Waking up from the Summer months, where not a whole lot of thought or energy has been put into planning...
Just before Skype's recent outage, I noticed one of my contacts had "In Chengdu, China" as his Skype message. I fired him off a note, assuming he was on holidays, looking for any advice or tips he had. I wasn't expecting the reply I got, when Skype came back to life.
I met Erik Wiersma in 2006 when both he and I were presenting at SpringOne in Antwerp. As it happens we were presenting on similar topics so we got together beforehand to make sure we weren't overlapping too much. Eric was working for a company called jTeam in Amsterdam - and as far as I knew he was still there. Not so. Eric has now moved to Chengdu, the main city of the Sichuan province (though only a second-tier city in terms of population with a mere 11 million souls!!) and has set up his own software development outsourcing company. The company uses many of the techniques that have been used here in Europe and on the North American continent so successfully over the past few years: Agile methodology and lightweight frameworks, including the Spring Framework. He chose Chengdu because, amongst other things, the pay scales are 1/3 of those on the Chinese East Coast (but also because of an abundance of programmers - Chengdu was where the Ministry of Defense was situated in the 1960's and there are lots of IT universities as a result). I found the pay-scale difference quite amazing. I wonder whether it has always been this high, or if it is a result of East Coast wage inflation.
In any case, Erik has very generously offered to help us arrange stuff on the Chinese side, and to show us around Chengdu as well. He has also confirmed that the hostel we want to stay in is good and central. This kind of help is really invaluable and it wouldn't have happened without systems like Skype or the kind of virtual networking that is part and parcel of my profession.
Erik couldn't load this blog yesterday and suggested that it might be firewalled. If anyone is reading this from the PRC, I'd be obliged if you could comment and let me know. I'll check out Analytics as well.