Continuing our series of posts introducing you to some of the developers behind WebSphere Liberty, meet Ozzy Osborne

Ozzy joined IBM nearly 20 years ago after a degree in Computing from University of Kent, Canterbury in the UK. For most of his career so far, he’s been a developer at IBM Hursley but recently moved to Montreal, Canada where he is a developer and evangelist for Liberty and microservices. It’s possible that you’ve come across one of his many diverse side-projects over the years.

“I’ve been coding as long as I can remember.”

His first computer was a ZX Spectrum 48k (“Sir Clive has a lot to answer for…”). He started learning to code by hacking the sample programs on the Horizons tape that came with every new ZX Spectrum.

“I remember altering Thro’ the Wall to make the bat as wide as the screen”

From there, he moved on to books on graphics routines in Z80 Assembler to invoke code that was loaded directly into memory (via RANDOMISE USR), eventually ending up with a multiface expansion that allowed him to freeze the running machine and alter the memory before the machine was resumed. It seems fairly clear why he got into computing as a career.

Ozzy loves the ‘making something come alive’ moment when you run your code and discover whether what you told it to do is actually what you intended it to do. And that’s never really lost its appeal. With experience, he’s found that the challenges shift from just finding a solution to finding an appropriate solution. He acknowledges that you rarely get to create the ideal, academic solution, but finding a way to make the one you have to deliver be as “non-icky as possible” keeps him entertained.

“I enjoy writing code.”

Outside of work, his many tech and non-tech side-projects often focus on subverting most people’s accepted reality in different ways, such as putting a USB-MIDI sustain pedal controller in an old Keurig coffee pod, or adding WIFI to an Amiga via the serial/parallel port. His floppy autoloader was particularly successful. And he has a firm place in the Hursley Liberty team’s heart as baker of brussel sprout cup cakes.

He also messes with Arduinos; they remind him of his Assembler days, coding on the old 8-bit systems. He had a large hand in the initial design and construction of the Liberty Car, using his Arduino skills to create a platform that enables us to show that Liberty is capable of being an app server even in the oddest of places.

Ozzy has worked at all different levels of the Liberty code. The contribution he’s most proud of is developing the abstract classloader that enables Liberty to load classes from virtualised application abstractions. “It turned out a lot neater than expected, and offered some entertaining opportunities for optimisations.” He also wrote the slick minify capability), which you can use when packaging a Liberty server to shrink the package down to absolutely only what you need.

These days, he tends to write applications that run on Liberty. He contributes to the Game On! game code, which developers can explore and extend to learn about microservices architecture whilst having fun.

More from Ozzy

You’ll probably run into Ozzy at one of an increasing number of developer conferences around the world where he demos Game On!, the Liberty Car, and talks Liberty and polyglot microservices, most recently on a booth at JavaOne 2016 in San Francisco and at the IBM Cloud Technical University in Madrid.

You can find Ozzy on Twitter as @OzzyDweller and GitHub as BarDweller.

Something random about Ozzy

“I built half an Iron Man suit for Halloween, and paired it with 6″ heels.”

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