Looking Back on 2017

2017 was a challenging year for our society. The political climate in the United States is hostile, uncertainly clouds the future, and in many ways it felt like we took several steps back as a nation. Luckily there are glimmers of hope and I look forward to seeing what 2018 brings us. I wanted to take a moment to reflect on all of the things that happened to me this year.

I continued my journey to the state capitals as a part of my Tralev project. By far the most memorable trip was visiting Honolulu with my family. I slowed down a bit toward the end of the year for various reasons but I look forward to continuing this project in the new year.

My writing took a turn for the better. I was re-reading “On Writing Well” during my trip to Boise and witnessed a local author speaking about his own writing. I was so moved by his speech that I made a laundry list of writing goals for myself. Although I did not accomplish all of my goals I have continue to write consistently and have been lucky enough to join a writing club in San Francisco. I look forward to really taking my writing to the next level in 2018.

I started a new job at the end of the year at LaunchDarkly. Working at CircleCI was honestly the best job that I have ever had. I am so grateful to everyone in that company that made my time there rewarding and special. LaunchDarkly is a small company with big plans for 2018. I can’t wait to be a part of those plans and watch the company grow over the next year.

I traveled to Uzbekistan for my brothers wedding. It was an amazing experience full of amazing people, delicious food, and a wonderful culture. I am so happy to see that my brother found love and I wish nothing but the best for him and his wife. I hope that in 2018 we will see more of each other and maybe even have a new nephew or niece? 🙂

I continued my relationship with Aosheng, we have been on many adventures together and we are starting off 2018 on an exciting note by traveling to China during the second week of January.

I began taking some classes at UC Berkeley Extension and have been really inspired by the community of professionals doing continuing education. I look forward to taking even more courses in 2018.

I started a handful of coding projects, gave up on more, rekindled others. Still searching for the next big idea, but having a great time along the way. I also set a goal to become a Python Core Developer. I didn’t reach it this year, but I hope to make some significant progress toward this goal in 2018.

I started going to more meetups toward the end of the year. It has been great to meet all sorts of new people doing exciting things. I look forward to continuing to be a part of the local tech community and perhaps even start giving talks of my own at various meetups around town.

All in all, 2017 was a great year. My main goal for 2018 is to successfully turn 30. In addition I want to write more, code more, listen more, read more, and travel just enough. 😉 I am wishing everyone a very Happy New Year. I hope that in 2018 all of your dreams come true.

 

Bicycle

In 2010, when I was living in Maryland I purchased the new B.o.B album that had just come out on iTunes and was listening to it while I walked two miles down Cherry Hill Road to target. I don’t remember exactly why I walked. Perhaps my car was in the repair store. At target, I bought a new bicycle for the first time in many years. Walked down means I had to ride it up. This didn’t last very long and I had an embarrassing walk of shame since I was not able to make it up the hill.

Back then, and even today, I know nothing about bikes. I am pretty sure I bought the worst possible bike for the occasion. It was slow, clunky, and felt like it would fall apart at any moment.

It’s worth noting, that at the time I was working at the National Naval Medical Center which was under 10 miles from my apartment. 10 miles in beltway traffic can quickly turn into a 90 minute commute. The only other option was taking the train, which was in an inconvenient U shape. The train station was a few miles away and the bus to take you there was slow, also in some inconvenient letter shape, and overall the commute time was not much better.

Riding a bike to the train station was a viable option, and I ended up doing just that a number of times. The best part about this is that there was a bike trail directly next to my apartment that took you up to the University of Maryland campus and the metro station. This trail was beautiful, and there was even a creepy swamp straight out of a horror movie that would be filled with Silent Hill esque fog in the mornings.

The best memory that I have of this bike was the time that my Ford Focus broke down for good. I loved that car. It was the firs thing I bought with my first military pay check. I got it with around 7 miles on it brand new in 2007. I drove all over the east coast and the midwest in that egg shaped hot red car. I blew the speakers out listening to house music that Gerald introduced me to. I popped it in third gear one time and chased a woman down Wisconsin Ave in a fit of road rage when she cut me off one day. One of my friends joked to me that the moment I reached 45,000 miles the car would break down.

Damn that person. Literally the day I reached 45,000 miles my clutch went out on the beltway. It was the most frustrating experiences of my life. I somehow made it back to my apartment. This was one of the most memorable moments of that old bike. I rode it, in the middle of the winter, over ice, to a Honda dealership.

