Category Archives: Personal

Days become Weeks, Weeks become Months

It’s April. I’m now 34. I swear it was just yesterday I was eating lunch in the Commons at UMBC. Now I’m neck deep in adult stuff like figuring out my taxes and changing poopy diapers. People talk about how having 2 kids is more than twice as hard as 1 kid, but I think it’s just that the new kid takes up all the rest of the time that you did have, so you don’t really get time to rest.

patrickgillespie.com

I’ve finally decided to do something meaningful with patrickgillespie.com. I purchased it 8 years ago and have mostly neglected it. I previously had it setup as a “Portal for Patrick Gillespies”, but that was kind of a lame idea.

The other day I realized it would probably be a good place to show off my photography. Every photography youtube channel I watch says you need a portfolio to show off your best work. I have the domain, why not setup a portfolio? Therefore, I’ve recently re-launched the site as Patrick Gillespie Photography.

I wrote the site using AngularJS, Angular Material, and jmpress.js. I want to polish up the code a bit, but when I’m done I’ll put it up on github. This is my first time creating a portfolio, so I’m kind of just having fun with it. I’ll probably continue to add stuff to the site as time goes on.

AOLers Reconnecting

A few weeks ago a fellow ex-AOLer commented on my MaGuS post about starting a slack channel for people who want to reconnect. I imagine the channel will be pretty inactive until a number of people join. But if you’re interested, you can click here for an invitation.

There’s also a reasonably active Facebook group on the same topic that someone created a while back. That’s also worth checking out.

Where is Bob?

You know you’ve reached a strange point in your life when you find yourself reminiscing about stuff you saw on Reddit almost a decade ago. However, sometimes something you read or see online just sticks with you. It resonates. Whether it makes you think, feel, or laugh, it leaves an impression. The “Where is Bob?” blog, which appeared on Reddit back in 2008, was such a thing for me.

Penned by a wickedly funny IT worker, the Where is Bob blog hosted a set of possibly non-fiction stories about a work place run by an obnoxious and often absentee manager named Bob. The submission garnered the praise of the Reddit community and earned just shy of 1,000 upvotes. That may seem like a pittance today, but at the time it was enough to get to the top of /r/funny and enough to get onto Reddit’s front page. It was also enough to capture the interest of a literary agent. I remember this last part because sometime after the subscribing to the blog, all of its posts disappeared and rumors swirled of a book that was to come out.

After what felt like an eternity (~17 months), “Where is Bob?” by Irina P. was self published online. Viral sensations have a very short half life, so it wasn’t surprising that the post announcing this publication netted only 10 upvotes. I was able to catch the announcement, and even though it had good reviews, I was too cheap to shell out the $10 or $15 the author was asking for it. I figured my stack of unread books was already high enough.

In the years since “Where is Bob?” was released, my pile has only grown larger, yet one day around 2 years ago I found myself in need of a laugh and thought about the old “Where is Bob?” stories. I decided to look the book up, and to my dismay, found that it and its corresponding blog were gone from the Internet.

I spent several evenings trying to track down the book: Maybe someone had uploaded a PDF, maybe it was still for sale, maybe someone had archived some of the public blog entries… but it was to no avail.

I’m never one to easily back down from a challenge though, so using some clues I found in various corners of the net, I deduced the author’s current contact information and sent her a message. I told her I that I had really enjoyed her stories and I offered, if possible, buy the book directly from her. In response she sent me this message:

Hi Pat,

Yes, indeed, it was I who wrote “Where is Bob.” How cool that you found me, despite my best efforts to stay hidden! “Where is Bob” was a really fun way to express my frustration with certain aspects of IT, which is the field that I used to work in. I even had a literary agent take interest in it, but she had a difficult time selling it to publishers because it was too short to be a novel and didn’t really fit into any other category. So I put it up as an ebook through Lulu Press, because there were a bunch of people who thought the idea was cool and were willing to pay to read the whole thing.

