Marcus Pope

Husband, Father, Inventor, Programmer Austin, TX - °

2013

12/30/2013

Keegan David Pope is officially born! I can't believe how long it's been since I have posted an update but suffice to say that work and life are pretty demanding right now. Even still all is going well. Keegan was born after only a couple hours of labor, and I narrowly didn't miss the delivery!

We weren't supposed to have him for another week at least, but Elli got food poisoning over the weekend and was administered to the hospital for fluids. Elli's mom came into town to help out and I ended up going home to get some sleep. I decided to start an iOS upgrade before going to sleep and sure enough it crashed and temporarily bricked my phone. So when Elli tried to call me and let me know she was going into labor I never got the message :/

Alas, Diana was able to drive from the hospital to the house and wake me up and tell me the news. I can't imagine how the next few months will go considering Evelyn is still so young, but HomeImprovementLeads is giving me three weeks paid paternity leave and only after a few months of employment. Thanks Dan!

8/01/2013

In a better turn of events I'll be starting full time with HomeImprovementLeads.com - worse domain name, better company. The development platform has a lot of rough edges and is a bit dated, but that just means I'll be able to contribute in meaningful ways. And despite the concept of trading in a market of construction leads sounding pretty boring, the office culture is a complete match for me.

7/15/2013

Ugh, well it seems our little experiment at MyCollegeScout will be coming to an unexpected close. Not only has the CEO proven to be a pathological liar, but I haven't been paid for any benefits and now three paychecks. What started out as a legitimate mistake in our payroll, turned into Kelly cutting checks directly. That turned into missing some checks and writing some doubled amounts whenever she made it into the office, which slowly grew to never coming in. Then it turned into we stopped hearing from Kelly altogether.

I thought with the investor being her neighbor and friend, and also being upstairs in the same building, that we would be shielded from such a risk. Turns out they're out by a lot more than me, and thankfully my team was only out by a single paycheck before we decided to pack up our things and stop reporting to work.

So the promise of schools ready to sign, funding being all but guaranteed for two years, and about a dozen other important aspects to running a successful startup, have all turned out to be lies. Sadly when I called Karlie (the former senior developer who hired me on her way out) to see if she knew how to reach Kelly, she was all too revealing about a number of things she really should have mentioned out of professional courtesy.

Alas, it is confirmed that I will not be getting those checks or a W2. And in all likelihood Kelly did not pay any IRS taxes. So begins the tedious task of reporting her to the BBB, TWC, IRS.

6/30/2013

I think I'm finally allowed to announce that Elli and I are having our second child, a baby boy circa 12 weeks old. Although we were not planning on having a second baby so soon, we can now plan for our retirement from child rearing sometime around 2033 (give or take a few years depending on angst and or homesickness.) Sorry little dude, we really didn't mean for you to have a birthday so close to Christmas, that really does suck.

6/25/2013

Well, you may not have noticed, but this site is now running on a new version of ScrewPress and VerbotenJS. I spent about 15 minutes giving some various elements a little CSS3 lovin, but nothing special or representative of my typical work. I won't be investing much into the front end of this site until I pin down more features on the backend.

Life is speeding by as our Fall deadline for MyCollegeScout looms ever closer. We're about to launch a new version of the site and I'll be posting a new blog post about Symfony2 Forms: How not to bleed out your eyeballs. I have a dozen support requests on various projects that I would love to wrap up as well but that's the reality of open source - it doesn't always get the love you'd expect.

I'm also attempting to construct a list of best practices for one hour sprints. Although the overhead of a standup, sprint planning, dev, regression, and post-mortem for every 45 minutes of coding seems like wasteful overhead, sometimes it's all you have - like when you're a new Dad and work full time, yet still want to actively code for personal use so you do it during your lunch break. So far it's working out ok, but it really sucks having to split up a reasonable single task into 5 parts because you know the check will arrive before you can finish.

Driving tip #128 - You don't need 18 car lengths between you and the vehicle in front of you at any speed, especially during stop and go traffic - that's 15 cars you are leaving backed up in the previous intersection. The more units you can push through the system from start to finish the less traffic you will have during peak hours. So pay attention, follow at a reasonably close distance and try to keep everything moving at the speed limit if possible.

3/13/2013

Tom Briles is joining MCS, and I'm ecstatic. I have also made a decent sized dent into the MCS Showcase, and I'm about to clean up the Grad Plan. The features on the roadmap for this project are pretty lofty, but the core value is there. Keeping everyone headed in the same direction has proven to be a little daunting, but everyone in the group is intelligent and rational. So even though they may not be technical and familiar, when presented with a problem and various options, the right decisions are being made.

Evelyn held her own bottle for about 30 seconds tonight, and she sat up on her own for about 5 minutes. Between eating 9 oz before bed and going to sleep without being asleep before I put her down we're totally on track to sanity. This will probably jinx it, but it's great news considering the month long sickness melodrama.

