Archive for the ‘me’ Category.
I never got around to posting a 2011 retrospective. 2011 was pretty boring at first: ~2 weeks per month on the road for work, spending a good bit of time working on PLAS. I was on-site during the high tension 11th hour license renewal at the heart of the second largest deal in Vivísimo history. Then 2011 picked up. Pittco had its second largest LAN party ever, Iron Storm XII. Brigette graduated from college in May and I bought an early 2000s Nissan Xterra as a second vehicle, largely for her use (we’ve ended up splitting it 50/50).
Then 2011 got crazy. I bought a house in a suburb of Pittsburgh between the city and nearby Monroeville. It’s a ’50s colonial with two garages — a rarity for my new neighborhood! Brigette and I moved in together and spent most of the rest of the year being frugal when the Xterra’s engine blew a head gasket and had to be replaced. Ouch, my wallet. We’ve since settled in pretty nicely. We’re not really ready yet to show off many pictures of our place, but with each passing month, we’re able to make it look more like a home than a house.
Then came 2012. Why am I doing the first half of 2012 already? It’s just that crazy.
CES this year was great. I met a ton of new folks and connected with some old friends, one of whom may be the last time I see her at CES for a while (she changed jobs shortly after). I really made some solid contacts for Pittco and even talked to a few who’d heard of it outside of my bantering! Sweet! Brand recognition!
Which brings me to Pittco, specifically Iron Storm XIII. IS13 was our largest event ever, as I stated in my STATE OF THE LAN address: 186 people attended! Someone in the media said last year, “LAN parties are dead.” To that, I say, “Well, you mustn’t have been at Iron Storm XIII. I’ve never seen so much life at a LAN party.” Granted, I’m a little biased, but seriously. We’ve grown to the point that we’ve exceeded what our current, longtime venue can hold, so we’re looking for a new place in Pittsburgh to house our event.
I got involved in the planning of the Steel City Ruby Conference, a developer conference aimed at Rubyists. Its target audience is any Rubyist, but primarily Rubyists who’d never attended a Ruby conference. I’m lending my event planning skills (thanks, Pittco! thanks, WPAYL!) while also building expectations as someone who has never attended a Ruby conference but has attended other conferences. Registration went live in early May and we were 50% sold out within a couple of days. The event is in August 2012, so check it out!
The craziest part of this year started April 23 when IBM announced its intentions to acquire Vivísimo. The small startup I joined when there were ~85 people had grown to >120 and “fired its warp drive long enough to be detected“ by a megacorp. Lots of confusion ensued, but ultimately most people were on board. The deal officially closed Thursday, May 24. Terms were not disclosed publicly, so I can’t discuss them here. Sorry!
Thusly, tomorrow, June 1, 2012, is my first day as an IBMer. I never imagined that I’d ever work for such a massive company (#1-2-3 most recognized brand in the world, as we’ve been constantly told) or that I would get into it in this way, via acquisition. I’ll be sticking with it for the foreseeable future, as Vivísimo’s main product, Velocity, a search engine platform, becomes the center of IBM’s push into the Big Data market.
No American alive and aware of the world at the time will forget September 11, 2001. It was my generation’s Pearl Harbor moment; a JFK Assassination moment, but the news spread faster than 60 or 40 years earlier. We can thank the Internet and the 24 hour news cycle for that.
Everyone remembers where they were. I’d venture to say that most Americans watched it live on TV. Those not near a TV turned on the radio when someone told them. I remember where I was.
I was in 11th grade, and it was during my homeroom period. I was in another teacher’s room counting money from our class fundraiser. On my way to class, a little late for first period English, shortly after the first plane hit the first tower, I stopped by my gifted teacher’s office. She received a call and had a look of terror on her face.
“A plane just crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers! My son’s OK,” she said in her thick Brooklyn accent. We turned on the TV and watched the confusion. A few minutes later — I can’t remember if I was in the gifted office or my English classroom — we watched the second plane hit.