That was a long time ago. I have since switched careers. I currently work as a high school science teacher, and when I began that job, I decided to decrease my Internet presence as much as possible, because I wanted my non-school life to remain hidden and private from my students. I didn’t want them googling and finding that book. It also wasn’t really making any money (not after the initial surge of sales), so I didn’t think there was any interest in it. If I ever write anything again (which is improbable, albeit not impossible), I will publish it as pseudonymously as humanly possible, but if you want, I can add you to the small group of people who will be notified.

Anyway, thanks for the note, it was a pleasure.

All the best,
Irina

There was no mention of selling the book, and I didn’t want to push the issue too much. I understood her point too. I remember being in college and having friends giggle with glee about finding their professor on an online dating site. A saucy book of old IT stories from a previous career might not mix well with science class.

At the time I decided that was that and moved on. A few days ago I again thought of the book and once again I tried finding it, only to come up empty handed. This experience has underscored something that I’ve often thought about that seems to be against conventional wisdom: Stuff does disappear from the internet. As much as we think things will last forever once they hit the web, that’s only the case if the information has a caretaker that wants it around. If it doesn’t have such a caretaker, it’ll eventually either disappear or sink into the deep web.

Happy New Year!

Baltimore City Fireworks, New Years Day 2016

I know I’m a day late, but I was tired yesterday. I took this photo just after midnight from the HarborView building in Baltimore, Maryland.

I honestly hadn’t thought much about resolutions until yesterday. I watched a video that recommended making huge goals and then asked viewers the question: “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer was “one bite at a time”. It seems a little silly, but I like that way of thinking about things. Huge tasks are very achievable, you just have to break them down into small pieces and go after them one at a time.

I’m not going to publish my goals here, since science shows that telling people your goals makes you less likely to achieve them, but I’ve decided to set some big goals for myself. I hope whatever goals you’ve set for yourself come to fruition and that you have a great new year!

The Long Vacation

It’s been a year since I’ve updated this blog. What the hell have I been doing in that time?

Well… my daughter was born, I sold my house, bought a new house, took lots of photos, reentered and won the contest I talked about in my previous post, became much better at photoshop, reviewed a book for Packt Pub, grew a beard, shaved it, and started learning how to use video editing software.

This site has remained on my mind though. In the background of my other activities I think about what I could be doing with it. I’ve been at a stalemate about where to go with it though. When working on it started to feel like work, I drifted away.

In my absence this site has somehow seen it’s best year yet. Traffic is up more than 50% from last year… though truth be told, a big part of that increase in traffic is due to the run away success of my old Snake app. Why that app took off late last year I have no idea. It sat around collecting dust for the longest time, and then slowly started amassing a following. It’s even made an appearance in a CS lab in Ireland. One of my friends suggested that I start making more games, but I don’t want to be chasing traffic.

For the longest time I’ve had this mentality that this site needs to have a focus around “programming”, but that’s not what this site is. It’s a creative outlet. Some of the blogs I wrote in 2012 and 2013 were pretty dry and written with the mentality of this being a “programming blog”. But it’s not. I’m a programmer, and I blog, but this blog is its best when its organic musings about stuff I find interesting and not stuff I think a potential audience might want to read.

So no more book reviews, product reviews, or overly technical posts. This blog will become just a blog. I may write about something new I’ve done, or I may write about my favorite ice cream flavor. And maybe I’ll start to write more, or maybe you’ll see this as the latest entry in 2017. The goal though, will be for this not to feel like work.

With this change in focus I’ve also decided to change the coupling of patorjk.com and patorjk.com/blog. patorjk.com now gets its own page which focuses on the various things on this domain. This will make this blog feel less like a center piece for this site and more like just another section.

So what does the future hold for patorjk.com? Will there be another long vacation before I do another update? I’m not totally sure. The site is always on my mind though.

Adventures in Photography

It’s been a little quiet around here, but I haven’t forgotten about this place.

