Hi there! 👋🏻
Hiring is an anxiety-producing process. You don’t know me, I don’t know you, a poor match costs us both. Ugh.
This page aims to ease your aprehensions by laying out, in plain terms, where my career journey has taken me and where I think it’s heading next.
Alex's Technology Journey
High School 2004: takes a Java class in high school and likes it (thanks Mr. Perfors!). This Java class plants the seed for his Bachelor's in Computer Information Systems.
U.S. Navy 2006: graduates from communications intelligence school at the top of his class.
2007: monitors world-wide sea traffic for suspicious patterns to supply risk assessments to leaders.
2010: completes a year-long deployment in Afghanistan where he mined thousands of complex technical records to ascertain threat locations. Persuades senior leaders to collect data, deploy special forces, and anticipate attacks with data-driven presentations.
Owner 2009: incorporates a mobile coffee shop LLC with Tommy Smith and Matthew Gonzales in Denver, CO.
2011: hosts the company website with BlueHost on WordPress. Learns HTML and CSS from scratch, then adds logic with PHP.
🎓 2014: graduates DeVry University with honors and a Bachelor's in Computer Information Systems.
Relativity ODA 2014: writes his first lines of company code on a C# .NET MVC app called REHE with Kezhang Wu.
2014: first tastes the sweet feedback of test-driven development. Learns unit testing with NUnit+RhinoMocks, advocates for mandatory testing, and sets the guidelines for the team's unit test strategy.
"I had the pleasure of working together with Alex on multiple development projects. He is a skilled coder and passionate about finding and implementing good design patterns. He possess some of the deepest knowledge I've seen on unit testing frameworks and he uses it to increase the quality of deliverables." - Marlon Smith
2015: leads the team's migration from LeanKit to Jira. Meets with team members to document all the ways our team works, then consults with Jira admins to match our workflows with the new system.
2015: designs the MVP for a Relativity-based FOIA application from two conversations and a 400-page government spec. In Deloitte's hands it goes on to win the 2018 Solution Provider Innovation Award. Way to go John Fuex and John Tibbetts!
2016: pioneers the technical business analyst (TBA) position. Sets the bar for client satisfaction and technical acumen. Formulates every workflow, template, and process needed to onboard the next five TBAs.
2017: pitches a customer success workflow to his leadership, builds it in Asana, and institutes it for his team. The design grants company-wide insight into the current technical status of 50+ clients.
2018: surprises a prospective Silicon Valley client looking to integrate their Python code with RelativityOne by building a prototype IronPython integration in time to demo it live on their office tour. Great teamwork Uma Rani!
2019: consults for Clair Atkins to close a major deal in the early stages of Relativity's SaaS transformation. Leads the technical conversation at the roundtable in Nashville, TN, then systematically solves each technical barrier to crop up over the next six months. Bridges communication between the database architects (thanks Kent Salsbury!), the salespeople, and the client's leaders and software architects.
SPR Consulting 2019: crafts a PowerShell script that simplifies collaboration and prevents build conflicts across 8+ GitLab repositories.
🎓 2020: graduates Global Leadership University with a Master's in Business Administration, Entrepreneurial Studies.
Freelance 2020: incorporates my second business, a technology consulting firm.
2020: self-hosts this website on a Raspberry Pi with a combination of Hugo, Github, Nginx, and Ansible.
2020: consults with Witty Butterfly to draft the software requirements for their first product, SwordSpeak.
I have a fledgling tech company and hired Alex Bilson to be a project manager for our first app. We already had a prototype and wanted to add functionality to it before beta testing it. Alex was very thoughtful, detailed and thorough in evaluating my problem and presenting possible solutions. He gave me a comprehensive implementation plan with varying options with cost and time estimates. I have no tech background. Alex was able to convert highly technological ideas and processes into something I could understand and make decisions about what I wanted. The cost to implement the added functionality would’ve been a few thousand dollars. Alex recommended that I already had enough to do beta testing and that it might be better to wait until I get feedback before making changes. I appreciated his honesty and integrity. Alex keeps deadlines, is punctual and has a calming presence. I decided to go forward with beta testing and I will hire him again when I’m ready to upgrade my app. I highly recommend him. - Andrea Bacon
|ASP.NET MVC||Budget App|
|Flat files||Budget App|
Q & A
Q: What libraries have you used for unit testing?
A: I write unit tests for all but the smallest projects. Libraries like NUnit and Moq are my go-to for C# development, Pester for PowerShell, and PyTest for Python.
Q: Have you written integration or end-to-end tests?
A: Yes! For value, a single end-to-end test is more useful than five integration tests, which are more useful than a hundred unit tests. The best coverage has appropriate coverage by all.
Q: What's your favorite IDE?
A: I began with Vim, and it's still my go-to for adhoc development work. I love how it's everywhere, and the commands are burned into my fingers. Visual Studio Code has become my workhorse for big projects... once I add the Vim plugin.
Q: What's your favorite OS?
A: I spend my days on the command line, so Linux has become my happiest home. I appreciate the simplicity of the folder structure and the many command line tools available. When I'm on Windows, I install Gow at the minimum, and WSL 2 with Debian if I can. The Mac terminal experience is decent, so I guess it's alright.
Q: How do you debug a 250-line SQL script?
A: Carefully! My first work on large SQL scripts was at Relativity, where I'd routinely need to fix a bug introduced in the latest release. I take a systematic approach, decomposing the script into readable output step-by-step until I've isolated the bug.
Q: What steps do you take to debug a Web API endpoint?
A: First I'll serve the endpoint locally so I can play with it without disruption. Unless this is adhoc, I'd build up a Postman library to simplify authentication and configuration. If it's adhoc, I might bust out curl instead. I'd confirm my setup by hitting an endpoint that has no bug first, then move to the one with a bug. If I can set a breakpoint and debug at the code level, great, otherwise I'd add logging to inspect how the endpoint is responding to my requests. When the bug was found, I'd write a failing unit test that describes the bug, then update the code to pass the test.
Q: What technical certification would you pursue next?
A: I'm about 80% through the Certified Ethical Hacker cert from EC-Counsel. Security is crucial in technology, and the hacker's approach fascinates me. Maybe someday I'll be a white hat...
Does technology intimidate you? Do you wish that you had a coach who'll build your confidence? A consultant to show you what's possible and integrate your business with the digital community? An analyst who'll protect your digital real estate and optimize your business processes?
Translating technological chaos into orderly tools for business owners and managers is my passion. Call or text me at (480) 300-1863 to schedule your first experience.