Let’s make one thing clear. When you show up to a dealership on a bicycle in the middle of the winter, you just made the day of whoever is lucky enough to come talk to you first because there is no way that you are leaving there without a car. I got a Honda Civic. Also brand new. No clutch this time. That car, named Chester, is still around. My dad drives it these days.

In 2011, when I was preparing to leave Maryland and move back to Ohio I sold the bike to a University of Maryland engineering student for a fraction of what I paid for it. I remember watching him ride away into the sunset. That was the last time I rode a bicycle.

Maryland, Ohio, and New Jersey where I spent most of the last decade are not really big bicycle towns. San Francisco on the other hand is full of bike lanes, bike shares, and every morning you can see hundreds of cyclists commuting to work like a herd of gazelles down Market Street.

I remember one of the doctors that I worked with biked to work every day. Unlike the folks around here who do it unpretentiously, it was an entire event for him. He would wear the whole tight clothes getup, take a shower before he started to work, and then change into his uniform. Must be nice, who has time for that?

Ever since I moved here, I have been wanting to get a bicycle. A few weeks ago I asked my twitter followers to recommend a bike shop. My good friend, and co-worker, Tad made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. Rather than recommending a bike shop or a bike model he gave me an old bike instead. Tonight, I finally got a chance to go pick it up and take it for a spin.

It was amazing.

By far, this is the best bicycle that I have ever ridden on. It has huge wheels. It takes very little effort to pick up speed. It’s fast. Most of all, its fun. I felt like a kid again riding on that thing.

We rode to Golden Gate park to watch the awesome photosynthesis light show at the Conservatory of Flowers. I learned about The Wiggle and rode home from the Haight to SoMa. There was something truly amazing and freeing about biking home tonight. I saw the city in a whole different light.

Besides living in constant fear of my front wheel or seat being stolen, I cannot wait to take this for a spin all over the city. The first thing I want to do is finally make my way all around Golden Gate Park. That place is huge and walking around would take an entire day. I am too lazy for that. Naturally I am going to join the flock of tourists and take a ride over the golden gate bridge one of these days as well.

My last bike offered me so many great memories that I have not really thought about until now. I can’t wait to see what adventures this new bike will have in store for me.

I want to give a public, heartfelt, humongous THANK YOU to Tad. He really made my day.

No Justice, No Peace

I left work today and was amazed at the site of hundreds of people marching down Market St. People of all ages, races, genders, ethnicities, and sexual orientations. Angry, fed up, determined to have their voices heard. It was a moving sight to say the least. Of course my phone was dead at the time, so instead of photos, I will describe what I witnessed.

As they made their way up the street, they said many things.

No Justice, No Peace, No Racist, Police. The whole damn system is broken as hell. Black Lives Matter

People on the side walk watched, armed with their smart phone cameras. Some took photos and videos, some look confused, some look scared. Market St. at this time of day on a Friday is full of tourists waiting in the long lines to get onto the Cable Car. Everyone stopped what they were doing to watch the demonstration unfold.

The most inspiring part was that some joined in. People who were not planning on being a part of this were moved to walk side by side and make their voices heard too.

There was a guy playing his saxaphone in front of Westfield mall. Even with all of the noise, he kept on playing. I didn’t hear a single note that he played, but his dedication to his craft inspired me so I threw $5 into his sax case.

Like many people, I am shocked, saddened, even disgusted with the current state of affairs in this country. I am glad we live in a place where we are legally allowed to come together and tell the powers that be that the system is fucked. I hope someone is listening. When non-violent demonstrations fail to be recognized, they tend to turn violent. In some cities this has already happened.

We must come together. Young and old, gay and straight, christian and muslim, black and white. We must come together and make this world a place where we can all live in peace. There is no other alternative.

Update

I made my way over to City Hall after my phone charged for a bit and took a couple of photos. Many people spoke, and I stood there and listened. The most profound thing that I heard, was the end of one woman’s speech:

I can no longer accept the things I cannot change. I must change the things that I cannot accept.

In addition to the quote, one thing that someone said that cannot be more true is that this is not about coming out for one night to protest. This is about what we, as a community and as individuals do tomorrow, and the next day. Spread the word, share these photos, keep the conversation going until we find a solution.

Don’t Get Cancer

Disclaimer: This post is about smoking. Smoking is bad. When I was 16-17 I was the coolest fucking kid in the world and started to smoke. Now I am 27 and addicted. One day I hope to write a post about that is no longer the case.

