Women’s March

I’m so inspired by today’s Women’s March in Washington, a day after Donald Trump became President, that I’m thinking of ways to get active in politics. Not sure how, where, when. But it’s going to happen.

Time to contribute and build the real America of the 21st Century.

2016 was an interesting year

I’m sitting here at my house, at noontime, on December 30, 2016…36 hours until the New Year strikes and 2017 arrives. It has been a monumental year for me personally on many levels, with my daughter being born at the top of the list, several promotions at work, and continuing personal growth. It has also been a worrying year, with the political landscape taking a troubling turn and many fascinating people passing away.

I didn’t truly realize how burned out I was from my previous gig and the first couple months of my current gig until I took my month long paternity leave in July. Being able to unplug from everything and focus 100% on my family changed me in a profound way. Knowing that now I was responsible raising a human being, I strived to redouble my own efforts for learning and personal growth. As you can see from my Goodreads list, my read books steadily climbed in 2016. 21 is well short of my 50 goal for the year, but it is probably the # of books I have read in the past 4 years combined. Next year I will hit 50.

Career wise, I have had several promotions at my current gig and I am currently building three teams. We have lots of job openings on our site, btw.

Political wise, I worry for America. President-elect Donald Trump goes against everything I believe in from a moral and policy standpoint. I am exploring ways to get involved in local politics somehow and add one small voice speaking against his policies and for something better.

I will close out with my family. My daughter is everything to me. It is often me who wakes up first thing in the morning when she awakes and her smile when she sees me and hears me say “Good morning!” is something that will never grow old for me. Today is her six month birthday and I look forward to many more with her and my wife, who has been an amazing mom herself.

Life Has Changed

Two months ago tonight, my wife was going through the final hours of labor. She delivered our beautiful daughter, Rose, at exactly the stroke of midnight. My life has never been the same. It is also never more apparent then right now, as I sit in a hotel room in New York City on my first business trip since her birth.

It is hard to quantify how life has changed. There are the tangible things, like our grocery and household goods budget going up, a new car purchased, and the # of diapers she has gone through. It is certainly easy to feel the lack of sleep, although Rose is doing as well as you could hope for in that regard by sleeping about ~6 hours straight overnight. It isn’t the old 8 hours I’m used to, but it workable.

But how do you quantify staring into her eyes, when I said her name for the first time? Hearing her squeaking cry? The first time she “baby talked”? Those tiny tears dripping from her eyes down her cheeks. The every 3–4 hours to feed her? The massive burps. How she melts into your arms and all is right in the world.

I miss her. But I do this for her. And I will be home soon.

Spending my mornings learning

I fell into a trap a few years ago that I have been slowly digging myself out of, bit by bit. Being all consumed by my working life, I left little room for reading and learning. I don’t claim to have resolved this issue, but I do feel I made substantial progress this week with one tweak to my morning routine.

The root cause of the problem: I wasn’t prioritizing reading and learning in the morning. For years I tried to do this at night. But with the fast paced, high stress, and definitely mind consuming work that comes with being a part of two very successful startups (Dyn & Fastly) in the past seven years, I was simply fried at the end of my work day. My mind would endlessly drift any time I tried to read a book or focus on a learning project in the evening.

I had tried shifting my reading to the morning before, but I could never make that schedule stick either. Maybe it was because I don’t drink coffee. Maybe sometimes I take a little bit longer to get out of bed to make my way to the couch where my iPad normally sits…if I made out that far before I had to rush to get ready for work.

This past week I have tried something different: placing my iPad next to my bed and reaching for that device in the morning when I wake up, not my iPhone.

Something about this workflow change has made me priorities. When I wake up in the morning now, I prop up my pillows and reach for my iPad. I immediately open iBooks and start reading, even in my semi-awake state. With this, I have already finished two books this week I had been reading for over a month with little progress previously.

Because my mind is activating quicker from reading in bed during the morning, when I make my way to the kitchen to begin breakfast, my brain is begging to learn more. So I now turn on a podcast in the morning when I make/eat breakfast, usually one that focuses on teaching its listeners something. In my case, for the past week I have been catching up on the awesome Seeking Wisdom podcast. My notes file this past week has filled with little tidbits and thoughts from these morning podcast sessions.

In the end, this seems to be going well because of a simple workflow change: placing my reading device (an iPad) next to my bed, which somehow triggered my brain to want to read. Let’s see if this continues!

