The Great Storm of '06

Well, the power’s back on, and it looks like we survived The Big Storm. It wasn’t really all that bad here; our power was down for a bit under 48 hours, but we still had water and gas, and there was a supermarket with power under a mile away, so it hasn’t been too hard to cope. Our house lost a screen door, and there were a handful of small branches in the yard, but that’s pretty minimal. I’ve heard from a few co-workers with similar stories, but half of my team is still missing, hopefully due to continuing power outages.

The scariest part for me was the complete lack of cell coverage that we had for about 12 hours–I wasn’t able to make or receive calls from home until late in the afternoon yesterday. No network access, no cell phone, no power–it was as disconnected as I’ve been in years.

Posted by Scott Laird Sun, 17 Dec 2006 06:46:08 GMT


Second-worst commute ever

What is it with Seattle weather this year? Until a month ago, my worst commute ever was 1:30, tied a couple times in the 8 years I’ve been living in the Seattle area. Now I’ve broken that twice in a month. First there was last month’s freak snowstorm that gave me a 3:30 commute, and tonight it took me 1:40 to get home, just because of rain. I mean, I can understand Seattle being unable to handle snow, but rain? What the heck? Admittedly, it was a lot of rain–our office’s underground parking garage was filling up, and the parking lot was about to overflow into the lobby when I left at 5:15, but still–we’re supposed to be able to cope with water around here.

Sheesh. I’m tempted to call in sick for the rest of the winter.

Posted by Scott Laird Fri, 15 Dec 2006 03:13:32 GMT


Worst commute ever

One of the things that I like about working for Google is the commute–in perfect traffic, I have an 11 minute drive. Unfortunately, tonight’s commute was far from perfect–instead of taking 11 minutes, it took three and a half hours. That’s an average of under 2.5 MPH.

Seattle just can’t cope with snow.

Posted by Scott Laird Tue, 28 Nov 2006 08:38:46 GMT


Conference season: Gnomedex and OSCON

I’m signed up for two conferences this summer–Gnomedex in Seattle in late June, and OSCON in Portland in late July.

I’m looking forward to both conferences. I’ve never been to Gnomedex before, but I’ve been kicking myself for missing the past two years, and decided months ago that I wouldn’t miss this year’s conference. Besides, I owe Chris for buying me dinner last summer, so the least I can do is attend his conference.

OSCON is another conference that I’ve never quite managed to attend. I drove down for ”FOSCON” last year, when the Portland Ruby Group had most of the OSCON Ruby speakers give their talks for free. I had a really good time, but I couldn’t afford to take the week off and attend the real OSCON conference. Fortunately, Google is going to have a big presence there, so I get to spend a week at the conference in exchange for spending a bit of time pretending to be a recruiter. Feel free to ask me about working for Google :-).

I have one question for readers who have been to OSCON before–it is worth staying in the official conference hotel, the Doubletree in Lloyd Center? Unfortunately, the Doubletree isn’t actually all that close to the conference center, and I’d hate to spend a lot of time commuting back and forth between the hotel and the convention center. For FOSCON last year, I stayed at the Jupiter Hotel which was really cool. I’ve also stayed at the Red Lion a block or so from the convention center. The Jupiter and Red Lion are both closer to the conference, and the Jupiter is just cooler. The big thing about conferences is that the conference sessions themselves aren’t really all that important–everything interesting really happens in the hallways and afterhours during BoFs. So, does anything actually happen at the Hotel during OSCON, or is everything at the convention center?

Posted by Scott Laird Wed, 17 May 2006 18:35:38 GMT


Seattle MindCamp

I’m spending the day at the Seattle Mind Camp. The network has been a bit flaky for most of the day, but I think it’s finally under control, so I’m taking the chance to upload a couple dozen shots to Flickr.

I’m kind of overwhelmed with content right now, and I’m not sure that I’ve been making the right choices when it comes to which sessions to attend, but I’m enjoying myself one way or another. On the cool hardware front, I finally had a chance to try out a head-mounted display from Microvision. Cool, but the model that I tried was a bit old and hard to read. I think I would have had a nasty headache if I’d used it for more then 5 minutes, but the owner said that he’d felt the same way at first and was able to use it for 5 hours without ill effect. I also got to drive the Titan Robotics Club’s robot a bit. I’m still waiting to use the Segway.

Later tonight, I’m going to run a “what do you wish that you could do with your blog that you can’t right now” session. If you’re here and you’re able to get enough connectivity to read this, then please stop by at 11:00 tonight. I’d love to find new ideas to snarf into Typo, although I’m really more interested in getting a better grip on how people use blogs and where we’re heading. I’ve talked with several people who are interested in discussing various aspects of Typo and directed one towards the Typo Theme Contest.

Posted by Scott Laird Sun, 06 Nov 2005 02:21:12 GMT


Tom Douglas's Iron Chef Party

It looks like the long-fabled Iron Chef America episode featuring Tom Douglas is finally going to air.

And he’s throwing a party. From the Seattle P-I:

The “Battle Salmon” pitting Masaharu Morimoto against our own Tom Douglas will air on Nov. 6, and Douglas is hosting a dinner-and-viewing that night, starting at 6:30 p.m. at the Palace Ballroom, 2100 Fifth Ave.

