2012 Roundup

Posted on 18 February 2013 by Joseph

Inspired by a blog post I read via Hacker News, I thought I’d create a list of things I did and didn’t do in 2012. You know, for posterity.



  • Granola Enterprise. A lot changed in MiserWare’s flagship product Granola Enterprise in 2012. In February we debuted a new queue runner-driven data model for our backend, allowing us to do much more with the data coming from clients. In April, we rolled out what we intended to do with that: a new historical view of organizational energy consumption, complete with insights into areas of wasted energy and proactive tips for eliminating it.

    We also changed our preferred payment mode to a monthly subscription plan, allowing users to pay at the end of the month out of savings they have already earned, and only pay for the machines that were active during that interval. The end goal of this was to transition to a more organic model. We are still in the process of improving our funnel.

  • FatBatt. With the core product for Granola Enterprise maturing, we began to look for new areas to direct our development efforts. For me, as I’m sure for many, battery life in my laptop has always been a thorn in my side. I began to examine ways to improve battery life, during which I noticed how little information we are actually given about our battery life. As an example, how long was your last battery discharge? How long does it take to fully charge your battery? I couldn’t answer these questions, and I thought this would be a good place to begin to approach a solution.

    The result is FatBatt, a program intended to help you make intelligent decisions about your energy consumption on your mobile devices. It offers insight into your past discharges as well as providing statistically accurate estimates about the future given your current setup. This lets you make decisions like what the appropriate tradeoff for monitor brightness versus battery life is.

“Major” side projects

  • Sprout! Someone introduced me to the pen-and-paper game Sprouts), and I thought it would be fun and illuminating to try and create a version of this game using browser technology. I made it as far as the one-computer interface before I put it aside. Never released outside of my own development environment.

  • Brackcity The purchase of a ping-pong table for the office spurred a huge amount of ping-pong competition among me and my coworkers. I created an interface for doing algebraically-correct rankings based on historical gameplay. Needless to say, the main result has been a further intensification of the competitiveness. Never released outside of the office.

  • Silvi A couple months ago I set out to scratch an itch of mine by creating a web service to better organize my thoughts. The result is Silvi, a way to create trees out of your information. The original intent was to develop a better way to collaborate on documentation, but using it myself along the way illuminated lots of other uses for it: organizing class notes for school, documenting a new programming language I was learning in a structured way, organizing documentation for products and services, and more. This is the furthest I have taken a personal side project, and I am very excited to see where it goes.

Languages, tools, frameworks

Python, Javascript, CoffeeScript, LESS, C , C++, PHP, SQL.

Node, Flask, Pywin32, py2exe, OpenCV, numpy, sqlalchemy, WMI, MailChimp API.


I read about 25 books this year. As in 2011, my focus was on postmodern fiction, but this year I branched out and read some of my old flames and some nonfiction. Highlights:

  • Thinking, Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman
  • 1Q84 – Haruki Murakami
  • Freedom – Jonathan Franzen
  • Machine Learning – Tom Mitchell
  • The Book of Laughter and Forgetting – Milan Kundera
  • (Assorted) – Edward Tufte
  • The Unbearable Lightness of Being – Milan Kundera


The opening of Crimpers climbing gym in Christiansburg fueled a lot of my growth in climbing, both via meeting new climbers and improving my technique and fitness level. Both contributed to me sending my first (and second) V5 boulder problem this year.

I climbed at several new areas this year.

  • Grayson Highlands in southern VA was largely developed by my friend Aaron Parlier, and as luck would have it, we bumped into him on our first trip down. He pointed out a bunch of the hotspots, and the rest has been tip-shredding history.

  • Though I had been down there once before, the release of the guidebook for bouldering at Moore’s Wall in NC led to me spending several weekends down there. The style of bouldering, with big compression moves, fits me well and there are a number of projects I’m eager to send there.

  • With neither guide nor guidebook, it was hard to find the highlights, but a recent trip to The Hill in Peaks of Otter, VA showed some really interesting problems on interesting (if not entirely clean) rock. I have high hopes for this area in 2013, particularly if I can get some guidance.


I traveled to (and had a booth at) CES in Las Vegas. My first taste of Sin City was surprisingly delicious: I ate at quite a few good restaurants and had a generally large time. I also visited San Jose and San Francisco, and spent some time in Santa Barbara implementing a case study. I also spent quite a bit of time in Chicago in the early part of the year visiting my (now ex-) girlfriend Natalia.

I ate at some great restaurants, including Picasso and Nob Hill in Las Vegas, Sutro’s in San Francisco, and (actually this was late December 2011) Next in Chicago. In the upcoming year, I’d really like to go to minibar by José Andrés in Washington, DC.

I sold my house in Christiansburg during a decidedly down market. The house had been on the market for over a year, and it was such a relief to sell it before the winter. As part of my exodus, I rid myself of a huge number of belongings, greatly simplifying my life.

I bought a truck, my first entirely autonomous car purchase. The process, going through a dealer, certainly has a greasy feel to it, but in the end I am happy with my purchase. I outfitted the truck with a very, very cheap camper shell and built a sleeping platform: it is ready to act as my home for camping and climbing trips.

2013 goals

I didn’t explicitly establish goals for myself for 2012, though my goals certainly included:

  • Sell my house (check!)
  • Travel more (FAIL)
  • Climb more (check!)
  • Work on side projects (check!)
  • Get back into good health (check!)
  • Create an organic software sales model for MiserWare (ongoing, not a win yet)

For 2013, I’ve decided to be more ambitious. My goals include:

  • Squat 2x BW
  • Deadlift 2x BW
  • Clean and jerk 1.4x BW
  • Snatch 1.1x BW
  • Press BW
  • Run a 5:50 mile
  • Climb V6 outdoors
  • No injuries
  • Break even on a side project
  • Make 10x investment in FatBatt
  • Read 50+ books, including the entire Terry Pratchett oeuvre
  • Write and record 5 songs I don’t hate
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