99designs Tech Blog

Adventures in web development

Talk Like a Pirate Day

by David Lutz

If you had happened to have been wandering around the 99designs office today you would have heard hysterical laughter and cries of “yarrrr”.

Something we try to do is foster a good “DevOps” working culture. One of the critical components of DevOps is a collaborative way of working and close working relationship between those working in development and operations. And other parts of the business for that matter. Company culture is something that is tricky to improve if it’s not working, but immediately obvious when it is working.

A key component of good company culture is good communication. We make extensive use of IRC as a communication medium. Naturally we use it for technical discussions like “How does this component of code work”, but just like companies like GitHub and Etsy we use IRC within the company as a very effective method of documenting what both dev and ops are doing day to day. We also have a bot that lives in IRC and does useful things for us. Our bot is called agent99. She makes our life easier and has the ability to do such things as deploy new versions of code to our production website.

She also has a bit of character. She can find memes to punctuate the moment, or fetch funny pictures of cats when asked.

We’ve actually open-sourced agent99 as well as many other pieces of code. We like to contribute code that we think might be useful to others back to the community.

So what was the source of hysterical laughter? Well today is Talk Like a Pirate Day. So one of our staff hacked together a plugin to make agent99 send a “yarr” over the office speakers. Hilarity ensued. It was quicky repatched, so that “yarr” only works one golden day a year.

This is a little example of where all are empowered to use technology to make it a more enjoyable workplace. And a work environment that is both fun and technically challenging is a competitive advantage in that helps attract and retain motivated and happy employees!