3/02/2013

An almost perfect day. Evelyn, though sick, is doing quite well. We almost had a pneumonia scare today but that did not pan out. I got to sleep in an extra hour than normal, and Elli and I took a 1.5 hour nap in the afternoon. The house is almost spotless because we thought Elli's parents were dropping by, but we at least had a nice dinner with them. Evelyn did an amazing job at Steiner Ranch Steakhouse. Granted, she lost her shit just before dinner and was whisked away by Mary to the lobby. But she was pushing an hour and a half dinner time, so completely understandable. We're passing on my best friend's birthday party tomorrow because he has two kids one of whom had a really bad spout with RSV already, so no need to push that button. He's turning 34 this year, and is probably the oldest (duration) friend I've ever had. I doubt he reads this, but Thomas happy birthday, you've been there and put up with some of the craziest times in my life, and only judge me for about half of it!

On the MyCollegeScout front I have brout on another developer this week, Alex Yermakov. He's already hit the ground running setting up his development environment on a new laptop. And although he's not starting full time until the 18th, he's been eager to give the limited time he has until then to get a head start. Now I just need to untangle some FOSUserBundle nonsense with how validation inheritence works doesn't work. But translations are now working properly and limits will be working once I change the group assignments to non default options throughout the various files that specify them. After that we launch... yeah postponed again, but we keep finding critical bugs and my time is not fully dedicated to coding.

2/28/2013

Sometimes life is simply bipolar. I'm not mind you, I have my emotional needs as any other human, but bipolar issues are not my bag. But life, sometimes she has a big case of the bipolar. One day you are hiring a great developer, and the next day you are letting him go. One day you feel like you're finally over a cold, and the next day you discover it's RSV and your 4mo is going to have sleeping issues, perhaps worse, for weeks instead of a day or two more at most. One day you hire another developer who is very promising and ready to jump in, and you simply flinch at what in the world tomorrow might bring. Who knows, but thankfully I have some traction on building a development team. And I'm making headway on work and the household situations so it's just a matter of time and persaverence.

32 is coming around the corner. I think I'm fairly well prepared to make it the year I had hoped for. Even though the direction took a prominent detour. I published the start of a new blog post about traffic mostly because I'm dealing with more of it than ever and the propensity for people on hwy 360 to drive with bad habits is almost twice that of other roads in Austin, and it results in some serious backups. If you hate Austin traffic as much as I do, I welcome your observations of bad driving problems you see in your routine.

I have also had the misfortune of experiencing Windows8 in any real capacity. But thankfully there is the new Outlook.com to balance my perceptions of Microsoft. Despite the shortcomings of Windows8, their webmail app is top notch. They really implemented a robust feature set (that took a while to discover mind you) and wrapped in an aesthetic user interface. I'll be moving all of my accounts to this application soon. The only nagging problem I have with the product is that it's not hosted on outlook.com, why call it outlook.com if you simply redirect to live.com???!!!

And I remembered that I have a pop3 processing library sitting around somewhere that would be a perfect candidate for open sourcing. It was a mad dash implementation so I can vouch for the quality, but then again, it's pop3, not the best standard in the world, shouldn't deserve more than mediocre if you ask me. I'll try to find that tomorrow and publish it on github.

Sadly, I'm off to bed. It's been too long of a day with an annoying sinus cold and a long week of stressful events. Hopefully the weekend will be primed for recuperation with a productive and smooth Friday. I might even nab me some pancakes in the morning, because I'm wild and crazy like that. And with that, goodnight!

2/27/2013

Happy Birthday Mom! I love you.

2/25/2013

There's been so much going on in my life lately including a cist that developed in my right wrist so I'm going to keep this shorter than desired. There are topics that I've been dying to blog about related to racism in html5shiv, sexism in tech conferences, the purpose of temporary variables, and how not to drive like an asshole in Texas. I was also going to cover Angus Croll's post on oxford commas, but alas I'll forego the internet troll bait tonight.

I'm still looking for some senior developers to bring on at Argand Technologies. If you know anyone please send them my way.

Family is doing better - I'm over my cold, Elli is too. Evelyn might still have the remnants of one. Otherwise life is starting to resume back to normal, hopefully for a little longer this time. Evelyn started sucking her thumb yesterday - and she mirrored me when I showed her various holds while thumb sucking, like wrapping a finger over the nose. She mimicked me 4 times in a row so I'm calling it more than coincidence. She's close to saying momma on prompt, she wails it when she's crying in my arms and calling out for Elli, but it's still partly just a cry so I'm not counting it yet. Her dexterity is amazing, extremely controlled, and it came out of nowhere. Just magically one day she could trace the outline of my hand with her fingers ever so lightly grazing the skin.. it's incredible watching brain development in what feels like hyper speed. Her Cry Smile is heart crushingly hilarious! It comes and goes so quickly that we've never been able to capture it with a camera - one day!

That's all from me - mostly I just had to reboot my server. Nothing like a power outage to prompt updating service packs and adding new content!

