Being a Dad in Sweden

Baby-handI’ve not written anything here for more than a month and I’d like to make a short off-topic post to explain why. In the end of May our third kid arrived to the family. He’s a healthy little boy, but even though he’s still small, he’s wreaked havoc to my ability to plan my time. Just as it is supposed to be. But that means blogging hasn’t been on the priority list.

I’m living in Sweden, where the possibilities to spend time with the kids (even as a dad) is totally awesome. It’s easy to take things for granted and it’s not until I discuss how to balance family life and work with people from other countries that I fully remember just how awesome it is here.

The biggest thing is the parental leave. For every child the parents gets 480 paid days to stay at home and care for the child. Counting only work days, that is nearly two full years of paid leave.

The thing that usually surprises non-Swedes the most is that those paid days are not tied to the mother, but to both parents. Actually 60 days are non-transferable, meaning that if the dad doesn’t use them, they are void. Personally I’ve been staying at home with my two older kids for about half a year each and I plan to do the same with the baby, once my wife get back to work. Oh, that’s standard in Sweden too – Mothers are usually working.

When she returns to work, it’s my turn to stay at home on state pay. But, there is actually a limit on how much the state pays for during parental leave. The maximum pay is about €100/day (before tax) and salaries in the IT sector are often much higher than that. But as I’m working at a generous company they actually fill in on top of the public payment, so I get 90% of my salary for spending 6 months with my son. That’s awesome (did I mention we’re hiring?).

Once I get back to work, my son will go to daycare. Children in Sweden usually start daycare from somewhere between age 1.5-2 years. Daycare is heavily subsidized. We pay about €120/month per child for daycare. That’s roughly 10% of the real cost. On the other hand I can confirm that the rumors are true: We do have high tax levels in Sweden, but in my opinion we’re also getting a lot back.

For now this means that I’m taking a long summer off and spend the time with my family. There will probably be blogging done, but not as frequently as when I’m working.

On Call for Papers

It’s call for papers season and I’m preparing abstracts and sending them off hoping that I’ll be accepted with my talks. What surprises me is how huge quality difference there is between different conferences in their call for papers (CFP). It’s basically anything ranging from very detailed information to a mailto: link.

I still have quite limited experience in submitting to conferences (and even less experience of being accepted). But when looking at what’s in a good CFP I think that is actually an advantage. A seasoned speaker will know how to write an abstract and what to expect – and what to demand(!) from the conference organizers. Someone less experienced need more information. To get relevant content and a wider selection of speakers it should be in the interest of conference organizers to have a good CFP.

Posted in Other on 2015-03-24 | Tagged

Bringing Agile to Politics with Trello

Is politics agile? Hardly. Can politics benefit from an agile mindset? I don’t know, but I’m running an experiment. Besides working as a developer and doing some open source coding (which is what I usually blog about) I’m also a part time politician (for the greens in the municipality assembly of Huddinge, in Stockholm county, Sweden). If anyone’s up for a political discussion, I’m into it, but this post is not about it. This post is about an effort I’m doing to bring some of the Agile mindset into politics.

In a municipality in Sweden, there is the municipality assembly, the municipality executive committee and a number of committees for various purposes such as school, preschool, social care etc. For all of these, there are MASSIVE amounts of decisions to be made, with even MORE MASSIVE amounts of background material. For a single meeting with the municipality assembly, the pile of paper to read is often about 10cm thick. In this massive pile of paper, there is often some interesting details that we in the green party would like to somehow act on. When we get the pile of paper, there are two questions that we need to answer:

  1. What things do we want to act on?
  2. How do we best act on those?

When we have got all the material, we have an internal preparatory meeting where we discuss those two questions. When I first joined those meetings, I found them quite inefficient. So I suggested that we tried another way of working – and brought Trello to help.

Three Years of Passion for Coding

In November 2011, I decided to try blogging and created the Passion for Coding blog. Three years and 186 published posts later, my blog has grown into a resource for programmers from all over the world. I would like to thank you all for reading, commenting and sharing my posts. Without readers, blogging would be extremely boring.

When I first started the blog three years ago I had to be careful to filter out my own page views from the web server analytics, to not get confusing numbers. In fact, I could see from the web server statistics on what days I had written new posts, solely on the extra hits using the admin interface produced on the web server. That is no longer the case. I’ve so far had visits from 210 countries/territories, which is basically the entire world except a few countries in central Africa and the one exception in Asia: North Korea.

During this year I’ve gradually narrowed the focus on the blog to become more technical and less about the soft sides of software development. I’ve reduced the number of articles on methodology and focused on programming instead. At first I was a bit worried that I might loose quite a few of my readers. I probably did, but I’ve gained even more so I think it was the right decision. It is also in line with a general career decision I made, to focus more on the technical expertise and less on the soft sides. I want to focus more on coding and architecture and that means that I have to focus less on project management.

A Geek’s Nightmare

Last night I woke up after a night mare. A nightmare containing a future, “improved” version of powershell a competing blogger and Entity Framework Migrations. Slightly off topic, but I’ll share it anyway.

I am back at NDC in Oslo as a speaker. Not this year’s NDC, but next year’s. The room is already filled up when I enter, opening my laptop while walking to get the presentation going in the few minutes I have left before the official start time. The computer is on, I just have to open the presentation. Going into my dropbox folder to get it, the explorer window slowly renders. After 30 seconds the menu bar is in place. Another 30 seconds and the first folder is shown. When I finally see the folder I need and click it, everything just grinds to a halt.

Whatever. I’m a hacker. I bring up the command prompt. But this is not the ordinary command prompt. This is a new, “improved” command prompt inspired by powershell that not only lists the file but actually reads them to be able to show some info about the contents of the file in the directory listing. The first file in the directory is a multi gigabyte presentation with a lot of images, so the shell window just freezes and won’t let me reach my precious presentation file. It’s now seven minutes past start time. I’m sweating.

Desperately I start talking, trying to get the message through without any slides to help. (I think it was an advanced EF Migrations talk). A famous blogger sitting in the audience tries to help and I’ve just found out that our sites are ranked the same on Alexa, so it’s fine. There’s a whiteboard in the room so I can write code on that instead of using the computer if I need. I’m twelve minutes late.

While I’m desperately doing a last attempt at getting my slide deck running people are starting to leave the room. The famous blogger has had enough, he leaves too. I feel devastated, but then I get the presentation running. People are actually coming back into the room, bringing in some of their friends. More people are joining, having tried other talks first but changed their minds.

At the end, the room is packed. People are sitting on the floor. The talk is a success.

Now, does anybody have any idea of what all this means?

Posted in Other on 2014-08-28
Software Development is a Job – Coding is a Passion

I'm Anders Abel, an independent systems architect and developer in Stockholm, Sweden.

profile for Anders Abel at Stack Overflow, Q&A for professional and enthusiast programmers

Code for most posts is available on my GitHub account.

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