2016 in review

It’s amazing to think only a year has passed. Nearly every part of our life has changed in dramatic ways. At the center of nearly all of it was Franny. Challenges? Yup. Successes? Yup. Failures? Yeah… those too.

  • Late January saw me moving from SanDisk to a local health care company. It was hard to leave SanDisk after a great two years. This move proved to be an incredibly enlightening, yet short, experience. I wouldn’t trade that experience for the world, but fate (if you believe in such a thing) had different plans. More on this later.
  • We finally recovered from the flood. In some aspects, our basement was better off after the flood.
  • We found a good balance between Sarah’s freelance business and Franny getting socialization. This meant Franny going to a daycare nearby a few days out of the week. It was a big adjustment for Franny that ultimately paid off.
  • One month into my new architect role, Adobe reached out and made me an offer I could not refuse. I began working with the Document Cloud AEM Engineering team.
  • We noticed Franny was a little more behind on expressive speech than we would have liked, and enrolled her in a program to help her. This consumed a large chunk of our time at home.
  • Sarah picked up some incredibly great new clients. She began to spend more time on content work and leveraging her natural talents of being a phenomenal writer.
  • Feeling under-utilized at work, I started a podcast about Microsoft. One of the most fun things I’ve done recently.
  • With a low-stress work environment, I was able to release the second version of my blog engine.
  • My low-stress work environment turned into high-stress with a (good) re-org that saw friends leave my project. In under five months on the job, I became the lead developer of an incredibly important project.
  • I became a much better day-to-day developer than ever before. At SanDisk and Alliance, I was much more in an architecture / mentor role. With Adobe, my development chops improved dramatically. Shipping features as part of an agile process was a breath of fresh air from PowerPoints, WebEx, and whiteboards.
  • I became Scrum Master certified. My personality is still a little too passive in areas to use this as much as I should, but it helps me walk the walk with proven development practices.
  • Franny learned to have fun. Wow. This changed everything. She was the most serious baby for the first year and a half of her life. She learned to giggle and laugh and tease and all the things you hope for your kid.
  • We went to Park City for an extended family vacation and it seemed like everything clicked for us as a family. All of us seemed to be less in survival mode, and more in vacation mode. Franny had so much fun with cousins and pool time and trips to Whole Foods.
  • Speaking of extended family, Franny learned that having extended family is actually pretty cool. Between chocolate from Matt, cuddles and tickles from Grandma and Grandpa Millar, or adorable new books from Grandma Nielson and MOOOOs from Grandpa Nielson… Franny was finally starting to almost like all the attention. Did I mention her love of Huskies? Oh, we can thank Chad and Candice for that one.
  • In early-to-mid 2016, I trained for and rode in the Hunstman 140, a 140 mile bike ride that runs from Delta, Utah to Salt Lake City. It was exhausting, but I’m looking forward to it next year.
  • I took a trip to Chicago for work. If anything, it validated how much I love my job, how committed I am to my career path, and how much value I provide the team I’m on. It also validated how much more I can improve.
  • Between all the time Sarah spent with Franny and a few small adjustments in diet, Franny showed tremendous progress with her receptive and expressive speech.
  • At the very tail end of this year, Franny and Sarah got sick and it put a damper on the holidays. Luckily, we were still able to spend time with family and friends.
  • Lastly, I just returned from last-minute road trip I took with my in-laws to see Utah play in the Foster Farms bowl.

We failed. All of us.

Like many, I’ve been struggling to find a narrative that can explain what happened on Tuesday. The overwhelming dread and embarrassment I felt Wednesday morning needed context.

You can do anything. Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.

America didn’t think voters would vote for  a misogynist as president.

He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.

America didn’t think voters would vote for someone who denigrates veterans as president.

The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive.

America didn’t think voters would vote for someone who doesn’t believe in global warming (man-made or otherwise).

When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending the best. They’re not sending you, they’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bring crime. They’re rapists. . . And some, I assume, are good people.

