Software developer Tanel Hiob: Oslo is the closest Silicon Valley for us

In Uptime, developers can also work in some other exciting places, such as Oslo in Norway, where Uptime also has an office. Developer and IT architect Tanel Hiob headed there to be closer to the customer while still staying with Uptime team. There are things you can’t do remotely, and teamwork at a Norwegian start-up banking business has become a new exciting challenge for Tanel.

We examined what he is doing in Norway right now.

You are in Uptime’s Norway office now. How did you get there and what are you doing in Norway currently?

A small startup bank found our ad on Facebook and contacted me. They wanted to build a .NET application and needed some help.

It happened that I matched this startup with both character and skills. My original role was as a cloud software architect.

Almost a year later, we hit a problem because I could not build architecture efficiently without being on site. Unfortunately, telecommuting excludes some of the more exciting roles you can play in a company. Fortunately, Uptime also has a Norwegian branch, which is quite active. I thought I am still young and wanted a bigger adventure. Now I’m writing this answer from our startup bank office in central Oslo.

The Norwegian fintech startup is a new kind of digital bank. What is different there that has never been done before, and how does it look for customers?

It is better to say that we are doing something much better than before.

Today we have two major products. The first is invoicing factoring, which means that we buy small business unpaid invoices, so they don’t have to collect them. Another product is providing small business loans, which must be repaid in a year. What makes it special is the technology used. In Norway, it is easy to request public information about all companies and individuals and we can use that in our decisions. Almost all our business goes through APIs.

Our competitors find it difficult to get a similar solution working properly and must use more labor than automation. Thanks to this solution we will be able to make the loan decision much faster.

What new solutions have been used to develop this project?

The entire application with development is in the Azure cloud. Microsoft recently announced that their new North European Azure Data Center will be coming to Oslo. Unfortunately, our resource groups are still in Ireland, but we intend to migrate all our stuff here.

The development process goes through the Azure Devops environment, we have the most advanced development processes.

Commits, tasks, releases, and errors are automatically linked. We see what happened in the software release. We see which tasks went up with which release. Our release checks if the environment started to behave abnormally after updates.

You’ll never find such a great process anywhere else!

We have other interesting technologies that we use, too. Some user interfaces are written for Blazor. You can think of Blazor as a WebForms that really works and is fun to develop. If you can be bothered to learn a new Javascript framework every year, Blazor is for you! Some more interesting keywords are CQRS, ML (yep, machine learning), NetCore 3.0, C # 8.0, FP, TDD, VueJS.

You’ve been developing a Norwegian banking project for a year now – how has it been working with Norwegians – do you notice any differences?

Norway is like a young sexy Switzerland. Norwegians are now the most progressive people. They do not use cash, there are self-driving buses in the city, every third car is a Tesla model and most doors open automatically.

I would say that Oslo is like Silicon Valley – but closer to Estonia.

Norwegians are now willing to invest more and engage more developers.

How did you start in Uptime?

I remember going to university for the last year and having fewer subjects in the spring session. The graduation thesis could be done at home and I could pass most of the programming lessons. After some time playing computer games, I decided to go to work. Also I needed to practice my skills. One of my classmates had just come from Uptime and described it as a pretty difficult experience. Great! I decided to try my abilities.

I searched the Uptime website for a phone number and called Raimo, the Uptime technology manager, directly. The conversation remained short. I said I wanted to go to work, Raimo said I should come. A few days later, I was already sitting in the office and writing Sharepoint.

Which is the most valuable experience in Uptime?

As a developer you learn the most with difficult projects. My career began with one large distributed system, and the senior developers left a few months after I arrived.

Suddenly I was alone with all this. Lots of sleepless nights, but in the end, we got it to work. After that, I was confident that no matter how bad the project is, there is always something that could be done to make it work.

The most important skills I have acquired at Uptime are about how to work effectively as a team.

What do you do in your spare time, do you have hobbies? Can you keep up your interests in Norway?

In Estonia, I enjoyed playing squash, pumping iron, and playing the guitar.

There are a surprisingly large number of squash courts in Oslo, too, and I found a playing partner from the company the very first evening. Alcohol is expensive here, but salmon and going to workout are relatively cheap, so it’s a good way to leave your bad habits. There are significantly more pubs for rock music lovers like me than in Estonia. There are also many nerd shops in Oslo, such as Outland, which sell cards, figurines and so on. There is something new and exciting around every corner.

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