Around the start of October I started getting into photography. I had received a Nikon 5300 DSLR camera for Christmas last year, but it spent most of the year collecting dust. However, when the Autumn leaves started falling, I realized it was the perfect time to finally learn how to use the thing.

The Contest

Near the end of October I came across a newspaper article that detailed an amateur photography contest that Kinder Farm Park was holding. The park is run by the county and is 288 acres of forested areas, playgrounds, fields, and farm buildings. Upon finishing the article two thoughts were left running through my mind: I hadn’t realized large scale county parks were a thing, and there were only 3 days left until the competition was over – I needed to find this place and take some pictures.

I ended up making it to the park the day before the competition ended and ran around taking photos like a crazy person. Since it was a Thursday evening, I only had about an hour before it got too dark. I liked two of my photos enough to submit them, and to my delight, two weeks after the contest ended I got an email saying I had scored 2nd place in the People category for this pic:

Before I toot my own horn too much, there were only 9 entries in this category, so it’s not that big of a victory. The other 3 categories had 3 times as many entries, and last year there were a lot more entries, so I’m not sure what happened this year. I guess I got kind of lucky. However, I was still pretty thrilled. I even got interviewed by a local paper, which was kind of cool.

November-December

I’ve spent the past two months basically learning the in’s and out’s of photography (at the time of the contest I was taking all of my photos in auto mode). I resurrected my Flickr page, and was surprised to see that it was still a pretty cool place. Before coming back to Flickr, I briefly tried out Google+, and it was certainly very nice, but Google+ still seems like a ghost town. My belief is that it tried to be too many things (that’s a whole other topic though).

Anyway, I’m certainly not going to change this place into a photography site, but I think changing gears and learning about something new will help me bring more to the table when I finally do come back with some new content. This site is not going to go dormant though. I’ve also spent part of this past year as a technical reviewer for a new Packt Publishing book, so I’ve got an entry coming out about that, and there are a few other small things I’ve been working on, so I’ve got stuff in the pipe line for this site.

Photo Map

And lastly, after the Kinder Farm Park contest ended they released a gallery of all of the submissions. Since each pic listed the location where it was shot, I thought it might be fun to place them into a Google Maps map. If you’re bored you can check them out below.

Site Note: Some of these placements are guesses or approximations.

Analyzing My Facebook Activity Log

Have you ever wondered what your Facebook likes say about you? And if there are any people whose posts you seem to favor? I was curious, so I decided to dig around and see if I could find some stats for likes. I couldn’t, so I decided to turn to the Facebook API. Unfortunately its like information seemed limited for privacy reasons*. Next I tried to get the information from the export feature Facebook offers. Sadly it didn’t have this data either. However, the activity log page chronicled my like history and was just what I was looking for.

I loaded as much information from this page as I could (for some reason it breaks for me around March 2012), and saved it off to a file. I then wrote a quick script to process the data and plugged my activity log into it. The results that were spit out stated that over the past two years I’d liked 1,088 posts and that of my 133 friends, half of my likes were going to just 5 of them (~4%).

Even more interesting, these 5 people were all family members. I’m not sure if that’s just a side effect of me interacting with my family more than my friends, if my family just posts a lot, or if I’m just ignoring my friends. Whatever the case, I didn’t realize I had such a bias with my likes. Though then again, if my Activity Log wasn’t broken for the pre-2012 time period, I wonder if the results would have been different. I had my first child in 2012, and I like most pics with him in it, so that could have been skewing the results. Also, come to think of it, my dog died last year and I went back and liked a lot of pictures of him in it, so that could be skewing things too.

Though peculiar, I’m only one data point, so an analysis of my data doesn’t really say anything about anyone else. If you’re curious about your own liking biases, I’ve put the script online as a gist.