I believe it was between periods or shortly after the start of second period when a plane hit the Pentagon. Ironically, my second period history teacher wouldn’t let us turn on the TV. He basically didn’t believe us. I think he actually apologized to us a few days later. He was a great teacher and model historian, and recognized his error in not letting us observe history in the making.
The second tower hit was the first to fall, at around 10 a.m. I was still in that history class. The plane which crashed in Shanksville, PA — approximately 140 miles from my high school — did so a few minutes later, but we didn’t hear about it for approximately another 45 minutes.
I do distinctly remember watching the second tower — the first to be hit — fall around 10:30, while I was in third period Latin class. The eerie buckling that preceded it is unforgettable. It was like watching a tower of toothpicks fall when someone blows ever so slightly at its side. Obviously, this blow was a ~350,000 pound missle going 466 mph to a tower of steel sticks.
The rest of the day is a blur. There was some resistance by teachers to turn on the TVs, but our principal was a wise one and recognized the importance of the event. He directed all teachers to turn on the TVs.
I don’t remember the falling of WTC building 7 around 5:20 pm, the one which seems to be at the center of the 9/11 conspiracies. I’m sure a simple web search can turn up video of building 7 clearly still standing when a CNN reporter claims it’s fallen. I’m not going to theorize here, and I’m not going to beat a horse not yet dead.
I do remember President Bush’s address to the nation at 8:30 p.m.
Among his statements: “Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom came under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts,” “Terrorist attacks can shake the foundations of our biggest buildings, but they cannot touch the foundation of America. These acts shatter steel, but they cannot dent the steel of American resolve,” and “The search is underway for those who are behind these evil acts…we will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them.”
I got home around 4 p.m. Soccer practice was canceled, so I headed for the Internet. I played Ultima Online, an MMORPG, on a player-run server called “Dragon Shadow”. Several of the well-known players and administrators lived in NYC. One of them, an accountant by day who in game went by the name Shadowfax, worked in a high floor in one of the towers. Nuit, the wife of the owner of the server and one of the main administrators, posted something to the effect of “SHAD ARE YOU OK?!” He responded a few days later. He’d called in sick that day and couldn’t get back to the ‘net, and didn’t have anyone’s phone numbers.
That’s my memory of it. I might have a more detailed account written somewhere, but I unfortunate don’t recall where.
2010 will go down in my personal history as the year that I travelled. It will only be replaced as such should I travel even more in a subsequent year. Should such happen, I hope that it is of my own free will and benefit.
I spent not at home approximately 23 weeks of the 52 weeks of 2010. Much of that was spent in the Washington, D.C. area for work, while others were spent in Louisville, Houston, at my parents’ (oh, snowmageddon of February 2010), and single overnight stays in Orlando and Phildelphia. Most of this travel occurred in the later seven months of the year, beginning with a trip to DC in June and concluding with some time at my parents’ house for Christmas.
All the travel seriously hampered by ability to get things done. I still managed, though.
I didn’t write as much for ThinkComputers this year because of the travel, but I did manage to write a good article on travel technology, i.e. the things I take with me when traveling.
Blog-wise, I didn’t write a whole lot. I saw a year-over-year ~7.5% decrease in traffic. I attribute this to my lessened writing and bouncing from topic to topic. Also, my posts from summer 2009 regarding my stock purchases gave me a giant traffic burst I did not replicate this past year. My 2007 article on installing Roundcube Webmail on Ubuntu Feisty continued to be the #1 article on my blog (as it has been since its writing), followed by my 2008 article on using btnx for mouse control in Ubuntu Hardy.
However, I did have a few good articles from 2010. I worked from home a good bit this year, so I wrote some simple rules for working from home as a reminder to myself of “how” to work from home. My geekiest article by far was on addendum on updating the installation whenever there’s a new WordPress release.
In other news, I severed ties with BIOS LEVEL very early in 2010. It was time for me to move on.
