System Updates

This will serve, I hope, as a sort of system restart post and will cover a couple of things:

We’ve moved to the UK!

I’ve taken a short term international assignment. This blog (the one you’re reading now) is transitioning to mostly technical things. Life events will be covered over at AndrewAndRachel.com.

New Host!

After having some fun hosting this on a Linode VPS, I’ve decided I don’t really want to be in the server maintenance business. So I’ve move everything over to SiteGround over the last couple of months. It feels good to have one less thing to worry about, and SiteGround supports Let’s Encrypt! Win-Win!

New Theme!

With great sadness, Alex King (of Crowd Favorite) passed in 2015. Unfortunately, his theme, FavePersonal, hasn’t been getting updates since and things were starting to break. So, new theme.

Unfortunately, this also means that the social media interoperability has changed. Comments on Facebook and Twitter used to automatically be aggregated on this blog as well. My thinking on this continues to evolve, and while I believe it would be best to have a single commenting ecosystem, I’m more at ease with allowing separate systems to exist.

Fortunately, I’m still pushing blog posts to Facebook and Twitter since I know that’s a primary news source for many people (for better or for worse).

Email “Newsletters”

Ugh…I’ve hated this. I hate posting something and having it go out via email only to find I made a typo or something. Or wanting to post multiple time in a day and feeling worried that people would hate all the email. This has honestly been a big mental block for me. Also, the plugin I was using1 was overly complicated and often didn’t render things correctly. I thought hard about getting rid of email subscriptions entirely, but instead I’m going to try something else. You’re welcome relatives 😉

First, I’ve switched to a new system: MailPoet. We’ll see how this works…it seems to tick all the boxes I need for what I want to do.

Second, everyone who was on the old mailing list has been migrated to the new weekly digest list. If there have been blog posts from the past week, you will get an email on Monday morning with them — in theory.

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  1. Subscribe2 HTML 

2016 Year in Cities

Apparently I did a lot of flying last year — 101584 miles worth. I was lucky enough to carried via British 747-400 for many of my trips (my first trip on a 747 since 2006). I climbed the Alaska Airlines points ladder pretty quickly, finally hit MVP Gold 75K (after a couple of close years), and was in their top 10% of mileage earners for 2016.

Many new cities this year, and one state (Hawaii) and one new country (Spain).

  • Seattle, Washington*
  • Bournemouth, United Kingdom*
  • Arbon, Switzerland
  • Lindau, Germany
  • Zurich, Switzerland
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • Retford, United Kingdom*
  • Tenerife, Spain
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • Heathrow, United Kingdom*
  • Snoqualmie, Washington
  • Stanwood, Washington
  • Lucerne, Switzerland
  • Vancouver, British Columbia
  • Orange County, California
  • Jamaica, New York
  • Kaua’i, Hawaii

One or more nights were spent in each place. Those cities marked with an asterisk (*) were visited mul­ti­ple times on non-consec­u­tive days. Roughly in order of appear­ance.

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The election was so close that I’ve come to see th…

The election was so close that I’ve come to see the result as a bad roll of the dice. A few minor tweaks here and there — a more enthusiastic Sanders endorsement, one fewer of Comey’s announcements, slightly less Russian involvement — and the country would be preparing for a Clinton presidency and discussing a very different social narrative. That alternative narrative would stress business as usual, and continue to obscure the deep social problems in our society. Those problems won’t go away on their own, and in this alternative future they would continue to fester under the surface, getting steadily worse. This election exposed those problems for everyone to see.

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Voting Paradoxes

via Hacker News1

From en.wikipedia.org:

In social choice theory, Arrow’s impossibility theorem, the general possibility theorem or Arrow’s paradox is an impossibility theorem stating that when voters have three or more distinct alternatives (options), no ranked ordervoting system can convert the ranked preferences of individuals into a community-wide (complete and transitive) ranking while also meeting a pre-specified set of criteria, unrestricted domain, non-dictatorship, Pareto efficiency, and independence of irrelevant alternatives.

