The Times They Are A Changing

Wow, it’s been almost three years since I blogged about anything here.  I feel just a little bit bad about that, but honestly, it’s been a pretty busy time for me.  My last post was about Alternatives to Relational Databases … yep, I’ve definitely been in that world for a while now.  Back then, I was just starting to scratch the surface on what NoSQL even was.  Looking at that post, now I realize I didn’t know nearly enough on the subject.  Today, I can say I have a firm grasp of it.  The last three years has had me building out Cassandra nodes in Amazon’s AWS on a daily basis.

But as the blog title implies, the times, they are a changing.  I’ve finally made the decision to leave all my comfortableness at Expedia and leap into a new position at a new place.  Today, I’m a Staff Database Architect for American National.  It’s an insurance company that’s been around for almost 110 years, so it’s got LOTS of data.  Which I love, because a huge volume of data is what really gets me interested.  The other thing that gets me interested is how that data is being used.  They have a really forward thinking CIO in place that is putting a heavy emphasis on leveraging that data in new ways.  So it sounded like a pretty exciting place to make my next career chapter.

But what’s really in a title?  I kinda wondered the same thing.  I know what a Database Architect means, but “Staff”?  I’ve heard of Associate/Junior/Senior/Principal as job prefixes, but Staff is a new one for me.  I did some google-ing on the subject and didn’t really find anything.  Turns out, Staff is just American National’s top prefix in a job stack.  So, that has me feeling pretty good about myself and my ability to network/interview/negotiate a career change.  But, of course, now I have to fill those shoes.  Look for more blog posts later as I get into the bowels of new projects.

PCI training equals lessons in how to hack

Today at work, all developers were required to take an all-day training in PCI. This is the second such session that I’ve attended since I was hired. It’s all very interesting to learn about, however, it really boils down to hacking. They are teaching us all the methods that we (our websites) can be hacked. The surprising part is how much my co-workers already know about how to attack a site. We discussed how we would attack something and then talked about the pros and cons for each type. All in all, great way to spend a day at work.

New addition to the family

It’s been entirely too long since my last post.  The last time I posted I had just started my new job and was blogging about the experience and silly setup reminders for myself.  It’s been about 9 months and I am still loving Expedia!  I have a great management team supporting me.  And they like to have fun; the company held an off-site in Las Vegas, at the Palazzo for three days.  It really is the most challenging and rewarding position I’ve had in my career.  However, outside of work, I’ve had a lot going on, to say the least.

In January, we welcomed our 4th child into our family.  She has been keeping us all very busy.  Now that she’s 7 weeks old now, she is just starting to smile and coo a bit.  I just wanted to share a quick picture of one of those rare moments that her face just lit up.

Besides the birth, we recently listed our home for sale.  It’s surprisingly difficult to fit a family of six into a three bedroom house.  We’ve also discovered that having four children causes you to outgrow vehicles as well.  :)  Guess I’ll be shopping for a large SUV soon (or maybe a short bus, HA).

If that wasn’t enough, I’ve also been finishing up about a year long contract for some Business Intelligence software for a company in the SW US.  With an extra 15-20 hours / week, it will be a needed relief to have it finalized.  It’s a Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) front end, C# middle, connecting to SQL Server database warehouse.  I have to say I’ve really enjoyed developing WPF over Windows Forms.  Working with XAML, the development cycle went very quickly.

Looking to the future, I have to admit, I’ve already got my next project lined up.  I’m going online for this one and tackling the MVC pattern.  Stay tuned.  It should be a fun experience as I’m going to try to adopt the 37signals way of simple design.  Their REWORK book has been bouncing around my head for a while now and I’d like to start a new project with it in mind.

Won a PluralSight Subscription

Tonight, at my local .NET User’s Group meeting, I was lucky enough to win a 1-year subscription to PluralSight On-Demand!  The subscription was one of the give-aways that the group was doing.  I am really fortunate to have won it, too.  With my new job that focuses on Database side of development, I’ve been getting a little rusty at my coding skillset.  The standard subscription lets me have full access to over 70 .NET Courses, which is $499 value!  I guess I have one more thing to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.  I can’t wait to start watching the how-to videos and courses.  Thank you to my local .NET User’s Group for having awesome swag.