Walking between 8th street and 2nd street on any given day in San Francisco, regardless of if I am currently smoking or not I will be asked at least 2-3 times if I have an extra cigarette or if I would be willing to sell one for anywhere from $0.25 to $1.00. If I am actively smoking this goes from 2-3 times to about 5-6 times. So extrapolating those numbers I get asked up to 12 times a day to part ways with my cancer sticks. 20 come in a pack, and a pack is about $7 so if I wanted to subsidize the smoking habits of everyone in this city I would go broke pretty quickly.

I have implemented a quota system where I will give away a cigarette to the first person who asks during the day, and say no to everyone else. Some people get angry when you say no, but trying to explain the quota system to them when they are in the middle of a desperate plea to satisfy their craving does not usually work. Other people just move along without saying anything.

Today, I got the best response ever from a guy who just missed the quota (he was the third person to ask me this morning). When I said, “no sorry”, he said “Oh, alright. Well… don’t get cancer.”

It was so satisfyingly passive aggressive that I had to write it down. Other people would typically just say “well, fuck you then.” This guy took it to the next level. Thank you stranger, and I hope that you can catch me first thing in the morning next time.

Looking Back on 2015

2015 was the best year of my life. I wanted to take a moment to reflect on it and share some of the highlights.

I spent the first part of the year working at Linode on the operations team. We got two Data centers (Singapore and Frankfurt) up and running and I learned more about operations, Linux, networking, and servers in the first few months of this year than any other part of my life. I got to work on an awesome team with some truly wonderful people and I am grateful for that experience. I also got a chance to go to a lot of hackathons with Linode. I spent many weekends up all night helping young hackers learn about Linux, databases, python, and a bunch of random other things. I met so many awesome people and I can’t wait to do more hackathons in 2016.

In June I turned 27, felt sad that I was getting old, and then quickly got over it. 🙂 In addition to getting older I finished the requirements for my Masters Degree in Computer Science and had an awesome graduation ceremony at my school in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Finishing my masters gets me much closer to the goal of teaching part time at the college level and significantly helps me with the periodic impostor syndrome that I get working in the tech field sometimes.

In July, I started a new job leading the success team at CircleCI. By far, this is the best job that I have ever had and I am so happy to be a part of such an amazing team. I have learned so much about CI, CD, Testing, and various Languages in the last six months at CircleCI and I look forward to learning much much more in the coming year. I also was able to launch a thriving CI community and am looking forward to watching it grow over the next few months.

At the end of October, after spending a cumulative total of 8 weeks in San Francisco, I decided to take the leap and finally move there. I am so grateful that I have the opportunity to live in my favorite city in the world and I could not be happier with my decision to move here.

I started a ton of side projects this year. But in early November I finally shipped braindump and the response has been absolutely mind blowing. It was the #4 python project on GitHub for several weeks, has over 500 stars on GitHub, a couple hundred active users, and a bunch of contributions from other hackers on GitHub. I can’t wait to watch braindump continue to grow in the coming months.

The last few weeks of 2015 have been hectic and exciting. I started a new company called Bitkumo and I can’t wait to watch it grow. I spent some quality time with my best friends in the entire world in New Jersey, and I am now back at home in Ohio to spend time with my family for new years.

Some of my goals for 2016 are:

  1. Continue to work on Braindump aiming for a 1.0 release, and keep writing more code and starting more projects.
  2. Become a python expert.
  3. Continue to build a CI/CD Community at CircleCI and continue to help developers succeed.
  4. Get more involved in the local SF community. I am talking to groups like Larkin Street Youth Services and Code 2040, I want to get involved and give back.
  5. Keep growing Bitkumo.
  6. Explore more of city. I spend a lot of time walking up and down Market St. I need to see more of SF.
  7. Cook more, should be easy now that I have someone to cook for 😉 <3
  8. Blog more.
  9. Continue working on my PhD. I took a semester off, but I want to slowly but surely crack away at this seemingly endless pursuit.
  10. Go to more Hackathons. I fell in love with Hackathons in 2015 and I want to go to as many as possible.

2016 is going to be amazing. Wishing you a very Happy New Year!

Moving to San Francisco

Two years ago I came to San Francisco on my 25th birthday, I fell in love. This is a magical city full of amazing people, delicious food, and the best coffee on earth.

Three months ago I joined the team at CircleCI working remotely out of New Jersey. Out of those three months I have spent six weeks here in SF and I find that although working remotely is really convenient it makes it a bit harder to collaborate and get things done.