Other Analysis

I’m not the first person to want to analyze their data. Wolfram Alpha has an online app that does an in-depth analysis of a person’s Facebook data. And while it delivers a treasure trove of neat information (example: my friends fall into 5 different groups of connected users), it fails to say much about likes.

Other, less public tools**, have been developed to comb through this like data though. Dr. Jennifer Golbeck gave a Ted Talk last Fall on what your likes say about you and how they’re used by companies. In it she mentions how researchers were able to correlate IQ with people who liked the Facebook page “Curly Fries”. She also mentions how many other attributes such as sexuality and religion can be predicted to a high certainly based on what you like.

It’s probably a no-brainer big companies like Facebook and Google are mining this info for ad purposes. I couldn’t find information on Facebook’s analysis, but Google actually provides a page where you can see what they think of you. However, it’s pretty simple, and I’d be surprised if that was all they had.

Conclusion

I’ve only done a simple analysis of my own data, so there’s a lot more to say for this subject. However, it was kind of eye opening to see where most of my likes were going. Additionally, I think it’d be interesting if there was an app you could use to analyze your own data to see what it said about you. Golbeck joked about starting a company that would sell reports about potential employees to HR people – but, I think it’d be useful if people could generate those kind of reports about themselves. It could help you learn things about your subconscious behaviors or possibly better control your online image.

* Before posting this, I revisited the Facebook API, and I think the data I gleaned from the activity log could also have been retrieved through a bunch of FQL queries. If I were to write a proper app, I’d probably try and use FQL, however, writing a script to parse the activity long was pretty quick and painless.
** I could only find studies, I couldn’t find any source code.

Sea Change

wwwA little over a year ago a coworker pitched a snunkworks-type project to myself and another team member. Separately the three of us worked on PHP/MySQL and Java/Oracle projects, but he wanted the new project to use the MEAN stack (MongoDB, Express.js, AngularJS and Node.js) since JavaScript was something we all had in common.

My interest was piqued, but I was a bit skeptical. I felt the stack was a little too trendy, and for whatever reason, I singled out AngularJS as something I wasn’t so sure about. I felt it was too new – something that was hot at the moment, but might not be hot in 6 month’s time.

At my insistence, we spent a couple weeks comparing Angular and Backbone.js, a framework which had a more established reputation. By the end of our comparisons though, I had done a 180 and was completely sold on Angular. For the remainder of the development I focused mostly on the Angular side of things and loved it.

At the same time I also enjoyed Node. However, its async nature was kind of a pain in the ass and its biggest benefit was really just keeping a common language across the whole project. For Mongo, I had mixed feelings. The flexibility was kind of cool, but relational databases, with their transactions and joins, are a lot easier to work with. Mongo and Node were neat, but they both had weaknesses you had to be careful about. Angular, however, really felt like something that would be a good fit for any type of web project – large or small, complex or simple, etc etc.

GSe3vyI__The experience left an impression on me, and a few weeks ago I decided to accept a job offer at a new company as an AngularJS developer. It was kind of hard to leave my old job, as I really enjoyed it, but I felt it was time to venture out into new waters.

It’s neat to think that 5 years ago I was programming test equipment in Tcl/Java, and now I’m a front-end Angular guy. I guess that’s just the nature of software development though, you’re always continuing to evolve. Also, like always, work wont get mentioned in this blog again unless its related to a major life change, so in my next post I’ll be back to talking about some random tech topic or updates to this site.

Speaking of which, updates to this site have been kind of sparse lately, and I’m sorry about that (especially if you’ve submitted as keyboard layout because I’m way behind in reviewing those). The job switch ate up a lot of time, and a planned vacation to Chile also ate up a lot of time, but now that those two events are over with, I hope to get back to more regular updates.

Also, in case you’re interested, the images in this post come from RedditGetsDrawn, a very cool place where artists draw pictures of submitted photos.

2012 Comes to a Close

I’ve had a lot of false starts with writing posts lately. Writers blocks seems to have gotten the best of me, but I figured I’d do a post to reflect on the past 12 months.

