About Me

Background

I'm a Houstonian, a sailor, and a programmer. As of right now, I'm 11,638 days old. My biggest dream in life is to pilot my own submarine.

I enjoy thinking about interface and interaction design, and just how people use technology in general. I feel that scientific advance is being attenuated by its own complexities and work is needed to bridge different disciplines. Thus the design and engineering of projects interests me greatly, as well as other meta-level thoughts on what allows large complex things to keep ticking.

Internet technology

My primary line of work is on the internet, either on the desktop, on the web, or through mobile applications. I am what is increasingly referred to as a full-stack developer, which — I think — is just a fancy title for a generalist. I work with database layers, back-end application code, front-end markup, and everything in between. For better or for worse, I am not often focused in niche domains. I enjoy experimenting with technologies that I’ve never used before rather than honing my abilities in areas in which I’m already fluent.

Most of my open source contributions can be found on my GitHub profile.

Web Development

I’ve been building websites for almost fifteen years now. It’s funny to consider simultaneously how much and how little has changed on the web.

Perl had been my language of choice for web applications until 2004, when Ruby on Rails took the stage. Not that it really matters, but this site is one of the several Rails apps that I’ve built. Some of my favorite Rails gems are Heroku, Haml/Sass, delayed_job, and RSpec, just to name a few.

Embedded applications

Sometimes I write code for offline use, mainly for robotics and sensor and control systems. AVR and PIC architectures are my preferred playground, although I enjoy programming for things like the ARM BeagleBoard where the hardware is advanced enough to support a higher-level interaction.

Finance

In 2007-2008 I worked as a quant/analyst for an energy commodities hedge fund. I have many thoughts on the market, but generally subscribe to the hypothesis of weak-form efficiency. I strongly feel that beating the market requires predicting market psychology, and that those seeking excess returns should start by understanding their own cognitive biases.

I’ve programmed automated trading systems in the commodity futures market, the forex market, and the Intrade prediction markets. In the summer of 2008 I worked briefly as a market maker for Intrade, offering a full palette of quotes on the daily Dow Jones Index binary contracts. It was a lot of fun developing my supply algorithm, but — when it came time to actually take trades — I found I didn’t at all enjoy the stress of holding highly volatile positions. I’m not sure I’ll ever go back to doing that again.

Although I abhor gambling in its most usual sense, one of my favorite books is called Calculated Bets, which concerns a smarter approach to gambling in the sport of jai-alai.

Sailing

In March 2009, after reading The Dystopians and a Slashdot story on cargo sailing, I became interested in wind technology. The notion that simple sails or kites may present itself as a disruptive technology for waterborne freight intrigues me. I’m really hoping that the Vermont Sail Freight Project catches wind.

While reading about cargo sails it occurred to me that I didn’t understand even the basic principles of sailing, and so I began research that soon led to the purchase of a 16ft beach cat called the Mystere 5.0XL. Here are some pictures. A year later I sold the Mystere, and purchased a Laser dinghy, which I sailed every day on Lake Union. Today I sail a 1972 Yankee 30’ sloop in Galveston Bay.

I plan on building a whole section of this site to house my sailing-related things, but I just haven’t done it yet.