Looking back while moving forward

A little over the last two years of my live has been devoted to building, funding, and growing SimpleGeo. The experience was, without a doubt, life changing in many ways. It was a crash course in a bunch of disciplines that I knew little to nothing about. Managing clients, iterating on your product, sales, business development, raising money from investors, etc. were all wide open holes in need to my attention and input. It goes without saying that this was not an easy endeavor.

Along with being constantly challenged and learning new things, I was fortunate enough to work with some of the brightest engineers in Silicon Valley. While at SimpleGeo I saw them build a patent-pending distributed graph database built on top of theory that had not been implemented yet in the real world. At scale no less. The operations team built an infrastructure that was scarily automated and resistant to failure. So much so that the SimpleGeo engineers get regular calls to talk about how we did it all on top of AWS.

On October 31st, we announced that we’d been acquired by Urban Airship. I’m extremely excited to see what the combined teams cook up in the coming months. Having locationally aware push notifications is going to allow businesses to engage with their customers in ways they’ve never dreamed. Additionally, I know SimpleGeo’s world class engineering team will be able to help the new company build features at scale that the competition won’t be able to match. The best is truly yet to come from this company and I’m sure Scott Kveton will be a great shepherd moving forward.

As for me, I’ve decided to move on post-acquisition. I need to step away from the echo chamber and spend time focusing on what is important to me in general; not just professionally. To that end, my lovely lady and I have bought an RV and plan on touring around the Southwest this winter. I’d like to visit as many incubators and coworking places as possible. So if you’re in the Southwest and want me to swing by and say hello, please drop me a line on Twitter or via email.

Onward and upwards.

25 Things

  1. I love all green vegetables except peas. 
  2. I own a very large male cat. His name is Crash and, no, you can’t have him.
  3. I’ve participated in a (recreational) sailboat race. 
  4. I’ve been to Thailand twice.
  5. I have one full sleeve tattoo and one 2/3 sleeve tattoo. One is all machine (gun) and the other was all done with bamboo (hand pump).
  6. I’ve lived in California, Washington, Montana, Wyoming and Michigan.
  7. I used to dream of being a fighter pilot. Instead, I code websites and my cousin Gino is a Top Gun pilot in the Navy.
  8. I was in a fraternity in college. Not only was I IFC President, but I was also my chapter President, Chapter President of the Year, Greek Man of the Year, and a Harvey C. Dent Man of the Year finalist for Sigma Tau Gamma. This amuses my West Coast friends to no end.
  9. My mom, a hairdresser, cut my hair until I left for college with the single exception of a flat top I got in elementary school.
  10. I’ve had two major surgeries as a result of sport-related injuries: ACL reconstruction on my right knee and back surgery to alleviate a herniated disc.
  11. My first pet was a dog named Daisy. 
  12. I’ve been snowboarding for about 12 or 13 years now. My first board was a unidirectional K2 board. 
  13. My degree is actually a Bachelor’s in Business Administration. This drastically reduces my geek credentials in the eyes of some of my peers.
  14. I do not own a TV and have not for many years now. I don’t have cable either. Nor any sort of gaming platform (unless my MacBook Pro or iPhone counts).
  15. I’ve participated in three triathlons (two sprints and one Olympic).
  16. I’ve never written a large production application in anything other than PHP to date. This will change in the next few months when my first Python+Django project launches.
  17. I’ve spoken at many conferences you’ve never heard of, including one in front of over 1,000 people. Doing so does not bother me.
  18. I have a fetish for bikes.
  19. I still chat with my high school sweetheart, one of my college girlfriends and my ex-wife regularly. I consider them some of my closest confidants and friends.
  20. I have a little brother that looks so much like me that my fraternity brothers called him “Mini Me” and he’d get stopped on campus by people asking, “Are you Joe Stump’s little brother?”
  21. I have good friends I’ve never met in person. This doesn’t mean they’re not good friends though. 
  22. I brush my teeth in the shower.
  23. I wish I had the time and/or skills to learn to play the guitar. 
  24. Despite taking years of Spanish classes and conversational Spanish courses I’m horrible at speaking it, but can follow conversations and am decent and deciphering written text.
  25. I greatly dislike the color red.

