2 Gallons of Milk

I visit grocery stores daily, just in hope of what I might find. Today I was thrilled to find a few gallons of milk, I bought two because we’ve rationed out what little we had at home for days. I found a loaf of overpriced bread that my kids might eat. We’ll see. No fresh meat, yet. I was happy to see some fresh fruits and vegetables. I even found beef stock and some clean frozen vegetables. Hope to find flour in a day or two so I don’t have to break open our emergency dry goods supply. 

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In-game Currency Income Tax

This is fascinating to me, but I’m a nerd.

Taxation of virtual currencies – particularly within video games – is an emerging revenue stream, one that the IRS is still clearly trying to figure out. Game engines are on the verge of becoming banks… actual banks. Guess what? That’s going to throw a whole new problem into their business model because it exposes them to something that their industry isn’t priced for: Office of the Comptroller of the Currency oversight.

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Boxing Day

In the U.K., Canada and elsewhere, the day after Christmas is “Boxing Day” where the service industry takes a day off to collect tips and it’s considered an official holiday. At least that’s what I’ve read.

In the U.S., “Boxing Day” is the day after Christmas that parents break down a ton of Amazon cardboard boxes and toy packaging in hopes that we can shove that shit into the trash cans in time for holiday-delayed trash pickup. Blue lid? Gray lid? Green lid? Fuckit! Pack it in! #HURRY

Pick Up the Phone First

When you receive “A File has been shared with you” email from a client you haven’t spoken to in a few months, pick up the phone and call him before clicking that link or flagging it as spam.

I called. My client’s exact words when answering the call were, “Aidan, don’t click on that link.” His phone was exploding and the SysAdmin was already scrambled to clean up the mess. I offered my assistance if he should need it, we had a good chuckle and wished each other well. The call was less than 30 seconds.

Benefit: virus not spread and now I’m back on my client’s radar when he reminds himself, “Oh, yeah, I need to have Aidan check on that thing that’s been nagging at me…”

Citronium is NOT Ibex

In 2014, I had a client named Todd. Todd was a friendly but socially awkward guy and we had done a fair share of business together in the past. He came to me with a new project that sounded interesting and we accepted the work. It was a civil issues project, focusing on local city ordinances and elections, allowing citizens to “upvote” issues that were important to them, all done via a mobile app. Todd would sell the reports back to the city, then the county, then the state. The project was partisan neutral and the reports would be available to anyone interested in purchasing a copy.

My company’s role would be to harvest massive amounts of data from various city and county websites and provide a back end to the mobile interface to collect user data and their upvotes for any given topic. We would also generate the reports. It was a lot of work because city websites are generally awful, without standards, lacking quality or any consistency whatsoever. At least back in 2014.

Another company would be creating the mobile app. They were known as Citronium. I interacted with their owner and a couple of their lead developers and engineers throughout the project. We were all making progress and were looking towards the impending launch date. Things were going well.

Not long before the launch date, Todd ran out of money and stiffed my company for more than a few thousand dollars. He did the same to Cintronium. The project halted and we all eventually went our separate ways.

The owner of Citronium contacted me a few months later and we chatted about collaborative projects as well as our options for what we could do with the existing codebase of the Meocracy project we essentially “owned” (my contract is crystal clear in this department) and we bounced a few ideas around.

Citronium asked if Ibex Data would represent them contractually here in the U.S. because they were losing sales by not having a domestic presence. You see, Citronium was based just outside of Moscow. Keep in mind this was still 2014.

I respectfully declined the invitation. Ibex has always been about hiring U.S.-based developers, engineers and designers. We have never hired offshore. This has always been a key tenet of my company so I couldn’t make an exception.

That was the last I heard from Citronium, at least until this weekend. I discovered while doing some “research” that Citronium had been using the address and one of the mobile phone numbers associated with my company as their own. While I’ve never received any mail or calls for them, their search engine presence along with my company’s information was nothing short of an alarming discovery. This was mostly SEO tactics, but if Russia-located Citronium appeared in search results above Ibex Data for our contact details, my company’s reputation was very likely damaged. It may have cost us any number of contracts over the years. It might also explain a few of the mysterious “thanks, but no thanks” declines I’ve received recently because my name is personally tied to both address and mobile details.

