Blog fail

Well, I just cannot seem to keep the whole blog thing going. I guess I’ll try to check in once a year or so just so it doesn’t look too stale around here.

Last year(ish) in a nutshell:

  1. Axed from Disney contract
  2. New contract position with McGraw Hill
  3. Hired on at Disney FTE (FTW!)

All of that pales in comparison to my true job: Daddy.

Haven, you are the best thing I have ever done. Daddy loves you!

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes! v2.0

Well, almost a year to the day. Pretty bad…

BUT, at least I have a decent excuse. My wife and I had a beautiful baby girl, Haven, on Christmas Day. Shortly after I got the new job we found out about the pregnancy, and then it was doctor visits galore. For the past 5 months now it has been “Daddy time”, so, yeah.

A funny thing about this post and the last – they both have to do with changes. While there are the obvious ones (fatherhood), I mean career changes. You see, I have been on my contract this past year with Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Digital (WDPRD) and I have been kicking some ass (if I may say so myself). I have been working hard to gain FTE there, and it has always been a bit like a carrot on a stick – just out of reach. Well, now I am coming up on my final day tomorrow.

A couple weeks back the axe fell and all contractors were cut. We lost some really good guys in Argentina, and now those of us in Seattle are gone too. Like the last time this happened, I have some options, so I am not too worried, but the whole “Daddy” thing is my priority, and I have been lucky enough to WFH 4 days a week, so I need to look for something matching that. Good luck to me…

As far as code goes, I don’t have a bunch new. The most recent stuff I did was just some JS sandbox stuff to play around. Here are some links:

JS “Hydra” – an interview test:

Apple basket – add and eat apples from your “basket”:

Simple inheritance demo:

Another simple inheritance demo:

Sandbox play-around:

I have a couple of code tests from a recent interview that I will hopefully share soon. Or maybe next year. 🙂


I have neglected my blog for some time, and it is time I gave it a little love.

I recently went through a major career change. I received news that my employer of over 10 years was going through some financial hardship and that my hours were no longer guaranteed. I have been telecommuting for the past 5 years, so the news came as quite a shock. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to continue to telecommute, and the best I could hope for was a couple of days a week working from home.

Luckily I have been a developer for some time. I get a lot of recruiter emails, so I started replying and reaching out to previous recruiters I had spoken to. It did not take long for phone interviews to roll in, and then face-to-face interviews. I have always put way too much pressure on myself in interviews, and I was dreading going in to “code in ten minutes” or whiteboard or whatever.

The funniest part of this whole process is most of the employers I interviewed with were not actually on the MS stack – which has been my focus for most of my career as a developer. Most were on some sort of PHP codebase server side (eww…) but the majority of focus was on client-side. I am thankful for taking the leap into js frameworks!

So, I now have a new job in Seattle. I have to commute about 1.5 hrs each way, but it could be worse. I drive maybe 1.5 miles to the marina, park, hop on the foot ferry, then transfer onto the “big” ferry in to Seattle. Here are some pics from the ferry:




If you gotta commute, commute in style

Anyway, to give some examples of some client-side code, I added some new gists and repos. Check them out if you like.

Spiffing up Calibre content server with Bootstrap

I really dig Calibre. It is great for managing my growing Kindle ebook collection. One thing I do not like about it is the chosen style of the content server. To each his own, I guess…

I thought it would be pretty cool to style it with Bootstrap. It would look pleasing to me, and since the source is available I thought I’d be able to figure it out pretty easily. The app is written in Python, but it turns out the content server uses templates (mostly anyway, there is quite a bit of generated HTML in there – ewww!)

I started poking around with the templates, and then I wondered if someone else already had the same thought. I googled and sure enough someone had. I found this post that included a gzipped tarball ready to go. I downloaded it, unzipped, copy/pasted the folders and checked it out.

I liked what I saw, but I thought it could be just a little bit better. I changed up some of the markup and got a better flow (I never liked the overflow). To limit the initial book comments I used a great plugin called readmore (with a really slick looking site too). Finally, I set up the templates to use the responsive style sheet. I did not make any edits for the mobile sizes, so things look a bit wonky, but it beats the heck out the the built-in mobile option:

Original version

Original version

With my updates

With my updates

My "Mobile" layout

“Mobile” layout

If you are a Calibre user and you’d like to use this (or the original which can be downloaded from the link) you can download the 7zip here: content_server.

To “install”, just unzip and replace the folder. On a windows PC the path is [install_path]\resources\. The folder is content_server.

UPDATE: Craig finished his initial pass at using Bootstrap 3 on put it up on GitHub. It looks great!

New hardware!

What happens when AV nerds grow up...

Okay, maybe my new setup doesn’t quite look like that but it is pretty sweet!

