Henry Chong

The Last Five Years

Henry Chong making a thumbs up gesture in front of the famous Facebook sign on the main campus of Meta HQ.

📷: Henry Chong

I used to write blog posts quite frequently — on .NET, C#, Azure, and other Microsoft technologies. But the last one was on 15 January 2018.

At the time, I was working at a small startup on publicly available tech. You can see this reflected in my StackOverflow profile too, with my last question and answer from February of that year.

So, what happened? Where did I go?

One word: Facebook.

While I had always intended to keep writing after moving into big tech, two things about working at Meta made that more difficult:

  1. Almost everything I work on is internal. While the company does open source and share some of these things, the reality of building internal products using Meta specific technologies meant that my core audience was no longer the general public.
  2. The company moves fast and I got swept up in it all, and what time I did have to myself I spent on endeavours that were as far away from work as possible (video games, travel, being a foodie)

As I sit and reflect while on “Recharge”, the additional paid month of time Meta employees are granted as a reward for long service (a privilege which I’m very grateful for), I realise quite a lot has happened in the last five years, and I do have a lot of stories to tell. In my professional life:

  • I was mistakenly flagged as a terrorist on our platforms
  • I presented at an international conference in Greece
  • Constant change, from working with news publishers to seeding an internal tools team and plenty of team merges and reorganizations
  • We built several wide-ranging products and platforms — some things worked great, others failed spectacularly, but not always in the ways I’d have expected
  • I switched from engineering to people management
  • I experienced living through redundancies, losing many talented friends and colleagues and saw first-hand the effect on a company’s culture after the pandora’s box of layoffs is opened

Outside of that, plenty happened to me and the world at large also:

  • I bought a house (kind of)
  • Survived the global coronavirus pandemic
  • Endured the cost of living crisis
  • War in Ukraine
  • The climate crisis deepens

The Last Five Years were a rollercoaster and a whirlwind. And looking ahead, I expect the chaos, growth and opportunities to continue.

Consider this post a statement of my intent to re-engage with writing as a form of reflection and share my experience with the wider community, and hopefully learn from all of you, too!

To prove my point, I had a version of this blog post which I tried to publish on http://henry-chong.com and unsurprisingly, it failed (throwing the infamous ASP.NET error screen). There’s much wrong with the website — it doesn’t support HTTPS (!) and runs a very old version of Orchard CMS on a needlessly expensive Azure VM. An upgrade or replacement is long overdue, and I’m thinking through the best way to migrate and relaunch it. Consider this an experiment on Medium, though most folks I’ve asked have suggested Github Pages and Jekyll, so I might also give that a spin too, even if it means trying to wrangle Ruby in Windows.