2013 Annual Review

Annual review

This annual review is inspired by many others I’ve seen floating around in the past few days. It’s a personal analysis of:

  1. What went well this year?
  2. What didn’t go so well this year?
  3. What am I working toward?

What went well this year

Married life. In April, Leita and I had an amazing wedding at Arcosanti, and a wonderful honeymoon in Bali. Not much can top that, except possibly…

Baby Otto on his way. In just a few weeks, we’ll meet our boy Otto, named after my grandfather. Getting ready for his arrival has been so much fun. I’m very excited to get to know him. I’ve had some practice in being a father because of our amazing…

Daughters. Maria and Greta were part of the package in marrying Leita, and while we’ve had a strong bond, this year the girls and I have become even more comfortable with each other. They’re amazing, even if they try to distract me from my…

Work. SitePen had a strong year, and our amazing team accomplished so much! From releasing Intern and regularly updating dgrid, to delivering developer, support and training services for our wonderful customers, and for many fun things we’ve been working on that we have not released yet. A busy year also meant a lot of…

Travel. Probably too much, but in addition to Bali, we took family trips to San Diego and Santa Monica. Work took me to:

  • London, England (twice)
  • Mumbai and Pune, India
  • Ottawa, Toronto, and London, Canada
  • Bangkok, Thailand
  • Seoul, South Korea
  • San Jose, San Francisco, Palm Springs, Redlands, Scottsdale, and Pittsburgh, USA

This was thankfully fewer trips than in past years, and was made easier by Global Entry and TSA PreCheck. I also managed to avoid

Conferences. I made it a goal this year to only attend conferences and meetup groups that were either local, or were taking place while I was already away for a business trip. This gave me more time to

Code. The past few years were rather busy, and this year I was able to shake some rust off of my development skills, and learn many new tricks and technologies, and make some decent contributions to Dojo.

Meditation. I’ve been doing a daily meditation since 2012, and I really enjoy those few moments a day.

What Didn’t Go So Well?

Dojo. While the project is successful, we did not make as much progress on Dojo 2.0 as I would have hoped we would make this year.

Fitness. After an amazing few years of fitness, I spent most of this year recovering from shoulder surgery late in 2012. It’s been a slow recovery, and I’m not as fit as I would like.

Organize. I’m more than a year behind on organizing my travel photos, for example.

What am I working toward?

Fatherhood. Being the best father I can be, and enjoying it from day 1.

Husband. Continuing to be the best husband I can be to Leita, always.

Dojo. Get 2.0 shipped, and make many improvements.

Fitness. Work back to where I was two years ago with regards to fitness and yoga.

Clarity. Continue to improve my clarity in thought and communication, and continue my meditation efforts.

Travel. Travel less, but make sure the travel that is done is high quality and enjoyable. And get those travel photos in order!

Work. Continue to grow SitePen and make progress on all of the things, with our amazing team.

Halvtone: Dojo-created art

I was very excited to learn about Halvtone, a new Dojo-based platform for creating art from photos.

As one of the founders of Dojo, it’s especially neat to see something you’ve created be used by others to create very interesting products.

I had to have my own Dojo created art, so I ordered a simple family photo, which we now hang prominently near our doorway. The product is normally only available in Germany without a special order, so I reached out to the excellent team at Halvtone, and was able to have one shipped to the US! it’s a really interesting, abstract view of our family.

Here are a few photos of the newest member of our art collection (it’s the one on the top right):

On April 7, we spent an amazing day at the former home of Louis XIV. High school history classes would have been far more interesting living in Europe. I wrote a report on the Sun King back in 10th grade. The palace, jardins, and more were the most lavish I’ve ever seen in my travels. It was a very chilly day, but we walked throughout the day, covering all corners of Versailles.

We returned to Paris in the late afternoon to do some shopping. We ended up at La Grande Épicerie de Paris the day before Easter, in a mad dash of people seeking gourmet food before the shops were closed for the holiday. We had a nice dinner at Chez Clement near Saint Michel, and then headed back to our flat late in the evening to rest before beginning part 2 of our museum pass adventure on Sunday.

In 2009 or 2010, I purchased a 3G internet stick from T-Mobile, which connects via your USB port to a laptop computer to get internet access over the cellular data network. In late 2010, I upgraded my Mac OS version from Leopard to Snow Leopard, and the device stopped functioning.

In April 2011, I went to the T-Mobile store and was sold a replacement stick that would work with Snow Leopard, and was assured it would work with OS X Lion. I agreed to a new contract and received an updated device.

In late 2011, I upgraded to Lion, and my internet stick failed to connect to the internet. I searched for months online looking for a workaround, none of which were successful. After many months of patience and frustration and paying $60/month to not get the service I expected, I contacted T-Mobile and requested a cancelation. I was told that the $250 early cancelation fee could not be waived, even though the device I was provided was likely to never work on OS X Lion or Mountain Lion. I was told to write a letter to T-Mobile’s customer care department (yes, a mobile phone company asked me to write a letter, the irony of which I’ll leave to you).