So today, I am excited to say that I will officially be living in San Francisco as of Sunday and working at the CircleCI office on Market Street full time. I signed a lease today and I am going to be living in an awesome apartment near the Civic Center in SOMA. I am so excited to be a part of the city and the community.

I am very grateful for the opportunity to live in the city that I love so much. If you are ever in town, let me know and I would love to share some of the amazing coffee with you.

Stolen Bank Card

I tend to not think about someone stealing my credit card or identity because that “only happens to careless people”. You know, the kind of people that buy discount cigarettes from some shady company in Hong Kong that does not offer HTTPS on its checkout page. Well, that naive bubble was burst this weekend when I was in FL.

I used my card twice on my first day there. The first was at a gift shop at the hotel. It was a decent hotel so I don’t think that this is the vector where the card was stolen. The second was at a much shadier store at a mall. This is the place that I think the card number was jacked. I am not sure if the guy was in on it, or if the company he uses to process his payments is in on it, or what. All I know is that the next morning someone went on a shopping spree in Miami beach. The first charge was for $40.25 at an undisclosed location (my bank cannot even figure out what this charge is for). I think this was just a sample charge to see if I had any money in my account. The second charge was for $482 at a car rental place in Miami Beach. I guess some douchebag rented a Ferrari or something for the day. The third (and final charge) was for $398 at Armani Exchange.

This was thankfully declined by the bank and this was the charge that prompted my bank to contact me and let me know that something shady was going on with my account. Thank goodness that my bank (Navy Federal Credit Union) was on top of its stuff and the fraud team quickly got in touch with me and we were able to freeze the account. In addition, thanks to the zero liability policy at the bank I will be able to get all of this money back.

To the people who stole my card, fuck you. To everyone else who is reading this, please be careful with your card in general and especially when you are traveling. Sadly, there are some shady assholes in the world that want to steal your hard earned money to rent luxury cars and purchase overpriced polos at Armani Exchange.

One great tip that I got from the fraud team was to not use the check card at all since it is directly tied to my checking and savings account and can cause some serious damange. Instead, using the credit card that I have with the bank instead (especially when traveling) will make sure that even if people get the card somehow they cannot do too much damage to the rest of my accounts. In addition, I think that in this case someone made a copy of my card (since my actual card was not stolen).

The new Navy Federal credit cards come with a secure chip that makes duplicating the card pretty difficult. Unfortunately this is not available with the check cards yet, but I am looking forward to it so that these types of issues can be prevented in the future. In a way I am kind of glad that this happened to me since it opened my eyes a bit and I will be much more careful where I use my card in the future.

I am like 6 days late on my 2014 post

2014 was freaking awesome. I went to New Orleans for the first time, and then back again a few weeks later. It was an amazing city and I cannot wait to go back soon. I moved to a new department in my previous job and as a result made some awesome new friends. I continued to plow through my graduate program and am excited to continue to make progress this year. I got a great new job at Linode, uprooted my life, moved to South Jersey, and met some amazing people. I wrote more code, solved more problems, and learned more than any previous year to date. I cannot wait to see what 2015 has in store. 🙂

Moving to New Jersey

There have been a lot of big changes going on in my life and I wanted to take a moment to document them all here. A few weeks ago I learned about an opening for the support team at Linode. I have been a customer and huge fan of Linode for a long time and went ahead and applied for the job. I was very pleased to have the opportunity to interview for this position, and even more pleased to have been offered it! So I am excited to announce that starting Monday, I will be an official member of the Linode Support team! It was difficult to leave my current job, and friends, and family, and pretty much everything that I had worked so hard to build over the last few years in my first attempt at a post-military civilian career. But for as long as I can remember my passion has been Linux, so having the opportunity to work with Linux every day is not something that I could have passed on in a million years. So long story short, I am packing up my stuff this weekend and moving to New Jersey! I have had the pleasure of spending the week here looking for a place to live and this is what I have found.

  • You cannot make left turns on some roads, it is kind of weird.
  • You are not allowed to fill up your own car at a gas station, also very weird.
  • It is very easy to lose a lot of money at the Casino’s in Atlantic City.
  • Despite the terrible reputation that NJ has, the people here are pretty nice and the state as a whole is absolutely beautiful.

I am going to be living in Absecon which is just minutes from the ocean! I am really excited to explore the area more and report back what I find here. My biggest concern at the moment is finding a Linux User Group,  it looks like there are a bunch of defunct ones in New Jersey, and a couple of pretty active ones in Philadelphia which is just about an hour away. If you know of any LUG’s in South Jersey, or if you want to start one with me, let me know!