Moved to Chengdu, China

movingcompany

Whoa… 5:30 AM already? My mind was hazy whilst Suna and I ate a quick bite before driving the 70km back from my parents to our apartment in Nieuw-Vennep. Our voices sounded hollow in the empty apartment – sold off most of it in the previous months. The moving van arrived, and work went swiftly. Had to walk down to the Albert heijn downstairs for a tray of their complementary coffee at 8 am. Thanks Albert Heijn! The crew packed the boxes, we dropped the key off and were on the move.

klm-schiphol-chengdu-bus-dreamliner-zonnebloem-panda

At Schiphol we found a bus which was campaigning our new destination: Chengdu! Famous for Panda’s KLM now offers direct flights with it’s new dreamliner planes. After living in China until 2012, we kept returning (2013 and 2014) for holiday to meet up with friends. But todays trip to the P.R.C. isn’t a holiday; we moved back! Currently residing in a hotel and exploring the city tomorrow to find a place to live.

chengdu

Goodbye DonaldDuck, Kieskeurig & Sanoma

sanoma_building

Yours truly has quit his job at Sanoma and has his last working day today.

It was a difficult decision; Sanoma has been my rescue back in 2012, hiring me straight after the crash-and-burn of my Chinese startup. Starting in the fancy Amsterdam office I felt proud finally working on ‘major league‘ websites with a shiny new Apple laptop. As architect the door was open everywhere and I learned a lot about performance based web business. Particularly about MVP’s and making decisions based on traffic instead of assumptions.

Later my work moved to the city of Culemborg when I became IT development manager at Kieskeurig.nl (a price comparison site owned by Sanoma) where I established a new development team and we developed a brand new site. I was part of the strategic board and I got my first lease car ever! When Kieskeurig’s office relocated to Hoofddorp, my family moved along. However, As things at Kieskeurig.nl were pretty much setup I moved departments to Kids & Teens.

Ah, Sanoma. Lot’s of great memories with it’s infamous office parties, company outings and investments in their employees but the publishing company does struggle with reclining ad-sales and orders. The 500 colleagues being let go back in 2013 signalled the publisher’s change of course.

As IT manager Kids & Teens I became part of a game development team building a game strategically aimed at countering the stagnating income from print. After the game was launched and put in maintenance we developed various other websites related to the kids and Disney realm. But things cannot last forever, I’m leaving. This week my colleagues set-up a goodbye drink and we went for Korean Barbecue in Amsterdam! I’ll be missing all of you, keep in touch!

sanoma_bye_party

As I’ve got a new opportunity I’m moving on. I have a double feeling because Sanoma feels like home (little village) to me now. As it’s my last working day I’m handing in my laptop symbolising the end of my work here. I’ll enjoy a week of free time and then prepare our flight back to China for our next chapter!

Belgium cows

hubermont
Staying in Belgium for a few days. We found a nice French style cottage surrounded with vast forests on rolling hills and alternating fields full of mooing Belgium cows.

It’s the perfect scenery for some outdoor activities and off-line time with the family. Nature is the number one toy for kids, just a simple puddle (yes it’s been raining a lot) provides endless pleasure, not to mention the swing in the backyard of our rental place. Once we get bored with all this nature we’ll probably head out the neighboring country of Luxembourg to explore this particular city.

A visit to the Keukenhof

keukenhof
We visited the keukenhof yesterday, one of the world’s largest flower gardens. The garden is based on a 30 minute bikeride from our house. Even though spring is just beginning, there were quite some flowers out already.

My daughter Mia is walking since a few months and she loved racing over all the paths, neglecting (but kindly being averted by) anyone in her way.

Working at donaldduck

donaldduck_sanoma_redactie
After more than a year I still feel that working at Donaldduck is special. As the brand is well known, it’s read by generations as it’s introduced in 1952! An immediate success, inspired by the post-war success seen in Scandinavia. At first stories were simply translated, later Dutch covers were introduced until finally, full stories (1954) produced in the Netherlands; still heavily influenced by original content was introduced.

