Why hello there personal site of mine...


...it has been awhile.

Over a year, in fact. What’s a busy dev to do? For one, get better at writing here. Fingers crossed I can fix that soon.

A lot has changed in the last year. We recently closed down our coffee and comic shop side business called Mix it Up! at Lake Martin. That has allowed my family more free time this summer, which has meant traveling, vacation, and more.

When I find time, I’ll post here about lessons learned from running a comics and coffee retail side business for the last 8 years.

Until then!

A Spoiler Free Commentary on Batman Wedding Spoilers

 •  Filed under Comics, Batman, Dc Comics

Even if you’re not a comics fan, I bet you’ve heard the news. Batman asked Catwoman to marrying him! Batman #50, the wedding issue, releases in comic shops this Wednesday, July 4, a full year after Batman asked Catwoman to marry him in issue #24. I started Mix it Up! Comics a year ago, and the first Batman comic to arrive in our shop was Batman #24. I feel a deep connection to this story both as a Batman fan and as a comic shop owner.

Today, DC Comics in an inexplicable move, partnered with the NY Times to completely spoil the story before it is released on Wednesday. I’m not linking to the NY Times article just in case someone were to accidentally follow it. Yes, even the title of the article spoils the story.

Naturally, fans are upset. Comic shop owners are upset. Random people on the Interwebs are upset. It just seems like a horrible thing to do to most anyone you ask.

I won’t comment here on the spoilers themselves. There’s not much I can say without risking spoiling the story, too. I’ll just say this — please, go read the story for yourself. Stories are more than their plot points. Sure, plot is the spine on which the story is built, but there’s so much more — character, tone, theme, and in the case of comics, art. There are some amazing artists that have contributed to Batman #50. Go take it all in for yourself. I know I am. I’ve waited a year for this, and I’m not going to let the spoilers get in my way.

Selling Comics, Technology, and the Future

 •  Filed under Comics, Technology, Retail

I wrote something this morning on Facebook in response to a Seattle Times article on Seeing a retail future beyond Amazon Go:

I can relate to so much in this article. I run a comic shop as a side business and love small retail. Zanadu Comics was a real inspiration to me when I was in Seattle on work trips before opening the comics shop in Mix It Up. Zanadu is now closed after 42 years. The struggle for small retail shops is real.

I’m also a software dev and working in a tech industry that is always shifting opportunity. So much is possible today that wasn’t possible 42 years ago. I appreciate what Amazon is doing, even as it disrupts small business.

All that to say, let’s enjoy this wonderful high-tech life we all lead now, but don’t forget to stop in a small shop you love today, say hello, and buy a little something while you’re in there.

Writing that got me thinking about how we're quick to blame technology for its disruptive force and never lay any of the blame on ourselves as humans for letting it happen. I'm currently reading Tim O'Reilly's excellent new book WTF? What's the Future and Why It's Up to Us. The emphasis in his book there being on "it's up to us."

O'Reilly writes:

It's easy to blame technology for the problems that occur in periods of great economic transition. But both the problems and the solutions are the result of human choices.

Sometimes it's hard to see the choice that we have. Money is tighter these days, so buying something online for a few dollars less than you can get it at a local shop seems smart. Time is hard to come by as well. We're all busier, so having something cheaper shipped to your door is a net win. But these are choices. We're choosing cost and convenience over other things, and often, we're not conscious of what those other things are.

So just make sure that you're happy with the trade off. Make sure the things you're giving up in favor of cost and convenience are really worth it. You might find yourself looking up one day and thinking, "Oh dang, my favorite comic shop closed. I should have shopped there more." But at that point, unfortunately, it's a little too late.

2017 in the books. Here's to 2018!


First, let's be real... I need to get better about writing here more. I'm not going to call it a 2018 resolution, but I do want to do more on my personal site. So here's to the first post of 2018, and hopefully more to come! Cheers!

2017 is all wrapped up, and has been for a few days as I'm writing this. 2017 was really a nice year for me. Most notable is that I opened a comic shop within my wife's local business in Dadeville. Mix it Up! Comics has done well for us, and it has helped bring some real satisfaction to my regular work as a programmer. I find joy in just coding now and enjoy "work" as well, just work. The comics shop is not just a passion and hobby,; it's also a viable addition to our small-town business.

Later this week I'll write up a bit on what sales look like for us. I've seen some other retailers doing that, and I find it fascinating. I think others might find our sales telling too, as a brand new shop servicing a small town comics audience.

Until then!

X-MEN GOLD #7 Thoughts

 •  Filed under Comics, Reviews

If you’ve been looking for a chance to check out new X-Men titles, X-MEN GOLD #7 is a great chance to dip in and check out what’s going on with the X-Men’s Gold team.

If you don’t know the difference, the X-Men are currently split into Blue and Gold teams. The Blue team is the original X-Men transported from the past into our day, and the Gold team is more or less the classic 80s/90s X-Men team, now led by Kitty Pride.

