Tom Donohue Tom D

About me

Picture of Tom Donohue
Who the heck is this guy

Hello, my name’s Tom Donohue, and this is my web site. Welcome!

I’m a techie who’s passionate about open source software, cloud, writing, making products and whimsy.

I’m at my best when I’m writing, solving problems or making stuff.

  • Currently based in London
  • Favourite music: Disco 🎈, techno 🤖, pop 🎤, classical 🎻, ambient 🌚.
  • Favourite sandwich: egg.

Send me a message or you can follow me on Twitter.

Buy Me A Coffee

Read on to find out my story and learn what this site’s all about. ⬇️

My story

I haven’t always worked in middleware and cloud apps. I first started out as a web designer as a part-time job during school. I even dabbled for a while as a Flash developer.

At university, I was forced to learn Java, and hated it. I failed my second year at Edinburgh but switched to Napier University and loved it. In my first job out of university, I spent a lot of time writing data processing jobs in Oracle PL/SQL (it’s a curious language!).

Later, I moved onto projects involving Oracle’s middleware stack and Spring, which got me back into the Java scene again, specifically web services and integration. And I started to like Java again. :-)

More recently, I’ve been learning and building on platforms like things like Kubernetes, OpenShift and Apache Camel. And I really enjoy it.

About this website

This website is the online extension of me, and a place to share knowledge.

I’ve been running this site, in different iterations, since 2015. It was first called “Integration Wire”. Then I renamed it “Clever Builder”. Today, I just keep it simple. It’s all my content, so the site name is my name.

Website techy details

This is a static web site, just pure HTML, CSS and images.

I write content in plain text and store it in a Git repository. Then I use a program to automatically build the HTML pages. It requires a bit of effort to get started, but I like writing this way.

The program I use to build the site is a static site generator called Jekyll. I designed the theme in July 2020 using CSS and HTML. The main copy uses the Manrope typeface.

Then the HTML is served using the Nginx web server. Nginx is running on my own virtual private server, hosted by Linode, who I recommend! If you want to start your own blog, or have your own private server to play with, then use this link to sign up to Linode, and I will receive a small credit. If you choose to do that, then thankyou!

My earliest content dates back to 2015 when I used WordPress, but here’s my first Git commit on the site in its current form, which dates from late 2016:

$ git log --reverse
commit fe094ccef1719b2998a478ae6fa53fae8e0101f4
Author: Tom Donohue <tom@example.com>
Date:   Wed Dec 14 19:51:05 2016 +0000

    Initial commit

The three pillars

When I started this site, I wanted to keep it simple. So here are the three pillars of what this site’s about:

  1. Actionable tutorials and articles, written in plain English. (With no annoying ads - I may still place some ads on this site if they are not awful)

  2. A place to share my thoughts, and the products I’m working on.

  3. Occasional jokes about eggs.

It’s also a place to join my email newsletter.

Topics I cover

On this site, I write about:

  • Cloud-native development (microservices, Kubernetes, containers, etc.)

  • Writing, indie hacking and making products

  • Java development

  • Application integration and messaging

  • Software culture

OK, but why?

When I first started working in tech, I found many concepts difficult to understand. Stack Overflow was still very new back then, and books were often impenetrable.

Thankfully, things have improved a lot! But a lot of technical documentation can still be frustratingly complex for beginners. It assumes that you already know the tool that you’re trying to learn.

I decided to share my knowledge and teach everything I know. I try to write clear, simple tutorials about the tools I work with every day. I try to write the kind of tutorials that I’d like to read.

So I write to improve my own understanding, to get better at writing, and to give back to the community so that you can understand and get better skills.

Recommendations

Learning to code

If you’re learning to code, I recommend these things:

Blogs

To keep up with blogs, I use the excellent Fraidycat plugin for Firefox. I wanted to share a couple of blogs I read, because I think that finding enthusiast/passion blogs is incredibly hard these days. I always love seeing other people share their recommendations:

  • Diamond Geezer is a blog by an anonymous author, all about East London, and the areas close to where I live. Diamond Geezer writes about all sorts of local sights and history, and even more frequently about London trains and buses (transport-geek gland activated!)

Reading

For many years, I didn’t like reading very much. But recently I’ve realised that I find it easier to read non-fiction books, and that it’s OK to abandon a book if you don’t like it. Those two things have made reading much more enjoyable for me.

Here are some books I’ve read recently which I recommend:

TL;DR

I started this site to start to share everything I know – and some of my opinions. I’m trying to share stuff as I learn.

I’m definitely not a born expert! I go through the same pains as you when I’m learning this stuff. But I hope that by sharing knowledge as I pick it up, you can learn faster than I did.

If there’s something you’d like to see on the site, you’ve got any feedback, or you’re stuck on a problem, please get in touch and I’ll try and help you out.

Let’s keep learning. OK bye!

Tom