Developer Six Months In Review: June 2012

This one is a little less technical.

I have the tendency to just put my head down and work on stuff without every reflecting on where I have been or where I am going. Six months ago I stumbled across Matt Swanson’s developer year-in-review post and promptly set a Google alert for six months in the future to remind me to do my own. Progress comes gradually, and I lose track of that if I don’t look back.


For the first four months of the year I was at SpotterRF , a startup that is doing awesome hardware stuff while dragging the military kicking and screaming to modern web technologies.

We used lots of node.js internally, and dealt a lot with JSON apis. The company was just coming off of a heavy period of research, and I spent a few weeks working on testing, cleanup and refactoring.

I also spent a few months working with Google maps and mapping in general to develop a photo underlay for a sensor product. I created the basic prototype which is now being used in production. I also know more about Mercator projection than I ever thought possible.

In April I started a new job at i.tv, a startup that is trying to change how we watch TV. I had played with Backbone before, but I dove in to it full-time while there. I am a generalist, but I lean more towards back-end stuff than front-end, so it was nice to play more with client-side stuff.

I also led some testing efforts at i.tv. It got quite elaborate, since we use lots of layers of services, but I learned lots about mocking and the benefits that TDD bring to designs.

I have spent the last few weeks working on a video-capture project, which involves lots of Linux configuration and administration, along with development of some new services.

The biggest change has not been in my technical skills or knowledge, but how I approach problems. There is no way to say this without sounding cliché, but i.tv approaches problems assuming they can be solved. The relentless optimism has rubbed off on me. It isn’t cocky, but it is just a realization that people have done lots of hard things in novel situations and we probably can too.


It has been a pretty big six months. I don’t know how to write about this stuff without sounding cocky, so I’ll just list stuff. Also, one of these is not true. Guess which one.

  • Presented at the local JS group
  • Spoke at my first conference on machine learning in JavaScript
  • Created baconsembly, a programming language where you encode instructions by laying strips of bacon on a frying pan
  • Finished a research project on natural language processing that I still need to blog about
  • Joined the JavaScript Jabber podcast
  • Started the Papers in CS reading group, which you should all go join

The Future

The next six months will be eventful. We are announcing and launching a huge product which should bring all kinds of scaling challenges. There are a few more conferences I’m planning on submitting proposals for. The Papers in CS group should keep expanding. I want to play more with physical computing and robotics. The next post in this series will be exciting.