I dreamed of was to write a riff and record it on an album and that song/riff change the world (or at least had people saying "I love that riff", or air guitaring it when they hear it)!  Maybe people will look back at the Enterprise Geeks song one day like that????

What was the most fun project you ever participated in and why?

How do you define fun?

In terms of technically satisfying:

Developing an external facing customer portal using the then new AJAX framework for a real estate company.  The client was great to work with (no politics either which is refreshing); I had a senior developer who thought he had no idea how to write HTML,CSS and JavaScript but was a gun by the end of it ("Try to think you're  developing a Google app, not an SAP app").  It was a sexy site (for SAP) and I got to implement it using the Rational Unified Process alongside the project implementing ASAP Waterfall plus I was doing my 4 days a week with music day every Wednesday (until I got handed more work to do).  For reference, this is when I wrote "A year in the life of me".

In terms of generally satisfying:

Working at a Utility in Washington that had back in 2001, meters which were connected via head end systems via fibre (kind of) which allowed us to develop a pay as you go system that meant that you could pay $10 at your local supermarket, over the phone, etc; and your power would come back on immediately.  i.e. This place had a lot of people who struggle to pay their bills, and once you get disconnected, you had to pay even more to get reconnected; and this gave them the ability to manage their power gracefully.

There was a fantastic group that was involved in the vision of this, and I will always have a soft spot for the Pacific NorthWest as the people, atmosphere and location were awesome.

In terms of just having the most fun:

Got to be not really a project, but working with the architecture team at BHP Billiton.

So many great people working together. Technically challenging. An atmosphere that knew it was about doing the best you can to keep the solution heading in the right direction.  Being a mining company meant that while money didn't grow on trees, that it didn't get in the way like it does in many other companies. Unfortunately a change in direction meant the SAP department effectively moved to Singapore, and if you know me; you know I don't like hot weather so that time came to an end and we kind of disbanded...

And lastly, the most fun project that was not work related:

DemoJam with alisdair.templeton

What is your favourite place in the world?

Easy one - Tasmania and I recommend visiting if you want to relax, enjoy good food, experience lots of nature and have a friendly and safe atmosphere!  That said, there are many beautiful places I've visited and after living in the US and experiencing a White Christmas on the morning of Christmas near Mount Rainier with even Deer appearing on the lawn that day - I'm a sucker for White Christmases...

For example, I was lucky enough to spend Christmas in Murren, and if you look at the background of my Twitter page - you'll be looking at the view from my balcony that I had for 7 days.

What made me start actively participating in the community and why would I recommend people give it a try?

I remember when working in Tacoma, WA; I had a customer in Long Beach, CA that was wanting to develop an xApp which SAP North America sales desperately wanted to sell it to some big hardware company over there (which made me say the word depot in American which was very unnatural for an Australian - it should be said like Johnny Depp's last name) but the non-sales SAP had concerns about quality controls or something...

Anyway, there was this new technology we used in JAVA (or was it NetWeaver???) called Web Dynpro and in terms of official documentation at that time in 2004 - there was nothing - What the hell is JDI???  That's when SCN came to my rescue and I found people out there who not only were experiencing the same pain we were having, but had solved some of the issues and vice versa.  Then after the non-Sales part of SAP  got in the way, and 6 months later when I moved back to Australia and joined BHP Billiton and I was dumped with being the governance architect for XI 3.0 amongst many other new things and was in awe at this guy named michal.krawczyk who seemed to know everything about XI/PI/PO. Prior to this point, I was more a forum contributor, but inspired by MIchal, I got my beginner's blogger access and started to just tell people about my thoughts of how I thought things were meant to work, more to find out if I was completely wrong (note - my SLD document is now completely wrong, but was right'ish when I wrote it)!  Once you started to get to know the regulars on SCN, things got even more engaging...

Side note: The new SCN has got a lot of potential, but the lack of remember me functionality has meant I've missed engaging with SCN for the last several months, though I'm hoping with remember me functionality almost working perfectly; that it will start to become my SAP home away from home again.

(Bonus) What is your favourite conspiracy theory? (You don't have to give away your view on the matter!)

Here's one I heard some time back which was from the horse's mouth so to speak...

Talking with a friend who worked at an army airbase in Australia’s Northern Territory some years ago about as a runway sweeper (note - This does not mean he cleans runways), occasionally he would monitor a UFO (not aliens, but an unidentified flying object) flying faster than anything he's seen before, reporting it to his superiors and never hearing anything back about it. So possibly it's just some US flying contraption never heard of or maybe it's really aliens???

Who's next???

Good question - I almost fear that soon it will be possible to lock the table of who you forward it too but here's my list (eg. John Moy took one of my selections while I was writing this blog):

  • custodio.deoliveira
  • tony.dethomasis3

Pick any 3 questions of your choice from Matthias' blog