Started 2019-12-02 and ended 2020-08
Conveyal is a name that I kept seeing with some regularity during my dissertation work. I was working on time-based transit accessibility metrics, they were working on time-based transit accessibility metrics, I was writing academic papers, they had written academic papers.
I met Anson at one of the TRB conferences, under I can’t recall what pretense – perhaps to pick his brain and thank him for a very similar, very citeable dissertation completed two years before mine. Or maybe it was something to do with some big data collection effort that never panned out as far as my involvement was concerned. Something to do with the University of South Florida?
I eventually got into automating some of the error testing I’d been doing manually for new releases, with all the automated tests getting roped into automated deployments on every new commit. I learned a lot of software development concepts that I hadn’t been exposed to writing code on my own, and I also learned something of the loneliness of working remotely, alone, and somewhat at arms length from the core team.
Anyway, fast forward to a year or so later and Anson is in Toronto, pitching Conveyal to the city. They need some software testing help, having recently downsized a bit; I’m eminently available, a deal is struck and I begin working hourly and very-part-time testing out their software before new releases, filing bug reports, offering what I hope might be helpful comments on the UI design, etc. Conveyal, despite their focus on location, doesn’t actually have one. Anson went back to Boston and the team collaborated on Slack for the most part from some very far-flung parts of the Earth. A 12-hour time difference is at least easy to do the math on.
The work was on-and off for six months or so. It was interesting enough work, and it paid well, and Conveyal is a neat company with some very smart people. I would ultimately have liked to be either more or less involved, but felt like I was in a kind of limbo and too far away to make a strong impression one way or the other.