My as-of-yet incomplete magnum opus of 2010 is the Pittco LAN Administration System. PLAS is a LAN party management tool in the vein of Autonomous LAN Party (ALP). Pittsburgh LAN Coalition (Pittco) has wanted to replace ALP with something better for several years now and after a few false starts, we’ve finally got something up and running. It’s still under heavy development and could use some good Ruby on Rails developers (I’m just a newb to RoR). I plan to spent much of my free time in January and February banging on it.
As for open source contributions, there were quite a few! I set up squid-deb-proxy for Ubuntu update bandwidth reduction and speed increases and suggested some default configuration changes in what mirrors are listed and permitting but not caching unspecified domains. I continued to contribute translations to Gwibber, Lernid, and more. I made a tiny patch to bzip2-ruby to fix compilation on Ubuntu Natty. I also fixed some Config -> RbConfig migration problems in gettext for ruby and cucumber, although neither have been accepted upsteam (I tried with cucumber, but couldn’t get the test harness working in the hour or so I wanted to devote to it so I gave up).
I released ttytter-libnotifyperl, a TTYtter extension which uses ayatana notification bubbles in Ubuntu for its notification of Twitter replies, DMs, and such. I don’t know how many people are using it, but I find it indispensable when working on Ubuntu.
Educationally, I learned how to use git in 2010. I avoided it for a few years because I used Subversion (svn) for work and preferred Bazaar (bzr) for home projects, most of which were related to Ubuntu. I still consider myself a newb, but I’ve taught at least one other person how to use git and counseled several others of approximately my experience level. At least I know I’m learning.
One of my larger projects was a for-profit job I took on early in the year. A friend needed a software for running Twitter contests. I doubt the software was ever actually used in production, as the person who was in charge of running the contest left the friend’s company shortly after I finished the product. I may adapt the product and make some kind of a SaaS thing around it if I ever get the time to do it.
My big work project went live at the end of December. I’m not sure what details I’m permitted to tell about it publicly, so ask me in private. I’ll just say that it’s a big public search portal for a government agency. I might update this story or post another entry about it if my superiors permit it.
Profyle.at, the personal profile directory site, kinda died down, but it’s not dead yet. Jon and I hope to revisit it at some point. Work got in the way for both of us, and not getting into Alphalab for the Spring 2010 session didn’t help.
I basically slacked off on stocks this year. I made some money from SYMX, but lost a good bit from ONFI and INAR. I finally sold the rest of my holdings in SPNG, the stock which lost me $23,000 in 65 minutes in 2009. After the tax deduction, the rebate combined with my profits from 2009 sales will cause me to lose just under 3% on the whole deal, or around $90. Not too shabby for at one point having ~$30,000 wrapped up in that pump and dump scheme.
Why did I not pay attention as much? For one, @stockgod and the other Bulls on Wall Street crew stopped posting on Twitter as often because BoWS became profitable and it was more profitable for them to share their hints exclusively to BoWS subscribers. I don’t fault them for doing so at all. I didn’t have the time available to make the $75/mo worth it. @stockguy22 is still going strong, as are a few others, but I didn’t have and probably won’t ever regain the spare brain cycles I had in 2009.
I’m not out of the market — I still have ~$10k worth of stocks — but I’m not able to be a daytrader or even a week trader. I’m just sitting long for a while.
Brigette and I are still dating, of course. She will in the coming month release an update to the web site for Glade Mill Sporting and Hound, the show dog kennel she, her sister, and mother operate under. She’s come a long way and just keeps getting better and better every time I see her new designs. I’m eager to see her build a portfolio site before the end of the year!
I think that’s it for this 2010 year in review.
Approximately 25 minutes ago, I left my work holiday party. It was a potluck, so there were a lot of leftovers. As such, lots of folks went home with containers full of food.
I was obviously one of them. I had some pesto tortellini, turkey tetrazzini, homemade Mac ‘n’ Cheese, roasted ham, hand-made pierogies, and more in my stereotypical take-out container. I couldn’t wait to wake up late tomorrow, sleeping in on a lazy Saturday, and enjoy my leftovers.
