So, What’s new?

To say that this has been a busy year, would be a gross understatement. I began the year as the point-man on a rockin’ team where we developed & maintained RiskManager 4 — a financial risk management application built atop a fantastic platform, an in-house project at RiskMetrics. However, the changing atmosphere at the company (RiskMetrics was acquired by MSCI mid-year in 2010) left much to be desired.  Loyal to the core, I stuck it out and even plowed ahead with re-architecting the user interface; moving from an in-house server-side HTML/Widget generation toolkit to ExtJS.

Around the beginning of the second quarter of this year, I was invited to join a few colleagues that had left the company to start a new company, and I couldn’t resist the opportunity to start something – something BIG.  It was just too enticing.

I’ve been working at NextThought for several months now. Primarily focused on a UI design implementation for the desktop/web browser, I can’t even begin to explain how much fun this has been.  I started by playing with any and all UI toolkits & frameworks I could find.  I even began to build a UI from scratch, but why reinvent the wheel?  And time is of the essence when you’re trying come up with the “next big thing,” staying ahead in this big technology game is the only way to come out on top.  I concluded that to achieve the timely deadlines and quality of experience, I had to switch gears and go with a framework.  Re-enter ExtJS. I scrapped my first month’s efforts and rebuilt it in ExtJS in about an hour.

Anyway, I don’t want to say too much now, but keep an eye on us. Good things will be coming from NextThought.  Promise.

I’ve also been busy — VERY busy — entertaining my lovely wife. In May, my wife, her parents and I went to England for two weeks.  Now, going to England with your wife = fun.  Going to England with your wife, her parents to visit her Cambridge scholar little brother = exhaustingly educational.  These people travel like they’re never leaving their house again!  This trip was so planned out and itemized, we had “breathe” built into the itinerary.  Literally.  It said “breathe” right after “arrive at Stonehenge” right before “35 minutes at Stonehenge.”

We arrived in to London on Day One, and didn’t stop touring until we got on the plane and headed home. We saw as much as we could with the help of Sam, my brother-in-law, who had been living in England for the 2010-2011 school year.  I really enjoyed all the ruins, like Stonehenge and the ruins in Bath.  Sam and Carl (my father-in-law) prefer their ruins not ruined, but I like the mystery of it all.  The castles and gardens were beautiful, spectacular really.  They should make calendars out of them.

My mother-in-law, sweet woman — she wanted to find something that I would find interesting, because she feared I would be bored with all the Medieval stuff (she couldn’t have been more wrong, I had a blast) — took us to Bletchley Park, home of the WWII Codebreakers. She certainly succeeded in finding something that piqued my interest.  Bletchley Park is the place where the Enigma machine was cracked (repeatedly, as the Germans kept modifying it), and a keystone in the history of the field of computer science, my own field of study.  Very fascinating spot. If you are into computer science or cryptography, it’s a must visit.

Sound busy? And that’s just the highlight reel.

This is enough of this detour from the normal tech/car talk. I’ll return to the normal programming in the next post.

Thanks, Carl, Nancy, Sam and my wife, Caroline, for the best “first-adventure-overseas” a guy could ask for!

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