Year in Review

  1. The end of 2008 marks the end of my first year as Digg’s Lead Architect. In that time we’ve rewritten the majority of the site using frameworks that I built. We’re currently rewriting the underlying data access layer to be horizontally partitioned, elastic, services oriented and multi-homed.
  2. In early January, Digg Images launched and, with it, the result of months of work resulting in a completely rewritten submission framework for Digg. This project resulted in me writing and releasing Net_Gearman. I consider this project to be some of my best work at Digg.
  3. In early January I snuck off to Vail for one last snowboarding trip before back surgery. It was on this trip that I finally became comfortable with Western black diamonds, including an awkward drop off of an 8+ foot precipice into 3+ feet of fluffy powder.
  4. On January 23rd, 2008 I went in for back surgery. Two hours after surgery I was up and walking around without a hint of sciatica or back pain. I can’t thank Dr. Fred Naraghi enough for what I view as a second chance at life.
  5. 2008 will be known as the Year of the Conferences for me. I spoke at Future of Web Apps in Miamion a panel at SXSW on scaling websitesMySQL Conference on Services Oriented Architecture, Web 2.0 Expo in New York City, Future of Web Apps in London with Blaine Cook, Future of Web Design on the friction between developers and designers, and Q-Con in San Francisco on Digg’s architecture.
  6. The summer brought another bout of triathlon training. Along with my friend Mark Lewandowski, I trained for my first Olympic distance triathlon, which I ended up finishing in 2 hours, 50 minutes and change. As part of our training Mark and I also did a 72 mile bike race around Lake Tahoe. The race included 3,900 feet of vertical gain over 72 miles and is, without a doubt, the most challenging endurance race of my life. I finished the race in 4 hours, 15 minutes and change.
  7. In June I was elected to the PEAR Group, which is the governing board of my favorite PHP project.
  8. In early September I launched PleaseDressMe with my friends AJ and Gary Vaynerchuk. The site continues to gain traction in the tshirt arena and is, to date, my most successful side project.
  9. In October Aubrey, Kevin and I went on a whirlwind tour of Europe that included Oktoberfest in Munich, London, and Amsterdam.
  10. November brought big news at Digg with the hire of my friend and release manager for PHP6, Andrei Zmievski, as Digg’s first Open Source Fellow.
  11. November also brought about me finally diving into Python and Django for a side project. I’ve built an API for iPhone games that my friend Garren and I plan on releasing soon. More on this to come.
  12. December brought another trip to Thailand with my good friend Chris Lea. We’d originally planned to do Thailand, Cambodia and either Laos or Vietnam, however the islands of Koh Phangan and Koh Samui had other ideas. I type this sitting on Haad Lamai on Koh Samui. So far it’s been an epic trip with highlights including New Year’s Eve on Haad Rin Nok and a trip back to Haad Rin Nok tomorrow for another Full Moon Party.

This year I’m going to follow the year in cities theme that so many other blogs follow because I feel I really have done a ridiculous amount of travel this year.

  • San Francisco, CA
  • Miami, FL
  • Austin, TX
  • San Diego, CA
  • Seattle, WA
  • Vail, CO
  • East Jordan, MI
  • New York, NY
  • Munich, Germany
  • London, United Kingdom
  • Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Bangkok, Thailand
  • Haad Leela, Koh Phangan, Thailand
  • Haad Lamai, Koh Samui, Thailand

I’m going to start a new theme here today. Below is my year in open source software. This is a list of projects I’ve released publicly and/or have contributed to. I’m not sure how many lines of code this is, but this is, by far, my most prolific year in FOSS contributions.

