2015 in 5 Themes

Here are the 5 most defining themes of my 2015, in no particular order.

1. Scapula

I fractured my scapula (shoulder blade on my right side) on December 24, 2014 while skateboarding with my sister. I spent most of January 2015 resting and recovering. Part of that meant starting physical therapy.

PT was such a good influence on not just my scapula, but other parts of my life, that I consider breaking my scapula a highly net positive life event.

Among other things, I was able to resolve a long-standing knee-pain issue, which opened up the world of running to me. I now run more frequently, faster, and with less pain than I ever have before. I wrote more about this in Breaking the Cycle.

I want to thank my girlfriend Elva; my brother Jake and his girlfriend Maddie; and Dr. Julian, Cheri, and all the people from PT for their help along the way. Their guidance taught me that improving at sports isn’t just a matter of personal motivation, the key is having the right teachers.

2. Books

Here are the books I read in 2015:

  1. Veins, Drew
  2. Dune, Frank Herbert
  3. Tales of the City, Armistead Maupin
  4. The Score Takes Care of Itself, Bill Walsh
  5. Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain
  6. 2001: A Space Odyssey, Arthur C. Clarke
  7. The Internet of Garbage, Sarah Jeong – A must-read if you develop products for the web.
  8. Crypto, Stephen Levy – A good background on history of public-key cryptography. Long but worth it if you’re interested.
  9. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, J.K. Rowling
  10. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, J.K. Rowling

I was initially skeptical about it, but getting a Kindle in November has turbocharged my reading. The backlight is a game changer.

3. Travel

2015 was the most travel-packed year of my life so far. I was privileged to travel to see many friends I haven’t seen in a long time, and many places I had been meaning to see.


Visiting Portland, Oregon, with friends, eating at wonderful restaurants like Pok Pok and Andina. And again in April for Clojure/West.

Visiting Banff National Park with Elva for her Birthday.

Visiting Rome and Tuscany, Italy. Visiting friends in Boston then working from the Venmo office in NYC for a week. Attending ElixirConf in Austin, Texas. Giving a talk in Tokyo and staying in a hot springs resort in Hakone, Japan. Then visiting Elva’s family in Hangzhou, China.

Interspersed throughout were trips to the Braintree mothership in Chicago and back down to SoCal to visit my family.

4. Talks

My greatest strength when it comes to tech talks is volunteering for them. I gave 2 talks this year.

Building Hosted Fields

In Spring of 2015 I had the opportunity to work on the team that built Hosted Fields, a new payment integration that provides higher security without sacrificing customizability. While I was in Japan in October I spoke about the lessons we learned at a local meetup called Node Gakuen. I’m grateful to Sohei and Junichi from PayPal Japan and Yosuke Furukawa for hosting a great meetup.

Design Principles Behind Smalltalk

Since going to my first Papers We Love SF meetup I loved its deluge of cool ideas and speakers. I volunteered to give a mini (a 10-minute talk before the main talk). I chose this paper by Daniel H. H. Ingalls, one of the creators of the Smalltalk programming language, because it has a number of design principles we can apply to any sort of programming we do today, and since it’s about Object Oriented Programming people today may skip over it and miss some of these insights. The organizer, Ines Sombra, was extremely helpful along the way and is so great for running such a fun and inclusive meetup.

5. Open Source

This year was my most active year in open source yet. I developed a few pet projects:

I also made a number of contributions to jsdom. I added postMessage support, atob/btoa support, and a virtual console.

The base64 support (atob/btoa) in jsdom was spun off into a module I’m now the maintainer of: abab. This is by far the most downloaded module I have been the maintainer of (>100K downloads/mo).

Additionally, when we were working on building Hosted Fields, my team at Braintree developed a number of cool modules that I helped open source:

Thank You

Big thanks to Elva Fan, Jake Carpenter, and Jonathan Kalin for giving their feedback on this post, and thank you for reading about my 2015.

Contents (top)