Oh and recruiters... listen up! My resume is there as a favor to you, not an invitation to call me when you see a single matching keyword in the technical skills lists. Telling me that you think I'd be an amazing fit for your "position in New York using tomcat" means you need to do more research into the software market or perhaps consider a career switch. If you're going to reach out to me, please do so by email, and include a full description of the position, not just a one liner hook. And just know that right now I'm not looking for anything, I'm very happy in my new challenging position. :D

2/13/2013

I swear it feels like I'm in Atlas Shrugged right now. I posted a job posting on Feb 4th for a few senior PHP developers, on Criagslist in Austin, TX Software jobs. I expected to get hundreds of emails. Of the 12 or so responders, only two or three were actually developers that met the "living in Austin" and "not a company offering services" requirements. And they all made the same general statement in their email,

I'm sure you're under a mountain of applications so hopefully mine stands out— 3 Candidates

So WTF Austin??? Where are all the senior devs at? I would have jumped on this job app if I'd seen it in the wild. Perhaps I'm the only one? But I included a salary range that is top of market, accurate and detailed technology stack info, great google-esque benefits and I'm baffled by the response. I can't believe that PHP is that toxic these days, but you tell me:

Software Engineer

If you or anyone you know would like to apply, send me your resume or online portfolio to any email address at marcuspope.com - or you can ping me on twitter @marcuspope. You should also email me if you have an explanation for wtf is up with the Austin developer pool. Is everyone a fish out of water? Is there a snicker's bar floating around? Who is John Galt?

2/10/2013

Sometimes an opportunity just lands in your lap and you have to take it. I'm leaving Springbox to be the development director for Argand Technologies. I rode the agency roller coaster for a couple years and although my development experience proved invaluable to tackling a variety of projects from simple Facebook tabs to complex, high-volume, cloud-load-balanced, CSS3 lovin, HTML5 web applications that were globally deployed across 8 different languages. But that variety of project scopes had a double edge that I recently discovered... when you get to work on extremely challenging bleeding edge software, chugging out a WordPress theme or refactoring a terribly constructed ERP system that was written by a junior-staffed Indian outsourcing firm* will drive you insane!

Even though I was not the longest employed person at Springbox, after a blazingly short two years, I was the sixth most tenured employee out of a company that was around 50 employees when I started. I saw 4 ceo/presidents run the company to varying degrees of success. I watched month after month as colleagues took on new opportunities until finally we were purchased by Tom West. Under his direction combined with his extensive industry contacts I'm sure Springbox is finally on a path of improvement. He is ever the optimist, and I'm ever the realist (read: pessimist) and we both agree great things are coming in Springbox's future.

But with my new position at Argand, I'll be leading a staff of developers to produce a socially engaging site designed to promote well-rounded academic profiles for students K-12 (mostly the 9-12 group.) It will basically be a chance for me to continue using all of my advanced responsive HTML5 mashup skills, but on a product platform that is solid (read: free of technical debt.) I was able to devise an ideal benefits and perks package, I get to pick the right developers for the job, and along with the President and her executive staff, we get to define a product instead of being told what's best by a client that may or may not know what's best. It was a slightly risky career move given Evelyn is only 4 months old and Elli is busily loving being a full-time Mom, but opportunities like this don't usually fall in your lap.

The biggest hurdle facing me right now is trying to hire 4 kick ass developers. Where as a couple years ago a Criagslist ad would have dropped 150 resumes in your inbox during the first day, I've only seen a handful come in over the last two weeks. Much of my social network is happy where they're at, and frankly I was pretty happy where I was at when I passed on offer after offer over the last two years. Springbox had a similarly difficult time hiring good talent. Several senior candidates simply accepted counter offers from their existing employers, and I've already experienced that twice now.

I'm not going to let this hold us back, and I will insist on hiring slowly, waiting for the right candidate versus taking any developer with a pulse. I have two great leads from my social network, and if that's what it takes to hire these days then I'm game. But when certain job boards with virtually no listings charge $300 a job post, and when recruiting firms do nothing more than hire attractive people to keyword-match their recruitments, I'm forced to go the old, who-you-know route. I'm also tinkering with some outbound approaches - you'd be amazed how many developer's personal websites you can find with Google these days. And github/bitbucket are a treasure trove of verifiable talent. I just have to get past the uninvited nature of the beast.

If you are a senior developer or a mid-level developer with some passion, send me an email to any address at marcuspope.com and I'll be sure to follow up with you. Publicly hosted code samples and a portfolio should be a defacto standard these days, but I'll insist on them here anyway ;)

*Let it be noted that I do not think all outsourcing firms are equal and have worked with some high-caliber shops in my career, but this one in particular was truly depressing.

1/28/2013

Well that was no fun at all, battling billions of influenza viri is pretty tiresome stuff. Multiply that times three people in a single house and well let's just say those WordPress plugin fixes I promised didn't exactly come through as planned :D We're all better now, and we thank all you people who help out in every way if even just a supporting text message.

Oh, and I somehow forgot to mention that I finished writing version 1.0 of verbotenjs this year - you should check it out if you have any opinion on extending the Object.prototype in JavaScript.

1/20/2013

Uhg, just when I thought I could finally catch up on my work, and personal todo lists from Jury duty, my wife, 3mo daughter and I all have the flu. Life is about it get real.



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