I wrote a letter requesting that my account be credited for the many months of unused service, since T-Mobile had no intention of living up to its end of the agreement (you know, selling a device that actually works when users logically upgrade their operating system). T-Mobile responded by misspelling my name, and saying no, and telling me I could transfer my account to someone else if I wanted. As if I would force a friend to take over this service.

I wrote another letter, suggesting that they could either cancel my account and refund me for the unusable time, or they could send me a new Mi-Fi device at no additional cost, and I would then continue paying until the end of the agreement.

Their response basically said, no, we didn’t read your email, we won’t waive the cancelation fee, and here’s an updated amount that you must pay us. Their letter shows a complete lack of even understanding the problem.

So, I’ve now paid >$700 for internet service that does not work, T-Mobile has no intention of making the device they sold in 2011 work with software released in 2011 or 2012, and they believe they are not responsible for anything, and that I am in breach of my agreement.

I see it otherwise, but I’ve had zero success getting anywhere with T-Mobile’s Customer “Care” department. Am I wrong to expect T-Mobile to make their device work with the recent versions of Mac OS X? I cannot imagine they would not provide updated software for Windows 8 for example. Or if I’m in the right, what should I do, as it’s not like this is a large enough expense to file a lawsuit?

As too often seems to be the case, I start off with great intentions on these trips, and then end up with a bunch of unfinished trip blogs as the trip gets busier.

So, I’ll spend a few posts recapping some of the highlights:

April 4

April 5

  • Day trip to Carcassonne! Leita and I love playing the board game/iPhone app, and this medieval castle and town did not disappoint. The view of the Pyrenees on the train ride did not disappoint either.

April 6

  • The conclusion of the Web-5 event had some great talks, in particular one by Christophe Jolif. PEM and the entire Web-5 crew did a great job organizing their first event, especially with a French air traffic control strike closing the nearest airport the day before the event was set to start.
  • We then took the train back to Paris, and checked into our flat in Montmartre. We had an excellent dinner at Au Relais and walked around near Sacré CÅ“ur

April 4th is the start of the Web-5 conference in Béziers, so on April 3rd we took the train to Paris. We’re happy we didn’t fly, as there’s a strike today in France by the air traffic controllers for the smaller airports.

We started by having breakfast (croissant, baguette, espresso, juice, etc.) at an amazing cafe, and walking around near Gare de Lyon. We then rushed over to the Montparnasse Tower… it was a sunny but hazy day, and with rain in the forecast, we decided it would be our best option to get a nice view of the city. The city did not disappoint, and we captured some nice photos of the city, and of course the Eiffel Tower.

tous à bord. We then took a nice train ride to Béziers, seeing a large section of the French countryside. The sun turned to rain by the time we arrived. After checking into our hotel, we did a quick trip around Béziers to see the Cathedral Saint Nazaire and a view of the L’orb river and the Pont Vieux bridge. We found another cafe before an amazing dinner with the conference speakers. It was great catching up with Robert Nyman, PEM, Sam Foster, Chris Barrett, and others at the event.

Photos to follow…

Arrivé à Paris

After 15+ hours of cars, planes, and trains, we arrived in Paris on April 2nd, for one night at least before heading to Béziers. We managed to avoid a variety of potential travel delays and arrived on-time for everything. We had a quick stop in London at the BA first class lounge to recharge a bit after the 10 hour flight from Phoenix, then a short hop to Paris. We then hopped on the RER B to get into Paris, and the RER D to end up at our hotel near Gare de Lyon.

We had a surprising amount of energy, so we took a short stroll that ended up lasting about 4 hours and many miles around the Seine. Some highlights from this walking tour:

  • Started at Gare de Lyon and walked through the Marais region
  • Large Juliet statue near the Bastille metro station
  • Through the Place des Vosges right before it closed
  • The typical amazing French architecture and museums throughout this area
  • Excellent galette at Creperie Suzette
  • Walked past the Pompidou Centré
  • Some amazing graffiti near an older cathedral
  • Excellent building (hotel or theatré?) lit up in blue
  • Notre Dame cathedral and the Cité
  • Saint-Michel and the left bank
  • … and so much more…

Photos to follow when I find a more stable internet connection.

Bon Voyage

Today begins the start of our two-week journey to Béziers, Paris, London, and Rouen!