The hand of a fellow runner
Photo By fejsez

This year I turned 30, which makes me feel a little strange. I’m no longer the young guy. Up until 2 years ago I was always the youngest guy on the team I worked on at work, now I’m the oldest guy (though in fairness, the team I’m currently on is only 3 people).

I also became a dad this year (2012-12-09), which is pretty cool. I wont bore you with any mushy revelations or talk about how it’s changed me – I honestly still feel like the same person. However, it is amazing to look over at the little guy and know that he’s got half my DNA. It’s also fun to wonder what kind of person he’ll be. Hopefully I can steer him in the right direction and help him become the best person that he can be.

PHP

I learned a lot about web development this year. Both on my own, by experimenting with new HTML5 APIs and browser tools, and at work. To speak in general terms, at work I’m a developer on two web applications – one based in Java Spring and one based in PHP. Working with the two side by side, I’ve slowly grown to hate Java web development – it’s slow for iterating changes, lends itself to gigantic class hierarchies, and seems to make trivial tasks harder than they should be. Even though it has its flaws, PHP is actually pretty fun to develop in. It also has great documentation and it seems like there is a blog post or forum question on anything you’d possibly want to do with it.

I still prefer the front-end though, and I’m still not sure I want to rely on PHP every time I do something on the back-end. One of my goals for next year is to take a serious look at Node.js, Python, and Ruby, and to do a for-fun project in each. I’ve actually started this already, but got a little side tracked when the baby showed up.

Internet Archive Fund Raiser

The Internet Archive is doing a donation drive with a 3-to-1 match. The archive was of great help to this site a few years ago when I underwent the one-two punch of my hard drive crashing and then my old web host deleting my site. Thanks to their Way Back Machine, I was able to recover a lot of files (in fact, it’s the reason the VB sections to this site are still up). I threw a couple of bucks their way out of appreciation, and I figured I’d pass on the link to anyone else who was interested in helping them out. They’re almost at their goal of raising 150k.

Cracking MaGuS’s Fate Zero Encryption

I’m getting ready to upgrade my computer, and while going through some old files I stumbled across Fate Zero, the last version released of infamous Fate-X application. The tool was popular way back in the late 90’s since it added a lot extra functionality to AOL – some of which AOL was ok with, and some of which it wasn’t very fond of. It was created by two mysterious individuals known as MaGuS and FunGii. After Da Chronic (known for AOHell), MaGuS was probably the most widely known AOL hacker. Even though Fate-X 2.5 and 3.0 had a much bigger impact, Fate Zero was the most extensive in regards to features.

To maintain its status at the top of the heap, Fate Zero had to protect its external data, and this meant encrypting it so that other developers couldn’t snatch it up for their own progs. The prog scene of that time, however, is now long dead. Seeing these files today, I got curious. MaGuS was only 16 when he wrote Fate Zero. When I was 16, I knew almost nothing about encryption. It wasn’t until I was in college that I got a good exposure to the field of cryptography. Even though MaGuS seemed like a pretty smart guy, at that point in time he probably also didn’t know much about encryption. This made me think that the files might be easy to crack. It seemed like a fun way to spend a few hours, so I decided to see if I could decode them.

Interestingly (or not interestingly, depending on how you feel about it), the biggest source of external data for Fate Zero was AOL ASCII Art (ASCII Art done in 10pt Arial). This was typically used for scrolling into chat rooms. Fate Zero had over 500 files dedicated to this. You can see an example piece of art and its corresponding file encoding, below.

