The Evacuation of Atlanta

Here we are again, 3 years later, with a massive (2 inch) snow storm, a crippled city infrastructure, and leaders who reacted too little and too late. While this is a sad, repeated story in our state, we witnessed something new unfold yesterday. As snow began to fall Tuesday mid morning, while a majority our suburban sprawl was concentrated in the city, we witnessed the first mass evacuation of Atlanta since the Civil War.  While I frolicked in the snow during my Midtown walk home and guiltily indulged in shaming OTP drivers with their cars in park, a slow realization dawned. If an event occurred like this again, to the point where I needed to leave the city, I would be trapped for days, or possibly weeks.

So I’m Trapped, Now What?

While I would love to shift blame on the city, or state, or the Cobb County Braves, I will refrain and focus on our responsibility, as citizens. Unlike our neighbors to the south, who learned a hard lesson in 2005 and are consistently reminded every hurricane season of the importance of mass evacuation and disaster preparedness, Atlanta is blissful in its ignorance. These recommendations are a fine balance between basic disaster preparedness and being one of those asshats on Doomsday Preppers.

The Hero of Tuesday and the Villain of Wednesday (morning)

The storm was mispredicted (we got 2+ inches instead of up to an inch), Leadership was overconfident and under prepared (daytime storm vs 2011 nighttime storm),  and at around lunch time, Atlanta attempted a mass evacuation.  As the surface and interstate speeds rapidly progressed to zero, I watched friend after friend abandon their cars and utilize Marta rail. Even with sporadic outages, Marta rail did as intended, provided mass transportation in a reasonable time.  I am incredibly proud.

Then comes midnight, quitting time for the private sector transit system.  Unwilling to continue rail service for those Atlantans still trying to get home during a declared State of Emergency. The one piece of transit still moving in this city grinds to a halt and a blatant ineptitude of communication between itself and the city emerges with sporadic information on the next day’s service start times. Abandoning the city which it had the opportunity of continuing to help. I am incredibly ashamed.

Posted in Atlanta

Analytics on Atlanta Tennis Skill Level

I’ve always been a big fan of Atlanta tennis. Recently I’ve dived into some analytics on the tennis community to better understand the skill level distribution. With the volume of tennis options and rating systems Atlanta has to offer, I’ve been wanting to cross level all these arbitrary self defined rating systems with something much more precise. My top choice was the elo rating system for which chess is based.  The question is, how do you translate a USTA 3.0 to an arbitrary defined rating.  My answers was to line up the bell curves of both systems.

Chess

Soo… data? I was able to get the 2010 membership rating breakdown for the United States Chess Federation.  I choose the 21+ all members bracket for my chess baselines.

 

Atlanta Tennis

Conversion

ELO | USTA
1150 |  2.5
1250 | 3.0-
1350 | 3
1450 | 3.5-
1550 | 3.5
1650 | 4.0-
1750 | 4
1850 | 4.5-
1950 | 4.5
2050 | 5
2150 | 5.5
2250 | 6.0-
2350 | 6

Posted in Tennis

Top Twitter Accounts for Atlanta Events

@atlantamusic - Run by the folks over at Ticket Alternative, solid content on all venues in Atlanta showing live music. Discovered some great new bands via this stream.

@highmuseumofart – Jazz Nights, new exhibits, member only events. Best source of fine art events in the city.

@ACAC - Atlanta Contemporary Art Center. Lots of small, local events for contemporary art.

@modluxatlantan / @JEZEBELMagazine - My goto source for Luxury and Celebrity events around the city.

@piedmontpark - I’ve debated defollowing these guys for awhile now, but they are there when I need them the most. Answering my weekend question living in Midtown Park, “Why are there no parking spaces?”.

@cl_atlanta - Creative Loafing.  If you live ITP, read this regularly.

@hypepotamus - Small / startup business events in Atlanta

Posted in Atlanta

The 5 Whys, a techstar’s lesson relearned

I got reminded of a techstars lesson recently. Sitting in a developers meeting discussing the implementation of a new technology tool, we spent a hour thinking of implementation hurdles.  We determine around 4 roadblocks but did not know where to start.  After some debate we settled and I think we made the right choice.