Issue #7 is both a great stand-alone book and a SECRET EMPIRE tie-in. SECRET EMPIRE provides the context for the story – the city is trapped in Baron Mordo’s Darkforce bubble (see recent issues of DOCTOR STRANGE) – and now the city and the X-Mansion are under siege.

The story is well told. There is a lot going on with a lot of characters used across a handful of plot points. The book doesn’t feel crowded, though, and somehow still packs in a lot of action. You’ll feel like you’ve gotten your money’s worth when you’re done.

The art, as always, is fantastic. You can checkout a few pages from X-MEN GOLD #7 over on Previews World.

X-MEN GOLD #7 is written by Marc Guggenheim with art by Ken Lashley.

Comics as a way of life

 •  Filed under Comics, Comic Shop, Writing

I've got big news! I'm opening a comic shop in my wife's store Mix it Up! at Lake Martin.

I'm planning to start small. We're located in a small town, and I'm just beginning to learn about the business of selling comics. The plan is to steadily build up stock based on what customers tell me they want. I'll also be able to order most anything people ask for. Our selection of new comics will grow as we learn what customers want, too.

I'm excited for the opportunity to do this. Doing something with comics has been a life-long dream of mine. I'm even planning to focus on my comics writing a little more as part of this. I have an idea going that I'll likely try to produce myself when I find an artist who likes the idea.

So it's all comics for me now, both on this site and all the social sites I'm using. I've still got my day job as a programmer, but I probably won't focus on that much online, except as it impacts the comics work.

All of that to say -- comics is a way of life now. And I'm excited about this new journey and sharing it with everyone online.

Check out Whitman, Alabama

 •  Filed under Poetry, Web, Video, Storytelling, Story

If you love Walt Whitman, Alabama, poetry, filmmaking, or the American South, you have to check out Jennifer Chang Crandall's awesome new work Whitman, Alabama.

I worked with Jenn on a project when we were at the Washington Post together, and we've been good friends ever since. I had a very tiny part in helping her cross the finish line on this Whitman project, and I'm grateful for the experience of working with her again, even if it was only as a sounding board or in a phone-a-technical-friend capacity.

There is tremendous story telling and video work on this site. Just take 3 minutes and read and watch some of the work on the site, and I bet you'll look up 30 minutes or an hour later and be longing for more. It's that good!

Check out the latest featured video below:

Never too old to computer

 •  Filed under Computers, Progamming, Mobile, Ios, App Development

What an inspiring story from Yi Shu Ng on Mashable about an 81 year old woman making an iOS app.

Masako Wakamiya is making the news for an app she created to show people the correct way to place their traditional doll displays ahead of Hinamatsuri, or Girl's Day, in Japan.

Wakamiya is a former banker who clocked 43 years of service at a major Japanese bank, and only learned how to use computers when she was 60.

I love the sense of tradition meeting the digital in both her life and the app. And also the obvious thought that you're never too old to computer.

Fascinating podcast on immigration from NY Times

 •  Filed under Podcast, Politics

I've already mentioned how much I love Overcast while writing about the Overcast 3.0 redesign. I turned ads back on even though I'm a subscriber because I wanted to check out the new podcast ad system Marco Arment created. In the process I discovered The Daily from The New York Times. This morning I listened to one of the most compelling podcasts on immigration I've ever heard.

The podcast begins with a gripping story about a man in Southern Illinois who gets taken by ICE agents, much to the dismay of locals who love and respect him. There is also an account of recent changes in immigration policy from the perspective of ICE agents. Really, fascinating stuff that accounts for both sides of this issue.

If you only listen to one podcast today, take 20 minutes and check out:

The Daily: Monday, Feb. 27, 2017

Don't be a "Did it work? Yay! Ship it!" coder

 •  Filed under Programmer, Programming, Software, Software Development

I'm working on a longer post on what it means to write high quality code, but until that's done, I wanted to call out what I see as the tell-tale sign of less experienced programmers. It's when you see that "Did it work? Yay! Ship it!" quality to code. Let's call the person who does this, the DIWYSI coder.

So what are the signs of the DIWYSI coder?

The most obvious sign is lint, lazy writing or code structure, and lots of notes to self that never get acted upon. I don't mean that code has to be perfectly structured. I'm really not a perfectionist. It's just that someone who is only trying to get the code working and not thinking of other programmers is going to just hack, hack, hack, and once it works, commit and move on.

This kind of code often looks like:

    const thing = function someFun(){
      If ( something)
          // How does this even work?!?!
             Do_the_thing() }

This is exaggerated, of course, but it's not far off some stuff I've seen.

Keep this in mind -- great code is much more than just writing something that runs correctly. "Did it work?" should be the first question you ask, not the only question. If it doesn't run, then yeah, it's not good. Anyone working as a programmer today ought to be able to write code that runs. Writing code that runs and that another programmer can pick up and understand is much better.