America didn’t think voters would vote for someone who is racist.

Hell, America didn’t think we’d vote for a 6-time bankrupt business man, but here we are.

It’s important to understand that all sides of the political landscape failed. Many Republicans, many Democrats, and many other parties all couldn’t fathom Donald Trump as president. We just didn’t think he was electable. Turns out he was.

Democrats made the mistake thinking that inclusiveness would persevere over divisiveness.

Republicans made the mistake of putting promises (walls, jobs, terrorism) over integrity.

Everyone else? Well, at least they feel good about themselves. Meanwhile, we have a leader who wants to take away so many rights for so many people America has been fighting for. Immigrants? Women? Refugees? LGBT+?

As Democrats, we cannot have it both ways. We cannot call Trump a lying piece of shit, only to turn around and think he was telling the truth about everything he promised. God, I hope he was lying about all the things he promised.

As Republicans, I hope you get what you want. When goods from China are taxed and Wal-Mart microwaves no longer start at $50, but they start at $300 because they were either made by an entitled white person in America or they were taxed to hell, I hope you can afford them. When that job is offered to you at minimum wage by a big business, I hope you take it because you said you needed a job.

Have I talked about Florida sinking due to global warming?

For me, this election has been eye opening. It’s now more important than ever for myself and my family to do our part. It’s important for all American’s to do their part. Everything from fund raising to better recycling habits. We will no longer be able to rely upon a guiding light of leadership to help us make this world more inclusive and to promote American humanity regardless of who we are.

I started a podcast

I’m doing a podcast with my friend Robert. It’s about Microsoft and related technologies. To use our own about page…

We’re aiming to take today’s news and apply it to what it means for the long term success of Microsoft’s many endeavors. How does Windows as a Service affect the perception that Windows is hard to use? What does it mean when Azure starts supporting Docker Containers as a first party technology? Does Microsoft’s hardware strategy add up to actual profit, or is it all about mind share in a world where consumers lust after new devices every year.

I pitched the idea to him and we’ve been at it for a solid month now. He’s living deep inside the Microsoft world (.NET dev, Windows Mobile user) and I’m a curious bystander (Java dev, Mac user). In my world, Microsoft is a four letter word. I’ve never subscribed to that completely, and I’ve always believed the best technology should win. It’s been great to see our different perspectives… we’re both rooting for Microsoft, but we recognize their flaws.

Why a podcast? Why Microsoft?

I’m glad you asked. So many times I’ve sat at this very screen and wanted to write about technology and found myself writing about Microsoft. I just think they’re the most fascinating company in technology right now. Many of these thoughts don’t fit a standard blog, and they end up in the drafts pile. Having a podcast means Robert and I can spit ball for two hours and cut it all down into cohesive thoughts within about 45 minutes. I also think Microsoft is vastly under represented in the podcast space and wanted to change that. To give you an idea, here’s the Apple focused shows I would recommend to someone:

  • Accidental Tech Podcast
  • The Talk Show
  • Upgrade
  • The Rebound
  • Connected
  • Clockwise
  • Under The Radar
  • Mac Power Users
  • … the list goes on.

These are shows firing every single week. Here’s the list of shows I would recommend for a fan of Microsoft:

  • Windows Weekly
  • The Sams Report
  • Microsoft Cloud Show
  • Windows Central Podcast

This is where Robert and I wanted to add something that’s been lacking. We don’t just repeat the news cycle, we take what’s going on and apply it to the long term viability of Microsoft’s businesses.

Why the talk show format?

I’m pretty particular about this and I’ve been very lucky Robert has gone along for the ride. You’ll notice Robert and I just start talking to each other. No pomp. Not much beyond an informal, “Hello Robert.” The thing is, as a podcast listener, I don’t like my time being wasted. When I tap on, “Windows Weekly” to listen, I don’t need the host to tell me I just clicked on, “Windows Weekly.” I come to the show to listen to the opinions and perspectives provided, not fifteen minutes of introductions. So, as a podcast producer, it’s my job to get you to the content as quickly as possible, because that’s why you’re listening.

