SuperPumpup (dot com)
General awesomeness may be found here.

25 February 2015

I wrote this Feb of 2014, but am having it post a year later to see if things have changed for me yet...

I feel like a whale very comfortable in a bathtub. But very aware of the fact that I'm in a bathtub, with a growing awareness that the ocean is out there and I am doing myself and my family a disservice to not be in it.

I feel like I need to:

  • Seek out challenges
  • Seek out teachers

Professionally, I am at a point that's simultaneously astonishing and disappointing to me. I started writing software to help run (what would become) Pokertainment in 2009, but didn't start doing it "professionally" until December of 2012. I quickly became the lead engineer on my first project, mostly by virtue of the fact that I could work fast and well, and was not afraid to voice opinions. Though I had 4 or so engineers on the team, I felt like I was doing 90+% of the work and the project suffered for that. In a construction role, I'm handy with a hammer and nails, but constantly shoving other people out of the way made the work slow. Which I'm just now realizing something like 10 months after I left that position.

Then I was hired by a company to be their lead Rubyist. I'm still shocked that that happneed, not so much because I wasn't able to do the job well (I was and did) but because of how little "paper" qualification I had. Stunning. I was able to do good work there, and really helped pull the company onto a path of sustainably good software. It was there that I really had my first hire, and despite his "green-ness" when we hired him, I understand he is still doing a great job there and I'm very proud of that.

There were some things about that position that were lacking, and I decided to move to my current position about 4 months into that one. There, they showed much less faith in me at the outset, but I quickly demonstrated my handiness with a hammer and my ability to raise the level of performance of the people around me, so I was promoted to lead engineer at about 6 weeks on the job. A few weeks ago I assumed all of the team management responsibilities so that our CTO could focus on writing code rather than lead or manage, and now I'm the Director of Engineering.

The projects are exciting, and the code is horrible but rapidly improving. I'm learning a lot and getting a lot of experience, for sure. Trying to lead more effectively is hard - I'm kind of frustrated that a lot of the big initiatives that have been accomplished since I've been here have been solo efforts by me and so a lot of my work and focus now is on getting my team to be successful, rather than being an excellent contributor.

We'll see, but I think I need a teacher and a bigger challenge.

14 December 2014

Internalizing Dependencies

So I saw an interesting conversation today on Twitter between @DHH and @thijs this morning. They were discussing the NewRelic IPO and the subject got around to running ancient Rails versions, and the fact that a lot of the migration projects from Rails 2.3 have been driven in large part because of the movement of the surrounding ecosystem (read, gem updates).

Continue reading

08 December 2014

Packaging Up A Vert.X App

This is a work in progress... After @sigil66's tech talk at Boundary, I've been inspired to try to understand packaging and how to use packaging to deploy my software.

This is an application written in JRuby running on the Vert.X platform - so this will be an exploration around deploying a Vert.X application (which there is not a ton of documentation on, in any case...)

Continue reading

27 August 2014

Bitcoin is Like Computing in the 90's

I've done some mining of Dogecoin and a few altcoins, and owned a tiny bit of bitcoin, but never really much. I'd run the wallet applications for the altcoins I'd used in the past and it was annoying but fine. Most of my bitcoin transactions have been on hosted wallets or signed using a command line client.

I've often seen people complaining about using the bitcoin wallets on their computers for a number of reasons, but hadn't experienced the pain.

I recently met with Trace Mayer, and he was raving about his Armory product. I recently downloaded it to see how it would do. First impressions were "meh". I imported a few vanity addresses, backed them up to some encrypted USB drives, etc, and then thought I'd start working with them.

Then I see that Armory doesn't run the node software itself, it will find a locally running Bitcoin-QT instance. "Ugh", I thought, "I'll finally get Bitcoin-QT up and running. How bad can it be?"

It's awful

Yesterday morning I found something describing how I can use BitTorrent to download a copy of the 20 gigabyte blockchain. So, ok, did that. That took me about that whole day. And now my laptop has 20 gigs less space available. That's 20% fewer baby pictures my laptop can have so that I can, "Have my own money on my computer." Given that I've paid a lot more money than I own in bitcoin to recover baby pictures off failed hard drives, this is not a winning proposition at the outset.

Then, 20 GB file downloaded and placed, I open the client - expecting it to import the wallet in a few seconds. I mean, shit, I'd just spent 9 hours downloading a 20gb file.


9 hours of terrifyingly-hot-laptop-operation later and the client has ALMOST finished importing that file.

What the heck, people

This is a huge opportunity. Digital currencies can change a lot of things about the world. You've had 5 years and over a year of a billion dollar market cap - that means lots of people have tens (maybe hundreds) of millions of dollars worth of bitcoin at their disposal and a really quite liquid market. And this is the garbage you want people to use?

You think that your bitcoins will become worth a million dollars each with the software being this steaming pile of shit?

I guess it's just more of an announcement that there is a TON of work to be done. I just wish there were people with the foresight to fund it with some newly-minted wealth...

12 August 2014

ReactJS and Vert.x

I'm building a new project in Vert.x and it's amazing to be able to separate concerns well. However, I "miss" having a Rails project to fall back on. Here I'll talk a bit about Vert.x and exploring using the ReactJS framework to build the UI.

Continue reading

12 August 2014

Mode Analytics Is Helping Me Become A Better Developer

Like most other "software writers" who primarily write Rails code I've met with, I don't have any formal CS training - or any formal training at all, really. I just started learning how to build things, which was hard and horrible in PHP and spectacularly easy in Rails. Love it or hate it, it's SO EASY to build systems in Rails when you have no idea what you're doing. I'll always argue that, and think it's amazing.

That said, I never learned SQL well...

Continue reading

22 July 2014

Docker & RackConnect

To enable Docker containers to connect to the external network in a RackConnected environment, touch /etc/rackconnect-allow-custom-iptables. Otherwise RackConnect will destroy all Docker's forwarding rules.

Longer Version

So I just got bitten by a little issue using Docker & RackConnect. I had a nice fresh server brought up with lots of containers running and everything was grand. Ish.

I found two different problems, both with the same solution. On the one hand, I would start a service container (RabbitMQ), and then link to it with a "web" container, and then go to my RackConnect config and open a port to test connecting to the "web" container (that would have a port number like 49156 or whatever), but then all of a sudden that container wouldn't be able to access the service container.

Also, from within any container, I couldn't access the network.

curl or ping were just timing out.

I couldn't find a direct answer to this question, but it turns out that docker writes a ton of iptables FOWARD entries during the course of doing its thing, and those periodically get clobbered by RackConnect when it runs.

This article tells how to let RackConnect know to leave your custom rules alone - it does a merge rather than a force-overwrite. So touch that file, restart Docker, and be on your way!