I have been hired on as a UI Designer at Spiceworks, a startup company in Austin, Texas. This Thursday I’ll be driving down to start my apartment search, and I start work this Monday.

It should be a pretty good gig. They have just released the public beta version of their free IT management application for small (~25 computer) networks. It’s all done in Rails, but interestingly enough it runs on your local machine. This should open up some interesting UI possibilities given that client/server latency issues are greatly reduced.

I met several of my coworkers during interviews and I am looking forward to working with them and becoming their friend. Several of them are involved in local Rails groups and most if not all of them have been through multiple successful startups.

Anyway, I will be driving down on Thursday, and then aggressively searching for apartments over the weekend. If everything goes well I will be moved in by Sunday. Otherwise I will have to wing it somehow.

Before I head out I’m going up to my hometown of Enid, Oklahoma, to see my grandparents.

I don’t know anyone in the Austin area, so if you’re there and I didn’t realize it please drop me a line.

Chick-fil-A, American flag, electric lines, sunset in Austin, TX

I just realized that in the course of a normal day I no longer have to deal with cathode ray tubes (CRTs).

Over the weekend while relaxing in my hotel at my family reunion in Branson, Missouri, I found the worst CRT television set I had heard in quite a while. Every time I would change the channel, the set would emit a piercing high-pitched noise that my parents could not hear. My brothers and I felt tortured by it, especially my youngest brother Jon.

At Olin, Prof. Gill Pratt taught me that the high pitches associated with CRTs are horribly annoying to young people but are impossible to hear in old age due to a lifetime of overexposure. But I think that may change in the near future.

CRTs are not a wonderful technology. They have created a worldwide chemical disposal problem and they eat up energy in a wasteful large form factor made of shatter-vulnerable glass. But finally they have started to get replaced by better technologies like plasma, LCD, and organic LED (OLED) displays.

Every day, the only displays I usually interact with my Apple monitor, Dell laptop, and my parents’ new little HDTV, all of which are LCDs. Thus, I haven’t heard that infernal high-pitched whine in some time. Now I find that I have fewer headaches and often feel more relaxed.

So my challenge to you is to find a CRT monitor in your life and consider transitioning it to a better technology. You just might make your life a little more pleasant.

About a mile from my house one finds the Kilpatrick Turnpike. You might wonder who this toll road was named after. A successful inventor? An Olympic athlete? A war hero?

At first I couldn’t find an answer, as the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority doesn’t give any information on whom Oklahoma’s eight turnpikes are named after.

What I did find there was that the turnpikes won’t be paid off until 2028. Better get used to paying those tolls! Also, the public’s debt is spread across all of the roads, so tolls won’t end on any of these roads until all eight are paid off. But then the poor turnpike officials would lose their jobs! We can’t have that! Oh well, all they have to do is construct yet another expensive highway to ensure that the tolls keep flowing.

After that little realization I finally found the answer to my original question within this 2002 USENET post:

Kilpatrick Turnpike – named for OKC oilman and philathropist[sic] John Kilpatrick.

Sounds pretty good, right? Until you realize that Kilpatrick was the director of the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority around the time that the road was proposed. He named it after himself! Oh boy!

Reading more into that post, I discovered that Turner Turnpike was named for former Oklahoma governor Roy J. Turner, whose claim to fame was establishing the turnpike system itself. And another major turnpike is named for H. E. Bailey, who among other things was, of course, a member of the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority.

I wish that when the roads are set up to perpetually take tolls from the people, that their names would at least recognize someone who might inspire the populace to do things other than set up more regulations, taxes, and tolls.

Lately I’ve been thinking about getting into open source development. Right now, I’m thinking about diving into a project that I like a lot. You’re using it right now, if you didn’t know! It’s the Typo blog engine which is based on Ruby on Rails. I’ve been running this blog, for better or for worse, on Typo for some time now.

Typo has been coming into its own recently but still needs some good help. I’ve been studying Rails along with Ruby in general and I think it’s time I get my feet wet. I’ve been listening in on the mailing list and might submit a patch to the Trac site sometime soon.

Have any of you done open source development? Do you have any tips or things I should read before I get going?

I’ve graduated with my Bachelor of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Olin College, which means I’ve finally moved out of the cool climate of Needham, Massachusetts.

For the time being, I will be living back at home with my parents in Oklahoma City. As soon as I find a job, I will be relocating to who knows where!

Lately people have asked me frequently what I want to be doing once I graduate. I’ve finally found a quick answer that I believe encompasses all of the different areas in which I’m interested.

I’d like to go into interaction/interface design, web application development, user-centered product design, or some similar area.

I’d also be happy doing some sort of audio-oriented digital signal processing, audio synthesis, or audio electronics sort of field as a backup.

On top of all this I hope to become politically active somehow at the local level, wherever I end up. Possibly I could even work for a think-tank that deals with technological issues.

These fields are fairly disparate, and I don’t have a good sense of which one or ones I will end up in. But they do all hold a common thread.

So when people ask me, now I answer, “I want to ensure that my work treats people as humans, rather than mindless drones.”

Any engineering work that I do ought to make technology more accessible and natural to use for real people. Any audio work I do should focus on making things sound natural and pleasant to real people. Any political work I do should help bridge the gap between arcane policy, political wrangling, and the real people who are affected.

So that’s my new answer. It’s not too focused, but then again, it finally makes my plans cohesive in some manner.

By the way, sorry I’ve been gone for a while. My blog software should work properly now. I had to revert to the default theme. Hopefully the problems will get fixed soon because I liked how it was before.