Considering it’s historic background, the magazine is relevant and prominent as ever, with Dutch made content made by Jos Beekman, Joan Lommen, Bas Schuddeboom, Ferdi Felderhof, Jim van der Weele, Lotte Roep and Esther Holtkamp, Wilma van den Bosch and Michel Nadorp (and many others). Editor in chief Dimitri Heikamp introduced a digital strategy, with the magazine as a backbone. For instance, Twitter saw it’s 43 characters introduced in 2010; a success with Donald duck leading with 173k followers. Larger digital projects such as a soft-type course called ducktypen.nl and a 3D educational game called duckworld.com followed suit. Right now we are preparing to launch the new Donaldduck.nl website. (more info soon) Whilst many think we sourced these titles from abroad, they were actually made as part of the editorial team of the DonaldDuck magazine. (With a small development team and product owners) The title allows also allows some educational cooperation with other brands, such as the van Gogh museum and ‘Nederland Schoon’ (education about throwing trash for kids).
redactie

It’s fun to work close to the magazine editors. They work hard with over 500 deadlines per year! In early 2015 my face appeared in the magazine. I have also been asked to review a sketch of a story. Stoked, I spent the better part of new years reading it through. That story was published just last week and my comments were in! Just spotted the magazine in the supermarket so it went full loop. Nice to see the responses at twitter, interesting to see how the process from story to magazine takes place.

Three big learnings for 2015

titles

Another year has past; Mia became one year old, we moved to a different place and my third year at Sanoma (Finnish company) was a turbulent one. Turbulent because top management changed, collegues leaving/let go on all sides as the SAA1V:FH stock is declining for five years now. Even-tough the worries, I was privileged to do (and finish!) three exciting new titles; of which a 3D game (PC), build and launched a fashion site, and build the new donaldduck.nl (To be released in Q1 2016). So yeah, I am playing games and reading comics at work, that still doesn’t get old!

Before packing up to celebrate the release and the start of a new year with family, I wanted to wish you all the best for the new year! Three large learning I gained in the past year:

1/3: Scrum isn’t everything – Which is cursing, because I am a ‘certified scrum master’; At the start of the year I took scrum literally as you can see at this (overly?) enthusiastic post. Introduced Scrum at the company but over time learned (forced, really as our PO left the building) to be flexible and focus on the end-result instead. I also feel scrum is turning to project manager jargon, as developers are sometimes forgotten to be included in the decisions. 2016 will be all about ‘lean’ development for our department, hope to get some new views on the matter.

2/3: Ditch the car – For sure the best idea I had this year was trading my lease-car for a bicycle as I started feeling silly sitting in trafficjams. Cycling 4k a year now and as a added plus enjoying daily outdoor time (lucky with the weather also). I also cycled up Mont Ventoux in France. The reasoning, no car is more money and less time in car = more spent with family. I get to have daily playtime with my daughter Mia and enjoying lovely prepared (Paleo/Korean) meals together with my wife.

3/3: Take a digital diet I left Facebook for a week in 2013 and I liked it. In 2015 I took privacy and software liberty a step further. Learn more about crypto, (like putting this blog to HTTPS, serious password management) moved the Dorresteijn household to open-source. (Debian over Mac OSX, in general: free over proprietary) Digital diet as social experiment, no more Skype, Facebook or Whatsapp; Upside: more time ‘in the now’ and with family; downside: Slowly losing contact with those friends at the other side of the globe. Do keep in touch,  for now contact me at joop@joop.in and XMPP, considering the downside, liberty excites me.

Summer 2015

Read further: My previous New Year posts of 2014, 2013 and 2012. (yeah, it’s a thing now; couldn’t resist this year)

So that’s it; No resolutions or whats so ever, just excited for the next year! Wish you best of health and luck in the new year and do keep in touch over mail!

[optin-cat id=5620]

 

Riding our bikes to the beach

Today we had one of those late warm summer days here in The Netherlands. Too good to stay inside! One of the great things of living in Haarlemmermeer is that the beach is reachable by bike. I cycled there before but Suna didn’t find the time yet. This morning we packed our lunch-bags and rode off together!

The road was easy and enjoyable passing the typical Dutch flower fields and then past the Kennemerland national park. This is one of the few national parks in the country and I am looking forward to visiting it again in the fall. We followed a road though dense trees ending in the sandy dunes. Halfway we spotted a deer walking by and there were some gliders landing in the open fields. Once arrived we parked the bikes and walked out to the sandy beach.

Mia yelled of excitement once we saw the sea. We picked a nice spot and we played for hours in the sand and with the water. She is also keen for dogs and saw a lot of them. She was so excited that she slept all the way back to our house.