                         .--··´¯¯¯¨˜`·-.,
            .---··· ´¨¨¨                      `·.
       .·´                                        ',
    ,'                                               ',
   ¦             /|        |        /                  |
    ',     (     \\:\  |   /|      /''\     .|          |
      '·.  \|\ \.,'.|::\|\/ |¸,.-·´¨¨`·/.·´  |           |
         ` ·-\\|'/|¨`,     `|˜¨|¨˜`·„¸      |   |´¯`,    |
           ,'/||', \:'| ,     |_\::':/      |    |,  ,'     |
         ,'//|  ',¯¯·',                    |    | ¯        |
        ,'/  |  | ` ·.  --·´               |     |           |
        |´  |   |   _ ` ·.__ .·´        |      |/_        |
        |   |   |¨¯  ¯¯///,··\     ,.--·|      |  ',¯¨¨˜˜``'
        |.·´|   |--,··´¯//\ \ \    //   Aeka  _¸'·-By KioNe

File data for the above picture:

MDR恔…f”…f”…f”…f”…f”…f¡’ý)õý¦¡“rn~f”…f”…f”“sŽ¡ý”î
…f”…f”…f”…f”…f”…fÁ,“Sk…f”…f,f”…f”…f”…f”…f”…f”…f”…f”…f”…f”…mo恔…rˆ”…f”…f”…f”…f”…f”…f”…f”…f”…f”…f”…f”…fˆ rP”…쁔…f”…f”…f£áf”…f”…”…f”…f”…f”…f”…f”…f”…Ân~f”Œr”…fœ…f”…¢½®Áfð…f£áf”…f£Œm½”…f”“”…f”…f”áSk…f”…m¢…f½ðÁf½¢‘mðŸ€½ðÁuðr¡ú
Åý¢ú”áf”…f”…f”áSk…f”…f”Åf¡Á¢Ý›”Â
Ô‘f”…fÁðýîÝý¦øf”…fð…fðõÁ …f”áSk…f”…f”…f›”ÂÝ›‘f½®ŒÂ …f”…ÂÀП€ˆ®”f”…fð…f”ár”‘m”…fðrP”…f”…f Œuð…fˆ õ›‘f”…f”…f”…f”…f”…”…fÝ”f”…f”…Ân~f”…f”‘m”…”áfÁ”t”’s)…f”…f”…f”…fð…f”…”…f”…f”…Ân~f”…f”áú”áf”áf”ÄfÁ”tÀÓ…t)…f”…f”áf”…fð”¥”…f”…f݁o恔…f”…”…”…Â
$…f$”u ý½”…f”‘tŽ¡”…f”áf›‘õ
ýÞÁÔŒSk…f”…fð“ýð…fð’s,ú£”¢Ð…¢”…f£…fµÊ±Â”…¥›s£í…‘Ê㳫n~

So right away it’s clear he’s not using a simple substitution cipher, yet due to the repeated use of white space in the source data, a pattern does seem to emerge in the encoded data. I compared the file sizes and found MaGuS’ encoded *.mdr files to be 5 bytes larger than their decoded counter parts. I chalked this up to the “MDR” that prefixed all the files, and the ending carriage return and line feed that seemed to end all of the files.

That meant there was probably one-for-one character encoding going on. After trying a few things out, I realized every 4th character seemed to use the same encoding. My guess was that he was combining 4 simple substitution ciphers, and using a different cipher depending on the index of the character. I created a quick script that read in an input/output combination and then tried to use that information to decode an encrypted file. To my delight, the script (mostly) worked! This was great, however, without knowing the full map of each cipher, I would only be able to get partial results.

I looked further and found each cipher was simply doing a character offset, meaning each cipher was a Caesar Cipher. The offsets were 70, 97, 116 and 101, respectively. If you look up the corresponding ASCII code for those numbers, you get the word “Fate”. I tried out this new decoding strategy and was able to successfully decode a directory of MaGuS’ files. I had broken the code! MaGuS was using what is known as the Vigenere Cipher, and for that particular directory, “Fate” was the pass-phrase.

In another interesting twist, I noticed certain types of files used different Vigenere keywords. For his *.mdf data files, the keyword “12151981” was used. My guess was that this was his birthday, since this date would have made him 16 when the prog was released and he mentions that he was 16 in the app’s about section. In this same about section he also mentions that he’s Asian and what high school he went to. This narrows down who he is to almost a T.