Year in Review

  1. I started the year announcing that I’d taken a position at Digg.com as a software developer.
  2. In January I found out that my nagging back injury was a herniated disc. I’ll be starting out this year by going under the knife to get it fixed. More on that to come I’m sure.
  3. I finished all of my renovations on my condo in Seattle just in time to move down to San Francisco in February to start working at Digg.com.
  4. In March Rebecca and I broke up. She’s now living in Antarctica (how crazy is that?!). Around the same time I turned 27.
  5. In April I booked a plane ticket bound for Bangkok, Thailand. It would have been my first international trip of my life.
  6. I also began a love affair with test driven development in April.
  7. In May I attended Google Developer Day 2007 and blogged the whole thing.
  8. I launched correlate.us in May.
  9. In late June my first major project at Digg, the new comments system, launched to much fanfare. Note the sarcasm in my voice. We’re currently planning on redoing the comment system.
  10. On June 18th I flew up to Seattle to help John and Carly celebrate their wedding. Due to Garren and I’s shenanigans from the night before it was a rough day for me, but I made it through and will soon join John and Garren in Vail for some snowboarding.
  11. In early July I bet Kevin that I could write an iPhone version of Digg in less than 48 hours. Being the hater he is he said I couldn’t and said he’d buy me an 8GB iPhone if I could. I did. I wrote up a review like everyone else about the single greatest consumer electronics device created in the past decade.
  12. Around this time my alma mater fired long time friend and beloved faculty member, Jim Vick, over the cover up of the murder of student Laura Dickinson.
  13. In September my long time best friend, Dorkboy, was married in Ann Arbor, MI. I served as the Best Man, a title I still find unfitting. Considering it was me serving the post it should have been World’s Greatest Buddy or simply The Guy Who’ll Probably End Up Drinking Too Much Beer and Slurring His Speech. Much to Dorkboy and Mrs. Dorkboy’s relief I kept things together and delivered the world’s shortest and sweetest best man’s speech.
  14. In October Kevin talked me into flying out to London, England for FOWA. I visited many of the normal sites along with a day trip up to Stone Henge.
  15. In November I took a two week trip to Thailand. I spent four nights in Bangkok and seven nights in Koh Phangan. I had a great time and can’t recommend visiting that country enough.
  16. In late December Garren and I took a trip up to Whistler for some fun in the snow. Whistler didn’t disappoint. I spent the last day in about 1 – 2 feet of powder on Blackcomb’s aptly named 7th Heaven.
  17. I rang in New Year’s Eve with friends in Portland.

I'm employee #20 at Digg

It’s official. As of today I’m employee #20 at Digg. I sent in my resume in September fully expecting not to hear back, but over the course of the last few months it became apparent I was being considered for a position. I didn’t think much of it after not hearing from them for almost a month, but Brian Link sent me an email around the first of the year which turned out to be an official offer.

For those of you that don’t know, Digg is the 19th most visited site on the internet in the United States. It serves up more traffic than Wal-Mart, the New York Times or Best Buy. So, as you can imagine, I’m pretty excited about this opportunity. I’ll be arriving in San Francisco somewhere towards the beginning of February. If you’re in the area and would like to get pints please let me know.

Taking the job means that I won’t be doing any contract work and my open source projects will most likely sit idle for the time being. If you’re interested in maintaining Framework or any of my PEAR packages please let me know.

