Sunday, August 25, 2013

Two Years @ Enthought: A Review

Last week, i completed two full years working for Enthought. It has been a great time working with some of the best minds and wonderful people i have known. Two years is a long time for being at same job i hear. None of my flatmates is at the same place where there were when i joined, and the same with two of my best friends. In fact some friends keep asking me where i am, as if its like changing clothes (hey, what color are you wearing today?). To come clean on this, let me clarify: i am very well loving my work here and do not see any change in the status quo foreseeable future. I'm well into my comfort zone.

I still vividly remember when we started off, right after finishing college, when Enthought India was still an idea. For few weeks, we used to work at the my graduate lab in IIT itself. I and Prabhu visited a bunch of places around in search of office space, and Eric has asked us to get a good one. We chose VBC after a few other visits, simply because it would let us start immediately in a pre-furnished office, and it was a good office no doubt. We started work there even before the agreement was officially signed, with Bill's visit. Puneeth also joined us physically on 5th Sept. I remembered him as the hard-core Free Software guy, who bought an expensive "Adorable GNU" in an auction by Richard Stallman when he visited IIT Bombay. For a few months, we worked on a contract with Enthought USA, until Enthought India was officially founded in December. Since then we have seen a significant growth in Enthought India, with more good company in the office.

In the last two years, we have hit several milestones (and probably missed more), and it has been a great journey of learning, doing and sharing. In summary:

The Good:

  • Working with some of the best people i have ever known, both intellectually as well as personally.
  • The lack of "Corporate Culture". I have only heard horror stories of "corporate culture" from friends, TV series and movies. Thought secretly, i wish i could experience it once (for maybe a week or so), just for the feeling and also that i could empathize with my friends.
  • Meaningful work which is used by many scientists and engineers across the world, that which we can be proud (and ashamed) of, and take responsibility for.
  • Culture of collaboration and working together, instead of delegating and taking credit.

The Bad:

  • Bugs: However you try, bugs are inevitable. They are the nightmare of every developer. The problem is not just the code you wrote, but also the libraries which you use. The former cause embarrassment, and the latter frustration.
  • Conflicting demands by users: Though you wish to support all users, it is simply not possible. You have to decide among conflicting ideas based on your insights, the work required for implementation, and sometimes who is paying more.
  • Time Management: There is always more to do in life than the time you have to do it, and prioritization is a hard problem :)

The Ugly:

  • Mumbai City: One of my friend from Delhi says he can identify Mumbai city by its omnipresent stink. Mumbai is hyper expensive for whatever it is that it offers (i can't think of getting a home in Mumbai without robbing a bank, or joining the government (i.e. robbing the people). Add to that the pollution of the city which reduces average life expectancy by a minimum 10 years, and the lack of any open spaces in the city (we have to commute 13 km to the beach to play ultimate, and that too is unplayable during the monsoons by the stink of the garbage and the injury risk). I still can't say i love Mumbai, despite staying here most of my life. What i'd prefer is staying by the woods, on a hill beside a lake or a river.
  • Once i had a funny dream about Prabhu taking a transfer from IIT Bombay to the newly set up IIT Gandhinagar (which is mentored by IIT Bombay) to set up Aerospace Department there, and we (Enthought India) moving the office to SEZ in GIFT, Gujarat for the tax sops and the generally better administration, infrastructure and quality of life :)