This got me thinking: “I wonder if I can track down who MaGuS was?” With the aid of some crafty googling, email addresses taken from webpages mentioned inside of Fate (if you dig through the machine code, you’ll find a dozen or so URLs), Rapportive (which can be used to look up social profiles based on email addresses), the internet archive, and leads taken from Fate Zero itself, I was able to pin point an individual who fit all of the criteria and was friends with people who got shout outs in Fate. I plugged their name and the “12-15-1981” birthday into dobsearch.com, and only one result came back, and it was from the state and city MaGuS said he lived in. I was stunned, I had found MaGuS.

I feel like it’d be wrong to out him, but at the same time I know it’d be a cop-out to not say anything. So I’ll just say that according to his LinkedIn and Facebook, he works for a consulting firm in the Washington DC area and is specializing in web related work. The rumors of him working for a security firm or of being this guy are false. He also seems to be somewhat of world traveler, and has a side hobby of being a photographer.

Part of me wondered for a second if I should contact him. He was a big inspiration to me back in the day, and Fate-X and its ilk are what led me to learn how to program. However, after talking with my wife, we thought that’d be too creepy. He made some cool progs a long, long time ago, no need to freak him out with some elaborate story that involves breaking some encryption he wrote over a decade ago.

Anyway, after I’d finished my little side quest, and I realized I still had 500+ decrypted AOL ASCII Art files, many of which haven’t seen the light of day in over a decade. Since some of that stuff is kind of cool, I decided to create a gallery for it. If you have a few moments check it out. Also, feel feel to grab and host any art there that you like, just be sure to leave in any artist signatures. It’s kind of strange to think that era is so far away, but also kind of neat to find remnants of it every so often.

2013.04.28 Update: A bit more has happened since I made the original post. MaGuS actually emailed me to congratulate me on the finding and to confirm his identity (though I’ll continue to respect his anonymity). He also mentioned that at the time he wrote Fate he had no training or knowledge of programming, and that he came up with his own encryption method as he went along. I don’t fault him for this, as Fate is still really impressive and I think most of us were in the same boat back then. He seems like a pretty cool guy, and I was glad to hear he enjoyed the post.

2016.03.10 Update: To reconnect with fellow former AOL developers:

I Handed in My Letter of Resignation

Last week I handed in my letter of resignation to Northrop Grumman, the company I’ve worked at for the past 4 years. I was both excited and nervous at the same time. Nervous because it was a big step, and excited because I was starting a new job as a subcontractor at a small company in two weeks.

Photo by gabork

The past three years I’ve spent most of my time creating and maintaining Java and Tcl/Tk applications, with the majority of my time going to Tcl/Tk development. Both of these are fun languages, but I kind of wanted to get away from these as my primary focus and move into doing web development. Northrop is a pretty huge company and allows people to move around, but from the inside it looked like my future involved mostly C/Java/Tcl, so I decided it was time to see what was available outside of the company.

I’ve had a few friends successfully change jobs within the past year and decided to hit up one of them about possible jobs in his company. I ended up interviewing for and landing a job as a PHP developer. Since I’ll be a subcontractor, what I work in will vary from project to project (just like at Northrop, actually), but I’m in a position to take on a more diverse set of projects that I think will be geared more towards my interests. I also think getting to see how smaller companies work will be an interesting experience.

Lastly, I’ve decided to carry on with my rule of not talking about work on this blog, with the exception of big announcements, so this will probably be my last work themed entry for a while. Hopefully it helps me pick up some cool new skills and I’m am able to apply some of what I’ve picked up making the content for this site professionally. Also, I know I’ve sort of been neglecting this site due to perparing for the new job, but I think this site will benefit from it in the long run. If you’re interested in changing jobs and have any questions feel free to shoot me an email me or post in the comment section below.