Douglas promises slightly kitschy festivities featuring the same five-course meal he and colleagues Mark Fuller and Eric Tanaka presented in the Food Network show, plus a Japanese hachimaki headband, two cocktails, and a chance to watch the show ($95/person). For reservations call 206-448-2001.

That’s a bit steep for me, but I’d still be tempted if it wasn’t the same day as Mind Camp.

Posted by Scott Laird Mon, 24 Oct 2005 12:25:55 GMT


Seattle Mind Camp

Apparently I need to track more local blogs, because I missed the original announcement of the Seattle MindCamp. Fortunately, Ted Leung pointed it out to me, or I probably would have missed it entirely. This should be interesting–it’s essentially a local version of Foo Camp (or Bar Camp), held in an office building over a 26-hour span during the first weekend in November.

From the MindCamp website:

Seattle Mind Camp is a self-organizing, digitally minded, entrepreneur-driven, overnight Seattle confab. What happens when you put 150 of Seattle’s smartest geeks in an empty office building for 24 hours? We’re not sure either, but we’d like to find out. It’s time to meet and connect with those involved in the interesting projects going on in Seattle in a relaxed environment.

What: A weekend, 24-hour, multi-track event. Think huge space with breakout rooms, broadband Wi-Fi, projectors, white boards - and you.

Who: 150 of Seattle’s forward thinkers: techies, entrepreneurs, executives, gamers, musicians, and anyone else with a great idea.

When: Mind Camp will take place on November 5-6

Why?: You know all those hallway conversations that never get to flourish during a “normal” conference? Now they will.

Seattle Mind Camp is completely free of charge, and registration will begin very soon. In the meantime, check out the About page for a little more information.

It looks like there are still a few spots left, but I doubt they’ll last very long.

Update: In the spirit of information spreading, I should probably mention Seattle Code Camp, which is happening this weekend. From looking at the code camp website, it looks a bit more organized, with pre-scheduled talks, and there seems to be a big Microsoft/C#/.NET focus on a lot of the events. There are a couple Perl/Linux sessions and an introduction to Ruby, as well as a pair of Cocoa/Objective C talks, but most of the content seems to be “cool new stuff in C#.” Which is fine, but it’s not really my sort of conference. MindCamp, on the other hand, seems to be drawing a more diverse crowd, with a number of open source people on the roster.

Posted by Scott Laird Fri, 21 Oct 2005 15:42:57 GMT


The train home

I made it home from Portland on Wednesday, but lost another day trying to catch up with the work the piled up while I was away from home. All in all, I’m reasonably happy with Amtrak’s Seattle-to-Portland line (“Amtrak Cascades”)–they were 15 minutes late on the southbound leg and 45 minutes late on the northbound leg, but that’s not any worse then I’d expect if I was driving. It’s a bit more expensive then paying for gas, but I get 3 or 4 hours of my life back; all in all it seems like a fair deal. Their business-class seats even come with power outlets.

So, I’ll probably stick with the train the next time I need to head to Portland.

Posted by Scott Laird Fri, 07 Oct 2005 23:46:11 GMT


High speed chase

I’m still in Portland, so I missed the news event at home yesterday–there was a high-speed chase that came within a mile or so of my house. That, in and of itself, doesn’t concern me much.

What is much more worrying is that the chase went through the park-and-ride in Bothell. That’s where I left my car yesterday when I headed to Portland. From the description of the chase, he almost certainly drove right past my car; hopefully it’s still okay. I guess I’ll find out this afternoon.

Posted by Scott Laird Wed, 05 Oct 2005 14:36:00 GMT


Changes in Direction

Yesterday was an interesting day–my now-former employer is restructuring “to support changes in direction and a new funding strategy,” so I’m now looking at new modes of employment, as are several former co-workers.

I’m viewing this as more of an opportunity to move on to new things, rather then a setback. I’ve spent quite a bit of time over the past few months thinking about what I wanted to do next, even though I didn’t expect this job to end quite so suddenly.

Here’s what I’ve decided:

  1. I don’t want to work on long, slow, multi-year projects. The world doesn’t work that way anymore. Agility is the future, and I’m not going to enjoy working for any company that takes years to bring a product to market.
  2. I want to work on things that I enjoy and challenge me, like Ruby and Rails.
  3. I want to spend less time commuting.
  4. I’d like the freedom to follow interesting trends and opportunities as they arise, for my own profit and the profit of those I work for.

With these goals in mind, I’ve decided to start looking for Rails consulting/contract work, although I’m also willing to consider full-time employment in the right environment. Please forgive a bit of shameless self-promotion:

My background is a combination of Unix system administration and programming; I’m very good at getting things to work and keeping them working. I’ve been programming professionally since 1988, I have 3 years of Ruby experience, over 6 months of Rails experience, and 13 years of Linux experience. I’m a major contributor to Typo, a Rails-based blog engine; I can easily provide code samples for those who are interested. I’ve written extensively about Typo, Rails, and Ruby here on my blog, feel free to look around. I was once the senior system administrator in charge of over 700 production Linux, BSD, and Solaris systems in a 24x7 environment; I can handle any level of system administration task that may be required.

Most importantly, I’m used to working with small groups of people to design effective, scalable, and affordable solutions to their problems.

Over the next few days I’ll post more details on this site, including a resume and some details on previous experiences. For now, if you have questions, please feel free to send me email, and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

Posted by Scott Laird Fri, 02 Sep 2005 02:26:00 GMT