Joe Mosby's blog

A May recap

In the first week of this month, I began closing down all of the things I'd been working on at National Journal. I started documenting the code that I'd written and training my co-workers on the things that only I had locked up in my head before taking my last lunches on that best roof in the District of Columbia. That was before D.C.'s three straight weeks of rain started, of course.

When I started at National Journal, all of the production applications I had ever built before that time had maybe a few dozen concurrent viewers and they got to piggyback off of Rackspace's Cloud Sites architecture. That's a wonderful environment for learning how to code stuff people will actually see. You don't have to worry much about your site going down; you don't have to worry about configuring a server. I tinkered with things like MongoDB and Flask, but I didn't know how a CDN worked or what uWSGI even did. I had done some nifty JavaScript and front-end process hacks. No real "computer science."

My first task at NJ was to build a Django model interpreter that would recursively dig into foreign key relationships to create nested documents to insert into MongoDB. Then I learned how to build authentication systems. Then I learned what happens when you build those authentication systems expecting that every page will be generated fresh and suddenly a CDN just destroys your entire mental model of the world. NJ was my trial by fire. I finally became a "developer" there. It took four years of me coding and several public-facing projects before I actually felt like I was a professional software developer.

Now I've started with a team that's going to challenge me all over again. I typed four or five sentences trying to articulate my feelings about this new team before finally settling on a simple "This is the coolest thing I've ever done." We're building a Spark framework that's going to analyze some truly huge datasets. I get to write Scala and SQL and explore graph databases and play around with computing hardware that I would normally never get to touch. I'm ecstatic.

That's a big thing that happened this month. What else happened?

I read two books:

Now, this is a marked drop from my normal book volume. I've started taking notes on everything I read. Those notes look something like this:

Joe Mosby's blog

I have pages upon pages of notes for Letters from a Stoic, one of the most thought-provoking books I've ever read. I'll have a more detailed review later when I take the time to read back through my notes.

I started training with this scary-looking gear:

Joe Mosby's blog

These weights are fierce on the muscles. With both the steel club and the steel mace, the weight is all thrown off on angles that normal barbells don't cover. They're only fifteen pounds each, but after one of their recommended workouts, I'm shaking. The weighted vest adds ten pounds of extra umph.

I wrote a post for a company blog that hasn't gone live yet, but when that's posted I'll link it here. This will be my first post written for someone other than myself, if we ignore the post on optimizing music for productivity that got picked up by Lifehacker and Matt Mullenweg's blog.

Finally, I purchased a TV for $50 and hooked up my PS3 to it.

Joe Mosby's blog

I bring this up because while I've enjoyed kicking back and relaxing with some video games, I've also become aware of its addictive nature. I've become mindful of the desire to just chill after work and veg out for hours. Now, I'm curbing back my gaming through a Pomodoro technique mix. 25 minutes of something productive, then 25 minutes of games, back, forth, back, forth, etc. It seems to be working out so far.

What's next in June? I have a stack of Scala and analytics material to read. I have a lot of new coding projects to explore at work. I also have jury duty.

By the way, my friend Josh challenged me to get back into more personal experimentation through a single text message asking what hack I was going to explore next. What suggestions should I try? Hit me up at @josephmosby.