Now I have the miserable task of dealing with Google to try to disconnect their names from MY company and the reputation I’ve spent 10+ years solidifying.

The irony of the project and its participants in 2014 – in light of current political discussion – is not lost on me. I’m really glad I stuck to my guns and our core standards. But, damnit, I’ve got more important things to do today.

CNC for Fun and Profit

I walked into an aerospace manufacturing shop back in 1996 and introduced myself. I spent the next 8 months developing a paperless software solution for managing every detail of every part the shop built. From inspection reports, routing, treatments, to inventory. It was my first comprehensive solution that unexpectedly turned my career 90 degrees in a different direction.

I’m still helping them today. And 22 years later, their entire operation is still relying on what I built for them (with major updates along the way, of course).

As I was sweating buckets on their shop floor today, I recalled back when I worked at Boeing in Long Beach, managing all of the desktop computers for the C-17 division, as they were likely using the parts my client was manufacturing. There is a stark difference between the filthy, hot, shrapnel covered machine shop environment compared to the Foreign Object Damage (FOD) prevention obsession of the pristine assembly space for those aircraft with shiny painted and immaculate concrete floors and organized work spaces.

They are two sides of the same coin. I love both environments. I’m totally comfortable in either, minus the heat. Just need to step up my game on hand-coded CNC instructions to the skill level my client demands. You know, if I needed to go mill some robot parts.

Fun shit.

Bizarre interview moment, #38

Sitting in the conference room with the in-house recruiter who is whispering secrets about the company to me when the CEO enters. I stand, we shake hands and exchange pleasantries, and he then stares at me, emotionless, for 1…2…3…4… seconds, then sits.

I sit and smile, looking to the recruiter to direct the conversation or at least make the first move. Instead? Silence. I guess this is my meeting to run, then. Ok, I launch with my understanding with where the product is at and the short term upscale trajectory that needs to deliver in nearly 60 days.

The CEO sat and just looked at me, mostly without emotion, for nearly 30 seconds. He scratched his nose (there’s a tell), rolled his head to look at the recruiter sitting next to him, and said nothing. Then he rolled his head back towards me and waited for at least another 10 seconds and said, “You look different than your picture.”

After 30 minutes of rambling questions that were really nothing more than an opportunity for the CEO to speak, he departs and another gentleman enters. A COO of some sort. Suddenly, we’re engaged. Hard hitting questions with no nonsense answers about leadership, tough decisions and managing the unique personalities of a diverse development team struggling with an antiquated code base. This is my realm! Yes!!

At one point he asked how comfortable I would be doing a code review of software written in PHP v4. I deadpanned my expression and paused while waking up some neurons from 15 years ago.

“Bring it. That’s ancient but so am I.”

We talked for nearly 2 hours. He had to run having gone grossly over schedule. The recruiter had been fighting to stay awake throughout it all as we went deep on the tech. Once the COO left, the recruiter asked me, “you know who he was, right?”

“Yeah, James, the COO, right?”

“No,” he whispered, “That was James, this company’s founder and original developer.”

You Have the Gullible Virus

An associate of mine – who is not a technical person by any means – just called to let me know that Apple called him alerting him of a virus on his computer. The story just goes south from there in flames.

If you get a call like this, even if the number appears to come from Apple or Microsoft or Dell or anyone else, you are being scammed, victimized. Here’s what to do in the event someone says you have a virus and needs access to your computer:

Step 1: hang up.

End of scam.

Take Back Your Social Network

Start Taking Back Your Social Network in 3 Simple Steps:

1. Disable Notifications AND Location services – unless you’re using social media for your business, you do not need to be reminded to look at your mobile every 10 minutes, despite what advertisers think. Nor do you need to broadcast your location even while you’re not using an app. Your phone is already doing that for you.

2. Uninstall Messenger – this is the worst application and demands far too much access to your personal details. I installed it briefly and its constant nagging for access to my contacts list and demands to send me notifications just means that its gone, gone and gone.

3. Click the Remove button on every single “People You May Know” referral – I will write extensively about the problems with this part of the system later, but ultimately it does nothing to serve you.

There are further steps that can help ensure the best experience for you online, but these are the most significant to start reducing the noise that is flooding your feed and preventing you from connecting with the friends and family you came here for.