Phoenix to London

TripIt Overview

There are many reasons for this trip:

  • Web-5 conference invite. I’m invited to deliver the opening keynote on April 4th
  • Leita’s French heritage. This is her first ever trip to France!
  • London Ajax User Group. I helped start this group when I was living part-time in London, now I’m back to deliver a pair of talks with James Thomas about AMD, and to show Leita a few highlights of London.
  • A Fun Vacation. It’s been many years since I took a vacation where I wasn’t trying to work every moment that I wasn’t checking out a tourist site.
  • And more…

We’re starting our journey on British Airways, in the lovely Club World. As the only airline with a non-stop flight to Europe, we’re lucky enough to have seats on the upper deck in part due to my about to expire BA Gold status. We then have a short flight across the channel to Paris. To get to Béziers, Rouen, and back to London, we’re taking the train so we can see more of the French countryside.

To make this trip as amazing for Leita as possible, we did far more advanced preparation than normal: travel books (mostly Rick Steve’s) an extensive TripIt itinerary, French 1 lessons from Pimsleur, a museum pass, train tickets, etc. We found a cute little flat to stay at in the Montmarte region of Paris via AirBnb.

We’ve been careful to plan without over planning the trip, by giving ourselves many ideas and options, but leaving plenty of time open for random strolls and cafes. And we’ve managed to pack pretty lightly so we’re not lugging massive suitcases on the various trains.

We leave tonight!

Upcoming Dojo Talks

Conference season is in full swing. Here are some upcoming events where I’ll be attending and/or speaking:

  • ESRI Dev Summit. Palm Springs, CA, March 26-29, 2012. I’ll deliver a talk on Dojo, as well as a 1-day Dojo Workshop. There’s also a golf tournament!
  • Web-5. Béziers, France, April 4-6, 2012. I’ll deliver the opening keynote on Modular, Mobile, and Reinventing Web App Development. There’s also an event with a local wine maker, and promises of stinky French cheese.
  • London Ajax. London, England, April 10, 2012. When I lived in London, I helped start the London Ajax User Group. I’ll be back to deliver a pair of talks on AMD with James Thomas as a warm-up act for our upcoming IBM Impact session. As is typical in London, the talks are simply the opener to a lively discussion to follow at a local pub.
  • Phoenix Mobile Festival. Tempe, Arizona, April 21, 2012. It used to be incredibly difficult to find web events in Phoenix, but with JSConf and more happening in Scottsdale, this is the year to be here. Not sure if I’ll be speaking yet, or just attending this event.
  • IBM Impact. Las Vegas, Nevada. April 29-May 4, 2012. I’ll be delivering Star Search: Dojo 2.0 and HTML 5 on May 1 at 10:45am, and Beyond Dojo: The Rise of Asynchronous Module Definition (AMD) on May 3 at 8:45am. On May 2nd, there’s also an unconference, for which I’ve proposed Socket to me! WebSocket and Dojo’s Socket API.

A busy couple of months for sure. I hope to meet you at one or more of these events!

Random nutshell thoughts through the end of the stay in Antibes, France.

ClubWorld 747 vs. 777

I much prefer BA’s 747 over the 777 I flew on, simply because the upper deck experience is so much more quiet and calm, and you have more space around your seat.

Duty Free

Heathrow airport has to be the only place where the prices of products sold is the same or even less than shopping in the city. I’ll never understand the duty free scheme.

Arriving in Nice and Antibes

I had no idea what to expect, and no idea how amazing Antibes would be. I took far too many photos, so here’s a random sampling.

The view from breakfast, thanks to the incredible Robbins family for being amazing hosts at their villa:

Incredible sunsets are common, and these pictures do not do them justice:

I spent most of my days walking, running, and swimming along this path:

Antibes has an amazing Marche, among many other great buildings:

SFR and iPhone data fail

SFR was my worst experience ever in trying to get a reasonable data plan and SIM for an unlocked 3G iPhone. Several visits to their store, 40 euros spent, and I ended up with 11 minutes of phone time and unlimited data for 24 hours, and no way to really resolve this. Next time I’ll choose Orange, I just couldn’t find their store.


Cannes was amazing, though I prefer Antibes. Cannes is somewhere between Santa Monica and Dubai in terms of chaos and luxury. So much of it has inspired the California experience. I had amazing sushi with Matt and Zanete.

Live Music

Matt, Isabelle, and I went to a short concert in the basement of a random pub in Antibes. The band played a mix of modern and classic rock, with the lead vocalist having a decent voice, and switching up his intros between English and French. Matt is a dancing machine.

Katara Yacht

The world’s tenth largest yacht was docked in Antibes. Insanely large.

Perfect Food

An amazing selection of food, from baguettes to amazing poulet to sushi to other French classics. My palette was more than satisfied. Fortunately we walked and ran and swam as much as possible.

Dojo Beer

Had a chance to see Ben again, and also meet PEM and his colleague from doyousoft.

Difficult to Leave

The most difficult part of Antibes was leaving. I really did not want to have to get up and go on to London. If it wasn’t for the London Ajax Mobile Event the next day, I might have missed my flight.

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