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Migration to 31fps.com complete March 14, 2007

Posted by sdpurtill in Blogging.

Ladies and gentlemen, sdpurtill.wordpress.com is no longer in commission. From here on out, I will be known as:



The Mythical Man-Month March 13, 2007

Posted by sdpurtill in Books.
1 comment so far

I just finished reading this book, and I found it very insightful. I learned a lot about large software projects and some well known concepts in software development that I was not aware of. Here is my favorite piece of knowledge out of the whole book:

Brook’s Law: Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later

Added to my Books list

I will never compare March 12, 2007

Posted by sdpurtill in Life.
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To Dick Hoyt. This is the most inspiring article and video I have ever read and seen, respectively. Read the story below and watch the video, copied from here.

I try to be a good father. Give my kids mulligans. Work nights to pay For their text messaging. Take them to swimsuit shoots.

But compared with Dick Hoyt, I suck.

Eighty-five times he’s pushed his disabled son, Rick, 26.2 miles in Marathons. Eight times he’s not only pushed him 26.2 miles in a Wheelchair but also towed him 2.4 miles in a dinghy while swimming and Pedaled him 112 miles in a seat on the handlebars–all in the same day.

Dick’s also pulled him cross-country skiing, taken him on his back Mountain climbing and once hauled him across the U.S. On a bike. Makes Taking your son bowling look a little lame, right?

And what has Rick done for his father? Not much–except save his life.
This love story began in Winchester , Mass. , 43 years ago, when Rick Was strangled by the umbilical cord during birth, leaving him Brain-damaged and unable to control his limbs.

“He’ll be a vegetable the rest of his life;” Dick says doctors told him And his wife, Judy, when Rick was nine months old. “Put him in an Institution.”

But the Hoyts weren’t buying it. They noticed the way Rick’s eyes Followed them around the room. When Rick was 11 they took him to the Engineering department at Tufts University and asked if there was Anything to help the boy communicate. “No way,” Dick says he was told. “There’s nothing going on in his brain.”

“Tell him a joke,” Dick countered. They did. Rick laughed. Turns out a Lot was going on in his brain. Rigged up with a computer that allowed Him to control the cursor by touching a switch with the side of his Head, Rick was finally able to communicate. First words? “Go Bruins!” And after a high school classmate was paralyzed in an accident and the School organized a charity run for him, Rick pecked out, “Dad, I want To do that.”

Yeah, right. How was Dick, a self-described “porker” who never ran More than a mile at a time, going to push his son five miles? Still, he Tried. “Then it was me who was handicapped,” Dick says. “I was sore For two weeks.”

That day changed Rick’s life. “Dad,” he typed, “when we were running, It felt like I wasn’t disabled anymore!”

And that sentence changed Dick’s life. He became obsessed with giving Rick that feeling as often as he could. He got into such hard-belly Shape that he and Rick were ready to try the 1979 Boston Marathon.

“No way,” Dick was told by a race official. The Hoyts weren’t quite a Single runner, and they weren’t quite a wheelchair competitor. For a few Years Dick and Rick just joined the massive field and ran anyway, then They found a way to get into the race Officially: In 1983 they ran another marathon so fast they made the Qualifying time for Boston the following year.

Then somebody said, “Hey, Dick, why not a triathlon?”

How’s a guy who never learned to swim and hadn’t ridden a bike since he Was six going to haul his 110-pound kid through a triathlon? Still, Dick Tried.

Now they’ve done 212 triathlons, including four grueling 15-hour Ironmans in Hawaii . It must be a buzzkill to be a 25-year-old stud Getting passed by an old guy towing a grown man in a dinghy, don’t you Think?

Hey, Dick, why not see how you’d do on your own? “No way,” he says. Dick does it purely for “the awesome feeling” he gets seeing Rick with A cantaloupe smile as they run, swim and ride together.

This year, at ages 65 and 43, Dick and Rick finished their 24th Boston Marathon, in 5,083rd place out of more than 20,000 starters. Their best Time? Two hours, 40 minutes in 1992–only 35 minutes off the world Record, which, in case you don’t keep track of these things, happens to Be held by a guy who was not pushing another man in a wheelchair at the Time.

