Friday, May 29, 2015

Changing course

 Since I started programming a few years ago, and selected data compression as my little hobby and obsession, I nonetheless remained a part-time, amateur, programmer.

My then real-life job was Telecommunication Project Manager, later morphed into Marketing Product Manager. It may sound foreign to programming, but not really : within every new product, every innovation see the contribution of multiple programming teams sharing temporarily some common objectives.

I therefore started programming with a good excuse :  I was convinced that it helped me understand and communicate with programming teams, hence making me a better product manager. And, from what I can look at today, I would say it worked reasonably well. But let's be fair, the real objective was to entertain my brain, sure enough because I simply liked programming, and compression.

But as you can guess, with just a few evenings and week-end to save, progresses have been slow. Even more so since LZ4 became a "production-ready" source code, requiring a lot of maintenance and care, hence taking a sizable share of available time, and limiting further "research" activity.

That couldn't last. With a baby soon to come, it became clear that I would either have to stop, by starvation of free time, or eventually make programming my full-time activity.

I was lucky enough to receive a few propositions from several companies at this exact moment, while I was pondering my choices for the future. This acted for me as signal, a perfect opportunity to change course.

Starting June 1st, I'll become a full time employee at Facebook, Infrastructure division. On short term, it may translate into some reduced freedom to communicate around, but over the long term, it's the better choice to continue working in my field of choice, data compression.

I've selected Facebook for several reasons, not least because they are very keen to authorize my work in data compression to continue in Open Source mode. That's a great plus for them.
Of course, I guess you are also aware this team has developed an impressive set of tool, processes and mindset, to safely develop and deploy highly advanced software around the planet. So it's the kind of place where a lot of important practices can be learned. It's also an ideal crossover for my dual background in programming and telecommunication.

I'll need to ask for a few formal authorizations before being able to write again in this blog, but I'm optimistic on the outcome. And with now programming my primary activity, I should gradually find more and more time to do what I like, improving current compression algorithms and code base, and plausibly in the future, find some time to research and deliver some new ones.

Exciting times ahead...


  1. Well deserved Collet! Your work is quite impressive and you have produced the fastest compressor around. LZ4 suites to many real time applications where other compressors cannot even close to performance you have achieved.

  2. Yann,
    glad that you at last will have enough memory, oh, money, heh-heh. Just recalled your joke that "it costs memory".
    Beware though, having enough money is a slippery slope, before you know and false sense of supremacy is created, money and amateurism go different paths as your ladybugs, hope you don't lose the fine vibe of being an amateur.

    Please find time and watch this must-see documentary, there what I call moneyproof character can be seen:

    Bonne chance.

  3. Congratulations Yann, well deserved. Wishing you the best for this new adventure and hoping we'll see you around your current projects.

  4. Looks like you have find a better match for your skills and hope that you can put more time enough in the impressive LZ4 project. My experience with companies is that they leave very little time (if any) for your open source projects, but I sincerely wish this will work for you!

  5. What, your a hobby programmer!!? :-O
    I'm an occasional visitor to your site and love the detail in your posts and quality of your code. Based on these I presumed that you were a highly experienced professional developer. I can say without a doubt that the industry is better with you. Good luck with the change. We're all looking forward to see where it takes you.

  6. Thats what I was thinking too. The fastest compression engine in the world something that blew one specialised one from Google is a hobby programmer. Well Congrats, and I hope you enjoy pursuing programming even more as a full time activity :D