I was very careful on my way out not to spill the container in the stairwell while I put on my hat, scarf, and gloves. I braced myself and stepped out into the chilly Pittsburgh night.
A few steps from the door, at a major intersection in Squirrel Hill, a older black man approached me. “Excuse me, sir, do you have any spare cash so I can get something to eee..” he said, but I cut him off. “I’m sorry,” I said, “but I don’t have any cash on me.” I rarely carry cash.
It dawned on me after a few steps closer to the intersection that he wanted money to get something to eat. I took a step back and asked him if he wanted something to eat. He answered positively, and I thrusted my treasured leftovers container toward him.
“What’s this?” he asked. ”I just came from my company’s holiday party,” I replied. “It’s leftovers. I don’t need them. You can have them.”
He took the container, peeked inside, and walked away without a “thank you” or anything. I figured his silence to be caused by amazement. He walked into the drug store right there at the corner. I presumed he went there to get some utensils.
I walked to my car, which was approximately two blocks away. These are Pittsburgh blocks, so I was to it in less than five minutes.
The entire way to my car, I felt awesome. Here’s this 20-something guy with a cushy job who just came from a company party, giving food he really wants but doesn’t need to a down-on-his-luck, likely homeless guy begging for money on the streets of a upper-class Pittsburgh neighborhood. Yeah, I did my good turn for the day.
This isn’t the first time I’ve done something like this, and I assure you no matter how this story ends, it won’t be the last. I’ve had the “do a good turn daily” Boy Scout slogan drilled into my head since I was 10.
My path home involves going back through that intersection. I drove to it and got caught at the red light. Who do I see walking across the street? My beneficiary. What’s in his hands? Nothing.
I tried to reason with myself. “Maybe he gave it to some other homeless person,” I thought. I scanned the area. No sign of my leftovers. “Maybe he ate it?” No, impossible. There was enough food there to feed two people heartily, he couldn’t have devoured it in less than five minutes.
I can only assume he tossed it. Threw it away. Discarded it, unwanted. My heart was filled with disgust; I could feel the bile rising. I was so displeased with this person’s actions that I could have vomited on the spot.
I feel betrayed by a someone I didn’t know and, now, wouldn’t ever care to know. He could have fed himself for a weekend on that food, or have a day without a single rumbling in his stomach. He could have given it to someone else, who could have fed themselves or their starving loved ones.
Now I understand why many people are so hesitant to give money or things to homeless or homeless-looking folk: they are afraid their gift will be misused. Had I not had a big container of food in my hands, I would have probably kept walking. Having nowhere specific to be tonight, I may have offered to take him to a restaurant of his choice to see him fed. Instead, I willingly surrendered something of mine I felt I didn’t need, and it was likely discarded.
If he’d wanted a beer, he could have asked honestly. I’m a 20-something, visibly overweight. There’s probably a 99% chance I drink beer, would appreciate his honesty, and would see the man to a beer.
I can only hope that I’m wrong and this guy is a former world champion speed eater or “paid it forward” and gave the food to someone else.
I realized today that as of yesterday, I’ve lived in my current dwelling longer than I’ve lived anywhere outside of my parents’ house. As of today, I’ve lived here in Regent Square for 368 days. I lived in Forest Hills for 366 days.
This is a little freaky for me, as I’ve moved around a lot since graduating high school, including a new dorm or apartment every year of college (not unusual, I know).
I’ll probably stay here at least until Brigette finishes school, but probably until a month or two after. Then, who knows?
I have so far kept up the mission. The first week, I walked to work every day.
The following week, I was in DC on a business trip, but I still walked from my hotel to the job site every day. It was closer—approximately 3/4 mile instead of the 1.6 miles from my apartment to the office, but I think I made up for it in the amount of walking I did every night after work. I didn’t use my car at all that week!
This past week, though, I hit an exception condition: “At some point during the day, I must leave work to go to something to which I cannot reasonably walk.” I had a package to send, and it was too heavy for me to reasonably carry it. I drove to work, returned, and went for a nice walk near dark.