“No question about it,” Rick types. “My dad is the Father of the Century.”

And Dick got something else out of all this too. Two years ago he had a Mild heart attack during a race. Doctors found that one of his arteries Was 95% clogged. “If you hadn’t been in such great shape,” One doctor told him, “you probably would’ve died 15 years ago.” So, in a way, Dick and Rick saved each other’s life.

Rick, who has his own apartment (he gets home care) and works in Boston, and Dick, retired from the military and living in Holland, Mass. , always find ways to be together. They give speeches around the country and compete in some backbreaking race every weekend, including this Father’s Day.

That night, Rick will buy his dad dinner, but the thing he really wants to give him is a gift he can never buy.

“The thing I’d most like,” Rick types, “is that my dad sit in the chair and I push him once.”

And the video is below….

It’s a small, small world. March 12, 2007

Posted by sdpurtill in Life, Okapi.
1 comment so far

There are those times in life when everything just comes together in one moment. All the planets line up, there is a lunar eclipse, etc… Things that seem totally random, but they can’t be! And that is what this little story is about.

The first amazing Flash site that I ever saw (a lot of them sucked back then) was back in 2002. It was nikeskateboarding.com, V1 (they’re in V2 now). I was 13 years old, and had never, ever seen anything like it. I had an actual “experience” with a website. It was, by a long shot, the best looking website I had ever seen (later to be dethroned by Rob Lindstrom’s work). I spent a lot of time on that site, seeing everything that could be done, and finally found the credits for it. The makers: odopod, a small design studio in San Francisco.

Thanks to nikeskateboarding.com, I dove into Flash and never looked back. I spent hundreds upon hundreds of hours learning the interface, animation, and most of all, ActionScript. After becoming a half decent at Flash (I thought I was good at it, until I found out how much more I had to learn :D), I sent odopod an email telling them about how much of an inspiration they were to me and asking if they had any tips for becoming a better ActionScripter. They were really nice (probably because I told them I was 15) and we emailed back and forth a couple of times. In one of the emails, they told me if I was ever in San Francisco, I could stop by and take a tour of the shop. I was happier than a kid in a candy shop.

Fast forward to MacWorld ’04 (maybe ’05, not sure though): my aunt Martha had gotten my brother and I tickets to the SF MacWorld. We were excited for it, and I was even more stoked when I realized I could finally take odopod up on their invitation to tour their shop. I sent them an email letting them know I was going to be in town, and I got their cell phone numbers.

My brother and I took BART in to SF for MacWorld. At lunch time, I gave odopod a call and got directions on how to walk from Moscone Center to their office. I made it there and got a great tour of the shop. I met everyone who was behind the magic of nikeskateboarding, and they even let me see some of their current projects (nikesoccer.com was one). It was great, definitely one of the most memorable moments of my life. I went home and was determined to become one of the best Flash developers ever (I think I got pretty far).

Two years later, I met Andrei Ostacie, owner of Okapi Studio, from a Craigslist ad. There was one problem though: Okapi is based in Bucharest, Romania. At first I was reluctant to work with designers outside of the US, but their work was better than anyone else’s that had responded to my ad by miles. I started working with Okapi in December 2005, and we quickly came to like each other. In March, 2006, I became their US Account Manager, in charge of the North American clients (we have clients from Russia, England, Italy, and Romania).

In August of 2006, I got an email from Andrei asking me to talk to a prospective client that was based out of Mountain View, CA. Andrei apparently gave them my cell phone number, so they called me while I was getting my car fixed. I told them I would call back. When I got home, I immediately Googled this client’s name and found out he was in management at Yahoo!… I ended up driving down to Mountain View, and we got the account: MonVia. Our first job was to create a home page design for Drumtable. We went through several drafts, failing each time. Finally, Mani emailed me some screenshots of a Yahoo! site that was being redesigned; Y! Tech.

The designs looked really, really familiar… Okapi’s next round of deliverables were right on the mark.