Remember to vote though.

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  1. like reddit, but better comments 

Cunningham Seawall 10K

It’s been a long time since I’ve run a race—I kind of just stopped running in 20121.

I got back into doing something fitness related in June 2015 with CrossFit, which has been a boon for me…especially with all my travel I’ve done this year2. I signed up to run a 10K with Rachel and some friends in Vancouver, BC some months ago and that’s what got me really running again. With help from Coach Monica at Twenty Pound Hammer I got a running plan together to make this my best race yet.

After doing lots of free runs and looking at the data, I set a goal pace of 5:30 min/km ± 15 seconds3. For me, this amounts to around 80 strides a minute. I built a playlist around this pace that I trained with and raced to.

It’s also cool to see how far technology has come in the last few years. I used to run with a Nike+ sensor that I placed on my shoe to detect steps and eventually moved up to using their iPhone app. I recently switched to using iSmoothRun with Smashrun and Strava and I get so much more data…which is what also helped me pick my goal pace.

I also have sinus tachycardia …nothing serious, just something I have to keep an eye on. I’ve found through trial and error that so long as I can keep my HR below 190 I don’t get winded such that I have to slow down (e.g. think about how long you can run a sprint). This seems to put me at around 5:30 min/km on flat surfaces, though with more training I’m hoping to best this.

Official Stats:

10K time: 58:40 (5:52 min/km)

5K time: 27:54 (5:35 min/km)

Overall ranking: 850 / 3071

Division Ranking (Male 30-34): 81 / 1424

Gender (Male): 467 / 1048

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  1. 2012 July 2nd was my last recorded run 

  2. but that’s a another story 

  3. 8:51 min/mi 

  4. Sabo finished 79th and Charlie 80th…even though I didn’t run with them 

The Life of Alex King

NB: This is in response to: http://alexking.org/blog/2015/08/24/rememberances. Alex King passed away on 2015 September 27 after battling cancer for more than two and a half years. Alex was one of the original WordPress developers, and leaves a lasting legacy and impact on the WordPress community.1

Dear Caitlin,

I met your dad at the 2009 WordPress Denver meetup, a “conference created for enthusiasts, users, developers, designers, and fans of WordPress“. It was basically a time to geek out with fellow programmers, developers, and bloggers. I must have know of Alex before I actually met him because I wrote this in my blog:

“It was also great to finally meet Alex King and most of the rest of his crew (Devin, Shawn, Sean, Gordon, and Jeremy) at Crowd Favorite. They did a great job organizing the event and without them this would have never gotten off the ground. I also think that if I ever got tired of engineering and wanted to do web development full time, Alex/Crowd Favorite would be the first person I’d talk to.

Interesting side note: Alex grew up in Seattle just around the block from me. Small world, eh?” (Source: https://andrewferguson.net/2009/03/06/wordcamp-denver-2/)

This was six years ago and I was just about to graduate from the Colorado School of Mines. I moved back to Seattle, not far from where Alex grew up, and have been working at Boeing as an engineer (still not tired of it). I have continued to follow Alex and have have some interaction with him over the years, mostly support related questions. We were, at best, acquaintances.

But that’s not the point. This is:

Over the years, there have been maybe — maybe — five or so people I would go and work for blindly if they called me up…Alex was one of them.

The importance of this sentiment cannot be overstated. There was something very special about him outside of the specialness I’m sure he had as a husband and a father. He was a strong, but humble leader who had vision. He cared about those around him in a way which was empowering and inspiring. And the world was better for it.

Alex actually did offer me a job (or at least an interview…it’s been a while since that conversation, so I may have mis-remembered). I turned it down because I was already committed to Boeing at the time. I’ve always had some regret over that choice — though regret isn’t quite the right word, more a sadness and frustration that I couldn’t be in two places at once.

Respectfully,

Andrew Ferguson, PE

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  1. Source: Rest in peace, Alex King