Mike Bland

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About me

I'm a computer programmer by trade, and a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), but an instigator for organizational change by nature. Despite that fact, part of me still dreams of playing rock, blues, and jazz guitar for a living; I'm a Jimi Hendrix fanatic and a Beatlemaniac. I'm originally from Hampton, Virginia.

From 2005-2010, I helped lead the Testing Grouplet's five-year effort to drive automated testing adoption throughout Google. From 2009-2011, I also worked on websearch infrastructure. You can read details about my Google experience below, as well as my reasons for leaving Google.

Since then, I attended Berklee College of Music and worked for the United States federal government. I've dabbled in independent consulting practice, and facilitated organizational change at Cvent by establishing a system of Grouplets there. I'm currently employed at Apple.

You can view a more detailed résumé on my LinkedIn profile, and follow my open-source programming activity via my GitHub profile.

Contact me

I welcome thoughtful conversations over email at mbland@acm.org or on Google+. My public PGP key is available via the hkps.pool.sks-keyservers.net key server pool, but you can also download the ASCII version of my mbland@acm.org public key.

Hire me

Please see my Hire me! page for information on retaining my services to help transform your organization.

Mike Bland in the Plaza
España of Sevilla, Spain in 2011
Sevilla, 2011. This one's my favorite. Click for a larger image.

More personal stuff

I grew up in Hampton and Newport News, Virginia, and lived there until 2005 (except for a brief stint in St. Louis in 1998). From 2005-2014, I lived in Silicon Valley, New York City, and Boston.

I hold two degrees from Christopher Newport University: a B.A. in Fine Arts/Theatre Concentration (1997) and a B.S. in Computer Science (2001). While earning the latter, I helped lead a campus protest that resulted in keeping CNU's computer science and environmental science grad programs. Soon after that, my first programming job was with Northrop Grumman Mission Systems in Newport News.

Mike Bland's September 2016
passport photo
Passport photo, September 2016. Turned out better than I expected. Amazing what proper diet, rest, and exercise will do. Click for a larger image.


In addition to the technical and historical writing I've done on this site, I've also written posts and articles for other publications. The two most substantial I've written to date are Finding More Than One Worm in the Apple (for ACM Queue and Communcations of the ACM) and Goto Fail, Heartbleed, and Unit Testing Culture (for Martin Fowler's site). You can also check out my ACM author profile page


I've been invited to give several presentations at Meetups and conferences. My current standard presentation, The Rainbow of Death, attempts to connect the dots between the components of my Google experience and the broader themes involving social change in a challenging, divided client when data, facts, and reason alone often prove ineffective.

Video of The Rainbow of Death from the Microscope Barcelona Meetup on March 4, 2017.

A still shot from the above delivery of The Rainbow of Death at Microscope Barcelona at the Mobile World Center in Barcelona, Spain on May 4, 2017. Click for a larger image.

The Convergence of Wills (Surge 2016 Edition).

A completely spur-of-the-moment lightning talk pitching my go-script-bash framework at Surge 2016. May actually be my favorite talk I've ever given.

The Convergence of Wills at DevOpsDays DC in June 2016 at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. I begin at the 7:41 mark. Note I've lost about fifteen pounds between the time of this video and that of the above photo.

My account of the Google testing adoption experience will also appear as a case study in the upcoming DevOps Handbook, based on my DevOps Enterprise Summit 2015 presentation:

Pain Is Over, If You Want It at DevOps Enterprise Summit 2015 in San Francisco. This was the direct precursor for The Convergence of Wills.

Press and portfolio

You can find articles covering some aspect of my work on my press page. Some links to my open-source programming work are available on my portfolio page.

Programming toolbox

My main languages currently are Node.js and Bash, though I'm also very comfortable with Go and Ruby. My main languages for years was C++ and Python, and I'm comfortable with plain C as well. My preferred development environment is bash + vim + tmux + git. I use macOS as my base system and run several Linux distributions (Ubuntu, Arch, and Alpine), FreeBSD, and Windows 10 using VMware Fusion. I also welcome any opportunity to play with Docker.

United States General Services Administration: November 3, 2014-March 4, 2016

After three years away from the industry, I returned to work for the United States federal government as part of the General Services Administration. I talk about this experience in The Convergence of Wills and other presentations.

Mike Bland in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Washington, D.C.,
in 2015
Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Washington, D.C., 2015. This picture was taken by Adam Garber for the United States Digital Service Recruiting Page, since they wouldn't let me use the picture with the hat. Click for a larger image.
Original image source

Berklee College of Music: January 2013-June 2014

From spring 2013 until summer 2014, I attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, completing four semesters. Since the record deals weren't pouring in, once I was recruited by the government, I left Berklee to reactivate my programming career.

Mike Bland's 2013 Berklee
College of Music ID
Berklee College of Music, 2013. Click for a larger image.

Despite leaving Berklee behind, as you can see, I still yearn to strap on a Stratocaster and make things happen:

Mike Bland sitting in with Detached Retina during
DevOpsDays DC 2016 at the Carlyle Club
Sitting in with Detached Retina during the happy hour for DevOpsDays DC 2016 at the Carlyle Club. Click for a larger image.

Google: August 29, 2005-September 16, 2011

Before joining the websearch infrastructure team, I was a member of the Test Mercenaries, Build Tools, and Testing Technology teams. I was based in Mountain View, California from August 2005 through November 2008, and in New York City from November 2008 until September 2011.

In my 20% time, I participated in and eventually led the Testing Grouplet and the Fixit Grouplet, both of which had an impact on internal development tools and processes; I organized several testing- and tools-related Google-wide Fixits; and I was an early author and poster of Testing on the Toilet.

I've distilled these experiences into my signature presentation, The Rainbow of Death.

I started one Google-based open source project, Pyfakefs, though I haven't been involved with it since I left the company.

Mike Bland in
Rapperswil, Switzerland in 2006
Rapperswil, Switzerland, 2006. Taken by Henner Zeller with Ana Ulin nearby (or was it the other way around?). Made this my internal employee photo, but still have no idea who turned it into this poster. Click for a larger image.

Northrop Grumman Mission Systems: July 2, 2001-June 2005

Prior to Google, I worked on shipboard navigation and port monitoring systems for Northrop Grumman Mission Systems in Newport News, Virginia. That's where I cut my teeth on C++ and Python, and began having success with automated (unit) testing.


I also attended Berklee, extremely briefly, once before...

Mike Bland's 1991 Berklee
College of Music ID
Berklee College of Music, 1991. Click for a larger image.

That was immediately after graduating from Bethel High School in Hampton, Virginia, right about the same time when Nirvana was deposing hair metal from its throne. And this is how it all started:

Mike Bland's 1974 rock star face
Rockin' my Mom's shag-tastic living room with a little help from Elvis, 1974. Click for a larger image.


Style based on tom.preston-werner.com (source).