I was rockin’ an old HP Compaq DC7800 Compact Tower I purchased from work, with a nice max-out to a Core2Duo 8400 and 8GB RAM. It is a decent little machine, but it started to misbehave, so I got scared. All things figured, the mobo and power supply are probably 5-7 years old, so I thought it was time to go bigger…

I couldn’t reuse the mobo or case if I wanted to, cause HP locks you in by putting the stuff on the opposite side of the norm. This is my shocked face. On a side note, NEVER buy HP. Worst. Service. EVER! If it wasn’t a steal deal from work I would not have bought it.

IBM Portable Since I had to start from scratch, I started with the case. I am a guy that thinks a case should just be a non-descript box. Don’t get me wrong, I am not talking the old-school beige box here, but a case is a case, right? I realize now I was wrong.

I got a Corsair 300R case, and it is pretty awesome. It has great cable management capabilities, plenty of room to expand with more fans (if needed) and tool-less drive bays that are a breeze to use. My favorite thing was that the HD bays are ready-to-go for 2.5″ SSD drives. Nice!

Next was the mobo. I chose an ASRock Z87 Extreme4 based on the feedback I read. I have been out of the hardware game for some time, so I wasn’t really sure who the “players” are in the mobo market, but ASRock seems solid. The board is pretty even – all black and slick looking. It matches my case nicely. My favorite touch – a GUI BIOS? OMGWTFBBQ?!?! Are you kidding? With sound. I guess I could do without the starfield background, but a GUI BIOS is space-age, right?

After I got the backbone squared, it was on to the processor! I chose an Intel Core i5-4670K Haswell. The Haswell should meana little better power-consumption, and the K means overclocking. I have never done the overclocking thing, but with the processor it is supposed to be simple. Turns out it actually is. In fact, the BIOS has built-in overclocking settings that you can just point and click to choose. Idiot-proof.

My 8GB of RAM served me nicely, but I thought I’d try to keep the old hardware running if possible, so I opted to get some new RAM. The new mobo can take up to 32GB, so I went with 2x8GB G.SKILL Ripjaws. The RAM is pretty, liiks slick, and is a beast.

For power, I went with an OCZ ModXStream Pro 700W Modular power supply. The modular part is very nice – I can add/remove cables as needed, and it made my cable management much easier.

Finally, I figured if I was overclocking I’d better go with something a bit more substantial than the stock fan provided with the new CPU. I went with a Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO which did not disappoint. The thing is massive and so far has actually been cool to the touch. I’ll have to do an hour or so of gaming and see what it feels like then.

All in all, I am extremely happy with the hardware. Then came the difficult part: I did not want to re-install Windows. Boy, it probably would have been easier, but I am here to tell you all hope is not lost.

First boot = blue screen. Ugh. The main issue is that all the drivers you need for this shiny new hardware are nowhere to be found on your existing HD. I started googling and found a lot of stuff like this. Everyone recommended startup recovery/repair. Well, a few attempts at that and it still wasn’t working. I was getting the error that an update was causing a problem, but that wasn’t really true, was it Windows?

A little more googling turned up this post which was the real info I needed. It was slightly unclear to me at first, but what you basically need is the drivers for your new mobo and you run the command to install the drivers on your existing HD. So, I pulled out the CD that came with the mobo and ran the command:

dism /image:c:\ /add-driver /Driver:g:\ /recurse

I ran it over the entire CD-ROM, and in retrospect that maybe was not what I needed, but who cares. I tried a reboot after, and same blue screen. However, running it through the startup repair a couple more times resulted in success! I am happily typing away on my new PC using my old SSD drive without a fresh install of Windows.

My final step in the journey was to see what my WEI numbers were with the new hardware. With the old setup, my CPU and RAM was the bottleneck with a score of 6.5 each. The graphics were at 6.8, and my SSD was 6.9 – all in all a pretty respectable score. Running the update blew my mind – my CPU and RAM jumped to 7.7 each, and most surprisingly, the SSD jumped to 7.9. Same old drive, just with better hardware support. WOW! I then used the BIOS overclock stuff and was able to bump up the RAM performance to 7.8. So now, my trusty low-power 9800GT Nvidia card is the bottleneck of my system – and that is a bottleneck I can live with.

photos by: DSmous & Soupmeister

I’m somebody!

Much like Navin R. Johnson, when I saw this in my notifications today I felt all giddy:


The original post on Google+ was to announce the new Tekpub video Scott and Rob completed. It is called “Get Involved” and it covers various topics about getting involved in the social space as a developer. I highly recommend it.

The funny thing is that part of the video touches on getting people to respond to you via Twitter or having someone that you look up to or is famous retweet you, and this sorta felt the same to me. It isn’t the same, since it was easier for Scott to see my reply than it would be in a stream of tweets, but just having him +1 my comment made me feel good today.