I have two lines of work currently -- I'm a software developer and sysadmin at Sea Island Software, a small company that provides live hurricane data maps and visualizations to emergency managers working for local governments in tropical storm-prone areas. Currently, I'm re-writing the central data feed code to make it more flexible and to add some GIS features to it.
At the same time, I still provide some consulting services through my personal company, Sorrel Tree, which mostly has been in system administration and devops. My focus there is mostly helping small companies work towards getting their systems (primarily Linux) running in a more sane and manageable way. I've also worked on projects involving code analysis, geoinformatics, and some plain old desktop tech support. I've particularly enjoy working for fellow 804RVA members Richmond Analytics.
So, most of the time when I'm at 804, I either have my head in Python code or I'm bashing away on a Terminal window.
How did you find out about 804RVA, or who introduced you?
Google. I wanted a coworking space in Richmond with a good vibe. Found it!
What challenges you most about your industry or craft?
On of the most simultaneously rewarding and challenging things about the kind of work I do is how much continuous exploration it requires to keep an understanding of how the tools I use work and when to use them. It's rewarding because it means that there's a lot of value in trying out new tools and reading about new ways of doing things, which I really enjoy.
The downside of that is that sometimes I'm on a limited schedule and a budget, and I really need to get a problem solved, but I'll end up spending weeks trying to make one solution work and end up having to throw all of that away and start over. In the long run, I find that time always ends up being worth it, when that experience means that I can solve a major problem in under an hour with some technique I've learned, but it makes it very hard to accurately estimate how long things will take. It's also a blow to my sense of work ethic, productivity, and accomplishment when I spend weeks on a task and have nothing to show for it.
However, given the rate at which technology changes and the complexity inherent in solving complex computing problems, I don't know of any better way to stay current. Seminars, talks, and meetups are good, but nothing beats hands-on tinkering.
What do you enjoy most about being a member of the Wolfpack?
(As I always note, a lifelong UNC Tar Heels fan cannot in good conscience call himself a member of a "Wolfpack," but that aside...) For both Sorrel Tree and Sea Island Software, I spend a lot of time working by myself trying to solve problems. It is an enormous help to have other developers and Linux users both in person at the coworking space and on the Slack channels to bounce ideas off of and vent frustrations. Beyond that, the general industriousness and atmosphere of productivity always helps an attention deficit-stricken brain like mine stay on task and push through tough projects.
What's one interesting, funny or weird fact no one knows about you?
A year after I was born, the hospital I was born in closed and was converted to a public, statewide, residential magnet school called the North Carolina School of Science in Mathematics, which I attended and graduated from. I had biology classes on the floor where the maternity ward used to be. Go Unicorns! (Yes, that's actually our mascot.)