Holistic System Software Engineer, CIRB CIBG
Tell us a little about your background and how you came to use Alfresco.
I'm a holistic system software engineer with a multi-cultural academic background. The term "holistic" refers to my conviction that problem solving is concerned with the fundamental interconnectedness of all things. The term also reveals that I'm a big fan of Douglas Adams. Originally from Chile, I migrated to Belgium in 2003 to do a PhD. My research was about building self-managing systems based on peer-to-peer networks. Properties such as self-healing and self-organization are means to build resilient systems. All the software we wrote back then is open source.
I started my post-academic life in 2011 joining XeniT, an Alfresco partner in Belgium, essentially because of the open source nature of Alfresco. That's when my Alfresco story started. When I attended DevCon in London that year, I got really motivated to get engaged with the community, specially after talking to Jeff Potts and Toni de la Fuente. And no doubt their contribution to the community is really important.
What challenges did you face? What are you most proud of?
Alfresco has a lot of components, and I was using none of them in academia, so basically, I had to start from zero. There is still a big part of Alfresco I don't know about, and never will, specially since I decided to focus on the system administration part. No Java development for me, but still haven't been able to escape from those lovely xml configuration files.
I'm proud of participating in the creation of the Order of the Bee. I believe we created it at the right moment, and that we have helped the Alfresco community to collaborate, get together, and have something to say as a group, instead of just individuals. There is still a lot to do, but we have good momentum. I'm also proud of being the local organizer of BeeCon 2016 and I'm looking forward to BeeCon 2017
How are you using Alfresco currently?
At CIRB-CIBG, we host several instances for organizations of the Brussels Region Government, including ourselves. I'm responsible of keeping them running, upgrade them, and verify that all customizations provided by internal development teams and consultants play nicely with Alfresco. I'm in the operations department.
What resources have been the most helpful?
The first resource is definitely the #alfresco IRC channel . Over there I get the best answers, or pointers to answers, of confirmation that the problem I'm dealing with is not a trivial one. Which is comforting. I also like that people in the channel is very helpful with newcomers.
When the answer does not come from IRC, the main resources to use are the Alfresco forums, the official documentation, and Alfresco Support (we are Enterprise Customers).
Any secrets, hacks or advice for new users?
If you want to get in touch with the community, join the IRC channel, the Alfresco community platform, and the Order of the Bee.
What are you working on at the moment (could be outside of Alfresco)?
I'm currently having fun and learning a lot with the alfgard project , which I started during the last Global Virtual Hackathon. It's a tool to monitor different parameters of Alfresco (connections to the database, tomcat status, etc). It currently works only with Enterprise Edition, but I'm looking forward to provide support for Community Edition as well.
If you’ve worked on multiple Alfresco projects, which has been your favorite?
Providing resilient databases to Alfresco has been fun. First, we migrated the databases of all our instances to PostgreSQL, and then we built a replicated infrastructure across data centers located in different places in Brussels. Testing failures of different components and see how the whole system deals with the failures is nice. Still improving it.
What’s one tech trend/software/app that really excites you?
The free software movement and philosophy is obviously not a trend, but it has always motivated me. In fact, every time there is a new trendy software out there, if it is not free software or open source, it's difficult for me to get excited about it, specially since it's difficult to build a community around a close source software.
Anything you’d like to share with the community? A fun fact about yourself?
I love playing air guitar, so I'm always ready for a jam session. A wise fellow once said "life is too important to take it seriously", and that's what air guitar is all about. The good thing about air guitar is that you don't need to know real guitar to play it. What you need is to listen and to observe, and then your air guitar will flow from you. In fact, "to listen" and "to observe" is on my list of "best practices". I'm so fond of air guitar that I even put it as one of my skills in LinkedIn, and to date I even have six endorsements \m/