November 19, 2009 – Life & Work Updates

It seems like most my updates now a days are on Twitter, so I tend to overlook blogging. But hey, you’re interested in the details, here’s what’s been going on in my life the last few months.

September West Coast Trip

Just a month after the trip to Vegas, Marilyn and I headed out west for my sister Jill’s wedding (and a little vacation and time with friends). We flew into Seattle saturday morning, rented a car and started exploring the town. It was Marilyns first time out west, so there was a lot to see! We Explored the touristy stuff — Pike Place Market, Space Needle, asian district, downtown, as well as taking the trek out to Mt. Ranier and climbing up to a glacier (although the fog stopped us from seeing much). We stayed with a friend of Marilyns out in the area (on a military base) which had it’s own set of fun associated with it. For instance: if you’re mapping directions off a military base using Google Maps, it’s probably best to leave out the main entrance first. Otherwise you might find yourself on backroads with “warning: stay on road, mortar shelling area, unexploded ammo” signs and lines of troops marching on unpaved roads that have to part just to let your (seriously out of place) 2010 Mustang pass. Pixie was nice enough to show us the Fremont area, which looks like one of the most interesting neighborhoods in Seattle. I also love the area around the Washington Arboretum. I could easily see myself walking around there in the morning and loving it. Tuesday morning we headed out, driving from Seattle to San Fransisco. We made it down to Portland and had a brief walking tour of downtown. We would’ve loved to spend more time there, but we had a lot of ground to cover, so we grabbed a few Voodoo Donuts and hit the road. We cut west through the mountains to the coast just in time to see the sunset and follow the (very) scary cliffside roads south. I wouldn’t recommend driving the Oregon coast south a night — just a word of advice. We settled somewhere for the night, then picked up the next day. We toured a old groove redwood forest in all it’s glory, then continued down the redwood highway all the way south. That was probably the most fun drive of my life. There was almost no one on the road, and for the most part it was 4 lanes with beautiful landscapes. Every once in a while it would go down to 2 lanes and wind through a redwood groove. Eventually we made it to SF around 11pm that night after 2 full days of driving. San Francisco was fun as always. We met with family, saw Pier 39, Golden Gate Park and all the sites you typically see in books about SF. By this time we were really feeling the pain from our hike up Mt. Ranier though, so we couldn’t walk quite as much as we wanted. Jills wedding was over in Berkley, and was a great one. Lots of Magnetic Fields and other good music. Seems like my entire family has the same taste in music. We’ll randomly “discover” someone new only to mention it and find out others have been listening for years (ex. Nellie McKay). At 6am the next day (sunday) we flex home, picked up Lily from Marilyns Moms place and relaxed for a few hours before going back to work on monday -_-;

October Richmond/DC Trip

A few weeks after this one, we took a much shorted trip to Richmond for my Dads wedding (#5 of an eventual 6 for the year). The whole Fortuna family was there again, and it was great to have a nice small gathering for the wedding, so we of course used the opportunity to play Poker. We flew up on friday, wedding on saturday, then Sunday at 7:30am we hopped on a bus for Washington DC (only $15!). The bus company ended up being a little shady though. We were running scary late to the bus, but luckily my sister and her new husband were able to give us a ride. The bus stop ended up being a little strip mall with a single open store that said “Bus to DC/New York/Boston” in small print surrounded by much larger kanji. I went into the building to find a huge room with only 1 little desk on the side, lights off and 2 people talking. Crazy business, but they got us to DC. The bus stop was only a few blocks from our hotel, so we dropped our stuff with the valet (too early to checkin) and started wandering around the town. There’s obviously a lot to see in DC. We were only there for 2.5 days, but I think we saw everything we wanted to see. National Archives, Natural History Museum, National Zoo, White House, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial – all the basics. Saw a movie at a local theater about 3 blocks from the white house (Coco before Chanel). Only bad part was that I came down with a bug on monday, so I had a really hard time We went in expecting to walk a lot, but man, it was so much more than we expected — even using the Metro (subway system) whenever we could. Even the airport is metro accessible, so on Tuesday we headed out.


Been working entirely on SponsoredTweets the last few months (since June really). Prior to that I was bouncing around between projects (SocialSpark, CloudShout,, PayPerPost), so it’s nice to be dedicated to one project and making it as good as I can make it. Running into a new kind of problem that we’re probably going to have to spend more time solving than previous ones. Basically we want to do more stuff with the massively growing amount of data we have about a users followers, and doing it with Mysql just isn’t going to be the best way to deal with it. Looking into some non-sql datastores to see what can be done. Mysql just doesn’t handle tables with 50m+ records well. Only downside at work is that I’m always butting heads with my team lead (team lead is a loose term, he’s a co-developer on this project, and assumes the more managerial role on the project, although still answering to higher ups on what we work on). There’s mountains of technical debt in the project (well, less than just about any other project I’ve worked on there, but still). For instance, everything in the site is MVC, but I recently found a controller that’s basically 500 lines (normal is \<50 lines) and does all 3 (it takes input, processes it with business logic in this controller and outputs the text that’s shown as a response). I’m constantly trying to improve things, and (in a good way) suggest to him that there are better ways of doing something. Usually this just means suggesting changes, or making them and mentioning and going over. The disappointing part is that the same poor coding issue happens again and again. His viewpoint seems to be “it works”, and he sees the need to fix it but there’s no time. My standpoint is more along the lines of “you need to learn how to do it right in the first place”, but that’s a difficult talk to have with your superior when you don’t have the authority to mandate better code. I’d like to start doing some form of code review on the team so that we see each others code before it’s done more, that way it’s still possible to make changes. What’s a good way to get your co-programmer/manager to be care more about code quality?

Everything Else

We’re still buzzing from all the traveling lately, so it’s nice to relax. Just a week after my Dads wedding we went to Zac’s wedding out in St. Pete (there’s some cool teaser pictures on Facebook for it), which was a ton of fun. Just went for the day, but nice hanging out with everyone I don’t usually see as often. This past weekend we had a surprise party here for a friend since high school (Joey), which went really well. We’re really getting the hang of throwing parties at our place. 🙂 But now it’s nice to finally have some time to relax. Slowly getting random things I’ve wanted to sort through or giveaway/cleanout done, which clears my head a lot. Ideally I can wrap up a lot of that kind of stuff between now and the end of the year, then I shift focus back on programming for fun more often. I have a few ideas for although it’s mostly runs itself. There’s a new site I want to finish in the next few months that I started on back in October. It’s not going to change the world, but other developers might get a kick out of it. Stay tuned for more details. 🙂

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I'm , a full-stack product developer in Salt Lake City, UT. I love enlivening experiences, visualizing data, and making playful websites.

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