A week or so later, I was going though odopod’s site (I do from time to time, just to see what they’re up to). I saw a little thumbnail on the bottom left of something that looked like Y! Tech, so I clicked on it. It took me to the detailed portfolio page, and sure enough, odopod was responsible for the redesign of Y! Tech.

There must be a God 😀

There’s always an easier way March 8, 2007

Posted by sdpurtill in Python.

I am no beginner in Python, but I’m definitely no guru. So I still have problems expressing some things. It’s like learning Spanish — you know enough of the language for others to understand you, but there is always an easier way to convey what you want to say. I know enough Python for the computer to understand me, but here is a situation that just came up that shows there’s always an easier, shorter way to do things.

def _get_custodian_clients(self):
  "Returns all the clients of the custodian"
  str = ''
  i = 1
  total_cli = self.custodian_total_clients
  for cli in self.clients.all():
    str += cli.name
    i += 1
    if i <= total_cli:
      str += ' | '
  return str

I knew there had to be an easier way to do it, but I just couldn’t figure it out. So I asked people that knew more than me, i.e., the guys on the #django IRC Channel. Two minutes later, and I have a nice, elegant, even readable solution.

def _get_custodian_clients(self):
  "Returns all the clients of the custodian"
  return ' | '.join([client.name for x in self.clients.all()])
custodian_clients = property(_get_custodian_clients)

Sometimes I am amazed by my stupidity.

Rob Pike on the state of Unix March 5, 2007

Posted by sdpurtill in Google, Technology.

Rob Pike is a Google Research Scientist. He was on the team that built the original Unix OS in the 1970’s. Now he works on their server operating system, which serve the fastest pages in the world. I just read through the presentation (pdf) that he gave in celebration of the 1 billionth second on the Unix clock. These two parts of the presentation really stood out to me:

The success of PCs is in large part due to the fact that, by making all hardware equivalent, good software enabled bad hardware.


1. What is the best thing about Unix?
A: The community.

2. What is the worst thing about Unix?
A: That there are so many communities.

I loved reading through that presentation, because Rob was able to identify and admit that they made mistakes in building Unix. Most people are unable to come to terms with their mistakes, especially in such a large project as this one. People are always shifting the blame to other people who weren’t “as smart” as them. Even though I am a hardcore Capitalist, I really like the personalities of these Open Source guys. Not only are they open with their code, but they are open about their mistakes. A company like Microsoft or Apple would try to brush these mistakes under the table as fast as someone could identify them (and for MS, that happens… daily…).

He even states in the presentation that the reason Microsoft beat them was because there is only one Microsoft. There is a ridiculous amount of Unix variants available these days, and 37signals is so right:

Less is more.

And I am officially SWITCHING TO MAC!! I will be getting my MB Pro within the next 2 months. I am fed up with Windows, but that will be another very long blog post.

I’m sort of weak… March 2, 2007

Posted by sdpurtill in Quotes.

Never been a big fan of working out, too much of a geek for that. So when my dad asks me to go to a concert to “protect” my sister, I kind of wonder if he takes into account how weak I am. This quote summarizes it, it was in a conversation with Andrei today

Sam Purtill says: Dude, I’m weaker than a grasshopper
Andrei Ostacie says: you got to serve and protect
Sam Purtill says: The most damage I can do to a person is hack their computers

Ahhh 😀

Writer’s Block has been overcome February 28, 2007

Posted by sdpurtill in Ayn Rand, Quotes.
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And I just read great quote #198274182379821 from Ayn Rand

That something happened to you is of no importance to anyone, not even to you. The important thing about you is what you choose to make happen – your values and choices. That which happened by accident – what family you were born into, in what country, and where you went to school – is totally unimportant.


The worst case of Writer’s Block ever. February 28, 2007

Posted by sdpurtill in College.
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It’s been about 13 hours (started at 10am today) since I sat down to write this essay. And I still only have 4 sentences. I have never had this happen in my life, this has got to be a Writer’s Block record for me.

Does this happen to anyone else?

Starter For 10 is great February 28, 2007

Posted by sdpurtill in Movies.
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I loved this movie, saw it down in LA last weekend. Apparently they’re going to release it in a bunch more places on March 9th, so you should go out and see it.