If you’d like to check it out, I highly recommend heading over to the site. You can subscribe with any of your favorite podcast apps.


Thirty Five

I turned 35 today. Naturally, I had some goals when I got here. I’ve hit them in almost every single category.

I wanted to be more healthy than I was at 25. While it’s much harder to be healthy now, I can say without a doubt that I’ve achieved this.

Comparing my career at 25 or 30 to what I have now, it’s clear that things have mostly settled in. I work for a brilliant company building things I’m truly proud of. Things just keep getting better on the work front.

I’m married to the love of my life and we have a beautiful daughter and two wild pugs. We live in a beautiful house in the city where I started my residency in Utah.

My extended family could not be more integral to how much I enjoy life these days. It might be a bike ride with Matt, or a snow shoe trip with Ben, or talking grills with Chad. I have some of the best in-laws in the world.

I don’t know what will happen in the next five years, but I cannot wait to see the things that come. I truly have the best support system in the world.


When I was in high school I put stickers on everything. It was part of my identity in a world where expressing who I was vital to my happiness. I even (sheepishly) pinned cut up band t-shirts on thermal zip up hoodies. I was punk-fucking-rock in the most pedestrian way. My guitar was no exception. Spray painted black and stickers for days.

As I got to college and purchased my Les Paul Custom Alpine White, you better believe not a single sticker found it’s way to that guitar. Everyone needed to know what a beautiful piece artwork that guitar was, and it was mine. No one else I knew had that guitar and I couldn’t have been more proud.

As with my Les Paul, I finally got a Mac. They were both something I had coveted for many many years. I didn’t want a single millimeter of that PowerBook to be covered in anything that wasn’t made by Apple. Again, it was part of my identity, and at the time, I was different and wanted everyone to know it.

Fast forward 14 years. Everyone has a MacBook or an iPhone. Hell, I’ve been given the same laptop for work three different times over the last four years. Having a Mac is no longer being different, it’s being the same.

Maybe I’m having an identity crisis, but the thought of putting stickers on my stuff has started to sound a lot more appealing lately. Sure, I carry around a MacBook like everyone else, but why? Am I an Angular jockey? Or a Jenkin’s guru? What about a github master? Right now, I’m just a guy that rode a bike for 140 miles for a good cause and I’m super fucking happy about it.IMG_0477

The next wave

Everyone is chasing the next big thing. It’s the world of technology, after all. Unfortunately, the entrenched players all seem to be making their plays with their existing strengths. It’s the classic, ‘law of the instrument’ adage; “if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

Google is saying search and AI is the future.

Apple is saying round rectangles and iOS are the future.

Microsoft is saying the future is services and phones that act like desktops.

Facebook believes the future of technology is communication and connectedness.

Amazon believes the future of technology is in commerce and services.

I’m not saying any one company is wrong or right, but I do find it interesting that of all the players above, only two can do all of the above competently.

Facebook can do search, but it cannot do hardware (yet).

Apple might be able to do 1:1 communication (iMessage, FaceTime), but it absolutely fails at search and social media.

Amazon has a rock-solid reputation in services, but a shaky record in hardware.

With the exception of social media, Google and Microsoft are the only two companies that seem positioned to satisfy the next wave of computing. AI? Cortana and Google Now are leading the pack. Hardware? Both have largely good track records and continue to get better (Nexus 6p & Surface Book). Both have media services to satisfy the consumer and both are executing on the next wave of office-related software for the enterprise. Both are taking steps to solidify their place in the VR/AR world, but taking very different approaches. Both have OSes that serve at least hundreds of millions of customers.

They are the two companies that have diversified their portfolio enough to be ready for the next wave of computing. Whether we want to believe it or not, the future will likely be a combination of all of the above, and aluminum trinkets with walled gardens won’t cut it any more.

