Random thoughts

Start of the Corona crisis

This won’t be a technical write-up. Just some thoughts on current events.

I’m sitting here in my bed. Not able to sleep. So much has happened. A lot went well. I am very lucky that my job as an iOS developer allows me to work remote so easily. It has been a crazy two weeks. The Netherlands went from business as usual to Corona crisis mode. In hindsight, the writing was on the wall. But man, what an experience it has been.

My day job switched to working fully remote. And things have transitioned relatively smooth. We are in the middle of planning the next quarter, coding works fine. Fortunatly we switched to a fully cloud based Azure DevOps some time last year. Also the team is itself performing admirably. My manager has directed us to develop a few contingency plans if/when sickness strikes our team.

A training I organized with Jon Reid I switched to fully remote last Sunday. It was supposed to take place in Amsterdam. We made our decision, only hours later the Dutch government announced severe measures in attempt to slow the spread of Corona. Jon was an excellent online host. He also informed me he arrived home safely back home in the US. I hope to do this again some day.

And then my wife. A teacher. She was forced to switch to working remote with her kids. From being hands-on to a laptop worker like me. She’s doing it. She makes me proud with her sheer determination to do what is best for her class within the boundaries of the current regulations.

I love working remote myself. But it has been a rough week. Everyone always has this virus on their mind. And not being able to do the regular things especially with and for my kids is hard. Especially when I see how much my oldest daughter needs her schoolwork as an outlet for the boundless energy she always has. Kids have lots of energy, but my oldest, she is ready to burst if she can not channel her energy on something that challenges her mind.

Beautiful things happen as well inspired by the social limitations we have to accept. Last Wednesday the first ever CocoaHeadsNL online meetup was a success. Over 90 people were able to forget about the current situation and enjoy an online CocoaHeadsNL meetup presented by Antoinne van der Lee. I think it went well. People really appreciated the livestream. Next month we probably can not do a live meetup yet, so if all goes well we will do another online edition.

It is unsure how long this social distancing will last. It sucks. But I believe in the reasoning behind it. I do not want to see the same thing happen anywhere like they are currently in Italy. I cried when I read the news about the choices health care workers have to make in northern Italy.

If anyone in my social circle needs some help, either CocoaHead, colleague, friend or neighbor… I hope they have the courage to reach out.

Take care of each other. We’ll see each other when this whole thing is behind us.

Random thoughts


First of all, all opinions and information is. based on my view of things. It is based on my incomplete memories.

This week I want to write a bit about CocoaHeadsNL. It’s been a week of Corona/COVID19 news. AppDevCon has been postponed to September. And the CocoaHeadsNL meetup of this month has all of a sudden been converted to an online only event. Something CocoaHeadsNL has never done. On top of that, last week I had some late cancellations on my TDD workshop for iOS by Jon Reid.

Opinions vary. I don’t want to go too much into that. Let the experts provide the guidance we need. In the Netherlands that’s the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment.

But it did trigger me to look back on what CocoaHeadsNL has become. And I think it is doing a pretty good job in achieving its stated goals (Dutch) in the notary document that created the non-profit CocoaHeadsNL.

Please be aware. This whole write-up will most likely go all over the place. I did not write this with any preconceived writing plan.

How did CocoaHeadsNL get started?

Other people have told me various things. All I know for sure is that it was very informal and in a very small setting. To my knowledge the first gathering calling itself CocoaHeadsNL was on December 10, 2008. Somewhere in Amsterdam.

How did I get involved with CocoaHeadsNL?

Peter Robinett (employee nr. 2 at BUNQ, he kept calling it Project Clear) was running CocoaHeadsNL when I happened to start attending CocoaHeadsNL meetups. It was during my time at ING when I was working on their consumer iOS app. Sleeping in a hotel 3 nights a week was getting very old very fast, so that’s why I started looking for things to do in the evenings. One fateful evening Peter casually asked if anyone was willing to help him run these Meetups, cause his current project was just taking too much time. Me and very few others raised their hand. By luck of the draw Peter pointed at me and agreed to let me help him with organizing CocoaHeadsNL. This was somewhere at the start of 2013. Then somewhere in 2013 Peter broke the news. “I’m moving to New York. You will get full control of CocoaHeadsNL. Ask me anything for the next couple of months, but I will be fading to the background very soon.”

I was surprised, flattered, and a bit scared and overwhelmed. How to run this thing? First thing I did was make an inventory of all the channels and mediums CocoaHeadsNL was using. To be able to do this I needed to consolidate things. So I took a gamble and put CocoaHeadsNL on Meetup. And it worked, I finally got some grasp on who called themselves a CocoaHead and was interested in our meetups. I did my best, but then I put out a call for help during a Meetup. Organizing CocoaHeadsNL meetups is fun, but too much work for a single person. Bart and Niels stepped up.

Becoming a non-profit foundation

Things settled down and slowly CocoaHeadsNL started growing. Close to 200 people. Companies were willing to donate their office space and drinks and sometimes food. Sometimes we asked, could you sponsor us, to help offset some of the costs we are currently carrying ourselves? The answer was always “No.” And every time when we asked further it was always a case of not wanting to run the risk of getting the transaction tagged by the Dutch Tax services as a work agreement.

How to fix this? Easiest was to incorporate CocoaHeadsNL as a legal entity. After some discussion we agreed that a non-profit with a stature that protects our ideologic goal of bringing software developers into contact with each other and with potential employers in a fun, non intrusive and open way based on the agreement everyone comes together to openly share knowledge and information.

I was working at Xebia at the time. I pitched my idea, would Xebia be willing to fund the founding of the CocoaHeadsNL non-profit? They agreed. Not only to paying all legal fees but also to allow CocoaHeadsNL to remain an entity completely unattached to Xebia.

So at Monday Februari 2 2015 Bart, Niels and me appeared before Notary Cornelis van de Griend. A few cups of coffee and a few signatures later Stichting CocoaHeadsNL was incorporated as a non-profit foundation.

CocoaHeadsNL in 2020

Lots of things have happened. Niels left. Marco and Jolanda joined. We started recording videos. And thanks to Marco’s enthusiasm they have been getting better and better. We also organized our first conference as a non-profit. The third edition of Do iOS.

What’s it like to organize CocoaHeadNL

Due to the COVID19 concerns we will be running an experiment this month. Our first online Meetup. We have no idea if and how it will work. But that’s the fun thing with CocoaHeadsNL. There’s always something new.

Looking back, I think CocoaHeadsNL has been one of the things that on the surface doesn’t “give” that much. But let’s see it got me in touch with other people, other opinions. And that combined with me getting kids allowed me to think broader. It allowed me to consider what is important for me. Due to my experience with running CocoaHeadsNL I started freelancing on the side. Have organized several conferences. Created an open training with the help of Jon Reid (maybe more will follow).

But best of all is the great many people I meet and see on a regular basis to have fun with, bounce ideas of and just have a good time. Also Bart and me have become very well attuned to each other. I provide the crazy ideas. But Bart is always there to talk sense in to me, point out the errors in my business thinking and sometimes he just tells me I did something stupid.

CocoaHeadsNL has made me a better person. And I hope my tenure as its chairperson can last a long time. See you at the next Meetup.

I was able to squeeze 9 links into this thing. :)

Random thoughts

A new year a new start

My intention is to write a weekly post on something iOS, Xcode, Mac development related subject. I will also include the occasional post on CocoaHeadsNL, Do iOS conference and other related topics.

In the meantime other pages need to be updated.