What have I noticed? I’m certainly not as tired when I arrive at work as I was when I first started this. I’d get to work and be completely and utterly exhausted, and drenched in sweat. Three weeks in, I’m able to make it to work without being debilitated. I have a little more energy than I did before I started walking. I still need a jolt in the morning, usually getting a cup of coffee or tea around 10:30.
There are essentially two weeks remaining in the month. This next week is a normal week, while the following will be once again spent in DC. My hotel for this upcoming trip is considerably closer—one block away, so I’ll have to offset that with some walking around the monuments and Smithsonian. I didn’t make it to the Jefferson Memorial last time, so I’ll have to make sure I get there this time!
Oh, and if you’ve not seen them, check out my DC pictures.
For too long, I’ve put regular exercise in a priority below the various activities which follow work. I’ve favored hurrying home to watch a movie, write a review, or work on my coding projects to a healthy exercise regimen.
No movie, work, or project is more important than my health. I realized this a few months ago and have finally resolved to do something about it.
Somehow, I need to lose weight. I’ve not maintained my weight since Thanksgiving and Christmas were not kind to my attempted diet. I already eat fairly healthily, so the missing link is exercise.
I recognize that I could join a gym or something, but that costs money I’d rather not surrender and a time commitment which doesn’t fit into my schedule. How can I exercise without sacrificing too much time or money?
I believe I’ve found an acceptable exercise method: I will walk to and from work daily through June.
The trip normally takes approximately 15 minutes, including about 5 minutes of walking from where I normally park to my office building. It can reach half an hour on bad traffic days. Google Maps says that the trip is 1.6 miles and will take approximately 33 minutes. Fair enough.
In walking, I can get some exercise and savings perhaps a quarter per day in gas. I suppose when compounded through the month, I could save up to…$5.50 by walking. Maybe I’ll buy a beer to celebrate when the month is finished.
However, I recognize that there are certain times when walking will be a great inconvenience to me or my coworkers. I am permitted to drive under these very few conditions:
- An injury sustained during the month makes the journey unbearable.
- It is raining with such ferocity that an umbrella or rainsuit would be useless.
- I awaken or would otherwise leave too late to arrive by 9:30.
- At some point during the day, I must leave work to go to something to which I cannot reasonably walk.
- I must go somewhere immediately after work and could not walk home in time to get my car and get to my destination.
If any of these conditions occur, I must go for at least a 30 minute walk after work in order to make up for it, unless it is unsafe for me to do so. If I am unable to walk for the day, there is no repercussion, as I can’t really think of anything to make up for it.
I tried this for the first time today. I was exhausted by the time I got to work, and I probably left my apartment just a little too late. I carried in my backpack a towel and an extra shirt. It was raining lightly, so I stopped at my car to get an umbrella. The journey back was far more pleasant, and I actually typed the majority of this blog post on my phone using WordPress for Android.
For future travels, I’ll likely wear my Jaybird bluetooth stereo headset and enjoy some tunes or audiobooks. The latter would likely help me power through some books I’ve been wanting to read, but have not found the time to read, such as Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything.
I don’t know if I’ll log my weight loss during the month, but I intend as of this moment to post again in a month’s time on this subject and hopefully report positive results.
Please help me on this, and help keep me to this. Thanks.
I’m 25 today. Hooray. Nothing really happens when one turns 25, except that drop in car insurance rates. Work lunch today was macaroni and cheese and fish, with ice cream cake for dessert. I was pleased.
If you’re in downtown Pittsburgh tonight or tomorrow and know me, feel free to meet up with us as we meander about the Central Business District in preparation for dinner and tomorrow’s parade.
I didn’t blog as much as I would have liked to this year, mostly because of my crazy busyness.
My article on how to install Gears on 64-bit Linux continues to see quite a bit of traffic. I even host a copy of Gears, even though it’s likely out of date. Also in the Linux vein, my articles on how to buy DRM-free music online with Amazon MP3 on Linux and Android were moderately popular. I wrote an article on how to add CACert root certificates to Chromium on Linux and it sees more traffic than most of my other posts combined.
