One of the things I have always enjoyed about what I do is that I have, from pretty much day 1 in the technology industry, worn many hats.
No matter what my job title said, I have always done pretty much whatever needs doing whether or not it crosses into what others might consider a discipline that's not in my job description.
I like it that way. I enjoy picking up new skills, flexing my mental muscles in new ways and exploring the uncharted territory that is every new technology to rise out of the primordial ooze of Github (Or Sourceforge before it).
Way back in 1992 when I got my first job in the technology industry, I met a very wise man named Dale Dougherty (I hope I'm not mangling the spelling, it's been over two decades! (If you're out there Dale, give me a holler will you? I'd love to get back in touch) and when he asked what it was that had driven me into technology, and after I told him in the naescent, halting terms I could form at the time he smiled and said "Ah! You're a generalist. Unfortunately, those are undervalued these days. It's a great shame" or something to that effect.
Boy was he right. For the next 20 years I would end up doing tech support, sysadmin work, software development, and finally release engineering.
The industry began throwing up high walls and fences around places and processes we all used to take for granted. "You can't do that, you're not a developer!" "Only sysadmins get root and access to production machines!" "You're a release engineer, not a developer!" Ad infinitum.
Fast forward to 2009 when folks came up with the DevOps manifesto, in which a positively radical idea is proposed: All these distinctions are useless. They do nothing to make organizations more efficient, and instead bottleneck and pigeon hole good people, keeping them from feeding their passion.
Needless to say, I love it here. I get to bring all the experience I've accumulated in 20 years hard labor in the code mines to bear, and it feels really good.
I'm building infrastructure in the cloud, learning about load balancing, high availability and I've just barely begun.
As much as the layoff I just went through was painful as they always are, that moment of dislocation pales in comparison to the satisfaction I feel in what I have accomplished in the few short months I've been doing this, and the incredible excitement I feel as my horizons have been exponentially broadened.
As I write this, I'm several thousand feet up, bouncing along over the clouds on my way to Santa Clara, California for the annual Velocity conference.
It's an incredible meeting where some of the best and brightest in our industry come together to make the web go faster and more reliably, and I can't wait to dive in and start learning :)
[Update: I'm posting this weeks later, because things get hectic. Such is life. Velocity was amazing. Look for another post on that coming soon.]