Sometimes it’s nice to try something different. My life for the past six months working with the BBC iPlayer team has consisted of typical front end development work; templates, PHP, fiddling around with CSS and maintaining my sanity while dealing with Internet Exporer 7 nightmares and I’ve decided to take a path leading in the completely opposite direction. Now, this isn’t to say that the time I’ve spent on my first BBC graduate scheme placement hasn’t been immensely enjoyable; I’ve worked with a group of fantastic individuals on a project that both excites me and has helped me grow my skills and knowledge in Software Engineering, but after much thought I’ve decided to spend my next 6 months in Video Factory, the very antithesis of iPlayer’s front end work. Video factory provides a back-end media acquisition and transcoding pipeline (it makes the video files that people watch though iPlayer and other BBC services) and is primarily written as a service, in Java .
I chose this move because I don’t want to back myself into a corner, to be forever destined to do front end development work without having a chance to really try working on a large scale and business critical Java project. I also chose the move because I like to be challenged, to be assaulted by new terminology and ideas and to not spend my time on this graduate scheme unchallenged. We’ll see how I feel about Java and back-end work in 6 months , but I’m sure whatever happens I’ll be grateful for the experience.
And that’s why I’ve started learning to draw, with the help of this fantastic book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. It focuses around a series of exercises designed to cause a conscious shift away from verbal mental processing and into a visual mindset, while encouraging individuals who follow the book to gain confidence in their skills. I’ve only been at it a month on and off and I’ve managed to draw things that before I simply would have been unable to.
Drawing is also a method of escaping from the present and into a timeless, thoughtless place which almost inspires a certain degree of bliss in me. Hours pass as if they are minutes, and there is a certain satisfaction in seeing a drawing take shape.
All in all I’d love to keep up the drawing and to progress to the point where I’m really proud of my work, and then push outwards from that, maybe trying to paint or some other visual skill.
The next six months are going to be challenging but I know that the experience and the skills I’ll learn in a new team, with new practices and new tools will be immensely beneficial to me in future.