I wasn’t as active in the open source community as I would have liked, but I did make some contributions to Gwibber, Astrid, Celtx, and Lernid. I mentioned the first three in my Launchpad activity update. The latter is a newer development by Jono Bacon. I contributed the entire Esperanto translation less than two days after it was available on Launchpad. I have no way of verifying it, but I think that the Esperanto translation was the first complete non-English variant translation available.
I recently wrote two brief articles on how to automate some tasks on Facebook. One was how to rapidly expunge friend suggestions, and the other was how to select all friends in a friend select dialog.
I met Tom Dickson of Will It Blend? fame at CES last year. He was really cool and friendly.
I also wrote a few articles on politics, my favorite being A Comment on Socialism Defined, a comment left on a friend’s blog, Strike the Root!. I’ll not go into how much I think Obama and his friends have screwed up the country already (it’s not all been bad—he has done some good things). That’s something for another article.
A new hobby this year for me has been stock trading. I’d saved up some money and decided to use some skills I learned in middle school to make a buck or two on the stock market. Ironically, not 12 hours after I blogged about my flagship stock being up near 200%, that stock, SPNG, dropped 27.66% in one day, costing me $23,000 of value on a $10,000 investment in 65 minutes. It recovered, and I still made out with a profit, but I learned a very, very valuable set of lessons. I still kick myself occasionally because of this and probably will for a long time. My goal of getting into stocks was to generate enough money that I could pay off my student loans really quickly. I could have paid off more than 2/3 and I didn’t cash out when I should have.
I did meet many, many new people in the stock world, especially Stockguy22 and the Bulls on Wall Street crew. I said goodbye to StockTwits after I was temporarily banned for cheering on Vonage (VG) when it was less than 50 cents, riding it to 80 cents, and cashing out. They called it a worthless, crappy penny stock. A few weeks later, it spiked to ~2.20 and has been above a dollar since. HA!
The biggest changes in my life were in my location and work. I got a new job in March at Vivísimo, a search platform maker in Pittsburgh–I even wrote a post on the corporate blog! I moved in with some friends in May, but realizing we were a little cramped, I moved into a new apartment in July (I didn’t write about that!).
I wrote more than 28 articles for Bob Buskirk‘s ThinkComputers. My favorites were the Masscool MP-1371RS Media Player and QNAP TS-809 Pro network attached storage device. I use the former alongside my PS3 for video formats my PS3 can’t stream from the latter. The NAS has become the central storage hub for all of my computers, replacing the QNAP TS-109 Pro I reviewed two years ago.
BIOS LEVEL was fairly inactive this year, largely because of a major server outage from May to August. I did write an article on the Orbita Mouse, which I still use to this day at work. I did record and post several videos from Ohio Linuxfest 2009, including Linux Journal editor Shawn Powers’s keynote, Jorge Castro‘s talk on building a community around an open source project, and more on licensing, making money from open source, democratized design, and talking to policymakers and legislators about open source. All Ohio Linuxfest videos with a write-up are available on BIOS LEVEL, or on BIOS LEVEL’s Blip.tv channel.
Jon Daniel and I spend most of November cranking out a beta version of Profyle.at, a personal profile directory service. We’re not entirely finished yet, but sign up for our Profyle.at beta and you’ll likely get in! We want to help people find you on the Internet so your friends and family can follow you on whatever sites and networks you like the most. We pitched for funding and didn’t get it, but were cordially invited to present again during the next round in a month.
Brigette and I are still together, and going strong. We’ve spent most of her winter break together, driving throughout western PA to be with friends and family, too. She’s been working on her web site for her beagle and vizsla show dogs, Glade Mill Sporting & Hound. She’s come a long way, from using a completely WYSIWYG editor to redoing it with a mix of code and WYSIWYG with Adobe Dreamweaver. I’m eager to see what she’s planning for it.