The duration it took for us to arrive at this made me think of a techstars lesson from @zachnies.  The Toyota Motor Corporation’s  “The 5 Whys”.  From someone who can explain it much better than me, Wikipedia:

The 5 Whys is an iterative question-asking technique used to explore the cause-and-effect relationships underlying a particular problem.[1] The primary goal of the technique is to determine the root cause of a defect or problem. (The “5″ in the name derives from an empirical observation on the number of iterations typically required to resolve the problem.)

So a quick exercise:  The vehicle will not start. (the problem).

  1. Why? - The battery is dead. (first why)
  2. Why? - The alternator is not functioning. (second why)
  3. Why? - The alternator belt has broken. (third why)
  4. Why? - The alternator belt was well beyond its useful service life and not replaced. (fourth why)
  5. Why? - The vehicle was not maintained according to the recommended service schedule. (fifth why, a root cause)
  6. Why? - Replacement parts are not available because of the extreme age of the vehicle. (sixth why, optional footnote)

A fantastic tool for anytime you feel stuck in a development problem and need to find the root cause.  Also a great way to validate previous decisions.  A good lesson relearned.

Posted in Uncategorized

Thoughts on Languages and Developers

Number of langages used per company / development shop

Being back in the job hunt  has really broadened my perspective on the volume of different languages which have reasonable frameworks for web applications. I have always been a believer in the right tool for the right job, though the more languages you use the more difficulty you face scaling staff due to the increasing complexity of the code base.  Mid sized development shops have the flexibility to branch off into many different languages, but the number of languages used should not outnumber the count of your developers.  HTML and CSS don’t count in that equation.

Based on the theory above, your starting language for company with a heavy reliance on user interaction and interface would be javascript, seeing that it can fill your MVC front-end and a simple api driven backend.  If your application is primary back-end driven, ruby seems like the obvious choice of a simple web application framework of Ruby on Rails and a solid backend distribution framework like Resque.

Picking your starting language along with your technical half

When offered positions, languages play a huge factor in my decision. Maybe even more is your flexibility on language choice.

For example, a company which is looking to be built in Scala makes me a bit more worried about working with them. Scala is an awesome language which has been successfully used in massive companies like Twitter and Foursquare, but not at first.  Twitter and Foursquare grew into scala and hired the development talent to implement it.  Starting with a such a drastically scalable language can limit your developer choices.  Talking to current Georgia Tech students, the curriculum is even moving away from Java (my major language from 2001-2005), mostly because of market desire for more modern languages.  Becoming a master at a language is a true investment, and my money is on javascript then ruby for the future of rapid development.   I want to learn scala when I need to scale (Twitter and Foursquare scale), not when I need fast development cycle.

The future

In terms of the future, my money is on javascript. Client-side MVC is so sexy and so fast. Back-end with only simple api end-points and ORM is all you really need for a front-end heavy application.  As I was told in an job interview this week by the gents at NextPunch, “No one gives a fuck about your backend”.  Those words resonated very hard.

Posted in Development

Wireframes for Developers

Been looking at a few wireframes this week and had some general tips for anyone wanting to make wireframes easier for their technical half.

1) Find out which CSS framework your developer prefers to use (Twitter Bootstrap is the most popular) and design your wireframes around the general look and feel of the framework.  This also gives you a great idea on what your developer can build easily without major customization. Some cool wireframe applications which utilize bootstrap are JetStrap and Keynotopia.

2) Use a collaborative tool for wireframes, Google Docs Drawing, Mockingbird, and the above mentioned are legit.  Mashable has a good article on the topic.

3) Get specific in your wireframes, draw out each button, form field, menu, and submenu, but don’t sweat the little things like color.  Anything with functionality or user interaction with needs to be detailed.

4) Learn some basic HTML objects. Proper terminology prevents confusion during discussion and makes everyone sound more professional.  Try using flashcards to learn.

5) Leave notes on the wireframe for anything you think needs further explanation.

The more thought you put into this, the less your developer has to think on it and can focus on solving the problem.

Going pro: Utilizing Bootstrap to build a basic layout in html will save your developer a ton of time from hacking through basic markup. When you get very familiar with the framework, it is the fastest kind of prototyping.

Posted in Development