Name: Ali Ibrahim
Designation: Agent 0022
Double Agent Role: Senior Software Consultant
Special Skills: Finding ways into and out of rabbit holes
Location: Baltimore, MD
Favorite Emoji: 🕺🏾
I spent most of the year working on a Rails upgrade at a client at Test Double. I was happy with the way it ended up. I’ve worked on a few Rails upgrades in my career, and early on there was not a lot of strategy involved in upgrading. It was update the Rails gem, see what breaks, and hopefully we can finish this in a month or two. It’s cool to go through different variations, working on upgrades at Test Double, and other people going through their experiences as well. We’re figuring out how we can make it a more approachable, sustainable thing—that we can do a Rails upgrade in an application and it’s no big deal. It’s cool to apply a bunch of learnings and see them work out.
I guess the thing I’m most excited about is all the different opportunities that we’re going to have in the next year at Test Double: between the company growing, new people coming, new skills, and new clients. I think there’s going to be a lot of awesome work. It will be fun.
I think my favorite thing is having the network of people within Test Double that I can reach out to and communicate with—it’s pretty cool because we have a lot of talented, smart people here who are pretty welcoming, friendly and thoughtful. It’s nice—if I ever run into an issue I can post in Slack or I can ping somebody and say, “Hey, do you have time to talk through this with me?” It’s really nice having that network to lean on.
Similar answer, I would say the people. It’s a good workplace. I like coming to work every day and interacting with people.
I guess within the past year working on Rails upgrades and stuff like that, I’ve been looking at a lot of open source code. When I’m working on a Rails upgrade, we might run into an issue and look at “Why did they change this?,” or “What’s this change about?” So a lot of digging and investigating to see what changed and what happened. It’s pretty cool diving into open source software and seeing all of the thought that went into it, because everything’s on GitHub. You can go open up a PR and see what people were talking about when they introduced this change, and what inspired it. I think it’s a pretty special thing. I find myself sometimes taking open source software for granted. Like, “Oh, I can just pull down this, somebody wrote it and it will work.” Or you complain when it doesn’t work. But it’s cool, because you can see all of these different people giving up their time and giving their work away. I think sometimes we don’t appreciate it.
I’m a big football fan, and the team that I root for is the Washington Football Team. And they haven’t always been the Washington Football Team. It’s only within the last year that the name changed. I’ve been a lifelong fan, and I have my old sweater—Super Bowl XXVI—that I wear every Sunday. But now, new name, I need to get a new sweater to wear in the fall. So, I got some friends together and printed some hoodies. They say “Washington Football Hoodie”—because Washington Football Team, Washington Football Hoodie, it’s kind of a joke. So I got those printed, and everyone was really happy with them and wearing them around town. Everyone was like, “Oh, that’s really cool. The team isn’t that clever. Did they make that hoodie?” “No, I made it!” I made one for my son, and it’s way too big for him, but it’s really funny. It’s one of those things—last year was a challenging year, and I wanted some comic relief. I thought it would be funny if I had a hoodie that said “Washington Football Hoodie,” so I made it.
Being able to see people again and visit people and all of that kind of stuff. I saw a friend last weekend. I needed help with a mattress from Ikea. (Because we can have guests, so we can have a guest bed now.) It was fun. We talked a couple of times during the pandemic, but we hadn’t really seen each other. It was nice to just sit in a car and have a conversation with somebody who’s not in my household.
I read a couple of books recently, both non-fiction about Baltimore. One book is called Five Days, by Wes Moore & Erica L. Green, and that’s following the days of unrest after Freddie Gray’s death. Then I also read another book We Own This City by Justin Fenton. That came out in the spring, and that’s following corruption within the Baltimore Police Department, in a particular unit. Both books overlap with each other.
In We Own This City, the author does a good job of going through and contextualizing the history of Baltimore, and how the police became the police in Baltimore. The book focuses on a particular task force—the Gun Trace Task Force—that was doing a lot of bad stuff. And you can see how that intersects with what was happening at the time with Freddie Gray. It’s hard stuff to read, but I try to learn as much as I can about different things people are experiencing.
Going back to Five Days, the author focuses on a few different people who were in Baltimore during that time. I was here during it too, but I have my experience on what those days were like. It was good to get different perspectives from different people from different backgrounds and different statuses and all sort of things, and see how they experienced it.
I think the thing I’m looking forward to most is boring things being boring again. Like, I need to go to the grocery store because I ran out of olive oil? Okay, I can go to the grocery store, no big deal. I don’t have to think about it.
I like gardening a lot. And that’s a hobby my wife and I both enjoy, so we can do that together. Nowadays she does more of the work than I do. I benefit from that, but there are a few things I’m in charge of. For example, we have a fig tree in front of our house that we got a few years ago. The city has a tree program where they give away free trees, because they want people to have more trees. The fig tree’s cool because it’s specially bred for containers. That’s perfect, because we live in the city and don’t have a big yard. So we need something that can be happy in a container. I think this is the third year we’ve had it. It’s really big and lush now, and we just got a first round of fruit. We should get another round in the fall. I like gardening, because I put my computer and phone away and see what’s out there. Can we take care of it? Can we make something out of nothing?
This interview is based on a recorded conversation with Ali Ibrahim and Cathy Colliver. It may or may not self-destruct.