I’m always excited for the beach. Going to the beach means excitement, good moods and good times. When I was young we would go to the beach about once a year during the hottest (and busiest) days of the year. Now we can just ride down, I’m hoping to spoil Mia with a lot of spontaneous visits like these in the future. It’s amazing to go out riding with the family, also to see Suna excel on her bike. Hoping for more of these tours in the near future!

miaatthebeach

At work: Launched Duckworld

duckworld

Really proud! After an adventurous development phase in cooperation with The Walt Disney Company, the Kids & Teens editorial team & marketing team has launched DuckWorld;

It was really fun (and special) to be able to cooperate directly with the editors of the Dutch Donald duck magazine on these titles. Even more fun to see the game featured on TV, the magazine etc and watching the traffic grow at the moment.

TV advertisement

Development:

Unity editor, from image mapping to object in a 3d world

Unity editor, from image mapping to object in a 3d world

 

Whilst I did see casual game development up close at Spilgames and 3D modelling at unitedstyles, I never experienced the creation of an actual 3d World up close. Wat I learned is that it takes a lot of expertise from a broad range of (hard working) experts to create such a game.

There is a game director who is in charge of the story, artwork creators and animators. Finally there are developers who create the game logic and movements and arrange the network and database stuff.

Scrum

standup

Product demo (scrum) with the dev team

We ran the process using Scrum, iterating the world until it was complete enough for release. We then started performance testing and optimizing the systems.  I’m happy that we worked scrum as the basic idea behind Duckworld evolved as well.

We developed the game in Unity3D; We used unity because of portability to other devices and operating systems. Right now we are available in desktop only.

Live!

Marketing has started, coverage in news, tv spots etc

Live!

Now we have launched, the game is appearing everywhere. On It’s great to see it on tv, read about it in newspapers and see activity on twitter. Looking forward to expanding the world soon; Readers of this blog get a 10% coupon for the month of September using the following code: joopin during checkout on www.duckworld.com

Youtube review by ‘Lord Hudson’:

Buying gochu (hot pepper) at a biologic farm

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Typhoon Goni reached Japan, and I spent the rainy day outdoors!

Meet Mr. Shin, a biologic farmer based a short drive outside Daejeon city. A brief shopping visit turned into an marvelous tour and delicious lunch.

Driving through past the lakes, vast mountains and up the hairpin corners was quite a scenery change to the past few days. The last parts were too steep for our small Hyundai as we came to a stop and slide up the slippery road, so Mr. Shin came down with a four wheel quad to carry us further. He was excited to show us around;

Beside a vast amount of hot peppers, there were peaches, apples, acorn, sweet potatoes, cows, dogs and goats. The quick ‘shopping’ trip turned into an authentic lunch as his wife invited us for a warm meal. Mr. Shin is 50 and he bought the five acre land for about 400k euro in 2013 and has been land scraping, building ever since. Recently he actually started farming outside his office job and he hopes to retire and enjoy this hobby full time within in five years.

The happy couple are building something nice here, not a bad way to retire! We all enjoyed the food and left with a car full of peppers. Going to enjoy a (biologic) spicy year!

Korean Baseball is awesome (+ tv appearance)

watching the game

Baseball is insanely popular in Korea. We were fortunate enough to score some tickets for a particular exciting game in the season (the local Hanwha Eagles #6 vs. the Samsung Lions #1). For a Dutchy this was all new for me and I have to say that I really liked the game vibe, atmosphere and food*.

Suddenly we were approached for an interview right at the break of the fifth inning. I got a bit nervous when she mentioned it would be a live (but scripted) interview during break time.

So there we were, taken backstage and up to the reporter areas. The 30 second interview was about our family and asked why we came to Korea (obviously for this particular game), and what dutch people think about Korean baseball. Ofcourse we also did a little cheer for the local team. So I’m a proud father of a eight month old daughter who made an appearance on Korean tv!

After a bad start of the match Hanwa (#6 in competition) actually beat the #1 in the competition; The stadium exploded with cheer. We got a signed baseball too!

All and all: We had a great day!

cmb2 hanwha daejeon suna dorresteijn
*Koreans shout ‘FIGHTING!’ to cheer someone or a team on. In terms of food, Chimek is great at sports events; CHIcken and MEKchu (beer); Basically KFC style crispy chicken with hot sauce and a cold beverage, what a combo!