My job hunt is over and, as promised, I'm writing about my latest job ever. I'm going to be a Developer Advocate at EDB. Not coincidentally at all, my friend Shog9 is also Developer Advocate at EDB. Guess I've been starving for stories about apple farming. Or maybe I don't want to break my streak of getting jobs because people already know me.
I... can't really believe this is happening. It's pretty normal for me to assume there will be some mistake and actually I don't have a job. Not sure why because I'm normally optimistic. But I have a UPS tracking number that suggests my laptop is on it's way and I signed a bunch of documents before my (presumed) start date on Monday. I finally feel comfortable writing about what I'm going to be doing. (And in six months I'll read this and laugh and laugh at how naive I once was.)
My neighbor's tankless heater.
The guy next door has been building a house for well over a year and a half. I used to see him come over to inspect the progress. A month or two ago he finally moved in. I was so glad not to hear construction sounds during the day. But he also installed two external tankless water heaters and every morning at 8:30 I hear this horrific whine. I'm familiar with the sound since I also have an external tankless heater and it used to make the same noise.
For clarity, this is my tankless unit that I installed with the help of my father-in-law. We have plans to fix the jank.
Anyway, the problem is likely the result of harmonic resonance in the flexible gas line. It's a common problem for natural gas appliances such as fireplaces, fire pits and tankless heaters. One solution is to use a flex line that has alternating ridge patterns which break up the flow enough to avoid an annoying whistle.
I bring it up because consumers who replace their water heater tanks with tankless are likely to just reuse the gas line that was already in place. Since tankless heaters need much higher gas volume while hot water is running, they are far more susceptible to whistling flex lines. So the average person installing these systems is liable to blame the heater (which is new) and not the line (which worked just fine before).
I'd suggest manufacturers of tankless heaters need "installer advocates" to surface this sort of problem to the rest of the company. First, someone has to know the problem exists even though it's not directly related to the product they sell. Second, someone needs to make sure installers are aware of the solution. Maybe the installation manual could call the problem out clearly. The model I have warned that "gas flex lines are not recommended", but doesn't say why. Clearer warnings about the whistle problem might have helped.
Other solutions might be:
- Include the right sort of flex line with the unit. (But that adds to the expense and many customers won't need it.)
- Promote a line of instructional videos in which experts explain the problem.
- Design the heater with a microphone that detects a whistle and adjusts the flow rate to eliminate it. (Again adding to the expense and maybe not practical.)
The job listing
Normally job listings run together for me, but the one for my new job is different. Some parts of the description spoke to me in particular.
As a Developer Advocate, you will join a team of user experience and software development professionals on a mission to make working with Postgres easier for developers, data scientists, data wranglers, operators, and the ever-expanding ecosystem of technologists who rely on Postgres to innovate at speed. You will report into the Chief Experience Officer.
- The job is making Postgres easier to use.
- I report directly to the Chief Experience Officer.
So this isn't a marketing job (directly) and there's not a lot of management layers. That's good news because it means we can tackle whatever might be the Postgres equivalents of whistling flex lines. One of the painful points of being a community manager around the time I left Stack Overflow was there were so many people in the hierarchy we regularly got mixed messages about what we were responsible for.
- Make Postgres easier: identify points of friction in Postgres and EDB products, develop approaches to address them
I've used Oracle, MS SQL Server, mySQL and SQLite. Each of these has strengths and weaknesses. I've only recently gotten into Postgres and I like what I see:
Dipping my toe into SQL again. This time with @PostgreSQL. Gotta say I was delighted to discover I can write things like:— Jon Ericson (@jlericson) January 6, 2021
where age(last_posted_at) < '6 months'
and it works as expected!
- Identify and engage with new communities which stand to benefit from Postgres
A paradox of community management is you don't need to be an extrovert to do the work. I'm the sort of introvert who is happy to chat about some topic of interest, but once the conversation moves to mundane territory, I struggle to maintain interest. It is an act of love (rarely recognized) when I studiously listen to someone else's concerns. More to the point, it takes energy for me to stay engaged.
But this sort of work, telling people about a technology that excites me, also energized me. Speaking of which:
- Collaborate with product, engineering, and marketing teams
Y'all won't believe I'm an introvert when I tell you I loved this part of the job at Stack Overflow and College Confidential. And yes, I even enjoyed meeting with marketing. Again, being able to talk about interesting topics made all the difference.
- Talk to Postgres users and EDB customers and listen for not only their needs but also their ideas for the future of Postgres
Ultimately the secret to community management is leaning on incredible people who know (and care) more than you do about the product.
- Willingness to analyze, understand, and extend existing cultural and technical systems
When I read this requirement, I knew this was the job for me. It really is my happy place.
We know it takes a unique mix of people and skills to help us in our mission to supercharge Postgres, and we understand that not everyone will check every box. We'd love to hear from you and we want you to apply!
More job listings should include something like this. I'm confident I do check most of the boxes, but some of the best candidates for this sort of work know how hard it can be. They need a bit of encouragement to stretch their skills a bit.
And that's what I hope I'll be able to do starting next week.