How I train today

I figure it would be good to get a picture of where my training regime and tools are today. There’s a bunch of things I want to fix, but it’s always worth recording where I started and where I want to go.


I’ve been trying to do longer rides on the weekends and anything I can get during the week. So far, this has been OK. One to two rides Monday through Friday at around 10 miles, and then 20-40 mile rides somewhere between Friday and Sunday.

I’d love to push this to three times during the week with 15 miles each. I’d also like to push my weekend rides to 40-60 miles. I’d also really like to throw in some jogging or rowing at the gym on my lunch break… this is probably going to help me more than anything else.


Right now, I’m using three tools during my rides.

  1. Apple Watch
  2. Strava iPhone App
  3. Garmin Edge

After dicking around trying to use the Strava app on the watch, I’ve settled on using the 1st party activity app instead. The 3rd party app situation is just too unreliable. This gives me relatively accurate heart rate recording without wearing some chest strap.

The Strava app on the iPhone is essentially my gospel when it comes to evaluating my workout. It intelligently pauses based on movement, gives me social encouragement, and is far more accurate and easy to use than anything else.

The Garmin Edge serves to give me real-time feedback on how I’m doing. Because the app ecosystem around the Garmin is sub-standard, most of the data is thrown away. Having the Garmin means I can keep my phone in my back pocket.

Ideally, I’d like to consolidate this all down a bit. The Gramin should be able to transfer my activities to Strava, but I have to carry my phone anyway, so it’s not like I’m cutting down weight or gadgets.

Can I get a…?

Me: Can I get a PS4?
Sarah: No.
Me: Can I get a BMW i3?
Sarah: No.
Me: Can I get a road bike?
Sarah: Probably.

Sarah and I have always run major-ish purchases by each other. The bike was no exception.

Ever since Pearl Izumi, I’ve wanted a road bike. Seeing co-workers go for rides at lunch while my humble little hybrid sat in the bike lot was never fun. I never stopped lusting for a real road bike after the experiences I had at Pearl.

Fast forward four years, I finally got what I’ve always dreamed about. A slick little carbon fiber Felt F4. It doesn’t break the bank, but has the essentials I need to get rolling. I couldn’t be more excited for this summer.


So long SanDisk

Today is my last day at SanDisk. {insert giant exhale here}

When Fusion-io was acquired, I had the pleasure of building out SanDisk’s AEM implementation from scratch. What we accomplished in the last year and a half has been astonishing.

  • We re-platformed, re-architected and re-designed over 25 sites in a year. Corporate site, customer portal, DAM, and much more.
  • Localized all public facing sites.
  • Implemented an SSO system for all sites requiring authentication.
  • Built out tight integration between various systems… AEM, .NET, CRM, and SAP.

I will miss the friends and colleagues I met along the way. I’m excited to take everything I’ve learned and apply those lessons to a new company and a new adventure.

winter – a study in convenience

I  used to make mix tapes in high school. My friend Justin and I would meticulously create perfect mixes using pause buttons, dvd sound bites, and CDs.

In college, the first mix CD I made was using my school’s only CD burner. A year later and CD burners were fifty bucks at Fry’s. Armed with enough Mp3s and lover’s depression, this was a golden age of mix CD making.

By the time the mid-2000’s rolled around, mixes had to be delivered electronically in addition to CDs. I’d wrap up a zip file, create iTunes metadata, and call things a wrap. From a pure editing standpoint, this was the best period to be making mixes. Tightly cut crossfades using CD Architect Pro and a delivery scheme that made delivering much more immediate.

Fast forward to 2014/2015 and I delivered my first Mp3 + Spotify mix. Almost everyone I know has no idea how to use iTunes, but I couldn’t let go of the tightly controlled mix.

Today marks the day that convenience trumps everything. I put together a new mix exclusively on Spotify. I’m still into meticulously curated songs, but I can’t ignore the fact that kids these days use Spotify.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy. We’ve lost something with mixtapes these last few years, but we’ve gained a ton of accessibility.