Year in Review

  1. I started the year by telling everyone that Lauren and I were ending our marriage.
  2. I visited Dana down in San Diego, CA. The first of two trips to see my good friend and eat copious amounts of burritos.
  3. In February I released Framework and DB_Virtual unto the world. Not much rejoicing ensued, but many people are using the software and apparently quite happy with it.
  4. I found out that I have a herniated L5 disc in my back, which has happily escalated into full blown Sciatica.
  5. On March 14th Lauren and I were officially divorced. On March 15th I celebrated my 26th birthday.
  6. In April I attended MySQL UC and blogged the whole thing.
  7. I bought a road bike and started riding a lot.
  8. I ran in my very first 5k logging a time of 0:27:29.0.
  9. In July I declared Operation Fat Ass a success and started training for my first sprint triathlon.
  10. I bought the love of my life.
  11. Towards the end of August I ran in another 5k in Lynnwood logging a time of 23:44, which was good enough for 3rd place in my age division (20-29 Males) and 12th out of a field of 77.
  12. On September 17th, 2006 I participated in the Kirkland Tri-It Sprint Triathlon. I ended up taking first place out of the beginner’s heat with a time of 1:19:40.
  13. I pulled double duty and flew down to San Diego a scant two weeks later to participate in the Jamba Juice Sprint Triathlon. This time I placed 450th out of 1,480 participants with a time of 1:06:30.
  14. In late October I flew back to Michigan to attend Eastern Michigan University’s homecoming festivities.
  15. In early November my employment at Enotes.com came to a close. I haven’t mentioned this until now, but I’m no longer working for Enotes.com and am currently doing consulting for a number of clients.
  16. I spent Christmas and rang in the New Year with Rebecca in Seattle, WA.
  17. Towards the end of December my Sciatica found its stride and now keeps me from doing the most minimal of tasks.

All your life are belong to the Intarweb

I’ve been thinking about the Internet and, especially, craigslist lately. Since moving out to Seattle I’ve relied heavily on both to form new friendships and find new things to do. This is a brief list of how the internet has affected my life recently.

  • The whole reason I moved to Seattle was because I met Brad, the proprietor of eNotes.com, LLC found me via an article I wrote.
  • My closest friends in Seattle are Garren, John and Andrew were all met in one way or another through craigslist.
  • I’ve disc golfed, snowboarded, ran, walked, talked and drank with numerous people I’ve met from craigslist.
  • I’ve gone on a few dates from craigslist. I won’t bore you with the details, but let’s just say dating in Seattle sucks.
  • I’m going to Sasquatch with a girl who just moved here from Florida and was looking for a ride.

It’s really staggering now that I think about it. There isn’t a single person that I can think of that I interact with daily here in Seattle that I didn’t meet online somehow.

Birthday Mystery

As I pointed out in a previous post, my birthday was on March 15th. I turned the ripe old age of 26 and had a good time doing so. At any rate, a few days ago I check my mail and find a birthday card which was postmarked from Columbus, OH. All it says is “Happy 26th! Jason”. I know three Jasons and none of them would be likely to send me a birthday card and I know for a fact that two of them don’t live anywhere near Columbus, OH. The only thing I can think is that someone who visits this site sent it to me.

If that’s the case then please send me an email to so I can thank you for the card.

March 14th, 2006

That’s when it’s all over and Lauren and I will officially be no more in the eyes of the law. It’s at this point I’d like to lament the divorce laws of Washington for making a couple of young kids wait months before finalizing everything. Seriously, it’s just stupid.

The next day, March 15th, is my birthday. I’ll be turning the ripe old age of 26. 30 is right around the corner. A few days later I’ll be at a local Irish pub enjoying green beer in celebration of the fact that I was not named Patrick as my parents had planned if I had been born on March 17th.

Other than the upcoming busy week things are going fairly well. I have lots of work sitting in front of me, we move facilities and started upgrading some of our equipment and I’m kicking myself for not hitting 24 inches of fresh powder with Garren at Stephen’s Pass yesterday. Oh well, at least it’s sunny out today.

Pistons beat the buzzer

Billups and Wallace at the scorer's table

On Friday I ventured down to Key Arena with Lauren. The deal was that if she couldn’t find someone to go to the game with then we’d go together. As luck would have it my boss was there with a friend as well sitting in the first row with four empty seats next to him. I think everyone knows where this is going. Lauren and I were able to make our down to the first row at center court. In the picture above you’ll see Chauncey Billups and Rasheed Wallace each sitting about 8 feet away from us and the guy in the white shirt is Bill Laimbeer.

Josh, this is the point where you ball up in the fetal position as the only response to your overwhelming sense of jealousy and rage at the fact you weren’t there with me drinking a beer and sitting in the awe that is Hamilton hitting a buzzer beater with 0.2 seconds left on the clock.