Dr Nic

Proof of Doctorhoodedness

At recent conferences, other speakers have taken up an amusing new sport: ask Dr Nic to prove he’s a real doctor. Traditionally my reply is “I’m just not that clever to make it up.” Undeterred the personal challenges continued. At JAOO in Sydney and Brisbane (my home town) Glenn Vanderburg even challenged me to bring my thesis to the conference. I accepted this challenge but then promptly forgot.

Today I actually found the thing. It’s red. The colour of the binding was my only chance to impose some sense of personalisation.

The title was The Morphing Architecture: Runtime Evolution of Distributed Applications. The abstract is too long to be bothered reciting here. Succinctly, as best I remember it, it could be:

If you have distributed applications (components owned by multiple organisations) that run 24×7, and you need to upgrade behaviour, how the hell do you sequence the live upgrade?

the thesis: cover


the thisis: submission


the thesis: acceptance


Like most PhDs, it is a project of theoretical usefulness, but not significantly close to any commercial interests so that some large company doesn’t solve all your interesting problems before you get around to writing a 200 page thesis.

In 220+ pages, the only interesting parts (to me now) are from my Acknowledgments section:

As [my parent's] eldest of two sons, I am that person in each family who is the “first experiment in parenting.”

The Acknowledgements section ended with this:

And finally [thanks]…
To all the people who ever came up to me…
    Asked me how my thesis was going…
        Laughed hideously…
            And ran off.

Ah, memories.

Dr Nic for hire

For the last few months I’ve been contracting to three different projects, and then recently two of them finished, with the third being an on-going project for the last two years which will be launched in a months’ time.

So I’m excited to start looking for a new consulting project to work on.

Travel or relocation is an option. Full-time salary is probably not an option. Either full-time or several days-per-week is an option. Making me wear a uniform and serve hamburgers through a small window is not an option. Working in an office is an option. Working on an oil rig in the Indian Ocean is not an option.

My professional background is in telecom billing systems and third-party integrations, including a roving two year stint in various countries between 2005 and 2007 (India, Sweden, Netherlands and Germany). One part of me is excited by the idea of moving overseas again. The other part of me includes two small children and a ten-hour plane flight to get anywhere.

I do have a PhD from the University of Queensland, though the only proof of it I can find on the InterTubes is on my supervisor’s 1990′s-themed website.

In recent years I’ve worked on several Rails projects, including developing and coaching the founders of imindi.com, a next-generation service for individual and collaborative thinking. I’ve run a bunch of Introduction to Rails workshops. I’m with a small group of Australians who recently started soliciting to develop iPhone SDK + Rails applications (under the brand Mocra; also, see Garath Townsend’s free app I Am Here which is in the top 50 free apps at the moment).

I’ve written dozens and dozens of blog articles (see an amusing graph); authored or hijacked or nudged along dozens and dozens of Ruby projects, JavaScript thingies, and TextMate bundles (see my github profile). I’ve even been allowed to talk at various conferences (my favourite talk was the RubiGen session at RubyConf 2007 [video]), including the exciting Rails Summit Latin American in Brazil later this year.

Open Source is for free and Consulting is for money. In both cases I like to work hard, write lots of code, and accumulate and share knowledge.

It would be wonderful if you can share this post with anyone who would benefit from having me on their team.

I can be contacted at drnicwilliams@gmail.com or on +61 412 002 126 in GMT+10 time zone.