Meet the Speaker – Matthew Huxtable

We’re privileged to have some amazing local talent who are willing to give up their free time to speak at our meetups. We asked Matthew a few questions prior to his upcoming talk on his journey migrating from Python to GO…

Name: Matthew Huxtable
Job role: Senior Site Reliability Engineer at Sparx (That sounds boring – in reality I build clouds and put out fires)
Twitter: @matthewhuxtable / GitHub: mhuxtable / LinkedIn

What’s your biggest passion?

I should probably say technology here, but life is about so much more than hardware, software and the digital communication channels which bind us together. As technologists, we can be a force for good, ensuring our specialist knowledge can be put to good use to leave a positive effect on the world around us.

What motivates you to do what you do?

Making a difference and seeing the smiles this can bring. Feeling like I’m having a real, positive impact. Feeling challenged and solving tough problems.

I’ve worked in education technology for over 10 years, since age 15, during which time I’ve seen the transformation in technology for learning in the classroom and the home. I am exceptionally grateful for the path I took through the education system, and I want to ensure I harness the skills and domain knowledge I’ve acquired to help today’s learners succeed.

How do you start your mornings?

I normally start by checking for the latest posts on blogs I follow, especially Adrian Colyer’s blog The Morning Paper: https://blog.acolyer.org/.  I like to keep a close eye on the latest publications in the field – they are inspirational and a good source of fresh ideas.

What does a ‘typical’ work day look like?

I’ll get in somewhere between 8 and 10 (with very little consistency!).

It’s very much a cliche, but I find myself wearing a number of hats, which truly helps ensure each day is unique. My main goal is to build systems which are understandable, reliable, and scale efficiently – which implies automating most things. I’ll know I have succeeded when I successfully automate myself out of my job (did I say I liked automation?).

Building systems is as much about collaborating with others as it is writing code, though! Somewhere in there I wear the product owner hat for our small team, so I’ll help decide how we most effectively chart our course forwards. I do a healthy amount of troubleshooting of systems when they break, chat to other engineers to understand their challenges, and perhaps just occasionally stop to play some table tennis.

Who do you lunch with?

We’re remarkably fortunate at Sparx to receive freshly-prepared lunches every day in our in-house organic cafe, so I share lunch with my colleagues (who I am very pleased to also call my friends!). We’re a social bunch and talk everything from work, the latest Hacker News story, to politics, our weekends, or I’ll cause some eyerolls by bringing up aviation yet again (a side-interest of mine). Occasionally we’ll have an “active” lunch, which may involve a Nintendo Switch, or three…

When are you most productive?

When it’s quiet – moments of which, with all our modern distractions, can be increasingly fleeting and hard to find. I’ll often end up working later in the day (hence why I’m writing this late in the evening) or trying to zone out by muting the IM notifications and listening to film soundtracks.

What one thing do you try to do every day?

Be spontaneous! It leads to new experiences, like booking trips to new places, or arranging to go skydiving…

What is your talk about?

Over the last year, Go became our tool of choice to rewrite our tech stack while simultaneously shifting from on-prem infrastructure to Google Cloud Platform. I’ll share our motivations for choosing Go, the discoveries we made along the way, and how this plays a critical role in our mission to improve the life opportunities of over 5 million learners by 2030.

What is the best resource for people who want to dive in deeper?

The Go language reference is a great start to anyone looking to learn more about the language. I firmly believe in the power of Q&A to acquire new skills through helping others – I have derived significant value from contributing to the [go] tag on StackOverflow in the last year or so. It’s extremely active, with some very knowledgeable contributors, so finding questions to answer can be challenging – but occasionally good entries come along.

What is the biggest challenge in the [field/topic/industry] at the moment?

We’re increasingly living in a world where terms like “cloud” are hijacked for marketing purposes and are becoming devoid of technical meaning. There is a never-ending hype cycle associated with many modern tools and solutions, which in some cases hides true engineering prowess and in others masks the (often considerable) overhead of integrating and maintaining third-party tools in our stacks.


Thank you so much Matthew for your answers! If you want to find out more, come along to our meetup:

Fab February Meetup

Wednesday, Feb 6, 2019, 7:00 PM

The Workshop @ The Phoenix
Gandy Street Exeter, GB

41 Members Attending

** PLEASE NOTE – THIS IS A WEDNESDAY EVENING!! ** Our usual mix of top quailty Lightning Talks and Chit-Chat. We’re mixing up the format this time to allow for more networking time (which is something you lot have asked for!) * LIGHTNING TALK: Matthew Huxtable – From Python to GO * — NETWORKING CHAT / SHORT BREAK — * LIGHTNING TALK: Dr Jacqueline…

Check out this Meetup →