A recent but stodgy picture of me


I am a Software Engineer at Joyent, maintain a few popular open source libraries, and I live in Seattle. I also play banjo; in fact for a while I almost just did that instead of technology. But it turns out playing banjo for a living is a good way to starve, so I went back to sofware with a renewed focus, and got versed in distributed systems. That’s mostly what this blog will be about, btw.

My history, in what is likely too many words


I went to university at Penn State, long before the absurd scandals. I grew up in Pennsylvania, and almost went to Drexel, but I really didn’t want to live in Philadelphia. That’s pretty much that. Oh, I did a co-op at Nortel before the dot com explosion.



My first job was at IBM in Austin, where I worked on their LDAP Server. I learned a ton, and actually really liked the first couple years. But then IBM “offshored” most of it, and while I was surprised at how good our replacements were, this taught me three things:

  • Never outsource your core competency. in this case, being a software product, software engineering, but this is true of anything, IMO.
  • If something sucks, and you can’t change it, just bail, and do it fast. Don’t be the last rat off the ship.
  • (ending on a positive note), change is often good, even when it’s forced change, and it doesn’t seem like it at the time.

Amazon (AWS)

I looked around in Austin for a different job for a while before I finally gave up and looked elsewhere. This was sometime in 2006, and AWS had come out with S3 and just came out with EC2. From 5m of looking at it I knew this was going to be a big deal; I applied to AWS, got an offer and moved across the country to Seattle. I worked there for 4 years, and had a major role in launching a bunch of stuff, but the peak (for me) was creating and launching the IAM product.

I actually really liked it (except for on-call; that was horrible), learned a lot, and did some cool stuff. I ultimately left because the org got big and political, and I just wanted to do something different. However, I am now left with a bitter taste of it as I was harassed for non-compete by AWS lawyers. Apparently this happens to anybody “important” that works there and leaves.


So I went to Joyent, initially because I was hot on Node.js. I had been talking with Bryan for months about going over there, and it seemed like taking a swing at a PaaS for Node would be pretty awesome. Ironically I didn’t do that at all (but we built something way cooler…). I got some initial fame (and legal harassement) for shipping ldapjs – I finally got the remnants of LDAP out of my system from what I wanted to do at IBM (which was decouple it). Really though my most lasting and popular open source project has been restify.

Anyway, fast forward to 2013, and we finally launched Manta. Manta to me is certainly the pinnacle of my career, and I think this sort of product is only possible in a “full stack” engineering shop. We basically designed everything from the metal to the REST API, and while it’s still nascent, I really believe this changes the way people can think about the cloud.

Other Stuff

As I said at the top, really I’m a musician at heart. For a while, I ran the now defunct Music Moose, which was high-quality free music lessons. Unfortunately I based the whole site on Revver in an effort to pay artists for advertising traffic. There’s still some straggler lessons available on YouTube, if you’re so inclined.

I’ve been playing “progressive” banjo for about 15 years now, which I learned from my uncle David, who is probably the best all around banjo player I’ve ever heard. I actually started playing banjo because I was bored, and David always played. I just fell in love with the banjo though, and barely did high school or the first couple years of college because I was playing all the time. I also was fortunate enough to be really good friends with Ryan Cavanaugh, who is without doubt the premier banjo player in the world now. We were about the same age and taught each other a bunch of jazz stuff that traditional banjo players hate. I was in several small-time and short-lived bands, but had a decent amount of regional success in the Grassy Knoll Boys. We even cut a fairly well-sold record Buckeyed Rabbit. Don’t buy that; it’s free on Spotify et al, and I’m not even sure where the money goes now (I think to record label heaven).

A cooler picture of me in a band

Somewhere along the way I taught myself to play guitar, and I picked up a bunch of styles from bluegrass (obviously) to blues, jazz, rock, etc.; now I sort bounce back and forth a lot between banjo and guitar. This is relevant as my new quest is Gypsy jazz guitar, which is kind of like starting over for me, because the right hand is so different than “normal” guitar. But it’s coming along. I’ll post some stuff about this when I don’t suck anymore.

My lovely and awesome wife Veronica

In other, other stuff: Veronica and I love pretty much anything outdoorsy, so hiking, biking, kayaking, etc. But we’re also kind of lazy, so just being out in the sun in the garden is equally awesome.

Sorry if this is way too long of an about me page, if you made it this far, thanks! But at least I tend to find I relate more to content when I know something about the author. Hopefully that helps, if not, well, whatever.