Two months until our life changes forever

Seven months ago, my wife shared with me the news we had been waiting for: we are going to be parents. Right now, we are under two months to go.

House wise we are getting there, but have a bit more setup to go. We completely refinished the floor in the nursery and painted the walls, both look great. The baseboard needs a coat or two of paint and then we can move everything into the room.

We have taken to this opportunity to slowly clean out the house as well, donating much of what we no longer want to Goodwill and throwing out what we can’t use. I guess a controlled nesting.

Emotionally, I’m in a weird state right now. Excited is certainly an understatement. I can’t wait to meet my kid. But I’m also wondering if “Am I going to be a good father?” Even with the time I spend with my nephews, I still feel underprepared. I know my life is going to change forever in less than two months and that’s a weird feeling. From what I heard, this is par for the course. There is no good training for this other than doing the job. A little adjustment and 18 years later…

So that’s what I’m doing. Preparing for the most important job of my life. One that is starting in just under two months.

Back to work.

Home Network Rebuild: Early April 2016

Over the past couple of months, I have slowly begun collecting the pieces of equipment necessary to revamp my home network for higher performance, customization, and reliability. Working for home 3-5 days a week, I need rock solid connectivity. My efforts are starting to show progress, despite some fairly significant work remaining (mainly around wiring the house).

The Router: Ubiquiti EdgeRouter Lite

The first piece of my Home Network rebuild and while there is a learning curve on the setup, I have it successfully configured for dual-stack IPv4/IPv6 on Comcast with a 150Mbps/12Mbps connection and I am going a month plus without rebooting it once. It’s amazing how well it works once it is setup.

Purchase: Ubiquiti EdgeRoute Lite for ~$96 @ Amazon.com

The Switch: Dell PowerConnect 2816

I had some basic requirements for the ethernet switch that would act as the central hub for my home network:

  • 16 or 24 Gigabit Ports.
  • Managed switch
  • Fanless
  • Rackmountable
  • Supports link aggregation
  • Low power
  • Low cost

After looking around, I decided to go cheap with the switch to fill my more limited near-term needs. I purchased a used Dell PowerConnect 2816 off of eBay for $49.99. Other than being used, it fits all of my criteria. Worst case, if I ever need to upgrade or the switch dies, I’m only down $49.99.

So far, the switch is holding up well. The web UI looks like it came from 2002 and there is no encryption to speak of, but I can live with that for now.

Only issue I have had was my Apple TV 4th generation not detecting the ethernet network or obtaining an IP address from DHCP for over a minute after startup. I found a blog post about PowerConnect switches and slow login issues. Turns out Spanning Tree Protocol (STP) can slow down a network port’s activation. By enabling the Fast Link functionality in the switch’s STP settings, my Apple TV now instantly connects to the network when waken up. I activated this setting for every port on the switch that didn’t have a router or a switch connected to it.

Wi-Fi: Apple Time Capsule

My ultimate goal is to purchase an Ubiquiti UniFi AC Lite access point, but we’re not there yet. For now, I have my Apple Time Capsule running in bridge mode. It still handles the Wi-Fi and Time Machine backup duties, but nothing else. It’s amazing how stable this setup is now the Time Capsule isn’t handling DHCP and firewall duties.

What’s Next?

  • Cable Runs: I need solve the problem of running ethernet cable from my 2nd floor (where my home office is being renovated) to my basement. I have a possible solution for this by running cable down the wall that surrounds my chimney, but need to fish the cable through there.
  • Network Rack: If I am going to run cable, I need to pick where the network rack is going to be located so I can rack mount all of my new equipment. I’m eyeing a location underneath my basement stairway that is currently unused space and is right next to the chimney I mentioned above. However, there is no power there at the moment.
  • Patch Panel: I should do this right and run all of this cable into a patch panel, to make rewiring my switch very easy.
  • Wi-Fi Access Point: As mentioned above, I’m looking at Ubiquiti’s AC Lite access point. I want to mount it on 1st floor ceiling at the center of my house, with a Power over Ethernet (PoE) working, for maximum coverage.
  • Network Attached Storage (NAS): I’m looking at a Synology NAS DS416j to handle a number of services, including logging and backups. This is probably the final step of my home network buildout and we are fairly far away from this purchase.

The Nerd Handbook

This classic Rands in Repose post explains a lot why I’m into so many projects right now outside of work. Nerd’s always have to be building and tweaking. It also explains why the recent changes in the past six months have made me so much happier and productive…I wasn’t getting time to work on these types of projects.